October 31, 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:

IDF Rescues Woman Soldier Kidnapped by Hamas (Ynet News)
    IDF forces on Monday succeeded in releasing Pvt. Ori Megidish, who served as a lookout on the Gaza border and was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.
    She was found to be in good health and was reunited with her family.

Israel Intercepts Houthi Missile with Arrow Defense System - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Israel's long-range Arrow air defense system intercepted a surface-to-surface missile launched by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen on Tuesday, aimed at the city of Eilat, in the first operational use of the system during the war with Hamas.
    The IDF said the air force tracked the missile's trajectory and intercepted it "at the most appropriate operational time and location."
    The IDF also said its fighter jets downed another two "hostile targets" - believed to be drones - flying over the Red Sea.
    Tens of thousands of people displaced by the Hamas assault on Israel and Hizbullah attacks on the north are being temporarily housed in Eilat.

Number of Israeli Hostages in Gaza Reaches 240 - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the number of Israeli hostages in Gaza is now 240.
    There are still dozens more missing people whose fates are currently unknown.

Israel's Emergency Medical Service to Receive $88 Million, Half from Michael Bloomberg - Lisa Lerer (New York Times)
    Former New York City mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg said on Monday he planned to match contributions he solicited through an email appeal for the American Friends of Magen David Adom.
    Nearly 34,000 donors gave $44 million over 11 days. Bloomberg said he will donate $44 million to reach a total amount of $88 million.
    "I am encouraged that so many of us are stepping up to help our ally during these challenging times," he said.
    The new funds will help buy ambulances, medical equipment and protective vests and helmets for emergency workers, said Catherine Reed, chief executive of American Friends of Magen David Adom.

IDF Soldiers Lost Their Lives to Arm Rocket Interceptors - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    IDF soldiers manning Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system lost three of its soldiers in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.
    When the rocket barrages began at 6:30 a.m., the soldiers at the battery near the Gaza border launched intercepting missiles against numerous rockets, preventing dozens of rocket impacts and hundreds of casualties.
    Concerned that interceptor missiles could soon run out for other batteries stationed near the Gaza border, Capt. Sahar Saudian volunteered to provide ammunition to the other batteries, together with Sgt. Binyamin Gabriel and Sgt. Nativ Kuzaro.
    They encountered Hamas terrorists who opened fire on their vehicle. All three were killed.

Video: They Believed in Peace. Hamas Stole Their Empathy - Iris Zaki (New York Times)
    The residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where more than 100 Israelis were killed, reflect on what they lost on Oct. 7.
    Survivor #1: "All of my friends in the neighborhood are dead, along with their children. We were crawling in the field, in the ditches."
    "I truly believed that the people on the other side were not terrorists. They want to live in peace like me. But now we can't trust anyone."
    Survivor #2: "I lost my father. Lawns were filled with corpses."
    "In previous rounds of conflict when I would see videos of mothers and children [in Gaza] I would cry. Really, my heart would break. Now I see it and I don't have that empathy. It's not in me anymore. It's gone from me. It's far from me."
    Survivor #3: "I always believed that a mother from one side of the border wants exactly the same thing as a mother on the other side of the border."
    "Many people from the kibbutz would volunteer to drive patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals. When we understand it's not just terrorists, it hurts so much more."

Israeli Archaeologists Help Identify Human Remains in Israeli Communities - Ruth Schuster (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have joined the effort to locate human remains in burned ruins in Israeli communities bordering Gaza following the Hamas assault on Oct. 7.
    The terrorists burned many homes to the ground. High heat renders human remains not only unidentifiable but unrecognizable to amateur eyes.
    Archaeologists, however, routinely detect and identify skeletal remains following conflagration.
    IAA director Eli Escusido told Ha'aretz, "A week ago, the commander of the Home Front Command called and explained that they suspect that a lot of the people still counted as missing may have been in houses that burned down....'We know archaeologists are trained in digging and identifying bones and other things. We want you to come and examine the burned houses.'"
    Escusido assembled a team of 20 IAA archaeologists. Starting in Kfar Aza, "we immediately found one," he said. "We searched a house where a missing woman had lived....We found human remains, with rings and necklaces that had been hers."
    "We went through all the homes at Kibbutz Be'eri, Kibbutz Nir Oz, Kissufim - all the kibbutzim, including buildings where Thai workers had lived. We found the remains of nearly 40 people."
    The archaeologists are also helping to find human remains in burned-out vehicles. Underneath one destroyed ambulance at the rave party, the team identified five bodies. In fire-gutted cars near the fence between Gaza and Israel, they found seven more.

Jihad Protests Reign on Streets of Shame - James Whale (Daily Express-UK)
    There have been disgraceful scenes from around the country in recent days of pro-Palestinian protesters calling for jihad and the end of Israel.
    And don't get me started on the disgusting footage of young women and men pulling down posters of kidnapped children.
    Can you imagine if the posters were of anyone else but Jews?
    How would we feel if more than 1,400 innocent people were massacred in a single day with more than 200 others, including the very young and old, kidnapped and taken away?
    Yet I haven't seen any pro-Israel protesters calling for death to Palestinians on the streets or talking of a holy war. Nor have I seen any incitement. Just dignified sorrow.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Troops Are Encircling Gaza City
    Israel's military appears to be approaching Gaza City from at least three sides. Photos, videos and satellite imagery show large groups of tanks and other armored vehicles advancing three miles south of Gaza's northern border, as Israel's military continues to strike nearby buildings from the air. A second group of armored vehicles is advancing near the city of Beit Hanoun. South of Gaza City, Israeli armored vehicles were positioned near Gaza's main north-south road, Salah al-Din. (New York Times)
        See also IDF Tightening Its Grip on Northern Gaza - Amos Harel
    On Monday afternoon, IDF armored forces were on the move. The IDF said a Hamas anti-tank missile squad had been identified and hit by a ground force at Al-Azhar University. Operations are already taking place in the northern part of Gaza City. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Doesn't Support Ceasefire in Gaza - Alexandra Hutzler
    National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday, "We do not believe that a ceasefire is the right answer right now [in Gaza]. We believe that a ceasefire right now benefits Hamas, and Hamas is the only one that would gain from that right now as Israel continues to prosecute their operations against Hamas leadership."
        Kirby said the administration is not "lecturing" Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu when discussing the need for Israel to follow the rules of war. "It's something that even the prime minister brings up in the conversation" with President Biden. "They both recognize that as democracies it's important to abide by the law of war to protect innocent life and to try to minimize civilian casualties."  (ABC News)
  • Hizbullah Works to Curb Losses in Clashes with Israel - Laila Bassam
    Hizbullah has lost 47 fighters to Israeli strikes at Lebanon's frontier since Oct. 7. Most of its fighters have been killed in Israeli drone strikes. "The technical superiority of the Israeli drones is making Hizbullah pay the price of this number of fighters," said Nabil Boumonsef, deputy editor-in-chief at Lebanon's Annahar. A source familiar with Hizbullah's thinking told Reuters that Hizbullah had made "arrangements to reduce the number of martyrs." Hizbullah unveiled its surface-to-air missile capability for the first time, declaring on Sunday it downed an Israeli drone.
        Since the onset of the Hamas-Israel war, Hizbullah's attacks have been calibrated to contain clashes to the border zone. Israel has said it has no interest in a conflict on its northern frontier, where seven of its soldiers have been killed. While Hamas and a Lebanese Sunni Islamist faction, Jama'a Islamiya, have fired rockets into Israel, Hizbullah itself has refrained from firing rockets. Instead, its fighters have been firing at visible targets across the frontier with Israel, using guided anti-tank missiles. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: We Are Fighting for the Free World as Well
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Monday: "Hamas will be defeated; there will be a different Gaza. For this we will need patience and time. In order to make the time, we need to ensure diplomatic support. I am in daily contact with the President of the U.S."
        "We have made it clear that we are fighting not only our war, but their war as well, because if Hamas is not defeated, then the Axis of Evil will win. And if the Axis of Evil wins, the Free World will lose. The Western world and the entire Arab world will lose, and there will be a great threat to humanity. Our battle is a battle for our existence but it is also a battle for their future."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Netanyahu: Calls for a Ceasefire Are Calls for Israel to Surrender - Amly Spiro
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the foreign media on Monday: "Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities after the horrific attacks of October 7. Calls for a ceasefire are a call for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terror, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen."
        Netanyahu said nobody would have called on the U.S. to agree to a ceasefire following the Pearl Harbor attack during World War II. He added that there must be a "moral distinction between the deliberate murder of the innocent, and the unintentional kind of casualties that accompany every legitimate war."  (Times of Israel)
        See also The Battle of Civilization: This Isn't Only Israel's War - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Video: Statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Foreign Media (Prime Minister's Office)
  • IDF Will Pace Itself as It Hunts Down Hamas Leaders - Lilach Shoval
    The IDF aims to create a ground operation that will lead to the dismantling of Hamas. Simultaneously, this operation is intended to exert heavy pressure to secure the release of the captives. IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari made it clear that Israeli troops would "pursue [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar until they reached him," adding that "the population in Gaza is already talking about Sinwar as having brought about a calamity."
        Hagari said that IDF land, air, and sea forces have eliminated high-ranking Hamas officials, and they are expanding their operations in a graded manner. The assessment is that the war will last at least several months. The IDF plans to advance slowly but surely rather than try to stage a master stroke; they talk about a protracted process. Such a course of action allows the enhancement of capabilities of the forces that will operate slowly, and enables them to work cautiously in a way that preserves their protection.
        In the post-war situation there will be a need for a new arrangement or buffer zone between Israel and Gaza and a mechanism that would tackle the arms trafficking from Sinai into Gaza. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to Allow 100 Trucks of Humanitarian Aid into Gaza Daily - Jacob Magid
    Israel has agreed to allow 100 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza each day following intensive diplomatic engagement by the Biden administration, a U.S. official said Monday. Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said, "We've amped up a lot of humanitarian assistance. I know you're going to see a big increase in humanitarian assistance in the next two or three days." In Israel, many have argued that no humanitarian aid should be allowed in Gaza unless Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad release the hundreds of Israeli hostages kidnapped on Oct. 7.
        Israeli officials have said that enhancing the amount of aid in southern Gaza will further convince civilians to move out of the north, and also give Israel more diplomatic breathing room to continue its military campaign. The Prime Minister's Office said the aid is food and medicine that is physically checked by Israeli security services before it enters. "All of the deliveries are designated for the civilian population - if it comes to light that they are being taken by Hamas, they will stop."
        State Department spokesperson Matt Miller agreed with the Israeli position on the delivery of fuel into Gaza. He said, "Hamas continues to maintain extensive fuel reserves. Rather than provide that fuel to hospitals or aid workers or for other civilian needs, however, it continues to hoard it for the benefit of its fighters and to carry out its terrorist attacks against Israel."  (Times of Israel)
  • 3 Israeli Arabs Arrested for Planning Islamic State "Terror Activity"
    Three Israeli Arab men affiliated with Islamic State, residents of Sakhnin and Arraba in the Galilee, were arrested Sunday on suspicion of planning to carry out "terror activities," the Israel Security Agency said Tuesday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Hamas Pogrom of October 7 - Suzan Quitaz
    On October 23, I was invited to view footage of the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7. The IDF decided not to release the video to the public out of respect for the victims and their families. In the video, I saw terrorists shouting in Arabic: "I swear to Allah, I just killed the coward Jew dog who was hiding under the table." That "Jew dog" was a young girl who was seen alive in the video hiding under a table. They shot her at close-range. I heard, "Give me a knife" and "pray to Allah to bless me with another Jew dog to kill."
        We saw homes soaked in blood, we saw beheaded people, people slaughtered with knives, young women who had been raped, and people burned beyond recognition. We saw CCTV footage of terrorists standing on roadways shooting at civilian cars. A car stops, terrorists surround it and continue shooting at close-range even when it's clear the occupants are already dead. In some cases, the occupants were pulled out of their cars and those who were still alive but badly injured were shot multiple times.
        We saw terrorists walking inside Jewish communities looking for people to kill, unsuspecting people, some still asleep or just woken up and having breakfast with loved ones. The terrorists peak into the windows to see if any Jews are there. They work their way through houses, shooting people trying to hide. We saw their terrified victims, people crying and begging the terrorists not to kill them. We saw a children's room soaked in blood. We saw babies, their tiny bodies covered with shots and others slaughtered with sharp objects.
        Major Ella Waweya, the deputy commander of the IDF's Arabic-language spokespersons' unit and an Israeli Arab Muslim, said, "What Hamas did is against Islam, against humanity, against everything a human being can think of. Hamas came to kill children, to kill women, and to kill the elderly. In which religion is that written? This is not in Islam. This is not humanity....This is not the war of Israel, this is the war of the whole world against Hamas-ISIS."
        The writer is a Kurdish-Iraqi journalist associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)
  • Hamas Murders Innocents. That's the Main Story Here - Timothy P. Carney
    In the aftermath of Hamas' Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, murdering hundreds of Israeli civilians, including children and the elderly, we could talk about the failures that allowed this to happen or about Palestinian civilian deaths, but the primary story regarding Israel is this: Hamas is an evil organization that planned and executed the mass murder of more than a thousand Israeli civilians and has captured, held hostage, and tortured many other Israelis and others.
        Even if we're talking about the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas had primary responsibility to care for its people and it failed, valuing conflict with Israel instead. And Hamas, as the instigator of the current war, bears primary responsibility for Israel's airstrikes.
        In a recent New York Times opinion video, the authors reject the idea that one ought clearly to take a side in this war between Israel and Hamas. They lamented "taking sides" between Israel and a murderous organization that recently launched one of the most heinous terrorist assaults in recorded history.
        Yes, we should take sides. We can argue about whether Israel is taking enough care to avoid harm to civilians in Gaza, but that's a discussion we have after we make it clear that Hamas started this war and that Israel is justified in trying to eradicate Hamas. The evil of Hamas is the primary story here.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Washington Examiner)
  • Anti-Israel Protests Stir Up Antisemitism - Amb. Alan Baker
    It is difficult to fathom the logic behind the wave of demonstrations against Israel, especially after the world has witnessed one of the most grueling exhibitions of utter barbarism and evil committed by hordes of incited and drugged Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists against thousands of innocent people going about their daily lives in Israel. What is quite obvious is that these demonstrations are not spontaneous. They are organized by an efficient, well-oiled, and well-financed propaganda machine.
        Could these demonstrators, in liberal and open democracies, really be sanctioning such brutal and inhumane acts against Israel's civilian population and visiting tourists? If so, then it is a shocking example of blatant antisemitism, since the demonstrators are directing their criticism and condemnation solely and blindly against Israel, while choosing to ignore the cruelty and brutality of the thousands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists who charged into Israel to slaughter innocent men, women, and children.
        Could it be that the demonstrators would rather overlook the events of Oct. 7, preferring instead to revert to the age-old fixation for singling out and blaming Israel and the Jewish people? They should be ashamed of themselves.
        The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, directs the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • We Have an Opportunity to Re-establish the State of Israel - Micah Goodman
    Oct. 7, 2023, the day of the murderous Hamas attack, changed us. We are no longer the same people, no longer the same country. That day changed us because we experienced Jewish history firsthand.
        The Zionist movement was founded by individuals who realized that the world was an unfriendly place for the Jews. The simple understanding that the alternative to Jewish sovereignty is pogroms and massacres was engraved in the consciousness of the generation that founded the State of Israel. The generation of the founding fathers had lived in the era before the Jews had a state. That is why they knew they could not take the existence of Israel for granted and devoted themselves to it.
        The third generation began to forget the miracle. It was born in a reality where Israel was a given and it could not even imagine a world without a Jewish state in it. For the current, fourth generation, the Jewish state is a given and seems stable, strong, and eternal. Miracles are forgotten in the fourth generation when everything becomes a given. That is when we tend to quarrel, fight, and dismantle it all from within.
        This is one of the deep paradoxes of human existence: When we believe that reality is stable - it falls apart; when we are aware that reality can at any moment fall apart - it remains stable. We all experienced that dark day when we were in a reality where there was no Jewish state. Now we are different people. We have acquired the perspective of the first generation.
        When you look around and see the thousands of volunteers and the hundreds of initiatives that are popping up, you are witnessing a phenomenon that is rare and extraordinarily powerful. You are witnessing that the Israeli people feel a sense of responsibility and ownership of the state. This signals that after the war we will receive the opportunity to re-establish the State of Israel.
        The writer is a research fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.  (Israel Hayom)
  • The Palestinian Authority Is Just as Bad - Nadav Shragai
    Before we bring the Palestinian Authority to Gaza instead of Hamas, or be tempted to believe that the Palestinians in the West Bank are "something else," we should look at the facts right in front of us. If only they could, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria - whether it's Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, or the Popular Resistance Committees - would perpetrate the same acts against the Jews in Petach Tikvah, Kfar Saba, Lod, Ramla, and Afula.
        It hasn't happened yet, but not because of a lack of desire or attempts. It has not happened because hundreds of terrorist acts and attempted mass killings of civilians got thwarted almost daily over the past two years by the Israeli security services and the IDF. Their nature, style, and cruelty are identical.
        Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13.5-year-old girl, was slaughtered in her bed in her home on the outskirts of Kiryat Arba with a knife. Ori Ansbacher, a 19-year-old, was raped and brutally murdered in Jerusalem, and then her body was mutilated. The Fogel family from Itamar was murdered in their home. Yoav, 10, and Elad, 4, were strangled and stabbed, and Ehud and Ruth, their parents, who tried to save their children, were stabbed repeatedly in their neck, throat, and abdomen. The three-month-old baby, Hadas, who was found because she was crying, was also killed.
        A similar massacre took place in the Salomon family's home in Halamish. Esther Horgen was killed with a rock that crushed her skull. Shalhevet Pas, less than a year old, was executed in her stroller by a sniper. Kim Levengrond Yehezkel was tied up in the Barkan industrial zone and shot to death.
        Abdel-Rahman Abu Arab, a member of Fatah in Jenin, defined the Oct. 7 massacre as a morning of joy, victory, and pride, and blessed the "heroic martyrs in Gaza." Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, praised Hamas for the attack and threatened to crush the skulls of all the Jews and Americans in the region. (Israel Hayom)

The Spirit of '48 - Ran Baratz (Tablet)
  • On October 7 we were thrown back in time. For a few long hours, we were taken by complete surprise and transported back to 1948, with the enemy having all the advantages and we all the disadvantages. But in the depths of the abyss, when the people of Israel were unexpectedly thrust into a life-or-death struggle against armed savages, an indescribable valor arose, a tenacity that we had almost forgotten existed, a supreme courage that we had thought we would no longer need.
  • When the moment of truth arrived, the answer emerged from the ranks. It came in the form of soldiers from the Golani, Nahal and armored brigades who took over the battle lines, fighting until the last bullet and then some. It came in the form of men and women, members of the rapid-response teams in their communities, who took up arms and engaged the enemy in pitched battles. It came in the form of reservists and police officers who, upon hearing that something terrible had happened, took up arms and rushed down south on their own accord, charging into the line of fire, risking their lives to save as many as they could.
  • In every Jewish community, over a history spanning hundreds of years, what occurred would have been the first day of a pogrom, leaving the Jews only with a pervasive sense of helplessness, pain and despair. In Israel, just the opposite transpired. The pogrom ended with unwavering counterattacks, followed by a major counteroffensive.
  • And instead of feeling helpless, what we now feel is rage - the diametric opposite of the fear, helplessness and despair that characterized the Jews in the diaspora.
  • On that darkest of days, it became evident that the people of Israel is not a fragile "spider's web," and is characterized by neither coddling nor weakness. At the moment of truth, the warrior spirit within us stirred in a matter of minutes.
  • Israel is a nation of warriors and we will not retreat in the face of adversity. In these circumstances, no enemy can defeat us.

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