November 15, 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:

Poll: Most Americans Support IDF Gaza Offensive to Beat Hamas - Zvika Klein (Jerusalem Post)
    67% of Americans believe Israel should continue its military efforts in Gaza until Hamas is defeated and the hostages are released, according to a new HarrisX poll commissioned by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations conducted on Nov. 11-12.
    82% expressed their support for Israel sending troops into Gaza to attempt to free hostages and eliminate the Hamas terrorist threat.
    80% believed that Hamas is primarily responsible for putting civilians in Gaza in harm's way. 77% believed that Hamas triggered the humanitarian crisis in the region. 83% felt that Hamas is using the Palestinian people as human shields.
    76% of Americans feel a special connection with Israel, believing that the two countries share common values.
    58% expressed their support for the $14 billion aid package under consideration in Congress.

Listen to 14-Year-Old Israeli Terror Attack Survivor - Dennis Bihler (Ynet News)
    Scooter Braun, who manages mega-star Justin Bieber, used his Instagram to introduce Ella Shani, a 14-year-old Israeli girl from Kibbutz Be'eri who experienced the Oct. 7 terror attack by Hamas firsthand.
    Braun said her story "might be the most important thing I have ever posted" and asked that people stop tearing down posters of the 240 Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Video: Children of Kibbutz Be'eri Recount Trauma of Oct. 7 Massacre (i24News)
    Israeli children ages 6-11 share memories of beloved grandparents and family members murdered or taken hostage on Oct. 7.

Video: Israeli Combat Medic Describes Hamas Attacks - Yoni Bashan (The Australian)
    Major G, an Israeli combat medic, describes being handed two babies, found alive in a closet where their parents hid them before being slaughtered.

Children as Young as 10 Took Part in Hamas' Oct. 7 Terror Attack - Andrew Tobin (Washington Free Beacon)
    Eran Smilansky, 28, watched Gazan children go from house to house at Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7. The boys laughed as Hamas gunmen shot or dragged away Israeli families. "They were like young, young kids...laughing with their friends and looking very calm."
    Survivors of the Nir Oz massacre said they witnessed boys and women from Gaza looting the kibbutz, helping the armed terrorists, and apparently enjoying themselves.
    The youngest children were around 10 years old. One of the survivors provided photographs of some of the women and children he saw.
    Eyal Barad, an engineer, had a rare view of the outside world thanks to a camera he had recently set up. He said he saw at least a dozen children, who were between the ages of 10 and 15, and 30 women from Gaza.
    At one point, Barad saw a woman run up to an armed terrorist and point him toward a house. "I'm guessing she saw people she wanted him to go kill or kidnap."
    "I can say with 100% certainty that [the women and kids] were not just innocent bystanders or looters. They were part of the massacre."
    Raziel Tamil, 26, had fled the Nova music festival in Re'im and was hiding in a citrus grove. He said he saw Hamas commandos holding a group of Israelis at gunpoint.
    Several children, ages about 6 to 10, then emerged from a pickup truck wearing Hamas outfits. Tamil said the commandos gave some of the children rifles and directed them to execute hostages, which they did.

Israeli Bedouin Physician Was Attacked by Hamas Terrorists - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Dr. Tarek Abu Arar, a Bedouin physician at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center, was accosted by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.
    On his way to the hospital, he saw a man lying in the road and thought at first that he had been involved in a car accident and rushed to help him. The man, who was a terrorist, shot him in the chest, but his life was saved by the United Hatzalah protective ceramic vest he was wearing.
    Then 12 more terrorists came out from the bushes. They beat him and used him as a human shield.
    "They shot for an hour and a half at every car that passed. They murdered so many people - men, women, children - everyone. I was a doctor but I couldn't help them. Finally, Israeli special forces arrived and rescued me."
    See also Video: Muslim Doctor Taken as Human Shield on Oct. 7 by Hamas (United Hatzalah)

Multiple Iranian Rockets and Drones Fired against Israel - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Amid rocket fire against Israel from Hamas and Hizbullah, a new combatant appeared on the Middle East stage - the Houthis in Yemen.
    The U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia have each intercepted its missiles.
    Along with Hamas and Hizbullah, the Houthis are devout proxies of Iran and recipients of aid, weapons, and training from the Ayatollah regime.
    On November 1, 2023, an Israeli Air Force F-35 shot down "a turbojet-powered cruise missile flying at high speed and low level."
    The weapons fired at Israel are known in the defense world. They've been fired in recent years at Saudi and Emirates targets, refineries, airports, ships, and cities.

Azerbaijan Buys Israeli Air Defense System for $1.2 Billion - Dean Shmuel Elmas (Globes)
    Azerbaijan will procure the Barak MX air defense system made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in a deal worth $1.2 billion.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • At March for Israel in Washington, Demonstrators Demand Hamas Release Hostages - Ellie Silverman
    Thousands of demonstrators descended on the National Mall in Washington on Tuesday to express solidarity with Israel in its ongoing war in Gaza, condemn antisemitism in the U.S. and globally, and demand the release of hostages taken by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The March for Israel was organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
        Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said, "We are here, united, Democrat and Republican, House and Senate, to say we stand with Israel." He was joined by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). (Washington Post)
        See also "Let Our People Go": Nearly 300,000 Rally in Washington for Israel, Hostages' Release - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: "March for Israel" Rally in Washington (USA Today)
        See also below Observations - Israeli President Herzog Tells the March for Israel in Washington: "'Never Again' Is Now" (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Former Obama, Biden Officials Express Support for President's Stance on Israel - Betsy Klein
    A high-profile group of 116 former Biden and Obama administration and campaign officials sent a message of "deep appreciation" to President Joe Biden for his backing of Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. The letter was signed by former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, three members of Congress, 18 former ambassadors and others.
        The letter said: "To those blaming Israel alone for this violence or excusing the atrocities including rape and beheading as 'resistance,' we want to be very clear: there is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization responsible for mass atrocities. No aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict justifies Hamas' unconscionable war crimes on October 7."  (CNN)
        See also Text: Obama Alumni Support Biden on Israel (Jewish Democratic Council of America)
  • Israel's Labor Party Leader Calls Out Fellow Progressives for Being "Complicit" in Hamas' Crimes - Eddy Wax
    The leader of Israel's Labor Party, Merav Michaeli, said that after Hamas attacked Israel, "It became very, very clear in this attack that people who consider themselves to be democratic, progressive, are supporting a totalitarian terror regime that oppresses women [and] the LGBTQ+ community."
        Speaking on the fringes of an international meeting in Spain of Socialist and social democrat parties, she said, "I fail to see how shouting jihad and calling for a mass murder of Jews is pro-Palestinian. It's important for me to emphasize to them that when you do not very strongly go against Hamas and what it does in Gaza, including to its own people, you are complicit."
        Calling for a "cease-fire now is giving permission to Hamas to continue rearming itself, continue stealing food, water, medicine and fuel from its own people and yes, rebasing itself." She put the blame for thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza on Hamas, rather than on the Israeli army, whose actions she defended. "They are dying because Hamas is using them as human shields, because they have based everything from equipment to missiles to their headquarters in the midst of the most civilian functions there are."
        She criticized a lack of support among EU politicians, in general, to push for the release of 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas. "I would have loved to hear more about that than just a mention, at least as much as they're talking about the humanitarian needs in Gaza."  (Politico-EU)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Special Forces Raid Gaza's Shifa Hospital, Find Weapons - Emanuel Fabian
    Israeli special forces entered Gaza City's Shifa Hospital overnight Tuesday to carry out a "precise and targeted operation" against Hamas terror infrastructure. "The activity in this specified area is based on operational necessities, as well as intelligence information that indicates Hamas terrorist activity is being directed from the area," the IDF said Wednesday. At least five Hamas gunmen were killed during a gun battle outside the hospital.
        Incubators for newborns, baby food, and medical supplies were brought by IDF tanks from Israel and delivered to Shifa, the IDF said. "Medical teams and Arabic-speaking soldiers are on the ground to ensure that these supplies reach those in need."  (Times of Israel-Ynet News)
  • The IDF Is Taking Down Hamas Power Centers in Gaza, One by One - Elisha Ben Kimon
    IDF forces have been active in Gaza City's Sheikh Ajlin and Rimal neighborhoods in recent days, targeting Hamas government institutions that were utilized for military purposes. They include Hamas' government complex, the Hamas military police headquarters, and an engineering faculty that served as a center for weapons production and development. Col. Israel Friedler, commander of the Infantry School Brigade, said, "You messed with the wrong army, the wrong people."  (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Massacre Film Screened in Congress - Daniel Edelson
    Hours before the giant pro-Israel rally in Washington on Tuesday, the Israeli Embassy, in cooperation with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, screened the film compiled by the IDF spokesman of Hamas atrocities on Oct. 7 for 150 members of Congress. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) said, "Seeing on video people celebrating the murder of Jews shows us who is standing in front of us. It is unbelievable to see things like this in 2023, in places we have all been." Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) said, "How can anyone call a cease-fire after seeing this?"  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Battle of Al-Shifa Hospital - Editorial
    On Dec. 8, 2016, U.S. Central Command released a statement: "Coalition Strikes Mosul Hospital." The Islamic State, it explained, "was using the hospital as a base of operations and command and control headquarters." The story, and the scandal, wasn't that the U.S. struck the terrorists, but that terrorists had used the hospital for cover in the first place. "In Mosul Battle, ISIS Used Hospital Base" was the Human Rights Watch headline; it explained that "armed forces or groups should not occupy medical facilities, undermining their protected status."
        Hamas has used Al-Shifa hospital at least since 2006, when a PBS documentary showed terrorists roaming its halls and cordoning off wings. In the 2008-09 war, Hamas leaders hid in a bunker under the hospital. The New York Times wrote that Hamas operated openly in the halls. In the 2014 war, the Washington Post reported that Al-Shifa was a Hamas "de facto headquarters." On Tuesday, the White House confirmed that "Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command and control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City."
        The law of war in this case is clear: Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Hamas' use of Al-Shifa for military purposes vitiates the protected status granted to hospitals. Contrary to media claims of an Israeli "siege" of Al-Shifa hospital, Israel days ago opened a humanitarian corridor from the east side of the hospital to get civilians out. Many have since fled, as Israel first warned them to do a month ago. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Meet Israeli Hostage Families. It'll Change How You View Hamas Apologists. - Jennifer Rubin
    I've talked to family members whose loved ones were kidnapped by Hamas a month ago and taken to the recesses of Gaza. I've been astounded by their graciousness, selflessness and willingness to tell and retell the most painful moment of their lives so the rest of us won't forget them. The hostages are not merely "Israelis." They are babies and grandmothers, men and women, foreigners and Israeli-born. An entire network of people is attached to each and every one, spending every waking moment in agony.
        Not a single family member called to kill Palestinians or destroy Gaza. They simply want their loved ones back. And, to a person, they insist all hostages should be released. They deplore the notion that one but not another should be spared. The contrast between these people, deeply and perhaps permanently scarred, and Hamas apologists, who hurl vicious insults at vigil attendees and shred "kidnapped" posters, could not be more glaring.
        Talk to the hostage families, and you'll see politicians demanding an immediate cease-fire in a different light. I cannot imagine anything more morally obtuse than demanding a cease-fire before Hamas is permanently disabled so as to prevent a repeat of the Oct. 7 horror. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Dominates Battlefield with Technological Advantage over Hamas - Dov Lieber
    In the Negev Desert, commanders from the Givati Brigade watch a bank of screens showing the real-time location of all Israeli and Palestinian forces inside Gaza. They use this information to move around troops and weapons and surveillance aircraft like pieces on a chessboard.
        This node of a sprawling technological nerve center, receiving thousands of battlefield data points from drones, jet fighters, naval ships, tanks and soldiers, has enabled the Israeli military to carry out a sweeping takeover of a swath of Hamas' stronghold in Gaza City in less than three weeks with fewer than 50 troop deaths.
        On Saturday, commanders in the Givati command center watched the evacuation of Al-Rantisi Hospital in Gaza City. A video shown to the Wall Street Journal showed a few militants with guns slung around their shoulders leaving the hospital among the crowds of civilians. Should the IDF commanders on the ground engage the militants right then and there or let them leave? The commanders ultimately decided to let the militants go. Later that day, one of those militants was killed by a drone strike while hiding out in a school, indicating his movements were tracked after leaving the hospital. (Wall Street Journal)
  • I'm Arab and I Don't Understand Why the World Can't Acknowledge Jewish Pain - Hussain Abdul-Hussain
    Many years ago, I learned Hebrew in a bid to penetrate into a world that I once thought was evil and conspiring against the Arabs and Muslims. Once in, I was surprised how wrong I was, how wrong almost every Arab and Muslim around me was. Israel was not on a mission to kill us all. Israel wanted to live and let live. In the Middle East, it's we, the Arabs, who never seem to let live.
        These days, Israelis are suffering immense pain over the 1,200 people who Hamas killed in cold blood on Oct. 7. Survivors are struggling with PTSD. All of Israel is living in anxiety over the fate of the 240 hostages Hamas took. Tears for the victims of Oct. 7 are now mixed with tears over fallen soldiers fighting in Gaza.
        The world does not feel Israeli pain. It only sees and hears Palestinian pain. The world likes to take the side of the underdog, even when the underdog is guilty. One billion Muslims have a much louder voice than 16 million Jews. So the world blames Israel, even when Palestinians started the carnage.
        The Jews understood a long time ago that the world is not a fair place. This is exactly why the Jews went out of their way to create Jewish sovereignty, to establish a state that can protect Jews. Many Jews died to earn that Israeli sovereignty, and they continue to die for it even now.
        The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)
  • Families of Bedouin Muslim Hostages Held by Hamas: "This Isn't a Religious War" - Shany Littman
    Of the 239 Israelis being held by Hamas and other factions in Gaza, one is Yusuf Alziadna, 53, of the Bedouin Alziadna clan, who lives near the city of Rahat and was kidnapped from Kibbutz Holit's cowshed along with his sons Bilal and Hamza and his daughter Aisha. Three other members of the Bedouin community were taken hostage on Oct. 7. One was near the rave outside Kibbutz Re'im and two were farmworkers; one is Samar Talalka, 22, from Hura, who was working at a chicken hatchery on Kibbutz Nir Am. Another was working as a guard near Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak. The family prefers that he remain unnamed. In addition to the hostiges, there were 25 Israeli Arab fatalities.
        According to Lt.-Col. (res.) Wahid al-Huzeil, who is helping the Bedouin families, the fact that Hamas abducted Muslim Israelis too makes clear that this isn't a religious war or a war between Arab and Jew. "The fact that Hamas abducted innocent civilians, including women and children, shows that this organization doesn't represent Islam. It represents only itself. This is a terror group."
        "There are Arab citizens in Israel who are part of the war effort, helping the state. There are Arab soldiers on the front, and there are Arab citizens on the home front - doctors, farmworkers and manual laborers....Israeli society must realize that its struggle isn't against Arabs, it's against Hamas."  (Ha'aretz)
  • The Hatred that Begins with Antisemitism Threatens the Whole World - Elisha Wiesel
    After bearing witness to the horrors of Auschwitz, my father demanded that the world fight evil. He warned that hatred which begins with antisemitism inevitably threatens the whole world. But my father's protests were ignored. The UN did nothing in 1948 when the Arab Middle East violently rejected Israel's existence. 17 years later, it equated Zionism with racism.
        "This is not the first time the enemy has accused us of his own crimes," my father wrote of Israel's trial in the court of world opinion. "Our possessions were taken from us, and we were called misers; our children were massacred, and we were accused of ritual murder."
        Last week, the UN adopted eight resolutions which condemned Israel. One of the resolutions was drafted and co-sponsored by Syria, whose dictator, Bashar al-Assad, has murdered 300,000 of his own citizens.
        So many of us have woken up since Oct. 7 to a nightmare where we are told that we must accept terror attacks as the price for living in our ancient homeland. We are told that we may not destroy enemies that are trying to destroy us.
        We will likely not convince the skeptics that we deserve the same rights as every other people: to secure our borders and defend our citizens. Neither Israel nor Gazan civilians can afford this to be anything other than the last battle. This war can only end with the complete destruction of Hamas.
        The writer is the son of the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. (The Hill)
  • Jews Should Not Embrace the Victimhood Narrative - Batya Ungar-Sargon
    It's not pleasant to find out that your classmates will not condemn the murder of your people, or to hear thousands of them gleefully chanting the slogans of a genocidal death cult committed to your erasure from this planet. It's unsettling to know that your peers have adopted a worldview that allows them to convince themselves that you are the bad guy, you are the privileged monster who wants babies to burn - even as they justify and celebrate the burning of Jewish babies. But the worst thing would be for Jews to embrace the victimhood narrative.
        It's good to be unpopular with a mob whose worldview has done away with the concept of right and wrong and decided, with a Nazi-like commitment to racial ideology, that you are Jewish and therefore you are white and therefore you are bad. Remember this: to be a Jew is to refuse to kneel and refuse to bow. It's good to have these people as your enemies, because the world will always have people who oppose what's right and what's good, and it is our destiny to fight them. Do it with pride.
        The writer is the deputy opinion editor of Newsweek. (Free Press)

President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday made a live broadcast address from the Western Wall in Jerusalem to the hundreds of thousands of participants in the March for Israel in Washington.
  • "Thank you, all people of good will, friends from different communities, faiths and denominations, who have gathered today for this massive show of solidarity. In the State of Israel's darkest moment you stood up and declared: Hineini, I am here. We are here. There is no greater and more just cause than this."
  • "Today we come together, as a family, one big Mishpacha, to march for Israel. To march for the babies, the boys and girls, women and men viciously held hostage by Hamas. To march for the right of every Jew to live proudly and safely in America, in Israel and around the world. Above all, we come together to march for good over evil."
  • "Eighty years ago, Jews came out of Auschwitz and vowed 'never again.'...Forty days ago, a terrorist army invaded the sovereign State of Israel and butchered hundreds upon hundreds of Israelis in the largest massacre since the Holocaust. Let us cry out, together: never again. Never again is now."
  • "Once again in Jewish history we demand: Let our people go. While our loved ones are held captive in Gaza, and our soldiers are fighting for our beloved Israel - Jews all over the world are assaulted for being Jewish. The hatred, the lies, the brutality, the disgraceful outburst of ancient antisemitism are an embarrassment to all civilized people and nations."
  • "Jews in America must be safe. Jews all over the world must be safe. I salute you, the women and men who stand up to massive hatred and pressure in the community or on campus. Just as you stand with us, we stand with you."

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