January 10, 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:

U.S., UK Shoot Down 21 Houthi Missiles and Drones over Red Sea - Jon Gambrell (AP)
    The U.S. Central Command said Wednesday the U.S. and British navies downed 18 bomb-carrying drones, two cruise missiles and an anti-ship missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis, targeting shipping in the Red Sea on Tuesday.
    Their attacks are increasingly imperiling one of the world's crucial trade routes linking Asia and the Middle East to Europe.
    The threats were downed by F-18s from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as by the American destroyers USS Gravely, USS Laboon and USS Mason, and the UK's HMS Diamond.

How Iranian Tech Empowers Houthi Drone, Missile Attacks in Red Sea - Colin Demarest (C4ISRNET)
    Houthi rebels harassing crowded shipping lanes "are in possession of some of the most sophisticated copies or variants of Iranian weapons," said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
    They include unmanned aerial vehicles designed for attacks, such as the Wa'eed-2, capable of traveling more than 1,000 miles; anti-ship ballistic missiles; and unmanned surface vessels packed with explosives and dispatched for detonation.
    "Between Hizbullah and the Houthis, Iran is putting pressure on Israel from both ends, and then they've got Hamas inside of Israel providing pressure internally," said Bryan Clark, director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute.

Oil Tankers Continue Red Sea Movements despite Houthi Attacks - Georgina Mccartney (Reuters)
    Oil and fuel tanker traffic in the Red Sea was stable in December, even though many container ships have rerouted due to attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi militants, a Reuters analysis of vessel tracking data showed.
    The attacks have driven up shipping costs sharply along with insurance premiums, but have had less impact than feared on oil flows.
    Some oil companies like BP and Equinor are diverting cargoes to the longer route.
    A daily average of 76 tankers carrying oil and fuel were in the south Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in December, only two fewer than November's average.

Hizbullah Attack on Israel Air Force Base a Wake-Up Call - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Hizbullah's Jan. 6 attack on the Israel Air Force's Mt. Meron air traffic control base, likely using Iranian-supplied Kornet-EM missiles, marks a significant escalation. The Kornet-EM has a range of 6 miles.
    The attack on the base, located 5 miles from the Lebanese border, underscores Hizbullah's ability to carry out precision strikes on Israeli strategic and military targets.

13,000 Israelis, including 2,500 Soldiers, Have Been Wounded in the War Against Hamas - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Since Oct. 7, 13,000 Israelis, including more than 2,500 soldiers, have been wounded, Health Minister Uriel Bosso told the Knesset Health Committee on Monday.

The U.S. Promised Gaza Aid Wouldn't Go to Hamas - Daniel Greenfield (Gatestone Institute)
    A week after the horrors of Oct. 7, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged, "If Hamas in any way blocks humanitarian assistance from reaching civilians, including by seizing the aid itself, we'll be the first to condemn it. And we will work to prevent it from happening again."
    Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer assured that "the president was quite clear that if this assistance goes in, it cannot be misappropriated, it cannot be taken by Hamas fighters and so we are going to be watching that very closely."
    If anyone is watching, there's been plenty to see as armed Hamas fighters have hijacked aid convoys in videos taken both by the IDF and civilians in Gaza. In video after video, Hamas terrorists seize aid and assault civilians.
    Months after all the assurances from the Biden administration that the aid would not end up in the hands of Hamas, it routinely does and without a word of protest.
    A massive fortune in aid is being handed over to Hamas for distribution by nameless aid organizations that video evidence and eyewitness testimony shows is going to terrorists.

UNRWA Teachers Celebrate Hamas Massacre (UN Watch)
    A Telegram group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers in Gaza is replete with posts celebrating the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7 minutes after it began, praising the murderers and rapists as "heroes," gleefully sharing photos of dead or captured Israelis, and urging the execution of hostages.
    "This is the motherlode of UNRWA teachers' incitement to Jihadi terrorism," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Rome Jews Slam "Unacceptable Double Standards on Israel" (ANSA-Italy)
    The Jewish Community of Rome said Monday it is "appalled" at the "complicit silence and double standards that continue to pollute public statements on the war in Israel and Gaza" sparked by the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7.
    "We would have expected unequivocal statements on the horrors committed by the terrorist organization Hamas, which is still holding over 100 Jewish hostages."
    "It is scandalous to put the defensive war of a country and a people that suffered a mass anti-Semitic attack on October 7 on the same level as the meticulous Jew-hunt involving the deliberate killing of 1,200 people including children one-by-one."
    "It is double standards to demand that Israel stop and not to demand that the hostages be freed and those responsible prosecuted."
    "We will not remain silent and will continue to denounce the unacceptable cultural complicity with terrorism."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Secretary of State: None of the Suffering in Gaza Would Have Happened If Hamas Hadn't Done What It Did on Oct. 7
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday: "We continue to stand with Israel in ensuring that October 7th can never happen again....We’re intensely focused on bringing the remaining hostages home, addressing the humanitarian crisis and strengthening protection of civilians in Gaza, and preventing the conflict from spreading."
        "We believe the submission [by South Africa] against Israel to the International Court of Justice distracts the world from all of these important efforts. And moreover, the charge of genocide is meritless. It's particularly galling, given that those who are attacking Israel - Hamas, Hizbullah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter, Iran - continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews."
        "We strongly support the proposition that Israelis need to know security so that they can return to their homes in northern Israel. Eighty-thousand or so Israelis have been forced from their homes because of insecurity coming from southern Lebanon, the rocket attacks, other threats posed by Hizbullah."
        "More broadly, we have a number of actions being taken by the Houthis, by other Iranian proxies in Iraq, in Syria, that threaten stability....The threat that the Houthis are posing, that's a threat not just to us or to Israel; it's a threat to the entire international community because they've been attacking shipping through the Red Sea that provides about 15% of global commerce every day....And more broadly, it's a threat to the principle of freedom of navigation that every country has a stake in."
        "We want this war to end as soon as possible. There's been far too much loss of life, far too much suffering. But it's vital that Israel achieve its very legitimate objectives of ensuring that October 7th can never happen again, and we believe they've made considerable progress toward that goal."
        "Hamas could have ended this on October 8th by not hiding behind civilians, by putting down its weapons, by surrendering, by releasing the hostages. None of the suffering would have happened if Hamas hadn't done what it did on October 7th....So it's very important to keep that in perspective."  (U.S. State Department)
  • UN Experts Say Oct. 7 Assaults on Israelis Could Be Crimes Against Humanity - Talya Minsberg
    Violence that included sexual atrocities committed during the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 in Israel amounts to war crimes and may also be crimes against humanity, UN human rights experts Alice Jill Edwards, a special rapporteur on torture, and Morris Tidball-Binz, a special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said on Monday. They called for "full accountability" for the multitude of crimes.
        "These acts constitute gross violations of international law, amounting to war crimes which, given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks, may also qualify as crimes against humanity. There are no circumstances that justify their perpetration."  (New York Times)
  • Former UK Attorney General: South Africa's Israel Genocide Claim Has No Legal Merit - Lee Harpin
    Former UK Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis told the House of Commons on Monday that "South Africa is geopolitically moving towards Iran and openly supports Hamas. Indeed, its Foreign Secretary said that Israel does not even have the right to defend itself....South Africa's case at The Hague has no legal merit whatsoever. Israel's actions are in lawful self-defense. The case is a dangerous political stunt that the United States has already criticized."  (Jewish News-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Tells U.S. IDF to Intensify Operations in Southern Gaza until Hamas Leaders Found
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and "emphasized that operations in the region of Khan Yunis will intensify and continue until Hamas leadership is detected, and Israeli hostages return home safely," said a readout of the meeting. Gallant noted Israel's "changes in combat tactics" in northern Gaza, where the military has scaled back some of the fighting due to operational control.
        "An increase in the pressure placed on Iran is critical, and may prevent regional escalation in additional arenas," Gallant told Blinken. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Targets Hamas Official in Syria Responsible for Firing Rockets at Israel - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF says it has eliminated Hassan Akasha, a Hamas official in Syria responsible for launching rockets at Israel in recent weeks. He was killed in the southern Syrian town of Beit Jinn. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Targets Hizbullah's Drone Chief in Southern Lebanon - Emanuel Fabian
    Ali Hussein Barji, the commander of Hizbullah's drone forces in southern Lebanon, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday on a car in Khirbet Selm. He was responsible for dozens of drone attacks on northern Israel in recent months, including a strike on IDF Northern Command headquarters in Safed on Tuesday. (Times of Israel)
  • Mothers of Soldiers Protest U.S. Interference in IDF Efforts
    Mothers of IDF soldiers in Gaza demonstrated as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv for the fourth time since the Israel-Hamas War began. They called on the U.S. government not to stop Israel from fighting, not to stop arming Israel, and not to tie the hands of the IDF. The Mothers of Combat Soldiers Foundation unfurled huge signs that said: "Let our children fight as you would let your children fight."
        "If your children were in the war in Gaza today, you would not supply the enemy with gas and supplies. You would not put your child at risk in a dangerous ground mission," the demonstrating mothers said. "The lives of our soldiers come before the lives of the enemy....Let our soldiers fight, win, and restore security to all the residents of the State of Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • South Africa's Genocide Accusation Against Israel Is a Cynical Abuse of the ICJ - Amb. Alan Baker
    The very term "genocide" was coined in 1944 by a Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin, to describe the Nazi atrocities against the Jews during the Holocaust in Europe. This term was ultimately coopted into international law in 1948 in the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
        The present armed conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out as a result of a repeated and declared intention, as well as a distinct series of actions, by Hamas to annihilate not only Israel and its population, but to direct its murderous designs against Jews wherever they are.
        Why has no country or international organization sought to apply the criteria inherent in the genocide allegation to the designs and actions of the Palestinian leadership, including Hamas, both of whom are formally committed to "armed resistance against Israel and to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel's place"?
        The criminal component of the Genocide Convention is based entirely on one very central tenet requiring a distinct intention to commit genocide. The South African complaint attributes to Israel a broad and clearly false 75-year genocidal intention to destroy the Palestinians.
        However, Israel has, throughout its history, consistently sought to achieve peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, including the Palestinians. This is borne out by the many agreements reached, including the 1978 Camp David Accords and the 1991-1993 Madrid process that led to the 1995 Oslo Accords.
        South Africa is in fact cynically ignoring Israel's inherent and legally justified prerogative and international right to defend itself and its population against terror through removing Hamas' terror capabilities, weaponry, fortifications, and ammunition. To claim that Israel's actions to combat terror constitute the crime of genocide is clearly absurd to the point of being frivolous. No logical and serious analysis of the conflict could indicate any genocidal intention on the part of Israel.
        The writer, former legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry, has been involved in issues relating to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. He heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Palestinian Authority's "Pay-for-Slay" Program Must End - Stuart Force
    Congress enacted the Taylor Force Act in 2018, mandating that the U.S. withhold financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends its payments for terrorist attacks. The law was named after our son, Taylor, who was stabbed to death on March 8, 2016, on the boardwalk in Jaffa, Israel, by a Palestinian.
        To watch President Biden and his administration violate the law and resume payments of millions of taxpayer dollars to terrorists is devastating to our family. It is also a slap in the face to the many who supported the Taylor Force Act. Payments to PA-controlled nongovernmental organizations or to the anti-Israel UN refugee agency UNRWA results in money being diverted to fund terrorism.
        "Pay for slay" must end, the flow of U.S. dollars must stop, and any discussion of the Palestinian Authority's role in Gaza after the war against Hamas must cease as well. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Enemy Has Convinced Most Israelis that They Genuinely Want to Murder Us All - Oliver Wiseman
    Haviv Rettig Gur, senior analyst at the Times of Israel, described to me a country clear-eyed about what its objectives are in this war, determined to finish the job, and unlikely to be swayed by outside pressure. He said President Biden understood on day one that he did not have the option to prevent the war.
        Biden had to choose between a big, multifront war in which Israel feels very vulnerable and fights much more ferociously, or giving Israel a bear hug to make it feel safe and allowed to fight carefully and slowly. He did the latter. Joe Biden saved a lot of Palestinian lives. He also saved a lot of Israeli lives, in embracing Israel. If the Democratic Party's left wing had been in charge, this war would be twice as bad for Palestinians.
        On Oct. 7, Israelis woke up to the idea that we had completely misunderstood the enemy, their threats, and this immense noose that Iran has built around us. Israel's security situation is better, not worse, now because we now know how bad it is. There is a willingness to fight this war to the end, whatever it takes. The enemy has convinced most ordinary Israelis that they genuinely want to murder us all.
        If the Israeli public doesn't have a government that gets rid of Hamas, it will replace it with one that does. Israel will get rid of Hamas. Hamas' only choice is the price Israelis and Palestinians are going to pay for that to happen. (Free Press)
  • Escalation in North Proves Hizbullah Should Be Moved Far from the Border - Ron Ben Yishai
    There has been a noticeable escalation in the fighting along Israel's northern border. Hizbullah is attempting to target strategic military objectives in Israel, while the IDF is focusing on hitting key Hizbullah facilities and military positions. This situation should make it clear that Israel must demand the removal of Hizbullah's Radwan special forces not only from their current positions close to the border but well beyond that.
        Hizbullah's modern and precise weaponry provided by Iran requires Israel to demand the disarmament of most of the region south of Bint Jbeil of UAVs, cruise missiles, and anti-aircraft missiles. If Hizbullah maintains a military presence in southern Lebanon, this will allow it to surprise and attack Israeli communities and targets almost without warning. (Ynet News)
  • Anti-Israel Activists Are Holding Innocent People Hostage - Adam B. Coleman
    During Monday morning rush hour, anti-Israel activists decided to disregard the livelihoods and concerns of New Yorkers and commuters by simultaneously blocking traffic at tunnels and bridges. There are fewer individuals more scummy than those who believe they must disrupt the lives of others, even placing people in harm's way, to achieve their desired political outcome.
        They rationalize their behavior by claiming it's for a good cause, but causes that are worth advocating for don't require holding innocent people hostage: This is a conscious choice made by narcissistic terrorists. Worse, the decision to take us all hostage only accomplishes feeding our attention-seeking captors' egos because it doesn't come close to remedying the problem.
        This shouldn't be happening here. But this activist strategy - creating vehicular hostages by blocking traffic - has gained traction throughout the U.S. The demonstrators cannot answer how keeping you from making it to your job on time will save a life in Gaza, because it won't. Yet if you complain about someone robbing you of your freedom of movement, you're somehow the bad guy.
        Terrorism is defined as the unlawful use of coercion against a civilian population or government to further political, social or ideological objectives - and what is happening across America fits this definition. America's policy is that we do not negotiate with terrorists, and we shouldn't start now. (New York Post)
        See also Prosecute the New York Bridge Blockers - Nicole Gelinas
    Protests on all sides of any issue are a fact of urban life. But protesters are not free to obstruct movement; the First Amendment protects only speech and assembly, not unlawful obstruction of roads, transit, or sidewalks. Yet to avoid excessive-force charges, police now refuse to stop people from blocking roadways, entrance ramps, and major transit centers, instead arresting them only after they've blocked a target, have finished with their planned action, and surrender themselves.
        With such leniency, it only takes a few hundred, or perhaps even a few dozen, people coordinated on social media to inconvenience the rest of us. Police could do nothing but observe them carry out their plan, then briefly detain them to write up low-level charges. If the "shut it down" crowd keeps facing no consequences, they'll keep on shutting it down - and untrammeled low-level lawbreaking will soon become a higher-level problem.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. (City Journal)
  • The Dissonance of Being Israeli - Herb Keinon
    On Tuesday morning the country woke up to the crushing news of more fallen soldiers in Gaza. Nine soldiers were killed in one horrible day. As if that were not enough, the British Daily Mail published "before and after" photos of four Israeli teenaged girls in Hamas captivity. Their bloody, beaten faces taken from a Hamas propaganda video filmed a few hours after they were kidnapped on Oct. 7. At the same time, more rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel with the intent to murder and maim.
        On Thursday, Israel will be dragged to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, accused of committing genocide, and not Hamas, a brutal terrorist organization that has the destruction of Israel as the cardinal tenet of its founding charter and which started the war by attacking us, killing 1,200 people and destroying entire communities.
        Therein lies the dissonance between what Israelis are feeling and the perspective from the outside. Israelis, traumatized and embattled, feel that they are fighting a quintessential war of no choice, one of - if not the most - just and justifiable wars the country has ever fought. It's as if part of the world's moral compass has gone haywire, as if we live in parallel universes.
        This dissonance would, indeed, be unbearable were it not for the sense of justice that most Israelis feel in their country waging this war and the way it is waging this war, regardless of what judges at the ICJ from those beacons-of-light countries such as Russia, China, Somalia, Lebanon, and South Africa may determine. (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Must Not Remain the Dominant Power in Gaza - Meir Ben Shabbat (Israel Hayom)
  • There are no good options in a postwar Gaza. Policymakers will have to adopt a realistic approach toward the monstrous entity sitting on the other side of the Gaza border, which has dug its claws deep into all aspects of life and layers of the population. It must be assumed that it is not readily possible to generate any profound cultural change - at least in this generation.
  • With an extremely high percentage of support for Hamas, as long as a strong, organized, and armed core remains in Gaza, it will clearly continue to be the dominant power there, whatever the identity of the entity that is officially charged with running civil affairs there.
  • Therefore, it is imperative to conclude this war with a decisive victory and on terms that will prevent the terrorist organization's renewed growth. The demilitarization of Gaza and Israel's freedom of action there is a basic underlying condition for any future state of affairs.
  • It is important to be extremely cautious of a puppet government that will simply become a tool to be exploited by Hamas. Hamas' power among the Gazan population, which pervades all aspects of life, and its military strength will not allow any other entity to bypass it. Any player who decides not to cooperate with Hamas will be regarded by large swathes of the local population as illegitimate.
  • Israel will have to ensure the following:
    • Security for the Israeli communities located along the border with Gaza.
    • Prevention of acts of terrorism and military attacks.
    • Preventing any military armament, smuggling, or manufacture of weapons.
    • Preventing any military frameworks or exercises.
    • Preventing Hamas' return to power.

    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.

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