December 11, 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:

Iranian-Ordered Attack on Israelis in Cyprus Foiled (Reuters)
    Israel helped Cyprus foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews on the island, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Sunday.
    Israel is "troubled" by Iranian use of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus "both for terrorism objectives and as an operational and transit area."
    Earlier Sunday, the Kathimerini Cyprus newspaper reported authorities had detained two Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Israeli citizens living in Cyprus.
    They had crossed into southern Cyprus to gather intelligence on potential Israeli targets.
    Cyprus is a popular holiday and investment destination for thousands of Israelis.

IDF Discovers Tunnel Network under Gaza City's "Palestine Square" - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has discovered a large tunnel network in Gaza City below Palestine Square.
    "The Palestine Square area houses Yahya Sinwar's office, government offices, assets of senior Hamas officials, and there is a network of terror tunnels" which connect to Shifa Hospital.
    "This is the area of the main command center, where senior Hamas members were on Oct. 7 and during the fighting."
    See also Video: Israel's Flag Raised atop Gaza City's Central Square (Israel Hayom)

IDF Airdrops Supplies to Troops in Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    In recent days, the IDF has airdropped seven tons of supplies and equipment for soldiers operating in Khan Yunis.
    It is the first use of a system which enables dropping equipment to ground forces using precise navigation capabilities.

Hamas Has No Place in the Civilized World - Scott Walker (Washington Times)
    Oct. 7 was the people of Israel's Pearl Harbor day. They must continue to fight back until the existential threat from Hamas no longer exists. They must eliminate this terrorist organization. Period.
    Israelis have every right to do as President Roosevelt said after Dec. 7, 1941, and defend themselves to "the uttermost" and "make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us."
    The U.S. was never involved in a ceasefire after the attacks. Our military did not stop until the total defeat of our collective enemies was realized. Israel should now do the same.
    Those who believe that the innocent people of Israel had it coming are fundamentally wrong.
    The evil thugs of Hamas are coldblooded killers who violated every sense of decency with their actions.
    We must never appease evildoers. There can be no stopping until this evil is eradicated from the earth. Hamas has no place in the civilized world.
    The writer is a former governor of Wisconsin.

Merry Christmas! Hanukkah Is Canceled - Gidon Ben-Zvi (Newsweek)
    Scheduled Hanukkah celebrations across the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere have been scrapped.
    The reason cited is that hosting such holiday events would imply support for Israel in its war against the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization.
    This fear of being seen as siding with Israel over Hamas has not extended to Muslim-themed events and ceremonies, which continue to be held.
    When it comes to Muslim communities residing in these countries, there is a clear line being drawn between Hamas in Gaza and law-abiding citizens in U.S. and Canadian cities exercising their right to worship and assemble as they see fit.
    Despite this discrepancy between how two minority groups are being treated, Washington has repeatedly equated the plight of American Jews to that of Muslims living in the U.S.
    By comparing the historic hatred of Jews to other types of bigotry, the serious risk Jewish people around the world today face is being diluted.

Very Different Responses to Antisemitism in N.Y. High Schools - Rafael Medoff (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    At Hillcrest High School in Queens, a teacher recently committed the high crime of posting a photo of herself at a pro-Israel rally on her personal Facebook page.
    She didn't post the photo on the school's website or tack it up on a bulletin board near the cafeteria. It was in her personal space, on her personal time.
    But four hundred students responded by rioting for hours on Nov. 20, waving Palestinian flags, damaging school property, and chanting for the teacher to be fired.
    Some posted threats against the teacher on social media. The teacher was forced to hide in a locked office for hours.
    School Chancellor David Banks downplayed the severity of the students' action and sought to "understand" the student mob. "They were doing what 14- and 15-year-olds do," Banks said on Nov. 27.
    A more principled and effective response to antisemitism among high school students may be found in the example set by German-American high school principal Ralph W. Haller in Queens, NY, in 1944 at Andrew Jackson High School, just four miles from the scene of the recent riot.
    After five students were caught painting antisemitic slogans in Queens Village, Haller announced a new policy that any student involved in antisemitic acts would not be permitted to graduate.
    He told a meeting of parents on Feb. 12: "I consider such [antisemitic] activities totally in contradiction to everything that the America of today or the America which we hope to have tomorrow stands for."
    Since he was authorized to deny a graduation diploma to any student who gave evidence of "poor American citizenship," he vowed to henceforth classify antisemitic activity as un-American.
    The writer is founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Fighting Escalates between Israel, Lebanon's Hizbullah
    On Sunday, Hizbullah launched explosive drones and missiles at Israeli positions and Israeli airstrikes rocked several towns and villages in south Lebanon. Israel and Iran-backed Hizbullah have been trading fire since the war in Gaza erupted on Oct. 7 in the worst hostilities since their 2006 conflict. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Israeli Air Raids in Lebanon Reminiscent of 2006 War - Lior Ben-Ari
    Sources in southern Lebanon told Asharq Al-Awsat that there has been a significant shift: the pace of Israeli attacks in the sector was heavier, and Israel primarily relied on aerial strikes, reminiscent of the Second Lebanon War, when "residential neighborhoods in southern Lebanon were intensively bombed." The IDF reported on Sunday that fighter jets struck "terror infrastructure, command centers, launchers and military compounds of Hizbullah."
        Throughout the day, rocket fire from Lebanon to Israel continued, with local terrorist organizations, led by Hizbullah, being careful not to extend their range beyond Israel's northernmost communities, most of which have been evacuated.
        IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi visited the Lebanese border on Sunday and told local leaders that "the residents have to return to a different situation, and regain both security and a sense of security. There is a military way to do this....The State of Israel has never taken the stance that war is the first solution to try, but we understand that the situation here has to end with a very, very clear change."  (Ynet News)
        See also 6 Soldiers Wounded in Hizbullah Drone Attack on IDF Base in Western Galilee - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Defense Minister: "We Are Fighting on the Frontline of the Free World" - Natalie Lisbona
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the Daily Mail: "We are fighting on the frontline of the free world against terrorism....It's hard to bring democracies to fight wars, but once we are in one, we are much stronger because we are fighting to defend our values."
        "The level of understanding and cooperation between Israel and the UK militarily, and in the field of intelligence, are at a peak and will only go further. We share the same values and interests, especially in the fight against terrorism."
        Speaking as Israel exchanged more fire with Hizbullah forces in Lebanon, Gallant warned Hizbullah to "ask themselves if they want the same things to happen in Beirut" as is happening in Gaza. "We do not want war, but if we reach a situation where we need to establish our security here, we will not hesitate - just as we did not hesitate in the south."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Italy, France, Germany Call for EU Sanctions on Hamas
    The foreign ministers of Italy, France and Germany called on the European Union to impose ad hoc sanctions against Hamas and its supporters, in a joint letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. "The swift adoption of this sanctions regime will enable us to send a strong political message about the European Union's commitment against Hamas and our solidarity with Israel," the letter said. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: UN Secretary-General Gave Up on Fighting Terrorism
    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday that he "will not give up" on reaching a ceasefire in Gaza after the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to that end on Friday.
        In response, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan asked on X: "Mr. Secretary-General, why don't you care about the humanitarian catastrophe in Israel and the millions of Israelis still being attacked by missiles? Or the 300,000 Israelis displaced since the massacre? Why are you so focused only on helping terrorists survive? The meaning of a ceasefire in Gaza is that the Hamas reign of terror will continue."
        "YOU gave up on fighting terrorism! WE will not give up in our mission to eradicate Hamas and bring our hostages home."  (Ynet News)
  • Ex-Hamas Minister Calls Gaza's Rulers "a Bunch of Madmen Led by Sinwar" - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Security Agency on Sunday released footage of the interrogation of former Hamas communications minister Yousef al-Mansi, who called the Gaza leadership "a group of madmen led by [Yahya] Sinwar. They have destroyed Gaza, setting it back 200 years."
        Al-Mansi, who was arrested on Dec. 5, said, "People in Gaza say that Sinwar and his bunch have ruined us, we must get rid of them. They are directly responsible. I haven't seen anyone who supports Sinwar, no one likes him. Some people pray day and night that God will free us from him. The achievements of Hamas are the killing and destruction of more than 60% of the buildings, infrastructure, streets and public facilities" in Gaza.
        He also condemned the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli border towns, describing it as "madness," "heresy," and "the antithesis to Islam. What they did is incomprehensible, against reason, religion and intellect."
        Al-Mansi stressed that Hamas must be removed from Gaza completely and let the Palestinian people rebuild their lives and pursue peace. "If they want Iran, let them go to Iran. Want Syria? Go to Syria. We don't want them. Let us live, heal our wounds."  (Ynet News)
  • IDF Conducting an "Existential War to Eradicate Evil" - Hanan Greenwood
    The Shuja'iya neighborhood of Gaza City is one of the most fortified targets in Gaza. 75% of the civilians have escaped, along with several hundred terrorists, but there are still many hundreds of terrorists hiding there in an entire city of terror tunnels located underneath the neighborhood.
        Golani Brigade Deputy Commander Lt.-Col. Ohad Moyal says the number of encounters with the terrorists in the neighborhood is very high. The terrorists there - three trained Hamas battalions - had much time to prepare. "We're fighting in the heart of Shuja'iya. Our encounters are mainly on the routes and mainly during the day because they're afraid to come out at night. They're firing RPGs from the alleyways or detonating explosives and escaping. Dozens of missiles have been fired in our direction, but the vehicles are moving and most of the soldiers haven't been hurt."
        "These are attacks by small groups, four or five people who try to shoot and escape....They come out of the mosques, the schools, and the cemeteries and shoot....Over around 48 hours we killed about 130 terrorists....From our perspective it's an existential war to remove the evil."  (Israel Hayom)
  • 1,593 Israeli Soldiers Wounded since October 7 - Yaniv Kubovich
    1,593 Israeli soldiers were wounded since Oct. 7. This includes 255 seriously wounded, 446 moderately wounded, and 892 lightly wounded.
        Since the beginning of the ground operation in Gaza, 559 soldiers have been wounded, including 127 seriously. Soldiers currently hospitalized include 40 seriously wounded, 211 moderately wounded, and 165 lightly wounded. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Grand Strategy to Destroy Israel Is Proceeding Apace - Irina Tsukerman
    According to Iranian media and officials, a secret plan was launched in 2015 to destroy Israel within 25 years. The strategy of uniting the Axis of Resistance fronts and proxies was devised by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Qods Force.
        While the U.S. and its allies were distracted by the negotiations over the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, Tehran was consolidating its hold over regional militias and terrorist organizations, aiming for the strategic encirclement of Israel. Iran is not only the architect of the terrorist infrastructure in the region but is also the mastermind behind any operations of significance.
        Hamas was joined by the Iran-backed PIJ and the Fatah/PLO-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade on October 7; Mahmoud Abbas' financial support for the families of the Hamas fighters killed on and after October 7 cemented the consolidation of this network under Iran's patronage.
        The writer, a national security and human rights lawyer, journalist, and geopolitical analyst, is a Fellow at the Arabian Peninsula Institute and a Fellow at the Jerusalem Center.   (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel's Message in Gaza to Iran and Hizbullah - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    While the Mossad blocked Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for more than 20 years, questions persisted about whether Israel would actually launch a major strike against Tehran if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to break out a nuclear weapon.
        My visit to Gaza answered that question. Northern Gaza has been flattened. The area will need years of rebuilding before Palestinian civilians can live there. The flattening of northern Gaza also sends a message to Hizbullah in Lebanon, to Tehran, and to Iranian proxies in Syria: Mess with us and expect the same.
        For years Israel feared using its military advantage against weaker adversaries. Why? Because of the damage rockets could do to the Jewish state's home front, the cost in Israeli soldier casualties, and worries about global legitimacy. With tools such as the Iron Dome missile defense system, Jerusalem avoided playing offense. Since Oct. 7, Israel has shown it is willing to go to the mat when pushed too far. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Truce that Leaves Hamas in Place Will Merely Defer the Next Round - David Schenker
    For the time being, it appears the Biden Administration will persist in its support for Israel's operations in Gaza. That's largely because after Oct. 7, Washington instinctively understood that Hamas had become a strategic problem for Israel. Absent a decisive setback in this war, Hamas will emerge - like Hizbullah in 2006 - with a "divine victory," and Gaza will revert to the situation on Oct. 6, with disastrous consequences for Israel's deterrent posture and an unsustainable crisis of confidence in Israel over the state's inability to defend its people.
        The Biden administration should learn the lesson of 2006. A bad ceasefire - a truce that leaves Hamas in place - will merely defer the next round of bloodletting.
        The writer, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. (National Interest)
  • The Released Israeli Hostages Are Not Okay - Jennifer Rubin
    As of this writing, 113 of the hostages kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7 have been released. Some pundits declared that the released hostages looked well, did not require extensive hospitalization, and were somehow fortunate to return in relatively good condition. This is factually and morally ridiculous.
        Kidnapped victims were put on a starvation diet, resulting in some children's loss of 15% of their body weight. Some children were burned with a motorcycle exhaust pipe to identify them if they escaped. Some reported beatings and death threats. Many were deprived of medicine and proper medical care. They were kept in darkness, forced to speak in only hushed tones. Children were forced to watch video footage of the Oct. 7 carnage. "They were exhausted and depleted. Strong in spirit, but weak in body. Some had injuries from their abduction that they suffered with through their captivity," said one Israeli doctor.
        A doctor told AP that at least 10 of the Israeli civilians released by Hamas, both men and women, were sexually assaulted or abused while in captivity. And, even if not torture per se, the terrorists' conduct surely meets the definition of "cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment" which is prohibited by international law.
        Where is the outrage, the U.S. media coverage and the condemnation of these war crimes? Too many ignore or minimize Israelis' suffering and Hamas' vicious atrocities as if that is necessary to support innocent Palestinians. But empathy is not finite. One can decry the loss of innocent Palestinian life (resulting from Hamas' embedding terrorists in civilian areas) and also decry obscene treatment of Israelis. Civilized people must demand that hostages be returned and that all still in captivity receive Red Cross visits. Anything less enables war crimes. (Washington Post)
  • Hundreds of Wounded in Beersheba Hospital ER - Dr. Sapir Bitton
    On Oct. 7, I was at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. My husband, Shaked, and my two small children were at our home in Kibbutz Erez. Shaked phones, asking me to come home, as he needs to rush to the local standby alert squad. I'm on my way to the car when my sister calls. "Don't go out of Soroka, there are terrorists all over the area." I return to the emergency room.
        Ambulances begin to arrive. The first to come are the victims of the massacre at the music festival. Dozens of young people with gunshot wounds, so young and beautiful, who just a few hours beforehand were celebrating life, and now sitting in front of us, hollow-eyed. At the same time, dozens of injured police officers are pouring into the ER. The "lightly" injured are those suffering gunshot wounds to the extremities.
        A soldier from a standby alert squad at a kibbutz arrives lying on a stretcher. His body is folded, holding his gun, and he screams when the doctors try to loosen up his body. He doesn't allow them to touch either his body or weapon. He is there in body but not in mind, which is still in the kibbutz. A Bedouin family arrives. A rocket hit their house. One of the family members was killed.
        I have been at Soroka for years - and I have never seen it like this. Hundreds of wounded, people with holes in their bodies and souls, sooty people in blood-soaked clothes. Helicopters land every few minutes bringing wounded, bleeding soldiers.
        Meanwhile, as in a parallel universe - Shaked and my two children are besieged in the kibbutz. I saw an incoming call from Or-Yosef Ran, a team commander in an IDF commando unit, my younger sister's ex-partner. I tell him there are terrorists in the kibbutz. He tells me he's at the entrance to the kibbutz, "taking care of them." That was the last conversation I had with someone who would be murdered in a few hours.
        Our whole family managed to get out of the kibbutz safely. But this story has no happy ending. There is no end. The distress can't be released. There is a terrible, burning, suffocating feeling. The pain is intense. The reality is inconceivable. We, the people who live in the area surrounding Gaza, have become refugees in our own country. Every day we receive another message about a family that was murdered, that was slaughtered. Another funeral. (Ynet News)
  • Sole Survivor of Family Celebrates Bar Mitzvah 2 Months after Massacre - Merav Sever
    Two months after his parents and two sisters were brutally murdered in their home by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Ariel Zohar celebrated his bar mitzvah on Thursday. Ariel is the son of Israel Hayom videographer Yaniv Zohar and his wife Yasmin, who were murdered along with his sisters Keshet and Tchelet.
        One of the guests at the bar mitzvah was former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. Lau, a Holocaust survivor, immigrated to Israel with his older brother Naftali after their entire family was murdered by the Nazis. He told Ariel: "When my bar mitzvah party came around, my father had also been murdered, and my mother had been murdered, and I, like you, was already without parents. And yet I had a good life and achieved much. And you too will achieve, and you too will have a good life, because you see how many good people love you."  (Israel Hayom)

The UN's Anti-Israel Bias Must Be Addressed - Amb. Tzipi Hotovely (Telegraph-UK)
  • This year, the UN General Assembly has adopted 15 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism. All other countries in the world combined have had six resolutions passed against them, with just one resolution each condemning Iran, North Korea and Syria.
  • The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter to call for a ceasefire at a time when Hamas still has significant military capabilities. Making any such call is like saying to Israelis that you do not mind if Oct. 7 happens again. Israel has no other choice than to take this threat seriously. Indeed, we are obligated to, under international law, in order to protect our citizens.
  • The current war between Israel and Hamas is tragic. It is a war that we did not want, and a war we did not start. Hamas made the choice to murder, rape, behead, torture and mutilate over 1,200 innocent people on Oct. 7. We are fighting a war of self-defense.
  • Yet on Oct. 27, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that did not even mention the atrocities committed by Hamas nor the legal right that Israel has to defend itself.
  • Widespread torture and abuse of Israelis continues in Gaza. There are still 137 hostages - men, women, children, and pensioners - being held illegally inside Gaza, each constituting a war crime committed by Hamas. The thought of what they are going through should frighten us all. Every second counts while our 137 hostages remain in Hamas captivity.
  • UN-funded schools, meanwhile, have allowed anti-Semitism to flourish. Their textbooks teach Palestinians to hate Jews, glorifying jihad and martyrdom. These same buildings are also used by Hamas terrorists for military purposes.
  • Sadly, the UN long ago abandoned its commitment to the universal application of human rights, evidenced by its glaring double standards applied to Israel.

    The writer is the Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom.

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