February 9, 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:

Report: Israel Open to Allowing Sinwar to Go into Exile in Return for All Hostages - Anna Schecter (NBC News)
    Israel would be willing to let Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar sail into exile in exchange for the release of all hostages and an end to the Hamas government in Gaza, Israeli officials told NBC News.
    The idea of exile to pave the way for a new, deradicalized Gaza governing body has been "on the table" since November, according to a senior adviser to the Israeli government.
    The idea of sending top Hamas leaders into exile instead of killing them resembled when Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization fled Beirut on a ship in 1982.
    "We don't mind if [Sinwar] will leave like Arafat left Lebanon," said a senior adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu. "We will allow it to happen as long as all of the hostages are released."

Hamas Terrorists Surrender in Tunnel - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The Israel Security Agency released video footage on Thursday from the interrogation of a Hamas terrorist who was arrested along with two others in a tunnel in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
    Mohammad Nasser Suliman Abu Namer testified that he joined Hamas' military wing in 2009.
    He said, "We decided that we don't want to fight and as soon as the army comes, we would surrender....We sat and we waited. When the army arrived, we put up our hands and surrendered."
    "I recommend to everyone to surrender, because your destiny is to die."

Australian Aboriginal Leader Hits Out at Pro-Palestinian Protesters - Bianca Bongato (Sky News-Australia-Sydney Morning Herald)
    In a video posted on social media, former Labor Senator Nova Peris said, "I'm saddened to see our sacred Aboriginal flag...being misappropriated by Palestinian, anti-Israel, anti-Jewish groups in Australia."
    "I know the history of the Jewish people and what they have done for the cause of justice and land rights and our identity in this country."
    "I want to reciprocate by helping overturn a similar lie which is now being told against the Jewish people: that they have no connection to the Land of Israel; that they are 'settler-colonialists.'"
    "I would say that the victim of colonization are the Jewish people, a hundred percent."
    See also Video: Indigenous Leader Nova Peris: The Jews Are Indigenous to Israel - David Lange (Israellycool)

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Pregnant Israeli War Widows Carry New Life while Processing Death of Fallen Husbands - Renee Ghert-Zand (Times of Israel)
    On Oct. 2, 2023, Shahar Naim and her husband Amir celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Five days later, Amir, a member of Kibbutz Erez's emergency response team, was killed defending their kibbutz against invading Hamas terrorists. Shahar, 27, 11 weeks pregnant, was suddenly a war widow.
    "As soon as Amir understood that something unusual was happening, he jumped up, got ready in two minutes, and went out to handle things. We didn't even have a chance to say a proper goodbye."
    Since Oct. 7, more than 220 spouses of IDF regular and reserve soldiers have been widowed and more than 500 children orphaned.
    Of the widows, some 30 are currently pregnant or have recently given birth.
    The IDF Widows and Orphans (IDFWO) organization recently launched a new program called "By Your Side" to support dozens of pregnant war widows.
    "There were obviously war widows before in Israel's history, but not in these kind of numbers since our organization was established in the early 1990s," said IDFWO chair Tami Shelach, whose husband, pilot Lt.-Col. Ehud Shelach, was shot down and killed over Egypt during the first days of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
    "I have visited every widow in her home," Shelach said. "I even met some women who had been doing fertility treatments for years and only discovered after Oct. 7 that they were pregnant. Their husbands died without even knowing."
    Naim said, "Amir left me and the whole family a huge gift and that makes me take good care of myself and the baby, who is a pinpoint of light I am waiting to meet."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden Criticizes Israel Military Campaign in Gaza, Pushing for a Pause - Jeff Mason
    U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday, "I'm of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top," adding that he is seeking a "sustained pause in the fighting" to help Palestinian civilians. (Reuters)
  • Secretary of State Blinken: Israel Is Fully Justified in Confronting Hamas but Should Do More to Help Gazan Civilians
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday in Tel Aviv: "We had extensive discussions with the prime minister and national security leaders on the status of the military campaign to defeat Hamas, and on the progress toward achieving the fundamental objective of ensuring that October 7th never happens again....We also discussed the imperative of maximizing civilian protection and humanitarian aid to address the ongoing suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza."
        "We have pressed Israel in concrete ways to strengthen civilian protection, to get more assistance to those who need it. And over the past four months, Israel has taken important steps to do just that: starting the flow of aid; doubling it during the first pause for hostage releases; opening the north and south corridors in Gaza so that people could move out of immediate harm's way;...starting the flow of assistance from Jordan; establishing deconfliction mechanisms for humanitarian sites. As a result, today, more assistance than ever is moving into Gaza from more places than at any time since Oct. 7."
        "As the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, the United States has helped provide much of that assistance, including funding 90,000 metric tons of flour delivered from Ashdod Port. That's enough to provide bread for 1.4 million people for the next five months."
        "We urge Israel to do more to help civilians, knowing full well that it faces an enemy that would never hold itself to those standards - an enemy that cynically embeds itself among men, women, and children, and fires rockets from hospitals, from schools, from mosques, from residential buildings; an enemy whose leaders surround themselves with hostages; an enemy that has declared publicly its goal: to kill as many innocent civilians as it can, simply because they're Jews, and to wipe Israel off the map."
        "That's why we've made clear that Israel is fully justified in confronting Hamas and other terrorist organizations."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also U.S. in a Hurry to End Gaza War - Zolan Kanno-Youngs
    Aaron David Miller, a longtime Middle East peace negotiator now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, "The only party that seems to be in a hurry is the Biden administration. They want to change the disastrous images in Gaza, relieve political pressure at home, and try to wrap this up with an Israeli-Saudi deal."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Strikes Houthi Naval Drones and Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles Thursday
    U.S. Central Command forces conducted seven self-defense strikes against four Houthi unmanned surface vessels (USV) and seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea on Thursday. (CENTCOM)
        See also U.S. Strikes Three Houthi Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles Wednesday (CENTCOM)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Kills Dozens of Hamas Operatives in Gaza Thursday - Emanuel Fabian
    Fighting continued across Gaza on Thursday, with airstrikes against Hamas cells attempting to attack troops. Meanwhile, the Paratroopers Brigade killed 15 Hamas operatives in western Khan Yunis over the past day. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Ramps Up Strikes on Rafah
    Israeli forces stepped up airstrikes on Rafah Thursday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expand the military offensive into the city. Israeli planes bombed two houses, while tanks shelled some areas in eastern Rafah. More than half of Gaza's population has fled to Rafah, on the mostly sealed border with Egypt.
        An Israeli official said visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had expressed concern over Israel expanding the fighting to Rafah during talks with Netanyahu and the war cabinet. The official stressed that there would be "no compromise" on toppling Hamas militarily and politically, which would mean operating in Rafah. A second Israeli official said Thursday that the operation in Rafah will not be a large-scale assault like the current operation in Khan Yunis, but will instead be organized around targeted pinpoint raids. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Has Begun the Process of Replacing UNRWA - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel has begun the process of replacing the UNRWA Palestinian refugee agency, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday. "We will have to replace UNRWA. I directed that this process be started, and I informed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about it," he said. Over 16 countries have temporarily suspended funding to the agency.
        Israel says the services UNRWA provides can be handled by other organizations. Amir Weissbrod, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director of International Organizations, said that the intention was to transfer the services provided by UNRWA to other organizations gradually. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizbullah Fires 30 Rockets into Northern Israel - Yair Kraus
    30 rockets were launched into northern Israel from Lebanon on Thursday night. This attack followed an Israeli drone strike in Nabatieh in southern Lebanon on the car of Abbas al-Dabs, a regional commander in Hizbullah, who was wounded but not killed, as first reported. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • UNRWA's "Nobel Prize for Genocide" - Dr. Dan Diker
    Norwegian Labour MP Asmund Aukrust recently nominated the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to receive a Nobel prize. The UNRWA nomination comes as the world bears witness to incontrovertible evidence of UNRWA employees' direct role in the Hamas mass terror invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.
        UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer testified before Congress on Jan. 30, 2024, documenting UNRWA employees' incitement of the murder of Jews and glorification of the Hamas massacre. "In November 2023, we sent a report to the UN on 20 teachers who celebrated the October massacre. In March, together with the organization Impact-se, we identified 133 UNRWA teachers who promoted hate and violence on social media....The core problem with UNRWA is that the very purpose of the agency is to perpetuate the war of 1948, and to send the message to Palestinians that the war of 1948 isn't over."
        UNRWA isn't the only worthy nominee for the "Nobel Prize for Genocide." The South African government is another leading candidate for its abominable and unforgivable referral of Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on charges of genocide.
        Just months before South Africa's ICJ petition was submitted, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. Almost magically, following South Africa's minister of international relations, Dr. Naledi Pandor's, Oct. 23, 2023, visit to Tehran, it was reported that the ANC's finances had "stabilized." Pandor's visit was almost immediately followed by South Africa's full-throated accusation of genocide against Israel. Soon after, the South African Parliament voted in favor of severing diplomatic ties.
        The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.  (South African Jewish Report)
  • Is the Path to a Palestinian State "Irreversible?" - Elliott Abrams
    On Feb. 7, Secretary of State Blinken visited Israel and called for "a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path" to a Palestinian state. The danger to Israel implicit in these remarks is very great. What Blinken has done here is to destroy any preconditions. Blinken, of course, said that new state should live side-by-side with Israel in peace, but he did not make that a condition of its creation.
        If the path forward is "time-bound and irreversible," there are by definition no conditions that would slow or preclude creating that state. Not Iranian influence, not Hamas control, not support for terrorism, not teaching hatred of Jews, not importing weapons, not building tunnels into Israel, not brutal repression of Palestinian voices that criticize those in power. Nothing.
        Have we learned nothing in the last 20 years, watching the Palestinian Authority degenerate into a corrupt and ineffective autocracy that Palestinians loathe, while Iranian support helped Hamas turn Gaza into a murderous headquarters for anti-Israel violence?
        George W. Bush once spoke of the soft bigotry of low expectations, and that is part of what we see here. Blinken's statement demands nothing of Palestinians. They are not asked to confront hatred of Jews, not asked to end terrorism, not asked to create decent and effective governance. They are asked for nothing. And if that is what they are asked for, that is what they will deliver.
        The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at CFR, served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Western Activists Fail to Hold Palestinians Responsible for Their Actions - Adam Levick
    Western activists for Palestinians "are dedicated to two nearly theological precepts: that Israel is evil, and that no Palestinian action is ever connected to any Palestinian outcome," Shany Mor, a lecturer at Reichman University in Herzliya, Israel, noted in the Wall Street Journal. Thus, the suffering of Gazans in the war that followed the medieval savagery meted out to Jews on Oct. 7 could never be connected to the decisions of Hamas leaders and their executioners, who committed unspeakable crimes in the service of a fanatical ideology.
        Truly decent pro-Palestinian media outlets would assign agency to Palestinians and, especially, their leaders. They'd cease contextualizing Hamas' pogrom as an "understandable" reaction to Israel's blockade and (non-existent) occupation. They'd use their platform to consistently denounce the genocidal antisemitic agenda of the group which carried out the Oct. 7 massacre. They'd refuse to platform columnists who celebrated the Oct. 7 attacks, and would devote considerable space to documenting and condemning the vicious sexual brutality against Israeli women and girls by Hamas.
        In the aftermath of the worst antisemitic atrocity since the Holocaust, the anti-Zionists have responded by turning it into a "non-event," not only avoiding any serious self-reflection, but doubling down on their first principles concerning Israel's "intrinsic villainy."  (CAMERA-UK)

UNRWA Is Effectively Controlled by a Terrorist Organization - Richard Goldberg (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)
  • UNRWA is not a refugee agency. What began as a political weapon in the Arab world's campaign to destroy the State of Israel after its founding 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.
  • No agency exists to look after the Jews who fled Arab countries in 1948 because those refugees were absorbed by Israel and Western countries as quickly as possible. But Arab refugees produced by the Arab invasion of Israel were not so fortunate. By keeping people in refugee status indefinitely, UNRWA is raising generation after generation to believe that their destiny is to return to modern-day Israel.
  • The population of Gaza is now 2.1 million, 1.7 million of whom UNRWA lists as refugees. But these people have lived in Gaza for generations, under Egyptian, Israeli, and then Hamas control, in what the media calls "urban refugee camps." The term "refugee camp" evokes images of temporary tents and trailers, but these are just UN-subsidized neighborhoods in cities.
  • UNRWA is the only agency with a mandate to preserve a phony narrative of Palestinian refugeehood that sustains political warfare against Israel. UNRWA's enablement of terrorism is a feature of the agency, not a bug. Reporters and UN watchdog groups have identified thousands of UNRWA employees supporting terrorism and antisemitism in their social media and chat groups.
  • What's the alternative? The world already has an agency dedicated to the distribution of food assistance in areas of crisis and war zones - the World Food Program - which is on the ground in Gaza. The World Health Organization is dedicated to the distribution of medical assistance in conflict zones. UNICEF is dedicated to helping children in need. And the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a massive agency with international staff and decades of experience coordinating relief for internally displaced persons in war zones at a moment's notice.
  • Western nations must not condone a UN agency that is effectively controlled by a terrorist organization. Western donor countries would never tolerate a UN organization that collaborates with, employs, contracts with, and provides benefits to al-Qaeda or ISIS.

    The writer, who served on the U.S. National Security Council, is a senior advisor at the FDD.
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