CIA Providing Intelligence to Israel on Hamas Leaders, Gaza Hostages
- Julian E. Barnes (New York Times
The CIA is collecting information on senior Hamas leaders and the location of hostages in Gaza, and is providing that intelligence to Israel, according to U.S. officials.
A new task force assembled in the days after the Hamas-led Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel has uncovered information on Hamas' top leaders.
Before the attack, Hamas was a level-four priority; it is now a level-two priority.
Yahya Sinwar, believed to be an architect of the Oct. 7 attack, is believed to be hiding in the deepest part of the tunnel network under Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, according to U.S. officials.
He is believed to be surrounded by Israeli hostages and using them as human shields.
American special operations forces, which were in Israel for training exercises before Oct. 7, have remained there to work on the hostage issue.
The FBI and Justice Department have also stepped up their efforts against Hamas by investigating Americans sending money to the group.
Hamas Planned to Attack Israeli Civilians Worldwide
- Yuval Barnea (Jerusalem Post
Hamas has been working with criminal elements to procure drones for planned attacks on Israeli, Jewish, and Western targets across Europe and the Middle East, as ordered by the senior Hamas leadership.
In December, the security services and police in Denmark and Germany announced the arrest of an extensive network of Hamas operatives.
Further arrests came last week in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Targets included the Israeli embassy in Sweden.
Netanyahu: Tax Revenue Money Has Been Transferred to the PA: "It Is Sitting in Their Bank Account"
- Sam Sokol (Times of Israel
Responding to claims that Israel is blocking the transfer of tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, preventing the payment of salaries to members of the PA security services, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Saturday night that much of the money had in fact been transferred to the PA: "It is sitting in their bank account."
The PA has not withdrawn it, however, "because they insist that we give money to people in Gaza, and we don't want to give money to people who helped or could help Hamas in the murders it carried out or will carry out. So we don't give that money."
Seeking Cash, Hamas Turns to Allies Experienced in "Financial Jihad"
- Joby Warrick (Washington Post
Three days after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal urged supporters worldwide to give "aid, money and all that you have."
Within days, a torrent of cash began pouring into accounts set up to help Gazans.
Across the Middle East and Europe, the Gaza conflict re-energized old fundraising networks with ties to militant Islamist groups and causes.
Some of the money was ultimately deposited in Hamas-controlled accounts.
"It's very easy for someone to put up a website with a photo of an injured baby," said Matthew Levitt, a former Treasury Department counterterrorism official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "This is a real opportunity if you're a Hamas fundraiser."
Israeli officials say Hamas uses some of the money to pay the salaries of its fighters and to finance political and influence operations abroad.
In the future, they say, surviving Hamas leaders could use the funds to replenish the group's stockpile of rockets.
How Pro-Hamas Rhetoric Infected U.S. High Schools
- Gary Newman (New York Post
A false version of history is being taught in American high schools, by American teachers, using American textbooks. It is pervasive and has been going on for decades. Here are examples:
World History: Patterns of Interaction
(2009): "While the United Nations granted the Palestinians their own homeland, the Israelis seized most of that land, including the West Bank and Gaza, during its various wars."
This is false. In 1948 the UN partitioned Palestine according to UN Resolution 181 between Arabs and Jews.
"Because the Qur'an forbade forced conversion, Muslims allowed conquered peoples to follow their own religion."
This is false. Forced conversions were routine. The only other choices were exile, death, or a heavy tax.
"Based on the teachings of Jesus and a belief in one God - monotheism - Christianity began in Palestine about AD 30."
This is an attempt to associate the birth of Christianity with Palestine when Palestine did not exist.
Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
by Jerusalem Center Experts
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- U.S. Strikes Against Houthis in Yemen for Second Day - Vivian Nereim
The U.S. carried out another strike against the Houthi militia in Yemen, the U.S. Central Command said on Friday. The USS Carney, using Tomahawk missiles, bombed a radar facility as part of an effort to further degrade the Iran-backed group's ability to attack ships transiting the Red Sea.
U.S. and British forces earlier hit more than 60 targets in 16 locations with more than 100 precision-guided munitions in the first wave of strikes, said Lt.-Gen. Douglas Sims, director of the U.S. military's Joint Staff. A second wave hit dozens more targets in 12 additional locations with more than 50 weapons.
White House spokesman John Kirby said Friday: "We're not interested in a war with Yemen - we're not interested in a conflict of any kind. In fact, everything the president has been doing has been trying to prevent any escalation of conflict, including the strikes last night." He said everything the U.S. hit was a "valid, legitimate military target." (New York Times)
See also Much of Houthis' Offensive Capability Remains Intact after U.S.-Led Airstrikes - Eric Schmitt
The U.S.-led airstrikes on Thursday and Friday against sites in Yemen controlled by the Houthi militia damaged or destroyed about 90% of the targets struck, but the group retained 3/4 of its ability to fire missiles and drones at ships transiting the Red Sea, two U.S. officials said on Saturday. Much of the Houthis' offensive capability is mounted on mobile platforms and can be readily moved or hidden.
(New York Times)
- Israel Rebuts Genocide Accusation at International Court of Justice - Jess Bravin
Israel denounced South Africa's claim that it is committing genocide against Palestinians, telling the International Court of Justice on Friday that it was outrageous to liken the Jewish state's military response to Hamas attacks launched from Gaza to Nazi Germany's systematic extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
Tal Becker, chief lawyer of Israel's Foreign Ministry, said South Africa's recitation of the destruction in Gaza ignored that Hamas provoked the war, continues to attack Israel, and locates its personnel and armaments in civilian facilities.
"The absurd upshot of South Africa's argument is this: Under the guise of the allegation against Israel of genocide, this court is asked to call for an end to operations against the ongoing attacks of an organization that pursues an actual genocidal agenda," he said, citing Hamas' dedication to killing Jews and eliminating Israel.
"Israel seeks neither to permanently occupy Gaza or to displace its civilian population. It wants to create a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike, where both can live in peace, thrive and prosper, and where the Palestinian people have all the power to govern themselves, but not the capacity to threaten Israel." (Wall Street Journal)
See also Full Text: Israel's Response to International Court of Justice
Israel Foreign Ministry legal adviser Tal Becker's opening address to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, on January 12, 2024.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Three Palestinian Terrorists Killed inside Israel Community in Judea - Hagar Shezaf
Three Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the Israeli community of Adora, west of Hebron, on Friday night, armed with an M-16 rifle, an axe, knives and firebombs. Security cameras caught the three entering through a breach in a fence. They were killed in an exchange of fire with the IDF. One Israeli reserve soldier, 34, was injured.
- IDF Eliminates Four Terrorists Infiltrating from Lebanon - Emanuel Fabian
Four gunmen who infiltrated into Israeli territory from Lebanon in the Mount Dov region before dawn on Sunday in heavy fog were killed by Israeli troops.
On Saturday, the IDF carried out a wave of airstrikes on Hizbullah positions in southern Lebanon in response to attacks on the border. On Friday night, the IDF struck three terror cells in southern Lebanon which were preparing to carry out attacks on northern Israel. (Times of Israel)
- IDF Destroys Multiple Rocket Launching Sites in Gaza - Emanuel Fabian
Reserve Paratroopers operating in the area of Al-Muharraqa in central Gaza on Friday located two Hamas rocket launching sites, with projectiles prepared for immediate launch. Video footage shared by the IDF shows the launchers being destroyed, with at least one rocket flying out a short distance due to the blast. In northern Gaza, troops destroyed a number of rocket launching positions in the al-Atatra neighborhood of Beit Lahiya.
(Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
- It's in the U.S.' Interest to Let Israel Get the Job Done in Gaza - Meir Ben Shabbat
The Biden administration understands full well the importance of achieving a resounding victory over Hamas in Gaza. However, it has been asking many things from Israel, and by doing so it has only prolonged the path to victory.
Washington has been pressuring Israel to scale back the fighting, and significantly increase the scope of humanitarian aid, knowing that most of it reaches Hamas. All this only exacerbates the operational challenges facing our forces, while providing hope for Hamas. The U.S. demands also make it harder to secure the release of the captives by alleviating pressure on Hamas.
One cannot wish away Hamas' tunnels. Likewise, its many arms and the large military force that remains will not simply disappear. Even if it takes a long time to achieve the goals, there should be no compromise. As long as Hamas retains a strong, organized, and armed core, it will be the central power broker.
It would not be right to allow the residents of northern Gaza to return to their homes before the tunnel network beneath them was destroyed. Otherwise, the area will be rehabilitated and serve as a base for terror against Israel.
A resounding victory by Israel is a prerequisite for any initiative that seeks to change the regional reality. Reaching this goal serves the interest not only of Israel and most of its neighbors, but also of the U.S.
In the north, Hizbullah entered a war it has no business entering. It saw it as an opportunity to strike at us alongside Hamas, assuming that Israeli society is fragmented and weak. Hizbullah and Hamas now see a people rising like a lion, a cohesive society, an army that has gotten its act together quickly and is operating a terrifying war machine, and a home front that conveys resilience and determination to continue until victory is achieved. Our enemies now see this too.
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.
- U.S. Strikes on the Houthis Were Strong, Proportionate - and Overdue - Editorial
Some regional analysts are warning that the U.S.-led airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen risk igniting a wider Middle East conflagration. Precisely the opposite is true.
The Houthis already escalated the regional conflict by using the pretext of Israel's war with Hamas to launch unprovoked attacks against commercial ships traversing the Red Sea. The U.S. and its coalition allies had little choice but to mount a strong response. If the Biden administration could be faulted for anything, it is that the same effort taken sooner might have had greater effect.
The Houthis are one of several Iran-backed militias - others operate in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria - that have been attacking Israeli and U.S. targets as a way to support yet another Iran-backed militia, Hamas, in its war against Israel. The Houthis survive - and thrive - on never-ending conflict. Their official slogan is: "God is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse Upon the Jews, Victory to Islam."
These airstrikes should at least temporarily disrupt the Houthis' capabilities, while leaving plenty more targets to hit if they continue their attacks. (Washington Post)
- Can Israel Have Peace with Saudi Arabia? - Dr. Harold Rhode interviewed by Bennett Ruda
"The peace we're looking for is that you'll stop fighting, and we'll stop fighting, and everyone will live together in peace. From a Muslim point of view, they can agree to have relations with their enemies - whether they be Muslims, Jews, or anybody else. They can make temporary agreements just like their prophet did. Those agreements can be renewed and renewed."
"But to think that the Saudis see peace the way we Jews see it is a pipe dream....Arabs do not have the concept that when the fighting is over, we can be friends. If we think we will have a peace agreement with the Saudis in the way we understand peace, we will be disappointed."
"That does not mean the Abraham Accords are an illusion. We can have agreements with the Arab countries - as long as we have things they want from us, such as hi-tech, connections to the outside world, and alternate routes in place of the Suez Canal. They are interested in what's in it for them, not for the sake of friendship. Friendship is between people. Countries ally themselves because of common interests. The Abraham Accords are not about peace; they are about what is in both sides' interest."
"In Arabic, the word salam is similar to the Hebrew word shalom, but they do not have the same meaning....Islam means "submission," while salam means something like the special sense of joy that someone has by submitting to Allah's will through Islam. Shalom, on the other hand, means letting bygones be bygones, a concept that is totally alien to Islam."
"I don't really care if there is a formal agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, because their relationship is so strong. The relationship is between governments, because these Arab countries rule from the top down."
Dr. Harold Rhode, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, lived for years in the Muslim world and served as an adviser on the Islamic world for the U.S. Department of Defense for 28 years.
- Foreign Interns Keep Gaza-Periphery Dairy Farms Afloat - Bernard Dichek
Dairy farms along Israel's Gaza border have been supplying milk uninterruptedly since the outbreak of the war on Oct. 7 owing to a small cadre of staff that remained behind, as well as university students from Africa and Asia.
"Without our agricultural interns from Ghana and Tanzania we would have had a hard time milking our cows and feeding our calves," says Gabo Altmark, the manager of the Kibbutz Zikim dairy farm. The students were offered the opportunity to relocate, but unlike Zikim's foreign workers who were quick to leave, the students insisted on remaining.
"Because of the good treatment and support we received in the heat of the war, we decided to stay," says Kwabena Frimpong, 28, from Ghana.
More than 3,200 university students from 30 countries in the developing world are training at farms across Israel, including 92 from Indonesia, which does not yet have diplomatic ties with Israel. About 250 were on farms near Gaza.
"My mother has called me every day since the war began," says
Phearan Ke from Cambodia who works at the Kibbutz Gvar'am dairy farm. "I explain that my year here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and though the situation was tough for the first few days, now that soldiers patrol the kibbutz we feel quite safe."
Unlike the temporary foreign workers who usually come from small villages and have a limited education, the agricultural interns are all university-educated and many are aspiring entrepreneurs. (Times of Israel)
- A hundred days have passed since life came to a standstill, the skies darkened, and all of us were exposed to the terror and profound hatred that was poured upon us. A hundred days of the most justifiable war, which is a test for us as a nation. A test of courage, heroism, determination, righteousness, strength, mutual responsibility, unity, and the commitment we have as a society to our core values and principles.
- In these difficult times, we think of the sacrifice made by our sons and daughters, in uniform and in plain clothes. Their courage, their love of life, and their commitment to the ideals we hold so dear attest to the strengths that we harbor within us. Even in the darkest hours we witnessed uplifting actions, heroism, resilience, and compassion that have made us who we are as a people: the Israeli spirit that refuses to break, that knows no bounds.
- We made a serious and painful mistake by being ill-prepared. But our enemy made an even greater miscalculation. We saw the "TikTok generation" step up, whose heroism will be forever written in the chronicles of Israel's history. I met with men and women who went to battle and the commanders leading the troops with the determination of steel, striving for contact, vowing "never again!"
- We have all seen the bravery of our wounded in the hospitals, the burning faith and pride of grieving families, the volunteering spirit and mutual responsibility shown by Israeli society - Jews and Arabs alike, the determination of our allies who stand by our side - led by the U.S., world Jewry who has stood with us as one, even at their own risk. No one can defeat a people whose sons and daughters are such; no one can defeat our unity.
- Together, as one nation, we will overcome the darkness, we will create a future of hope and prosperity - one that is worthy of the sacrifice of the fallen, boosts the morale of the wounded, and reflects our commitment to establishing a beacon of hope for ourselves and all of humanity. Our enemy got it wrong; the spirit of the people of Israel has always won. It will win again this time.