February 4, 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:

Israel's Arrow Intercepts Houthi Ballistic Missile Headed for Eilat - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Israel's long-range Arrow air defense system on Friday shot down a ballistic missile over the Red Sea fired at Eilat by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Houthi Missile Shot Down Seconds Before Hitting U.S. Navy Destroyer - Brad Lendon (CNN)
    The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Gravely destroyed an incoming Houthi cruise missile in the Red Sea last Tuesday using the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), when the missile came within 1 mile of the ship and was seconds from impact.
    The automated Phalanx system features Gatling guns that can fire up to 4,500 rounds a minute, engaging targets at extremely close range.

Attacking Iran's Proxies Won't Do the Job - Bret Stephens (New York Times)
    The Pentagon has launched strikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.
    Since October, there have been 160 attacks on American forces in Iraq and Syria.
    Iran has used its proxies to start fires across the Middle East. They won't be put out until the arsonist is taken down.

The Lazy Fantasy of a "Palestinian Mandela" - Seth Mandel (Commentary)
    Hamas' latest negotiating ploy is to ask for Israel to release Marwan Barghouti, a popular Fatah leader who is serving five life sentences for murder.
    Barghouti is often compared by the press and his Western admirers to Nelson Mandela, because his admirers have very active imaginations.
    The belief is that he has become popular enough to lead the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas, who is still alive and refuses to hold elections and therefore cannot be replaced by the Palestinian Mandela.
    What freeing Barghouti would accomplish is the further destabilization of the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank. Hamas thinks this is a great idea.
    Freeing a murderer to steer a sinking ship isn't going to save anyone. Forget Barghouti.

Israel's War on Hamas Is the Least Deadly War in the Region - Daniel Greenfield (Gatestone Institute)
    The Associated Press recently falsely claimed that the Israeli campaign against Hamas "sits among the deadliest and most destructive in recent history" and was even worse than "the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II."
    The Washington Post argued that "Israel has waged one of this century's most destructive wars in Gaza," while the Wall Street Journal contended that it was "generating destruction comparable in scale to the most devastating urban warfare in the modern record."
    Yet, even accepting the Hamas casualty figures (in which there are no terrorists, only civilians), this is still one of the least violent conflicts in the region.
    In 2016, the Washington Post described the Syrian Civil War, with 250,000 deaths, as "the most destructive conflict in the region."
    In 2020, the UN called the Yemeni Civil War, with 150,000 deaths, "the most destructive conflict since the end of the Cold War."
    In the current phase of the war in Sudan, 15,000 people have been killed over the last year, as part of a larger conflict that may have claimed two million lives.
    The Tigray War in Ethiopia over the last three years may have cost the lives of between 80,000 to 600,000 people.
    Every significant war and civil war in the region had a much higher death toll than the Hamas war.
    The Hamas attack of Oct. 7 killed 10% of the population of Kibbutz Be'eri, making it far worse per capita than anything in Israel's response to those atrocities.
    The morality of a war is not measured in civilian casualties, but in deliberate civilian killings. Morality is defined by intent, not statistics.
    Hamas has engaged in the deliberate killings of civilians. Israel has not.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Carries Out Retaliatory Strikes on Iranian-Linked Militia Targets in Iraq and Syria - Natasha Bertrand
    The U.S. conducted major airstrikes on 85 targets across seven locations in Iraq and Syria on Friday "against Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups" who have carried out attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East, U.S. Central Command said.
        "The facilities that were struck included command and control operations, centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces."  (CNN)
  • U.S. and UK Launch Heavy Strikes on Houthi Sites in Yemen - Eric Schmitt
    The U.S. and Britain attacked 36 Houthi targets at 13 sites in northern Yemen on Saturday with planes and Navy Tomahawk cruise missiles, striking deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars. "These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners, and are in response to a series of illegal, dangerous and destabilizing Houthi actions since previous coalition strikes," an official statement said.
        On Saturday night, before the planned strikes, the U.S. hit six Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles as they were being prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea, Central Command said. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Destroys More Houthi Drones on Friday
    On Friday, the USS Carney shot down one UAV over the Gulf of Aden. Later that day, U.S. Central Command forces conducted strikes against four Houthi UAVs that were prepared to launch. On Friday evening, the USS Laboon and FA-18s from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group shot down seven UAVs over the Red Sea. (CENTCOM)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Moves to Reassert Power in Gaza City
    Hamas has begun to resurface in areas where Israel withdrew the bulk of its forces a month ago, deploying police officers and making partial salary payments to some of its civil servants in Gaza City. In recent days, Israeli forces renewed strikes in the western and northwestern parts of Gaza City. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Has Killed 200 Terrorists in Lebanon and Syria, Struck 3,000 Sites - Emanuel Fabian
    Three troop divisions have been deployed to Israel's northern border, the Israeli military said Saturday. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel is working to "reshape the security reality" on the northern border to allow 80,000 Israelis displaced by months of incessant attacks to return home.
        Hagari said that since Oct. 7, the IDF had targeted 3,400 Hizbullah sites and killed 200 terrorist operatives, mostly members of Hizbullah. The targets included 120 observation posts, 40 weapons depots, and 40 command centers, along with strikes on an airstrip used by Hizbullah to launch drones and a weapons depot storing anti-aircraft missiles. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Destroying Hamas Is a Prerequisite for Middle East Peace - Meir Ben Shabbat and Ruth Pines Feldman
    Washington is treating the war in Gaza as an opportunity to advance both a two-state solution and regional integration. What is certain is that without an overriding, crushing Israeli victory over Hamas, these efforts have little chance of success. It is therefore critical that the Biden administration adopt policies that enable Israel to achieve such a victory and avoid steps that delay Israel's military progress and triumph.
        If Hamas leaders and their stormtroopers maintain their sway in Palestinian politics and can still threaten Israel, the "two-state solution" never will be a solution. Yet the administration's mid-war demands of Israel are delaying Israel's advance.
        The pressure exerted by Washington to reduce combat intensity; to significantly increase the scope of humanitarian aid into Gaza (even though much of it is commandeered by Hamas); and to kickstart a process whereby residents of northern Gaza return to their homes, despite the continued presence of Hamas tunnels under those homes - all are playing into Hamas' hands.
        The massive Hamas array of tunnels and underground military bases cannot simply be swept under the rug of "regional integration." The immense quantities of quality weaponry amassed by Hamas and directed at Israel cannot be pacified by "Palestinian statehood." First and foremost, Hamas' wherewithal for never-ending war against Israel must be eliminated. Washington's policies must prioritize complete Israeli victory over Hamas, as rapidly as possible.
        Meir Ben Shabbat, a former national security advisor to the Israeli prime minister, is chairman of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem, where Ruth Pines Feldman is a fellow. (The Hill)
  • Inspecting the UN's Strange Numbers on Israeli Violence Against Palestinians - Amit Segal
    The eyes of the world are focusing on the issue of Israeli violence against Palestinians. However, when the details on Israeli violence are examined thoroughly, it seems like there isn't much violence, according to Dr. Michael Wolfowicz, a criminology researcher at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law.
        Between 2016 and 2022, UN data listed 5,656 incidents of Israeli violence against Palestinians. But delving into the numbers reveals that 1,600 of the incidents took place in Jerusalem, with almost all involving Jews entering the Temple Mount or clashes between the police and Muslims who acted violently in the area.
        There were 2,500 incidents that describe property damage or assault, but they include a terror attack in which a Palestinian terrorist attacked Jews and was neutralized. On April 8, 2018, Mahmoud Abedel Karim Marshoud attempted to stab Israeli civilians near Ma'ale Adumim. He was neutralized and succumbed to his injuries the next day. The UN included this as two violent incidents: on April 8, shooting at a Palestinian, and on April 9, a killing.
        On July 26, 2018, Yotam Ovadia, 30, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed him. According to the UN, this was classified as settler violence. The same goes for a stabbing attack in Mount Hebron, another one in Yitzhar, and an incident where Arab rioters clashed with security forces at Joseph's Tomb. Even a car accident in which an Israeli hit a Palestinian was classified as violence.
        After filtering all of these, we're left with about 20 violent incidents in a month, most of them being cases of mutual violence, and some reported only by Palestinian sources without being verified. By comparison, in 2019-2022 there were 25,257 incidents of Palestinian attacks against Israelis, a rate of 526 incidents per month. In 2023, the number jumped to 763. Yet Israeli violence is exaggerated from a limited phenomenon to a widespread issue. (Ynet News)
  • Welcome to Dearborn, America's Jihad Capital - Steven Stalinsky
    Thousands march in support of Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran. Protesters, many with kaffiyehs covering their faces, shout "Intifada, intifada," "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and "America is a terrorist state." Local imams give fiery antisemitic sermons. This is the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Mich.
        Immediately after Oct. 7, and long before Israel began its ground offensive in Gaza, people were celebrating the horrific events of that day in pro-Hamas rallies and marches throughout Dearborn. A local headline describing an Oct. 10 event at the Ford Performing Arts Center read, "Michigan rally cheers Hamas attack."
        The Hadi Institute held a "Commemoration of the Martyrs" on Jan. 5 to honor Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, leader of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. Both were killed in a U.S. airstrike on Jan. 3, 2020. At the event, Imam Abdulghani expressed his "warmest congratulations" to "our very special leader, Imam Khamenei" - essentially declaring allegiance to the Iranian ayatollah who regularly calls for the destruction of the U.S.
        From his home in Dearborn, Ahmad Musa Jibril promotes holy war to his tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and Telegram. On Oct. 7, his Twitter account retweeted a post that said, "The hearts haven't been overjoyed like this in so long."
        The writer is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). (Wall Street Journal)

American Jewry Stands with Israel - William Daroff (Jerusalem Post)
  • An erroneous narrative is taking hold in the mainstream press: support among American Jews for Israel is plummeting, particularly among young people. Yet nothing could be further from the truth, as shown in both polls and my own experience as a Jewish communal leader whose institution represents the full spectrum of interests and opinions among Jews in the U.S.
  • According to a December survey by Schoen Cooperman Research, 81% of American Jews support Israel's campaign in Gaza. The same poll shows that 60% of Gen Z (up to age 27) support the war effort as well. A mere 26% of Gen Z respondents want an immediate ceasefire.
  • Add to that the fact that nearly 300,000 Jews - quite a lot of them young people - flooded the National Mall in Washington last November to voice their solidarity with Israel.
  • Despite this, the antics of several organizations, notably If Not Now (INN) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), garner outsized media attention that incorrectly spotlights these groups as spokespersons for American Jewry. These are fringe outliers who Jew-wash some of the most vicious forms and manifestations of antisemitism.
  • American Jews have a range of opinions on Israel; some can indeed be very critical of particular governments or policies while remaining in the communal fold. But it is important to recognize that the vast majority of Jews agree on Israel's right to defend itself as it prosecutes this just war against the Hamas terrorist army.
  • Many Jews justifiably feel a profound aversion toward co-religionists whose Judaism seems to exist merely to be wielded against other Jews. Even more frustrating is the media's insistence on spotlighting these groups as representative of the Jewish people, when we in fact have never been more united and vocal in our fundamental support of the Jewish state.

    The writer is CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

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