October 18, 2023
Special Report
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Proof that Failed Palestinian Missile Hit Gaza Hospital (IDF)
    The IDF released aerial footage on Wednesday of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital compound before and after the explosion, showing it was not a result of an Israeli airstrike.

    See also Hamas Purposely Mislead International Media, Inflated Casualty Numbers - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari accused Hamas on Wednesday of purposely misleading international media outlets by claiming a failed rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad was an Israeli airstrike.
    Hagari said the damage to the hospital's parking lot was caused by the rocket impact and due to the large amount of rocket fuel that was still in the projectile as it fell short.
    Had it been an Israeli airstrike, "we would have seen craters and structural damage to the building, both of which were not identified in this incident."

    See also Listen: Hamas Knew Hospital Explosion Was Caused by Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rocket (i24News-X)
    The IDF revealed a phone call between Hamas operatives showing that the hospital explosion in Gaza was immediately identified as being caused by a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket.
    Hamas operatives: "I'm telling you this is the first time that we see a missile like this falling and so that's why we are saying it belongs to Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
    "They are saying that the shrapnel from the missile is local shrapnel and not like Israeli shrapnel."
    "But God bless, it couldn't have found another place to explode?"
    "They shot it from the cemetery behind the hospital and it misfired and fell on them."

Poll: Americans Are Deeply Sympathetic toward Israelis and See Their Military Response to Hamas Attacks as Justified - Jennifer Agiesta (CNN)
    The American public expresses deep sympathy for the Israeli people and broadly sees the Israeli government's military response to Hamas attacks as justified, according to a new CNN poll.
    50% say the Israeli government's military response to Hamas attacks is fully justified, another 20% say it's partially justified, and just 8% say it is not justified, with 21% unsure.
    71% of Americans say they feel a lot of sympathy for the Israeli people over the attacks, with nearly all, 96%, expressing at least some sympathy.

Hizbullah Destroys Israeli Surveillance Cameras along the Lebanese Border - Kareem Chehayeb (AP)
    Hizbullah said Monday it has started destroying surveillance cameras at several Israeli army posts along the Lebanese border, releasing a video showing snipers shooting at and destroying surveillance cameras at five points, including one outside the Israeli town of Metula.

Fatah Participated in Kidnapping Jews on Oct. 7 (X)
    Stills from a horrific video released by Fatah terrorists in Gaza show that their men participated in the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel and also kidnapped Jews.

America Isn't at War, but Iran Is - William McGurn (Wall Street Journal)
    The greatest obstacle to peace in the Middle East is the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    When I worked for President George W. Bush, he would remind us that al-Qaeda was at war with America long before we were at war with them. The same holds for Iran.
    So far 30 Americans have died in this latest conflict with Hamas. But Iran has been killing Americans for decades. Iran gets away with it because it relies on proxies to do the dirty work.
    After the Hamas assault, the sense is that this is an Israeli war in which the Americans are unlucky bystanders.
    But this conflict will quickly become an American war if Hamas executes any American hostages or uses them as human shields.
    Two years ago, Iranian state television aired a video showing an Iranian missile striking the U.S. Capitol and consuming it in flames. It ended with Iran "liberating" Jerusalem.
    By now our experience in the Middle East ought to have taught us that when people say they want to kill you, believe them.

FBI: Jews Again Faced the Most Religion-Based Hate Crimes in 2022 - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
    American Jews again faced far more religion-based hate crimes than members of other religions in 2022, according to a report Monday by the FBI.
    There were 1,305 offenses committed against Jews, far outnumbering the second-largest category, 205 anti-Muslim crimes.
    There were 775 cases of anti-Jewish destruction, damage or vandalism of property; 358 cases of intimidation; 103 cases of simple assault; 38 cases of aggravated assault; and eight cases of larceny or theft.

American Volunteer Firefighters Came to Help Israel - Linda Dayan (Ha'aretz)
    23 American firefighters from the Emergency Volunteers Project left their homes to join the response effort in Israel as Hamas continues firing rockets on Israeli communities.
    Morris Morgan of Mariposa, California, is stationed in the central Israeli city of Ramle. His first call after landing was to a car that was engulfed in flames after being hit by rocket fire. Morgan said, "I just felt honored to be here, especially at this time."
    Firefighters must respond to every fallen rocket. The hot metal can start fires, and sometimes the explosive load remains intact and a bomb squad needs to be called in to dispose of it.
    50 more American firefighters are on standby, ready to fly over at a moment's notice.
    Yaron Koren, the project's commander, said, "These wonderful people come in and help our firefighting teams, and during wartime and crises like wildfires, they join our teams and help us, and do exceptional work."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hundreds Reported Killed in Gaza Hospital Explosion amid Islamic Jihad Rocket Barrage - Najib Jobain
    A massive blast rocked a Gaza City hospital packed with wounded and other Palestinians seeking shelter Tuesday, killing hundreds of people, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said. Israel blamed a rocket misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The IDF said Islamic Jihad militants had fired a barrage of rockets near the hospital and that "intelligence from multiple sources" indicated the group was responsible.
        IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the army determined there were no air force, ground or naval attacks in the area at the time of the blast. He said radar detected outgoing rocket fire at the same moment, and intercepted communications indicated that Islamic Jihad fired the rockets.
        Hagari also shared aerial footage collected by a military drone that showed a blast that he said was inconsistent with Israeli weaponry. He said that since the war began, 450 rockets fired at Israel had landed in Gaza, "endangering and harming the lives of Gazan residents."  (AP)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Those Who Murdered Our Children also Murder Their Own Children"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on X on Tuesday, "The entire world should know: It was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza, and not the IDF. Those who brutally murdered our children also murder their own children."  (X)
        See also Israeli President Herzog: Shame on the Media Who Broadcast a Blood Libel around the Globe
    President Isaac Herzog wrote on X on Tuesday, "An Islamic Jihad missile has killed many Palestinians at a Gazan hospital - a place where lives should be saved. Shame on the media who swallow the lies of Hamas and Islamic Jihad - broadcasting a 21st century blood libel around the globe. Shame on the vile terrorists in Gaza who willfully spill the blood of the innocent. Never before has the choice been clearer. Israel is standing against an enemy made of pure evil. If you stand for humanity - for the value of all human life - you stand with Israel."  (X)
  • Biden Meets with Israeli Leaders in Wartime Visit - Betsy Klein
    President Joe Biden arrived in Israel Wednesday in a forceful public show of support since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that left 1,400 Israelis and dozens of Americans dead. Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "Americans are grieving with you." Biden said it was important he "personally come." "I wanted the people of Israel - the people of the world - to know where the United States stands....The world is looking. Israel has a value set like the United States does, and other democracies. And they're looking to see what we're going to do."
        Netanyahu called Biden's presence "deeply moving" and thanked Biden for the "unequivocal support" and "unprecedented" cooperation between the two nations. "From the moment Israel was attacked, you've rightly drawn a clear line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism."
        The trip comes after a horrifying blast at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City. Biden said, "Based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you."  (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Four IDF Soldiers Hurt in Hizbullah Missile Attack on Lebanon Border - Emanuel Fabian
    Hizbullah fired an anti-tank missile from Lebanon at Israeli forces near Shtula, a moshav in northern Israel early Wednesday, wounding four soldiers. The IDF responded with artillery shelling at the source of the missile fire. On Tuesday night, IDF planes carried out strikes against Hizbullah sites and observation posts in south Lebanon in response to attacks on the border. On Tuesday, Hizbullah launched six anti-tank guided missiles at Israeli towns and military posts along the border, wounding three people. Hizbullah also opened fire with light arms at a number of IDF posts along the border. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Eliminates Top Hamas Commander - Emanuel Fabian
    Ayman Nofal, commander of Hamas' Central Gaza Brigade and a member of its General Military Council, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday. Nofal had carried out "numerous attacks against Israel and security forces," the IDF said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • When Hamas Attacked, This Israeli Kibbutz Fought Back and Won - David S. Cloud
    At 6:56 a.m. on Oct. 7, Moshe Kaplan sent an urgent alert to his volunteer security force in Mefalsim, a kibbutz where he served as security chief. "There's a shooting in the village from the gate!" he texted after militants fired at his car as he drove past the main entrance. He had trained a dozen men for this moment, a surprise attack from nearby Gaza.
        More than two dozen Hamas fighters from Gaza had arrived with orders to subdue the small security force. The volunteers rushed from their homes in helmets and protective vests, toting M16 rifles. Outnumbered and fighting alone or in pairs, the men mounted a life-or-death stand.
        Shaked Porat, 43, part of Mefalsim's security force, saw four armed men in vests and black jeans. Porat realized they were militants and started shooting. A resident who watched the exchange of gunfire from an upstairs window yelled a warning to Porat: "They are throwing grenades!" Porat ducked and escaped injury. When one of the militants ran from a yard into the open, Porat shot him. A second attacker raised his head from behind the car, and Porat said he shot him, too. The others ran away.
        A group of militants made their way to a dormitory for foreign workers employed in the kibbutz. A dozen Thai workers hiding there were loaded at gunpoint onto a wagon pulled by a tractor that steered toward the front gate. They were intercepted by the security volunteers. One of the kibbutz defenders shot at the wagon, and the militants fled, leaving the workers behind.
        David Rosenberg, a member of the volunteer force, stood on his second-floor balcony where he kept watch on Mefalsim's southeast fence, armed with his M16. He saw a truck carrying a dozen armed men and a motorcycle ferrying two gunmen roaring across an open field toward the fence.
        Rosenberg and Eli Levi, 48, start shooting at the attackers, together with Noam Kazaz, 52. Their heavy gunfire prompted the motorcycle driver to turn around. The men riding on the truck jumped off and flattened on the ground. Levi thought he could see several had been hit. They kept shooting for the next 90 minutes - until Israeli soldiers arrived. No Mefalsim residents were killed or taken hostage. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Survivor's Account from Kibbutz Nir Oz - Neomit Dekel-Chen
    Neomit Dekel-Chen, 63, has been a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz for the last 30 years. "After a half hour of nonstop red-alert sirens and incoming missiles, we started receiving messages that Hamas terrorists were everywhere in the kibbutz....I went into the security room alone. I heard all around people speaking Arabic; they had entered my house, they were breaking everything."
        After the room started filling up with smoke, she ran out to escape, but "They captured me. They caught my neighbor too....They led me barefoot in the direction of the fields, to the back gate of the kibbutz, toward Gaza. Along the way I saw houses in flames, and I understood no one was going to get out of those burning houses alive....We walked for about 150 meters on the road toward Gaza. I saw the terrorists walking with their loot, bulging suitcases, televisions, electric wagons used by elders. They had taken everything."
        "I was with a neighbor who told me they had killed her son and taken her husband....A tuktuk vehicle pulling an open cart stopped beside us. In the cart there were five people, all from the kibbutz. My good friend was there with three little girls, two of them only 3 years old....They continued to drive with us back toward Gaza, when an IDF helicopter appeared above us. At some point the helicopter shot at the terrorists.
        "All the terrorists were dead and we were alive, except for one of the women with us. She had died in the arms of her daughter, who had come to the kibbutz to visit and now would not leave her mother. I took one of the little girls in my arms, another friend took a second little girl and we started running towards the fields."
        "I was hit with shrapnel in my head, knee and back. I was bleeding. I lay down on the ground and a tractor showed up....There were terrorists on it....I decided to play dead - and they didn't take me. They took the three little girls...everyone who was there and still alive. They took them all to Gaza. More terrorists in more cars drove by, loaded with the things they had looted."
        "Every time more terrorists drove by, I played dead again, which I could do as I was covered in blood.... I lifted up my head and saw the kibbutzim in flames - Magen, Nir Oz and Nirim. They were all burning."  (JTA)
  • Survivor of Hamas Festival Attack Tells a D.C. Synagogue Her Story - Tara Bahrampour
    Noa Ben Artzi, 25, barely survived the massacre at a music festival in Israel on Oct. 7. She told American Jewish leaders on Tuesday that when Hamas gunmen overran the festival site in Re'im, she took cover in a small cement shelter with other concertgoers.
        "Thirty people fell on top of me. Everyone wanted to save their life," she said. "Next thing I know, they're throwing five grenades inside, body parts are flying around, and all I hear around me is people suffocating, people on top of one another and a lot of shots from within." She recalled how the attackers burned bodies at the entrance to the shelter, filling it with smoke. Some people fled the shelter in search of fresh air, only to be shot when they stepped out. The attack left at least 260 people dead - part of a multipronged assault in which Hamas killed at least 1,400 people in Israel and took 200 hostages into Gaza. (Washington Post)
  • A War Against the Return of Jewish Helplessness - Yossi Klein Halevi
    When Israelis say the images of the Hamas massacre are "unbearable," we mean it literally. We cannot bear this, cannot allow the massacre to redefine us as a nation. We are at war to erase the catastrophic perception of Israelis as victims. Nothing is more antithetical to the Israeli ethos than for Jews to be burned alive with their hands bound behind their backs.
        Israel faces a genocidal regime on its border. That regime must be destroyed not only for our sake but for the sake of the region. Israel's most urgent need is the immediate restoration of our shattered deterrence. To lose deterrence is to invite aggression on our other besieged borders. That is what makes this an existential war for Israel. Those who caution against invading Gaza rarely offer Israel an alternative. Not to react decisively carries potentially greater danger for Israel.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas' Strategy of Human Sacrifice - Douglas J. Feith
    After Israeli military commanders told Palestinians living in Gaza to evacuate to the south, since Israel plans to destroy Hamas assets there, Hamas leaders demanded that the people stay in place. Why? Because Hamas has adopted a war strategy to maximize civilian deaths on its own side. This is so strange and evil that it should appall any decent person. This is not a human shield strategy. It's a human sacrifice strategy.
        Defense officials in numerous countries, for operational reasons and to comply with international laws of war, take pains to locate their military assets away from their civilians and to maximize their protection. Hamas officials do the opposite. As UN officials have disapprovingly noted, Hamas stores ammunition in schools, puts missile launchers adjacent to mosques, sets up command centers in hospitals, and generally bases its operations in densely populated civilian neighborhoods.
        Israelis pride themselves on acting humanely, even in war. Their military officers distinguish between civilian and military sites and never purposefully target the former. Innocent Palestinians deserve sympathy. But when Americans, Europeans, and others misdirect their outrage at Israel, failing to grasp Hamas' responsibility, they are encouraging the very cruelty they intend to condemn. Blame for the purposeful sacrificing of innocent Palestinians goes first and foremost to Hamas, to be sure, but also to those of us in the outside world duped by this strategy.
        The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. (Free Press)
  • Hamas Is Responsible for the Deaths of Palestinians in Gaza - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Hamas is responsible for all deaths on both sides because of its decision to start the war not just by attacking Israel, but by deliberately sending people to commit unspeakable atrocities against civilians, many of them families. President Biden's argument about most Palestinians having "nothing to do" with Hamas is flat-out wrong.
        Hamas has governed Gaza for 16 years and though there has been some grumbling, the tyrannical Islamist rule the terrorist organization imposed has for the most part gone unchallenged by those living there. The unfortunate truth about the political culture of the Palestinians is that it valorizes terrorism and treats those who shed Jewish blood as gaining legitimacy for doing so. Hamas won an election in Gaza in 2006 and most observers believe that it would again.
        Biden wants to separate the Palestinian people from Hamas. That argument would be stronger if Palestinians didn't routinely take to the streets to celebrate terror attacks against Israel, passing out candy to children and hoisting them on their shoulders, weapons in hand. There were cheers for the Hamas murderers when they returned in triumph to Gaza on Oct. 7, where they displayed their captives and the corpses of some of the Jews they had slain.
        The narrative about Palestinian victimization is a way to deflect attention away from the refusal of either Fatah or Hamas to make peace, as well as to create a false moral equivalence between those who commit atrocities and those who seek to stop them. The only way to solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is to get rid of Hamas and convince the Palestinians to give up their sick fantasies about Israel's extinction. (JNS)
  • Why No Jewish Lives Matter Movement? - Dan Hannan
    When a black man was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020, it was treated as an attack on black people everywhere. Statues of white men were taken down. Police officers around the world sank to one knee. Corporations, charities, and arts groups endorsed Black Lives Matter.
        The killings in Israel were no less traumatic - on the contrary, they were both more numerous and more disturbing, the instinct to protect babies being among the most powerful in the human psyche. Nor were they any less racist. Hundreds of civilians were slaughtered purely on the grounds of their ethnicity.
        But instead of the horrors in Israel leading to a global Jewish Lives Matter movement, they have led to vandalized synagogues and extra security at Jewish schools, and as a trigger for literal attacks on Jews elsewhere.
        Pro-Palestine demonstrators who came out on the day of the attack did not have the cover of protesting against an Israeli response, for there had not yet been a response. They were cheering the slaughter of families, pure and simple. "Free Palestine!" chant the crowds. And we all now understand exactly what they mean: free from Jews. We see you.
        The writer is a former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for southeast England (1999 to 2020). (Washington Examiner)

Can Israel Handle a War on Two Fronts? - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Tamir Hayman interviewed by Amy Mackinnon (Foreign Policy)

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Tamir Hayman, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is Managing Director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
  • To Israel's north, "Hizbullah is not actively, full-scale involved, but actively, below the threshold of war, trying to create distraction in order to relieve tensions over Gaza, using drones, exploiting the Hamas capabilities and the Palestinian capabilities to launch mortar attacks on the Iron Dome [missile defense system]."
  • "We have deployed all of our forces in order to be more prepared for, God forbid, another attack by special operatives from Hizbullah. We are fully ready for that kind of a scenario....In my opinion, we should secure the flank, but the main operational effort should be concentrated on Gaza."
  • Q: How do you take down Hamas without a horrific civilian toll?
    Hayman: "We are trying to evacuate the massive, uninvolved civilian [population] from all of northern Gaza, and later on we can strike. We know where they are. We can strike with air power; we can maneuver to them; we can root out those major capabilities."
  • "We can prioritize what are the special capabilities we want to root out; for example, special operation capabilities, the aerial unit, the naval unit, the rocket unit - all of those elements that can target, and did target, Israeli civilians....The first element is crushing the military capabilities. The second element is removing Hamas."
  • Q: Do you think Hizbullah has the appetite to open a second front in the north?
    Hayman: "I'm not sure that they have the appetite, but the opportunity may give them the appetite. If they see weakness, they see opportunity. Probably, Hizbullah thinks that they cannot sacrifice themselves for the Palestinians because their whole reason for existence is Iran, not Gaza."
  • Q: Is the IDF ready and equipped to handle a two-front war?
    Hayman: "Yes, we can handle more than one front. We can handle even three fronts. But the military decision, victory, will not be simultaneous, but that's no problem. We can finish one and move to another; we have enough capabilities that can do that."

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