November 23, 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:

Nearly 50 Rockets Fired by Hizbullah toward Northern Israel - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    Around 50 rockets were fired toward northern Israel from Lebanon on Thursday, the IDF said.
    Hizbullah also claimed that it had conducted 11 attacks, including several anti-tank missile attacks, against a number of IDF positions.
    See also Israel Warns of Regional War If Hizbullah Isn't Disarmed - Jeremy Sharon (Times of Israel)
    Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has warned the UN Security Council that a regional war is likely if its 2006 resolution calling for the disarmament of Lebanon's Hizbullah terror group is not fully implemented.
    "For the good of regional stability and to avoid further escalation, the next session of the UN Security Council must adopt a totally different approach in order to end the dangerous violations by Hizbullah and other terrorist groups on the border," Cohen wrote, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.
    UN Security Council Resolution 1701 called for the region between the Israel-Lebanon border and the Litani River to be freed of all armed forces other than the Lebanese army and the UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL.
    This was never implemented, and Hizbullah has become a heavily armed terror militia with tens of thousands of fighters and an arsenal of 150,000 rockets and missiles.

The Iranian-Backed Aerial Threat - Matan Yanko-Avikasis and Liran Antebi (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    In the war that began on Oct. 7, a variety of weapons have been used against Israel, including ballistic and cruise missiles, rockets, mortar shells, anti-tank missiles, and intelligence-gathering and suicide UAVs.
    A large proportion of these weapons are manufactured by Iran or are based on Iranian technology. The people operating them were trained by Iran to use, assemble, and maintain these weapons.
    In the weeks since the Hamas attack, Israel has come under attack with missiles and suicide UAVs launched from Yemen by the Houthi rebels; rockets, anti-tank missiles, UAVs, and drones have been launched at Israel from Lebanon; and even an explosive-laden UAV was launched from Syrian territory, which hit Eilat. Behind all of these is Iran.
    Most of these launches have been intercepted.
    This conflict has seen the first operational use of the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which intercept missiles outside the earth's atmosphere.
    Among the most lethal weapons have been anti-tank missiles fired at Israel from both Gaza and Lebanon.
    Their damage has somewhat colored the confidence in Trophy, Israel's active protection system installed on tanks and armored personnel carriers, which has an extremely high rate of successful interceptions.
    One missile fired at Israel by the Houthis in Yemen was intercepted by Saudi Arabia, which shares radar intelligence with Israel via the U.S.
    This was an illustration of how the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD) works; Israel joined MEAD in June 2023.
    Thus far, the barrages that Israel has faced have not exceeded the capacity of its aerial defense systems, but there is no guarantee that this will remain the situation if war breaks out on the northern front.
    So far, Israel's defenses have intercepted 2,000 missiles and dozens of hostile UAVs.
    Capt. (res.) Matan Yanko-Avikasis served in the Directorate of Defense Research & Development in the Israel Ministry of Defense.
    Liran Antebi is a senior researcher and manages the Advanced Technologies and National Security program at INSS.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Presses Israel to Set Up Safe Areas during Coming Pause in Gaza War - Edward Wong
    President Biden and his aides are using an agreement for a brief halt to hostilities in Gaza to push the Israeli government to lessen the harm to Palestinian civilians by setting up safe areas, allowing in more medical aid, and permitting larger deliveries of fuel, U.S. officials say. Israel continues to dismiss calls for a longer-term ceasefire.
        President Biden called Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday to discuss the hostage release agreement. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday that the U.S. has made clear to Israel "that we think they should not commence with further activities in the south [of Gaza] until they have taken the proper steps to account for the humanitarian needs there. Before any military offensive begins there, we would want to ensure that those people are properly protected."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Shoots Down Houthi Attack Drones from Yemen over Red Sea - Lucas Lilieholm
    The USS Thomas Hudner shot down "multiple one-way attack drones" launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen on Thursday while it was on patrol in the Red Sea, U.S. Central Command reported. Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis claim to have fired missiles and drones toward Israel. (CNN)
        See also Israel Shoots Down Houthi Cruise Missile Launched from Yemen
    An IDF fighter jet intercepted a cruise missile that was launched towards Eilat on Wednesday from Yemen. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Video: Inside Hamas' Tunnel Network under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    In the last two days, the IDF has entered Hamas' tunnel network under Shifa Hospital. A vast amount of guns and grenades were found hidden throughout the hospital, as well as rocket-propelled grenade launchers, advanced drones for delivering explosives, and a variety of sophisticated intelligence platforms.
        In the tunnel network I saw a spacious bedroom with two large beds and a large modern air conditioning unit, a kitchenette, and bathrooms, as well as extensive plumbing and electrical wiring. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: IDF Reveals Hamas' Expansive Tunnel Network under Shifa Hospital - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Morale Suffers as Israel Gains Ground in Gaza - Amir Bohbot
    Evidence from the battlefield in Gaza reveals that Hamas morale has been dealt a significant blow, causing many terrorists to retreat southward, abandoning guns after clashes with IDF soldiers. Reasons for the decline in morale include the IDF's successful elimination of senior officials, a lack of supplies, and difficulties in carrying out attacks. (Walla-Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Israel Agreed to the Hostage Deal with Hamas - David Horovitz
    The Israeli Cabinet voted 35-3 to approve a limited deal to free some of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The mindset at the heart of the agreement was that Israel has unlimited time in which to destroy Hamas, while the imperative to secure the release of hostages was urgent.
        Obviously, Israel would have wanted an agreement to secure the return of all hostages, but there was no such deal to be made. Obviously, Israel would have wanted the IDF to locate and rescue all the hostages - without necessitating any deal with the terrorists, any release of Palestinian security prisoners, or any halt to the war. But that option was not available either. The current deal was the only hostage-release option available.
        Crucial to the near-unanimous support in the Cabinet was the pledge by Prime Minister Netanyahu that the war will resume once the deal is carried out, and that the war's aims remain unchanged: the destruction of Hamas' military and governance capabilities and the return of all the hostages.
        Hamas agreed to the deal in order to secure the release of terrorists from Israeli jails. It has agreed to release 50 Israelis in return for 150 Palestinian women and youths, none of whom has been convicted of murder. (Times of Israel)
  • The Deal with Hamas - Ofer Shelah
    Given the brutal and volatile nature of Hamas, difficulties and even delaying tactics and postponements can be expected in the course of the implementation of the return of some captured Israeli women and children. Israel has a moral obligation toward its citizens who were kidnapped to Gaza due to an unprecedented state failure. Precisely because the enemy is who it is, you can never know when there will be another opportunity to possibly save their lives.
        The return of kidnapped individuals in the framework of this deal will not be evidence of Israel as a "spider web" society, but on the contrary - of a strong society with human values, which is also the basis for the military victory in the entire campaign.
        The writer, a veteran journalist, is a senior researcher at INSS.  (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • If You Saw the Film I Have Seen, You Would Understand Israel's Reaction - Bob Blackman
    We sat in stunned silence for at least two minutes. No one moved an inch. Staring ahead in shock and disbelief. More than 60 parliamentarians had just borne witness to the barbaric cruelty unleashed by Hamas on Israel that dark day. We had gathered to witness 45 minutes of raw, unedited and uncensored footage of Hamas' attack on Oct. 7. Much of the footage had been collected from body cameras and mobile phones carried by Hamas terrorists as they rampaged through southern Israel. Many are seen taking selfies with dead bodies as they go along.
        Much of the footage has never been aired in the UK. It is simply too graphic. It is, though, perhaps the only way to truly understand the sheer horror and what triggered - and indeed necessitated - Israel's war against Hamas. We learned that we had witnessed the bodies - and killings - of around 130 people. A mere 10% of those murdered that chilling day.
        Simply, there will be no chance for peace as long as Hamas exists. The UK is absolutely right to support Israel in this unenviable task. Many of those sickeningly trying to justify Hamas horrors would do well to witness this footage.
        The writer is a Conservative Member of Parliament. (Daily Express-UK)
  • How the Washington Post Turned a Feel-Good Story into an Anti-Israel Attack - Robert Satloff
    I have never seen a story quite like the Washington Post piece headlined "Israel's war with Hamas separates Palestinian babies from their mothers." The Post labels its news coverage of the conflict "Israel-Gaza War" - an editorial decision which implies Israel is at war with Gaza, rather than the more accurate "Israel-Hamas War" - the term used by the New York Times.
        The gist of the 31-paragraph piece in the news section is that several dozen Palestinian mothers and premature infants have been separated because of the war, the latter all cared for in hospitals in Israel or the West Bank. No one dies in this story; these Palestinian babies are all safe and protected.
        Indeed, the journalists could have written a wholly different story - "Despite war, Gazan babies safe and protected in Israeli and West Bank hospitals" - but they opted to focus on the alleged distress of the mothers instead of the well-being of the babies. I say "alleged" because only one mother was quoted by full name, who was reached by phone in Gaza.
        In a war filled with death, the Washington Post took a fundamentally good news story about premature babies from Gaza cared for by compassionate people across enemy lines and turned it into a horror story, with diabolical Israelis lurking overhead.
        The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.  (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

The Hostage Deal Means Israel Is Fighting the Clock - Dominic Green (Wall Street Journal)
  • Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to Washington during the Obama years, expects U.S. and international pressure for ceasefires to grow "exponentially" in the coming weeks. A ceasefire deprives Israel of military momentum and transfers the initiative to Hamas. Now that Israel has agreed to a short ceasefire to enable the return of some of the hostages, the Biden administration will expect longer ceasefires.
  • Hamas will remain armed and dangerous in Gaza and will use this ceasefire to regroup. The ceasefire's terms allow Hamas to extend the truce by releasing 10 hostages a day. As Hamas starts to trade adult, male and military hostages, the group's demands will rise to release hundreds of Palestinian terrorists.
  • More than 200,000 Israelis are internally displaced from the southern regions adjoining Gaza and the northern border with Lebanon. This ceasefire with Hamas won't return those Israelis home. It will, however, embolden Iran and its proxies.
  • Oren asks, "What's going to happen when the message gets out that we can be hit more or less with impunity, and when we try to defend ourselves, someone's going to slap a ceasefire on us?" Restoring Israel's deterrence is a matter of survival for the Jewish state.
  • Oren hears several clocks ticking at once. There is the "ammo clock": The IDF needs to be resupplied consistently with U.S.-made advanced munitions. There is the "reservist clock": Israel has mobilized an army equivalent to those of Britain and France combined; its young men and women, he says, form "the backbone of our high-tech economy." There is the "economic clock": Foreign investment and tourism have collapsed, and Israel is burning money on the war. There is the "humanitarian clock": Footage continues to show civilian casualties and more than a million displaced Gazans.
  • Israel needs to stop these clocks to survive. The Biden administration should create time and diplomatic space for Israel's forces to break Hamas. That means preventing the terrorists from setting the timetable in the Gaza war.

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