November 29, 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. House of Representatives Approves Resolutions Condemning Hamas' Attack on Israel - Brad Dress (The Hill)
    The House Tuesday voted 414-0 to condemn Hamas for taking hostages and for launching the terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
    Another resolution approved 412-1 rejected calls for Israel's destruction and "recognizes that denying Israel's right to exist is a form of antisemitism."

Iran Finalizes Deal to Buy Russian Fighter Jets (Reuters)
    "Plans have been finalized for [the delivery of Russian] Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, Mil Mi-28 attack helicopters, and Yak-130 jet trainers to join the combat units of Iran's Army," Iran's Deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Farahi said Tuesday.

At the End of the Gaza War's First Half, Israel's Position Is Strong - Alex Traiman (JNS)
    The brutal attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 was a declaration of war.
    After weeks of airstrikes on Gaza, Israel launched a ground incursion to target Hamas in the northern half of the territory.
    Israel currently controls a third of Gaza, and until Nov. 24 was beginning its move toward the south, where many of Hamas' senior leadership are now operating.
    The current pause provides a terror group on the run a desperately needed opportunity to regroup, rearm and redeploy, potentially placing IDF soldiers at greater risk when fighting resumes.
    The prisoners Israel released in exchange for the hostages are terrorists, many convicted of attempted murder.
    Like prisoners released to recover kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit - who was held in Gaza for five years - many are likely to commit new acts of terror following their release, threatening the lives of more Israelis. (Hamas terror mastermind Yahya Sinwar was one of those released.)
    Israel's military campaign will resume as soon as Hamas is no longer able to deliver hostages.
    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant insists that it was IDF pressure that forced Hamas to negotiate the return of hostages, and that further IDF pressure will lead to the release of additional hostages.

Overwhelming Israeli Public Support for the War - Meir Elran and Ariel Heimann (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    In the fifth week of the IDF's ground operation in Gaza, the overwhelming public support for the military counterattack is evident.
    This solidarity rests on a sweeping consensus in the public, including the establishment media, concerning the war's objectives as defined by the political leadership.
    The widespread sense of anxiety caused by a profound threat has resulted in a consensus that this is a just and unavoidable war, designed to defend the homeland and citizens against a vicious, inhumane enemy that must be eliminated.
    Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Meir Elran, former deputy director of Military Intelligence, is a senior researcher at INSS.
    Dr. Ariel Heimann, a senior researcher at INSS, served as an active officer in the IDF reserve armored forces, including as a division commander.

Israeli Defense Firm Elbit Ramps Up Output to Meet Demand for War - Steven Scheer (Reuters)
    Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems said Tuesday it had boosted supplies to Israel's military due to the country's war with Hamas.
    At the same time, it has had to contend with 2,000 of its staff, 15% of its workforce in Israel, being called for reserve duty.
    Elbit supplies hundreds of products to Israel's Defense Ministry, including UAVs, artillery, munitions and electronic warfare systems.

Malawi Sends Farm Reinforcements to Israel (AFP)
    A first flight carrying 221 youths left Malawi for Israel on Saturday and more would be sent soon, the country's labor ministry said Monday.
    Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, Israeli farms have lost thousands of laborers. Some were foreign workers who returned home and some were Palestinians from Gaza.
    Malawi's Secretary for Labor Wezi Kayira emphasized that the men will work at locations classified as "fit and safe."

The U.S. Has No Power to Order Israel Around - Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post)
    Despite the assumption of Israel's critics, the U.S. has no power to order Israel around as if it were a vassal state. Israel will do what it must to survive.
    Even without U.S. approval, it has conducted and will conduct military operations that its government considers essential to its national security.
    As with any other country, Israel will operate in its own defense even in defiance of allies' wishes.
    (The difference between Israel and many other U.S. allies: It has a first-class intelligence apparatus and military capable of conducting sophisticated operations independently.)

The Hostage Releases Hand More Power to Hamas - Charles Moore (Telegraph-UK)
    Hamas is being accorded kudos for its actions by the media, as if it were merciful.
    In truth, the releases are just as calculatedly ruthless as were the original killings and kidnappings.
    It is a mistake to see the hostage returns as a mark of Hamas weakness, let alone a change of heart.
    Morally, these exchanges are unequal. In return for a small number of its citizens, Israel is freeing far more Palestinians, most of whom are guilty of something. The Israelis Hamas frees are wholly innocent.
    Bargaining over hostages makes the future taking of hostages more likely. The kidnappings are seen to work.
    Many of the Palestinians released will resume the fight against Israel which their imprisonment interrupted.
    Naturally, many Israelis will do almost anything to get their fellow citizens home.
    If the Israeli government gives in to this, however, it may well be sacrificing the long-term interests of all Israelis to the feelings of the moment.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • CIA Director in Qatar to Discuss Larger Hostage Deal - John Hudson
    CIA Director William Burns arrived in Qatar on Tuesday for secret meetings with Israel's Mossad chief David Barnea and Qatar's prime minister aimed at brokering an expansive hostage deal between Israel and Hamas. Burns is pushing for hostage negotiations, thus far limited to women and children, to encompass the release of men and military personnel, too. He is also seeking a longer multiday pause in fighting. In addition, he is pushing for the immediate release of eight or nine American hostages held by Hamas.
        Israeli officials have said that the maximum number of extra days they are willing to allow is 10 before they seek to resume military operations. Israel is insisting that all remaining children and civilian women be released before any additional deals are made. (Washington Post)
        See also Hostage Negotiators in Qatar Discuss Plan for Release of All Israelis - David Ignatius
    American and Israeli spy chiefs met Tuesday with a Qatari mediator and discussed a plan for eventual release of all Israelis held captive in Gaza, including soldiers. A source close to the negotiations said, "there is a willingness on both sides" to make a broad deal that would free all Israeli captives in exchange for longer pauses in fighting, release of more Palestinian prisoners, and more humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza. The Qataris asked Hamas to explain its parameters for release and then shared those with the Mossad representative, who detailed Israel's requirements.
        The negotiators agreed on five categories of Israeli hostages for future releases, the source said: men too old for reserve military duty, female soldiers, male reservists, active-duty male soldiers, and the bodies of Israelis who died before or during captivity. The total is well over 100.
        Israel continues to say it will resume fighting until it has destroyed Hamas' ability to rule Gaza. Hamas, for its part, wants to survive, physically and politically. It's hard to see the space for compromise on these questions, which both sides see as existential. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Gears Up to Resume Gaza Fighting - Amos Harel
    Even though the pause has been extended until Thursday morning, in an attempt to free more hostages, the time left isn't unlimited, although the cease-fire may be extended to the weekend.
        There are Hamas companies and battalions in the north that effectively are no longer under the control of the leadership since their commanders and hundreds of fighters were killed. In areas where there's a massive IDF presence, Hamas retreated, put up little resistance, and focused on rearguard actions. However, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar's chain of command is still functioning in the south and to some extent in the north, too.
        In the next stage, Sinwar will demand the release of many more security prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldiers he now holds captive as well as the remaining civilians. But it's hard to predict whether the Israeli public would support a prolonged ceasefire, during which negotiations stretch on for months and the cost will be the freeing of thousands of Palestinian security prisoners.
        Public opinion continues to strongly back completion of the military operation and the destruction of Hamas' capabilities. The images of the Oct. 7 massacre remain very much alive in the Israeli consciousness.
        The IDF has made use of the ceasefire to refresh its forces and reorganize. There's a huge effort underway to repair and restore tanks, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers that had been working nonstop over the past few weeks. A lot of equipment was hit by RPGs, although most of the damage was light. Israel's Trophy active protection system for armored vehicles has provided an excellent defense. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Attacks Israeli Forces in Gaza amid Ceasefire
    Israeli forces in northern Gaza were targeted by three explosive devices in two separate incidents on Tuesday in violation of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said. Shots were fired at Israeli forces in one of the incidents. Several soldiers were lightly wounded in the attacks and IDF soldiers returned fire. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ten Israeli Women Released from Captivity on Tuesday
    Ten Israeli women held by Hamas in Gaza for 52 days and two Thai nationals were released on Tuesday. The husbands of three of the women released are still being held in Gaza. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    What Israeli Children Kidnapped by Hamas Endured

  • What Israeli Children Released by Hamas Endured
    Relatives of three Israeli children released from Hamas captivity in the past few days gave the world a glimpse on Tuesday into what they had endured. Deborah Cohen, the aunt of 12-year-old Eitan Yahalomi, told France's BFM TV that when he and his captors arrived in Gaza, "all the civilians, everybody, beat him." Any child who cried was threatened with a gun to make them quiet. Eitan had been forced to watch videos of atrocities against Israelis committed in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack. Esther Yahalomi, Eitan's grandmother, said that her grandson had been kept alone in a closed room for the first 16 days of his captivity.
        Nine-year-old Emily Hand's father, Thomas, told CNN, "The most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering, you couldn't hear her....She'd been conditioned not to make any noise." Yair Rotem, the uncle of 13-year-old Hila Rotem Shoshani, who was held together with Emily, said they were only allowed to whisper. They weren't even allowed to whisper at night. Hila recounted that there was little food and not much water. (Ha'aretz)
  • These Israeli Children Survived the Hamas Attack. They Struggle to Be Kids Again - Ran Shimoni
    The children from the Western Negev are prepared for the next time it happens. They're vigilant, primed, and have already drawn up their plans. Renana reveals how she will jump from the balcony of the hotel room where she is currently staying onto the balcony of the floor below. Then she will hide under one of the beds. If the terrorists come to Nadir's home again, he will quickly run outdoors, sprint to his bike, and race off at top speed until he reaches his aunt. Noga imagined she would hide in the closet with her father's gun, then suddenly burst out and shoot the terrorists one by one.
        Renana Botzer Swissa, from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, is 13; Nadir Alfasi, from Ofakim, is 10; Noga Shoman, from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, is 10. Life has etched the same scar on their souls, when they hid in fear, when they were rescued from their homes in the dark, when they saw the landscape of their lives going up in flames, when they were told about loved ones they had lost. When they summoned within themselves the strength no child should ever have to find.
        When Renana was rescued from her house along with her parents and grandmother, they realized they had been saved by a miracle. In all the neighboring homes, residents had been murdered or kidnapped. Her desire to go back home, to school, is strong and felt every day. But so too is the fear: any sudden noise can interrupt a conversation, can flood the eyes with tears. "We grew up several years in a few hours," she says.
        Nadir has moved back home with his family to Ofakim's Mishor Hagefen neighborhood, where more than 35 people were murdered and over 100 injured. None of the apartments there had safe rooms. When an air-raid siren sounds, the residents leave their homes and head out to public bomb shelters. The terrorists were waiting for them. Nadir saw his father and brother shot by a Hamas terrorist. "A policeman shot the terrorist before he could mow us all down," he said. The policeman, Avi Buzaglo, was killed - one of 30 Israel Police officers who died in combat on Oct. 7. (Ha'aretz)

  • Responding to Israel's Critics

  • Israel's Critics Are Siding with Some of the Worst People on Earth - Bret Stephens
    One Palestinian narrative dates "the occupation" to 1948, when Israel came into being as a sovereign state. By this argument, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Eilat, and western Jerusalem are occupied by Israel. Those who hold this view have become the axis of resistance: Hamas, Hizbullah, the Houthis, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Assad regime in Syria, and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. On Oct. 7, the axis of resistance became the face of the Palestinian movement. On Oct. 8, demonstrators around the world chose to embrace that axis.
        Such embraces have consequences. They put a growing fraction of progressives objectively on the side of some of the worst people on earth - and in radical contradiction with their professed values. They also reinforce the deepest fears of Israelis: that Palestinians have never reconciled themselves to the existence of Israel in any borders, that every Israeli territorial or diplomatic concession is seen by Palestinians as evidence of weakness, and that a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank would only serve as a launchpad for an intensified assault on Israel. (New York Times)
  • I Believed Diverse Coalitions Would Benefit Jewish Women. Now I Fear We Are All Alone. - Daphne Lazar Price
    I am the executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and a lifelong feminist. Before joining JOFA, I spent 20 years working with faith groups, women's advocates, and other social justice organizations toward social change. I once found it meaningful when people set aside differences to build bridges towards positive change.
        These days I'm so sad. Sad for the tremendous losses all around. And on a personal level, I'm also sad that I devoted so many years of my life to groups that don't seem to care about me or my pain. After partnering for years, I expected my sister feminist groups to share their outrage about Hamas' war crimes against Israelis on Oct. 7. It is clear that kidnapping civilians of all ages, and brutally attacking women, men, children, babies and the elderly, all the while viciously raping women, is abhorrent.
        I'm shocked and horrified by too many national and global women's and children's advocacy groups - none worse than UN Women. After remaining virtually silent since the Oct. 7 atrocities, it published an Instagram post saying they "remain alarmed by the reports of gender-based violence on October 7 and call for rigorous investigation." An investigation? What happened to "believe women?" There is video footage and survivors' testimonies. When did it become OK for women's groups to become rape apologists?
        I can't continue to work with those who don't see me as someone deserving of respect, no matter how they feel about Israel. My attempts to engage former colleagues have been hurtful and fruitless. Their silence will neither erase me nor deter me. We can and will recreate a community of coalitions that will not deny our humanity and our Jewish and Zionist identities.
        The writer is an adjunct professor of Jewish Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. (JTA)
        See also The Hypocrisy of the Feminists - Fiamma Nirenstein (JNS)
  • Western Activists Must Not Embrace Terror - Susie Linfield
    In recent years, you won't find many defenders of al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, or Boko Haram. The notable exception has been groups devoted to the destruction of Israel: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations swept through the capitals of the West before Israel dropped a single bomb on Gaza.
        Horrific massacres of unarmed civilians are taking place right now in South Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia, Syria, and Darfur. The international community usually ignores them. But none inspires cries of esteem for the perpetrators and acclaim for their crimes. And nowhere are the victims blamed for being murdered.
        I imagine that the usually stern Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran must be smiling in amazement as he sees just how many protestors in the West echo his thoughts and subscribe to his plans to destroy the "Zionist entity."
        Those who imagine that Hamas' slaughters may have promoted "liberation," "justice," and "freedom" for Palestinians have a big surprise in store. There's no mystery as to what kind of state Hamas aims to create; we need only look at what it already has created. There's little liberation, justice, or freedom to be found in Gaza, where there are no opposition political parties, no elections, and no freedom of religion, the press, or protest. Opponents are arrested, tortured, and sometimes executed. Aside from the Taliban, Hamas has established the least progressive pseudo-state on Earth.
        The writer is a journalism professor at NYU. (Quillette)

  • The Gaza War

  • Finish the Job - Editorial
    Israel will only contemplate an extension of the pause in its offensive in Gaza if Hamas will continue to free ten additional hostages per day. So long as Hamas is indeed able to hand over hostages, Israel should keep this arrangement going, provided it does not impair the IDF's ability to continue the military campaign once the pause ends.
        Israel should continue to do whatever is necessary - and within the bounds of what its military leaders determine is bearable - to free the hostages, and it should be prepared to immediately relaunch its military effort to eradicate Hamas' capacity to carry out a massacre like Oct. 7 ever again. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Trading Terrorists for Hostages - Clifford D. May
    "Swaps of captives resume," read the top headline in Sunday's Washington Post. But the "captives" set free by Israel had all been arrested or already convicted of stabbings, shootings and attempted suicide bombings, while the "captives" released by Hamas are all innocent women and children dragged from their homes in flagrant violation of international law. In what legal or moral universe is there any equivalence between the two?
        The Israelis are releasing three terrorists for every civilian hostage returned. Other components of the deal include allowing hundreds of truckloads of fuel and other supplies into Gaza, knowing full well that Hamas will steal as much as possible. Will this deal result in more Israeli soldiers being killed? Almost certainly. Israeli soldiers, however, believe it is their duty to save civilians.
        The writer is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • The Day After in Gaza - Dr. Raphael BenLevi
    Since the beginning of Israel's war with Hamas, some prominent figures in the U.S. have raised the idea of installing the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the governing body in Gaza for civilian affairs. However, such a course of action would inevitably result within a few years in the emergence of a new terrorist state hostile to Israel, possibly even under the control of a re-emerged Hamas. The most feasible alternative is an autonomous Arab civilian entity in Gaza, with Israel maintaining overall security responsibility for as long as required by the security situation and threat assessment.
        In Gaza today lives an entire generation that has been indoctrinated into Hamas' genocidal ideology. The only way to create a political entity in Gaza that is not hostile to Israel will be for the public to undergo a deradicalization process, similar to the de-Nazification process carried out in postwar Germany, during which civil society underwent a profound transformation.
        Transferring power to the PA would guarantee the re-emergence of a terrorist state. The PA is itself already a political entity hostile to Israel's existence. The PA is perceived by the public over which it rules as a deeply corrupt institution. According to a June 2023 Palestinian poll, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would defeat PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas by a large margin. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that a PA-led government in Gaza will educate for peace and promote coexistence with Israel. Even today, the PA educates for hatred and hostility toward "the Zionist entity."
        The writer is a fellow at the Misgav Institute for Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem and a reserve officer in the IDF intelligence branch.  (National Interest)

Who Can Israel Count on the Day the War Ends? - Dan Elbaum (Jerusalem Post)
  • Many American Jews will now never forget the names Kibbutz Be'eri or Kfar Aza. They have become deeply emblazoned in the collective Jewish memory on the long list of locales where Jews were murdered for being Jews.
  • As the war continues, our communal focus should rightly remain focused on supporting the people of Israel, fighting antisemitism, and calling for the freedom of our fellow Jews who remain in captivity. Yet we should also be mindful of the colossal, indeed existential, question that will need answering after the war ends: Who can we count on?
  • Not, by and large, American universities, whose officials took insufficient steps to protect Jewish students. Not leaders of the women's, civil, and human rights organizations - causes so many of us have proudly supported for decades. We should be under no illusions that these organizations' leaders care about Jewish lives. They do not consider us part of the diversity, equity, and inclusion for which they advocate, and the sooner we recognize that fact, the less disappointed we will be.
  • We cannot count on those in the newsrooms of major American media outlets. Since Oct. 7, they have used their platforms to smear Israel, from the headlines that scream lies about Israel, to the pictures that portray a false moral equivalence between Israelis and the terrorists who threaten them, to the articles and editorials that accuse Israel of crimes it did not commit.
  • But the news is not all bleak. We know that we can count on the vast majority of our Jewish community. We can count on the support that we have seen from the White House and the overwhelming majority of Congress.
  • Most importantly, we have learned that, despite the relentless media criticism and one-sided coverage, we can count on the majority of Americans standing with us. According to Nov. 20 polls from Harvard CAPS-Harris, 80% of Americans continue to support Israel in its war against Hamas.

    The writer is head of North America at the Jewish Agency for Israel and the president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development.

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