January 7, 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:

IDF Is Redefining Counterterrorism after Oct. 7 - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF's Multidimensional Unit - also known as the Ghost Unit - is an elite combat unit founded in 2019 to develop innovative combat techniques and fighting methods as well as new tools for use in the battlefield.
    These include deadly drones that traverse tunnels or rooms inside buildings to kill the enemy, and special radars for infantry forces to detect the enemy in hiding.
    The unit's commander, Col. Dvir Hever, says, "It's not just about tools and technology - it's about methods of locating weapons in enemy territory, locating terrorists, exposing concealed tunnels, shooting down enemy drones, as well as finding terrorists at a range of several miles and hitting them."
    "No soldier asks when we're finishing up and going home. There's no burn-out."

UNRWA Is Ensuring the "Day After" includes More Wars - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Prof. Jacob Nagel (Jerusalem Post)
    UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, bears considerable responsibility for the impossible situation the Gazans have reached.
    In 1949, the UN established UNRWA solely to deal with Palestinian Arab refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is responsible for resettling every other refugee population in the world.
    Over the years, UNRWA has become a central component of the anti-Israeli narrative.
    Between 1950 and 2018, the U.S. taxpayer has contributed $6 billion to UNRWA.
    Some UNRWA employees act as terrorists. Hamas has used UNRWA schools as human shields, built terror tunnels beneath them, stored missiles inside them and fired them on Israel.
    UNRWA text books promote hatred and incitement against Israel and Jews. The UNRWA curriculum treats Israel as an enemy, promotes "martyrs," and claims that "jihad is the road to glory."
    On January 14, 2021, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated: "Most Palestinians under UNRWA's jurisdiction are not refugees, and UNRWA is an obstacle to peace."
    Of the 5 million identified as "Palestinian refugees" by UNRWA, fewer than 200,000 meet the international criteria for refugee status.
    Apparently, the number of Palestinians living today who meet the criteria for refugee status is less than 30,000.
    UNRWA has encouraged generations of Palestinians to remain stuck between a possible new life and the "right of return" promised them by radical factions committed to eternal war with Israel.
    Instead of helping solve the problem, UNRWA is exacerbating it. It is time to call for the closure of this unnecessary and harmful organization.
    The writer, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a professor at the Technion, served as National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and Head of the National Security Council.

Evacuated Kibbutz Sasa's Armor Factory Works to Protect Troops - John Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    Two miles from Israel's border with Lebanon, at the Plasan armor factory in Kibbutz Sasa, hundreds of employees work around the clock to protect IDF soldiers and their vehicles.
    Residents of the kibbutz were evacuated months ago, but Plasan staff members continue working, despite frequent rocket attacks. An anti-tank missile hit the kibbutz school's auditorium on Dec. 17.
    Plasan's core product is body armor for bulletproof vests. It is also a world leader in bolt-on armor kits for military vehicles.

As Antisemitism Soars, French Jews Flee to Israel - Romain Chauvet (Times of Israel)
    Requests for immigration by French Jews to Israel has risen by 430% since Oct. 7, reflecting a climate of fear, said Freddo Pachter of Israel's Aliya Ministry.
    "I can no longer see myself living in France with everything that is happening. I am afraid every day for my children, it is no longer a life," says one mother who lives in Paris.
    Another French Jewish woman said, "Oct. 7 changed everything. I would never have imagined thinking of leaving France for Israel...but at least there we will not have to hide."
    More than 1,500 antisemitic incidents have been recorded in France between Oct. 7 and mid-November, according to the French Interior Ministry. This is more than three times the 436 antisemitic incidents recorded over all of 2022.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Offers up to $10 Million Reward for Information on Hamas Financiers
    The U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the disruption of financial mechanisms of the foreign terrorist organization Hamas, naming five Hamas financial facilitators - including three based in Turkey and one based in Sudan. (U.S. State Department)
  • U.S. Intelligence Confirms Islamic State's Afghanistan Branch behind Iran Blasts - Jonathan Landay
    Communications intercepts collected by the U.S. confirmed that Islamic State in Afghanistan carried out twin bombings in Iran on Wednesday that killed nearly 100 people, two sources said on Friday. (Reuters)
  • Hamas "Using Massive Stockpile of Chinese Weaponry" in Gaza - Melanie Swan
    Chinese weaponry, including QBZ assault rifles and QLZ87 automatic grenade launchers, is being used by Hamas to wage war in Gaza, Israeli investigations have revealed. Hi-tech supplies uncovered by the IDF include telescopic sights for rifles and cartridges for M16s as well as communications equipment such as listening devices and tactical military radios.
        "We have found massive amounts of Chinese weaponry and the question is, did it come directly from China to Hamas or not?" an Israeli intelligence source said. (Daily Telegraph-UK)
        See also below Commentary: Why China Is Siding with the Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas War - Dr. Gideon Elazar (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Border Police Officer Killed, 3 Injured in Jenin - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Sgt. Shai Germai, 19, was killed and three others were injured early Sunday when their vehicle was hit by an explosive charge in the Jenin refugee camp. The Border Police said Germai "stood out during her initial training due to her professionalism and unique character....Shai was the first to volunteer for any task." At least six Palestinians were killed during the operation. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Arab Killed in Shooting Attack in West Bank
    An Israeli Arab man, 33, who was a resident of eastern Jerusalem, was killed in a shooting attack north of Ramallah on Sunday morning. (Times of Israel)
  • Hizbullah Fires Dozens of Rockets into Israel on Saturday - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF said Hizbullah fired 40 rockets at the Mount Meron area of northern Israel on Saturday, targeting an Israeli military installation. There were no reports of injuries. Later, several more missiles were fired by Hizbullah at Yiftah and Avivim. The army said it struck a terror cell responsible for some of the rocket launches at Mount Meron, and carried out airstrikes on Hizbullah rocket launch positions, military compounds, and other infrastructure. (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu Tells U.S. Envoy: Israel Committed to Fundamental Change on Lebanon Border
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein on Thursday that security must be restored on the northern border so that the 100,000 residents evacuated from the area can "return to their homes and live in safety and security. We will not stop until this goal has been achieved, whether diplomatically, which Israel prefers, or in some other way."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • A New Reality Needed on the Gaza-Egypt Border - Meir Ben Shabbat
    Israel cannot allow Hamas' tunnel network to stay in place in Gaza. Israel must make it clear that as long as there are tunnels, the war will continue.
        In addition, it is clear that arms smuggling into Gaza cannot be prevented without effective control over the Philadelphi Route and the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Supervision mechanisms and reliance on other arrangements have always turned out to be a resounding failure. As long as there is a free flow of weaponry from Sinai to Gaza, it will not be possible to ensure the demilitarization of the strip.
        An effective buffer between Gaza and Egypt will serve not only Israel's security needs but will also contribute to Egypt's national security - it will prevent Hamas terrorists in Gaza from reaching Egyptian territory. Hamas is the strongest armed group in the Muslim Brotherhood, a bitter foe of the regime in Egypt.
        There is no reason why Hamas should be allowed to continue controlling the distribution of aid. This allows it to maintain power and govern. To topple Hamas' rule, Israel must prevent it from having a grip on the distribution and other resources that only help it cement its status as the governing authority of Gaza. This is the only way that will lead to a real collapse of the regime in Gaza.
        Victory over Hamas requires creating a reality in the strip that will not allow the resurgence of terrorist elements. Such a fundamental change requires Israel to act with resolve and over a long period, without standing with a stopwatch in hand.
        The writer, head of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem, served as Israel's National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Is Not Committing Genocide - but Hamas Is - Arsen Ostrovsky and Stanislav Pavlovschi
    South Africa has filed a claim at the International Court of Justice in The Hague accusing Israel of carrying out genocide in Gaza. Article II of the Genocide Convention of 1948 defines genocide as committing acts, including by killing, that are intended to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
        The commission of genocide has nothing to do with the number of civilian casualties. The key element of the crime is "intent." Israel is not seeking to destroy the Palestinian people, whether in whole, in part, or in any manner.
        If anyone is guilty of genocide here, it is Hamas, which openly states that the destruction of Israel is its ultimate goal. It acted on those intentions on Oct. 7, when Hamas massacred over 1,200 Israelis.
        Arsen Ostrovsky is an Israeli human rights attorney and CEO of the International Legal Forum. Stanislav Pavlovschi is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights (2001-2008) and former Minister of Justice of Moldova.  (The Hill)
  • Why China Is Siding with the Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas War - Dr. Gideon Elazar
    In the days after Oct. 7, there was widespread surprise about China's hostile stance toward Israel. Chinese media barely reported the atrocities of Hamas, emphasizing instead the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. The surprise in Israel at China's approach is heightened by its contrast to China's former distant, uninvolved stance.
        So what happened? The answer lies in China's broad global ambitions and in its years-long confrontation with the U.S. American support for Israel's war in Gaza is perceived in China as an opportunity to respond to Washington's critical rhetoric regarding China, such as a determination by the U.S. State Department in 2021 that China was guilty of "genocide" against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. China's current stance also serves to reward its Muslim allies in the Middle East for their past support; Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example, have not criticized China despite its harsh treatment of the Uyghurs and other Muslims.
        Moreover, China's stance reflects its growing presence in the Middle East in recent years. China is currently involved in several large projects in the region, including a fast rail line from China to Iran, a rail line from Mecca to Medina, and an overhaul of the Suez Canal. China's prominent anti-Israeli approach is a clear manifestation of the limits of cooperation between Israel and China.
        The writer is a lecturer in Asian studies at Bar-Ilan University.  (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Has Palestinians Caught in Victimhood Mentality - David Farahi
    In 1947, India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain and 15 million people began the largest population transfer the world had ever seen. They included 2 million Hindus displaced from Sindh in southwest Pakistan. They were forced to flee their land with not much more than the clothes on their backs. But in only one or two generations, they have shed the title of refugee and are entrepreneurs and community leaders across the globe.
        Some Palestinians have chosen a path similar to the Sindhis, overcoming a perpetual victimhood mindset. I have Palestinian friends in America who fit this description. But the exemplars are the Arab Israelis, full citizens of Israel who are members of the Israeli Parliament, sit on the Israeli Supreme Court, hold chairs at major Israeli universities and hospitals and are active in all aspects of Israeli civil society.
        It is no wonder that a majority of Arab Israelis identify more with Israel than with a possible Palestinian state when polled. They chose to reject the victimhood mentality and have built prosperous lives. Unfortunately, the Palestinian majority have been blinded by morally and financially corrupt leaders, most prominently Hamas, for whom the victimhood mindset is dogma.
        Why else do so many Palestinians annually mourn the day of Israel's establishment as the Nakba ("catastrophe")? Why else do Palestinians have cities in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon which are still called "refugee camps"? Hamas literally says, "We are a nation of martyrs." What is a martyr if not the ultimate victim? For the last 16 years, Hamas has educated an entire generation of victims.
        Hamas must be removed from power so a new Palestinian leadership can emerge that works to create opportunity for a prosperous Palestinian future alongside its neighbors - a leadership that does not trumpet the label of victim, but one that glorifies growth and agency.
        The writer is an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. (Reno Gazette Journal)

Warfare Has Changed and the Israeli Security Concept Must Change with It - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • The audacity of the IDF leadership and Israel's war cabinet to deploy the IDF for an attack deep into Gaza's densely populated and fortified urban terrain, both above and below ground - with an intensity not seen before - must be recognized as an achievement of strategic significance.
  • The political and military leadership clearly understood that they were heading into a prolonged war, and they declared this to be the case from the outset. However, the public is struggling to understand why this war needs to last longer than any other war since the War of Independence.
  • The Israeli need to end wars quickly was clearly understood and effectively integrated into the perception of warfare developed by Hizbullah and Hamas, with the backing of Iran. They formulated a concept of warfare based on dense defensive lines containing obstacles and explosives, both above and below ground, in the heart of built-up areas in cities and villages. Under these conditions, a rapid advance into enemy territory becomes a very complex task.
  • Moreover, in Gaza the enemy's military force is made up of local residents. When IDF forces penetrate deep into the territory, Hamas fighters, who are locals, can easily blend into the population, ready to reemerge when opportunity strikes. This is why operations to clear Gaza or to combat Hizbullah require extensive force deployment and prolonged durations.
  • Another significant change is the jihadist religious consciousness that motivates the forces built up in the last decades to combat Israel. When the IDF faces Hamas and Hizbullah, it encounters Islamic fighters who are believers, presenting a challenge not previously recognized.
  • The IDF has not weakened since June 1967, but Israel's enemies have changed. They have evolved creatively and are much stronger. Since 1967, the world of warfare has changed completely.

    The writer, a senior research fellow at the BESA Center, served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battles with Egypt and Syria.

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