March 7, 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:

Report: Gazan Civilians Unable to Evacuate to Egypt, but Families of Hamas Officials Can (Jerusalem Post)
    Crossing the border into Egypt is a "desire shared by many Gazan families, but for most of them it is an unattainable fantasy," Israel's Channel 12 reported Tuesday.
    But some who have managed to get to the other side have been Hamas terrorists and their families.
    Escapees include nephews and nieces of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. The children of Sinwar's sister were smuggled through the Rafah crossing recently.
    The two children of Hamas police spokesman Ayman al-Batanji also managed to escape.
    The four children of Sameh Elsraj, a member of Hamas' political bureau, also managed to escape through the Rafah crossing.
    Every few days, more names appear of family members of Hamas leaders who managed to escape from Gaza.

In Rafah, Armed "Vigilantes" Enforce Hamas Rule (Times of Israel)
    Nine men with clubs and headbands reading "People's Protection Committees," bound around ski masks or hoods, strode through a marketplace in Rafah this week after the civil police force, controlled by Hamas, went underground after being targeted by Israeli strikes.
    The group was formed by the Hamas-run interior ministry, tasked with ensuring public order and stopping price hikes by market profiteers.

PA and Hamas Vying for Support of Palestinian Clans - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are competing to win the support of large Palestinian clans in the West Bank and Gaza, in the wake of talk about handing control over Gaza to local clans after the removal of Hamas from power.
     The PA and Hamas understand that the backing of the clans is crucial for maintaining their control. That's why PA and Hamas leaders have always treated the large families and their leaders with utmost respect.
    In some instances, clan leaders were elevated to the unofficial position of supreme judges and arbitrators, replacing the official judiciary.
    Hamas is no longer functioning as a de facto government in Gaza, and most of its security and civilian institutions are in a state of paralysis.
     According to sources in Gaza, a few clans affiliated with the PA and its ruling Fatah faction have begun challenging Hamas over the past few weeks.
    These clans, known to have dozens of armed members, began operating as their own law enforcers in some towns and refugee camps in Gaza to prevent looting and other acts of anarchy and lawlessness.
    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center, is a veteran Israeli journalist.

Israel Has the World's Most Effective Weapon - Shyam Sankar and Joab Rosenberg (Washington Post)
    Israel's defense and intelligence services are renowned for nurturing young technical talent. But their real advantage in the Gaza war is built on senior technical expertise found in the reserve units that have been called up for duty.
    The mix of young, raw talent combined with the wisdom and experience of an older reserve generation is an innovative model the U.S. can and should embrace.
    Among the 360,000 reservists called up since the Hamas attack of Oct. 7 are some of Israel's most seasoned software engineers, data scientists and data analysts.
    These senior reservists are spearheading explosive change in the Israeli military's technical and analytical capabilities.
    When Hamas' financial transactions had to be analyzed, a volunteer who works in the financial industry quickly connected the necessary dots.
    A senior data scientist was able to immediately handle complex data sets from media and tech sources.
    Skilled academics used cutting-edge AI algorithms to sift through the enormous amount of GoPro, phone and multimedia content posted by the terrorists, enabling Israel to track them and their hostages.
    Shyam Sankar is chief technology officer of Palantir Technologies.
    Joab Rosenberg is a retired colonel and reservist in Israel's defense intelligence agency.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Houthi Missile Strike Kills Three Civilians on Cargo Ship - Annabelle Timsit
    An anti-ship ballistic missile launched by Houthis in Yemen struck the MV True Confidence on Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden, killing three crew members, injuring four others, and causing significant damage to the cargo ship, which the crew abandoned, U.S. Central Command said. Those killed included two Filipinos and one Vietnamese.
        The Houthis said they had targeted the vessel because of what the group claimed was its U.S. ownership. However, any current U.S. connection was denied by the ship's manager and owner. The vessel was bringing Chinese steel products and trucks to Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
        The Houthis have carried out more than 60 attacks in the Red Sea region in recent months. The attacks have upended the shipping industry's ability to travel through one of the world's busiest commercial waterways, which connects Asia to Europe and beyond through Egypt's Suez Canal.  (Washington Post-Wall Street Journal)
  • Video: Watch Israel's Iron Dome Intercept Rocket Barrage Fired from Lebanon
    Video filmed in Kiryat Shmona on Tuesday night showed Israel's Iron Dome air defense system destroying numerous rockets launched from Lebanon toward Israel. (AP)
  • U.S. Has Approved Multiple Military Sales to Israel since Gaza War Began - John Hudson
    The U.S. has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate military sales to Israel since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7, amounting to thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms and other aid, U.S. officials told members of Congress in a recent classified briefing.
        Two of the sales had been made public: $106 million worth of tank ammunition and $147.5 million of components needed to make 155 mm shells. The Biden administration bypassed Congress to approve the sales by invoking an emergency authority. The other transactions were processed without any public debate because each fell under a specific dollar amount that requires the executive branch to notify Congress.
        A senior State Department official said, "These are items that are typical for any modern military, including one that is as sophisticated as Israel's."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli at Jerusalem Bus Stop - Liran Tamari
    An Israeli man, 64, was stabbed at a bus stop in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in northern Jerusalem on Wednesday by a Palestinian teen from eastern Jerusalem. The assailant was apprehended. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Kills Hamas Terrorist Responsible for Rocket Fire from Central Gaza
    The IDF has eliminated Omar Atiya Daruish Aladdiny, the Hamas terrorist responsible for rocket fire from central Gaza, the IDF said. Aladdiny has been responsible for embedding Hamas' rocket arsenal in Gaza and firing rockets at Israel for over a decade. He also played a central role in the preparations for the Oct. 7 massacre. During the war, he has directed rocket launches toward Israeli civilian areas, including Tel Aviv. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Unilateral U.S. Recognition of Palestinian Statehood Is a Political Nonstarter and an Unwise Policy Step - Michael Singh
    Arab leaders seem adamant that the U.S. recognize Palestinian statehood unilaterally at the outset of any peace push, without waiting for Israeli concurrence. Saudi policymakers seem to fear that Arab public opinion will not brook a normalization agreement without major concessions on Palestinian statehood.
        They also seem to believe that neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor any of his likely successors would agree to such concessions in the near future, since Israeli public opinion would presumably regard them as a reward for the atrocities of Oct. 7.
        Unilateral recognition is both a political nonstarter in the U.S. and an unwise policy step. Declaring a Palestinian state without agreements on its borders, capital, or security relations with Israel could worsen the already dire situation between the two parties and set the stage for deeper conflict. In Israel's view, the outcome of its decisions to withdraw from south Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 demonstrate the futility of simply declaring a problem solved without negotiating arrangements to keep the peace.
        Although the Gaza crisis has complicated the situation, Arab normalization with Israel can still help promote peace. Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires a narrative of coexistence to counter Hamas' narrative of grievance and revenge.
        For two decades now, the U.S. has embarked on a string of impatient Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts that have collectively set the process back. What is needed today is patience.
        The writer, managing director and senior fellow at The Washington Institute, was former senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.  (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Stop Blaming the Jews - Hamas Is Starving Palestinians in Gaza - Bassem Eid
    The heart-wrenching stampede that unfolded in Gaza last Thursday casts a stark light on the brutal reality of life under Hamas rule and serves to clarify the accountability for Gaza's plight. The chaos and desperation that led to this tragedy are direct outcomes of Hamas' governance, which prioritizes violence and killing Jews over the welfare of its population.
        It is essential to acknowledge the root causes of the suffering of my brothers and sisters in Gaza. Hamas' diversion of resources, suppression of dissent, and neglect of civilian needs must end. The Palestinian people must demand accountability and seek a future where governance prioritizes human dignity, economic opportunity, and peaceful coexistence.
        Like a Mediterranean North Korea, Hamas has diverted all of its resources to warfare. It and its ally, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have repeatedly fired rocket salvos into Israel. In October 2023, Hamas invaded Israel, massacring over 1,200 innocents in a single day - including 300 young people at an all-night dance party celebrating peace. Hamas is still holding over 130 hostages. As a human rights activist and a human being, I recognize that it defies all rules of geopolitics, morality, and human nature to suggest that Israel not respond militarily to dismantle Hamas and rescue its people.
        The plight of Gaza is a wound at the heart of the Middle East, a testament to the failures of an international policy that has foolishly coddled a brutal tyrant and implacable foe. Only by dismantling the governing rule of the irredeemable Hamas can we begin to heal this wound.
        The writer is a Palestinian peace advocate, political analyst, and human rights pioneer who founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996. (Newsweek)
  • The Difficulty of Delivering Aid in War Zones - John Spencer
    I watched the aerial footage of the disaster surrounding the Israel Defense Forces attempt to deliver aid to northern Gaza last Thursday in horror. It brought back memories of my own experiences trying to deliver humanitarian aid during combat in war-torn cities.
        As a platoon leader in northern Iraq in 2003, I was tasked to use my infantry platoon to distribute water with a giant water truck to a crowded slum in Kirkuk. A crowd began to surround us and soon turned into a mob. Thoughts ran through my mind of a suicide bomber or a weapon firing from the crowd. They crowded the security trucks screaming and making the soldiers extremely nervous. It rapidly became uncontrollable and I gave the order to pack up and withdraw.
        A few weeks later, we were tasked to deliver trucks of cooking gas into another area of Kirkuk. As we drove to the distribution site, civilian pickup trucks packed with men started to drive next to and even into the gas truck. Men from the pickups tried to jump onto the gas trucks. We had to abort the operation, and I told my convoy to return to base.
        In 2009 as a company commander in Baghdad, I was tasked to deliver water and MREs (meals-ready-to eat), the same ones that were air-dropped by the U.S. this week in Gaza, to an impoverished neighborhood. Within minutes, a crowd formed and turned into a mob. My soldiers were being engulfed. I immediately ordered a withdrawal.
        Soldiers always have the right of self-defense. In Gaza, where heavy fighting continues, threats can be snipers or rocket-propelled grenades. We know Hamas operatives, dressed in civilian clothes, have been walking up to armored vehicles to place magnet bombs and fire into the crowd during aid distribution.
        The writer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point, served for 25 years as an infantry soldier, including two combat tours in Iraq.  (Newsweek)
  • The Most Worrying Period for Jews since World War II - David Horovitz
    Around the world, spiking antisemitism. Vast "pro-Palestinian" demonstrations in the West at which many would deny the only Jewish state its right to exist. Physical attacks on Jews in ostensibly enlightened countries. Jews everywhere more wary than they were in decades about publicly identifying as Jews.
        This all began after Oct. 7, when the terrorist army of a virulently antisemitic Islamic government invaded Israel from neighboring territory, slaughtered 1,200 people and kidnapped 253 more, and would have kept on killing throughout the country if it could. And it has all intensified since then, because the Israeli government recognized that it needed to ensure the Hamas terrorist government was prevented from pursuing its avowed agenda of slaughtering Jews again and again until Israel is destroyed.
        We had thought after World War II that, at least in our lifetimes and for a few generations to come, the oldest hatred had been marginalized. We were wrong. No governments in purportedly reasonable countries are endorsing antisemitism and the targeting of Jews. But there is growing empathy in some government quarters for the obsessive and skewed hostility to Israel, and for policies that would weaken its capacity to defend itself against its avowedly genocidal enemies. (Times of Israel)

America Must Give Israel More Time to Defeat Hamas - Rep. Cory Mills and Michael Makovsky (1945)
  • Fighting terrorists who wear no uniform in urban terrain is complicated, as one of us learned during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, battlefields that, however terrible, were simpler than Gaza.
  • Israeli troops need to move carefully through an obstructed maze of streets and alleys, navigating booby traps, snipers, and ambushes sprung from tunnels below their feet. They need to move more slowly still to minimize harm to civilians.
  • Israel is willing to accept these delays, for the safety of both its troops and Palestinian civilians. Yet, ironically, the longer Israel's operations take, the more international pressure grows to cut them short. Such demands would leave both Israelis and Palestinians in greater danger.
  • Hamas' strategy is to purposely put civilians at increased risk, then exploit graphic images of injured civilians to delegitimize IDF operations and pressure Israel to end operations prematurely.
  • Agreeing to a ceasefire that keeps Hamas intact and in power would pose an unacceptable risk to Israeli and Palestinian civilians. A ceasefire with Hamas, struck after the 2021 war and repeatedly violated by Hamas, was already in place on Oct. 7. It did nothing to stop Hamas from launching its heinous attack, and there is no reason to think Hamas would not similarly violate any ceasefire reached now.
  • The U.S. should provide Israel with the political support it needs to take the necessary time to conduct a careful and thorough ground operation that defeats Hamas. U.S. leaders need to constantly repeat that Israel has a right to defend itself, and that the blame for all the war's casualties lies squarely with Hamas, which broke the pre-10/7 ceasefire.

    Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) is an Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division.
        Dr. Michael Makovsky is President and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

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