November 26, 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:

U.S.: Israeli-Owned Ship Targeted in Iranian Attack in Indian Ocean - Jon Gambrell (AP)
    The Symi container ship owned by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is controlled by Israeli Idan Ofer, came under attack by an Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean on Friday, an American defense official said Saturday.
    He said the vessel was targeted by a bomb-carrying Shahed-136 drone in international waters.
    The drone caused damage to the ship but no injuries to the crew.

Israeli Hostages Report Lack of Food in Hamas Captivity (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israeli news site N12 spoke with the families of those hostages who returned to hear the stories of their time in Gaza.
    The hostages reported that they had not been tortured or physically abused, although the amount of food they had been given was minimal.
    They said how their final two weeks had seen supplies running low, leaving them with pita bread and small amounts of rice to eat.
    Hostages spoke of last-minute attempts by Gazans to throw stones at the vehicle bringing them to Egypt. "Until the last moment we weren't sure, we thought they would lynch us on the way to Israel," a hostage said.

Female IDF Tank Crews Ran Down Hamas Terrorists on Oct. 7 (Times of Israel)
    In an interview with Israel's Channel 12, IDF soldiers who were part of a company of all-women tank operators in the Caracal mixed-gender light infantry battalion said that on the morning of Oct. 7, they left their base on the Egyptian border and drove north as fast as they could in tanks and an armored Humvee.
    As they approached Kibbutz Holit, Michal, an armored crew commander, said: "We started firing bunker busters at the terrorists that were up close, and then mortar shells at those further away. I could see the hits, I saw them fall down."
    Another commander, also called Michal, said that at Kibbutz Holit, "We saw terrorists everywhere, and I told the driver - just run them down."
    Col. Shemer Raviv said the female armored crews battled terrorists for 17 hours straight on that day.
    "When the tanks arrived, they broke up the battles....The terrorists understood they could either run or they would die. And the girls in those tanks, the warriors, with three tanks at that point in the attack, they fought in a most impressive way....Thanks to their actions in that area, we prevented the attack from moving further south."
    A commander identified as Tamar said, "You keep saying 'heroines' and 'historic.'...I don't feel like a hero. I feel like I'm a soldier that was given a job, and I did my job. I think anyone would have done that."
    Hagar, an officer, said, "You think about the civilians trapped in their homes and the people that needed us. You understand that there was no room for fear."

Israel Slams Irish Prime Minister over Remarks on Hostage Release - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the release of Israeli-Irish hostage Emily Hand, 9, saying, "an innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned."
    Israeli Government Spokesman Eylon Levy responded, "This is how you describe a little girl who went missing during a stroll in a forest, then gets discovered by a friendly hiker. Not a girl brutally abducted by death squads that brutally massacred her neighbors."

Five IDF Soldiers Killed in War Donate Organs to Save Others - Renee Ghert-Zand (Times of Israel)
    After Staff Sgt. Yehonatan Samo died on Nov. 10 in Gaza, his parents agreed to donate his heart, lungs, kidneys, and parts of his liver to six different people.
    "The knowledge that we have made life possible for others strengthens us," said his mother Ayelet.
    Here are the stories of five regular and reserve IDF soldiers, killed in action, who gave 25 people a new lease on life.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Will Resume Offensive Operations after the Pause in Gaza - David Ignatius
    "At this point in time, Israel is focused on getting all 100 women and children released," a senior Israeli official said. "The next stage will be high-intensity conflict. The IDF is determined to go to the next stage of the war....There is very strong determination on the part of the IDF and the Israeli people that we can no longer live with Hamas ruling Gaza."
        Israel will seek to resume offensive operations at a moment when international pressure will grow for a permanent ceasefire. Hamas fighters remain well-entrenched underground. Clearing operations aren't over in northern Gaza, and those in southern Gaza have barely begun.
        The senior Israeli official stressed that destroying Hamas is an overriding concern. "There's an understanding that from an economic perspective, we need to win the war. The costs of war are short-term, relative to the long-term benefit of people going back to living safely."  (Washington Post)
  • Hamas' Ceasefire Game Plan: Outlast Israel and Survive - Rory Jones
    Hamas leaders are heading into a temporary ceasefire with a singular mission: survival. "The most important thing for now is to guarantee their survival," Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research in IDF military intelligence, said of Hamas. The group, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., hopes it can release hostages gradually, turning "this entire idea of defeating Hamas into something that will never happen."
        Hamas leaders already believe they scored a big victory with the Oct. 7 attacks just by inflicting a military blow on Israel and by keeping its senior leaders safe from the Israeli invasion.
        Israeli commentator Ehud Yaari, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the Israeli military believes Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and his senior commanders are now located in Hamas' tunnel network in southern Gaza. "For Hamas, if the battle stops before Khan Yunis [the largest city in southern Gaza] is attacked, they are still left standing on their feet.
        Israeli military officials say they know Hamas' ideology can't be eliminated but argue it is possible to eradicate the group's ability to wage war and govern Gaza. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Releases Women and Children Hostages on Friday and Saturday - Ofer Aderet
    Thirteen Israeli hostages were released from captivity late on Saturday - 8 children and 5 women - along with 4 Thai nationals, 50 days after being kidnapped to Gaza in Hamas' Oct. 7 assault on Israel. On Friday, 4 children and 9 women were released. (Ha'aretz)
        See also 10 Hostages from Thailand, 1 Filipino Released Friday - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz
  • Hamas' Delay in Releasing Israeli Hostages Is a Sign of What's to Come - Amos Harel
    A last-minute delay caused by Hamas on Saturday night, claiming Israeli violations of the ceasefire agreement on the second day of the hostage return deal, should surprise no one. It was clear that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar would try to employ psychological warfare against Israel to maximize leverage. Qatar and Egypt pressured Hamas to keep its word and deliver the hostages as promised.
        The release of 24 more Israeli hostages is scheduled in the coming days. Israel promised an additional day of pause in the fighting, beyond the initial four days, for every additional 10 hostages released. Yet there are over 100 hostages that Hamas and other Palestinian factions will try to hold on to as negotiating chips for a larger future deal.
        In the West Bank, the release of dozens of Palestinian women and minors who were imprisoned in Israel, as part of the deal, was marked with mass celebrations led by Hamas, where victory rallies featured green Islamist flags. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Executes Three West Bank Palestinians for "Spying for Israel"
    Two Palestinians were murdered in the city of Tulkarm and another was murdered in Jenin in the West Bank on Friday under suspicion of spying for Israel. Many people either participated or watched the event and took very graphic photos and videos documenting the murder. In Tulkarm, a Palestinian mob can be seen in the videos abusing the bodies and hanging them on an electric pole. (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Air Force Intercepts Drone Headed for Eilat - Yoav Zitun
    An Israeli Air Force F-35 on Saturday intercepted a drone over the Red Sea en route to Israel. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Oketz Unit Dogs Find Bombs, Hamas Terrorists in Gaza - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The IDF's Oketz unit has succeeded in finding dozens of bombs, large numbers of other Hamas weapons, located terrorist hideouts and ambushes, and helped find the bodies of murdered hostages during the war with Hamas.
        In the Turkish hospital in Gaza, the dogs found two large bombs. A dog found a bomb at Rantisi hospital, and another dog found a bomb in a physical therapy department of Shifa hospital.
        Oketz dogs found Hamas weapons in hospital medical machines, cabinets, and patients' beds. Four dogs have died in action in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Must Fight On to Change the Balance of Power - Yossi Yehoshua
    A policy that favors a ceasefire over continued fighting does not add to Israeli deterrence. A senior IDF commander said at least 5,000 terrorists have been killed since the start of the war and thousands of others were either injured or buried under destroyed buildings in Gaza, reinforcing the position that the fighting should be allowed to continue to demonstrate the price for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
        The IDF is realizing that only after operating in Rafah on the Egyptian border, where Hamas has tunnels bringing in arms, will most if not all hostages be freed. The message must be that, without the release of all captives, the entire strip will be destroyed as the north has been, so that international pressure will be placed on Hamas to make a deal. Hamas must not be in control of events and have the unilateral power to decide if and when hostages are freed. (Ynet News)
  • The Houthis Represent a New Enemy for Israel to Contend With - Dore Gold
    It is rare that Israel has had to contend with an entirely new adversary that threatens its access to entire parts of the world. But that is exactly what is occurring with the growing Houthi threat, based in Yemen. The Houthis, fully supported by Iran, built an arsenal of ballistic missiles and drones that can reach Israeli territory.
        Most Houthis, who are Zaydi Shi'ite Muslims, live in the rugged mountains of northern Yemen. The founder of the Zaydi sect, Zayd ben Ali, was the great-grandson of Ali, a close descendant of Islam's prophet, Mohammed.
        Iran has been supplying the Houthis with state-of-the-art ballistic missiles and advanced drones which have been employed to strike Israel. Houthi drones have destroyed Saudi oil installations and refineries in Abu Dhabi, causing tremendous damage. They have now threatened Israel's southern port of Eilat as well. It has now become critical for the IDF to neutralize this problem.
        The writer, former president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (20002022), served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and as director general of the Foreign Ministry. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Not Another Dime to Pro-Hamas Charities in U.S. - Dexter Van Zile
    It's time to impose a moratorium on the allocation of public funds to non-profit organizations in the U.S. that support Hamas, a designated terror organization responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,400 Israelis. The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a suspected proxy for Turkey, issued a statement on the same day of the massacre that portrayed Hamas' murder spree as an act of "self-defense." The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) promoted the USCMO's statement on its own website.
        CAIR has been under FBI scrutiny for decades. Yet the Department of Homeland Security dispensed $70,000 to the CAIR Los Angeles chapter in 2016 and $75,000 to the CAIR chapter in Florida. The Small Business Administration has provided $3,000 to CAIR chapters in Connecticut and Texas. San Diego County authorized a grant of $13,000 in 2022 to the local CAIR chapter, as well as two additional grants of over $6,000 each.
        It is time to prohibit the disbursement of public funds - at all levels of government - to Islamist organizations until legislative investigations into their ties to Hamas and support for Islamism are conducted. The main beneficiary of this campaign will be U.S. Muslims who object to Hamas' butchery and want to live in peace with their neighbors.
        The writer is managing editor of Focus on Western Islamism, a publication of the Middle East Forum. (Spectator)

  • President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said that after the latest war, Gaza should be unified with the West Bank under a "revitalized" Palestinian Authority. Yet few people in the West Bank or Israel regard the PA as capable of governing a post-conflict Gaza. The PA is deeply unpopular even where it has control in the West Bank. It is run by President Mahmoud Abbas, who is now 88. Its support is so tenuous that it would be unlikely to survive without the security provided by the Israeli Army.
  • In the view of many of the people it is supposed to represent, the PA has devolved into an authoritarian, corrupt and undemocratic administration. Restoring the PA's credibility, Palestinians and experts say, would require holding elections to form a new leadership. But if elections were held today, it is probable, experts and polls suggest, that Hamas would win.
  • Even among a budding middle class that has grown up in the relative stability of the West Bank, there is little respect for the PA. With financial troubles and a reduced budget, it has already cut the salaries it pays by 30%.
  • "How can they rule Gaza?" asked Iyad Masrouji, the chief executive of Jerusalem Pharmaceuticals. "The Americans talk with the rhetoric of 30 years ago, but we live in a different reality. If we had a fair election, Hamas would win, and more now."
  • Palestinians in the West Bank have generally hailed Hamas for bringing the fate of Palestinians back into international focus. "From the Palestinian point of view, it looked like a miracle," said Sari Nusseibeh, former president of Al Quds University. "Fortress Israel suddenly seemed vulnerable. Who is the Palestinian leadership now? It's Hamas, like it or not."
  • "At the moment Hamas is seen by Palestinians as the foremost representative of Palestinian interests because no one else is. The Palestinian Authority doesn't figure in people's minds," Nusseibeh said.
  • Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki said 85% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign, including more than 60% of his own Fatah party. Could the PA in its current state take over Gaza? "Of course not," Shikaki said.

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