January 18, 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:

Iran Can Produce Uranium for a Nuke in a Week - David Albright (Institute for Science and International Security)
    Iranian action to expand its output of 60%-enriched uranium is a hair's breadth from 90%-enriched, weapon-grade uranium.
    The reality is that Iran already knows how to build nuclear weapons, although there are some unfinished tasks related to their actual construction.
    Today, Iran would need only a week to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for its first nuclear weapon. It could have enough for six weapons in one month, and after five months it could have enough for twelve.
    Iran also has nuclear-capable missiles for delivery.
    Weaponization of the uranium still needs more work. An accelerated program to accomplish this could take six months and involve smaller, disguisable facilities, leaving little time for the international community to react.
    While this would enable production of a crude nuclear weapon, producing warheads for ballistic missiles could take significantly longer than six months.
    Western intelligence agencies may not detect the start of Iran's nuclear weaponization effort. Given short warning times, the U.S. and its allies have little choice other than focusing on a strategy to deter Iran from building nuclear weapons in the first place.
    Iran needs to be made fully aware via concrete demonstrations that building nuclear weapons will trigger quick, drastic actions by the international community, including military strikes.
    U.S. military cooperation with Israel aimed at destroying Iran's nuclear capabilities should be bolstered, ensuring Israel can decisively strike Iran's nuclear sites on short notice if there are signs that Iran is moving to build nuclear weapons.

Iranian Missile Strikes Target Syria, Iraq and Pakistan - Vivian Yee (New York Times)
    "We are a missile power in the world," Iran's defense minister, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, said Wednesday after Iranian missile strikes hit targets in neighboring Pakistan, Iraq and Syria this week.
    The attack in Syria targeted the Islamic State; the one in Pakistan struck the terrorist group Jaish al-Adl from the Baluch minority; and the one in Iraq, in the northern Kurdish region, was aimed at what Tehran says is an Israeli base for intelligence gathering.
    On Tuesday, murals and banners appeared around Tehran praising the missile attacks and vowing vengeance against Iran's enemies.
    At Palestine Square, a mural on a building depicted a missile being fired, with a caption warning in Hebrew and Persian, "Prepare your coffins."

Hamas Attempting to Rehabilitate Forces in Northern Gaza - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    The IDF is monitoring Hamas attempts to rebuild its fighting battalions in northern Gaza, where Israel has been downsizing its forces in recent weeks.
    Hamas has started appointing new commanders in place of those killed, and is trying to assemble operatives who belonged to the a-Shati, Shujaiyeh and Jabalya battalions.
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzl Halevi has warned behind closed doors that "we may have to operate again in areas where we have already completed the fighting."

France: Accusing Israel of Genocide "Crosses Moral Threshold" - Aurelien Breeden (New York Times)
    France on Wednesday rejected accusations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, after South Africa brought such a charge to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
    Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne told parliament, "To accuse the Jewish state of genocide is to cross a moral threshold. The notion of genocide cannot be exploited for political ends."

Druze Volunteers Are Israel's Second Line of Defense in the North - Hillel Kuttler (Tablet)
    Three men in Israel Defense Forces uniforms patrolled on Jan. 8 in Hurfeish, a Druze town in the Galilee just 1.5 miles from the Lebanese border. They weren't in the reserves, with the youngest being 54.
    These older Druze men, all volunteers, are in the first-response team: former combat soldiers past the age of reserve duty, together with reservists from the town assigned to protect Hurfeish.
    Almost all residents of communities within 5 km. (3 miles) of the border with Lebanon were evacuated months ago by the Israeli government. Hurfeish, though, continues to function as before.
    Lt.-Col. (ret.) Falah Gadban, 60, the first-response team's commander, said, "We didn't want to be refugees, even temporarily."
    Lt.-Col. (ret.) Abdo Kadi, 67, the deputy commander, said: "We decided that in no way, shape, or form are we evacuating our town. We'll fight to the end. Whoever tries to infiltrate or harm us or the State of Israel, we'll stop them."
    "It's one of our bedrocks [of Druze culture]: that you don't leave your home, your land, and your state. You have to protect it."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Carries Out New Strikes Against Houthi Targets in Yemen - Dan Lamothe
    U.S. forces carried out strikes on 14 missiles that the Houthis had "loaded to be fired" in a growing campaign to stifle repeated attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The missiles were on launch rails and "presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships and could have been fired at any time," prompting U.S. forces to strike in self-defense. The strikes were carried out with Tomahawk missiles from at least one warship and one submarine.
        The Houthis have continued to carry out attacks on commercial vessels. On Tuesday, a one-way attack drone launched from Yemen hit the M/V Genco Picardy, a U.S.-owned cargo ship. The vessel suffered some damage but remained seaworthy. Pentagon spokesman Maj.-Gen. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday that the Houthis have conducted "attacks against the ships and vessels from more than 50 countries."  (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Redesignates Houthis as Global Terror Group - Shannon K. Crawford
    The State Department on Wednesday announced it was relisting Yemen's Houthi rebels as a global terrorist group in response to their attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Iranian-backed group was designated as a terrorist organization in January 2021, yet President Joe Biden delisted the Houthis in February 2021 after he entered office. (ABC News)
  • Medicine for Palestinians and Israeli Hostages Arrives in Gaza under Deal Struck by Qatar - Helen Regan
    Medicine for Palestinians and Israeli hostages has entered Gaza, Qatar said Wednesday, after an agreement it mediated. Hamas has stipulated that for every box of medication given to the hostages, Palestinians in Gaza must receive 1,000 boxes.
        At least a third of the hostages have chronic illnesses and require medications, said the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in Israel. "Others suffer from illnesses related to the harsh captivity conditions, which include mental and physical torture." However, the Israeli military said it does "not have the ability to guarantee" that medicine will reach the hostages. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Kills 40 Hamas Operatives in Gaza on Wednesday - Emanuel Fabian
    IDF troops operating in Gaza on Wednesday killed 40 Hamas operatives. In one incident, the 7th Armored Brigade shelled four Hamas gunmen who were approaching the troops. In northern Gaza, reservists of the 5th Brigade used tank fire to kill two gunmen who attempted to ambush troops. Several more Hamas operatives were killed in airstrikes in northern Gaza.
        Also in northern Gaza, reservists of the Yiftah Brigade spotted Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives rigging a car with explosives. One of the operatives was struck by an aircraft. The car was also struck, setting off a large secondary explosion. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Kills Hizbullah Terrorists Who Fired at Israel's North
    On Wednesday, several rockets were fired by Hizbullah at Rosh Hanikra in northern Israel. The launch team was identified immediately and attacked by an IDF aircraft, killing the terrorists. Later, Air Force fighter jets attacked a number of active launchers and terrorist infrastructure in southern Lebanon, together with IDF artillery strikes. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How Israelis Lost Empathy for Palestinians - Dr. Michael Milstein
    The Oct. 7 massacre and the war that followed undermined many basic assumptions that prevailed in Israel: it became clear that those who were not considered an existential threat to the state caused one of the most serious atrocities. Until Oct. 7, there was a perception among some Israelis that the majority of Palestinians in Gaza are different from Hamas, which controls them through fear and oppression, and that they share a universal human longing for a good life. This led to the assumption that by improving their situation it would be possible to ensure security stability.
        The horrors of Oct. 7 shattered these perceptions. Thousands of the Gazan public took an active part in the massacres, kidnappings, rape and looting, and participated in the victory celebrations that included abuse of the kidnapped and the bodies of Israelis. The testimonies of survivors and hostages describe teenagers who participated in the war crimes, women who had held hostages, and bargaining by civilians with Hamas members for the sale of Israeli captives.
        In addition, the reality revealed by the IDF in Gaza showed the presence of weapons, tunnel shafts and rocket launchers in many homes, embodying the merger of the civilian and military realms into a single entity whose focus is jihad against Israel. Israelis understand that the broad Gazan public sympathizes with Hamas. It is therefore not surprising that the long-standing distinction made by Israelis between the Gazan public and Hamas, let alone the empathy expressed for their suffering in the past, have greatly diminished.
        Israelis are required to recognize that there is a profound cultural difference between the two communities when it comes to morality, truth, acceptance of the "other" and the value of human life. For change to occur, it would only come from within Palestinian society. In the meantime, Israel must establish a buffer between the two communities in a way that will not compromise its security.
        The writer is head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University. (Ynet News)
  • Grassroots Radicalism Is Clouding Gaza's Future - Ilan Berman
    A poll last month by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) found that, in the aftermath of Hamas' Oct. 7 massacre, support for the group has surged in the West Bank and risen modestly in Gaza as well. Nearly 3/4 of those polled expressed approval of the terror group's actions.
        Israel and the international community need to contend with the fact that, far from being captives of Hamas, the plurality of Palestinians have come to see the group as their standard-bearer. Changing those perceptions will be the most challenging part of building a new, qualitatively different Palestinian polity in the years ahead.
        The writer is senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. (The Hill)
  • The Gazans Want to Take Our Place - Tomer Tzaban interviewed by Ran Puni
    Tomer Tzaban is a former undercover officer who fought in the Shimshon unit in Gaza in the 1990s. He described how on one of his missions, "I saw the terrorists interrogating a collaborator, and in the end stabbing and killing him. What changed my understanding of them was what happened next: they mutilated him and they cut off his legs, hands, and genitals. They took a sadistic pleasure that I couldn't understand. This was the first time I realized that they were not like us in any way. I realized that we had failed to understand something very fundamental about them, so what we saw and heard on Oct. 7, unfortunately, didn't surprise me."
        "Many people are willing to ignore the truth; they fall for the illusion that there is a future for us with these people. We insist on finding something, which in my experience doesn't exist....There is a people here that wants to take our place. We have to understand that."
        "The most important thing is the images coming out of Gaza. The Middle East understands the language of power and the destruction in Gaza resonates in the Arab world. Even those countries that want to make peace with us - the Saudis, the Emiratis - want to know that they are forming a defense alliance with a strong country. So what happens in Gaza is clearly heard and seen in Lebanon." Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah "doesn't want Lebanon to be left in ruins, and that gives us leverage over him."  (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Plan for a Postwar Gaza Isn't Gaining Much Traction - David S. Cloud
    U.S. goals for a more stable Middle East require forging a consensus on who will secure and rebuild Gaza after the Israeli invasion. In the Biden administration's thinking, a blueprint for governing postwar Gaza would lay the groundwork for more sweeping changes, including a revived process to create a Palestinian state, security guarantees for Israel, and the normalization of Saudi-Israeli relations.
        However, as Israel pursues its goal of destroying Hamas' leadership and military capabilities, Israel's government has so far largely parried U.S. officials' calls for closer alignment on postwar planning, especially over a future Palestinian state. Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu opposes having the Palestinian Authority move into Gaza, which he has said is as much of a security threat as Hamas. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Houthi Attacks Are Starting to Reshape Shipping Flows - David J. Lynch
    The continuing attacks by the Houthis in Yemen, militants backed by Iran, on container ships and oil tankers passing through the Red Sea, have increased global shipping costs and caused cargo carriers or their clients to opt for longer alternate routes. Almost 1/5 of U.S. freight arrives at East Coast ports after transiting the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, according to Moody's. Solar panels, electric-vehicle batteries, toys and vacuum cleaners are among the goods making that trip.
        Automakers Tesla and Volvo said in recent days that they would idle plants in Germany because of a parts shortage linked to the disruption. British oil major Shell halted all shipments through the Red Sea.
        Ami Daniel, CEO of Windward, a maritime intelligence company based in London, expects that the Suez Canal will effectively be closed to international shipping. Sending a ship through the canal will now cost $3-5 million, including higher insurance charges, security, and danger pay for the crew. Diverting around southern Africa, which adds seven to nine days to the trip from Asia, could cost $2 million for the same type of ship, he said. (Washington Post)

  • Special Feature

  • Secrets of World War I in the Holy Land: An American Spy in Plain View? - Lenny Ben-David
    World War I in the Holy Land was the setting for tales of espionage. The American Colony group of Millenialist Christians moved from Chicago to Jerusalem in 1881. The first child born to the Colony was John D. Whiting (1882-1951), who served intermittently as deputy American consul in the Jerusalem consulate between 1908 and 1915. As World War I spread to the Middle East, the American Colony remained meticulously neutral. Whiting served as one of the leaders of the American Red Cross medical team established to treat Turkey's wounded in Sinai.
        When a devastating locust plague hit Palestine in 1915, leading to mass starvation, Turkish Supreme Commander Djamal Pasha asked the American Colony photographers to document the locust swarms. The Colony's photographers also filmed Turkish military events, exercises, and facilities at the request of Ottoman commanders.
        Scores of these photographs may have been surreptitiously delivered to British intelligence. Pictures of water resources at the Beer Sheba army base in the desert or troop positions on the approach to Jerusalem would be enormously valuable to British General Allenby in 1917. After the liberation of Jerusalem in December 1917, Whiting served as an officer in British intelligence.
        The writer, Director of the Institute for U.S.-Israel Relations at the Jerusalem Center, is a photographic historian of the Middle East and the author of American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs.  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Anarchic, pro-Palestinian rallies have continued to intensify across the U.S. since Oct. 7, marked by highly disruptive tactics. When one delves deeper into the protesters' driving ideology, it becomes clear that mass disruption is not a byproduct of their agenda, but the agenda itself.
  • These groups' tactics have included blocking highways, vandalizing stores supposedly complicit in Israel's "genocide" in Gaza, disrupting Thanksgiving and Christmas ceremonies, defacing public monuments, and attacking the White House while screaming "Allahu akbar" and "intifada revolution."
  • At the forefront of these demonstrations are various Islamic organizations often linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as fringe Jewish anti-Zionist groups. These groups find common ground in an ideology ostensibly influenced by works of French writer Frantz Fanon, that envisions a global revolutionary struggle and perceives their disruptive actions as a vital component of it.
  • They believe that by obstructing crucial social services and public spaces, they effectively challenge superstructures deemed oppressive. This worldview is predicated on the notion that any inconvenience caused to innocent individuals is justified in the pursuit of societal transformation; their obstructive protest methods are a requirement of this worldview.
  • In the protesters' eyes, "Palestine" is a stand-in for every ostensible victim class across the world fighting oppression, making any random cause and the Palestinian cause inseparable.
  • Far from a legitimate expression of opposition, the anti-Israel protests across America have morphed into a troubling display of ideological extremism and physical violence cloaked in the guise of social justice and backed by wealthy domestic radicals and by foreign states like Qatar, the primary global sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Whatever one believes about the Israeli-Arab conflict, allowing violent demonstrators calling for genocide and supporting terror organizations like Hamas and the Houthis to own the streets of Western democracies sends a very dangerous message that threatens the fabric of a society built on liberal values and legitimate dissent.

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