January 9, 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 Uncovers Major Hamas Rocket Factory - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Along and beneath a kilometer and a half of Salah a-Din road in Bureij, the Israel Defense Forces on Monday revealed where Hamas manufactured its long-range rockets.
    Reporters saw an underground rocket engine production lab, a warehouse where the body tubes of the projectiles were built, and a storage facility.
    Col. Or Vollozinsky said the area was "a chain of terror factories...on the main road, and under the homes of civilians."
    A dozen tunnel entrances were found in the area, along with the headquarters of Hamas' al-Bureij Battalion.
    Numerous rockets, with ranges of 120 km. (75 miles) - enough to reach all of central Israel - were found.
    Col. Yair Palai said, "You can see here the importance of the [ground] maneuver. This is something you need to reach, to enter, understand what is going on, and blow it up completely, make sure nothing is left - not a rocket that can reach Kfar Aza, and not a rocket that can reach Tel Aviv or any other place."
    See also Inside Hamas' Secret Rocket Factory - Neta Bar (Israel Hayom)
    See also Video: An Underground Hamas Chemical Lab for Weapons Production (Israel Defense Forces)

Gaza Photojournalists Shared Call to Infiltrate Israel on Oct. 7 (HonestReporting)
    Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa, a Gaza photojournalist working for Reuters, called on Gazans to cross the border into Israel on Oct. 7, after Hamas terrorists had breached it.
    He did so while excitedly displaying footage of Hamas atrocities on an Instagram Live hosted by photojournalist Ashraf Amra, who worked for AP and Reuters.
    Amra can be seen laughing and smiling while Abu Mostafa presented footage of the lynching of an Israeli soldier.
    Abu Mostafa also detailed what he saw in Sderot. He described breaking into a room where Israelis were hiding before being taken by Hamas terrorists.

Gazans Tell IDF: Hamas Steals UNRWA Food, Kills Civilians Who Ask for Aid (Jerusalem Post)
    A Gazan civilian told the IDF in a recorded call that Hamas murdered his cousin because he tried to seek help from UNRWA.
    In another conversation, a civilian said he does not leave his home because he fears Hamas will seize it and use it to fire toward Israel, which would then destroy his house.
    A different civilian said, "I work at the American organization called WKSA [The American World Kitchen], when I was preparing a dish, some of [Hamas] came. They tried to steal food from me but I prevented them. They steal from the warehouses of UNRWA."

Palestinians Fleeing Gaza Pay Thousands in Bribes - Kaamil Ahmed (Guardian-UK)
    Palestinians desperate to leave Gaza are paying bribes to brokers of up to $10,000 to help them exit through Egypt.
    Those trying to exit say they are asked to pay large "coordination fees" by brokers with alleged links to the Egyptian intelligence services.
    A network of brokers, based in Cairo, helping Palestinians leave Gaza has operated around the Rafah border for years. But prices have surged since the start of the war from $500 for each person.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
by Jerusalem Center Experts
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Is Starting to Shift to a More Targeted Gaza Campaign - Patrick Kingsley
    Israel is starting to shift from a large-scale ground and air campaign in Gaza to a more targeted phase in its war against Hamas, and Israeli officials have privately said they hoped the transition would be completed by the end of January. Still, Israeli officials have made clear to U.S. officials that the timeline is not fixed. (New York Times)
  • Israel Shifts to Deadlier Strikes on Iran-Linked Targets in Syria - Laila Bassam
    Israel is carrying out an unprecedented wave of deadly strikes in Syria targeting cargo trucks, infrastructure and people involved in Iran's weapons lifeline to its proxies in the region, sources including a Syrian military intelligence officer said. Israel seemed "no longer cautious" about inflicting heavy casualties on Hizbullah forces in Syria. The intensified air campaign has killed 19 Hizbullah members in Syria in three months. The strikes have also hit Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria.
        "They used to fire warning shots - they'd hit near the truck, our guys would get out of the truck, and then they'd hit the truck," said a commander in the regional alliance backing Damascus. "Now that's over. Israel is now unleashing deadlier, more frequent air raids against Iranian arms transfers and air defense systems in Syria. They bomb everyone directly. They bomb to kill."  (Reuters)
  • Angry New Yorkers Confront Anti-Israel Protesters
    Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters on Monday blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and Holland Tunnel for over two hours. New York City police arrested 325 people.
        Videos posted on social media show furious commuters who confronted protesters. One man confronting protesters said, "You're disrupting traffic, idiots! You can't do that, that's against the law!" Other motorists can be heard saying, "run them over!" Protesters on Saturday blocked freeway traffic in Seattle for several hours. (Algemeiner)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Six IDF Combat Engineers Killed in Explosion of Ammunition Truck - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Six of the nine Israeli soldiers killed Monday in Gaza died in the explosion of an IDF ammunition truck brought to destroy a Hamas tunnel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also 40 Hamas Terrorists Killed in Khan Yunis
    Some 40 Hamas terrorists were killed over the past 24 hours in ground battles and airstrikes, the IDF said Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Commander of Hizbullah's Radwan Special Forces Targeted in Israeli Airstrike Monday - Yaniv Kubovich
    Wissam al-Tawil, commander of Hizbullah's Radwan special forces, was killed on Monday when his car was targeted in Khirbet Selm in southern Lebanon, 15 km. north of the Israeli border. Tawil played an important role in the management of Hizbullah operations.
        Tawil was responsible for the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on July 12, 2006, that led to the Second Lebanon War. Tawil was responsible for planning an invasion of Israeli communities along the border with Lebanon. He was also responsible for the bomb which detonated in Israel near Megiddo in 2023. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Three More Hizbullah Leaders Targeted in Israeli Attack Tuesday
    Three senior members of Hizbullah were killed in an Israeli UAV attack on a vehicle in Ghandouriyeh in southern Lebanon on Tuesday morning, according to media reports. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Has Dismantled Hamas' Military Framework in Northern Gaza - Emanuel Fabian
    After three months of war, the Israel Defense Forces said Saturday evening it had completed the dismantling of Hamas' "military framework" in northern Gaza. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military was now focused on dismantling Hamas in central and southern Gaza.
        Hagari said that battles and sporadic rocket fire could still occur in northern Gaza, but the terror group's infrastructure could no longer carry out large-scale attacks. "There are no shortcuts when it comes to fighting terror. We attacked, and will continue to attack...but it takes time." He also said the IDF was building new defenses along the Gaza border to allow residents displaced since Oct. 7 to return to their homes. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • On the Lebanon Border, Israeli Soldiers Fight an Invisible Enemy - Bar Peleg
    Nearly 190 missiles have struck the city of Kiryat Shmona near the Lebanese border since the war began, on top of six drone attacks. Ten people have been wounded, one seriously. Some 21,000 people, 87% of the city's population, have been evacuated. Dozens of cars and 16 buildings, including four preschools and a high school, have been hit, in addition to heavy damage to roads and infrastructure.
        The rockets and anti-tank missiles fired by Hizbullah are dictating life in the north. In the morning, the firing focuses on the Western Galilee and communities near the border fence. In the afternoon, the fire is directed at the Kiryat Shmona area in the Galilee panhandle. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Wartime Economic Resilience - Alex Brummer
    Predictions that the Oct. 7 attacks and the war in Gaza would have a devastating impact on Israel's economy have, thus far, proved wide of the mark. No economy could be unaffected by the budgetary costs of prosecuting a long war. The call-up of 350,000 reservists, many working in key sectors such as technology, is a heavy blow that is having an impact on economic growth. Nevertheless, the national unity of purpose serves to limit the consequences of war.
        The shekel has bounced back strongly and is now worth 3% more against the dollar than on Oct. 7. Blessed with strong foreign exchange reserves, the Bank of Israel was able to make a large-scale intervention in the foreign exchange markets.
        Recent attacks by Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea are disruptive, with British oil giant BP and the container behemoth Maersk re-routing sailings. But the impact has so far been limited after a show of U.S. and British naval power.
        As investment banker Goldman Sachs notes: "Israel's economic and financial vulnerabilities are much lower today than compared to other major episodes of escalating violence." Past prudence in managing Israel's economy means that stability is not threatened. A rapid recovery of lost wartime output - once the guns are silenced - is eminently possible. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Former Israeli Defense Official: Israel Must Decrease Reliance on China - Yaakov Lappin
    Dr. Harel Manshari, one of the co-founders of the Israel Security Agency's cyber array, said recent steps by China signal that its interests lie in maintaining its strategic partnership with Iran - a major oil supplier to Beijing - at the expense of Israeli interests. Last week, Manshari wrote to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, warning that Israel must ensure that China is not in a position to paralyze its infrastructure.
        He said, "China is a strategic partner of Iran....Israel must continue to trade with China and maintain the best possible ties with it, but we must understand that they have their own interests. As a sovereign state, we can't accept the risk" of doing otherwise. While China has never been a friend of Israel, it does have an interest in trade with the Jewish state, he said.
        "Every time there is an international incident, China has voted against Israel in every United Nations and Security Council forum. Even during the peak of the Abraham Accords, China inserted anti-Israel decisions into the United Nations." Since the outbreak of the current war, "We see, clearly, more extreme conduct against Israel by China," including extreme anti-Israel rhetoric appearing on Chinese social media. (JNS)
        See also Fueling Online Antisemitism Is China's New Tool Against the West - Josh Rogin (Washington Post)

Restoring the Zionist Iron Wall - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • A hundred years ago, in the article "The Iron Wall," Ze'ev Jabotinsky laid the cornerstone for the foundations of Israel's security perception. In 1923 he identified the motivations behind Arab resistance to the Zionist enterprise in the Land of Israel and proposed a strategic approach to achieving Zionist goals.
  • First: Arab resistance and struggle against Zionism express a religious-nationalist struggle with enduring motivational roots. The idea that a positive, lasting solution to the conflict can be arrived at through suitable compensation and willing compromise has been repeatedly revealed as overly optimistic.
  • Second: The Arab struggle and adoption of terrorist methods and violence do not stem from economic hardship, poverty, and despair. Instead, it arises from the Arab hope that Zionist dominance can be consistently challenged and weakened until its ultimate demise. It is not despair that generates Arab terrorism but hope.
  • Third: In recognizing these two statements as true, the concept of the "Iron Wall" negates the Arab hope of achieving gains through incessant resistance to the Zionist Israeli presence. Jabotinsky wrote: "As long as the Arabs have even a glimmer of hope of getting rid of us, they will not give up on this hope."
  • The goal of the current war should be to restore the Zionist Iron Wall and establish it with renewed strength for the next hundred years.

    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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