October 20, 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:

U.S. Navy Destroyer in Red Sea Intercepts Houthi Cruise Missiles Launched toward Israel - Luis Martinez (ABC News)
    The USS Carney, a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer in the northern Red Sea, on Thursday shot down three land attack cruise missiles and eight drones launched by Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen that the Pentagon said were potentially headed toward targets in Israel.
    "They were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea potentially to targets in Israel," said Pentagon spokesman Brig.-Gen. Pat Ryder.
    On Wednesday, three drones were shot down by U.S. military forces as they neared bases in western and northern Iraq. Another drone was shot down near U.S. forces in eastern Syria on Thursday.

U.S. to Send 2 Iron Dome Batteries to Israel - Barak Ravid (Axios)
    The U.S. is planning to send two Iron Dome batteries to help bolster Israel's defense capabilities along the Israel-Lebanon border, according to Israeli and U.S. officials.
    The U.S. had previously purchased the batteries from Israel.

Hamas: We Have Captured Enough Israeli Soldiers to Negotiate Release of All Palestinian Prisoners (Reuters)
    Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said on Thursday that the group has a number of Israeli soldiers held as hostages, which are enough to negotiate releasing all the Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Not All Israeli Hostages Are Being Held by Hamas - Maria Abi-Habib (New York Times)
    Osama Hamdan, a member of Hamas' political bureau in Lebanon, said Thursday that not all of the Israeli hostages who were taken to Gaza are being held by his group, a claim that will most likely complicate negotiations for their release.
    He said other groups, specifically Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is also holding some of the hostages.
    A spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Musab Al-Breim, said that the group had around "30 prisoners."

Video: Massacre in Israel from the Eyes of Hamas (Israel Defense Forces-Ynet News)
    The IDF on Wednesday released graphic footage of the massacre in Israel on Oct. 7, captured by local cameras, dashcams, and bodycams retrieved from Hamas terrorists.
    The video documents how Hamas methodically forced their way into homes in Kibbutz Be'eri, Kfar Aza, Kissufim, and Kibbutz Re'im.
    Some Israeli victims were kept alive and used as bait to lure others into opening their doors.

Hamas Terrorists Took Captagon Pills to Help Them Slaughter Israelis (Walla-Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas terrorists who carried out the attack on Oct. 7 were under the influence of Captagon, a synthetic amphetamine-type stimulant, Israel's Channel 12 reported.
    The pills were recovered from the pockets of many terrorists.
    The drug allowed the terrorists to commit heinous acts with a sense of calmness and indifference, while it kept them highly alert for extended periods.
    Captagon was also used by ISIS fighters.

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Bedouin Bus Driver Saved 30 People from Hamas Massacre - Deborah Danan (JTA)
    On Oct. 7, Youssef Ziadna, 47, an Arab Bedouin from the Israeli city of Rahat, rescued 30 Jewish Israelis from the massacre at the outdoor party near Re'im, dodging bullets and veering off-road to bring them to safety.
    Ziadna had driven 9 Israelis from the town of Omer to the rave at Kibbutz Re'im. At 6 a.m. on Oct. 7 he received a call for help from them and raced to the scene of the party, where an inferno of bodies, blood and bullets reigned.
    24 additional people crammed into the 14-seat minibus, and on the way, they rescued another couple.
    Ziadna says he also caught sight of a motorized Hamas paraglider hovering above, spraying bullets with a machine gun.
    Under constant gunfire, the minibus sped away. Ziadna's intimate knowledge of the terrain proved lifesaving, and he was able to cut a route through dirt roads, avoiding the main thoroughfare where terrorists were ambushing escapees. Many other cars followed his vehicle.
    Ziadna is grieving a cousin who was murdered during the attack and worrying about four other family members who remain missing.

Israeli Progressives See Disturbing Trend in Progressive Political Culture - Ran Heilbrunn (Newsweek)
    We 75 Israel-based academics, thought leaders and progressive activists committed to peace, equality, justice, and human rights, are deeply concerned by the inadequate response from certain American and European progressives regarding the targeting of Israeli civilians by Hamas.
    Many of our peers worldwide have expressed strong opposition to Hamas' attack and have offered unambiguous support for its victims.
    Prominent voices in the Arab world, too, have made it clear that there is no justification for sadistic murder of innocent people.
    However, to our dismay, some individuals who were, until now, our political partners have reacted with indifference to these horrific events and sometimes even justified Hamas' actions.
    There are even those - no small number - for whom the darkest day in our society's history was a cause for celebration.
    We never imagined that advocates of equality, freedom, justice, and welfare would reveal such extreme moral insensitivity and political recklessness.
    Hamas is a theocratic and repressive organization that vehemently opposes the attempt to promote peace and equality in the Middle East.
    Its core commitments are fundamentally inconsistent with progressive principles, and thus the inclination of certain people to react affirmatively to its actions is utterly absurd.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden: When Terrorists Don't Pay a Price for Their Terror, They Cause More Chaos and Death
    U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the American people on Thursday: "Earlier this morning, I returned from Israel. They tell me I'm the first American president to travel there during a war....I met with Israelis who had personally lived through horrific horror of the attack by Hamas on the 7th of October. More than 1,300 people slaughtered in Israel, including at least 32 American citizens. Scores of innocents - from infants to elderly grandparents, Israelis, Americans - taken hostage."
        "History has taught us that when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror...they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going, and the cost and the threats to America and to the world keep rising."
        "In Israel, we must make sure that they have what they need to protect their people today and always. The security package I'm sending to Congress and asking Congress to do is an unprecedented commitment to Israel's security that will sharpen Israel's qualitative military edge, which we've committed to."  (White House)
        See also Biden Is Expected to Request $10 Billion in Military Aid for Israel - Karoun Demirjian
    President Biden is expected to ask Congress in the coming days to approve $10 billion in mostly military assistance to help Israel, as well $60 billion for Ukraine and $30 billion for U.S. border security and helping beef up the defenses of Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region to counter threats from China. (New York Times)
  • European Parliament Calls for Hamas to Be "Eliminated"
    The European Parliament on Thursday voted 500-21 with 24 abstentions to strongly condemn Hamas' despicable terrorist attacks against Israel, express their support to Israel and its people, and underline the need to "eliminate the terrorist organization Hamas." They also called for the immediate release of all hostages kidnapped by Hamas and recognize Israel's right to self-defense. (European Parliament)
  • Clues that the Arab Hospital Strike Came from Gaza - Joe Barnes
    Footage taken of rockets fired east from Gaza in the direction of Israel on Tuesday show one appearing to burst into flames mid-flight. Weapons experts say video clips seem to show a missile failure, which may have led to parts of it falling out of the sky. The Gaza hospital that was struck is located between the apparent rocket launch area and the Israeli border. Fabian Hoffman, a missile technology expert from the University of Oslo, said a "rocket experiencing some type of systematic error causing it to fall on the hospital" was the "most plausible explanation so far."
        Justin Bronk, a leading air power expert at the UK's Royal United Services Institute, believes that the explosion on the ground appeared to be a fireball, likely caused by part of the rocked holding the fuel exploding on impact.
        Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, wrote on Twitter: "The photos of the scene are, to me, not consistent with an airstrike and are not consistent with claims that 500-plus people were killed."
        There also appeared to be very minimal damage to the nearby hospital building, which is around 20 meters from the impact site. The typical "kill zone" blast radius of Israeli JDAM missiles is 33.5 meters, while the estimated blast radius of the explosion at the hospital is 10 meters. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Airlifts Arms to Israel - Avi Scharf
    According to online aviation tracking websites, at least 11 U.S. C-17 heavy-transport aircraft landed over the past 10 days at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport and the Israeli Air Force's Nevatim base. In addition, an Israeli cargo plane made two flights to Dover Air Force Base in the U.S. According to an IDF spokesman, it carried "advanced ammunition designed to allow significant strikes and to prepare for additional scenarios."
        According to reports from the U.S., Washington has provided Israel with additional Iron Dome interceptors, advanced guided weaponry and bunker-busting bombs. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Armored Jeeps Sent by U.S. Arrive in Israel - Yoav Zitun
    A U.S. cargo plane delivered the first shipment of armored vehicles for the IDF at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday to replace dozens of vehicles damaged in recent fighting. (Ynet News)
  • 3 Injured in Rocket Strikes on Kiryat Shmona - Emanuel Fabian
    Three Israelis, including a 5-year-old girl, were injured when a rocket fired from Lebanon slammed into a home in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel on Thursday. Dozens of rockets were fired in several barrages, with some intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.
        Earlier in the day, two anti-tank guided missiles were fired at Kibbutz Manara. Gunfire was also heard near Zar'it. The IDF responded with artillery shelling and airstrikes toward the sites where the attacks originated. (Times of Israel)
        See also Northern City of Kiryat Shmona to Be Evacuated after Rocket Fire from Lebanon
    The Ministry of Defense and the IDF on Friday announced the evacuation of the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona due to rising tensions on the Lebanese border. This comes a day after 30 rockets were fired from Lebanese territory at northern Israeli communities by Hamas. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Border Policeman Killed near Tulkarem - Emanuel Fabian
    Master Sgt. Maxim Razinkov was fatally wounded by a bomb hurled at Border Police forces during intense clashes with Palestinian gunmen in the Nur Shams refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarem Thursday. Another nine officers were wounded. Israel carried out a drone strike during the fighting, killing several Palestinians. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Israel at War

  • A Time for War - Amb. Dror Eydar
    The earth is still running with rivers of blood from our brothers and sisters who were raped and slaughtered and burned alive. Their blood cries out from the ground calling for the elimination of the evil that caused their deaths and to avenge them. What happened on Oct. 7 in the Jewish communities along the Gaza border was genocide, a shocking proof of what these savages would do to us all, given half a chance.
        U.S. President Joe Biden has demonstrated his deep commitment to the State of Israel. Thank you, Mr. President. We will always remember that you stood by us during this dark period. Nevertheless, Biden still holds that "Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people," another case of Western wishful thinking. Gazans elected Hamas. Every poll shows that Hamas would win new elections.
        The savages who slaughtered and raped and looted and beheaded were a mix of trained terrorists and "ordinary" Gazans who came to participate in the butchery and looting. In the streets of Gaza, too, the mob cheered the "heroism" of the martyrs and praised the rape of our daughters and the murderers of our children. Where did tens of thousands of Hamas terrorists come from? From the Gazan public.
        The writer served as Israel's Ambassador to Italy. (Israel Hayom)
  • The IDF Must Peel Off the Top Layer of Gaza to Reach Hamas - Lenny Ben-David
    In the May 2021 fighting in Gaza, the Israel Air Force hit roads under which Hamas tunnels were dug. It had developed sophisticated bombs to penetrate roads and tunnels and then collapse the tunnels. Photographic evidence at the time showed small-diameter bomb craters and large areas of road that had collapsed downward. This article includes a number of photos showing this.
        Hamas has boasted over decades that it had dug "hundreds of miles" of tunnels under neighborhoods and buildings were superhighways containing weapons depots, command centers, rocket launchers, and quick getaways. On June 15, 2021, the Qatari Al Jazeera network broadcast a video of the extensive electrified and ventilated Hamas "Metro" tunnels.
        The writer, former Deputy Chief of Staff in Israel's Washington Embassy, is Director of the Institute for U.S.-Israel Relations at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affair)

  • The Gaza Hospital Incident

  • The Arab Street Has a New Blood Libel: that Jews Slaughter Palestinians in Their Hospitals - Elliot Kaufman
    Hamas said Tuesday that an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza City hospital killed at least 500 Palestinians. It was a lie. Turns out it wasn't Israeli, it wasn't an airstrike, it didn't hit the hospital, nowhere close to 500 people were killed, and Hamas knew it.
        The question is why the media and so many others ran with the story of Israeli war crimes. They did so on nothing but the word of the jihadist group that committed the largest mass slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust. The media bought it and shifted the Western discussion to what Israel had supposedly done rather than what Hamas actually did. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Deadly Nature of Psychological Warfare - Irwin J. Mansdorf, PhD
    The international media again fell victim to the manipulative use of civilian deaths and unwittingly became a pawn in the hands of terrorists, as shown by the recent false reports of Israeli responsibility for a missile strike on a Gaza hospital. Psychological warfare fans the flames of incitement and reinforces the murderous plans of terrorists, who are given a pass by the media.
        The rush to judgment after the self-inflicted attack by Gazan terrorists on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital is but another example of how the rules of reporting are no less important than the much-touted rules of war. Basic journalistic integrity includes verification, and that is precisely what the media outlets involved did not do.
        While some media sources "protected" themselves by adding "Palestinians claim" or "according to Palestinian sources" after describing the attack, many did not. The first impression provided by the premature reports not only placed blame on Israel, but also contributed to inflaming the darkest passions of those who could easily turn to violence against innocents.
        In this psychological war, the hostages are journalists. Let's all hope they free themselves sooner rather than later.
        The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs specializing in political psychology and a member of the emergency division of IDF Homefront Command. (JNS)
  • Britain's National Broadcaster Takes the Word of a Barbaric Terrorist Group over that of a Democratic Government - Stephen Glover
    On Tuesday evening, there was a blast at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza in which hundreds of people are reported to have been killed. Although Israel quickly denied any responsibility, reporter Jon Donnison declared on BBC News: "It's hard to see what else this could be, really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli air strike, or several air strikes."
        This opinion was broadcast to huge numbers of people, including in the Middle East. BBC is much-respected in the Arab world, and its word is taken seriously there by politicians and ordinary folk alike. The instant condemnation of the hospital bombing by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt - and their conviction that Israel was guilty - must owe a lot to the BBC's reporting in the immediate aftermath.
        Veteran BBC correspondent Jeremy Bowen observed that the missile which had hit the hospital was "very powerful" and questioned whether Palestinian Islamic Jihad (blamed for the blast by the Israelis) possessed missiles that "had that much power in them." Since the BBC rushed to judgment, the IDF has produced evidence which plausibly suggests that they weren't responsible for the attack on the hospital.
        Anyone watching Jon Donnison's report, and probably Jeremy Bowen's, would have got the impression that the Israelis were guilty of a war crime. Hamas' claims about the attack were taken at face value, whereas the BBC makes sure to tell us that Israel's claims haven't been verified. What a very odd state of affairs it is when our national broadcaster is readier to take the word of a barbaric terrorist organization than that of a democratically elected government. (Daily Mail-UK)

  • Hamas

  • How the West Inadvertently Funded Hamas - Rory Jones
    Hamas has raised tens of millions of dollars by skimming off humanitarian assistance and taxing economic activity stirred by trade with Gaza, according to independent researchers and current and former Western security officials. International aid "was designed to be humanitarian in nature, but money is fungible, and that also allows Hamas to divert money from providing for its people to support its war machine," said Alex Zerden, a former senior U.S. Treasury national security official.
        On Wednesday, President Biden announced the U.S. would send $100 million in humanitarian assistance to provide essential needs to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. He warned Hamas not to steal or divert the humanitarian aid. If history is any guide, that will be hard to police.
        Western intelligence shows that Qatari funding was siphoned off by Hamas for its military operations. The international community, too, funded schools and hospitals run by UN agencies, helping Hamas avoid actually paying for the costs of governing the territory it controls.
        Western officials say that Iran, besides providing arms and intelligence, has been giving Hamas around $100 million annually in recent years specifically for its military operations. "Iran is complicit in this attack [on Israel] in a broad sense because they have provided the lion's share of the funding for the military wing of Hamas," said U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
        "The international community became ready to help Hamas govern Gaza and they were allowing funds to flow into Hamas' pocket. Everybody knew that," said Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former head of research for Israeli military intelligence. "The idea was that we help Hamas govern Gaza so that Hamas will provide some sort of quiet and responsible leadership and they will not be engaged in terror attacks. That was the logic behind it, totally ignoring the fact that Hamas is a terror organization."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas Has Always Been an Impediment to Peace - George Monastiriakos
    No country wants peace in the Middle East more than Israel. Jerusalem's relentless efforts to be accepted in the community of Middle Eastern and North African states speak for themselves. Israel has consistently made reasonable and generous concessions to its neighbors in exchange for peace. Israel even dismantled Jewish communities and withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005 as a sign of good faith to the Palestinians.
        Hamas mercilessly massacred members of Fatah to gain control of the enclave in 2007. Despite multiple reconciliation efforts, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) governing the West Bank still isn't on speaking terms with Hamas-controlled Gaza.
        Hamas had 16 years to show the international community what type of state it could build. Hamas embezzled foreign assistance and prioritized manufacturing weapons instead of building infrastructure. Hamas repurposed Gaza's pipes to build rockets while begging Israel for running water. Rather than building homes to house the homeless in Gaza's refugee camps, Hamas built an extensive network of underground tunnels to launch attacks against the Jewish state.
        No sane and self-respecting country would accept the brutal crimes against humanity that Hamas perpetrated against Israelis on Oct. 7, nor would they tolerate the endless amount of hatred and terrorism it has exported to Israel over the years.
        The writer is a fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. (National Post-Canada)

  • The terrorist armies that Hamas and Islamic Jihad deploy hundreds of meters from Israeli communities in the northern Negev and 70 km. from Tel Aviv constitute a threat that endangers the security of the citizens of Israel, their sense of safety, and their ability to maintain a normal lifestyle and economy.
  • This threat was realized in the massacre on Oct. 7, which was carried out by thousands of motivated, trained and well-equipped terrorists who infiltrated Israel, and by the Gazan mob that followed them. Israel and its citizens cannot and do not want to live any longer under this threat.
  • In order to change the situation, it is necessary to remove Hamas' sovereignty and to destroy to the core its and the other organizations' military capabilities and infrastructure. We must ensure that Hamas and the other organizations cannot restore their military capabilities or establish new infrastructures under a new disguise.
  • A maneuver into northern Gaza to gain military control of the area will be needed to halt missile launching to the home front, as well as to "behead" the leadership and destroy the military capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This is where the operational governing center of Hamas is located, and thus it will lose its "capital." In the southern region of Gaza, Israel will work to achieve the same goals using other methods.
  • In northern Israel, the IDF will continue to fight against Hizbullah, against Palestinians operating from Lebanese territory, and possibly also against militias and armed groups from Syria and Iraq. This will be done in an effort to keep the conflicts below the threshold of war and confine them to the border areas. The IDF will continue to maintain alertness for a large-scale military action in Lebanon, including ground maneuvers, if Hizbullah at the behest of the Iranians launches a total war. The IDF has the ability to conduct active combat on a large scale on two fronts.
  • Israel's strategic objectives include the demilitarization of Gaza. Israel's security arrangements will include a security perimeter between one and three kilometers wide, which the residents of Gaza will not be allowed to enter without risking their life. The IDF will not stay in Gaza longer than is necessary to achieve the immediate combat goals and enable the establishment of an alternative administration. However, the IDF will retain the right to "hot pursuit" to thwart terrorist attacks and hostile intentions.
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