March 6, 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:

FBI Launches Manhunt for Iranian Agent Plotting to Assassinate U.S. Officials (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
    The FBI field office in Miami announced on Friday, "Majid Dastjani Farahani, an Iranian intelligence officer, is wanted for questioning in connection with the recruitment of individuals for various operations in the United States, to include lethal targeting of current and former United States Government officials as revenge for the killing of IRGC-QF Commander Qasem Soleimani."

Hizbullah Deputy Leader Sees 90 Percent Chance to Avoid Full-Scale War (L'Orient Today-Lebanon)
    Hizbullah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem said in an interview with LBCI on March 6: "We are not closer to a total war in Lebanon. There's a 90% chance that there won't be a larger-scale war."
    According to him, "early deterrence [of Israel] is crucial to safeguard Lebanon."
    Hizbullah and Israel have exchanged daily fire since Oct. 8. Hizbullah opened a front in southern Lebanon "in support of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza," Kassem reiterated.

Gaza Clans Fear Hamas Reprisals - Einav Halabi (Ynet News)
    Some Gazan families have established defensive alliances to protect themselves from gunmen, including Hamas.
    Gazan sources reported that some Palestinian families cooperate with the IDF to ensure they receive humanitarian aid and protect their property from robbers and looters.
    Israel has been engaging in discussions with clan leaders in Gaza, proposing that they assume administrative responsibilities and manage aid distribution to the population.
    However, one clan member said he was concerned about potential Hamas reprisals against families accused of collaborating with Israel.
    On Monday, Palestinian clan leaders published a statement rejecting Israel's plan to establish a civilian government in Gaza, reaffirming their loyalty to "the legitimate political leadership" represented by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Illicit Iranian Oil Sales Total $90 Billion in Past Three Years, Fueling Tehran's Terror Proxies - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    "Iran has managed to sell $90 billion worth of U.S.-sanctioned oil [over the past three years], setting new export records in the process," according to the latest figures published by United Against a Nuclear Iran.
    Iran's fleet of illegal oil tankers have delivered the country's heavily sanctioned crude to China, Syria, Venezuela, and other nations.
    "For January 2024, Iranian exports to China hit 1 million barrels per day. The revenue from these sales is fundamental not only for the regime's survival but also as a critical source of funds disbursed to its terror proxies, including the Houthi movement in Yemen," UANI reported.
    In 2020, 70 ships were suspected of transferring Iranian crude products across the globe. Just three years later, that fleet has grown to at least 395, according to UANI.

Israel Raises $8 Billion in Overseas Bonds, Sees Record Demand - Aharon Katz (Globes)
    For the first time since Oct. 7, Israel has completed raising dollar bonds in international markets totaling $8 billion.
    Demand for the offering reached $38 billion - 4.75 times the amount of the bonds being issued - and the highest ever for a State of Israel international bond issue.
    Demand for the issue was led by strategic investors such as pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds, and institutions that have been holding Israeli securities for many years.
    400 investors from 36 countries took part in the debt issue.
    The offering's underwriters were Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs.

Wet Winter Sees Kinneret nearing Maximum Level (Globes)
    After heavy rains in February, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is 87.5 cm. from its maximum level, according to the Kinneret Authority.
    The lake has risen by almost 1 meter over the past month.
    All areas of northern and central Israel have already had well over their average annual rainfall while it has been a below average year for Jerusalem and southern Israel.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel to U.S.: Ending Gaza War without Rafah Operation Is Like Sending Firefighters to Put Out 80 Percent of a Fire - Summer Said
    As the war in Gaza persisted on Tuesday, Israel believes Hamas wants to escalate fighting to inflame regional tensions during Ramadan, Islam's holy month.
        An Israeli official said that during a visit to the U.S., Israeli War Cabinet member Benny Gantz argued that Israel - which has destroyed much but not all of Hamas' military infrastructure over the past five months - will need to finish off Hamas in the city of Rafah on the border with Egypt. Otherwise, Hamas could regroup and rearm once there is a ceasefire. "Finishing the war without demilitarizing Rafah is like sending in firefighters to put out 80% of a fire," Gantz told U.S officials on Monday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Authority Commits to Pay $97 Million a Year to Hamas - Andrew Tobin
    Since Oct. 7, the PA has doubled down on its longstanding "pay for slay" policy, which gives salaries and benefits to Palestinians imprisoned for involvement in violence against Israel and to the families of those killed. The PA has committed to pay out more than $97 million in such payments for more than 13,000 Hamas terrorists in the year following Oct. 7.
        IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said, "The Palestinian Authority is responsible for creating an incentive system and a mindset that made Oct. 7 possible in the first place, and they are too weak and unpopular to stop it from happening again." In 2018, the PA allocated $340 million to "pay for slay," according to Kuperwasser's authoritative research. The payments accounted for 7% of the PA's budget and benefited just 1 to 2% of the population.
        PA officials have affirmed that "pay for slay" will be extended to every "martyr" and prisoner of Oct. 7 and its aftermath. The families of "all those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants or bystanders in the revolution" are entitled to an immediate one-time grant of $1,700, followed by a lifetime annual salary of at least $4,700, similar to the average West Bank income. Salaries for prisoners increase with the length of incarceration. (Washington Free Beacon)
  • U.S. Forces Shoot Down Houthi Missiles and Drones
    On Tuesday, U.S. Central Command forces shot down one anti-ship ballistic missile and three attack drones launched from Iranian-backed Houthi controlled areas of Yemen toward the USS Carney in the Red Sea. Later, CENTCOM forces destroyed three anti-ship missiles and three unmanned surface vessels in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. (CENTCOM)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Soldier Wounded by Palestinian in West Bank Stabbing
    An IDF soldier, 19, was wounded after being stabbed by a Palestinian at the Yitzhar Junction in the West Bank on Tuesday. The attacker was killed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The IDF at Work in Khan Yunis - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Many Hamas operatives lived in the Hamad Towers neighborhood built by the Qataris in Khan Yunis, containing five-story buildings with yards and parking lots for the well-connected. There are many tunnels and rocket launch sites there. Lt.-Col. Nati Biton commands a mixed force of Givati reconnaissance troops, tanks, engineering personnel, and medical and rescue units, methodically clearing the neighborhood this week, with additional assistance from an armed Heron drone and a combat helicopter.
        Biton reveals that the battalion has lost five soldiers, with many more wounded, some of whom have returned to combat. "Aren't they exhausted?" I ask. "Doesn't seem like it," he responds. "We all know why we're here, and that goes beyond just me and the officers, down to the last fighter....It's not tiring, it's not dull and we can keep going like this for a long time."  (Ynet News)
  • UN Special Rapporteur "Unaware" of Rocket Attacks on Israel - Danielle Greyman-Kennard
    Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, spoke with Ynet's Bar Shem-Ur on Tuesday. After Alsalem commented on reports that Israel is committing "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and an unfolding genocide," Shem-Ur commented, "but Israeli cities and Israeli schools are also being bombarded every single day." Alsalem responded, "Every single day? If that is the case, I would recommend that you also send that information to the special rapporteur so that we can look into it."
        "Don't you see the reports?" Shem-Ur asked. "Don't you see the missiles coming from the north by Hizbullah and from the south by Hamas?" "At this point, I have not seen that, no," Alsalem confirmed. On the same day, 30 rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Kiryat Shmona, with 17 falling in open areas and 13 intercepted by air defenses. On Monday, one person was killed and 7 others wounded by a Hizbullah anti-tank missile fired at Moshav Margaliot.
        Alsalem authored a report accusing the IDF of sexually abusing Palestinian women and abducting their babies. Asked where she got her information, she said it had come from sources she could not cite and Euro-Med. Euro-Med is reportedly run by anti-Israel conspiracist Richard Falk, who claimed that Israel was responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • A Saudi View of the Gaza War - Zvi Bar'el
    An article published Monday in the Saudi daily Okaz by Saudi journalist Mohammed al-Saeed is titled: "In the End, Gaza Is Dead; Long Live Sinwar," referring to Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar. He wrote that when a ceasefire deal is signed, "Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashal and Moussa Abu Marzouk will emerge from their hotels and declare divine victory," referring to Hamas' leadership outside of Gaza. "And Sinwar will emerge from the hole he's been hiding in, carried on the shoulders of his associates, who will protect him from the fury of Gaza's residents, the ones who lost their loved ones, their homes and secure lives due to Sinwar's October 7 whim."
        "In the Muslim Brotherhood's dictionary and in the lexicon of the 'axis of resistance,' defeat is victory, disappointment is joy, the shattered bodies strewn on Gaza's streets are a bridge toward solving the Palestinian problem." The newspaper is closely associated with the Saudi royal court. The longstanding mutual loathing between the Saudi leadership and the Muslim Brotherhood in general and Hamas in particular is an open secret. (Ha'aretz)
  • Stop Apologizing for Hamas - Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib
    I grew up in Gaza City and became an American citizen 10 years ago, after having received political asylum in the U.S. due to specific threats by Hamas against a cultural exchange program that I participated in. I have been deeply alarmed by the new trend among pro-Palestinian activists of whitewashing Hamas' terrorism.
        If contemporary activists truly grappled with the horror Hamas inflicted on Oct. 7, and understood Hamas' history of corruption and exploitation of the Gazan people, they would see that Hamas must be abandoned entirely for pro-Palestinian activism to actually progress.
        Immediately after the attack, tens of thousands of overtly supportive social media posts, statements, protest signs and commentary expressed approval and enthusiasm for the attack, and praise for Hamas' ability to carry out such an elaborate offensive. Various activists, protesters and academics rationalized or "understood" the attack by attributing it to the injustices Palestinians have experienced.
        Some believed that the Oct. 7 attack only targeted military sites. Others were convinced that all Israeli civilian casualties were the result of mistaken IDF counter-fire. Nevertheless, overwhelming video and anecdotal evidence unequivocally and definitively prove the unspeakable scale of the atrocities committed against Israeli civilians, many of whom were in fact peace activists. (Forward)
  • Survivor of Hamas Terror Attack on Israel Recounts How She Survived on Oct. 7 - Eve Glover
    Israelis continue to be surprised at the lack of belief about what they experienced on Oct. 7. Noam Ben David, 27, an artist and a survivor of the Supernova music festival terror attack, recounted her stunning tale of survival. She came with her boyfriend, David Newman. Just after dawn, she thought she heard fireworks - but the thunderclaps were bombs. Someone screamed to stop the music and "just run." On that day, Hamas terrorists descended on the festival and raped, murdered and burned alive 364 civilians in attendance, most of whom were under age 30.
        Noam Ben David said she saw people dropping to the ground after they were shot. "David took my hand so we could run faster, and then I fell," she told Fox News Digital. They reached an area where two huge metal trash containers were located, both open on top. Nearby, grenades and bombs were going off incessantly. People were already hiding inside both the containers and Ben David said she instinctively felt they should get into the container on the left. Later, terrorists threw a grenade over the top of the other container, and everyone inside was killed.
        For over four hours, the couple stayed in the container with 16 other people. They kept their heads down, trying to be as silent and inconspicuous as possible. "David was all the time holding my leg, and moving his hand to calm me down. I was really scared." Newman texted a friend of his in the army to send help, shortly before his battery ran out. "At one point, a girl raised her head up, and screamed, 'They saw me!'" David "took me with his hand, and he pushed me more inside the container so I could hide inside the trash bags."
        Suddenly, the terrorists were there. They stormed the container. "I heard 'Allahu Akbar!' and then I heard the first shot. I heard David try to breathe. I could hear his last breath. Then I heard a bunch of automatic shots everywhere....I wanted to get up and help David, but I knew if I got up I would be dead." Suddenly, she felt "the worst pain ever....I got shot on the left side of my hip." She now realized that practically everyone around her had been killed.
        Finally, IDF soldiers came. Newman's text to his friend, which provided their location, saved many lives, Ben David believes. The soldiers had to fight off terrorists while they drove her to an army unit. Since then, Ben David has undergone two surgeries. She recently started walking using crutches after having been in a wheelchair for several months and is hoping to make a full recovery. (Fox News)

Disgruntled Palestinian Laborers Turn Against Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Public opinion polls may indicate an increase in Hamas' popularity among Palestinians in the West Bank after the October 7, 2023, massacre, but a growing number of Palestinians living there have begun speaking out against the Iran-backed Palestinian terror group. Most of those are Palestinian laborers who used to work inside Israel before the carnage.
  • More than 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank used to cross into Israel every day to work in a variety of jobs, including construction and agriculture. They have not been able to return to their workplaces since the Hamas attack. Many fear they may never return to work in Israel and that they will be replaced with foreign workers. A Palestinian earns much more in Israel than with Palestinian employers in the West Bank.
  • Four months after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, most of the laborers remain unemployed. The PA is not able to provide them with work, and they are beginning to vent their anger and frustration at both the PA and Hamas.
  • "Many laborers have been forced to work as vendors in their cities and villages," said a construction worker from Nablus. "Some sell vegetables and fruit, while others sell clothes and sandwiches....They used to make a lot of money working in Israel. Some built themselves new houses with the money they made in Israel, while others bought new cars. Now, these laborers are complaining that they can't feed their children."
  • A shopkeeper from Tulkarem, whose son also used to work in Israel before Oct. 7, said even people who were previously known as Hamas sympathizers have begun criticizing the group. "I meet many people every day who are complaining that Hamas has brought a new nakba (catastrophe) on the Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank," he said.

    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center, is a veteran Israeli journalist.

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