November 22, 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:

Troops in Gaza during a Ceasefire: Dangers and Opportunities - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    A pause in fighting will give Hamas units a chance to regroup, reposition their forces, move weapons to the front, prepare ambushes, and set up explosives along roads where the IDF might advance.
    At the same time, the IDF can utilize the break to rotate troops, dig in, and get to know the areas it has taken from Hamas.
    The IDF can repair vehicles, improve defense positions and shelters, and increase the efficiency of logistics.
    In addition, troops will be able to rest while Israel prepares its own next steps.
    Hamas doesn't have the initiative. Israel's technological superiority will be employed during the ceasefire to prepare for the next phase.

Report: Hizbullah to Adhere to Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Deal - Ariel Oseran (i24News)
    A ceasefire deal recently approved by the Israeli government that would see the release of hostages from Hamas will also apply as a truce on the northern border with Lebanon, the Lebanese newspaper Nidaa al-Watan reported.

Israel Is Preparing for Another Month of War - Prof. Edward Luttwak (UnHerd)
    In past wars, Israeli offensives have been invariably swift, partly because UN ceasefires would be imposed as soon as they started winning.
    But in Gaza, that pace was the very first thing that the Israelis had to relinquish.
    The IDF has been forced to deal with tunnels, depending on Yahalom combat engineers, who have, in turn, relied on their ultra-low frequency radar sets to detect tunnels through sand and rock, and their specially trained dogs to guide them through the dark networks.
    It was always going to be impossible to find hostages or capture top Hamas leaders, since they were all taken into southern Gaza after the IDF's call for the northern sector to be evacuated.
    As a result, the war isn't even halfway done. Rockets are still being assembled and launched daily from the southern tunnels.
    Yet the prudent methods that have enabled Israel's sweep in the northern sector with a minimum of casualties come at a high political price: they prolong the war.
    At least this time, the U.S. does not have to contend with European allies who oppose U.S. support for Israel, as in previous wars. Every European government that matters supports Israel, as does the EU.
    However, while Israel is preparing for another month of war, Biden and his team would like an end to the fighting yesterday.
    At least Israel and the U.S. agree on the things that matter. The U.S. accepts that Hamas, with its oppressive dictatorship over Gaza and declared genocidal policy, cannot be a negotiating partner and must be destroyed like ISIS.
    The writer is a contractual strategic consultant for the U.S. government.

Interrogations Break Open Hamas Strategy, Operations - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Security Agency (ISA) has interrogated dozens of senior Hamas terrorists who participated in the Oct. 7 slaughter of Israelis.
    The information obtained often involves higher-value targets, such as top Hamas commanders or critical Hamas terror infrastructure.
    Some interrogations have led to fundamental changes in IDF attack plans, sometimes in real-time, after a deeper understanding of Hamas' defense plans.
    A large number of ISA retirees have returned to service during the war to help shoulder the wide number of tasks required in wartime.

International Media and the Hamas-Supporting Doctors of Shifa (David Collier)
    Hamas' finely tuned propaganda system is built upon decades of Western media naivety, alongside a collapse of media integrity.
    When Israel is the subject, it seems as though basic media reporting standards are completely set aside.

To Be an Israeli on October 7th - Sarai Shavit (Tablet)
    Early Saturday morning the sound of an alarm siren pierces the air. My husband and I, used to previous war events, get up quickly, collect the children and run to the safe room.
    The children wake up in a panic. My 8-year-old son tells me, "Mom, this is my sixth war, you know?"
    As the explosions go on and on in the sky, he asks me, "Mom, am I going to die?" To be an Israeli means having your child, under a missile attack, ask you if he is going to die.
    When the alarm stops, I tuck my children back into their beds, knowing that what happened to the people living near Gaza could have happened to anyone in the country. Even to me.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
by Jerusalem Center Experts
View Daily Briefing at 4:00 p.m. (Israel), 9:00 a.m. (EST)
    View recent briefings

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Forces Strike Iran-Backed Group in Iraq - Carla Babb
    U.S. forces have carried out two series of strikes against Iran-backed forces and their facilities in Iraq since Monday, according to U.S. Central Command. On Wednesday, U.S. strikes targeted an operations center and a command and control node used by the Iran-backed militant group Kataib Hezbollah near Al Anbar and Jurf al-Saqr. The facilities had supported recent attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria. At least six militants were killed in the two strikes.
        On Monday, U.S. forces struck and killed Iran-backed proxies who earlier had launched a close-range ballistic missile against al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. The ballistic missile attack caused injuries to eight U.S. personnel. More than 60 rocket and drone attacks against U.S. forces have occurred since Oct. 17. (VOA News)
  • The Israelis Displaced from Their Homes by Hamas Attack - Emine Sinmaz
    For 22 hours, Yali Shamriz, age 2, sheltered with her father, Jonathan, 33, and mother, Natali, 31, in the safe room at their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza while Hamas attackers murdered 63 of the community's 700 residents and kidnapped 19 others, including Jonathan's brother, Alon, 26. The family is now among the 126,000 displaced Israelis living in hotels across the country in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks.
        Varda and David Goldstein, both 73, were on holiday in Bulgaria with others from the kibbutz when they found out about the Hamas attacks. They quickly returned home and learned that their son, Nadav Goldstein Almog, a triathlete, and his oldest daughter, Yam, 20, had been murdered. Nadav's wife, Chen, 49, and their three younger children, Tal, 9, Gal, 11, and Agam, 17, had been taken hostage.
        Omri Almog, Chen's brother, said his sister's home was riddled with bullet holes and blood stains. "They shot Nadav in the safe room, and Yam...they shot her next to the door." The Goldsteins' home was completely burned in the carnage. "We don't have a home to go back to," Varda said. (Guardian-UK)
  • Attack on Israeli-Owned Business in New Hampshire Denounced by Both Parties - Michael Graham
    If the antisemitic activists of Palestine Action US were hoping to rally support with their attack on Elbit Systems of America, an Israeli-based defense contractor with 650 employees in Merrimack, it appears they miscalculated. The group on Monday spray painted the Elbit facility with red paint, smashed windows, locked main lobby doors with a bicycle anti-theft device, and lit flares on the roof. Three protesters face charges including criminal trespass, riot, and sabotage.
        In New Hampshire, outrage is directed at the pro-Palestinian protesters and their attack on an important local employer. "The antisemitism, hate, and significant damage protesters brought to Elbit America's campus this morning has no place in our state and will not be tolerated," said Gov. Chris Sununu. State Rep. Rosemarie Rung (D-Merrimack) said, "It's not just an attack on an outstanding corporate citizen, but an attack on my neighbors, friends, and constituents."  (NH Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Accepts a Slowdown in Gaza Combat to Rescue Women and Children Held Hostage - Tovah Lazaroff
    The Israeli government early Wednesday approved a partial hostage deal that includes a pause in the Gaza war in exchange for a release of up to 80 out of over 239 people seized by terrorists on Oct. 7. Prime Minister Netanyahu said neither the lives of the soldiers nor the intelligence gathering apparatus would be harmed during the pause.
        Under the deal, 50 hostages will be released in smaller groups during the first four days, including 30 children, eight mothers, and 12 other women. Israel will release 150 Palestinian women and minors held on security-related offenses, but none directly involved in terror attacks with fatalities. There is a possibility for the release of an additional 30 hostages, should the pause be extended for up to another four days. All those slated for release are alive and have Israeli citizenship.
        The deal also included an agreement to have representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross visit the remaining hostages and supply them with medicine. Fuel can enter Gaza during the pause. There will be a six-hour window each day during which IDF aerial surveillance of Gaza will be halted. "There are other intelligence-gathering capabilities. We will not be blind in those 6 hours," an Israeli official said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Return of Hostages: Statement by the Government of Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israeli Civilians Allowed Home in 40 Communities near Gaza - Matan Tzuri
    After 45 days of conflict, residents of 40 communities in the Western Negev located 4 to 7 km. from the border with Gaza will be allowed to return home in the coming days, due to the "progress of the combat and a shift in the operational situation," the IDF said.
        Moreover, residents will be allowed to enter localities that are 0 to 4 km. from the Gaza border, but only for the purpose of taking care of their homes or brief visits. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal - Editorial
    The hostage deal that Israel and Hamas reached Tuesday will spare the lives of 50 Israelis. The cost is a short-term ceasefire that Hamas will exploit, and 3/4 of the hostages will remain in terrorist hands. Israeli leaders believe the trade is worth it, and it's not our place to second-guess their judgment.
        The deal again shows the moral gulf between the two sides. Hamas kidnapped Israeli children as young as nine months to use as hostages and spring its jihadists who have been arrested or convicted in a fair trial for their crimes. Israel takes military risks to save its citizens. Hamas risks Palestinian civilians to save itself.
        Even as Israelis rejoice for those who will return home, they know Hamas is rejoicing too. Its war crimes have been rewarded. Expect Hamas to drag out the ceasefire in hopes of making it permanent. Pressure to continue the ceasefire indefinitely will grow, and Israel can expect harsher criticism when it resumes fighting. Israelis know all this, but they are willing to accept the costs to retrieve the captives. They are also unwavering in their determination to overthrow Hamas. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Too Many Want to Believe Hamas' Hospital Lies - Col. Richard Kemp
    Hamas uses hospitals and other protected places like schools and mosques for terrorist purposes. Since 2006, we have seen report after report showing just that. An American Public Broadcasting Service documentary showed Hamas gunmen prowling the corridors of Al-Shifa Hospital, intimidating staff and denying access to protected areas. Yet since Israel launched its ground invasion of Gaza, this has suddenly come into question.
        Many people don't want to believe the Israelis; it seems they would rather believe Hamas. Media outlets often caveat announcements by the IDF, pointedly saying that what they claim cannot be independently verified. Rarely, however, are reports from Gaza questioned in such a way.
        Many who call for a ceasefire may be well meaning, but in practice they are saying Israel should stop defending its population and Hamas should live to fight another day. Political leaders are playing into Hamas' hands by virtue-signaling implications that Israel is not adhering to the laws of war and is inflicting unnecessary civilian casualties when they know that this is not true.
        The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Al-Shifa Hospital and the Pathological Distrust of Israel - Brendan O'Neill
    We need to talk about the pathological distrust of Israel. About the speed and relish with which our media elites dismiss every Israeli claim about the war in Gaza. Consider the Battle of al-Shifa Hospital. Israeli officials have offered up ample proof that the hospital was used as a military base by Hamas. They've shown us caches of weapons, video footage of gun-toting, knife-wielding men hurrying hostages through corridors, a vast tunnel that is 10 meters down and 55 meters long. And yet it is all breezily discounted. This is not healthy skepticism. It's a dogmatic refusal to accept a single thing the Jewish state says.
        When IDF commanders displayed the Kalashnikovs, ammunition, hand grenades and bullet-proof vests they found at al-Shifa, the BBC in its best haughty voice, said these are just "small stashes" of weapons. This begs the question of how much weaponry Britain's public broadcaster thinks it is acceptable for a fascist movement to store in a hospital.
        In some media clips there were more weapons than in other media clips. Yes, because more "terrorist assets" were discovered throughout the day, said the IDF. Yet CNN claimed that the IDF's display of Hamas weapons seemed to be "rearranged." This claim spread like a pox through social media where Islamists and racists giddily cited it as proof that those sneaky Israelis planted the weapons to try to frame poor Hamas. (Spiked-UK)
  • Cognitive Disconnect between Jews and Christians on Gaza - Patrick Moriarty
    Jewish friends ask me, "Why are my Christian friends silent, when they were so supportive after previous antisemitic attacks?" Christian friends ask me, "What's happened to my Jewish friend? We usually see eye-to-eye on everything, so why can't she see how all this looks?"
        While both Judaism and Christianity are "religions," this blurs an important difference of emphasis: while Christianity is a "faith" bound together by a set of beliefs and a worldview, Judaism is also an ethnic group, a "people" bound together by a commitment to clan and land at least as much as to theology. Jews are traumatized by the grief over the brutal massacre and abduction of members of their extended family, perpetrated in the land of God's promise, the only place on earth where they are not a minority.
        Christians say, "It was Judaism that taught us about limits to vengeance, about care for the vulnerable, about compassion," looking in horror and bewilderment as Gaza is laid waste. They absolutely know the barbarity perpetrated by Hamas but they don't feel it the way Jews do. Jews approach the justice issues of this conflict with their guts, since their history means there are profoundly different stakes.
        The writer, an Anglican Priest, is a trustee of the Council of Christians and Jews. (Jewish News-UK)

Why Israel Slept: The War in Gaza and the Search for Security - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin and Col. (ret.) Udi Evental (Foreign Affairs)
  • In a barbaric surprise attack launched by Hamas on Oct. 7, more Jews were slaughtered than on any day since the Holocaust. Around 1,200 people were killed that day (the equivalent of around 42,500 Americans, adjusting for population) and some 240 were kidnapped - including young children and elderly people. On that fateful day, the country's intelligence and military institutions were unable to keep citizens safe.
  • For years, the country's political and military establishment had allowed intolerable threats to gather, seeking to establish a modus vivendi with the de facto Hamas state in Gaza based on deterrence, aiming to extend periods of tranquility. Israel cannot return to the status quo that existed before Oct. 7.
  • One must push the country's defense institutions and security strategy back toward certain basic principles from which they have strayed in recent years. Israel's national security doctrine includes four main pillars: deterrence, early warning, defense, and decisive victory.
  • Because of Israel's overreliance on deterrence, and its tacit acceptance of a prolonged buildup of Hamas forces in Gaza (facilitated by Iranian funding and expertise), the group had achieved an unusually high level of operational readiness to carry out a major attack. It had also identified significant vulnerabilities in Israel's defenses around Gaza.
  • According to Israel's security doctrine, when deterrence fails, the intelligence community assumes the vital role of providing early warning, enabling the IDF to prepare and respond effectively to the threat. But a catastrophic misconception had taken hold within the Israeli intelligence community in recent years.
  • Hamas' fundamental aspiration is to inflict harm on Israel, with the ultimate aim of obliterating it. But Israeli intelligence and decision-makers had come to believe that Hamas' responsibilities in Gaza - where it essentially governed a de facto state of over two million Palestinians - had tempered its extremism.
  • When deterrence falters and early warnings fail to materialize, Israel's traditional security doctrine falls back on the IDF's defensive capabilities. But Israel failed to imagine an aboveground invasion and did not reinforce defenses around Gaza in proportion to Hamas' growing military capabilities. Consequently, Israeli forces in the area were outnumbered and caught off guard during the Sukkot holiday.
  • The fourth pillar of Israel's security doctrine is the concept of achieving a decisive military outcome. Israel now understands that although the jihadi ideology of Hamas may persist, the IDF must dismantle the organization's military capabilities. Israel has come to see that it cannot coexist with a jihadi Islamist state akin to ISIS at its doorstep in Gaza.
  • The era of intermittent cycles of fighting and ceasefires in Gaza is over. The ground operation will end only when Hamas ceases to function as a governing authority in Gaza and its military capabilities are significantly degraded. Targeted incursions into Gaza and airstrikes against Hamas will persist, and Israel will need to fortify a number of strategically significant areas near the border with Gaza to create a buffer zone to enhance border defense.

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