December 14, 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:

Netanyahu: "Nothing Will Stop Us" - War Against Hamas Will Continue Despite Global Pressure - Paul Nuki (Telegraph-UK)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told IDF troops on Wednesday, "We're going all the way, there's no question about it. I say this despite the huge pain, but also despite international pressures. Nothing will stop us, we're going all the way until we're victorious and nothing less."
    U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Wednesday that stopping the war on Hamas completely at this stage does not serve the security interests of the region, but "we don't want [the war] to last one day beyond what is necessary."

House Votes to Condemn Testimony by University Presidents over Antisemitism - Clare Foran (CNN)
    The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 303-126 to condemn antisemitism on college campuses and testimony from three university presidents over antisemitism at a congressional hearing.
    The resolution was put forward by House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), along with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).
    During the hearing, none of the university presidents explicitly said that calling for the genocide of Jews would necessarily violate their code of conduct. Instead, they said it would depend on the context.

Poll Shows Soaring Support for Hamas in West Bank - Dr. Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    72% of Palestinians said that Hamas' decision to launch an offensive against Israel on Oct. 7 was correct, including 82% in the West Bank and 57% in Gaza, according to a poll conducted between Nov. 22 and Dec. 2, 2023.
    37% in Gaza said it was incorrect.
    While 70% of West Bankers think Hamas will emerge victorious in this war, only half of Gazans think the same.
    64% said Hamas will be in control of Gaza after the end of the current war (73% in West Bank and 51% in Gaza).
    When asked who they preferred to be in control of Gaza after the war, 75% in the West Bank but only 38% in Gaza selected Hamas.
    If new presidential elections were held today and there were only two candidates, Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, Haniyeh would receive 78% and Abbas 16%.
    In the West Bank, Abbas receives 10% and Haniyeh 82%. 88% want Abbas to resign.
    If new parliamentary elections were held today, Hamas would receive 51% and Abbas' Fatah 19%.
    34% support and 64% oppose the idea of a two-state solution.

Poll: UK Jews Feel Less Safe since Oct. 7 Hamas Attack - Oliver Wright (The Times-UK)
    80% of Jews feel less safe in Britain than they did before Hamas' attacks on Israel two months ago, with more than a quarter having experienced antisemitic abuse since then, a poll for the Jewish Leadership Council reveals.
    Almost 90% said antisemitism was a significant problem in the UK, with 70% saying anti-Jewish sentiment had increased greatly over the past five years.

Hamas Has Fired 116 Rockets at Israel from Humanitarian Zone in Gaza - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The IDF says Hamas has fired at least 116 rockets at Israel from the al-Mawasi "humanitarian zone" in southern Gaza. 38 of the rockets fell short and landed inside Gaza.

Video: Gaza Rocket Fragment Hits Israeli Supermarket, No Injuries - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    A large fragment of a rocket fired from Gaza on Wednesday crashed through the ceiling of a supermarket in Ashdod while hundreds of people were inside.
    The customers heeded the rocket warning of the IDF Home Front Command and were in the supermarket's shelter at the time. No one was hurt.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House: Israel Taking Steps to Protect Gaza Civilians that Even U.S. Might Not Have Done
    U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday: "This is a war that Hamas has brought on itself. And while we all want it to stop because any war is horrific, Hamas has pledged to repeat October 7th again and again and again. It has pledged to annihilate Israel and to kill as many Jews as possible. It's still holding over a hundred hostages.... A unilateral ceasefire with a terrorist group like Hamas is not the answer."
        "We don't believe a ceasefire right now is the right thing to do, because what it would do is validate what Hamas did on October 7th. This is basically like saying, 'Hey, it's okay that you went in there and slaughtered 1,200 people and took a couple hundred of them hostage.' It would leave them in control of Gaza, which is unacceptable not only to the Israeli people, but to President Biden."
        The Israelis "have published online maps of places [in Gaza] where people can go or not to go. That's basically telegraphing your punches, and there's very few modern militaries in the world that would do that. I don't know that we would do that - to put a map out there and say, 'Hey, here's where you can go where it's safe, and here's where you shouldn't go because we might be striking there.'"  (White House)
        See also Families of Americans Taken Hostage by Hamas Meet with Biden at White House - Kathryn Watson (CBS News)
  • Biden Administration Has No Plans to Place Conditions on Military Aid to Israel - Natasha Bertrand
    The Biden administration currently has no plans to place conditions on military aid to Israel, officials told CNN, despite calls for the U.S. to stop providing weapons. U.S. officials told CNN that the U.S. has no plans to shift its position and draw any red lines around the transfer of munitions to Israel.
        They noted that the administration already expects allies and partners to use U.S.-made equipment in accordance with international humanitarian law and pointed to Israel's practice of embedding military lawyers with Israel Defense Force units who determine beforehand whether a strike will be proportional and legal.
        The U.S. does not consider the death of civilians as the result of a military operation to be itself a violation of the law of armed conflict, one U.S. official explained. Rather, the U.S. is judging the legality of Israel's operations on whether its strikes are proportional and seeking a legitimate military target. (CNN)
  • Swiss Parliament Votes to Cut Funding for UNRWA - Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber
    Switzerland's National Council, the lower house of the Federal Assembly, approved cutting an annual contribution of 20 million Swiss francs ($22.83 million) to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) by 116 to 78 on Monday. The upper house must also approve for the proposal to be put into effect. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Detains Hundreds, Seizes Weapons in Jenin - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF continued operating in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday as troops detained hundreds of suspects and seized weapons. Reservist troops and Border Police officers have scanned 400 buildings in the Jenin refugee camp. On Tuesday, an IDF drone strike killed four Palestinian terrorists who had hurled explosives at troops. Israeli forces destroyed six labs used to manufacture explosive devices, along with numerous explosive devices, several tunnel shafts, and four war rooms used to observe IDF operations.
        Since Oct. 7, troops have arrested over 2,000 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, including 1,100 affiliated with Hamas. (Times of Israel)
  • Jerusalem Arabs Steal Weapons from Palestinian Police Station - Shlomi Heller
    Five residents of eastern Jerusalem, aged 20-30, were indicted at the Jerusalem District Court for raiding a Palestinian police station in Tekoa, south of Jerusalem. They arrived at the police station dressed in clothing resembling IDF uniforms, wearing face masks, and carrying fake weapons and radios. To avoid suspicion, they communicated only in Hebrew. They forced the station manager at gunpoint to open the safe and took firearms, rifles, gas bombs, vests, batons, and handcuffs. (Walla-Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • For Israel, the Existential Question Returns - Eliot A. Cohen
    In 1948, Israel's population consisted of roughly a million Jews. In 2022, the population had burgeoned to nearly 10 million, over seven million of them Jews. The Israel of 1948 was poor. It is now one of the technology powerhouses of the world. And it did this while absorbing millions of immigrants from around the world, of all skin colors, languages and traditions, while fighting chronic campaigns against its neighbors and terrorist groups committed to its extermination.
        The uncertainties of the moment are immense, but a few things are clear. The first is the striking resilience of Israeli civil society. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis fled not abroad, but home, many of them to don uniforms and join reserve units. Civil action groups have filled in all kinds of gaps - from supplying soldiers to replacing labor on Israeli farms.
        For nearly half a century, the existential question hasn't been on the table for Israel. After Oct. 7, however, Israelis live under the constant threat of an unshakably hostile and eliminationist coalition led by Iran and including Hizbullah, Hamas, Yemen's Houthis and kindred groups that will use any means to weaken and eventually destroy their state.
        Once again, as in Israel's first quarter-century, they may have to live under perpetual siege, building a society while keeping one wary hand ever on the sword, for at least the foreseeable future. The first Israelis accepted that challenge and still managed to thrive. Their spirit thus far suggests that one should not doubt that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are capable of doing the same.
        The writer, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, holds the Arleigh Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Selective Rage over Muslim Human Rights - Raheel Raza and Mohammed Rizwan
    It is simply not the case that the pro-Hamas, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rallies in Canada, the U.S., Europe and the Middle East are an expression of solidarity for Muslim human and political rights, because one doesn't see the instant outpouring of emotions, the pain and anger, when Muslim populations in various conflict zones suffer far more atrocities than the Palestinians.
        The theocratic regime in Iran has been running a reign of terror for nearly 45 years. Its record of torture and atrocities against its own people is well-documented and well-known. In Syria, more than 350,000 people have been killed in the civil war, largely due to atrocities committed by the Assad regime and the Islamic State.
        According to the Foundation for Political Innovation, as of 2021, al-Qaeda had been responsible for over 14,000 deaths. The Taliban had killed 69,303 people. In Sudan, an estimated 200,000 people were killed in a mass genocide that took place between 2003 and 2005.
        Where is the outrage on the streets of Western cities? The pattern of selective rage shifts slightly if the U.S. is involved and reaches its peak when Israel is involved. When Muslim regimes abuse the human rights of their citizens, almost all Muslim governments choose to side with the regime instead of the victims. But when the U.S. or Israel is involved in any conflict in the Muslim world, the same regimes take cover behind international human rights laws that they have scant regard for.
        Raheel Raza is a board member of the Council of Muslims Against Antisemitism. Mohammed Rizwan is a former Pakistani journalist.  (National Post-Canada)
  • Bias and Betrayal: Human Rights Watch - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Human Rights Watch (HRW) is routinely described as one of the world's most powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with an annual budget of close to $100 million, but it is tainted by a biased political agenda and troubling questions about the ethics of its fundraising. A leaked document appeared to show that HRW received $3.75 million from Qatar in 2018, a conflict of interest.
        Following the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, HRW officials rushed to condemn Israel's military response in Gaza, triggering an unprecedented reaction. Danielle Haas, a HRW senior editor since 2010, sent a public email to all 600 staff members on her last day on the job condemning the organization's hypocrisy and immorality.
        Haas confirmed - and provided examples of - the "years of politicization" that has stained HRW's activities, particularly in relation to Israel. The organization's conduct, she noted, violates "basic editorial standards related to rigor, balance, and collegiality." She added that HRW's response to Oct. 7 invoked "the 'context' of 'apartheid' and 'occupation' before blood was even dry on bedroom walls" and "could easily be construed as blaming the victim."
        The writer is founder and president of NGO Monitor. (Quillette-Australia)

Israel Is Flushing Hamas Out of Gaza - Col. Richard Kemp (Telegraph-UK)
  • Heavy fighting continues in the north and south of Gaza, both above ground and in Hamas' extensive tunnel network, which is assessed to be even more extensive than the London Underground's 250 miles.
  • I was inside Gaza on Tuesday and witnessed two terrorist tunnels being destroyed with explosives by IDF engineers in Shejaiya. A short time later, the IDF suffered one of its deadliest single skirmishes, with nine soldiers killed in a gun and explosives battle with terrorists.
  • The tunnels bring yet another incredibly formidable dimension to urban combat, which is itself among the most challenging of battle environments, characterized by particularly high casualty rates, especially among attacking forces.
  • I've been into those tunnels: they are heavily fortified, concrete-lined and with lighting, electric power and air supply. Over two decades they have been constructed using vast sums of money, including international aid that should have been spent on civilian infrastructure, and costing the lives of many Gazans including dozens of children sent underground to work on them.
  • Tunnel entrances are mostly inside civilian houses, schools, hospitals and mosques. Terrorists use them to store weapons and ammo, protect commanders and move fighters around to outmaneuver forces above ground. Some have been fitted with heavy blast doors to complicate assaults by Israeli troops. They allow Hamas to ambush troops by emerging from the rear in areas that had already been cleared.
  • Whenever possible, the IDF avoids going into the tunnels and getting bogged down in fighting on Hamas' terms. Yet the Israelis are entering the tunnels when necessary, to rescue hostages, gain intelligence from underground command posts, and target high-level terrorist leaders.
  • There is still a lot of hard fighting ahead and Israel's allies should be working to do what they can to further demoralize Hamas.

    The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA.

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