January 1, 2024
Special Report
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Shift to Lower-Intensity Conflict in Gaza within the Month - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    All signs are that Israel will shift from the "main war" to a longer, lower-intensity conflict in Gaza in the next two to four weeks.
    The main reasons are world and American pressure, and pressure to return the reservists and their families to regular life.
    Having reservists at war for months at a time takes a toll on the economy and on families.
    See also IDF Adjusting Deployment in Gaza - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    On Sunday evening, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military was making adjustments to its deployment in Gaza.
    "We are adjusting the fighting methods to each area in Gaza, and the necessary forces to carry out the mission in the best way possible. Each area has different characteristics and different operational needs."
    Hagari said the military would carry out "smart" management of the forces in Gaza, allowing reservists to return home to help bounce back the economy, and for standing army troops to train to become commanders.

Video - Kibbutz Be'eri: Tour the Ruins (Times of Israel)
    This short film explores the haunting aftermath of Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Kibbutz Be'eri.

Could Hizbullah Attack from Jordan? - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    The IDF has been fundamentally altering its operational deployment on the border with Jordan, following a spike in arms smuggling and fears of Iran-sponsored terror attacks that cross the border.
    A military source said the IDF is preparing for attempts by Hizbullah, or other pro-Iranian militias, to infiltrate from the Jordanian border into an Israeli community.
    In recent months, Iran-backed forces have tried to infiltrate Jordan from both Iraq and Syria. The Jordanians are making great efforts to stop the infiltrators, and the IDF maintains contact with the Jordanian army.

U.S. to Withdraw Aircraft Carrier from Eastern Mediterranean - Luis Martinez (ABC News)
    The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group will leave the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the "coming days," two U.S. officials tell ABC News.
    It was sent there just after the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October to deter Hizbullah in Lebanon and Iran from broadening the conflict.
    The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group remains deployed in the Gulf of Aden east of Yemen.

How Did Chinese Weapons Get to Gaza? (Jerusalem Post)
    A "massive" number of Chinese weaponry used by Palestinian terrorists has been seized by the IDF in Gaza, N12 reported on Saturday.
    Carice Witte, an expert on China-Israel relations, said that the weapons were not bought directly from Beijing.
    "China has an extensive arms industry. By definition, it does not sell weapons to non-state entities. It certainly does sell weapons to countries in the [Middle East].
    According to Witte, those responsible for the weaponry's presence in Gaza are either countries or independent Chinese actors illegally selling weapons to Gaza-based groups.

Hamas Is Succeeding at Playing the West for Fools - Jake Wallis Simons (Telegraph-UK)
    The West has been played by Hamas. Morality has been turned on its head.
    Hamas attempts an act of genocide, yet that same crime is pinned on Israel. Hamas butchers hundreds of innocents, yet Israel gets the blame.
    The terrorists know that they need only enable a supply of videos of civilian casualties and the journalists, diplomats, jihadi sympathizers, and useful idiots will do the rest.
    During a lesson on Lord of the Flies, my daughter's English teacher cited the actions of the IDF, not Hamas, as a modern example of "savagery."
    The truth remains the truth: Israel is acting as any other democracy would in impossible circumstances.
    The writer is editor of the Jewish Chronicle-UK.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Showcases Its Reach with Militia Attacks across Middle East - Liz Sly
    The Gaza war has given Iran the opportunity to showcase its newly restructured network of allied militias, demonstrating Tehran's strategic reach while allowing it to keep a distance from the fight. On any given day since the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel, one of these militias has carried out an attack somewhere in the Middle East - and on some days several in different places.
        The Houthis in Yemen are targeting ships in the Red Sea; Kataib Hizbullah and other Iraqi groups are hitting U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria; and Lebanon's Hizbullah is engaged in daily exchanges of fire with Israeli forces across the Israel-Lebanon border.
        The groups are all loyal to Iran, which arms, finances and inspires them. Together with Hamas, they constitute the main components of the "axis of resistance." Representatives of the militias collaborate and consult through a joint operations room that meets regularly, most often in Beirut. (Washington Post)
  • Israel to Bring In More Foreign Workers for Construction Sector
    Israel plans to bring in 70,000 foreign workers from China, India, Sri Lanka and Moldova to boost its construction sector, Yehuda Morgenstern, director general of the Housing Ministry, told the Calcalist financial daily. Some 80,000 Palestinian construction workers were barred from entering Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Forces Expand Operations in Khan Yunis - Tal Lev Ram
    Israeli forces expanded operations in Khan Yunis and across Gaza on Sunday. Areas close to Israeli towns, including Shejaia, Beit Hanun, Beit Lahia, and Khirbat Ikhza'a, are undergoing "special treatment" by Israeli forces to ensure no security threat can be posed from the towns following the war. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Launches New Year's Rocket Barrage at Central Israel
    A barrage of rockets was fired at central Israel by Hamas in Gaza shortly after midnight on Monday. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system and no injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Security Guards Injured in West Bank Stabbing Attack - Emanuel Fabian
    Two security guards were lightly wounded in a stabbing attack near the Mishor Adumim industrial zone on Sunday. The assailant was apprehended. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Downs Two Drones Launched at Israel by Iran-Backed Iraqi Militia - Emanuel Fabian
    Israeli fighter jets on Sunday night downed two drones launched by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed paramilitary groups - one over northern Israel and the other outside Israeli airspace. Another drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria was also downed by an Israeli fighter jet. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel's Skeptics Just Don't Want It to Win - Jonathan S. Tobin
    When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first said that the objective of his nation's response to Oct. 7 was to eliminate Hamas, his comments were put down as rhetoric and not a serious policy. No matter how wrong Hamas had been to breach the border and commit mass murder, any response on Israel's part was doomed to failure. Every blow struck at Hamas would "create more terrorists." The "experts" are still convinced that the Israeli war against Hamas is unwinnable and that the Israelis had to concede defeat.
        The skeptics are right that the IDF is still a long way from complete victory in Gaza. Still, the notion that the Gaza tunnel complex is an impregnable fortress that cannot be destroyed or that Hamas gunmen are so clever that they cannot be killed or captured in the small geographic area of Gaza is nonsense.
        The Palestinians have rejected every compromise peace offer that would have given them statehood for the last 75 years. They don't see a peace that would give them a state as an "opportunity," if it means accepting the legitimacy or even the existence of a Jewish state, no matter where Israel's borders are drawn.
        The Western press has framed the Palestinians' war to destroy Israel as a conventional insurgency against a foreign occupier. But Israel can't simply pack up and leave as the Americans did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam. Gaza isn't halfway around the world from Israel. It's next door. And Hamas is never going to be satisfied with merely being the lords of an Islamist tyranny in Gaza.
        The current war wasn't caused by the Israeli "occupation" of Gaza because it wasn't occupied on Oct. 6. The Israelis withdrew every civilian and soldier from Gaza in 2005. Hamas' objective on Oct. 7 was not advancing the two-state solution. It was in continuing and winning the Arabs' century-old war on Zionism. The only path to peace is to be found in a decisive end to the war in which the Palestinians will be forced to rethink their objectives. (JNS)
  • Iran Must Pay the Price for Its Aggression - Mark Dubowitz
    Iran is on the offensive. On the day after Christmas, U.S. forces in the Red Sea had to shoot down 12 suicide drones, three anti-ship missiles and two land-attack cruise missiles, all launched by the Iran-backed Houthi terrorist group in Yemen. The Houthis are torturers whose official motto is "Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory to Islam." Yet one of President Biden's first decisions after taking office was to remove the Houthis from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Reward the bad guys for bad behavior and you get more of it.
        Every ship that passes through the Suez Canal has to traverse the Red Sea. BP - one of the world's largest energy companies - announced on Dec. 18 it would temporarily pause the shipping of oil and natural gas through the Red Sea due to Houthi attacks. If the U.S. Navy loses control of these high seas, shipping costs will spike and shipping companies could refuse to dock in Israel, Egypt and other Middle Eastern ports of call. The consequences for the global economy and international security would be severe.
        Iran's proxies are now escalating on every front, while Iran itself hangs back. Its multifront war against the U.S. and Israel will end only when the regime itself has to pay the price for its aggression. If President Biden wants to protect U.S. and allied naval forces in the Red Sea while keeping its shipping lanes open, he needs to show the Houthis they will pay a heavy price for attacking the U.S. and its friends. Instead of pinprick counterstrikes, which have little deterrent value, the president should put the Houthis back on the terror list and direct the U.S. military to destroy substantial military assets they control.
        The writer is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (New York Post)
  • Lebanese Don't Want War with Israel - Zvi Bar'el
    In his sermon on Sunday in honor of the new year, Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi said, "We don't want the war to spread to southern Lebanon. It must be stopped to protect Lebanon's people, their homes and their livelihoods, at a time when they still haven't recovered from the results of the terrible war" of 2006. "We urge that every missile launchpad located among residential homes in Lebanese villages, which are suffering from the destructive Israeli responses, be removed."
        There are growing fears in Lebanon that another full-fledged war could develop. That would lead to strikes deep within Lebanon and damage to its civilian and economic infrastructure. Other Christian, Druze and Sunni leaders in Lebanon have voiced their concerns, as have the tens of thousands of Lebanese who have evacuated their villages in southern Lebanon and who are liable to lose the entire agricultural year, their main source of income.
        Amos Hochstein, who is U.S. President Joe Biden's coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, is supposed to visit Israel and Lebanon this week. His working assumption is that removing disagreements over 13 points along the border claimed by Hizbullah would neutralize its pretexts for continuing its clashes with Israel. But Hizbullah says its attacks on Israel would end once the war in Gaza ends, thereby tying the Lebanese border conflict fully to the Gaza war. This means that even resolving the border dispute wouldn't remove the pretext for Hizbullah's current clashes with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Who Supports Hamas? - Alan Dershowitz
    The main groups that comprise the bulk of organizers and demonstrators who have supported the Hamas barbarism against Israel include the same radical groups that organized the pro-Hamas demonstrations before Israel went into Gaza.
        Recall that these protests began before Israel counterattacked against Hamas. They were in full bloom on Oct. 8, even while the bodies of 1,200 murdered Israelis were still being gathered and counted. They are not demonstrations against what Israel does; they are protests against what Israel is, namely the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.
        These well-organized and externally-funded demonstrations are directed as much against the U.S. and its values as against Israel. Without the useful idiot students who join any protest they think is directed against "colonialists" and "oppressors," these demonstrations would be relatively small and limited to long-term professional haters of Jews and America.
        The media insists on calling these protests "pro-Palestinian" because it sounds indelicate to say "pro-Hamas." Yet there is nothing to indicate how the Palestinians would actually be helped by the disappearance of Israel and leaving them to the tender mercies of a corrupt, repressive state. Where are the calls for anything that would actually help the Palestinians or make their lives better: freedom of speech, equal justice under the law, freedom of the press, better job opportunities, and an end to government corruption and abuse?
        The writer is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School. (Gatestone Institute)

Ordinary Palestinians Aided and Abetted Hamas on Oct. 7 - Warren Kinsella (Toronto Sun-Canada)
  • Two sides. One side hasn't firebombed community centers and places of worship. Its clergy haven't called for a deity to slaughter the other side. It hasn't yelled death threats at people in shopping malls. It hasn't targeted businesses because the owner belongs to a particular religion. It hasn't attacked Santa Claus and tried to shut down Christmas. It hasn't blocked roads to keep people from getting home. The other side has done all of those things. Everyone knows it, too.
  • A few weeks ago, this writer was invited to the Israeli consulate in Toronto to see 42 minutes of raw video footage, mostly taken from video recorders of dead Hamas terrorists. The uniformed Hamas killers were proud of what they did: on the videos, they said so, over and over.
  • But here's something else we witnessed: people who weren't in uniforms, flooding into Israel to participate in the barbarity of that dark Saturday. In the Hamas footage, a Palestinian in civilian clothes uses an oversized garden hoe to decapitate a foreign agricultural worker who is still alive. There are videos of Palestinian civilians beating hostages - some elderly - with sticks and their fists.
  • The Hamas footage shows non-Hamas Palestinians looting and vandalizing the homes and bodies of Jews. Some Palestinians came by car, and some on foot and on bicycles. Some are children. They can then be seen stealing agricultural equipment, televisions, motorbikes and more. On that terrible day, many, many Palestinians were supporting Hamas.
  • One of the reasons why Hamas mass murder on Oct. 7 was so effective and efficient was because Palestinian civilians who had been working alongside Israelis in those kibbutzim had told Hamas how to disable the Israeli security and communications systems. They had told them who to kill first, and where victims could be found. Hamas did not act alone on Oct. 7. Ordinary Palestinians aided and abetted Hamas.

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