February 14, 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:

Sinwar Seen in Khan Yunis Tunnel in Recent Days (Ynet News)
    The IDF has a recent security camera video of the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, in a strategic Hamas tunnel in Khan Yunis, in which the IDF has been operating for the past few days, Israel's Channel 13 reported.

The Houthi Bypass: Goods Move Overland via Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Haifa - Sharon Wrobel (Times of Israel)
    The disruption of maritime trade in the Red Sea by Houthi militants has prompted Israeli freight and logistics firms to switch to alternative overland routes to transport goods from the Far East to Israel via Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
   "Ships coming from China and India unload containers in the ports of Bahrain and Dubai, and then the cargo is loaded onto Jordanian trucks and is transferred overland to Israel via the King Hussein border crossing with Jordan, where Israeli trucks await the goods," said Israel-based freight forwarder Mentfield Logistics CEO Omer Izhari.
    "Dozens of trucks a day, not just by us, are facilitating this route to shorten shipping times for goods from textiles to electronics, raw materials for industry, metal pipes, and aluminum."

Survey: Antisemitism Has Increased in the U.S. since Oct. 7 (American Jewish Committee)
    The AJC survey on The State of Antisemitism in America 2023, conducted in the fall of 2023, found that 63% of American Jews say the status of Jews in the U.S. is less secure compared to one year ago. In 2022, this number was 41%. In 2021, it was 31%.
    78% of American Jews who heard about the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel say the attacks made them feel less safe as a Jewish person in the U.S.
    46% of American Jews say they altered their behavior out of fear of antisemitism. In 2022, this number was 38%.
    85% of American Jews and 84% of the general public believe the statement "Israel has no right to exist" is antisemitic.
    24% of current or recent college students say they felt uncomfortable or unsafe at a campus event because they are Jewish.
    74% of U.S. adults say antisemitism is a problem in the U.S. today, compared to 68% who said so in 2022, and 60% in 2021.

Mohammed Dahlan Champions an Arab Vision for Gaza - Adam Rasgon (New York Times)
    Palestinian exile Mohammed Dahlan, 62, an adviser to the president of the UAE, outlined a plan in an interview with the New York Times under which a new and independent Palestinian leader could rebuild Gaza under the protection of an Arab peacekeeping force.
    Dahlan, who grew up in Gaza, was PA President Mahmoud Abbas' national security adviser when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. He was ousted from Fatah and went into exile in 2011.
    Dahlan said, "The main Arab countries are really very keen to settle this conflict - not the war, the whole conflict."

Palestinians in Gaza Are Engaged in Effort that Could Result in Their Own Destruction - Gerard Leval (Washington Times)
    Today, it can readily be observed that Hamas, knowing that it cannot win a war against Israel, is nonetheless insisting on fighting, potentially to the last Palestinian in Gaza.
    This is nothing less than a kind of self-inflicted genocide by and of these Palestinians - an action whereby a group is wantonly and intentionally causing the killing of its own people.
    Contrary to the inflammatory accusations, it is not Israel that is committing genocide. Rather, it is the Palestinians who are themselves engaged in an effort that could result in their own destruction.

Hamas Built Tunnels beneath My Family's Home in Gaza - Jehad al-Saftawi (TIME)
    Hamas is driven by an ideological stand originating in the concept of annihilating the State of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic Palestinian one.
    In striving to make this a reality, Hamas has continued to normalize violence and militarization in every aspect of public and private life in Gaza.
    They have in the process obliterated the chances of a successful Palestinian state alongside Israel.
    Hamas began destroying my family home in 2013 when they built tunnels beneath it.
    Gazans deserve a Palestinian government which supports its citizens' interests, not terrorists carrying out their own plans.
    Hamas is not fighting Israel. They're destroying Gaza.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Supports Israel's Victory over Evil (Jerusalem Post)
    Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday toured Israeli communities attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7.
    Pompeo said, "What happened on Oct. 7 was so shocking and so sadistic that the trauma is felt constantly, everywhere by everyone. And yet, their resilience is truly inspiring. Every Israeli continues to sacrifice and give so much to help their countrymen and defend their nation."
    "I stand with Israel. I stand with the Jewish people, and I support the resolute victory of Israel in this war against evil."

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Plans to Move Rafah Civilians to 15 Tent Cities along the Coast - Summer Said
    Israel is proposing the creation of tent cities in Gaza as part of an evacuation plan to be funded by the U.S. and its Arab Gulf partners ahead of an impending invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, the last bastion of Hamas. Israeli officials say they must carry out a ground offensive in Rafah to eradicate Hamas.
        Israel presented a proposal to Egypt in recent days to establish 15 campsites of 25,000 tents each across southwestern Gaza, Egyptian officials said. Egypt would be in charge of setting up the camps and field hospitals.
        Benny Gantz, a senior Israeli minister in the war cabinet, said there was "no question" about a broad operation in Rafah and that Israel would do what is needed to allow for its freedom of action there, including evacuating the population and preparing the territory for a ground incursion. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Gazans Flee Rafah ahead of Israeli Operation - Adam Taylor
    Gazans living in the border city of Rafah are attempting to flee ahead of an expected military operation by Israeli forces. The Washington Post spoke to several Gazans in Rafah who said they were trying to head north to Gaza's central region. (Washington Post)
  • The U.S. Wants to See Israel Defeat Hamas
    State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Tuesday: "We continue to support Israel's right to ensure that the October 7th attacks cannot be repeated. We want to see them have the ability to go after Hamas, to defeat Hamas. We know that Hamas wants to continue to target Israel."
        "Hamas has been very clear about what their goals are, and they have not changed since October 7th. They want to continue to launch terrorist attacks. They are committed to the full-scale destruction of Israel, and we want to see Israel be able to answer that. We want to see Israel be able to answer the attacks from Hizbullah in the north. We want to see Israel be able to deter attacks from Iran and malign activities from Iran, which continues to fund other proxies that are hostile to the State of Israel."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Trudeau: Protest outside Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital a "Reprehensible" Show of Antisemitism
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "strongly" condemned Monday's raucous pro-Palestinian protest that blocked traffic outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto as a "reprehensible" display of antisemitism. He said hospitals are "places for treatment and care, not protests and intimidation....In Toronto and across Canada, we stand with Jewish communities against this hate."
        Ontario Premier Doug Ford pointing to a federal law that prohibits people from intentionally blocking access to health-care facilities. "You want to protest? Go to city hall, come down to Queen's Park, jump up and down, do whatever you want," Ford said Tuesday. "But don't prohibit people going into a hospital when they're in there saving people's lives, because you never know, you may be the next person in that hospital and they'll be trying to save your life."  (Canadian Press-Toronto Star-Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hizbullah Rocket Attack on Northern Israel Kills One, Wounds Several
    A woman was killed at Moshav Yuval near Metula and seven Israelis were injured from Hizbullah rocket fire in northern Israel on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Chief of Staff: Civilians Will Be Evacuated from Rafah before Israeli Offensive - Emanuel Fabian
    IDF achievements in the war against Hamas in Gaza are greater than expected at this stage, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Tuesday. "In the past decades, there has not been an army that maneuvered in an area that is urban and dense, with high [buildings] and [tunnels] below the surface of the ground. IDF soldiers are dealing with this with great success and the military achievements are extraordinary."
        Asked when Palestinian civilians could return to northern Gaza, Halevi responded that it was not yet safe enough for them to return. Hamas was still active there "nearly every day....We don't want to create a situation in which the residents of Gaza mix with the enemy, thus risking their lives. That is why we are still isolating the north." He promised that residents would be allowed to return as soon as the army was sure it had eradicated terrorism in the area.
        In Khan Yunis, Halevi said, "We are reaching places that the enemy did not imagine we would reach, destroying all the strategic assets of Hamas in a city that was considered the terror capital of the organization." He added that the IDF would work to evacuate civilians from Rafah before it launched its offensive there. He said he appreciated other countries' advice on the challenge, but that the IDF has shown that it is capable of targeting enemy forces in such complex environments.
        Referring to the rescue of two Israeli hostages in Rafah on Monday, Halevi said, "Every week, we carry out special operations, while risking [troops'] lives in complex conditions with great uncertainty, to try and return hostages home. This time we were successful. There were more operations that did not succeed."  (Times of Israel)
  • Senior Hamas Official Involved in West Bank Attacks Nabbed in Jenin
    Omar Fayed, one of the heads of Hamas' military infrastructure in Jenin, was arrested by Israeli security forces on Tuesday. Fayed has been involved in a number of recent shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and was planning other attacks. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Instead of Pressuring Israel, the U.S. Should Up Pressure on Hamas to Release Hostages - Editorial
    Hamas has, until now, not offered a reasonable formula for a ceasefire that would bring hostages back and not entail a total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza - which in essence would mean the end of the war with the terror group still in charge.
        War cabinet minister Benny Gantz supports the broadening of fighting in southern Gaza and Rafah. "There is no question about the need to act in any place in which there is terror. Broad action in Rafah, as we said in the past, is not in question," Gantz said. That seems to be the consensus in Israel, as we close in on the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza.
        Instead of putting pressure on Israel to stop its campaign, the U.S. and the rest of the world should be upping pressure on Hamas to release the hostages. Those countries so concerned with the civilians in Rafah should be working with Israel to provide safe passage and shelter for them so that the IDF can do its job. Ultimately, only Jerusalem can decide what the best policy to pursue is - even if it means annoying its best friend in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Cannot Depend on International "Security Assurances" over a Palestinian State - Clifford D. May
    Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, mastermind behind the Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, was surely encouraged to learn that President Biden last week said that Israel's "conduct of the response in Gaza has been over the top." That charge is entirely unfounded. In truth, despite Hamas' human shields strategy, the ratio of civilian-to-combatant casualties is unprecedentedly low for urban warfare. Israelis have done more than any other nation ever to spare civilians. The battle against Hamas is not one the Israelis can afford to lose or even end in stalemate.
        Last week, Secretary of State Blinken called for "a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path" to a Palestinian state. Note that Mr. Blinken is not saying that the leaders of such a state would forswear terrorism and peacefully coexist alongside the Jewish state. Nor is he guaranteeing that such a state will not become a vassal of Tehran.
        All he's said is that Israelis will have "security assurances." Like the security assurances Israelis received from the UN Security Council after they withdrew from Lebanon? Like the security assurances Ukrainians received from the U.S. when they gave up their nuclear weapons?
        Sinwar is not fighting for a Palestinian state. He is fighting for the extermination of the Jewish state and its replacement - "from the river to the sea" - by an Islamic emirate, a jewel in the crown of the caliphate that is to come. For Sinwar, a "two-state solution" would solve nothing - unless it provided an improved platform from which to launch Oct. 7-style attacks.
        The writer is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). (Washington Times)
  • Postwar Political Landscape of Gaza Hinges on the Fall of Hamas - Dr. Jeremy Havardi
    Amid the wreckage of Israel's communities adjacent to Gaza, Western demands for a Palestinian state appear to endorse another rejectionist terror regime that would be beholden to Iran and its proxies. The idea that this would bring long-term security to the region is a fantasy. Israelis are entitled to feel that Gaza was already a test case of Palestinian statehood, with Hamas' genocidal rule a realization of their worst fears, namely that surrendering land can only bring years of terror and warfare.
        There is clearly a need to think about the postwar political landscape of Gaza. However, the moderate Arab states are unlikely to commit financial resources to reconstruction in Gaza unless they are certain that Hamas is defeated.
        A Palestinian Arab state has been on the table on six or seven occasions since 1937. Yet it has been rejected every single time by the Palestinian national movement. One sticking point is the right of return, the unworkable idea that six million Palestinians have the right to live in Israel, even though the vast majority are not refugees and have never lived in the country.
        Fatah, the dominant movement in the Palestinian Authority, encourages the same hatred of Israel and rejection of Jewish sovereignty that guides Hamas' deranged ideology. Through its policy of "pay for slay," the payment of stipends to the families of terrorists, the PA has created a perverse incentive for young people to murder Israelis.
        The writer is director of the B'nai B'rith UK Bureau of International Affairs.  (Jewish News-UK)
  • The U.S. Must Re-Focus on Curbing Iran's Nuclear Program - Lawrence J. Haas
    Iran's latest nuclear and ballistic missile advances make Israel's war with Hamas and America's skirmishing with Iranian proxy forces look like regional sideshows of a far more ominous main event. The current situation in the region gives Iran "a unique opportunity and amplified internal justification for building nuclear weapons while the United States and Israel's resources to detect and deter Iran from succeeding are stretched thin," the Institute for Science and International Security wrote in a new report.
        With a large stockpile of uranium enriched to 60% purity, the institute estimated that the regime could further enrich enough uranium to weapons-grade purity with the ability to produce a nuclear bomb in a week. Tehran also continues to advance its ballistic missiles, which could carry nuclear warheads to strike U.S. allies and possibly even the U.S. itself. In January, the Islamic Republic launched a satellite into space using technologies with "significant overlap" with those of longer-range ballistic missiles.
        Iran could be on the cusp of destabilizing the region and upending the global order in a fundamental way. Therefore, Washington and its allies must focus on the bigger picture and develop a comprehensive plan to confront Iran over its nuclear-related pursuits, using every means at their disposal to ensure that Iran will never develop or acquire nuclear weaponry.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. (National Interest)

  • A widow's anger at Hamas for plunging Gaza into war is boundless in a recently recorded interview: "The Israelis drop these leaflets offering cash rewards to anyone who can provide the whereabouts of [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar. I swear, if I knew where he was, I'd bring them Sinwar's head for free."
  • The testimony is part of "Voices from Gaza," an ongoing series of short clips in which Gazans tell of their hardships during the ongoing war, started on Oct. 7 by Hamas. The project is conducted by the Center for Peace Communications (CPC), a New York-based nonprofit founded by veteran Middle East expert Joseph Braude. It is a continuation of "Whispered in Gaza," interviews with Gazans published in January 2023.
  • In the conversations Braude and his team have recorded, Gazans lash out at Hamas for sacrificing the civilian population to pursue its terror goals, hoarding humanitarian aid, causing the death of their loved ones, and destroying Gaza's future.
  • Braude said the main cause of food shortages in Gaza appears to be that Hamas has been siphoning off much of the humanitarian aid and selling it at highly inflated prices on the black market. "Hamas are using food as money, making additional ways of accruing funds for their war."
  • His contacts inside Gaza say people's access to food depends on their level of allegiance to Hamas. "The vast majority of the Gazan population are on the third rung of beneficiaries. The first level...includes the Hamas leadership and elite fighters. The second comprises about 30% of the population, Hamas' true base - the stalwarts, the families, the nepotistic patronage network. Then below that is 70% of the population that really is not a part of that system, and they are the last people to receive aid."
  • According to testimony, during the truce in November, Hamas members came out of the tunnels and began "driving around in jeeps, shooting in the air, beating up merchants, attacking whoever they want as usual, shooting people whom they deemed to be collaborators with the enemy. Gazans are not convinced that Hamas' rule can be ended, and believe that the war will conclude with a return to the status quo."
  • "How can you blame them? Four rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas have taken place since the terror group wrested control of Gaza in 2007, and each one ended with Hamas remaining in power. Many Gazans fear that it's premature to prepare for a post-Hamas future because they don't necessarily see Hamas being unseated."
  • Their perception, however, could be rapidly altered if visible change began to occur on the ground, Braude said. "There are many Gazans, including ones we have spoken with, who are rather candid in saying that they would much prefer some kind of civil administration supported by some combination of Gazans and allied countries, including Israel, than return under the rule of Hamas."
  • "That doesn't make them pro-Israel, although a subset of them genuinely believe in coexistence as a principle. But a larger number who believe in resistance in the abstract nonetheless still oppose Hamas' brand of resistance as self-destructive, provoking a reaction that leaves civilians to suffer while Hamas fighters hide in the safety of bunkers and their leaders' families live in opulence in Qatar and Turkey."

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