March 5, 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:

IDF: More than 450 Hamas and Islamic Jihad Terrorists in Gaza Are Employed by UNRWA - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The IDF says its intelligence shows that 450 terror operatives in Gaza are employed by UNRWA.
    The IDF also released recordings of two UNRWA employees who participated in the Oct. 7 onslaught.
    Mamdouh al-Qali, an Islamic Jihad terrorist employed as a teacher in an UNRWA school, is heard on his mobile phone saying, "I'm inside, I'm inside with the Jews."
    Yousef al-Hawajara, a Hamas terrorist who worked as a teacher at an UNRWA school in Deir al-Balah, is heard saying, "We have female hostages. I captured one."

Indian National Was Killed in Hizbullah Missile Attack (Mint-India)
    Indian national Pat Nibin Maxwell, 31, from Kerala, was killed when a missile fired from Lebanon by Hizbullah struck near an orchard at Moshav Margaliot on Monday.
    Two other Indians, also from Kerala, were injured in the attack.

Israeli Gas Field near Lebanon Starts Production - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    On Feb. 22, 2024, natural gas started flowing from the Karish North field, 60 miles off the coast of northern Israel, to the Energean Power, a huge floating production, storage and offloading vessel.
    The gas will be processed and sent ashore south of Haifa via a seabed pipeline.
    Oil will also be recovered and stored onboard for loading onto tankers.
    The writer is director of the Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute.

Iran Has the Largest Ballistic-Missile Arsenal in the Middle East - Behnam Ben Taleblu (Wall Street Journal)
    While the world focuses on the threat posed by Iran's growing nuclear program and its terror proxies, Iran's ballistic-missile program is underwriting the expansion of both.
    Iran's ballistic-missile arsenal is the largest in the Middle East.
    Iranian missiles are more precise, mobile, lethal and abundant than ever before.
    Since 2017, Iran has engaged in at least 11 separate ballistic-missile operations from its own territory against Kurdish, U.S., Islamic State, Baluch and other targets and interests across Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
    Missile mastery has emboldened the Islamic Republic, making it keen to take more risks.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Houthis Are a Vicious and Reactionary Islamist Cult - James Heartfield (Spiked-UK)
    Attacks on ships in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthis have delighted anti-Israel activists in the West, who have taken to the streets with a new chant: "Yemen, Yemen make us proud, turn another ship around."
    It's clear that those in the West currently cheering on the Houthis know very little about this regressive movement.
    Officially known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), the Houthis now govern much of the populous west and north of Yemen and are today the dominant force in the country. The Houthis are Zaydi, a branch of Shia Islam.
    In 2000, Houthi leader Hussein al-Houthi coined the slogan, "Death to America, Death to Israel, a Curse upon the Jews, Victory for Islam."
    In the areas it controls, the Houthi regime is proving itself profoundly illiberal - it has suspended elections, and tortured and executed dissenters and homosexuals.
    The writer is a British historian.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Finds Israeli Hostages Were Raped, Tortured in Hamas Attack - Karen DeYoung
    A team of UN experts found "reasonable grounds to believe" that some victims of Hamas' attacks in Israel on Oct. 7 were sexually assaulted, according to a report released Monday. "In most of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were then killed," the report said. "The mission team also found a pattern of victims, mostly women, found fully or partially naked, bound, and shot across multiple locations."
        The team also found "clear and convincing information" that some of the women and children taken back to Gaza that day by Hamas as hostages were subjected to "rape and sexualized torture and sexualized cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." There were "reasonable grounds to believe that this violence may be ongoing."  (Washington Post)
        See also Text: Report on Sexual Violence in the Oct. 7 Attacks (United Nations)
  • Houthi Attacks Having Limited Impact on Israeli Trade, Prices - Steven Scheer
    Attacks by Yemen's Houthis on cargo ships in the Red Sea are having limited effect on trade to Israel and have not led to any significant inflationary pressures, Israel's Finance Ministry reported Monday. The ministry said the cost of sea transport was just 3% of the total value of imports, and that, in the most extreme case, the jump in sea freight costs would contribute up to a 1% increase in the consumer price index in the coming year. At the same time, there have been no significant disruptions in the supply chain, and commodity and energy prices had been largely stable. (Reuters)
  • Iran Executed at Least 834 People in 2023
    Iran executed at least 834 people in 2023, the highest number since 2015, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty said Tuesday. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Terror Cell Caught with 100 Bombs - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Security Agency said Monday it had captured a terror cell planning ISIS-style attacks. The four members of the cell, all residents of the area around the West Bank village of Tarqumiyah near Hebron, had prepared 100 bombs, learning from videos posted online and instructions from Islamic State members living abroad. The leader of the cell was in contact with members of the Islamic State. The men, who are from the same family, said they planned to use the explosives in attacks against IDF troops. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Destroys 4-Km.-Long Tunnel in Northern Gaza
    The IDF on Tuesday destroyed the largest terror tunnel ever uncovered in northern Gaza since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. The tunnel extended 4 km., with a maximum depth of 50 meters, and ended near the Erez crossing into Israel. The route had several branches and included sewerage, electricity, and communication infrastructures. The tunnel allows the movement of vehicles inside it, and many weapons were found. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Delivers Humanitarian Aid Directly to Gazans - Yoav Zitun
    IDF soldiers on Monday distributed aid to Gazan civilians who were evacuated from the Hamad neighborhood of northwest Khan Yunis. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hamas' American Hostages - William McGurn
    Six innocent Americans are being held captive by Hamas. It is a sad reality that America's enemies feel empowered to kill, capture or threaten our citizens abroad. Unfortunately, the names of the six U.S. hostages now languishing in some dank Gaza tunnel are largely unknown to their countrymen: Edan Alexander, 19. Itay Chen, 19. Omer Neutra, 22. Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23. Sagui Dekel-Chen, 35. Keith Siegel, 64. Hamas also holds the bodies of Judy Weinstein Haggai and Gadi Haggai. At least 32 Americans were among the murdered on Oct. 7.
        Hamas knows full well that six of their hostages are Americans. Yet they've continued to hold them. What does that say about their fear of the U.S.? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Has No Alternative but to Pursue the War Against Hamas - Meir Ben Shabbat
    As the fighting in Gaza continues, Israel faces challenges and threats from another six fronts: the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and the diplomatic-legal international system. Recognizing we are in an existential struggle, being confident of our cause, resolve, and solidarity are key to success on all fronts.
        In the Gaza war, Israel needs a decisive, unambiguous, and indisputable victory. Deterrence will not be restored if the narrative emerges that Israel had not achieved its goals. Were that narrative to emerge, Israel's enemies would feel even more inclined to attack, and its diplomatic stature would suffer a lethal blow. Israel has no alternative but to pursue the war's goals until they are fully met.
        In the conditions created in Gaza, there is no practical, safe way to enable civilian aid to the population without it being seized by Hamas, unless the IDF distributes it. One cannot rely on the "neutrality" of international bodies, or expect them to withstand Hamas pressure. The same holds for foreign states.
        The writer, a former Israeli national security advisor, is chairman of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Improbable U.S. Plan for a Revitalized Palestinian Security Force - Miriam Berger
    Despite two decades of reforms, the Palestinian Authority security forces remain chronically underfunded and widely unpopular, ill-equipped to take on the massive responsibilities that their U.S. backers are envisioning. Washington sees the 35,500-strong Palestinian security forces as central to its plans to help stabilize postwar Gaza. But the Palestinian Authority and its security forces are already struggling to maintain order in the West Bank. They are not welcome in some Palestinian towns and cities, where militant groups have become the de facto authorities.
        Western officials said major efforts would be required to expand and train security forces at the scale needed for Gaza - and to get political buy-in from the Israeli government, which openly opposes the plan. A Western diplomat said, "The PA is not ready to go to Gaza and won't be anytime soon. I don't see them having the numbers to be able to do it, or the will, or the knowledge of Gaza."
        Many Palestinians came to view the force as a private militia that answered to their increasingly authoritarian leaders in Ramallah. From the start, those leaders and their U.S. supporters cared about "the functionality and effectiveness of the security forces in containing any confrontation or pushback" to Palestinian Authority rule, and not public legitimacy, said Alaa Tartir, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (Washington Post)
  • The Dark Secret of Jew Hatred - David Suissa
    Why do Jew haters hate Jews? The general consensus is that Jews have served throughout history both as humanity's conscience and its convenient scapegoats. Whatever one hates at any point in time, just blame the Jews.
        Something has changed, however, since Oct. 7. We've rarely seen such hysterics. Whether on campuses or city streets, the haters have gone bonkers with a fanatical exuberance. The fury has reached such a frenzy that I've been wondering if there's a deeper motivation at work.
        British philosopher Eve Garrard has argued that "There are (at least) three principal sources of pleasure which anti-Semitism provides. First, the pleasure of hatred; second, the pleasure of tradition; and third, the pleasure of displaying moral purity."
        The anti-Israel protesters we're seeing on college campuses and major cities may be enraged, but they're not sad or unhappy. Indeed, there's a kind of thrill in the air; a crowd-driven exhilaration in the service of going bonkers against the world's most condemned country. Behind the screams and the fury, the experience itself must feel good for them to keep showing up.
        No amount of education or condemnation can overcome visceral satisfaction. To be sure, the fight must continue. But let's not waste time hoping haters will stop hating. Their anger is hard-wired; it feels too good. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

  • Irit Lahav, a peace activist from Kibbutz Nir Oz, where one in four residents were killed or kidnapped, had entertained no illusions about Hamas even before the Oct. 7 massacre. She had seen how the group deliberately targeted civilians, including by firing rockets into residential areas at specific times to increase loss of life.
  • Yet she had always believed that Hamas' actions were distinct from and unrepresentative of the wishes of the silent majority of Palestinian civil society, whom she imagined were concerned primarily with providing for their children and improving their own lives.
  • That belief was shattered on Oct. 7, by what she says were "hundreds of civilians, including women and children, who followed" behind the terrorists, invading Israeli communities to celebrate and join in the pillaging, vandalization and destruction of Israeli communities.
  • "I used to think Palestinians were good people, like you and me. That Hamas were thugs who got in the way of the population's desire for a good life....After Oct. 7, I realized I was wrong. Just as the Israeli government represents Israelis, Hamas represents the people of Gaza."
  • Lahav used to belong to a group of volunteers who would drive Palestinians in need of medical treatment from Gaza to hospitals in Israel. She now believes that "all of the people of Gaza, all of them, hate us to a degree where they would murder babies and pillage our property with zero compunction."
  • She is not impressed with the images of devastation coming out of Gaza, she said. "I don't believe a word they're saying. Not the death toll, not the images. I know the Israel Defense Forces avoids killing civilians whenever possible and I don't believe the [Hamas-reported] figure of 30,000 dead."
  • "When I thought of Gaza, I thought about barefoot children on dirt roads. That's the sort of images we kept seeing out of there. But now the soldiers are streaming images [from Gaza] of beautiful, paved streets. High-rise apartment buildings. It was all a show! They took foreign media to their filming locations. So now I don't believe any video they show."
  • "As long as their school shows are about 'martyrs' killing Jews, there is no way forward," she said.

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