December 26, 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:

Are Hizbullah Withdrawals from Israel's Northern Border Merely Temporary? - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    According to senior sources, the IDF's slight escalation in the north, in the form of slightly deeper attacks against Hizbullah in Lebanon, has led the terrorist group to voluntarily pull back some of its Radwan Special Forces - either halfway or fully - from the border with Israel.
    Yet this could be Hizbullah seeking to lure Israel into a false sense of security.
    Hizbullah Chief Hassan Nasrallah may be betting that if he orders a temporary tactical withdrawal, he can gradually return his forces over time after the war.
    If the northern border goes quiet for a few months after the main fighting ends in Gaza, will Israel be ready to risk another major conflict, simply because a few dozen Hizbullah troops move a km. this way or that?
    See also IDF Pounds Hizbullah Targets in Lebanon Tuesday after Rockets on Northern Israel - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)

Israel Says Dead Hostage's Car Links Gaza Hospital to Terrorists (AFP)
    The IDF said Monday it found a Toyota Corolla with an Israeli license plate belonging to the family of Israeli captive Samer El-Talalqa inside the Indonesian hospital in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza.
    "RPG remnants and bloodstains were found in the vehicle, which were identified as belonging to another hostage," the army said.

Indian Navy to Deploy Guided Missile Destroyers to Arabian Sea (AFP)
    India's navy said Monday it is deploying three guided-missile destroyers as well as P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft in the Arabian Sea to "maintain a deterrent presence" after a string of recent shipping attacks.
    On Saturday, the MV Chem Pluto tanker was attacked by a drone 370 km. off the coast of India.
    India is also boosting its anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden after Somali pirates this month hijacked the bulk carrier MV Ruen.

Exactly What Kind of Peace Is the World Seeking for Israel? - Benjamin Kerstein (JNS)
    Peace is a very strange thing where Israel is concerned.
    Currently in the midst of a war against a satanic enemy, Israel is being pressured to consider "the day after" and, at the very least, allow the Palestinian Authority takeover of Gaza to be followed by a Palestinian state.
    From some quarters, there is even the maddening demand that Hamas be allowed a governing role despite the Oct. 7 massacre.
    When one does not have to suffer the consequences, it is not so difficult to demand that others accede to a certain abstract kind of a peace.
    But we must make it clear that peace is not an altar of human sacrifice.
    We must say to the West: We have conceded enough; we are no longer interested in indulging you.

Intel Confirms Further Investment of $15 Billion in Israeli Facility - Assaf Gilead (Globes)
    Intel Israel announced Tuesday that it will invest a further $15 billion in its new manufacturing facility in Kiryat Gat, over and above the investment of $10 billion announced in 2019, confirming an announcement six months ago by the Israeli government.
    Intel is the largest private-sector employer in the country, with 12,000 employees.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
by Jerusalem Center Experts
View Daily Briefing at 4:00 p.m. (Israel), 9:00 a.m. (EST)
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Air Strike in Syria Kills Senior Iranian Military Adviser
    An Israeli air strike outside Damascus on Monday killed Brig.-Gen. Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser in Iran's Revolutionary Guards who was responsible for coordinating the military alliance between Syria and Iran, security sources said. (Reuters)
  • Hamas, Islamic Jihad Reject Egyptian Proposal to End War - Ahmed Mohamed Hassan
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad have rejected an Egyptian proposal that they relinquish power in Gaza in return for a permanent ceasefire, two Egyptian security sources said Monday. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas Leader Says Its Fighters "Smashing" Israeli Army, Will Not Surrender (Fars News-Iran)
  • U.S. Strikes Iranian-Aligned Group after 3 U.S. Troops Injured in Drone Attack in Iraq - Aamer Madhani
    President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. military to carry out retaliatory airstrikes against the Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah after three U.S. servicemembers were injured, one critically, in a drone attack on an air base used by American troops in Erbil in northern Iraq on Monday.
        According to U.S. Central Command, the retaliatory strikes on three sites "destroyed the targeted facilities and likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants." Iranian-backed militias have carried out dozens of attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria since the start of the Israel-Hamas war more than two months ago. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Intelligence Unit's Calls with Gazans Reveal Dissent Against Hamas Rule
    The IDF Military Intelligence Directorate's Unit 504, which specializes in human intelligence, has held 50,066 phone calls with Palestinians in Gaza, Israel's Channel 12 reported Saturday. The vast majority were aimed at urging Palestinians to evacuate to southern Gaza or to designated shelters and humanitarian zones during the war.
        A recording was aired of a Palestinian who said he wanted to evacuate south, but that Hamas gunmen were blocking the evacuation route, firing at the feet of those trying to flee. He provided the precise location of the Hamas gunmen, and the IDF used the information to carry out an airstrike on them in order to re-open the evacuation route.
        Another Gaza resident said it was not safe to publicly criticize Hamas. "If you think someone can say something against Hamas and then go out in the street afterward - they will destroy him. You don't understand what it's like in Gaza. They (Hamas) do whatever they want." In another call, a Palestinian relayed that Hamas was trying to use homes in his neighborhood to establish a line of defense against the IDF, but that the locals had chased the fighters away.
        One call featured a Palestinian named Munir who confirmed that Hamas is stealing humanitarian aid and that the terror group actually controls UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. "Wherever Hamas is located, they destroy everything. Hamas places its hand on everything. It has placed its hand on the UNRWA staff. Hamas are the senior leadership of UNRWA, and they're also in charge of the humanitarian organizations," Munir said. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Seizes Rockets, IEDs in Raid near Tulkarem in Samaria - Emanuel Fabian
    IDF reservists and Border Police operating Monday night in the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem in the West Bank located an explosives lab with dozens of primed IEDs. Soldiers also detained wanted Palestinians and seized rockets and other firearms. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The U.S. Must Maintain Its Support for Israel - Con Coughlin
    With the Israel Defense Forces making good progress in their attempts to destroy the Islamist Hamas terrorist organization, this is not the moment for the Biden administration to soften its support for Israel. With the IDF exposing the terrorists' key command and control systems located either within or beneath hospitals, schools and mosques, Washington needs to give Israel the backing it needs to finish its declared objective of destroying Hamas.
        While President Joe Biden has generally remained resolute in his support for Israel in the wake of the atrocities Hamas committed against the Israeli people on Oct. 7, Israel is likely to come under intense pressure from the Biden administration in the coming weeks to scale back its military operations.
        The IDF is determined to make sure that the entire Hamas terrorist infrastructure is destroyed before it considers any reduction in military activity. It is vital, therefore, that the Biden administration fully comprehends that, from Israel's perspective, destroying Hamas is nothing less than an existential struggle, one that is vital to the future survival, security and prosperity of the Jewish state and in fact the entire region.
        The writer is defense editor for Britain's Daily Telegraph. (Gatestone Institute)
  • As World's Gaze Shifts to Gaza, Israel Remains Defined by Oct. 7 Attack - Patrick Kingsley
    Israelis are coming to terms with what the Hamas-led terrorist attack on Oct. 7 means for the Israeli state and Israeli society. The Oct. 7 assault and its aftershocks are expected to reshape Israel for years to come. When Israel was founded in 1948, the defining goal was to provide a sanctuary for Jews, after 2,000 years of statelessness and persecution. On Oct. 7, the state proved unable to prevent the worst day of violence against Jews since the Holocaust.
        For now, the assault has also unified Israeli society to a degree that felt inconceivable on Oct. 6. In an instant, Israelis of all stripes found common cause in what they saw as an existential fight for Israel's future. Since then, they have been collectively stung by international criticism of Israel's retaliation in Gaza. (New York Times)
  • The Civil War within Islam - Aryeh Tepper
    Hamas belongs to the Islamist "resistance" camp. Through the Oct. 7 attack, this camp reasserted one of its main principles with barbaric clarity, the refusal to ever make peace with Israel.
        There is a tolerant camp in the Islamic world that opposes the Islamists. This camp includes future-minded regimes, scholars and clerics who want a pluralistic future for the Middle East. Peace with Israel fits into this vision. The tolerant camp drew a line in the sand with the 2020 Abraham Accords.
        It is forbidden for the Islamists to appear victorious. A Hamas victory - which means their holding on to control of Gaza no matter the material and human price - will inspire Islamists around the world and attract new recruits to the cause. Israel's victory, however, will demonstrate that resistance is futile. For the sake of its own survival, and for the sake of a humane, pluralist future in the Middle East and North Africa, Israel must annihilate Hamas.
        The writer, Director of Publications at the American Sephardi Federation, is a fellow at the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies at Ben-Gurion University. (White Rose)

Israel's Three Prerequisites for Peace - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Wall Street Journal)
  • There are three prerequisites for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in Gaza. First, Hamas, a key Iranian proxy, must be destroyed. The U.S., UK, France, Germany and many other countries support Israel's intention to demolish the terror group. To achieve that goal, its military capabilities must be dismantled and its political rule over Gaza must end.
  • Hamas leaders have vowed to repeat the Oct. 7 massacre "again and again." That is why their destruction is the only proportional response to prevent the repeat of such horrific atrocities. Anything less guarantees more war and more bloodshed.
  • Unjustly blaming Israel for civilian casualties will only encourage Hamas and other terror organizations around the world to use human shields. To render this cruel and cynical strategy ineffective, the international community must place the blame for these casualties squarely on Hamas.
  • Second, Gaza must be demilitarized to ensure that the territory is never again used as a base to attack Israel. This will require establishing a temporary security zone on the perimeter of Gaza and an inspection mechanism on the border between Gaza and Egypt that meets Israel's security needs and prevents smuggling of weapons into the territory.
  • The expectation that the Palestinian Authority will demilitarize Gaza is a pipe dream. It currently funds and glorifies terrorism in Judea and Samaria and educates Palestinian children to seek the destruction of Israel. For the foreseeable future, Israel will have to retain overriding security responsibility over Gaza.
  • Third, Gaza will have to be deradicalized. Schools must teach children to cherish life rather than death, and imams must cease to preach for the murder of Jews. Visionary Arab leaders in the Gulf have led efforts to deradicalize their societies and transform their countries. Once Hamas is destroyed, Gaza is demilitarized and Palestinian society begins a deradicalization process, Gaza can be rebuilt.

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