November 27, 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:

Qatar: Hamas Must Locate More Hostages to Extend Truce - Andrew England (Financial Times-UK)
    Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Financial Times that efforts to extend a temporary truce in Gaza depend on Hamas locating dozens of women and children held hostage by civilians and gangs.
    More than 40 other women and children being kept captive in Gaza were not believed to be held by Hamas.
    "If they get additional women and children, there will be an extension" of the pause in the conflict, he said.

U.S. Navy Detains 5 after Failed Attempt to Capture Merchant Ship in Persian Gulf - Idrees Ali (Reuters)
    The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Mason on Sunday responded to a distress call from the Central Park, a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Aden that had been seized by armed individuals.
    The U.S. ship, with help from a Japanese navy destroyer and helicopter gunships, demanded that the attackers release the ship.
    Five armed individuals tried to escape on a fast boat but were chased and eventually surrendered.
    During the incident, two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen towards the ships, landing 10 nautical miles away.
    Central Park, a small chemical tanker carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid, is managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd., a London-based international ship management company owned by Israel's Ofer family.
    The vessel has a Turkish captain and a crew of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals.

Human Rights Watch: Explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza Caused by Palestinian Rocket (Human Rights Watch)
    Human Rights Watch said Sunday the explosion that killed and injured many civilians at al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Oct. 17, 2023, resulted from an apparent rocket such as those commonly used by Palestinian armed groups, that hit the hospital grounds.
    The sound preceding the explosion, the fireball that accompanied it, the size of the resulting crater, the type of splatter adjoining it, and the type and pattern of fragmentation visible around the crater are all consistent with the impact of a rocket.
    Evidence makes the possibility of a large air-dropped bomb, such as those Israel has used extensively in Gaza, highly unlikely.

Senior Fatah Official Justifies Oct. 7 Massacre as "Defensive War" Against Israel - Gianluca Pacchiani (Times of Israel)
    Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of Fatah's Central Committee, on Sunday justified the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas that killed over a thousand people in Israel, mostly civilians, as an act "in the context of the defensive war our people are waging."
    Rajoub said Israel is responsible for causing Oct. 7. He added that "Hamas is part of our political and social fabric and of our struggle."

Israel Can Survive the War Economically - until at Least the Summer - Sever Plocker (New York Post)
    Israel's economy was in excellent shape in the months before its war with Hamas.
    Israel was sitting on $200 billion in foreign currency reserves and had less-than-zero net foreign debt.
    The military budget took up 5% of GDP - high, but not outrageous and lower than Saudi Arabia.
    The writer is chief economics correspondent for Yediot Ahranot.

Don't Give Hamas a Lifeline - Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (Telegraph-UK)
    The only way Hamas can survive is if Israel is forced to stop its operation in Gaza due to international pressure.
    Those thousands of people marching for a Free Palestine must see that this objective is only possible with the destruction of its biggest obstacle: radical terrorists willing to murder and kidnap children to achieve their aims.
    The writer is former commanding officer of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.

This Is Not a "Let's Look at Both Sides" Moment - Irwin J. Mansdorf, Ph.D (Jerusalem Post)
    Heartless and apparently mindless hordes in the U.S. and Europe are marching in solidarity with the barbarians that slaughtered our people in the most heinous way.
    These people do not know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.
    This is not a "let's look at both sides" moment. There are no "both sides" when it comes to intentionally torturing and killing babies, children, and the elderly, burning some alive, and then bragging about it.
    Yes, "both sides" have extremists, but only on one side are they tolerated and even glorified by the mainstream.
    There is no moral balance in holding signs declaring "Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestinian." It is as if, at the end of World War II, we held up signs reading "Pro-Jewish, Pro-German." Both suffered, but only one is responsible for the suffering.
    The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs specializing in political psychology.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Confirms Red Cross Visits to Hostages Are Part of Truce Deal - Dana Bash
    U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
    Q: Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the Red Cross would be allowed to visit hostages still being held by Hamas to ascertain their status.
    Sullivan: "That is part of the deal. We expect it will happen....We do believe that Hamas is obliged to maintain its part of the commitment on Red Cross visitation of the hostages. And we expect Qatar and Egypt and other countries to hold Hamas accountable to fulfill that commitment by the end of tomorrow [Monday]."
        "Israel has already agreed that it will continue to pause fighting day by day after the end of the four days, as long as Hamas keeps releasing hostages. So, the ball is really in Hamas' court. If Hamas wants to see an extension of the pause in fighting, it can continue to release hostages. If it chooses not to release hostages, then the end of the pause is its responsibility, not Israel's, because it is holding these hostages completely illegitimately and against all bounds of human decency or the laws of war."
        "President Biden has been clear that Israel has a right, indeed, a responsibility, to defend itself against an implacable terrorist foe that continues to go out and say that it intends to attack Israel, continues to launch rockets...and continues to indicate that it will not stop representing a direct physical threat to the people in the State of Israel."  (CNN)
  • For Israelis, Even an Extended Pause in the Gaza War Does Not Mean Peace - Steve Hendrix
    As Israel and Hamas near the end of a four-day pause in combat - with the possibility of short-term extensions - there is broad agreement in Israel that the all-out war to eliminate Hamas is far from over. Combat operations will begin as soon as the hostage release deal is complete, officials said.
        "We will return immediately at the end of the ceasefire to attacking Gaza," Israeli army Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Saturday. "We will do it to dismantle Hamas and also to create great pressure to return as quickly as possible as many hostages as possible."
        Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) President Yohanan Plesner said, "There is no basis in [Israeli] public opinion for anything having to do with a ceasefire with Hamas or any diplomatic solution. There's a broad understanding that there is no way we can restore security, stability or any kind of peaceful relations with Palestinians without eliminating Hamas. And that means more ground operations."  (Washington Post)
  • Hamas Leaders Explain Why They Attacked Israel - Ben Hubbard
    Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas' top leadership body, told the New York Times in Doha, Qatar, that they attacked Israel in order to "change the entire equation and not just have a clash. We succeeded in putting the Palestinian issue back on the table, and now no one in the region is experiencing calm." Taher El-Nounou, a Hamas media adviser, told the Times, "I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders, and that the Arab world will stand with us."
        The assault served one of the plotters' main objectives: It broke a longstanding tension within Hamas about the group's identity and purpose. Was it mainly a governing body - responsible for managing day-to-day life in Gaza - or was it still fundamentally an armed force, committed to destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamist state? With the attack, the group's leaders in Gaza doubled down on military confrontation. For Hamas, the attack stemmed from a growing sense that the Palestinian cause was being pushed aside, and that only drastic action could revive it. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 14 Israelis, including 9 Children, Freed on Sunday by Hamas in Hostage Deal
    14 Israelis, including 9 children, and three Thai citizens were released from Hamas captivity Sunday evening. Among those released was Avigail Idan, age 4, an Israeli-American citizen from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, whose parents were murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7. According to Israel's Channel 12, 177 hostages are still held by Hamas: 18 children, 43 women, and 116 men. (Times of Israel)
  • Crowds in Ramallah Cheer Hamas as Dozens More Palestinian Security Prisoners Freed
    Palestinians in Ramallah celebrated the return of former security prisoners released by Israel as part of a hostage deal, praising Hamas in the Palestinian Authority's seat of power. Over the last three days, 39 Israeli hostages and 117 Palestinian prisoners have been released. Many of the prisoners are affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinian Terrorists Traded for Innocents - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Because the vast majority of the Palestinians being released are women or minors and all of the Israelis being released are women or minors, many in the global media have lost sight of the fact that the Palestinians have all been charged or convicted of violent crimes, many of terror crimes. Moreover, some of the Jewish minors are babies and toddlers, whereas most of the Palestinians are above the age of 16.
        Ragah Abu Kias was arrested when he was 16 for opening fire on Jews. Because he did not succeed at killing anyone, he was added to the list of releases. Saadi Abu Adi was arrested when he was 17 for opening fire on Jews. Marah Bechir was arrested at age 16 after she stabbed a border policeman, who survived. A significant minority committed crimes which could have killed people, while the remaining majority supported or were involved in a terror group in some less immediately dangerous way. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Hamas Casualty Figures in Gaza Are a Scam - Lenny Ben-David
    Inflated numbers of dead Gazans always appear in news accounts, together with high proportions of children and women killed. The sole source of these statistics is Hamas' Ministry of Health in Gaza. The ministry does not reveal how many of the men were civilians and how many were combatants. Nor are reporters aware of the vast discrepancy between women and children casualties in 2023 and those who died in previous Gaza engagements.
        During the fighting in 2014, out of 1,900 casualties, only 16% were children and 15% were women. Men ages 20 to 29, "the population most likely to be militants," were the most overrepresented in the death toll. They were 9% of Gazans but 34% of those killed.
        Why such a vast change? First, after Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas stopped giving details about the casualties' age and sex. Moreover, Israel estimates that at least 4,000 Hamas/PIJ fighters have died in the fighting so far. In addition, after being repeatedly warned by Israel, an estimated one million Gazans evacuated their homes and went south. This should be reflected in lower casualty rates for women and children.
        More than 750 Gazans died since Oct. 7 of natural causes, according to the CIA. Does anyone doubt that Hamas added them to the casualties of the war and blamed Israel? The alleged 500 people killed at al-Ahli hospital by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket were also likely added to the ministry's numbers.
        The writer, former Deputy Chief of Staff in Israel's Washington Embassy, is Director of the Institute for U.S.-Israel Relations at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Hamas' "Numbers Warfare" - Prof. Kobi Michael (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Don't Give Gaza to the Palestinian Authority - Eugene Kontorovich and Itamar Marcus
    The Biden administration wants Israel to bring in Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party to rule Gaza when the war is over. Fatah is a secular, Arab nationalist party that occasionally claims to want peace with Israel, albeit on terms that would make Israel's existence as a Jewish state untenable. Both Hamas and Fatah have lethal policies when it comes to Israel.
        Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority, which sponsors the "pay to slay" salary program that provides financial rewards to terrorists, who get more lavish payouts for crimes that result in longer imprisonment. Fatah has celebrated and glorified the Oct. 7 orgy of torture and murder. The party has boasted that its members directly participated in the invasion, crossing into Israel and brutalizing civilians. The official PA news agency described the attacks as a "heroic battle" and called on Palestinians to escalate "confrontation in all arenas."
        The evidence of actual participation by Fatah members, combined with the endorsement by official Fatah organs, should disqualify Fatah and any government of which it is a part from any leadership role in Gaza. The difference between Fatah and Hamas is one of degree, not kind. They are both evil.
        Mr. Kontorovich is a professor at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum. Mr. Marcus is director of Palestinian Media Watch. (Wall Street Journal)
  • In Israel, There's No "Crisis of Confidence." It's Stronger than Ever - Zoe Strimpel
    I have been regularly visiting Israel for 20 years and I have never before seen such national unity, as if a warring family has suddenly realized they've only got each other. And in a close-knit country 11 times smaller than the UK, everyone knows people caught up in the horror, whether as victims, victims' families, or soldiers. The emotion, and commitment to what happens next, is genuine and complete. "We are all in Gaza," they say, and they mean it.
        It has now become blindingly obvious to anyone who visits Israel that the initial shock has morphed into unified anguish and purpose. Critics who were quick to blame what they saw as Israel's military heavy-handedness, now see no option but to win the war in Gaza, in order to annihilate Hamas and prevent a recurrence; at the very least out of respect to those who have been taken or killed.
        This is not doubting Israel's purpose. Rather, it is a renewed determination to make Israel keep fulfilling that purpose. A crisis of confidence in Zionism? Bad news for the clever pundits of the West: the Israelis have never been stronger. (Telegraph-UK)
  • My Jewish Parents Were Right about Antisemitism - Emma Teitel
    This is not a column about the Israel-Hamas war. It's a column about a painful reverberation of that war a world away. Since it began, I know of four people in the Toronto area who say the mezuzahs on their doors were ripped down.
        A letter signed by 2,000 parents warns of "escalating incidents of antisemitism" at Toronto public schools since the outbreak of the war. The incidents described include: "Children performing Nazi salutes, drawing swastikas on bus windows, vandalizing bathrooms with antisemitic graffiti, Jewish stars being put on the desks of Jewish students to identify them...physical violence, references to gas chambers, Hitler and being sent back to concentration camps." I could go on, but I will run out of room.
        What we are seeing in Canada is not merely a dramatic rise of antisemitism at all levels of society, it is a horrifying revelation for many Jews my age that our parents were right. This stuff doesn't just go away with the passage of time. It is always there under the surface. Blaming ordinary Jewish people in Canada for the military actions of a foreign government is antisemitic. Antisemitism isn't a problem for Jews alone, though we bear the brunt of its violence. It is a conspiracy theory that eats away at truth and democracy. It is a sign of decay. (Toronto Star-Canada)
  • The UN's Treatment of Israel Is Shameful - Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen
    The United Nations is suffering from acute moral failure and can't fulfill its core mission. Israel joined the UN in 1949. Universal humanitarian values, civil liberties, the rule of law and political accountability have always been the foundations of Israeli society. We adhere fully to the UN charter.
        Yet since Oct. 7, Israel has been fighting a war for survival against an enemy whose goal is our total annihilation. We are the only democracy in a region dominated by violent authoritarian regimes. Israel's enemies are deliberately violating all principles of the UN Charter, international humanitarian law and basic human decency.
        The atrocities Hamas committed on Oct. 7 were appalling crimes against humanity. You would think such flagrant acts of evil would elicit the strongest of condemnations. Yet the UN, its agencies, and its secretary general fail even to address the crimes of Hamas and other Iranian terror proxies.
        The UN's betrayal of its own mandate is not new for Israel, which has been the object of double standards for decades. The world's most violent anti-Western forces exploit the UN and promote an agenda radically opposed to its charter and stated goals. Israel is today at the forefront of the struggle against those forces aimed at the destruction of the free world. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Israel's most pressing need is time. Israeli leaders believe their campaign to destroy Hamas is going well, proceeding faster and incurring fewer IDF casualties than visiting American generals expected.
  • But the IDF needs time to maintain its meticulous pace of rooting out Hamas terrorists hiding behind civilians and below ground in the dense urban Gazan environment. If the IDF went faster, it could risk more IDF and Palestinian casualties.
  • Israel also needs a great deal of ammunition, to maintain its campaign against Hamas and be ready should Hizbullah in Lebanon increase the severity of its daily attacks. Israeli officials are very appreciative of the steady American supply of weapons, but they need more to maximize battlefield effectiveness and limit collateral damage.
  • The IDF must destroy Hamas so Israelis can again feel safe to live in their towns near the Gaza border (over 100,000 have been evacuated since the Oct. 7 massacre). This will include the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone a few kilometers deep within Gaza to help ensure the border is secure.
  • The IDF must restore deterrence. Iran and many other Islamists have long believed Israel is in decline and will eventually disappear. Israel's fierce retaliation has created immense destruction in Gaza. That has damaged Israel's international position and triggered antisemitic attacks in the West, but it must give pause to Hizbullah as it ponders what would happen if it attacked Israel.
  • Former Israeli national security advisor IDF Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror insists Israel could not survive in the Middle East if Israel did not make a clear example of Hamas - that any actor who conducts an attack on the order of Oct. 7 against Israel will be completely annihilated militarily.

    The writer, a former Pentagon official, is president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

Daily Alert is published Sunday through Friday during the war.
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