March 3, 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 to Halt Military Actions in Gaza for Four Hours Daily for Humanitarian Reasons - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    In the aftermath of the aid truck catastrophe in Gaza on Thursday, the IDF Spokesperson has announced a weekly schedule in Arabic, outlining a temporary halt of military actions for humanitarian reasons between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in various parts of Gaza to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, preventing accusations against Israel for hindering this process.
    This is also meant as a gesture of goodwill towards the U.S. government.

Iran Tried to Persuade Sudan to Allow Naval Base on Its Red Sea Coast - Nicholas Bariyo (Wall Street Journal)
    Iran unsuccessfully pressed Sudan to let it build a permanent naval base on the country's Red Sea coast, which would have allowed Tehran to monitor maritime traffic to and from the Suez Canal and Israel, according to Ahmad Hasan Mohamed, an intelligence adviser to Sudan's military leader.
    Iran has supplied Sudan's military with explosive drones to use in its fight with a rebel warlord and offered to provide a helicopter-carrying warship if Sudan had granted permission for the base.
    "They also wanted to station warships there," Mohamed said in an interview, adding that Khartoum turned down Iran's proposal to avoid alienating the U.S. and Israel.

Poll: American Preference for Israel over Palestinians Remains Strong (Jerusalem Post)
    Among U.S. registered voters, 40% sympathize with Israel and 24% sympathize with Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war, according to a New York Times/Sienna poll published on Saturday.
    15% sympathized equally with both and 21% did not know. The poll was conducted Feb. 25-28, 2024.
    See also Poll: U.S. Sympathy for Palestinians Grows as Israel War Drags On - Aaron Zitner (Wall Street Journal)
    In a Wall Street Journal poll, conducted Feb. 21-28, 2024, 42% of American voters said Israel has gone too far in pursuing Hamas.
    19%, said Israel hasn't gone far enough, and 24% said Israel's response to Hamas has been about right.

Hamas Stole Hizbullah's Plan to Attack Israel - Ayelett Shani (Ha'aretz)
    Orna Mizrahi, former deputy head of Israel's National Security Council and currently at the Institute for National Security Studies, said in an interview that Hamas stole Hizbullah's plan for a barrage of rocket fire, followed by penetration by commando forces.
    When Hamas attacked on Oct. 7, "Israel responded immediately by deploying forces in the north and by evacuating communities there - a controversial decision, though there's no doubt that at that moment it was exactly what was needed."
    For now, Hizbullah has lost the element of surprise, and the Israel Defense Forces is also prepared, but Hizbullah's plan exists and has to be taken into account.

Schools in Sderot, near Gaza, Reopen after Five Months of War - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Schools reopened in the city of Sderot, adjacent to Gaza, on Sunday, five months after Hamas gunmen roamed its streets on Oct. 7, leading to the mass evacuation its residents.
    Terrorists moved through the city on pickup trucks, slaughtering at least 50 civilians and 20 police officers.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Organized Aid Convoy with Local Palestinian Businessmen - Aaron Boxerman
    The Gaza aid convoy that ended in bloodshed last week was organized by Israel itself as part of a new partnership with local Palestinian businessmen. Israel has been involved in at least four such aid convoys to northern Gaza in the past week to fill a void in assistance to northern Gaza.
        Israeli officials reached out to multiple Gazan businessmen and asked them to help organize private aid convoys to the north, two of the businessmen said. Izzat Aqel, a Gazan businessman who helped coordinate trucks in Thursday's convoy, said an Israeli military officer had asked him about 10 days earlier to organize aid trucks to northern Gaza with as much food and water as possible. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Airdrops Humanitarian Aid in Gaza - Michael Crowley
    Three U.S. Air Force cargo planes airdropped 38,000 ready-to-eat meals into Gaza on Saturday, in a joint operation with the Jordanian Air Force, U.S. Central Command said. (New York Times)
  • Ship Hit by Yemen's Houthis Sinks in Red Sea - Jon Gambrell
    The freighter M/V Rubymar, which was struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile on Feb. 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, sank on Saturday in the Red Sea with 21,000 tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Three IDF Soldiers Killed, 14 Wounded in Booby-Trapped Building in Gaza - Yoav Zitun
    Three IDF soldiers were killed and 14 others were wounded, six of them seriously, in a blast in a booby-trapped building in the Khan Yunis area. The building partially collapsed due to the sequential detonation of IEDs in an area considered to be under Israeli control. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Conducts Wave of Strikes near Philadelphi Corridor
    The IDF carried out extensive airstrikes in the Rafah area, including near the Philadelphi Corridor along Gaza's border with Egypt, media in Gaza reported on Saturday. The IDF confirmed that the strikes had hit Islamic Jihad operatives and terrorist infrastructure. (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Lebanon Strike Targeted Iranian Militia Members Involved in Rocket Fire on Israel - Emanuel Fabian
    The IDF struck a vehicle near Naqoura in southern Lebanon on Saturday, killing three operatives belonging to the Imam Hossein Division, an Iranian militia that operates alongside Hizbullah. The operatives were involved in recent rocket fire on Israel. One of the men was a weapons technician, a security source in Lebanon told Reuters.
        On Saturday, Hizbullah announced the deaths of seven more members killed "on the road to Jerusalem," its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes. (Times of Israel)
  • Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Killed in Israeli-Linked Strike in Syria - Lior Ben Ari
    Three people, including an "Iranian commander and two other escorts of non-Syrian nationalities," were killed in an attack attributed to Israel on a villa in the Syrian coastal city of Baniyas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday. The Saudi channel Al Hadath quoted Iranian media reports identifying the slain commander as Rada Zarai of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • An Immoral Hostage Deal - Jonathan S. Tobin
    For nearly five months, the Jewish world has been calling for the release of hostages taken by Hamas during the Oct. 7 massacres in Israel - all of them. But as ongoing negotiations for the release of the more than 100 Israelis still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza continue, something is missing from the discussion of the proposed terms for such a deal - a moral compass.
        Trading the lives of innocent Israeli civilians who were kidnapped from their homes on Oct. 7 for the release of Palestinians who have been convicted of acts of violence against Jews, including murder, is a bizarre and immoral concept.
        The hostage releases are supposed to be strung out over weeks as part of a process in which Hamas can play with the emotions of Israeli families as they hope and pray that their relatives will be let go - and that they are among those still alive. Hamas doesn't want to include captured soldiers, particularly female soldiers, in the early stages of the deal, preferring to hold them as bargaining chips for even higher prices.
        President Biden's talk of the need for a holiday pause in the Gaza fighting for Ramadan is off-base since no one in the international community seems to think it was wrong for Hamas to start a war on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. (Israel Hayom-JNS)
  • The PA Tries to Fool the World - Maurice Hirsch
    In response to President Biden's call for a revitalized Palestinian Authority, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is trying to hoodwink the Americans by adopting cosmetic changes. In January, the PA announced the appointment of new regional governors, changes in the recruitment mechanisms of the PA security forces, changes to the media market, and a restructuring of the health sector. Now, the PA government has resigned, opening the door for Abbas to appoint a new and "revitalized" technocrat government.
        The piecemeal measures offered by Abbas are insufficient. The first steps that are needed include condemning the Oct. 7 massacre, abolishing the PA/PLO's "Pay-for-Slay" policy, recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people, ceasing incitement to murder and glorifying terror against Israelis, halting all PA political assaults on Israel in international fora, and actively combating terror.
        The writer, Director of the Palestinian Authority Accountability Initiative at the Jerusalem Center, served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps and was director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Why Does the World Tolerate Barbaric Hamas? - Arnie Singer
    When ISIS conquered large parts of Iraq and Syria, the U.S. led a coalition to defeat ISIS. They did not quit until they defeated ISIS because everyone understood that ISIS is a threat to freedom and its tactics were barbaric and inhuman. The same thing should be happening against Hamas, which is as barbaric and vicious as ISIS. There's no difference between them.
        Why isn't the world forming a coalition to defeat Hamas, even diplomatically, to try to stop Hamas, cut off all their funding, cut off all their supplies, cut off all their support, and bring them to their knees? Instead, the world is supporting negotiations with Hamas and is condemning Israel. They're demonstrating against Israel and trying to force Israel to cease fire, to let Hamas continue as a viable terrorist organization that can repeat the attacks of Oct. 7.
        Why is the world doing that? Because, in this case, it's the Jews who are the targets of this barbarity. And when Jewish lives are at stake, apparently Jewish lives don't matter. (Times of Israel)

  • When war is fought among civilians, civilians are killed. When the Allies bombed German forces in France prior to the June 1944 Normandy invasion, some 20,000 French civilians who had the misfortune of living near ports, bridges, roads, or railroad infrastructure were killed in these attacks and during the subsequent two months of ground and air operations.
  • In the campaign to destroy 3,000-5,000 Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, from October 2016 to July 2017, some 9,000-11,000 civilians died, at least a third of them from coalition fire. Some 65% of residential construction was damaged or destroyed.
  • In the campaign against 2,900-5,600 Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, Syria, from June to October 2017, the bodies of 4,100 civilians were found under the rubble. NGOs estimated that 774-1,600 civilian casualties were caused by coalition fire. Some 60-80% of buildings were rendered uninhabitable.
  • Hamas presented Israel with a more difficult military problem than Mosul or Raqqa. Hamas had three times the combat power that Islamic State had in either Mosul or Raqqa. This alone would produce a significantly more difficult and destructive offensive campaign. Hamas were also well equipped with assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket launchers, mortars, and anti-tank guided missiles.
  • A well-trained and well-armed infantry force becomes formidable in an urban environment, which favors tactical defense because it provides the defender with concealment and cover. Buildings provide multiple hiding places. Basements offer natural bunkers. Tall buildings provide firing positions and unobstructed fields of fire, while enabling observation of enemy movements.
  • It should not be a surprise, therefore, that the IDF now finds itself destroying a great many structures in Gaza. Given America's own recent military history, it does not have much ethical ground to stand on in decrying Israeli strategy. Israel is not doing anything that the U.S. and its Arab allies have not done recently. When the U.S. is provoked, it is historically quite ferocious. Collateral damage results.

    The writer is Professor of Political Science at the Security Studies Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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