January 8, 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:

Is Israel Winning the War in Gaza? - Hussain Abdul-Hussain (Daily Beast)
    Iranian and Arab pundits seem to have reached a consensus that Israel is not winning in Gaza.
    But while Israel cannot claim a conclusive victory yet, trends suggest the Jewish state is beating its enemies.
    Israel has been killing top Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hamas, and Hizbullah officers at a rapid pace. Two weeks ago Israel targeted the IRGC's Syria viceroy, Razi Mousavi, and six days later an Israeli airstrike killed 11 top IRGC officers.
    In Gaza, Israel has eliminated at least a dozen senior Hamas leaders, as well as Hamas number two Saleh Al-Arouri in Beirut.
    Moreover, since Hizbullah joined the war on Israel on Oct. 8, Israel has killed at least 150 fighters of Hizbullah's Radwan special forces.
    Since Israel's ground operation began on Oct. 30, it has lost 170 soldiers, while the IDF estimates it has killed upwards of 8,000 Hamas fighters. The trends are unmistakable.
    The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

How Hamas Changed Israel's Security Doctrine - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Few thought that Israel would still be on full war footing three months after Oct. 7, with no clear end in sight.
    However, this is not a sign of failure. Instead, it is a sign of trying to defeat a well-entrenched enemy - one indifferent to the plight and well-being of their own people - while trying to spare the lives of the kidnapped hostages and IDF soldiers, minimize civilian casualties on the other side, and retain international legitimacy.
    Few would have imagined that Israel would have been able to continue its war in Gaza at a very high level of intensity for three months without the world stepping in and imposing a ceasefire.
    When the war began, there was much talk about how the diplomatic clock was ticking. Yet the savagery of the Hamas attacks, coupled with an understanding at least at the governmental level in the U.S., Britain, and Germany, has given Israel the time it needs to methodically dismantle Hamas' military capabilities inside Gaza.
    In recent years, Israel's security doctrine has been a passive one based on deterrence, the idea being that Israel could live with ideologies on its borders preaching Israel's destruction out of a belief that these organizations would never act on their ideology, knowing full well that if they did, they would incur the substantial wrath of the Israeli army.
    Hamas proved this assumption false, showing on Oct. 7 that it was in no way deterred by Israel. This has led to a change in Israel's security doctrine.
    Israel is no longer willing to tolerate bloodthirsty terrorist organizations with significant military capabilities living within spitting distance of its civilian communities.
    This is also clear in Israel's policy now toward Hizbullah.

Head Nurse at Soroka Medical Center Recalls Oct. 7 Horrors - Sarit Rosenblum (Ynet News)
    Tal Hayun, 46, head nurse at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, recalls the haunting images from Oct. 7:
    "Within a few hours, we were faced with an unbelievable number of organs that had to be amputated in the operating rooms."
    "These organs had arrived almost completely severed or were injured when the wounded individuals lay in the field for hours with blocked arteries."
    "The medical trolleys, which are typically used for transporting equipment, quickly became filled with hands and legs."
    After seeing the alarming messages on that Saturday morning, "it became clear that it was time for me to report to work.... Suddenly, hundreds of wounded individuals arrived, including both uniformed soldiers and civilians."
    For two days, the operating rooms operated non-stop. "Everyone worked together and no one wanted to leave. As the night approached, around 11 or 12 o'clock, the influx of the wounded to the emergency room subsided, but the operating rooms continued to function."
    "We received the most severely injured patients, unrecognizable and unidentified, covered in soot, sedated and connected to ventilators."
    "Among all of them, there is one soldier that stands out in my memory....On his stretcher, there was a phone that incessantly rang. The screen read 'Mom.'...Should I answer the call?...How do you console a mother desperately seeking her child?...I didn't answer."
    "For me, Oct. 7 is an ongoing reality. Every day, more helicopters touch down and more wounded are brought in."
    "My hope is that one day we can return to focusing on healing the sick, rather than treating the wounded."

To My College Peers Calling for Intifada - Fayga Tziporah Pinczower (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    Dear "social justice warriors" who are so quick to condemn Israel. Your demonic defense of terror has clarified any confusion.
    Murder, rape, beheading and kidnapping are evil, you say - unless it's done to Jews. Then it's "acceptable in the proper context."
    As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I knew evil existed but I never understood who could tolerate it. I now know Nazi sympathy did not die, it is very much alive in you.
    Make no mistake, the Jewish people and their allies know how this will end. The Jews have survived Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Germany. Hamas will be no different.
    It is my fervent wish that this revelation of complete moral bankruptcy on college campuses will awaken the nation.
    The writer is a student at Yeshiva University.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • From Lebanon to the Red Sea, a Broader Conflict with Iran Looms - David E. Sanger
    American and Israeli officials, and a dozen countries working in concert to keep commerce flowing in the Red Sea, are confronting a newly aggressive Iran. Meanwhile, the Iranian nuclear program has suddenly been put on steroids. International inspectors announced in late December that Iran initiated a threefold increase in its enrichment of near-bomb-grade uranium. By most rough estimates, Iran now has the fuel for at least three atomic weapons.
        American and European intelligence officials say the Iranians seem more than willing to push the envelope, enabling attacks, coordinating targeting of American bases and ships carrying goods and fuel, and walking to the edge, again, of nuclear weapons capability. There is also the problem of the dramatically widening scope of Iran's aid to Russia.
        "Iran is active on all the borders, resistant to any sort of change from within, while enriching uranium at very alarming levels," said Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.
        American intelligence officials say Iran did not instigate or approve the Hamas attack in Israel and probably was not even told about it. Hamas may have feared that word of the attack would leak from Iran, given how deeply Israeli and Western intelligence have penetrated the country. But as soon as the war against Hamas began, Iran's proxy forces went on the attack. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Defense Minister: "Iran Is Building Up Military Power around Israel in Order to Use It" - Gordon Fairclough
    Israel's defense minister, Yoav Gallant, says the scale and severity of the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas profoundly altered the way Israelis view the world around them. The gravity of the threat, Gallant says, underlies the ferocity of Israel's response and its determination not only to destroy Iran-backed Hamas, but to act with enough force to deter other potential adversaries allied with Tehran, including Hizbullah in neighboring Lebanon.
        "My basic view: We are fighting an axis, not a single enemy," Gallant said. "Iran is building up military power around Israel in order to use it." He cautioned that the next chapter in the conflict "will last for a longer time" and stressed that Israel wouldn't abandon its goals of destroying Hamas as a fighting force, ending its control of Gaza, and freeing the remaining hostages. "Should Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran be allowed to decide how we live our lives here in Israel? This is something we don't accept."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Presses Egypt to Better Secure Border Against Hamas Smugglers - Summer Said
    Israel and Egypt are negotiating the future of the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and Gaza that has been used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and people through underground tunnels and is key to destroying the militant group. Israel has requested that sensors be installed along the corridor, according to senior Egyptian officials, to alert Israel in case Hamas attempts to rebuild its tunnel and smuggling network after the war.
        "It's clear that the Egyptians failed to stop the flow of munitions and weapons into Gaza in the past 18 years; they can't deny it," said Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Intensive Fighting Continues in Gaza - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF reported intensive fighting in Gaza on Sunday. Troops of the Maglan commando unit spotted more than 10 Hamas operatives at a rocket launching site in Khan Yunis and directed a drone strike against them. Also in Khan Yunis, troops of the 55th Reserve Paratroops Brigade identified a Hamas operative "collecting intelligence on the force." An attack helicopter struck the operative within minutes.
        In central Gaza, reservists of the 179th Armored Brigade located a tunnel shaft and found in it thousands of dollars and weapons. In the Maghazi area of central Gaza, Golani troops directed an airstrike on a Hamas weapons depot where long-range rockets were stored. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Demolishes Secret Iranian Underground Rocket Factory in Gaza - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF announced Sunday that it had uncovered an underground rocket production base concealed in a tunnel in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City that turned "low-tech" rockets into precision missiles. Iranian training manuals were found, as well as "development and production components" of this precision capability. (Ynet News)
  • 3 Palestinians Arrested for Sunday's West Bank Shooting - Emanuel Fabian
    The Israel Police's Yamam counter-terrorism unit has arrested three Palestinians involved in a deadly terror shooting attack in the West Bank Sunday. Amar Mansour, 33, a father of two from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, was killed, and a Palestinian woman, 42, a pharmacist at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center, was seriously wounded in the attack. (Times of Israel)
  • Journalists Working for Al Jazeera Killed in Vehicle with Palestinian Terrorist Operating a Drone - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Sunday that a military aircraft in Gaza "identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft in a way that put IDF forces at risk" in Rafah. The IDF said it was aware of "the claim that during the strike two other suspects who were with the terrorist in the same vehicle were hit." The two were Hamza Wael Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh, and Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer for AFP. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Invasion-Mass Murder Strategy of Hamas and Hizbullah - Dr. Dan Diker
    Hamas' strategy of invasion, massacre, kidnapping, and deception under cover of massive rocket attacks mirrors Hizbullah's strategy toward Israel's north. Hizbullah's Radwan forces prepared a similar ground invasion plan to capture Israel's northern towns and cities, including Kiryat Shmona, Metula, and Nahariya.
        UN Security Council Resolution 1701 required a Hizbullah pullback 20 km. north of Israel's border beyond the Litani River to create a buffer zone that would have prevented the current stark reality of more than 100,000 Israelis evacuated from their homes in northern Israel. Unfortunately, UNIFIL (United Nations International Forces in Lebanon) failed to enforce the UN's internationally-guaranteed resolution.
        As the hidden hand of Iran continues to challenge Israel's existence and the stability of the entire region, Israel must change its communication strategy to increase regional and international awareness of the dangers of the Iranian axis of radical Islamic terror - in the media and on the diplomatic and human rights battlefields.
        The writer is President of the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • To Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: First Confront Iran - Sander Gerber and Robert Wexler
    Peace in the Middle East will never come about until diplomats and politicians address the real reason why the region remains in chaos: the destabilizing role Iran and its proxies play. Iran trained and funded Hamas with the mission to refocus global attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's time for the world to confront what - and who - is behind this crisis.
        To counter the growing unity of Iran's allies, the U.S. should build a coalition of Western and Arab partners to support using economic and military pressure against Iran and its proxies with zero-tolerance for their attacks. American foreign policy must express unequivocal opposition to Islamist extremism in all its forms.
        Putting the current Palestinian Authority back in charge of Gaza is risky. Congress, in passing the Taylor Force Act, found that the PA rewards terror through their "Pay for Slay" program, and even compensates the Hamas killers. The first step towards a revamped PA must be the elimination of "Pay for Slay," replaced by a Palestinian welfare system based on economic factors, not rewards for terrorist acts against Israel.
        The only hope for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies through building a coalition to neutralize Iran and its dedicated obstruction of a solution.
        The writers are members of the U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership for Peace Act advisory board. Sander Gerber is a fellow and steering committee member of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Robert Wexler, a former congressman (D-Fla.), is president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.  (The Hill)
  • Hamas Did Not Attack Israel due to Economic Hardship - Amir Taheri
    What turned Gaza into the hell-hole it has become wasn't economic hardship. In the first two quarters of 2023, the Gaza economy grew by 4% while that of the West Bank remained almost static.
        Thanks to generous donations by UNRWA, the EU, Qatar, the PA, repatriated income by 100,000 Gazans working abroad, including 25,000 working in Israel, and customs revenue from Israeli governments, Gaza had 36 hospitals and 3,500 hospital beds, figures that are per capita higher than those of Egypt and Jordan.
        Thanks to international aid and donations by wealthy Palestinians in Europe and the Americas, Gaza ranked ahead of Iran in percentage of GDP allocated to health and education. At the same time, Hamas did not need to fund its military and the tunnels it dug through taxation, as Tehran covered much of the cost.
        The writer was executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Trust Me, You'd Rather Live in a Pro-Israel America - Gil Troy
    Anti-Israel Americans harassed holiday revelers from coast-to-coast, in shopping malls, at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony, when the ball dropped in Times Square, or when they were trying to reach JFK airport or LAX airport during Christmas week. These "activists" placed bloody handprints on the White House gates and smeared red paint on the Lincoln Memorial's plaza. They think it's legitimate to disrupt business in the Capitol Rotunda and at the Democratic National Committee.
        The anti-Israel Americans' notion of national security includes having the U.S. absorb more than 100 rocket attacks from Iranian proxies without counterattacking the launching pads or the source of the evil, the Iranian mullahs. And as for international shipping, they'd let the Houthis reign. Pro-Israel Americans understand that this harassment from third-rate militias must end, immediately.
        Anti-Israeli Americans find terrorism "exhilarating." They cheer Hamas' mass rapists, maimers, kidnappers, killers, who torture the old, the young, the vulnerable. Their America is one where thugs on the streets and on campuses harass fellow Americans who disagree with them or don't join their cause. Anti-Israel America is an America lost, adrift, with no moral compass, unwilling to stand up for democratic principles, American patriotism, or national pride.
        Transcending partisanship, the Israel question is about right and wrong. President Joe Biden represents the Democrats' traditional pro-Israel majority and has worked with Republicans, who overwhelmingly support Israel. In short, bipartisan support for Israel continues - defying the headlines.
        The same Harvard/CAPS/Harris poll that said 50% of young Americans support Hamas also reported that 84% of Americans recognize Oct. 7 as a "terrorist attack." 81% support Israel over Hamas, and 69% recognize that "Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties" in Gaza - despite the daily media exaggerations caricaturing Israel's self-defense campaign as unprecedentedly brutal.
        The writer, an American presidential historian, is a Senior Fellow in Zionist Thought at the Jewish People Policy Institute. (Newsweek)
  • Israel Has Woken Up to Islamist Terror, while the West Remains Asleep - Zoe Strimpel
    A month or so ago I visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza in Israel, a few miles from Gaza, and one of the dozens of locations where Hamas went door-to-door executing families and young people. It is an eerie scene, frozen on Saturday, 7 October. There are bikes unlocked on terraces; wind chimes, barbecues, sun loungers, flowers - gathering dust and dirt as time passes and the residents don't return, in many cases because they're dead.
        "We are dealing with the sons of the devil himself. We were asleep. Now we are awake," said the soft-spoken husband of a woman whose two younger brothers are still held hostage, dead or alive, in Gaza. "But you in the West, you are still blind, still asleep. When will you wake up? Your October 7 could be any day - it will be any day. You need to act now." As an Israeli old friend put it, "Once they're finished with us, what then? They'll come for you."
        We must get real, and fast - and Israelis are clear about how. We must stop indulging Iran and begin frightening it. We must cut all aid money to Gaza. We need to get real about aid organizations which seem to have been too soft on Hamas. And above all, we must allow Israel to continue its military operations.
        The vast majority of Israelis regret all harm to civilians. They also see that to get their loved ones back and, after that, to remake an Israel that its citizens feel safe in, there is only one proper outcome. "Hamas must be on its knees and beg us to stop. I don't see any other way to get them back," said a cousin of Shiri Bibas, whose two red-headed sons, including her baby who should turn one this month, are still somewhere in Gaza.
        Israelis do not like or want war; thousands of their children and siblings and parents have to put their lives on the line every time Israel goes into combat. But they know there is a large amount of dangerous, courageous and uncompromising work to be done before platitudes about living in peace can mean anything ever again. (Daily Telegraph-UK)

The Morality of IDF Maneuvers in Gaza - Col. Richard Kemp (JNS)
  • The IDF is facing one of the most difficult and complex combat environments any armed forces have ever had to deal with. Most of Hamas' forms of operation directly and intentionally contravene the laws of armed conflict.
  • Hamas has constructed an extensive network of underground tunnels which add exponentially to the challenges. I am not aware of any comparable purposely-built underground complex that any armed forces have had to tackle in any other conflict.
  • Hamas and its fellow Gaza terrorists have, over several years, been preparing the territory with weapons and ammo caches, booby traps, mines, kill zones, and ambush and sniper positions.
  • They have an armory that includes sophisticated ground combat systems including thermobaric anti-armor missiles, explosively formed penetrator IEDs, long-range sniper rifles, explosive suicide vests, remote detonation equipment, attack drones, surveillance drones and ground-mounted surveillance cameras. In addition, they have positioned a vast array of mobile rocket launchers that continue to attack Israel's civilian population.
  • It is a standard Hamas tactic for terrorists to move unarmed, in civilian clothing, among the civilian population, collecting weapons stashed in civilian buildings and then carrying out attacks against IDF troops. In addition, Hamas is holding a large number of hostages in Gaza, which adds significant complications as the IDF seeks to rescue them and to avoid inadvertently killing them.
  • In my opinion, the IDF has taken all reasonable measures to achieve its mission while minimizing harm to the civilian population and maximizing humanitarian relief. Nor are Israel's military objectives optional or negotiable.
  • To eliminate the potential for a recurrence of another Oct. 7-like massacre, which Hamas leaders have repeatedly threatened, Hamas' fighting capabilities must be destroyed; its ability to continue firing lethal rockets into the Israeli population must be denied; and every possible effort must be made to rescue the hostages.

    The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA.

Daily Alert is published Sunday through Friday during the war.
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