February 18, 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:

Iran, Wary of Wider War, Urges Hizbullah to Exercise Restraint - Susannah George (Washington Post)
    Iranian officials met with members of Hizbullah this month in Lebanon and praised Hizbullah's sacrifices, but cautioned that war with Israel would risk precious gains in the region.
    One Hizbullah member summarized Tehran's message: We are not keen on giving Israel any reason to launch a wider war in Lebanon or anywhere else.

Iraqi Armed Groups Dial Down U.S. Attacks at Iran's Request - Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters)
    Since Feb. 4 there have been no attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, following a visit by Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, to Baghdad on Jan. 29.

The $2.8 Billion Hole in U.S. Sanctions on Iran - Christiaan Triebert (New York Times)
    A New York Times investigation has found a significant gap in U.S. oversight of sanctions to restrict Iran's oil revenue and its ability to fund proxy militias.
    Oil worth billions of dollars was transported aboard 27 tankers using liability insurance obtained from an American company.
    U.S. authorities could have disrupted the oil's transport by advising the insurer, the New York-based American Club, to revoke the coverage.
    Many of the tankers ultimately ended up in China, which has tripled its imports of Iranian oil over the past two years.

Will Hamas Be Allowed to Win the War? - Alan M. Dershowitz (Gatestone Institute)
    What will happen if Hamas is allowed to win this war? Hamas will be encouraged to repeat its barbarisms of Oct. 7, not only in Israel but in other Western nations.
    If a crime pays, it will be repeated. That is one reason why we punish crimes.
    President Joe Biden has correctly warned that if Putin is allowed to benefit from his attack on Ukraine, he will be encouraged to attack other nations. Why hasn't he said the same thing about Hamas?
    The world will be a far less safe place if Israel is prevented from defeating Hamas and dismantling its military capabilities.
    American policy should be to help Israel defeat Hamas and prevent the recurrence and spread of its terrorism against civilians, rather than to help Hamas secure a victory by tying Israel's hands.
    The tragic reality is that Hamas is winning the war - by its own definition of winning.
    It has turned world opinion against Israel, especially among the young. It has caused a rupture in Israel's relations with America.
    It has gotten the International Court of Justice and the UN involved. It has damaged the prospects of peace with Saudi Arabia.
    It has hurt relationships between Israel and its neighbors. And it has strengthened support for Hamas among Palestinians in the West Bank.
    Unless the Biden administration changes course and encourages Israel to achieve its legitimate military goal of defeating Hamas, terrorism will win and civilization will lose.
    The writer is Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School.

After Oct. 7, Israelis Can't Live with an Armed Gaza - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
    After the Hamas invasion on Oct. 7, Doron Shabty, his wife, and their two small children hid in Sderot, near the border with Gaza, and survived. A reservist in the infantry, he went into the army the next day.
    After more than 100 days in Gaza, Shabty, 31, said that to restore Israelis' faith in their country's ability to protect them, there cannot be a return to the situation of Oct. 6. "We can't live with an armed Gaza - we just can't do that," he said.
    The shock of Oct. 7 reminded Israelis that they have powerful enemies next door who wish them dead.
    Accompanied by a powerful new sense of Israel's vulnerability, Israeli attitudes toward the war, which Israeli Jews overwhelmingly support, inform virtually their every expectation for the future. It is likely to do so for a long time to come.
    According to the latest Peace Index survey from Tel Aviv University, 94% of Israeli Jews and 82% of the total population think the Israeli military has used "adequate or too little force" in Gaza.
    Some 88% of all Jewish Israelis think the number of Palestinians killed or wounded in Gaza is justified by the war.
    Only 27% of Jewish Israelis (and 24% of Palestinians) support a two-state solution.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Was Behind Attacks on Major Gas Pipelines in Iran - Farnaz Fassihi
    Israel carried out covert attacks on two major natural gas pipelines inside Iran last week, disrupting the flow to provinces with millions of people, according to two Western officials. They said the attacks required deep knowledge of Iran's infrastructure and careful coordination, since two pipelines were hit in multiple locations at the same time. One Western official called it a major symbolic strike that was fairly easy for Iran to repair, but sent a stark warning of the damage that Israel could inflict.
        The Western officials said Israel also caused a separate blast on Thursday inside a chemical factory on the outskirts of Tehran. (New York Times)
        See also Explosions in Iran Mark a New Stage in the Conflict with Tehran - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The Iranians have been waging an active war against Israel since Oct. 7 through its proxies: Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. Iran not only directs its proxies on when and how much to harm Israel, but it also provides them with the weapons and military intelligence necessary to strike Israel during wartime.
        Israel's rationale behind its alleged moves is that Iranian citizens should pay the price if Israeli citizens in the north of the country can't return to their homes and if residents of Eilat are forced to stay in shelters. Iranian residents need to know that the regime's aggressive policy also affects them directly.
        Moreover, in recent months, elimination of officers in Iran's Revolutionary Guards who operated Shiite militias in Syria or aided Hizbullah in firing its weapons systems have been attributed to Israel. These moves, if carried out by Israel, were intended to make it clear to the Iranians that they would pay the price for such actions. Israel still holds back from targeting Iranian oil production and exports. Meanwhile, Israel does what the U.S. is still unwilling to do. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. to Veto UN Security Council Vote on Gaza Ceasefire - Michelle Nichols
    The UN Security Council is likely to vote on Tuesday on an Algerian push for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, a move the U.S. signaled it would veto. "The United States does not support action on this draft resolution. Should it come up for a vote as drafted, it will not be adopted," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Saturday. (Reuters)
  • International Court of Justice Rejects South African Request to Rule Against Israeli Offensive in Rafah - Mike Corder
    The International Court of Justice on Friday rejected a South African request to impose urgent measures to safeguard Rafah in Gaza from an Israeli offensive. Israel has said it will evacuate the civilians before attacking the last remaining Hamas stronghold. Israel says it does all it can to spare civilians and is only targeting Hamas militants. (AP)
        See also South Africa Is Serving as the Legal Arm of Hamas (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • More than 30 UNRWA Employees Actively Participated in Oct. 7
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Friday that Israel has intelligence that more than 30 UNRWA employees actively participated in the Oct. 7 murder spree, assisting in the kidnapping of civilians and soldiers. He presented data that 1,468 of its employees are active in terrorist organizations in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Footage Shows UNRWA Employee Kidnapping Body on Oct. 7
    New footage recently uncovered shows UNRWA employee Faisal Ali Mussalem Al Naami, 45, abducting a body from the entrance to Kibbutz Be'eri on Oct. 7, where the bodies of three men who were shot dead were lying outside their car. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Arrests More than 20 Terrorists Who Took Part in Oct. 7 Massacre at Khan Yunis Hospital
    More than 20 terrorists who took part in the Oct. 7 massacre have been apprehended in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, the IDF said Friday. Forces also found mortars, grenades and other weaponry inside the medical facility. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli President Tells U.S. Secretary of State: We Must Finish Eradicating Hamas before Pursuing Normalization Opportunities
    Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. Blinken said: "We're thinking...of the genuine opportunities that lie before us for a better, more secure future for Israelis, Palestinians and all of our friends in the region."
        In response, Herzog said, "I think there are opportunities; they need to be studied in depth. However, first and foremost, Israel's security must be preserved, and for this, we have to complete the work of undermining and eradicating the basic infrastructure of Hamas."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The U.S. Peace Plan Ensures the Survival of Hamas - Meir Ben Shabbat
    There are recent reports of a fast-track U.S. peace plan that will include a set timeline for establishing a Palestinian state. Washington understands that it will not be possible to promote such a plan without first stopping the Gaza war. However, Israel's leaders will not be able to end the war without three conditions being met: the return of the captives; the toppling of Hamas; and Israeli security control of Gaza to prevent a Hamas resurgence.
        The U.S. plan not only ensures the survival of Hamas and preserves its remaining military, organizational, and governmental capabilities. It will also allow Hamas to claim to have delivered to the PA and the Palestinian people the greatest political achievement in its history, through the barbaric massacre and war crimes it committed. A Palestinian state established thanks to Hamas is a prize for terror.
        As part of the plan, the main carrot Israel will get is the launch of a normalization process with Saudi Arabia. With all due respect for normalization, the Gaza war returned Israel to the realization that it is still fighting for its existence. It must be made unequivocally clear that Israel will oppose the U.S. initiative.
        The writer, a former national security advisor to the Israeli prime minister, is chairman of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • Ireland's Hostility towards Israel - Amotz Asa-El
    Israeli underground leader and future prime minister Yitzhak Shamir used the alias "Michael," borrowed from the Irish rebel Michael Collins. The Jewish and Irish liberation movements had a common British enemy and initially respected each other. Collins at one point hid among Dublin's Jews disguised as an Orthodox Jew. An Irish Jew, Robert Briscoe, was the IRA's arms purchaser and served as an adviser to Menachem Begin. But by the mid-1950s, as Britain and Israel became allies, Ireland became Israel's foe.
        The IRA helped Palestinian terrorism, and Ireland delayed its exchange of ambassadors with Israel until 1993. By far the most anti-Israel country in Europe, Dublin actively incites other European countries against Israel, Israeli diplomats report. Last week, Ireland's women's basketball team, in a formal match, refused to shake the Israeli team's hands.
        A few things have to be said now by Jerusalem to Dublin. First, we Israelis have nothing to apologize for. Palestinians are getting killed because they started a war and the Israelis are fighting back. Your Palestinian heroes deliberately hide among and under their population, along with the arms they clearly plan to use to massacre us.
        Second, you are not the freedom fighters your ancestors were. Not one of you ever populated a battlefield, dodged a bullet, attended a fallen soldier's funeral, or suffered war's grief. We have, and still do. There is nothing you can teach us about war's morbidities or about sacrificing for peace.
        We Jews remember that during World War II Ireland declared neutrality, refusing to join the Allies. Some Irish heroes, in fact, actively collaborated with Hitler, most notably IRA chief of staff Sean Russell, who spent three months training in Nazi Germany.
        The writer is a fellow of the Hartman Institute. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Those Who Attack Jews in the UK Are Behaving as Antisemites Always Have - Jonathan Freedland
    Many Jews in Britain can hardly bear to hear the news, not least because they're in it so often. 2023 saw more than 4,100 episodes of anti-Jewish hate across the country, most of which came after Oct. 7. Some of the incidents involved knives, others saw Jews struck with metal bars. Some victims were punched or kicked or spat on, others had stones, bricks or bottles thrown at them. Slogans were daubed on walls, windows were smashed. Hundreds of incidents involved children, whether making their way to or from school or inside it.
        When some people want to express their apparent anger at Israel's actions, they direct it at Jewish targets. They are holding a British minority responsible for the actions of a foreign government several thousand miles away, a response that does not seem to happen with other distant conflicts: after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian Orthodox churches in Britain did not brace themselves for attack.
        The biggest surge in anti-Jewish activity came immediately after the Oct. 7 attacks, when Israelis were still counting their dead and missing and had scarcely responded at all. This indicates that it was in celebration of Hamas' attack, rather than anger towards Israel's military response in Gaza.
        Most Jews feel bound up with Israel. They are deeply connected to it. Given the central place of the Land of Israel in Judaism's holiest texts, as ancient as the Jewish people itself, it could hardly be any other way. They recognize that Israel is the world's largest Jewish community, the world's only Jewish country. More deeply, they hold to the idea that after two millennia of endless and deadly persecution, the Jewish people need one place, a haven, where they can govern and defend themselves.
        When British Jews are attacked, their attackers are not striking a blow for the Palestinians. They are placing themselves alongside the antisemites and racists who have always treated Jews this way, reminding Jews why they needed a refuge in the first place - and why they need it still. (Guardian-UK)

  • The U.S., UK and Europe all are warning Israel not to go into Rafah, even though Israeli hostages were rescued there last week - and despite knowing that destroying the Hamas infrastructure there is key to ensuring that it will not be able to rebuild. Instead of asking why two Israelis were being held in Rafah, the media was more focused on claims by a terrorist organization that people had been killed during the rescue operation.
  • The Western media continue to lap up the falsehoods and fabrications that Hamas regularly spins. This is evidence of moral bankruptcy. There is something seriously wrong when people are willing to accept lies by a murderous terrorist group over claims made by a democratic, liberal, progressive country. How does it make sense that people think it's normal for hostages to be held against their will and that a country shouldn't do what is necessary to get its people back?
  • Most of the condemnations today come from the U.S., the UK and Europe. They don't come from Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, or Saudi Arabia. Why do you think that is? The answer is that these Arab countries want Israel to succeed in removing Hamas, while the other countries appear to want Israel to fail.
  • While I don't expect the world to stand on the sidelines and applaud the IDF, we should be able to expect some semblance of integrity. Sadly, there isn't, and Western media, thinkers, and politicians continue to accept Hamas propaganda as the truth. It's an incredible double standard soaked in a deep undercurrent of antisemitism.

    The writer is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and a former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.

Daily Alert is published from Sunday through Friday during the war.
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