December 21, 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:

New Poll: Democrats Support Israel over Hamas by 63 to 6 Percent - Andrew Bernard (JNS)
    Democrats believe the U.S. should support Israel over Hamas by 63% to 6%, which is nearly identical to the margin for all U.S. registered voters (67% to 5%), according to a poll conducted Dec. 7-12 and released Tuesday by Democratic Majority for Israel.
    29% of Democrats called for an immediate ceasefire, while 48% supported a ceasefire only after Hamas was disarmed and dismantled.
    Mark Mellman, president of Democratic Majority for Israel, said other polls suggesting outsized Democratic support for a ceasefire and for Palestinians were based on poorly-worded questions.
    "If you just say to people, 'Should there be a ceasefire?,' well, who would be against that? But if you say, 'Should there be a ceasefire if it leaves the hostages in Hamas' hands or leaves Hamas in control of Gaza?,' people say 'No.'"
    "There's really no evidence to support the proposition that President Biden's support for Israel is doing him any electoral damage whatever," Mellman said. "There are more people that are likely to vote for Biden because of his pro-Israel stance than to vote against him because of that."

Italian Navy to Send Frigate to Boost Red Sea Security - Angelo Amante (Reuters)
    The Italian navy will "in the coming hours" send the frigate Virginio Fasan to help protect the Red Sea shipping route against attacks by Yemen's Houthi militants, Italy's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
    "Italy will do its part, together with the international community, to counter the terrorist destabilization activity of the Houthis," Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said after a video call with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
    See also Greek Navy Frigate to Join Red Sea Guard Against Houthi Attacks (AFP)

How IDF Soldiers Eliminate Hamas Lookouts - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Hamas uses drones to gather intelligence and expose locations of IDF forces in Gaza.
    They are supplemented by additional surveillance operatives strategically dispersed in key areas.
    In response, the Nahal Brigade's specialized reconnaissance unit conducts extensive stakeouts deep within enemy territory to mark Hamas' lookout positions. Other forces then eliminate these threats.
    The forces strategically position themselves in advance, discreetly blending into the terrain for extended covert operations.
    They often engage in prolonged stakeouts, sometimes spanning 80 hours.
    Over 70 terrorists were identified and neutralized through precision fire after these reconnaissance efforts.
    In the northern sector of Gaza, the unit successfully identified and eliminated hundreds of surveillance cameras belonging to Hamas.
    These devices were concealed within heating ducts on rooftops and even among laundered clothes.

IDF Shows Precision Airdrop Capability with 7-Ton Resupply of Water to Troops in Gaza - Seth J. Frantzman (Breaking Defense)
    The IDF announced last week that a "logistical airdrop that included parachuting about seven tons of water to hundreds of IDF soldiers currently engaged in combat in Khan Yunis took place over the last few days."
    Great precision is required when operating in tight, urban areas, said Israeli Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, a former Deputy Chief of Staff.
    He said it was a test case for how Israel could resupply troops on long-range operations.
    The airdrop made the first use of an "advanced operational system that enables parachuting equipment to ground forces using precise navigational capabilities."

Images of Atrocities in Syria Are Used to Blame Israel on Social Media - Linda Dayan (Ha'aretz)
    Repurposed and mislabeled images from Syria have become a mainstay of Israel-Gaza misinformation and disinformation.
    Since Monday, 44,000 people have watched a grisly video on X that shows men in uniform repeatedly stabbing unarmed detainees, labeling the attackers as Israelis.
    BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh clarified on Tuesday that the video is from 2013 and the stabbers were militia forces loyal to the Syrian regime.
    An image, viewed over a million times, claims to show Israel dropping white phosphorus bombs near Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital.
    The image is from 2017 and shows air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria.
    A video of a crying child saying "my sisters have died" due to Israeli bombing had a million views, 12,000 retweets, and 21,000 likes.
    The video was filmed in 2014 in Aleppo, Syria, and shows the aftermath of bombing by Syrian government forces.

Israel's Demographic Miracle - Jacob Sivak (Ynet News)
    On Nov. 23, the Population and Immigration Authority reported that close to 18,000 babies were born in Israel since Oct. 7, many named after locations attacked by Hamas.
    World fertility rates have been dropping for decades, with the numbers for wealthy, developed nations falling below replacement level - 2.1 births per woman.
    In 2021, the average for the 35 OECD countries was 1.58. The value for Israel was 3.0, close to twice the OECD average. 140,000 Jewish babies are born annually in Israel.
    Israel also receives a consistent flow of new immigrants, with a significant increase in diaspora interest in aliyah reported after the Hamas attack.
    The writer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is a retired professor who taught at the University of Waterloo.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Believes Israel Can Remove Hamas Threat, Minimize Civilian Casualties in Gaza
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday: "In the conflict between Israel and Hamas, we will continue to focus intensely on our core priorities: helping Israel ensure that what happened on October 7th can never happen again, bringing the conflict to an end as quickly as possible while minimizing the loss of life and the suffering of civilians, getting the remaining hostages back home to their families, preventing the conflict from spreading, and once and for all breaking the devastating cycle of violence and moving toward durable, lasting peace."
        "We continue to believe that Israel does not have to choose between removing the threat of Hamas and minimizing the toll on civilians in Gaza. It has an obligation to do both and it has a strategic interest to do both."
        "Israel has been very clear, including as recently as today, that it would welcome returning to a pause and the further release of hostages. The problem was, and has been, and remains Hamas. They reneged on commitments that they made during the first pause for hostage releases."
        "As we've said from the outset, Israel has not only a right but an obligation to defend itself....Any other country in the world faced with what Israel suffered on October 7th would do the same thing."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Hamas Rejects Israeli Bid to Revive Hostage Talks - Summer Said
    Hamas rejected an Israeli offer to stop fighting for one week in exchange for 40 hostages, including all the remaining women and children and elderly male hostages. Hamas said Israel must implement a ceasefire before negotiations could start, Egyptian officials said. According to Israel, there are 108 hostages still alive in Gaza, including 19 women and two children. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Digs Up Hamas Lairs under Gaza City - Emanuel Fabian
    Beneath Gaza City's central Palestine Square in the upscale Rimal neighborhood is an extensive warren of Hamas tunnels used by its top officials to hide from Israel. The commander of the IDF 401st Armored Brigade, Col. Benny Aharon, said all of Hamas' top officials, including Ismail Haniyeh, Muhammad Deif and Yahya Sinwar, had either offices or homes near the square, with personal tunnel shafts to the underground network, linking their hideouts, offices, and homes.
        The tunnel network featured blast doors and living quarters, and troops operating inside the tunnels found stores of food and water. Aharon said the tunnels' electricity for lighting, air circulation, and communications was largely powered by solar panels from nearby buildings. He added, "Every time you reach an area you discover more [Hamas] assets, and...to defeat an enemy it takes time, but relatively, in the time we've been here, we've achieved a lot."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Wants Gaza to Be Controlled by a Peaceful Palestinian Government
    Israel wants a "peaceful Palestinian government that wants to live alongside Israel" to take control of Gaza following the destruction of Hamas there, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Arabic-language Yalla show on Tuesday.
        "I can tell you who will not take responsibility: Of course Hamas...and the Palestinian Authority....In the West Bank, the PA has established a hostile entity, an entity that supports terrorism, funds terrorism, and incentivizes terrorism."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizbullah Fires Rockets at Kiryat Shmona - Emanuel Fabian
    Hizbullah fired at least eight rockets at Kiryat Shmona and other northern Israeli towns shortly after midnight Wednesday. Two of the rockets landed in the city, causing damage to infrastructure, homes, a preschool and cars. There were no injuries. Five rockets were intercepted, while one fell in an open area.
        In response to repeated attacks on the border, Israeli planes late Wednesday struck a Hizbullah command center near Bouslaya, 20 km. from the border. Four rockets were fired from Syria at the Golan Heights, setting off sirens in two Druze towns. The IDF shelled the source of the fire and targeted a Syrian Army position in response. Israeli troops opened fire at terror operatives who approached the border with Lebanon, close to Metula. The IDF said tanks and artillery also shelled areas along the Lebanon border to "remove threats."
        Touring the north, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Wednesday that Israel "will not return to the previous situation" on the border and will ensure "another, far safer condition" for residents of border communities. "There will be a lot done here in the coming year," he said.
        Israel has said it will no longer tolerate the presence of Hizbullah along the northern border after Hamas' Oct. 7 massacre. Since that date, Hizbullah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel to Maintain Operational Freedom in Red Sea, Coordinate with U.S. - Ariel Kahana
    A senior Israeli official told Israel Hayom on Wednesday that "Israel is not part of the coalition led by the United States against Houthi aggression in the Red Sea, but Israel maintains its freedom of action in coordination with the coalition leaders." Israel has told U.S. officials that it supported the international coalition but would not be subordinate to it, should it feel compelled to retaliate for attacks against it. Such freedom of action would be required, among other things, if launches towards the city of Eilat continued. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF Reservists Thwart Car-Ramming Attack in Judea - Elisha Ben Kimon
    An IDF reserve force thwarted an attempted Palestinian car-ramming attack near Kiryat Arba on Wednesday and eliminated the assailant. (Ynet News)
  • Despite War, 12,000 Foreign Workers Have Arrived in Israel - Sam Sokol
    Over 12,000 new and veteran foreign workers have arrived or returned to Israel since Oct. 7, including 2,218 in agriculture, half of them from Thailand. Inbal Mashash, director of the Population and Immigration Authority's Foreign Workers Administration, told the Knesset Tuesday that the first group of 100 workers from Sri Lanka out of an eventual total of 10,000 had arrived. More than 400 Malawians flew to Israel last month and the total could reach 5,000. An additional 1,500 are expected from Kenya. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Misrepresenting Jewish Attitudes toward a Ceasefire in Gaza - Rabbi Jeremy Barras, Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner and Rabbi E. Samuel Klibanoff
    According to NBC News, "Hundreds of Jewish organization staffers call for White House to back Gaza ceasefire." The sub headline was, "Most signed anonymously for fear of their jobs." Which is it? Is there broad support for a ceasefire, or is this view so radical that espousing it would cost someone their job?
        The letter was used as evidence that there is popular support in the American Jewish community against Israel defeating Hamas. In fact, these individuals do not represent these organizations and do not claim to do so.
        In reality, calls to leave Hamas in power and demand an Israeli ceasefire are outside the mainstream of Jewish opinion. Not one of the 50 diverse organization that make up the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are calling for a ceasefire. Instead, their CEO, William Daroff, has reposted comments against a ceasefire, such as those by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
        A recent poll by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 74% of Jewish voters approve of President Biden's handling of the war between Israel and Hamas. By a margin of nearly 2-1, American Jews support the U.S. vetoing a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.
        As rabbis spanning the Jewish denominational spectrum, we wanted to add clarity, which is why we organized an open letter signed by nearly 700 rabbis that explicitly rejects the letter covered by NBC News. Unlike the pro-ceasefire letter, these rabbis all include their full names. Put simply, the position that requires anonymity to espouse isn't mainstream. The position that you can attach your name to is. Why are some in the media continuing to present fringe positions as mainstream?
        Rabbi Jeremy Barras is a Reform pulpit rabbi in Miami, Florida. Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner is a Conservative pulpit rabbi in Closter, New Jersey. Rabbi E. Samuel Klibanoff is an Orthodox pulpit rabbi in Livingston, New Jersey. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • I Saw Raw Footage of Hamas Horrors in Israel. These Genocidal Terrorists Must Not Win. - Ingrid Jacques
    A week ago, I saw raw footage of Hamas' slaughter on Oct. 7. I can't get the images out of my head. For those who have played down - or refused to believe - the atrocities that Hamas committed that day, this video should be required viewing. Hamas terrorists filmed their own barbarism through body cameras and cellphones, and much of "Bearing Witness" comes directly from that footage. They wanted to preserve the brutal murders on camera, and they were gleeful as they inflicted unspeakably evil acts on innocent civilians.
        When I arrived at the screening, everyone was uptight about what we would witness. For the next 45 minutes, we sat mostly in silence as Hamas' brutality passed before our eyes. Some in the audience looked stunned. Some cried. I felt sick. Everyone stayed, though. I knew it would be hard to watch, but I hadn't expected the sheer horror and torture that these innocent Israelis - men, women and children - had endured.
        Two beheadings were shown in full - one done with a garden hoe, the other with a crude knife. The terrorists were ecstatic while committing these barbaric acts. Unsuspecting civilians were slaughtered while driving past, dragged out of their cars and left to bleed in the streets. At the end of the video, we were told we had witnessed about 10% of the killings.
        Hamas is not a liberation group, as some have claimed. They are genocidal terrorists. This evil - what I saw with my own eyes - must not win. (USA Today)
  • A "Two-State Solution" Now Is a Dangerous Fiction - Charles Moore
    The massacres committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 change everything. Most obviously, they change the attitudes of Israelis. If a paramilitary organization in a neighboring territory uses that territory as the base from which to enter your country and commit rape, kidnapping and mass murder of your citizens, no government can continue as before. Everything must give way to the need to disable, disarm, and, if possible, destroy that terrorist organization.
        A government that talks about a "two-state solution" would be wandering into the realms of fiction. What would a Palestinian state look like and who on earth would run it? How could the attempt to create such a state after the Hamas massacres, and after so many failures with less extreme Palestinian interlocutors in the past, not look like a capitulation to the worst actors in the region?
        It seems that, for some time, Israel had been operating in the belief that Hamas might be moving quietly towards a more peaceful path. The policy that began with Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was based on an idea which now seems to have been almost literally shot to pieces. Although the surrounding Arab states loudly condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza, most of them want Hamas defeated.
        The "two-state solution" at this juncture perpetuates the idea that ground must be given "on both sides." This might ultimately be true of a settlement in the region one day. But to suggest that Israel must concede something because more than 1,000 of its civilians have been murdered in cold blood is the inversion of morality and an incentive to further Islamist atrocities. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Qatar's Role in Undermining Israel's Legitimacy on U.S. University Campuses - Lenny Ben-David
    Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser of Qatar, the second of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani's three wives, heads the multi-billion-dollar Qatar Foundation philanthropies. Her foundation supports the Sharia Research Center headed by Prof. Tariq Ramadan and linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
        In 2009, she registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Justice Department for the Al Fakhoora project, a grassroots public relations campaign in the U.S. in response to Israel's operation in Gaza in 2008 against Hamas rockets. The plan included pitching stories to the university and mainstream press, recruiting student leaders on U.S. and international campuses, and leading student trips to Qatar to conduct spokesperson and media training sessions for students.
        By 2012, responsibility for recruiting and training students for BDS advocacy was transferred to the U.S. for organizations such as the Foundation for Middle East Understanding, the American Friends Service Committee, and Jewish Voice for Peace.
        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)

  • On Monday, Mevaseret Cohen, 27, was wounded when terrorists fired on the car in which she, her husband, and their six-week-old baby were traveling near the Jewish town of Ateret in Samaria. The foreign media don't report on the hundreds of monthly attacks on Jews living in Judea and Samaria, including rocks thrown regularly at cars, ramming attacks, and drive-by shootings.
  • Yet since Oct. 7, world leaders, led by President Biden, have sprinkled their condemnations of Hamas with an obligatory talking point about quelling "Jewish extremist violence" in the West Bank.
  • By no means should Jewish extremist violence be whitewashed. It does exist and needs to be condemned and stopped. But it is also by far not the main source of violence in the West Bank. If you are a Palestinian driving in Judea and Samaria, you are concerned about being stopped at an IDF checkpoint. You are not, however, worried about being gunned down randomly in a drive-by shooting. That is the unique preserve of Jews.
  • Jews are not waking up in the morning thinking about how to go out and murder innocent Palestinian civilians. But the terrorist who shot Mevaseret Cohen was thinking exactly about how to go out and murder innocent Jews.
  • Hallel and Yagel Yaniv; Elan Ganeles; Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee; Meir Tamari; Ofer Fayerman; Harel Masood; Elisha Anteman; Shmuel Mordoff; Aviad Nir; Shai Migreker; Batshvea Nagari; and Elhanan Klein are all Jews who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists on West Bank roads since the beginning of the year. Yet that type of violence doesn't rile up the world.
  • There is no comparison between the level of Palestinian-perpetrated violence in Judea and Samaria and that carried out by Jews there. None whatsoever. Not even close. To suggest otherwise not only betrays the truth but also creates a perverted moral equivalence.
    See also Why Has the U.S. Accepted the Anti-Settler Blood Libel? - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
  • First, let's make it clear just what makes someone a "settler." According to Hamas, any Jew living in the Land of Israel is a "Zionist settler" whose punishment is death. Second, the idea of Jewish settlement has been part and parcel of the Zionist enterprise since its inception.
  • Since the outbreak of the war, claims have been spread about supposed widespread violence by "settlers" against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. The entities spreading these claims are non-governmental organizations that are hostile to the State of Israel.
  • But the facts tell a completely different story. There is no indication of a worsening situation. In at least the first month of the Gaza war, there was a 50% drop in such incidents.
  • In reality, there is no evidence for "many cases of settler violence," as the Americans claim. Nevertheless, they intend to punish an unknown number of Israelis for a phenomenon that barely exists, without hearing them out or allowing them to legally defend themselves.
  • The demonization of "settlers" refers to over half a million people, many of whom have been drafted via emergency call-up notices to fight in Gaza. Thus, President Biden, who loves Israel, is essentially letting an antisemitic blood libel persist. Because in the eyes of Hamas and its many supporters worldwide, every Jew is a "settler."

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