January 15, 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 Special Forces Hunt Down Hizbullah Squads - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    On Israel's northern border, the elite IDF Maglan reconnaissance reserve unit is leading the hunt for Hizbullah terrorists.
    In southern Lebanon, the local residents are mostly gone. Hizbullah has taken over most of the houses and civilian institutions, such as clinics and mosques, converting them into military positions.
    So far, Maglan soldiers have killed at least 80 Hizbullah terrorists. "We estimate the number is around 140," says Lt.-Col. S.
    "We have held the area for so long that we developed intimacy with the targets in front of us."
    In some Maglan operations, they reached 12 and even 18 km. from the border.
    Equipped with precision ground-to-ground missiles, the ground forces communicate with operators of remotely piloted aircraft for integrated ambush or deception operations, which has led to the rapid elimination of Hizbullah cells.

9,000 Hamas Members Killed, 11,000+ Rockets Fired into Israel - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The IDF said Sunday that more than 9,000 Hamas operatives and members of other terror groups have been killed by the IDF in Gaza since the start of the war, in addition to 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on Oct. 7.
    In Lebanon, the IDF has killed more than 170 terror operatives, mostly members of Hizbullah.
    Since Oct. 7, 9,000 rockets fired from Gaza crossed the border into Israel, alongside 2,000 from Lebanon and 30 from Syria.
    Hundreds more launched from Gaza misfired and landed in the Strip.
    522 soldiers, reservists and local security officers have been killed and another 2,536 have been wounded since Oct. 7. Of them, 188 were killed and 1,113 were wounded during the ground offensive in Gaza.
    IDF efforts to evacuate civilians from areas of intense fighting have included 79,000 phone calls, 7.2 million leaflets, 13.7 million texts sent, and 15 million recorded calls to Palestinians in Gaza.

Video: Humanitarian Aid and Urban Warfare (Israel Defense Forces)
    Hamas had been preparing for Oct. 7 for 16 years and amassed a trained force of 30,000 fighters and an arsenal of 20,000 rockets, anti-tank missiles, and attack drones.
    Hamas diverted millions of dollars and vast amounts of construction materials, all donated, to dig one of the most intricate combat tunnel systems in human history underneath entire civilian neighborhoods.
    The IDF was forced to launch a ground operation in Gaza to rescue the hostages and dismantle Hamas.
    The residents of each neighborhood where the IDF intends to operate receive multiple warnings.
    We use intelligence from IAF aircraft, open-source intelligence, and cellular location tracking data to build a real-time picture of the remaining population in each area and point out buildings that house civilians who have not yet evacuated.
    As a result of these efforts, countless lives are being saved.

The IDF's New Weapons in the Gaza War - Alex Winston (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF has revealed some of the innovations introduced over the first three months of the Gaza war.
    They include the precision "Iron Sting" mortar with increased accuracy against terrorists in crowded areas, helping troops avoid collateral damage.
    The new "Holit" and "Yated" shoulder-fired missiles have longer firing ranges than their predecessors.
    The "Ido" night vision device provides soldiers with a three-dimensional image to help them navigate in pitch-black areas.
    The SMASH fire control system identifies an enemy within seconds and can lock onto targets and assist in their elimination, improving the chances of hitting an enemy fourfold.

"We Found the Remains of a Small Child in One of the Cars" - Yoav Keren (Ynet News)
    On ordinary days, Shai Ohayon is a tax officer. But since Oct. 7, Ohayon has been managing the scrapyard near Moshav Tekuma, where all vehicles damaged during the Hamas attack are concentrated.
    There are 1,600 vehicles including motorcycles, white Toyotas and black pickup trucks used by Hamas, as well as well as burnt cars, bullet-riddled cars, and cars damaged by anti-tank fire.
    Many served as death traps for their passengers, who were caught in Hamas ambushes at junctions or tried to escape the massacre in a hurry. 280 cars were burnt to a crisp.
    Ohayon says, "A few days ago, we found the remains of a small child in one of the cars."

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • As Gaza War Enters 100th Day, Netanyahu Vows to Keep Fighting - Isabel Kershner
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel marked 100 days of war against Hamas in Gaza, telling a news conference on Saturday night, "We are continuing the war until the end - until total victory, until we achieve all of our goals: eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israel. Nobody will stop us - not The Hague, not the axis of evil, and not anybody else."
        Netanyahu said Palestinians displaced from northern Gaza would not be able to return home anytime soon because it would not be safe for them, as IDF forces continue to clash with Hamas fighters there.
        Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni, a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said Israeli troops are still working to destroy Hamas' underground tunnels, and blowing up the tunnels risked the collapse of buildings along the route. Hamas fighters could also try to blend in with the returning civilian population, and "then we are back to square one."  (New York Times)
  • Houthis Fire Anti-Ship Cruise Missile toward U.S. Warship
    On Jan. 14, an anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Iranian-backed Houthi areas of Yemen toward the USS Laboon in the southern Red Sea. The missile was shot down by U.S. fighter aircraft. (USCENTCOM)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Israelis Killed by Hizbullah Missile Fire
    Barak Ayalon, 45, part of Kfar Yuval's emergency response squad, and his mother Mira, 70, were killed on Sunday by an antitank missile fired from Lebanon. His father was also seriously injured. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizbullah Sniping at Israeli Homes Using Antitank Missiles - Adi Hashmonai
    On Jan. 7, a hotel in Metula took a direct hit from an antitank missile fired by Hizbullah, the 12th building in the town to be hit; 120 have been damaged. In Kibbutz Manara, 10 buildings, including the dining hall kitchen, have taken a direct hit, and 80 have been damaged. Hizbullah's use of precision antitank missiles against civilian targets is unprecedented.
        The list of communities hit by antitank missiles spreads along the entire length of the Lebanese border. Scores of homes, public buildings, chicken coops, businesses and vehicles have been hit in the moshavim Avivim, Dovev, Zar'it and Shtula, and the kibbutzim Misgav Am and Sasa, and other communities. Since the start of the war, four Israeli civilians and two soldiers have been killed by direct antitank missile fire, and many others wounded.
        To date, the state has evacuated 50,000 Israelis from communities located within 3.5 km. of the border. But the recent strike on a base on Mount Meron revealed that Hizbullah has antitank missiles with a 10-km. range, which puts more communities within a direct-line-of-sight from Lebanon that have not yet been evacuated. Israel has no countermeasure that would give residents even five seconds' warning to seek shelter, or intercept incoming missiles. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Palestinians Open Fire at IDF Troops in Judea - Emanuel Fabian
    Two Palestinians who breached an IDF roadblock and opened fire at troops near the community of Metzad in Judea were killed by soldiers on Sunday. (Times of Israel)
  • After Targeted Killing of Hamas Leader in Lebanon, Other Hamas Leaders Flee Beirut - Tal Spungin
    Most of Hamas' military leaders based in Beirut have left the city due to fears of being targets following the targeted killing of Saleh al-Arouri, widely attributed to Israel, Israel's Channel 11 reported Sunday, citing a source within Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israelis Are Not Talking about Two States - David Rose
    Daniel Meron, the deputy director of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a delegation in Jerusalem of British peers and MPs plus journalists that "Israelis don't want to hear about the two-state solution and peace. For now, this is too sensitive. We are feeling too raw. This doesn't mean the issue won't come back in a year or two. But for now we are aching, and of course, we are still at war."
        In Israel, there were no doughtier champions of a negotiated, two-state peace than many of the victims raped and butchered in the kibbutzim around Gaza where the terrorists did their worst. Some of them took Palestinians from the Erez border crossing to medical appointments at Israeli hospitals, and then ferried them back. The kibbutz residents tried their utmost to promote a sense of a shared Israeli-Palestinian community. Yet it now seems clear that some of those they tried to help repaid them in the worst way imaginable.
        Former Blue and White Knesset member Ruth Wasserman-Lande spent years trying to build good relationships and inter-communal organizations with Palestinians. In every sense she was a moderate, committed to the cause of peace. She told us the conflict ultimately stemmed from an evil, jihadist impulse: "We are first but if we lose, the rest of the world will be next. This is a world-domination endeavor, the good guys versus the bad guys....What kind of freedom fighters are we talking about? They don't want land, they want a caliphate."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Charging Israel with Genocide Is Orwellian - Lawrence J. Haas
    Three months after a genocidal, antisemitic terrorist group slaughtered 1,200 of its citizens in a barbaric fashion, Israel sits in the dock of the International Court of Justice, accused of committing genocide because it hasn't defended itself from future attack as pristinely as the world demands.
        It is a quintessentially Orwellian affair, a spectacle of the victim as the perpetrator, and it fits within a longstanding pattern of the global community holding the singular Jewish state to a singular human rights standard. It is Hamas which has set out to commit genocide against Israel and the Jewish people.
        Israel responded to the barbarism of Oct. 7 as one might expect, vowing to destroy the terrorist group so it could never again attack the Jewish state. What Israel is promising is nothing more than any responsible government would pursue in the aftermath of such an attack by such a group.
        Are innocent Palestinians dying in Gaza? Yes. Is Israel seeking to wipe out the Palestinians, as per the charge of genocide? No. The allegation is either rooted in willful blindness or moral bankruptcy - or both.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. (National Interest)
  • The BBC and the IRGC Report on the Gaza War - Amir Taheri
    News outlets controlled by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) keep mentioning the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel as "the battle that ended the myth of Zionist invincibility." The fact that the attack was an ambush unleashed against unarmed people, including youths attending a concert, and not a battle, is beside the point.
        The BBC gives massive coverage to diplomatic initiatives to bring about a ceasefire. If there is no sign of a ceasefire, the reason is Israel's obstinacy. Forgetting that fire is coming from both sides, the BBC wants only Israel to rein in its furies, never mentioning that Hamas, too, could help by stopping rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. BBC commentators imply that Israel is no longer in real danger from Gaza and thus should be magnanimous and accept a "humanitarian ceasefire" which, according to the wise men of London, will encourage Hamas, too, to cease fighting.
        While the BBC constantly warns of the Gaza war expanding into a regional conflict involving Iran, IRGC Quds Force chief Maj.-Gen. Ismail Qa'ani said: "We give our Arab brothers who join the Resistance Front everything they want, including arms and training. But we shall not fight on their behalf."
        The writer was executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Gatestone Institute)
  • How Hamas Radicalized Israel - Zoe Strimpel
    During my visit to Israel last week, one thing most people agree on is that the war must go on until Hamas is completely destroyed. Across the board, Israel has become a country with a precise sense of the urgency of war: unstinting armed combat against a clear and intolerable enemy. Attacking a music festival was an efficient way to turn a generation of youngsters into hawks.
        The people who lived in the kibbutzim one mile from Gaza used to work for peace with their neighbors. I was told by former residents they used to donate money to funds for Gazans. But when the same people came to butcher them and blow up their homes with rocket propelled grenades, laughing all the while, the old peacenikkery was revealed for the hideous illusion it was.
        At the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, I met a young man, 24, who, on trying to escape from the festival, had taken four bullets in his left arm and three in his right. I asked him if his politics had changed since Oct. 7. He said, "For my friends and me, the situation is now clear. Hamas must be erased. Erased. Now."
        One major theme in Israeli discourse post-Oct. 7 is the certainty that Hamas, and its brethren in other jihadi groups, are coming for us next. The question is what will it take before recognizing who our enemies are. (Spectator-UK)
  • Hamas Alone Bears Responsibility for the War - Editorial
    As the Israel-Hamas war drags on, the rhetoric from anti-Israel voices in Canada is becoming uglier and uglier. They put the blame for the fighting in the wrong place, blinded as they are by hatred for the Jewish state. Too many want to give terrorists a pass, but responsibility for the war lies solely with Hamas.
        It can be tempting for Canadian officials to diffuse blame across both sides and call for a ceasefire - the wartime equivalent of a teacher giving a time-out to both the bully and the bullied for fear of appearing unfair. Yet Hamas caused the carnage of Oct. 7, and it continues to be the reason for the destruction today.
        According to November polling by Angus Reid, 75% of Canadians believe that Hamas is a terrorist group, and 78% believe Israel has a right to exist and defend itself. It is a loud minority that believes the opposite. (National Post-Canada)
  • Israel Still Needs Britain's Unwavering Support - Editorial
    It has now been 100 days since the depraved terrorists of Hamas broke the ceasefire with Israel and committed the worst anti-Semitic massacre in almost 80 years. The actions of Hamas are morally grotesque, an abandonment of all civilized norms. Israel has had no choice but to defend itself. Yet the last 100 days have also seen a shocking attempt to distort the truth by far too many in the broadcast media, international organizations, and by politicians to make out as if the Israelis are the aggressors.
        Israel continues to deserve Britain's unwavering support as it endeavors to destroy Hamas. (Daily Telegraph-UK)

Israel's "People's Army" at War - Raphael S. Cohen (Foreign Policy)
  • Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, a parade of U.S. defense officials have offered advice - largely unsolicited - about how Israel should conduct its offensive in Gaza, based on the lessons the U.S. learned from its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • There are many reasons why Israel has so far chosen to ignore these recommendations. For starters, Iraq and Afghanistan were much larger and half a world away; Gaza is far smaller, more compact, and right next door to Israel. Then there is the fact that the U.S. lost the Afghanistan War and produced a muddled outcome in Iraq.
  • Yet there is another important factor at play. The Israel Defense Forces' relationship with society, cultural predilections, and norms of behavior are unique. Fewer than 1% of Americans serve on active duty and all do so by choice. The IDF is at its core a draft military, designed to be what Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, called a "people's army," both a reflection of society and the glue that binds the people together.
  • On Oct. 7, the IDF failed not only to protect the Israeli public but it failed to protect its own: At least 274 Israeli soldiers, plus dozens of local security officials, were killed that day.
  • Current and recently retired IDF officers often told me of the need to "restore the trust" in the IDF, and these concerns color how the officers are approaching the war in Gaza. For the military and its leaders charged with executing this war, the fight is deeply personal.
  • Israel views its war as an existential, society-wide struggle. With rockets still falling on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; active fighting in Gaza, Lebanon, the Red Sea, and beyond; and surging global anti-Israel sentiment, the IDF sees itself fighting on all fronts.

    The writer is director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program at the Rand Corporation's Project Air Force.

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