Overcoming Hamas' Strategy of Attrition
- Prof. Kobi Michael (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza is closely monitoring developments in Israel and continuously refining his attrition strategy.
His goal is to bring an end to the war while ensuring the survival of Hamas as both a military and governmental entity within Gaza.
To them, the mere survival of Hamas is perceived as their victory and Israel's defeat.
Considering the progression of the war and what is reflected in the Israeli and international media, the Hamas leadership in Gaza is presumably optimistic about the prospects of success and the efficacy of its strategy.
The more optimistic the Hamas leadership becomes, the less inclined it is to consider proposals that could potentially end the war.
In this context, the U.S. administration's growing criticism of Israel's political leadership plays into Hamas hands and bolsters its commitment to its strategy.
The hope of ending the war on terms favorable to Hamas is further supported by international statements urging Israel to increase humanitarian aid and facilitate the return of displaced persons to northern Gaza (which is tantamount to a significant withdrawal of IDF forces from the region).
Therefore, it is imperative that Israel thwart and disrupt Hamas' strategy and ensure the dismantlement of its capabilities as both a military and governmental entity.
The writer is a senior researcher at INSS.
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Hizbullah Anti-Tank Fire Destroying Israeli Homes near Lebanon Border
- Yair Kraus (Ynet News
Since Oct. 7, the lives of Israeli families from Kiryat Shmona, Shtula, Metula and Kibbutz Dafna have been upended by the destruction that has befallen their homes due to Hizbullah anti-tank missile fire.
On Dec. 11, an anti-tank missile pierced through the residence of the Belsky family in Metula. The second floor of their home was completely destroyed, while the first floor also sustained severe damage.
Naama Belsky said, "From the photographs we have seen it is evident that the damage is incredibly severe. We are essentially left with nothing. An entire lifetime of memories went up in flames."
IDF Shares Images of Jordanian Field Hospital in Gaza, Debunking Claim of Strike Damage
- Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel
On Wednesday, the Jordanian military claimed its field hospital in Khan Yunis had been badly damaged as a result of Israeli shelling, but aerial imagery shared by the IDF shows all of the tents intact.
"The hospital is not damaged and continues to function and provide medical care to those who need it," the IDF said.
Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators Glorify Houthi Pirates
- Editorial (Toronto Sun-Canada
One worrying aspect of the latest pro-Palestinian demonstrations is the signs glorifying Houthi terrorists who are attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
Do they even know who the Houthis are? The Houthis openly support imprisonment without trial, public executions, and the often violent repression of women and gay people.
Signs declaring support for Houthis represent mass ignorance. Isn't democracy grand? It gives a platform to people who deplore the very tenets of civilized society that we hold dear.
How ironic that our Canadian sense of fair play permits demonstrators to take to the streets and agitate in support of regimes that would overthrow democracy and replace freedom with repressive ideologies.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- Houthis Launch Missiles at U.S.-Owned Tanker - Kanishka Singh
The Iran-backed Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at the U.S.-owned tanker ship Chem Ranger in the Red Sea late Thursday that hit the water near the vessel but caused no damage, U.S. Central Command said.
- Hizbullah Rejects U.S. Overtures to Withdraw Fighters from Israel's Border - Laila Bassam
Iran-backed Hizbullah has rebuffed Washington's initial ideas for cooling the fighting with neighboring Israel, such as pulling its fighters further from the border, but remains open to U.S. diplomacy, Lebanese officials said.
U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein has been leading a diplomatic outreach to restore security at the Israel-Lebanon frontier. Israel warns it will respond more aggressively if a deal to make the border area safe is not reached. Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said on Wednesday there was "still a diplomatic window of opportunity" to push Hizbullah away from the border.
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Prime Minister Netanyahu: Israel Will Not Stop until Total Victory over Hamas
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday evening:
"In the last 48 hours, our soldiers have conducted battles in Khan Yunis in which they eliminated dozens of terrorists. In northern Gaza, our soldiers have destroyed rocket launchers and eliminated dozens of additional terrorists. Also, in recent days, we have destroyed a major rocket production facility, and it is not the only one. The war is continuing on all fronts, and it will continue...until all of the goals that we set are achieved."
"Victory will yet take many long months, but we are determined to achieve it." Israel "will not compromise on less than total victory over Hamas, and we will win....Halting the war before our goals are achieved will harm Israel's security for generations....Halting the war before the goals are achieved will broadcast a message of weakness and encourage our enemies to think that they can defeat us, and then the next massacre will be only a matter of time." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Israeli President Herzog: "No Israelis in Their Right Mind" Are Thinking about a Peace Process Right Now - Lazar Berman
Israeli President Isaac Herzog told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday: "If you ask an average Israeli now about his or her mental state, nobody in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreements because everybody wants to know: Can we be promised real safety in the future? Every Israeli wants to know that he will not be attacked in the same way from north or south or east. Israel lost trust in the peace processes because they see that terror is glorified by our neighbors."
"The world has to face it point blank: There is an empire of evil emanating from Iran," whose activities are going to "undermine any peace process and any stability in the world." Herzog said Hamas must be uprooted to "enable a better future for the Palestinians who are our neighbors." Herzog also accused the world of "not giving a damn" about Israeli terror victims in the years before Oct. 7. (Times of Israel)
- Three Rockets from Syria Land in Golan - Yair Kraus
Three rockets launched from Syria toward Moshav Yonatan in the Golan Heights on Thursday evening fell in open areas. The Israel Defense Forces attacked the sources of the fire. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
- Israeli Public in No Mood to Give Palestinians a State, but U.S. Keeps Pushing It - Editorial
Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out in Davos on Wednesday the perennially failing solution to Middle East problems - pursuing a Palestinian state. Hamas launches the most gruesome invasion of Israel imaginable. The U.S. answer? Create a Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority glorifies the massacre, prepares to compensate the killers and pledges solidarity with Hamas? Create a Palestinian state.
Tehran wants to erase the Jewish state from the map, but the main obstacle Blinken sees to his plan is Israel. In other words, after the Oct. 7 attack and broad Palestinian support for it, Palestinians now want to make a deal for peaceful coexistence. This sounds bizarre.
Senior Biden Administration officials leaked to NBC this week that "Blinken told Netanyahu that ultimately there is no military solution to Hamas."
Apparently, political concessions to terrorism are the only way forward.
Israelis are focused on winning a war the Palestinians started, and the extent of Israel's recent advance in southern and central Gaza is underappreciated. Victory would do the most to pave the way to peace.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Iran, Not Israel, Is the Obstacle to Middle East Peace - Matthew Continetti
The U.S. secretary of state has decided to resume a generations-long quest for the diplomatic Holy Grail: a Palestinian state. Governed by whom? His answer is a "stronger, reformed Palestinian Authority that can more effectively deliver for its own people."
A Palestinian state is a nonstarter until Israel defeats its enemies and reestablishes deterrence. It is a nonstarter until the Palestinian Authority ends its incitement to murder and its payments to the families of stabbers, killers, and bombers.
Blinken says that a Palestinian state will isolate Iran and force it "to make decisions about what it wants its future to be." Has he not been paying attention? Iran has made its decision. The mullahs want to remain in power. They want the revolution to spread. They want Israel gone and the U.S. in retreat. That's where any serious analysis must start.
The writer is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
(Washington Free Beacon)
- For Palestinian Arabs, the Problem Is Israel's Existence, Not Its Borders - Dr. Harold Rhode interviewed by Bennett Ruda
Once a land has been conquered and is "open to Islam," it is Muslim forever. In the Muslim mind, though their physical control over Spain ended in 1492, Spain still belongs to the Muslims and will never be part of the non-Muslim world. Turkish President Erdogan still talks about southeastern Europe as being "part of the Ottoman-Muslim area."
In 1949, after Israel defeated five Muslim armies, at the Rhodes talks
the Muslims insisted on the phrase "ceasefire lines" instead of "borders." The word "borders" implies recognition of the people living there. But a Muslim would find that unacceptable because those lands should remain Muslim forever. To the Arabs,
the lines drawn in 1948-1949 do not matter. The land is completely Muslim.
From the Western point of view, we're talking about how to divide up land; this is the point of pushing for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that the Arabs are not talking about how to renegotiate Israel's borders. They are talking about Israel's existence. And people cannot compromise on their existence.
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.
- The Unique Evil of the Onslaught Against Israel - Melanie Phillips
The BBC's relentless portrayal of the Israelis not as the victims of genocidal terror but as hard-hearted, vengeful and wanton killers of children and the innocent has channeled ancient antisemitic tropes of Jewish blood-lust and helped fuel an enormous increase in attacks on Jews in Britain. The BBC's double standards on Israel, treating patently absurd civilian casualty figures from Hamas as reliable while casting doubt on Israeli statements, present Israel rather than Hamas as the aggressor and rogue actor.
The ratio of civilians to combatants killed by Israel is around two to one. This is far fewer than the proportion of civilians killed in war by any other nation's army - and when taking into account the Hamas rockets falling short into Gaza and killing its people, fewer still.
The Jews find themselves in the hallucinatory situation of being under unprecedented physical and verbal assault by a Western world determined to erase genocidal Jewish victimization and instead delegitimize Israeli Jews as enemies of humanity.
The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK.
- Houthi Aggression Offers U.S. a Chance to Stand for Freedom of Navigation - Timothy Perry
Since November, Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea. The U.S. response now includes missile strikes against Houthi assets. The risk of escalation is real, but the potential cost of inaction is equally high. The U.S. must maintain a proportional but sustained military response to Houthi aggression. Whether they intend it or not, Houthi missiles have struck at a key pillar of the international order that affects all nations: freedom of navigation.
Freedom of navigation entitles all countries' vessels to traverse the globe in peace, free from interference. It is both a driver of international free trade and a manifestation of the idea that the world's oceans and international straits lie beyond the reach of any single nation's sovereign control. For the U.S. to moderate its response to such flagrant Houthi assaults would risk signaling that freedom of navigation is elastic - subject to the might of global powers rather than the right of all nations.
Yet the Houthis may have handed the U.S. and its Western allies a strategic opportunity. Freedom of navigation is as well-established a right as any in international law. The case against the Houthis is thus cut and dried. By visiting measured, proportional strikes against Houthi infrastructure, the U.S., its allies and its partners can draw a clear line in defense of freedom of navigation.
The writer is an experienced lawyer, former federal prosecutor, government official, and law professor.
- As Iran and its proxies continue the jihad (holy war) to murder Jews and eliminate Israel, the Biden administration has not abandoned their dream of creating a Palestinian terror state on Israel's doorstep. The last thing the Middle East needs is another Iran-dominated terror state that would destabilize security and stability and pose an existential threat to Israel.
- According to the U.S. administration, the current war in the Middle East is the result of Palestinians not having a state of their own. Creating a pathway to a Palestinian state is the best way to stabilize the wider region and isolate Iran and its proxies, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Davos on Wednesday.
- By continuing to obsessively stick to the creation of a Palestinian state, the Biden administration is actually sending a message to Iran and its terror proxies that terrorism pays - that if they inflict more pain and casualties on Israel, the Americans will reward them with a state of their own next to Israel to facilitate their mission of continuing their Jihadist murder spree against Jews and finally obliterate Israel.
- A future Palestinian state would be controlled by Palestinians who reject Israel's right to exist. The most recent public opinion poll published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that since the Oct. 7 massacre, Hamas' popularity has increased and its support has more than tripled in the West Bank compared to three months ago. The poll found that 64% of Palestinians oppose the idea of a two-state solution, while 53% support a return to the "armed struggle" against Israel.
- Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Palestinians believe that Hamas is more deserving of representing them than the PA. This means that if and when a Palestinian state is established, as the Biden administration is hoping, it will be ruled by Hamas and its masters in Iran. It means that Hizbullah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Houthis and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would be overlooking the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and Ben-Gurion International Airport. It would mean copy-pasting Hamas-ruled Gaza to the West Bank, bringing the danger to the center of Israel.
- Creating another Arab state alongside Israel would incentivize Iran and its clients to escalate their Jihad against Israel: it would send them the message that the more Jews you murder, the more land you get - as a launching pad to attack Israel.
What the U.S. administration seems unable to grasp is that there are still too many people among the Palestinians, and many other Arabs and Muslims, who have yet to come to terms with the right of a nation that is not Islamic to remain in its home in the Middle East.
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