February 1, 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:

Hamas Is Hijacking over Half the Aid Trucks Entering Gaza (Times of Israel)
    Hamas is hijacking over half the aid trucks entering Gaza, with Israel Security Agency chief Ronen Bar putting the figure at 60%, Israel's Channel 12 reported Wednesday.
    Bar was said to have discussed ways to stop Hamas from taking over the trucks during meetings in Cairo earlier this week.
    Groups of activists, including some families of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, have been holding daily protests at the Kerem Shalom crossing, demanding that no aid be allowed to enter Gaza via Israel as long as the hostages remain in captivity.
    See also Israel Looking to Prevent Hamas from Diverting Humanitarian Aid in Gaza - Yehuda Shlezinger (Israel Hayom)
    Israel has devised a plan that would see the army and international bodies hand out humanitarian aid directly to Gazans, preventing its diversion by Hamas, Israel Hayom has learned.
    The plan is still being examined and has not yet been approved by the political echelon.

Grenade Found Outside Israeli Embassy in Stockholm (The Local-Sweden)
    Sweden's national bomb squad was called to the Israeli embassy in Stockholm on Wednesday after a hand grenade was found nearby.
    Sources told the Expressen that the grenade was thrown towards the embassy's fence.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Pull Officers from Syria after Israeli Strikes (Reuters)
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards have scaled back deployment of their senior officers in Syria due to a spate of deadly Israeli strikes.
    Since December, Israeli strikes have killed more than half a dozen of their members, among them a top intelligence general.
    A senior regional security official briefed by Tehran said senior Iranian commanders had left Syria along with dozens of mid-ranking officers.
    While sources said Iran has no intention of quitting Syria, it has sought to stay out of the conflict itself, even as it supports groups that have entered the fray from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
    Sources said the Guards would manage Syrian operations remotely, with help from ally Hizbullah.

IDF Troops Face Serious Injuries in Gaza War - Samuel Lovett (Telegraph-UK)
    The number of Israeli troops suffering severe injuries in Gaza is twice as high as in the nation's last major conflict - the Second Lebanon War in 2006, said Col. Avi Banov, Deputy Surgeon General of the IDF Medical Corps.
    This "war is far more dangerous, far more harmful," highlighting the street-to-street nature of the fighting.
    A quarter of the 2,784 soldiers wounded since Oct. 7 have been severely injured, "compared to 12%" when Israel and Hizbullah fought in 2006.
    "We're also facing way more enemies in a much smaller area, and these are military-graded terrorists."
    "In the past four months we have had more casualties than we have had in the past four decades."
    In today's war, 557 soldiers have died, including those who were killed during the Oct. 7 attacks.
    Most of the injuries sustained by IDF troops in Gaza are a result of explosive weapons, such as IEDs and rocket-launched grenades, which "cause more damage."
    Although soldiers are equipped with military-grade battle gear that protects the torso, their limbs and faces are left vulnerable to shrapnel released during explosions.
    "We do not see a lot of chest injuries but we see penetrating injuries to the limbs, which can require amputation. We see injuries to eyes, too."
    At the same time, the IDF is losing fewer men to injuries than it used to. The fatality rate was 6.5-7%, compared to 13-15% in the Second Lebanon War.

IDF Soldiers Find Jewish Tombs in Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    IDF soldiers on Wednesday found a well-preserved cemetery near the town of Al-Mawasi in Gaza belonging to World War I veterans who fought in the British Army.
    Seven of the graves were marked with a Star of David, the resting place of Jewish soldiers.
    The site is maintained by the UK via local authorities in Gaza.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Strikes UAV Ground Control Station and Ten Attack UAVs in Yemen
    U.S. forces identified a UAV ground control station and ten attack UAVs in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region. U.S. forces subsequently struck and destroyed these targets early Thursday. (CENTCOM)
        See also U.S. Shoots Down Houthi Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile and Iranian UAVs
    On Wednesday the USS Carney shot down an anti-ship ballistic missile fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the Gulf of Aden. The USS Carney then shot down three Iranian UAVs in its vicinity. (CENTCOM)
        See also U.S. Forces Destroy Houthi Surface-to-Air Missile (CENTCOM)
        See also U.S. Hints at Multi-Part Response to Deadly Attack on U.S. Soldiers in Jordan
    U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday discussed the U.S. response to the militia drone strike that killed three American soldiers and wounded more than 40 others in Jordan on Sunday. He said the U.S. reaction "won't just be a one-off...the first thing you see will not be the last thing....This will be a response over time."   (White House)
  • Hamas Booby-Trapped Dead Bodies with Explosives Say Israeli First-Responders - Jane Prinsley
    Speaking at a talk in Westminster on Wednesday organized by the All Party UK-Israel Parliamentary Group, Shari Mendes, who was part of a forensics team that examined the bodies of women killed on Oct. 7, described how her team had to flee a morgue as "bodies were coming in booby-trapped." She described in detail the bodies she dealt with: "Women had grimaces, their mouths were contorted, their eyes were open, their hands were clenched. It was clear these women died in agony....We saw several severed heads."
        Zaka rescue unit volunteer Simcha Greiniman recounted how he found one woman: "Her hands were tied to the front, she was shot in the head from behind. When we moved her to lay her down on the floor, she had a live grenade in her hand." He described another body: "We could not identify if it was a man or a woman because the body was cut to pieces."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Veteran UK Minister Driven Out of Politics by Death Threats - for Supporting Israel - Jason Groves
    Justice minister Mike Freer told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Tuesday that he will step down at the election following a string of threats and incidents, which culminated in an arson attack on his constituency office in December. Freer has suffered more than a decade of intimidation and says he feels "lucky to be alive" after narrowly escaping a confrontation with terrorist killer Ali Harbi Ali, who murdered fellow Tory MP Sir David Amess in 2021. Freer said he could no longer put his family through the anxiety of knowing he might be targeted every time he stepped outside.
        On police advice, Freer has had to wear a stab vest when attending scheduled public events in his constituency. Freer is not Jewish but believes his outspoken views on Israel and strong support for the Jewish community have led to him being targeted by anti-Semites. (Daily Mail-UK)
        See also MP Details Intimidation and Abuse that Forced Him to Leave Politics - Jason Groves (Daily Mail-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Egypt Closer to Agreement on Border Security Issues
    Negotiations between Israel and Egypt were closer to an agreement on solutions for stopping smuggling operations under the Philadelphi corridor along the Egypt-Gaza border, Israeli Army Radio reported Thursday. Israel committed not to operate in the Rafah area, near the Egyptian border, before the large Palestinian population there was evacuated. This would alleviate Egypt's concern of a mass exodus of Palestinians into its territory. (i24News)
  • IDF Strikes Hizbullah Targets in Southern Lebanon
    IDF planes attacked a Hizbullah compound in Rachaf in southern Lebanon on Wednesday. The IDF also fired artillery at Aalma ech Chaab and Aitaroun, where there was Hizbullah activity.
        Hizbullah rocket launches were detected towards Moshavs Yiftah and Ya'ara, as well as Kibbutz Hanita in northern Israel. The IDF attacked the sources of the fire in Lebanon. An anti-tank missile was fired at Metula, where a house caught fire. Rockets were fired toward Shlomi but fell within Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizbullah Fire Has Damaged 427 Houses in Israel - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The Defense Ministry on Thursday announced that 427 houses in northern Israel have had structural damage from Hizbullah rockets and anti-tank missiles since October. Some 80 of the houses have experienced direct hits and much greater damage. Yediot Ahronot reported that the three communities hit hardest were Metulla, Shlomi, and Manara. Another six communities have significant damage, including Kiryat Shmona. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Congressional Hearing Spotlights UNRWA Failures - Mike Wagenheim
    The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing Tuesday on "UNRWA Exposed: Examining the Agency's Mission and Failures." "UNRWA absolutely did unconscionable things," said Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability. "Certainly a large percentage of their employees are either a part of Hamas or some other terrorist organization or support Hamas or some other terrorist organization."
        Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) said, "UNRWA is committing wholesale child abuse against Palestinian youth. It's teaching them to hate every single day." Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said, "There's overwhelming evidence that UNRWA is clearly flawed to the core, that it isn't just a couple of bad apples, that it is a systemic issue." He said there is a growing bipartisan group in favor of humanitarian aid and education, "but there's other agencies to handle that and it's time for UNRWA to disappear."  (i24News)
        See also Observations: UNRWA Must Be Replaced in Gaza after Hamas Falls - Richard Goldberg (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Attack on U.S. Troops Needs a Rapid Response and Long-Term Follow-Through - Editorial
    The U.S. must strike back at the authors of a drone attack against a U.S. military outpost in northeastern Jordan, which killed three U.S. Army reservists and wounded more than 40 others. Devastating retaliation is imperative for several reasons: to mete out justice for the fallen U.S. troops, to reduce the military capability of Iranian-backed militias that conducted the attack - and to deter those groups from trying again. A tough response is needed to send a signal of support for the base's host nation, Jordan, whose sovereignty was blatantly violated. We assume President Biden is planning such a response.
        Perhaps most important, the Biden administration needs to rethink strategy on Iran generally, now that it is clear that previous attempts to engage with the Islamic republic via negotiations to contain its nuclear program have hit a dead end. The Iranians have aligned themselves firmly with Russia in an apparent effort to help Moscow wage its war in Ukraine. Always in the background are the nuclear program and the possibility that any restraint the Islamic republic shows with respect to today's battles might be intended to buy time for an ultimate breakthrough on atomic weapons. (Washington Post)
  • Is There a Way to Bring the Hostages Home without Derailing the War Against Hamas? - David Horovitz
    As we knew it would, Hamas is using the remaining 132 hostages it has held since Oct. 7 as leverage to try to survive Israel's campaign to destroy its military capabilities, to maintain its hold on Gaza, and to secure the release of all Palestinian security prisoners today in Israeli jails - 8,600 in all, including 1,000 who either participated in the Oct. 7 slaughter or have been captured in the course of the ongoing war since.
        But conceding in full or large part to Hamas' demands would mean downgrading the vital national interest in destroying Hamas - the cause for which over 220 IDF soldiers have lost their lives. It could enable Hamas to survive, rearm, and repeat Oct. 7. It could further embolden Israel's other, more powerful enemies.
        It could leave the tens of thousands of Israelis forced from their homes in the western Negev, and tens of thousands more near the northern border, unable to return. It could render Israelis everywhere in the country perpetually fearful for their basic security. It would discredit and marginalize non-extreme Muslim individuals, groups and governments. Israel must emerge successfully from this war. (Times of Israel)
  • The Briton Who Joined the IDF in Gaza - Anonymous
    My Dutch mother and English father met and fell in love on a kibbutz in Israel. I was brought up in northwest London, but joined the IDF in 2014 and after two years joined the reserves. I was at home in Tel Aviv with my girlfriend on Oct. 7 and was called up. Because I am a British citizen I have never been compelled to serve, but after Oct. 7 it was something I was proud to do. "What choice do I have?" I asked my girlfriend.
        My job is reconnaissance - I am the eyes and the ears of my unit, watching out for danger. Going into Gaza we saw the scale of what we were fighting. I would say that 75%, if not more, of the homes we went into had some sort of affiliation with Hamas. Lots of weapons; we'd find RPGs and grenades on the floor. You'd go into a pink bedroom and think about the young girl who lived there, and then go next door and see guns or detailed maps of Israel - knowing that that stuff was there because they wanted to kill us.
        I know how strict the protocols are in terms of attacking buildings as one of my jobs was directing fire from helicopters or planes. We never fired indiscriminately and the idea that we deliberately killed civilians is rubbish. There would always have to be a specific danger to our troops and we were always aware not only of the civilians but also of the fact that any of the buildings could contain one of our hostages. In the British media, the picture of us as this monstrous war-mongering, child-killing machine couldn't be more wrong. (Telegraph-UK)

UNRWA Must Be Replaced in Gaza after Hamas Falls - Richard Goldberg (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Former White House National Security Council official Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that UNRWA was founded as a political weapon in the Arab world's campaign to destroy the State of Israel after its founding.
  • The agency has evolved into an internationally funded, locally staffed, foreign aid entitlement program that incites violence against Israel, subsidizes U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations, denies Palestinians their basic human rights, and blocks the pathways to a sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • While the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has 19,000 employees, manages 29.4 million refugees, UNRWA employs more than 30,000 Palestinians to service a claimed figure of 5.9 million Palestinian refugees, which includes the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the original 700,000 refugees.
  • These Palestinians are brought up with the hatred and resentment that comes with the "refugee" label's political and economic limitations. That label comes with a vision that one day the Jews will be driven into the Mediterranean Sea - and all these so-called "refugees" will return to their land. October 7 was the logical conclusion of UNRWA's indoctrination.
  • UNRWA lists 1.7 million of Gaza's population of 2.1 million as refugees - people who have lived in Gaza for generations - a statistic intended to advance a political agenda, not reflect reality. News reports discuss "urban refugee camps." What is an urban refugee camp? That is a made-up term. These are cities.
  • UNRWA is not a refugee agency. Period. What should we call it? A welfare entitlement agency? A make-work project for Palestinians? A substitute for genuine Palestinian institution-building, self-responsibility, and self-sufficiency? Take your pick.
  • Congress should block any attempt by the administration to include UNRWA in the future of Gaza after Hamas falls.

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