November 19, 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 Expanding Operations in Northern Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF expanded its operations in northern Gaza to more areas that are considered Hamas strongholds, including Zeitun in the center of Gaza City and the Jabalia refugee camp.
    The forces first enter the areas forcefully and quickly using bulldozers and tanks along with infantry and supported by aircraft and artillery barrages.
    Then they clear the area from the terrorists who survived the initial stages, locate tunnel shafts and weapons caches there, as well as intelligence material that is invaluable in identifying targets.
    At the same time the troops continue their slow operations against Hamas underground facilities.
    The IDF has indications of large spaces underground, including some several stories high, where weapons are produced and command centers are located.

Poll: 83% of Palestinians in the West Bank Support the Oct. 7 Massacre (AWRAD-PA)
    A poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza conducted by Birzeit University's Arab World for Research & Development (AWRAD) between Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 found that 77% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 66% in Gaza believe that the Palestinians will emerge victorious from this war.
    83% in the West Bank and 64% in Gaza "support the military operation carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7."
    88% in the West Bank and 60% in Gaza have a positive view of Hamas. (62% in the West Bank but only 29% in Gaza say "very positive.")
    27% in the West Bank and 18% in Gaza have a positive view of Fatah.
    12% in the West Bank and 8% in Gaza have a positive view of the Palestinian Authority.
    93% in the West Bank and 72% in Gaza have a positive view of Islamic Jihad.
    75% of Palestinians support "a Palestinian state from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea," while 17% support a "two-state solution."
    79% expect that the end of the war will lead to the release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

In Kibbutz Be'eri, a Husband and Wife Miraculously Survive - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    In Kibbutz Be'eri, Rami and Vered Gold, awoke to the sounds of rocket fire. By 7 a.m., gunshots resonated throughout the kibbutz.
    Rami, 70, went off to help the local civilian response team.
    "I picked up a gun from a dead friend, took a few magazines, and got on an electric cart to pick up another friend who was hurt; that friend died in my arms," Rami recounted. "It was 10 people facing 100 to 200 well-equipped Hamas terrorists."
    "They [Hamas] drove in convoys like ISIS, with heavy machine guns on pickups, shooting their way in - hand grenades and RPGs. The response team that came to stop them - all 10 of those people - are dead, Rami said.
    "Most people were in bomb shelters, because of the rockets. They knocked on the doors and asked people to come out. Those who did, they shot. Those who did not, they burned the house and smoked them out."
    "Some of the terrorists didn't have rifles, so they used axes and machetes and killed everyone in sight."
    Rami and another resident continued to fight for 12 hours. They took up a post on a porch in the Olives neighborhood and shot the terrorists as they passed by.
    "We got down to the last bullet. Eventually, two angels came - two people, reserve soldiers. We have no idea where they came from. They gave us ammunition...and then we kept going - until the army arrived."
    Vered pointed to the Olives neighborhood a few meters away. "My sister lived in the houses over there, the ones you must have seen; they were burnt down....They came and ripped her from her home. They put her in a room with other residents and shot them all dead."
    Rami said, "Something on the other side in Gaza has to be changed. They'll have to understand that either they will find a way to live with us or they won't be able to be here. It is us or them."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Says No Surge in Aid to Gaza and No Pause in War until Israeli Hostages Are Released - Mina Aldroubi
    U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk said Saturday in Bahrain, "The release of [the Israeli] hostages is the pathway to a pause in the fighting [in Gaza]. To pause the fighting, release the hostages, the women, the children, the toddlers, the babies. The onus here is on Hamas. I want to stress that once the hostages are released you will see a significant change."  (The National-UAE)
  • Six Weeks of War along the Israel-Lebanon Border - Liz Sly
    The secondary conflict that erupted along the Lebanon-Israel border in tandem with the Gaza war has settled into something of a routine. Every day for the past six weeks, Hizbullah has attacked Israel and Israel has attacked Lebanon. Both sides have started using deadlier weapons. Israel is now regularly sending fighter jets to strike Hizbullah targets; Hizbullah is deploying drones and heavier caliber missiles.
        Both sides have indicated that they have no appetite for a full-scale war. But as the weeks pass, the risk is growing.
        In two speeches since the war broke out, Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah has indicated that Hizbullah sees its role as creating a diversion along Israel's northern border to alleviate the pressure on Hamas, its ally in Gaza, rather than waging an all-out war. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Did Not Enter Gaza to Hand It Over to the Palestinian Authority - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel has no intention of handing Gaza over to the PA once the war is over, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night as he rebuffed U.S. pressure to do so. "The Palestinian Authority in its current form is not able to take responsibility for Gaza," Netanyahu said. "After we fought and did all this, how could we hand it over to them?"
        He noted that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to condemn the Oct. 7 massacre, which sparked the Gaza war, adding that there are Palestinian ministers who are celebrating the event. Moreover, the PA has a policy of paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their families, Netanyahu said, adding that it also educates its children to hate Jews.
        Netanyahu recalled that after the IDF withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it handed it over to the PA, which was then ousted by Hamas in a violent coup in 2007. "They [the PA] were already there, they were given Gaza and what happened? They were destroyed and chased out of there in less than a year....It is impossible to put in Gaza an authority that supports terror, abets terror, and pays terrorists."
        "There is another condition that I set for the day after: the IDF will have complete freedom of action in Gaza against any threat. Only in this way will we guarantee the demilitarization of Gaza." He added that Israel would only agree to a temporary ceasefire in exchange for the return of all the hostages. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Top EU Diplomat: Hamas Will Lose Gaza, Red Cross Must Get Access to Israeli Hostages - Amir Tibon
    EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told Ha'aretz Thursday that Hamas "must be defeated" and should no longer rule Gaza at the end of the current war. Hamas, in his view, is "not a partner for anything....Hamas will lose Gaza." He also called for the "unconditional release" of all the Israeli hostages and said the Red Cross should be able to visit them in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Agrees to Supply Limited Fuel to Gaza to Operate Critical Infrastructure - Itamar Eichner
    Israel agreed on Friday to a request by the U.S. to allow two trucks daily carrying fuel into Gaza for use by the UN and in order to operate a water desalinization plant and other critical water and sewage infrastructure, as long as the fuel does not reach Hamas. (Ynet News)
  • Wanted Commander of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Balata Killed in Israeli Drone Strike - Einav Halabi
    Israel carried out a drone strike on Fatah headquarters in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus in Samaria on Saturday night. An "IDF aircraft struck a hideout used by terrorists involved in planning imminent terror attacks against Israeli civilians and military targets," the IDF said. Five terrorists were killed, including Mahmoud a-Zoufi, commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Balata.
        During the operation, IDF forces dismantled an explosives production facility, seizing several ready-to-use explosive devices. In addition, explosive devices were found hidden beneath and along the sides of the road, intended to target IDF forces. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • What's Ahead in the Gaza War - David Ignatius
    Israeli commanders see the Gaza war moving into a new phase that will require fewer troops and much less bombing - and that eventually, they hope, will entrap Hamas in its underground maze of tunnels.
        I met with nearly a dozen top commanders of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The people I met were thoughtful, professional soldiers. I came away impressed by their skill and dedication. Political and military leaders agree on the need to destroy Hamas and to cut any Israeli connections to Gaza. But there is no consensus about next steps.
        Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he is open to any solution that allows Israel to cut the cord to Gaza - so long as it adheres to a simple formula: "At the end of the war, Hamas will be destroyed, there will no longer be a military threat to Israel from Gaza, and Israel will not be in Gaza." IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said the goal in Gaza is "not Hamas, not chaos."
        This war has convinced me more than ever that the Palestinians need a well-managed state of their own, without Hamas, where they can live in dignity and peace with Israel, as most of their Arab neighbors do now.
        Nearly every Israeli officer I met began his or her story the same way: What they were doing at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 7 when they heard the first reports of Hamas' vicious attack. When the news broke, many moved immediately to join their units; several described quickly teaching wives and older children to fire automatic weapons.
        Most senior IDF leaders agree that, in a month or two, Israel can begin reserve force reductions and pull troops back from city centers - forming smaller assault brigades to attack Hamas fighters when they surface from the tunnels. (Washington Post)
  • Hamas' Barbarity Heightens the Crisis in Higher Education - Michael R. Bloomberg
    The barbaric attack by Hamas against Israel - the intentional slaughter of defenseless civilians, including children and babies, and the taking of hostages - should have been a unifying moment for America. Shamefully, it has become a wake-up call about a crisis in higher education.
        It has been painful to watch students at elite colleges implicitly or explicitly endorse Hamas' attack. It's clear they never learned the lesson of 9/11: Intentionally targeting civilians for slaughter is inexcusable no matter the political circumstances. One can support the Palestinian people and still denounce the intentional slaughter of civilians.
        For years, college presidents have allowed their campuses to become bastions of intolerance, by permitting students to shout down the voices of others. They have condoned "trigger warnings" that shield students from difficult ideas. And they have created "safe spaces" that discourage or exclude opposing views. College presidents have also allowed campuses to become institutions of conformity. It is no surprise that support for terrorism, dressed in the language of social justice, has emerged from this environment.
        No student should ever feel physically intimidated or unsafe going to or speaking in class, as many Jewish students have lately. Students can chant slogans, exposing their inability to communicate in ways that college students should be capable of, but they can't issue violent threats or disrupt others' studies. Any student who runs afoul of those basic principles should be thrown out of school.
        The writer, founder of Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, served as mayor of New York City (2002-13). (Wall Street Journal)
  • Muslim Rescuer Says Israel Kibbutz Bloodshed Caused by Attackers' Hate - Eli Berlzon
    Jamal Warraqi, a Muslim Israeli Arab, was among the first emergency rescuers to reach Kibbutz Be'eri after Hamas gunmen rampaged through the community on Oct. 7, and the sight of slaughtered families and children is still seared into his memory. A volunteer for Zaka, a non-governmental rescue service, Warraqi said, "I saw families, they were slaughtered, a lot of families. I saw a father and mom with three kids, they were tied hands up, hands back...as they were put on their knees in front of each other, then they got shot in the head." Warraqi says the brutality "has nothing to do with Islam."
        Warraqi said many Muslims were also killed in the assault, recalling how he took care of two Arab women wearing hijab, shot by the attackers, and three Arab bus drivers from eastern Jerusalem who got shot in the head. "That means that they're (Hamas) not doing this for the country or for religion, they're just doing this for the hatred."  (Reuters)

The U.S. Won't Back Down from the Challenge of Hamas - President Joe Biden (Washington Post)
  • Today, the world faces an inflection point, where the choices we make will determine the direction of our future for generations to come. Will we deny Hamas the ability to carry out pure, unadulterated evil?
  • We stand firmly with the Israeli people as they defend themselves against the murderous nihilism of Hamas. On Oct. 7, Hamas slaughtered 1,200 people, including 35 American citizens, in the worst atrocity committed against the Jewish people in a single day since the Holocaust.
  • Infants and toddlers, mothers and fathers, grandparents, people with disabilities, even Holocaust survivors were maimed and murdered. Entire families were massacred in their homes. Young people were gunned down at a music festival. Bodies riddled with bullets and burned beyond recognition.
  • And for over a month, the families of more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas, including babies and Americans, have been living in hell, anxiously waiting to discover whether their loved ones are alive or dead. My team and I are working hour by hour, doing everything we can to get the hostages released.
  • Hamas has promised that it will relentlessly try to repeat Oct. 7. It has said very clearly that it will not stop. It is imperative that no terrorist threats ever again emanate from Gaza or the West Bank.
  • As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire is not peace. To Hamas' members, every ceasefire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters and restart the killing by attacking innocents again. An outcome that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza would once more perpetuate its hate and deny Palestinian civilians the chance to build something better for themselves.

Daily Alert is published from Sunday through Friday during the war.
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