February 16, 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:

Israel Says UN Failing to Distribute Aid in Gaza (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Ministry's liaison unit to the Palestinians said Thursday that the UN was not keeping up with the flow of humanitarian aid inspected by Israel that is waiting to be picked up and distributed in Gaza.
    The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) posted photos on X of "the contents of 500 trucks of humanitarian aid on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom, AFTER Israeli inspection, waiting to be picked up."
    "It is the 3rd day in a row that hundreds of trucks are not picked up. The UN needs to scale up their operations," COGAT said.

U.S. Conducted Cyberattack on Iranian Spy Ship - Courtney Kube (NBC News)
    The U.S. recently conducted a cyberattack against an Iranian military ship, the MV Behshad, that had been collecting intelligence on cargo vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, U.S. officials said.
    Iran uses the ship to provide targeting information to the Houthis.

German Minister of Justice Expresses Support for Israel - Tamar Uriel-Beeri (Jerusalem Post)
    German Minister of Justice Dr. Marco Buschmann spoke this week on the challenges that have arisen in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel and the resulting war. "Jews were so indisputably the victims" on Oct. 7, he explained.
    He said the German government "has banned the use of the slogan, 'From the River to the Sea/Palestine will be Free.'"
    "Antisemites hate Jews, but in doing so, they hate people. In fact, they hate humanity itself because those that oppress a particular group of people would do the same to another. In this conflict, we stand beside Israel. That is where Germany belongs."
    He said those who say Germany should look at both sides of the conflict must know that is "exactly what we do."
    "On the one side, we see a fanatical Islamist regime, on the other, we see a liberal democracy. We know exactly where we stand. We stand with the victims, with liberal democracy, with Jews; we stand with Israel. We stand with Israel because we know who started the terror on Oct. 7."

Defeating an Ideology Takes Time - Irwin J. Mansdorf, Ph.D (JNS)
    As Israel continues its just war against Hamas, a psychological war is being fought by those who contend that destroying Hamas is a pipe dream.
    They hold that since Hamas is an idea, an ideology, it cannot be destroyed. This is patently incorrect.
    The ideology of Nazism was defeated. So was the ideology of imperial Japan. Communism in Europe was defeated. So was fascism in Spain and Italy.
    Segregation was a way of life in the southern U.S. for a century, as was apartheid in South Africa, but both were eventually relegated to history.
    ISIS and al-Qaeda, which once controlled vast territories, are nowhere near the threat they once were. The Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, once controlled Egypt but was ultimately toppled.
    Why should Hamas be any different? History proves evil ideologies can be defeated, but sometimes history demands time.
    The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs specializing in political psychology and a member of the emergency division of IDF Homefront Command.

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Trailblazing Canadian Cyclist Removed from Ottawa International Women's Day Event over Past IDF Service - Jennifer Lovy (JTA)
    Leah Goldstein, 54, a Canadian cyclist who was the first woman to win the grueling 3,000-mile Race Across America in 2021, had been invited to be the keynote speaker at an International Women's Day event in Ontario, Canada, in March.
    However, in January, Goldstein was told the invitation had been rescinded due to an "extremely vocal group" that took issue with Goldstein's service three decades ago in the Israeli army.
    Heather Doughty, founder of the INSPIRE group, the event's organizers, said: "We're just this tiny little not-for-profit that is trying to do a nice thing, and we were literally attacked. We had speakers [from INSPIRE] verbally attacked. They went to do their grocery shopping, and people came up and were attacking them."
    Goldstein called INSPIRE's request that she issue a statement "ridiculous." "If I were to make a statement, I would say that I'm very proud of my training with the IDF, being the first woman to train the commando soldiers."
    "If they want that kind of statement, I'd be happy to say it. But to dis Israel and say, it's genocide...it's a freaking war. That's what happens."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Intercepts Iranian Weapons Intended for Houthis
    The U.S. Coast Guard fast-response cutter USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr, assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, boarded a vessel in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 28 that originated in Iran and was bound for Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, CENTCOM announced Thursday. The boarding team discovered medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle components, military-grade communication and network equipment, anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies, and other military components.
        "This is yet another example of Iran's malign activity in the region," said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. "Their continued supply of advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis is in direct violation of international law and continues to undermine the safety of international shipping and the free flow of commerce."  (CENTCOM)
  • U.S. Carries Out Four Strikes on Houthi Areas in Yemen
    U.S. Central Command said Thursday that its forces successfully conducted four self-defense strikes on Wednesday against seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, three UAVs, and one explosive unmanned surface vessel in Houthi-controlled areas that were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea. (CENTCOM)
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Yemen to Assist Houthis, U.S. Official Says - Brian Bushard
    U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Brad Cooper confirmed in an interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes" that members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps are on the ground in Yemen "serving side-by-side" with the Houthis and providing advice and target information. (Forbes)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Dead, Four Wounded in Terror Shooting in Central Israel
    Two people were murdered on Friday and four others were injured, two seriously, in a terror shooting attack on a bus stop at the Masmiya junction near Gedera. The terrorist arrived at the scene by car. He had an ISIS-style beard and a large white Muslim skullcap. He made a U-turn after noticing a number of people at the bus stop, then got out of his vehicle and opened fire. A civilian who was driving by shot and killed the terrorist. (Ynet News-Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: "Israel Rejects International Diktats about a Final-Status Solution with the Palestinians" - Jonathan Lis
    Responding to a Washington Post report that the Biden Administration is working on a comprehensive peace plan which includes a timeframe for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday: "Israel rejects out of hand international diktats about a final-status solution with the Palestinians. Such an agreement will only be achieved through direct negotiations between the sides, with no preconditions."
        "Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks would be a huge prize for terror, the like of which we have never seen, and would prevent any future peace agreement."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Kills Hizbullah Special Forces Commander in South Lebanon
    Israeli jets struck dozens of Hizbullah targets in south Lebanon on Thursday. One of those killed was senior Hizbullah Radwan forces commander Ali Muhammad al-Dabs, the mastermind of the March 2023 Megiddo terror attack, as well as his deputy, Hassan Ibrahim Issa, and a third Hizbullah member. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizbullah Fires 25 Missiles at Kiryat Shmona - Adi Hashmonai
    The IDF said Hizbullah fired at least 25 missiles at the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on Thursday evening. The IDF responded with artillery fire at the areas from which the missiles were launched. Several buildings and vehicles were damaged in the latest barrage. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hostages' Bodies Held in Khan Yunis Hospital, IDF Says - Roi Rubinstein
    IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari on Thursday revealed that during interrogation, a Hamas terrorist said that "Dozens of Hamas operatives were in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis during the war. At least 10 hostages were held there." IDF forces are currently operating in the hospital.
        "We do not enter hospitals without reason," Hagari said. "Rather, as we have shown repeatedly since the beginning of the war, the use of hospitals as terrorist bases is one of the fundamental aspects of Hamas' operational method. Shifa, Rantisi, the Turkish hospital, and others - we have exposed how Hamas uses them for terrorist purposes."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The U.S. Charge of "Indiscriminate Bombing" by Israel Is Over the Top - Amb. Michael Oren
    Another country, struck by the type and immensity of the atrocities committed against Israel on Oct. 7, would likely have responded with vastly greater force and inflicted far greater numbers of civilian casualties. But Israel is a Jewish state in the moral manner in which we defend ourselves. Even when the enemy is using its own population as a human shield, Israel must do its utmost to reduce the damage to civilians. This is not only a strategic interest but also a moral imperative.
        The IDF takes unprecedented measures to warn civilians of impending actions and to evacuate them from combat zones. It's why Israel has maintained the lowest combatant-to-civilian casualty rate in modern warfare - as Hamas' own statistics show. How, then, can the Biden administration accuse Israel of "indiscriminately bombing" Gaza and of reacting "over the top" to the events of Oct. 7?
        President Biden and his staff continue to uphold Israel's right to self-defense, to supply us with vital forms of ammunition, and to resist mounting calls for a permanent ceasefire. Yet, the accusations they level at Israel do far more than insult our soldiers. They fundamentally endanger our security.
        By asserting that Israel is violating international humanitarian law, our American ally is bolstering those who accuse us of committing war crimes and perpetrating genocide. The next time Israel faces these charges in an international court, statements by the U.S. president and the secretary of state will be Exhibit A for the prosecution. That evidence, moreover, would be demonstrably false. Israel's efforts to reduce civilian casualties, often at the expense of our own soldiers' safety, are well-documented.
        Outrage at the civilian casualties must be directed at those who cynically engineer them. Hamas' goal is to brand Israel as a war criminal. That is precisely the objective served by accusations of "over the top" reactions and indiscriminate bombing.
        The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (Times of Israel)
  • The Overwhelming Majority of Israelis Say "No" to a Palestinian State - Nadav Shragai
    When Israel's prime minister says "No" to a Palestinian state, he represents the majority of Israel's citizens, who understand exactly that this would mean a state entity whose residents would support terror regardless of its leadership. They support our massacre and want our destruction and elimination. With such people, no agreements can be made.
        President Biden is a friend. He has domestic political constraints that have impacted his posture toward Israel. Israel is already taking into account Biden's internal travails in its decision to transfer humanitarian aid, food, and fuel into Gaza, even though this prolongs the war, boosts Hamas' military endurance, creates more serious risks for our soldiers, reduces pressure on it to release the captives, and enables continued Hamas influence over the Gazan population through the distribution of assistance.
        Anyone who says "Yes" to stopping the war before achieving victory will figuratively spit in the faces of the soldiers and their families who sacrificed greatly for the state. Saying "No" to stopping the war represents almost all of us.
        Golda Meir insisted on continuing the encirclement of Egypt's Third Army in the Yom Kippur War; Menachem Begin defied the U.S. and took out the reactor in Iraq; successive Israeli governments have continued construction in Jerusalem. In all cases, Israel's leaders said "No" to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Warns Against Dark Predictions on U.S.-Israel Relations - Jacob Magid
    Several U.S. officials leaked to American news outlets over the past week that President Biden has privately used expletives to describe Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Last week, Biden issued a memo setting new conditions for U.S. military aid, which the White House acknowledged was crafted in consultation with congressional lawmakers who have called for restricting assistance to Israel. Senior U.S. officials also said there was anger over Netanyahu's thwarting of U.S. postwar plans.
        However, "The president understands that the relationship goes beyond any one prime minister and that allowing the relationship to fall apart would not be in the U.S. national security interest," said one senior U.S. official. A second official said the president "continues to believe" that excessively litigating disagreements out in the open will not be effective with Netanyahu.
        Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog told Israel's Channel 11 on Wednesday, Biden "maintains a critical dialogue with us that has quite a few questions about how we are conducting the war and the direction in which we are taking it. I do not foresee an end of [U.S.] aid. I don't expect the U.S. to try to force a ceasefire on us in Gaza. I want to warn against all these dark predictions."
        A third senior administration official said Sunday that Netanyahu's overarching war aim of dismantling Hamas and the need to operate in its last-remaining stronghold in Rafah is shared by the entire war cabinet, the majority of the Israeli public, as well as the Biden administration, even though the U.S. is clear about the need to simultaneously protect Palestinian civilians. (Times of Israel)
  • The Mirage of the Two-State Solution - Stephen Blank
    From every corner comes pressure upon Israel to acquiesce to a two-state solution. Israel's sovereignty and security are to be overridden by the EU and the U.S. to, if necessary, impose a Palestinian state. At best there will be so-called "robust guarantees" of Israeli and Palestinian security.
        Here we should remember that earlier UN, U.S. and EU guarantees of Israeli security have always been found to be unavailing. Israel has fought by itself in 1967, 1973, 1982 and in the multiple intifadas and wars since then. Even in 2007 when Israel discovered that North Korea was building a nuclear reactor for Syria, Washington refused to act, leaving Israel no choice but to act alone to destroy it.
        The idea of a two-state solution has been around for almost a century but has consistently failed because the Palestinian leadership has never been willing to accept the legitimacy of Israel. Palestinian leaders have rejected all offers of an opportunity to begin a state because they insisted on a one-state solution, i.e., a wholly Palestinian state that would be free of Jews. So the Palestinian leadership has exercised a veto on self-determination.
        Instead, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have regularly resorted to terror, most recently on Oct. 7. Therefore, it should surprise nobody that Israeli public opinion, not just Prime Minister Netanyahu, uniformly opposes a two-state solution. Similarly, most Palestinians oppose this solution.
        The effort to impose this solution in the wake of powerful historical and real political contradictions gives rise to the thought that many of those urging it do not know what they are talking about. Certainly, no state in the world would accept the presence of a terrorist movement or state on its border that regularly lobs missiles into its territory.
        The writer is a Foreign Policy Research Institute senior fellow and a former professor of national security affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. (The Hill)
  • How to Counter the Houthi Threat at Sea - Bilal Y. Saab and Vice Adm. (ret.) Kevin Donegan
    For the first time in four decades, a core U.S. interest on which successive American presidents have based Middle East policy - freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce - is at risk. By enabling the Houthis in Yemen to attack international vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with armed drones and sophisticated anti-ship missiles - or hijack an entire vessel - Iran is causing tremendous harm to commercial activity in one of the world's most crucial waterways. The Houthi attacks have upended global trade and forced many ships to avoid Egypt's Suez Canal.
        To neutralize the Houthi threat, President Biden should task U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) with leading an effort to deny the Houthis the means and capability to attack the free flow of commerce. This effort should include an interdiction mission to counter the ability of the Houthis to be resupplied/rearmed by Iran with weapons used to attack international vessels, and denying the Houthis the use of Iranian intelligence and targeting information.
        Bilal Y. Saab is Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Institute's Defense and Security Program. Vice Admiral (ret.) Kevin Donegan is a senior fellow at MEI and a former commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. (Breaking Defense)
  • Britain's Self-Image as Tolerant and Decent Is Being Smashed - Allister Heath
    We thought that we had progressed decisively as a society, that we had vanquished racism and religious discrimination, that the institutions of our liberal state would prevent a minority from facing persecution, and that our ruling class would never allow any subset of the population to be openly hated and othered again.
        How wrong we were. That antisemitism, the oldest of hatreds, is back on the streets and screens of Britain, is terrifying enough; but the fact that this explosion of prejudice is being treated in such a cavalier fashion by the authorities and the mainstream broadcast media - and in some cases is even being rationalized and normalized - is a catastrophic development that casts doubt about Britain's very future.
        This is the worst moment for Britain's Jews since the pogroms that disgraced Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester in the summer of 1947. The double-standards, the never-ending "pro-Palestine" marches that are inevitably marred by egregious, open antisemitism and evil slogans, the bullying, the victim-blaming, the spreading of fake news, the willful, blatant lies and denialism of Hamas' atrocities, the obsessive interest in, and delegitimization of, Israel - a state that accounts for just 0.25% of the Middle East's landmass, is its only multi-religious democracy and which is fighting for survival against neighbors that reject its very existence - stink of a replay of the 1930s.
        Antisemites never just target Jews. They are full-service, equal opportunity bigots who oppress and impoverish and destroy all that they touch, and despise freedom and human flourishing.
        The writer is editor of the Sunday Telegraph. (Telegraph-UK)

  • Complete victory over Hamas in Gaza is a categorical existential imperative. It must resonate among our haters and enemies lest they consider executing a similar massacre in the future. From this perspective, there is no choice but to eliminate Hamas as a military force.
  • Our enemies cry out "genocide" because they know that the lie will be accepted in the West, especially among diehard critics of Israel and even more so among antisemites. (What kind of genocide is it when the Arab population between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River grows from year to year?)
  • The fantasy that at the end of the war we will present Gaza on a silver platter to the Palestinian Authority means that the massacre has paid off. Sinwar and his gang will be portrayed as having paved the way for the unification of the PA and Gaza, on the way to a Palestinian state.
  • Israel's disengagement from Gaza in 2005 was an attempt to implement a "two-state solution." Israel withdrew down to the last inch and the result was that Gaza became the biggest terrorist fortress ever erected.
  • Shortly after the disengagement got underway, the idea was raised of a similar plan in Judea and Samaria that would have seen a unilateral withdrawal from most of the territory. Had this plan materialized, everything we experienced with Gaza would have paled in comparison to what would have happened from the hills of Judea and Samaria, hundreds of meters above Israel's large population centers.

    The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to Italy.
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