January 26, 2024
Special Edition
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

We Can't Quit Now - Avi Issacharoff (Ynet News)
    Ending the war with Hamas now would be an unthinkable error, paving the way to the next Oct. 7, only worse, since this time, Hizbullah would be emboldened by perceived Israeli weakness.
    And if anyone thinks retreating now would somehow result in the release of the hostages, they are wrong.
    Once IDF forces finish clearing Khan Yunis, Rafah is next. Hamas is dealing with a massive loss to its forces and their capabilities are declining.
    Exerting more military pressure is the only thing that can expedite the release of our hostages in Gaza and help bring about a sense of security for Israelis who wish to live near the border.
    We cannot accept Hamas remaining the governing force in Gaza.
    The writer, a veteran Israeli journalist focusing on Palestinian affairs, is one of the creators of the TV series "Fauda."

Dramatic Decrease in Hamas Rocket Fire - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    Hamas' rocket arsenal has been significantly depleted, Israeli security officials estimate.
    In recent days Hamas has been firing only sporadically, mostly towards the Gaza border communities, while central Israel has been spared of any barrages for the better part of the past month.

Video: IDF Airstrike on Hamas Operatives in Khan Yunis - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The IDF released drone footage showing a group of RPG-wielding Hamas operatives being spotted in Khan Yunis before being struck by an aircraft.

U.S. Approves Israeli Request for More Apache Combat Helicopters - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    In the midst of the fighting in Gaza and the north, the Israel Defense Forces asked the Pentagon a month ago to procure Apache attack helicopters to help enhance its aerial operations.
    That request was met with an American refusal, but Israeli security officials confirmed Thursday that at a meeting in Washington last week the Israeli request was advanced and given priority.
    Israel's two Apache helicopter flight squadrons have been operating in Gaza 24/7 since Oct. 7 and currently are flying to the limit of their capacity.
    If there is more serious fighting in the north, the need for them will increase dramatically.

The IDF's Systematic Approach to Dismantling Hamas - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    More than 100 days into the fighting, the Hamas war machine has sustained severe damage and is being further degraded by the day.
    Its ability to function as an organized military force in northern and central Gaza has been eliminated, though lone cells continue to attack Israeli forces as the opportunity arises.
    The IDF has been engaged in a gradual, ordered process of dismantling Hamas' capabilities from the top down, starting with eliminating enemy commanders, as well as their command and control capabilities - meaning the places from which they command field cells.
    In the next stage, bases and military posts are targeted, followed by weapons production and storage sites, and Hamas' tunnel networks, which are being systematically mapped and destroyed.
    Only after these target banks are exhausted does the IDF prioritize targeting Hamas fighters.
    Hamas is able to switch to decentralized guerilla warfare, but its forces are losing operatives, commanders and capabilities by the day.
    IDF special forces and intelligence units have been operating for weeks in the tunnels under Hamas' final major stronghold of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
    They are building a detailed intelligence picture and stepping up the pressure on Hamas' leadership, which, together with the hostages, is likely located in this area.
    The writer is an analyst at the Miryam Institute and a research associate at the Alma Research and Education Center.

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How Hamas Manipulates Gaza Fatality Number - Gabriel Epstein (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    There are many reasons to treat the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health and Government Media Office fatality numbers with skepticism.
    The metrics show signs of being repeatedly massaged to omit or obscure male fatalities - the category most likely to include combatants.
    The Gaza fatality counts fail to distinguish combatants from noncombatants and underreport the deaths of men.
    What can be said for certain is that Hamas-produced statistics are inconsistent, imprecise, and appear to have been systematically manipulated to downplay the number of militants killed and to exaggerate the proportion of noncombatants confirmed as dead.
    The writer is a research assistant at the Washington Institute.
    See also The Casualty Figures in Gaza Are a Scam - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Antisemitism in Greater London Has Risen 13-Fold since Hamas-Israel Conflict - Cameron Roy (Daily Mail-UK)
    Antisemitic hate crimes recorded by the Greater London's Metropolitan Police in the wake of Hamas' October attack on Israel were more than 13 times the number for the same period in 2022.
    679 antisemitic offenses were recorded from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7, 2023, compared with 50 in the equivalent period in 2022 and 81 in 2021.
    A similar picture was recorded by many of the UK's other large police forces.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Initial Ruling Expected by International Court of Justice in Genocide Case Against Israel - Matthew Mpoke Bigg
    The International Court of Justice is set to rule on Friday on South Africa's demand that Israel immediately suspend its military offensive in Gaza. The ruling is an initial step in a wider case about whether Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in the enclave.
        The court is not expected to issue a ruling on the genocide charge for years. The decision expected on Friday is over whether to order "provisional measures" that would ask Israel to take proactive steps to ensure genocide doesn't occur in the future, while the case is pending.
        Israel has ignored the court's findings before: In 2004, the court issued a nonbinding opinion that an Israeli security barrier inside the West Bank was illegal and should be dismantled; two decades later, the system remains standing. (New York Times)
  • Gaza's "Day After": A Year of Low-Intensity Warfare - Steven Erlanger
    There is increasing talk of some "day after" formula for Gaza, but there is not going to be a bright line between war and peace there. Israel has made it clear that it will not subcontract security along its border to anyone else.
        The vision is a managed intermittent conflict without a large permanent Israeli presence, said Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea. The military envision a situation akin to that in the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin, where the IDF goes wherever it wants. It envisions operating from a buffer zone inside Gaza, now being constructed, and going deeper into the territory from time to time on specific operations, based on intelligence.
        While President Biden has said he would like a "revitalized Palestinian Authority" eventually running Gaza, at a minimum this would require the retirement or "emeritus" status of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, internal reform, and some form of Palestinian elections, senior American officials say. But new elections would almost surely result in some political role for Hamas.
        Yaakov Amidror, a former general and national security adviser, said he sees 2024 as a year of low intensity warfare. The next year or 18 months will be dedicated to finding and destroying Hamas tunnels, infrastructure and fighters. At the end, by mid-2025, he believes Hamas will no longer have military and political capacity to run Gaza. And the Israeli army may be in a position to operate in Gaza along the lines of its West Bank model. There is a long road ahead to a true "day after."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Secretly Alerted Iran Ahead of Islamic State Terrorist Attack - Michael R. Gordon
    The U.S. secretly warned Iran that Islamic State was preparing to carry out the terrorist attack on Jan. 3 that killed more than 80 Iranians in a pair of coordinated suicide bombings, U.S. officials said. The U.S. had acquired intelligence that Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), was plotting to attack Iran.
        American officials said the information passed to Iran was specific enough about the location and sufficiently timely that it might have proved useful to Tehran in thwarting the attack or at least mitigating the casualty toll. Iran, however, failed to prevent the suicide bombings, which targeted a crowd commemorating the anniversary of the death of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, killed in a U.S. drone attack in January 2020. (Wall Street Journal)
  • China Presses Iran to Rein in Houthi Attacks in Red Sea - Parisa Hafezi
    Chinese officials have asked their Iranian counterparts to help rein in attacks on ships in the Red Sea by the Iran-backed Houthis, or risk harming business relations with Beijing, four Iranian sources and a diplomat said.
        The attacks have raised the cost of shipping and insurance by disrupting a key trade route between Asia and Europe used widely by ships from China. Iranian sources said Beijing had made it clear it would be very disappointed with Tehran if any vessels linked to China were hit, or the country's interests were affected in any way.
        On Jan. 14, China's foreign minister Wang Yi called for an end to attacks on civilian ships in the Red Sea and the maintenance of supply chains and the international trade order. Victor Gao, professor at China's Soochow University, said China, as the world's biggest trading nation, was disproportionately affected by the shipping disruption and restoring stability in the Red Sea was a priority. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Defense Minister: "Hamas Is Collapsing within Its Own Tunnels"
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday, "The results are clearly seen. Hamas dug tunnels to use them against us with all kinds of methods, but in reality, Hamas is collapsing into its own tunnels that it dug with great effort. Every place they thought would be a trap for IDF soldiers became an area where we defeated them in various ways."
        "In the last day and a half...we have over 100 terrorists who have surrendered, some of them from underground, in the Khan Yunis area, and in other places, because they understand that they can't fight against the IDF....We will not be able to strike everyone in Hamas, but we will reach a point where we dismantle this organization; it will not control Gaza, and it will not have military force."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Strikes Iran-Hizbullah Airport in Lebanon - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The IDF on Thursday attacked a Hizbullah-Iranian airstrip in Kilat Jaber, Lebanon, 20 km. from the Israeli border, that was used for launching aerial attacks against Israel. The Israel Air Force also attacked Hizbullah targets in the areas of Tzur and Ma'ira in Lebanon. The IDF attacked other Hizbullah locations in Lebanon using artillery and mortars. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Families of Israeli Hostages Block Gaza Border Crossing for 3rd Day - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Family members of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza along with supporters on Friday blocked the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid for the third-straight day. They demanded that no humanitarian aid be allowed to reach Gaza while the hostages are still held, claiming they too deserve humanitarian treatment.
        U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday that the U.S. administration was concerned over the delay of humanitarian aid to Gaza. (Ynet News)
        See also Video: Families of Israeli Hostages Protest Humanitarian Aid into Gaza
    Families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza attempted to block aid trucks from entering the territory at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, noting that the Israeli hostages are receiving no humanitarian aid. (Reuters-New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hamas Is Still Hamas - Matthew Levitt
    Whereas some assessed that ruling Gaza would moderate, or at least co-opt, Hamas' inclination to violence, that did not prove to be the case. The Oct. 7, 2023, massacre demonstrated in the most visceral and brutal way that Hamas ultimately prioritized destroying Israel and creating an Islamist Palestinian state in its place over its governance project in Gaza, Palestinian national reconciliation, or the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution.
        In July 2007, Hamas took over Gaza from Fatah by force of arms. It diverted funds intended for civilian public services to build tunnels and a robust weapons production program. Hamas played a long game, investing in efforts to instill a "culture of resistance" in Gaza society, with a focus on schools and youth. Hamas duped Israeli and Western officials into thinking it would not put its governance project at risk and therefore could be deterred.
        After it consolidated power, by December 2008 Hamas initiated the first in a series of rocket wars with Israel. By 2015, after three rounds of rocket wars, some still assessed that Hamas would prioritize survival over "resistance."
        Yet Oct. 7 was the war Hamas always wanted. Hamas remained committed to its core principle of prioritizing the destruction of Israel over the well-being of Palestinian civilians. That explains why Hamas executed the brutal Oct. 7 attack and why Israel responded with an assault aimed at ending the Hamas governance project in Gaza.
        The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  (Yale University Press)
  • Preventing Hamas' Recovery - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel
    The IDF has successfully dismantled Hamas' operational framework in northern and central Gaza. More than 11,000 rockets have been fired into Israeli territory. More than 95% of those that threatened to hit targets inside Israel were intercepted by Israel's aerial defense systems.
        Much of the humanitarian aid that enters Gaza through the Rafah border crossing does not reach northern Gaza because Hamas members and criminal elements hijack the trucks as they make their way northward.
        Hamas' emergency councils, which are responsible for civilian activity in wartime, are still functioning and have regained their strength in northern Gaza after the IDF withdrew from neighborhoods and refugee camps. Hamas civilian police are starting to operate openly. Hamas is trying hard to create a myth whereby it cannot be defeated, in the expectation that domestic and international pressure on Israel will force it to halt the war.
        Israel needs to recapture northern Gaza to prevent Hamas from returning to the area, allowing a new local leadership to emerge who have no connection to Hamas, to run civilian matters, stabilize northern Gaza, and start the reconstruction process. Only if the IDF has military control of the region will a local leadership emerge that is not afraid of Hamas. Israel must also hermetically seal the Philadelphi corridor separating Gaza from Egypt to prevent Hamas from rearming.
        The writer, former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division, heads the research program on the Palestinian arena at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Hamas' New Tactics - Ruth R. Wisse
    Arab and Muslim factions still compete over who can best whom at destroying the Jews. Hamas recently beat the competition with a demonstration of savagery unlike the earlier improvised pogroms in Europe to which it has been compared. October's slaughters were plotted with crucial input from Gazans employed in Israeli homes they had scouted and mapped for the purpose, making this the first military campaign designed to culminate in acts of beheading, torture, and rape of predetermined victims.
        As attempts to destroy Israel through conventional warfare had only made Israel militarily stronger, the new tactics aimed at destroying the Jews' will to remain among antagonists sworn never to leave them in peace. More than to intimidate, these attacks were made to demoralize. Hamas murdered parents and children in each other's presence so as to sharpen the survivors' agony. Every Jewish value - respect for women, honoring the human being who was made in the image of God - was gleefully defiled.
        The writer is professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard. (Tablet)
  • Palestinians Must Reject Hamas' Suicidal Adventures - Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib
    I left Gaza one month before the Israeli withdrawal in 2005. Since Hamas' horrendous Oct. 7 attacks on Israelis, difficult, uncomfortable questions are surfacing about the future of the Palestinian national project. Hamas' terror, which the group presented as legitimate armed resistance, seriously harmed the Palestinian cause and has led to thousands of Palestinians killed in Israeli retaliation. Armed resistance by Hamas and others failed to liberate any territories.
        Gaza's destruction is forcing unprecedented questioning of Hamas and the viability of armed resistance by its displaced, hungry, sick, and exhausted residents. Hamas propaganda has consistently told Palestinians that its resistance prevents Israel from operating freely in Gaza. The 2023 war decimated this notion and claims that asymmetric guerilla power can seriously challenge Israel's overwhelming military superiority. No amount of rockets, tunnels, or violent attacks emanating from Gaza is going to address Palestinian grievances or result in the establishment of a Palestinian state.
        Gaza should have become a model for what a prosperous, developed Palestinian state would look like. It was Hamas' choices that took Gaza down a dark path of recurring cycles of war, destruction, temporary reconstruction, and stalemate. The international community and the Arab world are tired of having to foot the bill for Hamas' suicidal adventures.
        There must be a cultural shift within Palestinian society to reverse decades of incitement and anti-peace sentiments. There must be a once and for all disposal of the notion that Israel can be dismantled or erased. It is time for the Palestinians to embrace peace, reject violence, and genuinely believe in coexisting with their Israeli neighbors. (Ha'aretz)
  • Cut Funding to Organizations that Empower Hamas - Bonnie Glick and Richard Goldberg
    Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being sent to international organizations enabling Hamas terrorism. With 34 Americans already murdered by Hamas and six more still held hostage in Gaza, it's time for Washington to withhold contributions to agencies that actively subsidize, enable or defend the evil the world witnessed on Oct. 7.
        The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) runs schools in the West Bank and Gaza that explicitly teach kids to hate Jews and Israel. Many of its staff members are members of terrorist groups such as Hamas. Its facilities are used by Hamas to launch attacks and build terror tunnels. Employees stand accused of celebrating Oct. 7 and even holding some of Hamas' Israeli hostages in their homes.
        The International Committee of the Red Cross refuses to pressure Hamas to allow medical visits to the hostages it kidnapped. But its staff does visit Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails to sign them up for the Palestinian Authority's "pay to slay" program - a policy that gives government benefits to the families of those who commit terrorist attacks against Israel.
        For agencies that refuse to recognize Hamas and other groups as terrorist organizations, U.S. funding should be cut or withheld. We owe nothing less to the victims of Oct. 7 and the hostages who remain in captivity.
        Bonnie Glick was deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2019-2020. Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former Senate aide and National Security Council official. (The Hill)
  • The UN Is Working to Create Permanent War in Gaza - Nicole Lampert
    The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is the only UN group dedicated to one conflict. Never mind the millions of Syrian refugees, or the hundreds of thousands who fled Afghanistan or Ukraine, only Palestinian refugees are seen as deserving of special attention. Someone whose great-grandfather fled the area and ended up in the UK, where their grandparents and parents laid down roots, is still counted as a Palestinian "refugee."
        In Gaza and the West Bank, high-rise apartment blocks are called "refugee camps," though their residents are living in a Palestinian-ruled area. The very fact that they are called refugees maintains the idea that they have somewhere to go "back" to. This obsession with "return" fed by UNWRA is partly what destroyed the Oslo Peace Process and has scuppered every other attempt at a peace deal.
        In UNRWA schools, UN watchdogs report that children are taught math by looking at the angles of rockets and adding up numbers of "martyrs" killed, while reading exercises celebrate firebomb attacks on Jews. They are taught that Jerusalem is "theirs" and that Jews stole the land and need to die. The 3,000 teachers on a Gazan UNRWA Telegram group celebrated the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7. Half the schools in Gaza are run by UNRWA. IDF Col. Elad Shushan said, "There is not an UNRWA site, school, mosque, or kindergarten in which we didn't find weapons. None. 100%."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

  • In my public and personal life, I have faced no antisemitism. That is why the recent outbursts of hatred of Jews have shocked me. During the 40 years the people of Connecticut elected me to state and federal offices, our state's Jewish population was never much more than 2%. The great majority of votes I received in all those elections came from people who were not Jewish. There was never even a hint of antisemitism being used against me in any of my campaigns.
  • In 2000, I was honored to be selected by Al Gore to be his running mate, the first Jewish-American to run on a major party national ticket. Again, I faced no antisemitism. The ticket on which there was a Jewish candidate received 545,000 more votes than the other ticket in a great affirmation of the fairness of America's voters.
  • The rise in antisemitism in America in recent years means that something serious has changed. Since the war in Gaza began, public expressions of hatred of Jews has reached a fevered pitch.
  • The likely cause is the erosion of our previous national consensus against such hatred and the general loss of civility in speech and behavior in our country, where undisciplined and uncivilized behavior has reached a peak in recent years.
  • Fixing this cause of hatred cannot be done by laws alone. It will take personal decisions to discipline our speech and behavior to stop the hatred that is dividing and weakening our country.
  • The Jewish-American community cannot defeat antisemitism without help from the rest of America, any more than African-Americans alone can stop racism. It will take the broadest possible coalition of Americans coming together to fight hatred.

    The writer, chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran, was a U.S. senator (D-Conn.) (1989-2013).
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