February 2, 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:

U.S. Sanctions Israelis Who Had Already Been Prosecuted by Israel (U.S. State Department)
    State Department spokesman Matthew Miller announced Thursday that the President issued a new executive order imposing financial sanctions on four Israeli nationals targeting Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.
    In response to questioning, Miller admitted that three of the four individuals had already been prosecuted under the Israeli justice system.
    See also Israel Responds to U.S. Sanctions Order - Vivian Salama (Wall Street Journal)
    In response to President Biden's order, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said, "The absolute majority" of Israeli citizens in the West Bank "are law-abiding citizens, many of whom are currently fighting in mandatory service and in the reserves for the defense of Israel."
    "Israel is taking action against people who break the law everywhere, and therefore there is no place for unusual measures in this regard."
    See also Sanctions Order on Israelis Seen as Gesture Aimed at Arab American Voters - Michael D. Shear (New York Times)
    The White House announced the sanctions just hours before President Biden held a campaign event in Michigan, a critical battleground state that has a large Arab American population and has been the site of numerous protests over the war in Gaza.

UN Agency Accused of Links to Hamas, the Clues Were There All Along - David Luhnow (Wall Street Journal)
    For years, international relief workers and the Israeli military have reported weapons caches found in schools operated by UNRWA in Gaza.
    They learned of underground tunnels beneath UNRWA facilities and the theft by Hamas of agency-provided fuel and aid.
    In 2014, part of the parking lot at the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza began sinking, likely from a Hamas tunnel dug beneath. A former UNRWA official said, "No one talked about what was causing the collapse, but everyone knew."
    Western donors who pay for most of its $1.3 billion budget are questioning whether the agency has become irrevocably radicalized.

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The PA Knew Terrorists Were Hiding in Jenin Hospital and Did Nothing - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
    On Jan. 30, Israeli security forces killed three Palestinian terrorists who were hiding inside Ibn Sina Hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin.
    The three terrorists had been hiding inside the hospital for several weeks.
    Mohammed Walid Jalamneh, the slain leader of the terror cell, was previously wounded while preparing a car bomb attack. He served as a spokesman for the Izaddin al-Qassam Brigades in the Jenin area, and had often appeared in military uniform and a mask to read out statements by his group.
    The IDF has documented that senior Hamas terrorists stay in hospitals during times of war, disguised as "patients" or medical staff.
    The PA was undoubtedly aware of the presence of the terrorists inside Ibn Sina Hospital but did nothing to remove them. Instead, it condemned Israel.
    In light of the aversion of the PA, its ministry of health, and its security forces to expel the terrorists from the Jenin hospital, the U.S. administration's plan for bringing the PA back to Gaza to replace Hamas and create a Palestinian state seems more than foolhardy.

Civilian Deaths in Gaza: Relatively Low - Alan M. Dershowitz (Gatestone Institute)
    The death toll among civilians in Gaza - even including children and women - is among the lowest in the history of comparable warfare. Over the past several months, it has become even lower.
    According to the New York Times, "The daily death toll in Gaza has more than halved in the past month," and has fallen almost 2/3 since late October. Moreover, the percentage of civilian to combatant causalities has gone down considerably as well.
    Israel's military actions produced far fewer deaths and a far lower ratio of civilian-to-combatant deaths (2:1) than in any comparable urban warfare.
    This is especially significant considering that Hamas deliberately increases civilian deaths by using women and children as human shields and by hiding its military personnel and equipment among civilians.
    Critics of Israel almost never cite comparable data from other military encounters, creating the false impression that the civilian death toll in Gaza is among the highest in history, when it is in fact among the lowest.
    Israel's conduct in its defensive war, started by Hamas, has been exemplary. It satisfies all international standards.
    The writer is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Plans Approved for U.S. Strikes on Iranian Personnel and Facilities in Iraq, Syria after Jordan Drone Attack - Tucker Reals
    U.S. officials have confirmed to CBS News that plans have been approved for a series of strikes over a number of days against targets - including Iranian personnel and facilities - inside Iraq and Syria. The strikes will come in response to drone and rocket attacks targeting U.S. forces in the region. Speaking at the Pentagon Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. won't tolerate attacks on American troops. "We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests and our people."  (CBS News)
        See also U.S.: Iran Trains and Funds Militias Targeting U.S. Troops - Helene Cooper
    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that Tehran trained and funded the militia groups that have targeted American troops and commercial shipping in the Middle East. Austin said the Iran-backed militias "have a lot of capability." He paused and added, "I have a lot more."  (New York Times)
  • EU to Launch Red Sea Naval Mission to Protect Ships from Houthi Attacks
    The EU plans to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea within three weeks to help defend cargo ships against attacks by Houthis in Yemen that are hampering trade and driving up prices, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday. Seven EU countries are ready to provide ships or planes. Belgium has already committed a frigate. Germany is expected to do the same.
        Borrell insisted that the EU mission will engage in "intercepting of the attacks against the ships. Not participating in any kind of action against the Houthis. Only blocking the attacks of the Houthis." France, Greece and Italy are vying to lead the naval effort. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: 10,000 Palestinian Terrorists in Gaza Have Been Killed and 10,000 Wounded - Emanuel Fabian
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday that ongoing IDF operations have severely weakened Hamas' ability to wage war. "Hamas' Khan Yunis Brigade boasted that it would stand against the IDF, now it's falling apart, and I am telling you here, we are completing the mission in Khan Yunis and we will also reach Rafah and eliminate everyone there who is a terrorist who is trying to harm us."
        He said IDF operations in Khan Yunis were "progressing with impressive results," and that it was "much more difficult for Hamas. They don't have weapons, they don't have ammunition, they don't have the ability to treat the wounded, they have 10,000 dead terrorists [throughout Gaza] and another 10,000 wounded who are not functioning."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Stock Market Up, Shekel Strengthens as Gaza War Continues - David Rosenberg
    Stocks and bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange have been enjoying a sustained rally and the shekel is 6% stronger against the dollar than it was on the eve of the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
        The future interests investors more than the present. There seems to be a feeling that Israel will recover from the war quickly, just as it has in past wars, and the economy will resume growing as if nothing happened, supported by a recovering tech sector and a growing defense industry. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Only Way to Stop Hamas Is to Stop Iran from Rebuilding It - Michael Singh and Matthew Levitt
    As talk in Western capitals has already turned to the "day after" in Gaza, Iran will be focused on rebuilding Hamas and preparing for the next war. If Israel and its allies aim to prevent a repeat of the Oct. 7 attack, they must counter Tehran.
        The U.S. and Israel have faced this scenario before. In July 2006, Hizbullah, Iran's favorite proxy, attacked Israel in an operation that resembled Oct. 7 in miniature (including the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers). Jerusalem's response left Hizbullah's capabilities severely degraded, but the group nonetheless touted its survival as a "divine victory." It is now stronger than it was before 2006 and is back to attacking Israel.
        If it were possible to utterly destroy the Hamas we know today, Iran would find other extremists to take up its flag, and then fund and equip them. Iran will also be vigilant against Palestinians brave enough to stand up for peace; Tehran will seek to kill them. Being free of Hamas means not only defeating the group itself, but also frustrating Iranian efforts to revive or replicate it.
        Michael Singh is director of the program on Great Power Competition and the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Matthew Levitt is director of the institute's program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.  (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Foreign Secretary's Suggestion that Britain Could Recognize Palestine Is Dangerously Premature - Con Coughlin
    This week, Foreign Secretary David Cameron made the stunning suggestion that the British government is giving consideration to formally recognizing the creation of an independent Palestinian state. British support for a two-state solution has been official British policy since the pre-war mandate era. Cameron's remarks, though, where he intimated that Britain might preempt the outcome of any future peace negotiations by granting official recognition to a Palestinian state, indicated a dramatic shift in official British policy.
        They also demonstrated a disturbing lack of diplomatic tact at a time when Israel, a country that is supposed to be one of the UK's closest allies, is engaged in an existential struggle against the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists responsible for committing the worst atrocity in the Jewish state's history.
        Raising the prospect of recognizing a Palestinian state when the Israeli people remain traumatized by the events of Oct. 7, and when the fate of the 100 or so Israeli hostages still being held by Hamas hangs in the balance, is not the unequivocal demonstration of support Israel deserves to receive from a key ally in its hour of need.
        There may well be, once the Gaza conflict has finally ended, a moment when peace talks on resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue can resume. Such an outcome, though, is light years away from the reality on the ground, where the priority for Israelis of all political persuasions is to ensure that they never again suffer the horrors of a large-scale terrorist attack. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Did UNRWA Deceive the Secretary of State to Receive U.S. Funding? - Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch
    During the last decade, U.S. aid to the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA has been conditioned upon written certification from the Secretary of State that the organization satisfies a series of requirements. One of those criteria is that the agency is taking "all possible measures to assure that no part of the U.S. contribution shall be used to furnish assistance to any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of...any...guerrilla type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism."
        In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 massacre, information has come to light indicating that at least 13 UNRWA employees actively participated in the massacre and another 1,200 UNRWA employees are active members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
        It is unreasonable to suggest that these 1,200 UNRWA employees were suddenly recruited last year since Secretary of State Blinken gave the previous certification. On the other hand, it is reasonable to assess that he was likely to have been intentionally and maliciously misled by UNRWA and its leadership on the affiliations of UNRWA staff and the recipients of UNRWA aid.
        Since the last certifications of Secretary of State Blinken were based on an intentional deception by UNRWA, and that agency cannot meet the requirements and conditions set forth in U.S. law, it would seem that the United States is positively prohibited from transferring any additional aid to UNRWA.
        The writer, Director of the Palestinian Authority Accountability Initiative at the Jerusalem Center, served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps and was director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • We Need to Talk about the UN in Gaza - Dan Perry
    With Gaza in ruins and over a million displaced, should we be talking about defunding UNRWA, a UN organization catering to Palestinian refugees? The real problem with UNRWA is that it seems to be a willing enabler of Hamas, a group that is not dedicated to the Palestinian national cause but rather to scuttling any peace deal with Israel enroute to a jihadi Islamic caliphate.
        UNRWA runs hundreds of schools for Palestinians who are the descendants of refugees from almost 80 years ago. It schools most of the kids in Gaza. As such, UNRWA has been fully complicit in educating generations of Palestinian children to glorify martyrdom and struggle.
        To be fair, the materials used in schools that teach violence, martyrdom, overt antisemitism, and jihad originate with the Palestinian Authority. That Hamas accepts the PA's curriculum tells you much about the degree to which the "moderate" PA's syllabus encourages peaceful coexistence. I understand if UNRWA officials felt they had to bow before a homicidal mafia, but there is a limit past which one loses legitimacy as a humanitarian.
        UNRWA has become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy with an interest in maintaining the dangerous fiction that there are many millions of Palestinian "refugees" - instead of pawns being denied basic rights by the countries of their birth, whose language they naturally speak and whose customs they fully share. (Newsweek)
  • UNRWA Exists to Push the Delusion that Israel Is a Temporary State - Terry Glavin
    Neither Palestinians nor Israelis will know peace until Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups preying upon Israel are utterly smashed. It's also arguable that UNRWA has been the greater impediment to peace, because its entire purpose is to sustain a huge and ever-expanding population of Palestinian refugees in the delusion that one day, the Jewish state of Israel will be destroyed, and they'll all be free to return to their ancestors' towns and villages.
        Generations of Palestinians have been brought up in this delusion. The Palestinian identity forged in UNRWA schools relies upon a mythology of unique victimhood, the glorification of violence and martyrdom, and the ineradicable wickedness of the Jews. UNRWA has been fostering and incubating this sociopathology since 1949.
        Apart from Jordan, the Arab states still refuse to grant "Palestinian refugees" permanent status and integrate them into their societies. To do so would be to tacitly admit the Arab states' loss in the 1940s, Israel's victory, and the permanence of the Jewish state. The U.S. let the Arab states have their way with UNRWA. The liberal democracies provide the bulk of UNRWA's funding. Sooner or later, it has got to go. (National Post-Canada)
  • UNRWA Exists to Ensure that Palestinian Refugees Are Never Resettled - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The notion put forward that the people who took part in the terror attacks in Israel on Oct. 7 are just a tiny minority of UNRWA's 13,000 employees is not to be taken seriously. For years, it has been well known that UNRWA facilities, including schools, have been used by Hamas to store weapons or otherwise assist terrorists. Its education programs are as bad as those run by Hamas or the Palestinian Authority when it comes to indoctrinating young Palestinians in hatred for Israel and the Jews.
        UNRWA is dedicated to perpetuating the conflict with Israel, while every other refugee agency in the world focuses on resettling those displaced by war in some safe place where they can make a new start in life. The only theoretical hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians must start with the abolition of institutions that not only provide assistance and employment to terrorists, but have as their purpose the perpetuation of a futile quest to destroy the one Jewish state on the planet.
        Up to 60 million people were displaced during and immediately after the Second World War. Some 800,000 Jews either fled or were forced to flee their homes in the Arab and Muslim world where they had lived for centuries. The Jewish refugees were resettled largely in Israel, where they faced hardships in what was then a very poor and embattled country.
        Unlike every other refugee population, the Palestinian Arabs were not resettled. They were kept in camps throughout the Middle East with the largest concentration in Gaza. They were prevented from finding new homes in Arab and Muslim countries, where they spoke the language and shared a common culture.
        Instead, they were kept in place to wait for the day when they could "go home" to their former villages in what was now Israel. Their leaders and the rest of the Arab world opposed their resettlement, doing all they could to prevent it. The agency that enabled this policy to continue for generations was UNRWA, which exists solely to ensure that Palestinian refugees are never resettled. (JNS-Israel Hayom)

The Two-State Delusion - Elliott Abrams (Tablet)
  • In the West, the call for a "two-state solution" is a magical incantation. Diplomats and politicians are not seriously asking what kind of state "Palestine" would be. Instead, they simply imagine a peaceful, well-ordered place called "Palestine" and assure everyone that it is just around the corner.
  • In January, Secretary of State Blinken said, "It's, I think, very important for the Palestinian people that they have governance that can...actually deliver what the Palestinian people want." But what if "what the Palestinian people want" is mostly to destroy Israel? Opinion polls suggest that very many Palestinians, and not just those in Hamas, consider the State of Israel illegitimate, want it eliminated, and favor "armed struggle."
  • Then what is the nature of the Palestinian state that Western governments are demanding? A terrorist state? A state with a government that is half terrorist, based on admittance of Hamas into the PLO? A state that is an autocracy where "armed struggle" against Israel is widely popular? Creating that state is supposed to be the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Israelis are supposed to be reassured that a Palestinian state will be no threat to them?
  • Whatever limitations on Palestinian sovereignty that are built into any "two-state solution" will be viewed by Palestinians the way most Germans viewed the limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty. Those who seek to live with them will be called traitors, and those who demand abrogating or violating them will be "nationalists" and heroes.
  • The day a Palestinian state is declared is the day Iran hypes up its efforts to turn the West Bank into what Gaza became in the last decade: a maze of arsenals, training centers, tunnels, launching sites, and bases for terrorist attacks. Only this time the geography will be different because the hills of Judea and Samaria overlook Ben-Gurion Airport, Jerusalem, and the coastal plain where most of Israel's economy, its largest port, and its largest city are located.
  • Creating a Palestinian state will not end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it will not end the Palestinian and Iranian dream of eliminating the State of Israel. On the contrary, it can be a launching pad for new attacks on Israel and will certainly be viewed that way by the Jewish state's most dedicated enemies. A peaceful Palestinian state that represents no threat to Israel is a mirage.

    The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as U.S. deputy national security advisor, where he supervised Middle East policy for the White House.
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