December 27, 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:

In Eliminating Revolutionary Guards General in Syria, Israel Sends a Message to Iran - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Israel has been blamed for the elimination of Revolutionary Guards' Brig.-Gen. Sayyed Reza Mousavi in Syria on Monday.
    Mousavi was involved in smuggling weapons from Iran, manufacturing weapons in Syria, and transferring funds to Hizbullah and the Shiite militias operating under Iran's auspices in Syria.
    While Israel has avoided taking responsibility for his death, no one in the region doubts who is responsible.
    The targeting of Mousavi was both to get rid of the man himself and to send a deterrent message to Tehran.
    Ever since the Oct. 7 attack, Iran has significantly increased its aggression against Israel.
    It assists Hamas in various ways and is an active partner in the rocket launches by Hizbullah in Lebanon against Israel.

Israel Counters Iran's Direct Involvement in Attacks - Ron Ben Yishai (Ynet News)
    Sayyed Reza Mousavi was the third brigadier general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be targeted in Syria in recent months.
    Iraqi Shiite militias based in Syria launched an attack drone at Eilat in November, which damaged a school. The attack was supervised of Col. Davoud Jafari of the IRGC's air force. Jafari was killed later that month in a strike attributed to Israel.
    Tehran's direct involvement was seen in the launch by an Iraqi militia of an attack drone at the Karish natural gas rig off the Israeli coast earlier this week, which was shot down by IDF air defenses.
    Iran recently supplied Hizbullah in Lebanon with advanced anti-aircraft systems, which have already been put to use.
    Iran directs the actions of the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It provides them with weapons and intelligence to identify ships connected to Israel sailing off Yemen's shores in the Red Sea.

Blast Rattles Israeli Embassy in India, No Injuries (Times of Israel)
    An explosion occurred near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday, the Israel Foreign Ministry said. There were no injuries.
    Israeli security officials were working with Indian authorities on the investigation.
    Embassy spokesman Guy Nir told Indian television that staff heard the explosion from within the building.

IDF Roots Out Terrorists in Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    IDF forces operated in recent days in the olive groves in the eastern part of the Gaza City neighborhoods of Daraj and Tuffah, the last remaining Hamas stronghold in northern Gaza.
    Beneath almost every tree they found an entrance to a Hamas tunnel or a rocket launch pit.
    The troops in the field identify Hamas terrorists almost every day inside UNRWA shelters, with their weapons, near children.
    To deal with this, IDF snipers are deployed in the area to precisely kill those terrorists.
    Sometimes the terrorists shoot civilians who try to escape.
    Almost every school and even diplomatic embassies in Gaza have become terrorist bases, similar to hospitals where weapons are found in abundance.

The Letter a Fallen IDF Soldier Left for His Parents - Adam Kutub (Ynet News)
    Sgt. 1st Class (res.) Joseph Gitarts, 25, from Tel Aviv, who was killed in Gaza on Monday by an anti-tank missile, left a sealed letter to his parents before he went to fight.
    "Dear Mom and Dad, I love you very much. Everything is as it should be."
    "I made this choice myself and followed it through to the end. I fell with honor for the sake of my people. I have no regrets."
    "I could have chosen not to come here and hide. But that goes against everything I believe in and value - and the person I consider myself to be. Therefore, I had no choice, and I would do the same thing if I could choose again."
    "Please find something positive in all of this. Be with your grandchildren. Help Israel. I'm okay."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Shoots Down 12 Houthi Attack Drones, 5 Missiles in Red Sea - Harriet Alexander
    A U.S. Navy destroyer and F/A-18 Super Hornets from the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group shot down 12 attack drones, 3 anti-ship ballistic missiles, and 2 land attack cruise missiles in the southern Red Sea that were fired by the Houthis over a 10-hour period on Dec. 26, U.S. Central Command said. There was no damage to ships in the area or reported injuries. (Daily Mail-UK)
        See also Video: Israel Shoots Down Drone from Yemen over Red Sea - Emanuel Fabian
    An Israeli Air Force fighter jet shot down a drone launched from Yemen and heading toward Israel over the Red Sea on Tuesday. (Times of Israel)
  • Iran Speeds Up Uranium Enrichment to Near Weapons-Grade - Francois Murphy
    Iran has reversed a slowdown begun in June in the rate at which it is enriching uranium to up to 60% purity, close to weapons grade, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday. "The Agency confirms that, since the end of November 2023, the rate at which Iran has been producing uranium enriched up to 60% U-235 at these two facilities [Natanz and Fordow] combined has increased to approximately 9 kg. per month" from a rate of 3 kg. a month. Iran already has enough uranium enriched to up to 60%, if enriched further, to make three nuclear bombs. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. "Greatly Concerned" by IAEA Report of Iran's Increase in Uranium Enrichment (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Missiles from Lebanon Fired at Church Wound Israeli Christian Civilian, Nine Israeli Soldiers - Adi Hashmonai
    An anti-tank missile hit the shed of a Christian church in Iqrit in the Galilee on Tuesday, wounding an 80-year-old civilian. Israeli soldiers arrived to evacuate him and were hit by a second anti-tank missile. Nine soldiers were wounded, one seriously. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hizbullah Fires 18 Rockets at Rosh Hanikra - Emanuel Fabian
    Hizbullah claimed responsibility for firing at least 18 rockets at Rosh Hanikra on the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday. At least six rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Eliminates Terrorists in Shijaiyah - Yoav Zitun
    On Tuesday, IDF soldiers in the Shijaiyah area in northern Gaza directed an IAF aircraft to strike terrorists they had identified in a Hamas combat area. The strike led to secondary explosions, "which indicate that the area was rigged with explosives aimed at attacking the troops," the IDF spokesman said Wednesday. In addition, the ground forces identified terrorists in a building known as a weapons warehouse, directed an IAF aircraft to strike, and killed the terrorists. (Ynet News)
  • Gaza Rocket Crashes through Synagogue Roof in Israel - Matan Tzuri
    A rocket fired from Gaza hit the roof of a synagogue in Kibbutz Sa'ad on Tuesday, causing significant damage. The synagogue was empty at the time due to rocket warning sirens. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Is Israel Winning the War in Gaza? - Anshel Pfeffer
    Media headlines saying "Israel isn't winning in Gaza" totally ignore the nature of this war. Hamas prepared for 16 years for this, building its tunnel network underground and its strongholds aboveground throughout Gaza's civilian urban environment.
        The IDF prepared as well. For years it has increased training to focus on urban warfare and invested in combat engineering units with an array of munitions and probes developed to detect and destroy tunnels. It has also acquired hundreds of new tanks and heavy-infantry fighting vehicles with "active" armor systems designed to protect crews from anti-tank rockets.
        The IDF believes it has killed 8,000 Hamas fighters so far. Thousands more have been wounded and captured. A large number of senior Hamas field commanders have been killed as well. Since the ground offensive began, around 160 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 2,000 wounded; of these, 300 remain hospitalized in fair or serious condition. The IDF, so far, has destroyed around half of Hamas' fighting force while its losses aren't heavy when considering the complexity of this type of urban warfare.
        Every senior IDF officer in every briefing has been clear that the campaign in Gaza would take many months. There have been no illusions among the professionals that this war would be won quickly. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Israeli Army Is Still the Most Moral in the World - Avi Garfinkel
    It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, what Hamas' actions and stated intentions are, how many warning leaflets the IDF drops or how many calls it makes urging Palestinian civilians to evacuate; the IDF and Israel will always be accused of war crimes.
        During the Iraq War, the Americans directly killed 300,000 civilians. The number of Gazans dead when the war ends will be dramatically lower than the number of Vietnamese, Afghani and Iraqi civilians killed by the Soviet and American armies. The New York Times claims that the proportion of civilian casualties had climbed from 40% in previous conflicts to 60%. This figure actually proves the IDF's morality, because in Iraq, the Americans killed ten times as many civilians as soldiers. (Ha'aretz)
        See also No One Has Ever Fought a War with an Enemy Who So Systematically Abuses International Law - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
  • Can Gaza Change? - Ariel Kahana
    Israel is now cleaning up the terrorist forces that have accumulated in Gaza for three decades. How does one control two million Arabs who have been taught from birth to kill "subhuman Jews," especially in an area whose population has no aspiration for progress, but rather a culture of jihad and murder?
        First, Hamas must be brought to absolute defeat, not just a "decisive blow." Gazans need to understand that Hamas brought terrible suffering upon them. As long as Hamas does not surrender, there is nothing to talk about regarding the rehabilitation of Gaza. If rehabilitation begins before Hamas disappears, the Gazans' state of mind will have not been seared with their responsibility for the horrors. There is also the question of why rebuild a neighborhood if two minutes later Hamas will take control of it again.
        After clearing the area from terrorists, there must be a thorough de-Hamasization process. It is vital to implement reforms that uproot both Hamas ideology and other antisemitic and anti-Israeli content. These must be basic preconditions. UNRWA cannot continue operating in Gaza, period. UNRWA has not solved the problem of a single Palestinian refugee and instead educates future generations to kill Jews.
        Gazans should be educated about tolerance, inclusiveness, and acceptance of the Jew as a normative neighbor. This sounds fanciful, and the murderous demons will not disappear overnight or even in a decade. But if we want life, there is no other way.
        In an ideal world, it would be better if a foreign rule of any kind, Arab or Western, would clean up the Gazan cesspool, but the chances of this happening are slim. Arab rulers do not want to be seen as helping Israel against the Palestinians. It is therefore likely that the full burden will ultimately fall on Israel's shoulders. Before Israel commits to Palestinian self-rule, it must first make clear in intricate detail how the de-Hamasization process will be carried out. This is a vital condition for Israel's survival. (Israel Hayom)
  • Denying Israel's Right to Exist Condemns Palestinians to Another Generation of Suffering - George Chesterton
    How can you expect calls for a ceasefire to be heard if you do not recognize the right to exist of those doing the fighting? Peace depends on the hope of coexistence. It's logical to conclude that the repeated failures of Palestinian leaders to reach a deal for their own state are inextricably linked to a refusal to consider true coexistence. Accepting a two-state solution means accepting Israel, and for some that cannot happen.
        The two-state solution is little more than wispy Western fantasy that Israel no longer believes in and Palestinians never believed in. Undermining Israel's right to exist means it has no right to defend itself, which renders everything it does an act of evil.
        The implications of this are profound, not least because what happens over there has a measurable aftershock around the world. In my part of London, social media mums lead calls for mass walkouts by primary school children in support of Palestine. Jewish children open their atlases to find Israel has been scribbled out by their classmates. Inculcating political militancy in nine-year-olds will lead to more and more antisemitism. To pretend otherwise is gross deceit.
        Some of the pro-Palestinian movement is motivated by a desire for peace and to protect the rights of Palestinians, yet this fervor does not extend to any other conflict or region anywhere else on the planet. Why would this be?
        "From the river to the sea" is not merely an expression of solidarity. It is a call for the obliteration of Israel and its inhabitants. Israel can hardly be expected to listen to, let alone negotiate with, another party that plots its destruction. Spare us the moral and intellectual hypocrisy of calling for the protection of one people and the destruction of another. It's not a peace movement if what you really want is war with a different result. (Evening Standard-UK)

Israel Stopped Apologizing on October 7 - Prof. Gil Troy (Jerusalem Post)
  • For years, many outside Israel treated it just a tad condescendingly. They cast Israel as a problem child - too wild, primitive, militaristic, fundamentalist, forever embarrassing their more enlightened, sophisticated selves. It got worse during the Trump years. Israel, not America, was somehow responsible for Trump because we thanked him for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and facilitating the Abraham Accords.
  • Since Hamas' savagery, with young Israelis dying every day, the accusations, anguish, and apologetics must end. Let's be clear. Israelis feel the love in every dollar raised, every meme posted, every prayer uttered, every vigil attended, and every demand made on American leaders to stand up for Israel, for American values, for the West's future. And the global surge in Jew-hatred appalls us and infuriates us. We are grateful and know it's been tough.
  • But you cannot equate the danger Israelis confront in Gaza or on the border facing Hizbullah, or when patrolling hostile Palestinian towns, with threats on leafy campuses. And we just don't have patience, during this hard, painful war, for all the anguish about Israel's military tactics. Yes, the IDF prefers keeping our kids alive and Israel safe from Hamas, to looking good on CNN.
  • There are serious moral and strategic dilemmas regarding how to fight back against Hamas' unspeakable crimes and its vows to repeat them. It's challenging with Hamas so embedded in Gaza - so popular there, so willing to hide in hospitals, mosques, and even behind women and children. Israelis who know how painful it is to bury our young take no delight in non-combatant casualties.
  • Hamas - and the entire Palestinian movement that started cheering the terrorists and jeering us on Oct. 7 - has drawn a clear line in the sand. We withdrew completely from Gaza - and they kept screaming it was "occupied." They hijacked billions sent to help their own people, instead building an infrastructure of evil against us. We were attacked - breaking the latest ceasefire and the one before that and the one before that.
  • No, we're not perfect. But the moral choice is clear. We in Israel, left and right, fight proudly together, without kowtowing or breast-beating; affirming life, even in these days haunted with death. Join us.

    The writer, a distinguished scholar of North American history at McGill University, is a senior fellow in Zionist thought at the Jewish People Policy Institute.

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