January 30, 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 Forces Attacking Hamas Inside Tunnels - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Of the 4,500 Hamas fighters in the four Khan Yunis battalions, 2,700 have been killed, over 1,000 in close combat and over 1,700 by tank, artillery, or aerial attacks, the IDF says.
    Initially, the IDF strategy was to first win the battle above ground, and then to slowly have engineering crews blow up Hamas' underground tunnels.
    Later, the IDF shifted to attacking Hamas simultaneously both above and below ground, including sending dozens of IDF forces all at once into the tunnels to combat Hamas terrorists.

Report: Iranian Advisers Killed in Israeli Strike in Syria - Joanie Margulies (Jerusalem Post)
    Two people were killed and several wounded on Monday in what Iranian and Syrian media said was an Israeli attack on the outskirts of Damascus.
    Iran's Tasnim News said Israel "attacked an Iranian military advisory center" in Syria.
    The strikes attacked the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' operational headquarters, a source told Reuters.

South Africa's Case at the ICJ Is Built on Reports from Groups with Links to Terrorist Organizations - Naftali Balanson (Wall Street Journal)
    For years, a network of Western-funded NGOs involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been engaged in a concerted and coordinated effort to attach the "apartheid" charge to Israel.
    South Africa's submission to the International Court of Justice contains 45 references to NGO publications, including several from outfits linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization.
    Staff and board members of these PFLP-linked groups helped prepare South Africa's case.
    The ICJ should be ashamed that it is accepting evidence from blatant propaganda groups that have proven track records of supporting hate and violence against Israel and Jews.
    The writer is chief operating officer at NGO Monitor.

UNRWA Is Worse than You Think - Brendan O'Neill (Spiked-UK)
    UNRWA - the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees - announced it was investigating allegations that its employees in Gaza took part in the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7.
    UNRWA oversees vast swathes of social and educational life in Gaza, as well as providing health and welfare.
    Yet the illusion that UNRWA is a good, neutral body that just happens to have a few bad actors in its ranks is dangerously simple-minded.
    In truth, UNRWA has helped to institutionalize a Palestinian politics of grievance, increase both local and global hatred for Israel, and provide spaces in which Gazan Islamists have been able to indoctrinate a new generation with their Jew-hate that masquerades as "Palestinian liberation."
    Liberating Gaza from UNRWA ought to be at least a medium-term goal of everyone who cares about Israelis and Palestinians.

Widespread Acts of Resistance to the Nazis by Jewish Individuals - Matt Lebovic (Times of Israel)
    In his new book, Resisters: How Ordinary Jews Fought Persecution in Hitler's Germany, German historian Wolf Gruner illustrates how Jews fought back during Hitler's first six years of power and paid for it with prison sentences, fines and public humiliation.
    "My research demonstrates with many examples that women and men of all ages, from 16-year-olds to over 70-year-olds, resisted the Nazi regime and their anti-Jewish persecution in different ways."
    The day after the "Night of Broken Glass" pogrom in Germany and Austria in 1938, teenager Daisy Gronowski was ordered to run through a gauntlet of German teens while they beat her friends with clubs. Instead, Gronowski, 16, chose to walk.
    For her impudence, she was taken aside by a young Nazi armed with a rusty pocket knife.
    As the German attempted to cut into her arm, she recalled a "little trick" from training she'd undergone with the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement in Berlin.
    Daisy moved forward and pushed her head hard into his stomach. Taking advantage of the assailant's surprise, she twisted the knife out of his hand and stabbed him, then fled the scene.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 1,200 UNRWA Staff - Not Just 12 - Have Links to Hamas or Islamic Jihad - Carrie Keller-Lynn
    Around 10% of UNRWA's 12,000 employees in Gaza have links to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and 49% have close relatives who belong to the Islamist militant groups - both designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. - according to Israeli intelligence estimates shared with the U.S. Of the 12 employees listed in an intelligence dossier, two helped kidnap Israelis, two others were tracked to sites where scores of Israeli civilians were shot and killed, and others coordinated logistics for the assault, including procuring weapons.
        UNRWA "as a whole is a haven for Hamas' radical ideology," said a senior Israeli government official. The report said 23% of UNRWA's male employees had ties to Hamas, a higher percentage than the average of 15% for adult males in Gaza, indicating a higher politicization of the agency than the population at large.
        Since Oct. 7, Hamas has stolen more than $1 million worth of UNRWA supplies, including fuel and trucks, according to the intelligence report. Hamas operatives are deeply enmeshed within the UNRWA aid-delivery enterprise and coordinate transfers for the organization. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Israeli Intelligence Report: 190 UNRWA Staff Are "Hardened" Militants - Dan Williams
    An Israeli intelligence dossier that prompted a cascade of countries to halt funds for the UN Palestinian aid agency alleges that some 190 UNRWA employees have doubled as Hamas or Islamic Jihad militants. An Israeli official said the 190 mentioned in the dossier were "hardened fighters, killers." The dossier also accuses Hamas of "methodically and deliberately deploying its terrorist infrastructure in a wide range of UN facilities and assets," including schools. (Reuters)
  • Thousands in India Flock to a Recruitment Center for Jobs in Israel - Rajesh Kumar Singh
    Thousands of Indian men, mostly skilled construction workers and laborers, flocked to the federal government's screening center in Lucknow on Thursday for jobs in Israel. Anoop Singh was told he would make $1,600 a month in Israel - significantly more than the $360-$420 he could get for the same work in India.
        A week-long recruitment drive began on Jan. 23, with a 15-member Israeli team overseeing the process and expecting to fill over 5,000 positions for masons, carpenters and other construction workers. Many see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could change their lives for the better.
        The states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have advertised for around 10,000 positions each for construction workers in Israel. New Delhi and Jerusalem last year inked an agreement that would allow 40,000 Indians to work in the fields of construction and nursing in Israel. According to 2022 data from India, there are nearly 13,000 Indian workers in Israel, especially in the caregiving sector. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Foils "Oct. 7-Style" Terror Attack in Raid on Jenin Hospital, Three Terrorists Targeted
    Israeli counterterrorism forces foiled an Oct. 7-inspired terror attack early Tuesday, targeting a Palestinian cell hiding and planning the attack from the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin in the West Bank. Wanted Hamas terrorist Mohammad Jalamna, 27, who was in direct communication with Hamas leadership abroad, was killed during the operation. He was responsible for transferring weaponry and ammunition to Hamas terrorists across the West Bank for shooting attacks targeting Israelis.
        Mohammed and Basel Ghazawi were also killed by Israeli forces. Mohammed, an operative in the Jenin battalions, was involved in numerous shooting attacks on IDF soldiers in recent weeks. Basel was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative.
        A senior Israeli official said, "There are no cities of refuge in the West Bank and there will not be - every terrorist should know this. The hand of the IDF and the security establishment will reach everyone."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Israeli Special Forces, Disguised as Medical Staff and Civilians, Neutralize a Hamas Cell at a Hospital in the West Bank (X)
  • Gaza Rockets Target Tel Aviv
    On Monday, after weeks of relative quiet, 11 rockets were fired at central Israel from southern Khan Yunis in Gaza, 6 of which were intercepted. A car in Rishon Lezion was hit by rocket debris, but no injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Sees Peak Motivation to Enlist in Combat Units - Yoav Zitun
    The ongoing war in Gaza is leading to an increase in motivation for young people to enlist in combat units. For the upcoming March draft, hundreds of prospective conscripts who indicated tank service as their top preference learned there might not be enough spots due to overwhelming demand. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Biden Calibrates His Response as a Slow-Motion Middle East Crisis Arrives - David Ignatius
    After the past weekend's drone strike on a U.S. base in northeastern Jordan, President Biden is thinking carefully about how to respond to the attack by an Iranian proxy that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded some 40 others - without, in the process, getting the U.S. into an open-ended war. According to current and former officials, Biden is likely to take decisive action.
        For months, this crisis has been coming in slow motion. Iranian-linked groups declared open season on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria (and now, Jordan) after the start of the Israel-Gaza war. U.S. officials count more than 160 attacks since then, more than one a day. The Pentagon has retaliated after some attacks, but not forcefully enough. These Shiite militias apparently think the U.S. is a low-risk target. So do the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen who have been firing missiles at ships traveling toward the Red Sea, disrupting international shipping. These calculations must change.
        Whether or not Iran is ordering these strikes, it is supplying the weapons, training and political support for these groups. It's fighting a classic covert campaign, acting against the U.S. through proxies to drive America from the region without taking direct responsibility. (Washington Post)
  • International Court of Justice Barely Mentioned Hamas' Crimes - Rosie DiManno
    Israel doesn't require moral lecturing on the extermination of a people as a national, ethnic or religious group. They've experienced it from all sides. It's the death cult that is Hamas which remains committed to perpetrating genocide on Israel, a goal repeated ad infinitum by the leadership.
        Yet Hamas barely got a disapproving mention from the International Court of Justice. Not until deep into Judge Joan E. Donoghue's oral delivery of the decision did she even make passing reference to the 136 hostages believed still held in captivity by Hamas, although upwards of 30 are thought to be dead.
        Seven-and-a-half decades later, "Never Again" has been contorted to mean "Well, sometimes" - when Jews and Israel, the very nation created in the shadow of the Holocaust, are the designated villains. We have seen, in footage of monstrous barbarity, of degeneracy unbearable to watch, who Hamas really are. Look up genocide and there they'll be. (Toronto Star-Canada)
  • War in Gaza Wreaks Havoc on the West Bank's Economy - Hagar Shezaf
    Since the war in Gaza broke out and Israel barred Palestinians with work permits from entering Israel (with certain exceptions), many men have been stuck at home with no income. "There's no work and no income at all. You're in the house with the kids and your wife and asking yourself how you'll provide them with what they need," says Zuhair Abu Zahra, 27, a father of three.
        According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, before the war, 160,000 Palestinians (19% of the workforce in the West Bank) worked in Israel and in Israeli communities. In January, 14,000 Palestinians were allowed entry to work in industrial zones and several vital industries. Unemployment in the West Bank climbed to 29% from 13% before the war.
        There's still the possibility of working in the Palestinian areas, but the local labor market has been flooded since the war started, depressing wages. Zuhair says, "I called somebody about a construction job in Hebron and was told that the pay would be 20 shekels a day." According to the Palestinian statistics office, the median wage for workers in the West Bank last year was 115 shekels per day, compared with 300 shekels in Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • My Fellow Palestinians: It's Time to Accept Israel's Offers for Peace - Bassem Eid
    As a Palestinian who genuinely yearns for a two-state solution and an improvement in living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, I believe this truth must be told: It is Israel - and the Zionist Jewish community preceding independence - that consistently offered compromise, dialogue, and a two-state solution. And it is Palestinian demagogues who have rejected these openhanded offers - in favor of endless strife and the desire that the Jewish community be completely destroyed.
        It is the Palestinian Arab nationalist movement that has betrayed the Palestinian people and consistently opposed peace. Israel has consistently made genuine efforts toward peace, only to be met with rejection, treachery, and blood-curdling violence by the Palestinian side. This pattern of refusal, particularly epitomized by groups like Hamas, has been the real obstacle to peace.
        The writer is a Palestinian peace advocate, political analyst, and human rights pioneer who founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996. (Newsweek)

The U.S. Bid for Detente with Iran Has Utterly Failed - Walter Russell Mead (Wall Street Journal)
  • From Gaza to the Red Sea and from Jordan to Iraq, there has been a stream of unprovoked attacks by Iran and its proxies. In January 2021, Team Biden anticipated a quick agreement with Iran that would put Middle East tensions on ice while the U.S. focused on countering China's rising power. But Iran, not the U.S., has controlled the pace and direction of Middle East politics since President Biden took office.
  • As 10 successive American presidents repeatedly learned, the Middle East can't be ignored. What happens in the Middle East often doesn't stay there. The region's dominant role in global energy markets means that even countries like the U.S. that don't depend on Middle Eastern oil can't escape the consequences if regional instability disrupts the flow of oil and gas to places like Europe, India, China and Japan. We can neither "fix" the Middle East nor ignore it.
  • Given the limits on American resources and the range of our global interests, America's Middle East policies must focus on essentials. We need to prevent aspiring hegemons like Iran, Russia and China from acquiring the power to dominate the region or interrupt the flow of energy to key economies. We also need to limit the effect of the Middle East's regional conflicts, terrorist movements, and radical ideologies on the wider world.
  • The Middle East is on fire today because the Biden administration's core regional strategy to reach some kind of detente with Iran has failed. Iran is closer every day to nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Taliban's humiliation of the U.S. in Afghanistan, the shock of Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and the success of jihadist movements across much of Africa have combined to breathe new energy into global terror networks.

    The writer, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College.

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