March 11, 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 Destroying Hamas amid International Fury and Skepticism - Israel Kasnett (JNS)
    In his State of the Union address Thursday, President Joe Biden spent 90 seconds supporting Israel and blaming Hamas for the atrocities it committed on Oct. 7 as well as for the war that followed. "Israel has a right to go after Hamas," Biden said.
    But then he spent 180 seconds focusing on Palestinians "under bombardment" or experiencing "displacement," and the need for a two-state solution.
    He failed to mention the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under bombardment and the tens of thousands who have been displaced as a result of ongoing Hamas and Hizbullah attacks.
    While Israel is under pressure to ensure humanitarian aid delivery to Palestinians, it is plowing forward in its war against Hamas.
    Jacob Olidort, director of research for the Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy at JINSA, said that skepticism regarding Israel's military operation to eliminate Hamas "ignores the visceral commitment Israel has, in light of the horrors of Oct. 7, not only to eliminate the terrorists and their infrastructure in Gaza, but also to institute long-overdue deradicalization efforts" with regard to both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
    Former Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat explained that Israel "cannot compromise on achieving the goals it defined for this war in full, since any failure to do so could expose Israel to an existential threat from its enemies."
    "The results of the war are the only thing that can prevent this. The deterrence that crashed on Oct. 7 will not be restored if it can be argued that Israel failed to achieve its goals."
    As for the day after Israel destroys Hamas, Ben-Shabbat said, "The young people of Gaza, who make up half of the population, were born into the reality of Hamas, were educated on its ideas, absorbed it in schools, mosques, squares and through its media. The young terrorists fighting us today are the same children who spent time in Hamas summer camps."
    Contrary to what some in the West believe, Hamas didn't "kidnap the population" but rather won broad political support and backing from Gaza's Palestinian public, he said.
    He emphasized that Israel must ensure that the demilitarization of Gaza and freedom of action for the IDF there are basic conditions in any future reality.

Hizbullah Remains Undeterred despite Endless Skirmishes with IDF - Lior Ben Ari (Ynet News)
    Hizbullah has been vocal about the damage it claims to inflict on Israel daily, despite the extensive destruction its operations have caused in southern Lebanon.
    Hizbullah publicly acknowledges 241 of its members have fallen, while the IDF suggests the actual casualty figure is more than 300.
    The IDF has relentlessly targeted numerous Hizbullah installations, employing aerial strikes from planes and drones as well as artillery, focusing on command posts, military structures, ammunition depots, rocket launch sites, and surveillance outposts.
    Tens of thousands of residents of southern Lebanon have abandoned their villages amid an increasingly dire economic crisis in a country already on the brink.
    A member of the Lebanese Forces party's Central Council, which opposes Hizbullah, recently stated that 520 houses had been completely destroyed and 3,300 had been damaged.

How the Gaza War Impacts the West Bank Economy - Claire Parker (Washington Post)
    Over the years, Palestinian workers formed the backbone of Israel's construction industry and became a reliable source of cheap labor for its booming agriculture and tourism sectors.
    Workers from Gaza and the West Bank could earn in Israel triple the amount they could make in the Palestinian territories, according to the World Bank.
    But after Oct. 7, when Hamas and other militants killed around 1,200 people in Israel, authorities imposed a near-total ban on Palestinians working in Israel or its communities in the West Bank.
    Work permits of more than 170,000 Palestinian laborers were canceled and tens of thousands more who worked in Israel illegally are now also out of jobs.

IDF Ombudswoman Finds Rise in Reservists Clamoring to Be Allowed to Fight - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Rachel Tevet-Wiesel, the IDF's chief complaints officer, published the unit's annual report on Monday.
    During the first three months of the Gaza war (October-December), most of the 1,316 complaints received were civilians seeking to return to reserve duty after receiving exemptions and reservists asking to be moved to a combat unit.

IDF Medical Teams on Permanent Alert to Evacuate Wounded IDF Soldiers - Anshel Pfeffer (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    At an Israeli Air Force base, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters stood ready to carry flight-crews, doctors, paramedics and fighters of Unit 669, the IAF's search-and-rescue unit.
    The squadron's main role during the war has been to fly teams of Unit 669 into Gaza on evacuation missions of wounded IDF soldiers - swooping in low, often under fire, to makeshift landing-areas and ferrying the wounded back to hospitals in Israel, while the doctors and paramedics have only a few minutes to try to stabilize and treat their patients.
    Lt.-Col. O, a veteran pilot, said, "We've learned a lot in a thousand missions we've carried out in this war in Gaza. We measure ourselves by the time that elapses from the moment a soldier is wounded in Gaza."
    "Our average time over the war is an hour and five minutes until the wounded soldier is in hospital. Most missions now are completed within less than an hour from the wound."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Military Ship Has Set Sail to Help Build Pier Off Gaza for Aid - Cassandra Vinograd
    The U.S. military said on Sunday that the General Frank S. Besson logistics support vessel had set sail carrying equipment to build a floating pier on Gaza's coast to deliver aid by sea. The Israeli military will help coordinate the installation of the pier, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Saturday.
        Britain, the EU and the UAE said on Friday that they would join a separate maritime initiative to get aid into Gaza. (New York Times)
  • Hamas-Linked Website Warns Palestinians Not to Work with Israel - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    The Hamas Al-Majd security website on Monday warned Palestinian individuals or groups against cooperating with Israel to provide security for aid convoys. Those who did would be treated as collaborators, the site said, quoting a security official in Palestinian militant forces. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Defense Minister: Sea Corridor Plan for Gaza Aid Will Help Bring Hamas Down - Emanuel Fabian
    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday that the plan to provide aid to Gaza via a temporary seaport would help toward Israel's goal of toppling Hamas. "The process is designed to bring aid directly to the residents and thus continue the collapse of Hamas' rule in Gaza," Gallant said.
        Aid deliveries by sea would help "ensure that supplies reach here for those who need them and not for those who don't. We will bring the aid through a maritime route that is coordinated with the U.S. on the security and humanitarian side, with the assistance of the UAE on the civil side, and appropriate inspection in Cyprus, and we will bring goods imported by international organizations with American assistance."  (Times of Israel)
  • U.S.' Gaza Pier Will Dampen Criticism of Israel - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The U.S. initiative to build a floating pier off the coast of Gaza will allow the unloading of large quantities of humanitarian aid, which are ten times larger than the quantities currently arriving in Gaza by truck, most of which are plundered. A pier off the shores of northern Gaza, where Israel has control, may ensure that the aid directly reaches the aid organizations without the mediation of Hamas and crime families. (Ynet News)
        See also Gaza Maritime Route Was Netanyahu's Idea - Tovah Lazaroff
    The plan for a maritime route to Gaza via Cyprus to provide humanitarian assistance for Palestinians was initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in collaboration with U.S. President Joe Biden, a senior diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
        The source said that on Oct. 22, two weeks following the war's outbreak, Netanyahu discussed with President Biden the concept of "delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza via the sea, contingent on an Israeli inspection in Cyprus. On Oct. 31, Prime Minister Netanyahu outlined this strategy to Cypriot President Christodoulides." The matter was revisited on Jan.19 during a dialogue between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden. Israel has welcomed Biden's announcement to build a temporary port. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Sinwar's Ramadan Jihad Dream: Will the "Al Aqsa Flood" Reach Jerusalem? - Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hoping that the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins this week, will see an upsurge in violence against Israel. This is why Sinwar is reluctant to move forward with negotiations for the release of the Israeli hostages. Sinwar and the Hamas "tunnel leadership" in Gaza have not lost hope that other Arabs and Muslims will join Hamas in its fight against Israel.
        Hamas' branding of the Oct. 7 massacre as the "al Aqsa Flood" followed Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's similar branding of the "al Aqsa Intifada" that began in 2000. At the time, Palestinian propaganda advertised the Second Intifada as a duty to defend Islamic holy sites, a still-popular theme in Palestinian media. Sinwar views himself as a great Muslim warrior who successfully planned an invasion of Israel.
        Hamas leaders have not concealed their disappointment with their failure to ignite a multi-front confrontation with Israel. Hamas supporters have mocked Hizbullah for firing anti-tank missiles at the same Israeli military outpost for the past four months, indicating that Hizbullah is not serious about an all-out war with Israel.
        Hamas is also disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm for a renewed intifada in the West Bank. Though there have been sporadic terrorist attacks in the West Bank and the Jerusalem area, their intensity is not significantly different from those of the past few years. Moreover, the vast majority of Israel's Arab citizens have refrained from acts of violence and displays of support for Hamas' terrorism.
        There was no repeat of the May 2021 riots that erupted in mixed cities inside Israel for several reasons. First, more than 20 Arab Muslims were killed during Hamas' murder spree, and several members of the Bedouin community were kidnapped. Second, Arab Israelis were shocked by the magnitude of the savagery and barbarism perpetrated by Hamas and emphasized that Hamas did not represent the values of Islam or Arab culture. Third, the Arabs did not want to repeat the mistake of May 2021, which provided an excuse for some in Israel to label them as a fifth column.
        Dr. Dan Diker is president of the Jerusalem Center, where veteran journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is a fellow. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Time for Britain to Get Tough on the Muslim Brotherhood - Ed Husain
    The nation of Churchill cannot stand idly by while those influenced by the fascism of the last century, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological activists and allies, use London as a political capital. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood seeks to rule with hardline sharia as law, and views ordinary Muslims that do not share this vision as its opponents.
        The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are ideologically committed to the destruction of the state of Israel. This matters to all of us, because what starts with the Jews never ends with them. The time has come to tackle the Brotherhood and shut down its financial, media, charitable and political arms in Britain. The government recently banned Hizb ut-Tahrir for advancing the same ideology as the Brotherhood after Oct. 7. The Brotherhood is banned in Mecca, but thrives in London.
        Hamas is the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. They unashamedly killed Jews and have vowed to act again. The Brotherhood in Britain, operating under different "community representative" organizations, has been radicalizing young Muslims against Jews. Islamist mosques and publishing houses have been disseminating calls for the destruction of Israel. After Oct. 7, this is not an abstract issue.
        Islamists are not democrats. Gaza, Iran, Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan show us that Islamists when in power use opportunities granted to them by the ballot box to enforce anti-democratic measures. Free societies can self-destruct unless they are vigilant. We must not tolerate intolerance and terror. The future of our country depends on it.
        The writer is a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Fighting Doesn't Stop during Ramadan: Look at Egypt and Syria's 1973 Ramadan War against Israel - Elliot Kaufman
    There is an idea that it is wrong to fight an Islamic country during the holy month of Ramadan, which this year started Sunday. It's nonsense: Look at Egypt and Syria's 1973 Ramadan War against Israel or Iran's 1982 Operation Ramadan against Iraq. The taboo is a weapon.
        For more than a month, the Biden administration has set the start of Ramadan as the deadline for a deal to release Israeli hostages and stop the war. "There's got to be a ceasefire because of Ramadan," the president said Tuesday. The president no longer speaks about defeating Hamas, let alone destroying it. Victory is off his list of priorities - and Israelis worry that Biden is the most pro-Israel member of his administration.
        The administration misread Israel. Its pressure tactics have allowed Netanyahu to rally even his rivals around his positions on Rafah and against unilateral U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state, an idea Israelis find criminally insane right now. The prime minister's chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has publicly agreed with him on both. Israel is united on the questions that matter, and it has the will to outlast the Biden administration.
        Micah Goodman, a leading Israeli public intellectual, said in an interview, "America is speaking about its own traumas in Iraq and Afghanistan when it says that asymmetric wars are unwinnable. We have a different experience." He cites 2002's Operation Defensive Shield, which broke the Second Intifada and helped end suicide bombings. That, too, had been deemed impossible. "We have the determination and capacity to win," he said. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Gaza Aid Policy Prolongs the Return of Israeli Captives - Nadav Shragai
    The airdropping of aid to Gaza - and soon, also the special pier - will not advance the release of the Israeli captives. It will only make their release that much harder. Increasing civilian aid to Gaza provides more and more oxygen to Hamas, delays a real uprising of the residents there against Hamas, and achieves the opposite of what Biden says he desires. From Hamas' perspective, the aid gives more legitimacy for the continuation of its existence as the ruling power in Gaza and a toughening of its stance on the captives issue.
        If the U.S. had a Middle Eastern mindset rather than a Western one, it would make clear that the condition for "saving the starving residents of Gaza" is the swift end of Hamas, both militarily and in civilian life, and the release of all captives. Instead, Biden puts the well-being of Gaza's residents, many of whom have been involved in terrorism over the years, before the well-being of the captives. This encourages Hamas to raise the price for their release ever higher.
        In World War II against the Nazis, the Allies did not consider airdropping humanitarian aid to the German population. These are new standards set specifically for Israel, and a distortion of any logic aimed at defeating an enemy like Hamas. The U.S. itself has never acted this way in its wars.
        The same flawed Western logic applies to the issue of the month of Ramadan and Israel's entry into Rafah. Instead of making it clear that Israel, with American backing, will not hesitate to turn Ramadan from the "glorious month of Islamic victories" into the month of its defeat, the U.S. has opted to be considerate of Muslim sensitivities. (Israel Hayom)
  • Will Biden's Patience Run Out? - Amb. Michael Oren
    President Joe Biden and his senior staff have repeatedly accused Israel of indiscriminately bombing Gaza, treating its civilian population inhumanely, and causing the death of "too many Palestinians." Such accusations are blatantly unfounded and support those who accuse Israel of war crimes. They also helped convince Yahya Sinwar that he just needs to hold out because ultimately the president will demand a ceasefire. The president doubled down on these accusations in his State of the Union address.
        On the other hand, the president reiterated Hamas' crimes and Israel's right to defend itself. Israel must continue to work to debunk the administration's false claims and continue to explain to the world that the meaning of a ceasefire is a victory for terror and a death blow to Israel. Most importantly, the IDF must continue fighting until Hamas' total defeat.
        The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
  • Biden Draws an Odd "Red Line" for Israel - Editorial
    President Biden beat up Israel's leaders in his State of the Union speech and has criticized its war strategy in Gaza with regularity. Biden wants fewer civilian casualties in Gaza, but so does Israel since the diplomatic consequences fall on the Jewish state, not on Hamas. That's why Israel has held off on its Rafah campaign until it can put together a plan to let civilians find refuge to the city's north.
        Israel can't avoid a Rafah campaign if it wants to achieve its war aim of destroying Hamas. Surely Biden knows this. The U.S. didn't let ISIS retain its stronghold in Mosul in Iraq, and the siege of that city also had unintended civilian casualties.
        There are costs to this White House strategy toward Israel - not least its message to Hamas and its backers in Iran that their strategy of putting civilians in harm's way is working politically. Why agree to a hostage swap if their current strategy is driving a wedge between Israel and the U.S.?
        Biden's red-line threats don't help Israel or his political standing at home. The best way he can help himself politically is to let Israel win the war as rapidly as possible. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Disgusting Defacement of Lord Balfour's Painting - Brendan O'Neill
    Not content with traipsing through the streets every other weekend to holler their hatred for Israel, now "pro-Palestine" activists are taking aim at art. Witness the fevered attack on the painting of Lord Balfour at Cambridge University - an act of petulant, self-satisfied philistinism that will do precisely nothing to help people in Gaza.
        The slashing of the painting was carried out by a member of a group called Palestine Action. She walked up to the 1914 portrait and sprayed it with red paint before wielding her knife to cut it to shreds. Why target Balfour? Because he played a key role in creating the modern state of Israel. And to the manically Israelophobic, there are few sins as grave as that.
        There was something deeply unsettling about this Taliban-style assault on a piece of art. An individual, under the spell of some kind of fear or animus, using violence to try to cleanse the world of a sinful image. It feels like a Red Guard-style effort to scrub "the problematic" from public view. Such wanton cultural vandalism is the rage of the entitled, destroying art in the name of "saving Palestine." It's the theater of self-righteousness.
        The slashing of that painting was not merely a performative assault on a Dead White European Male. It was also a noisy, violent signal that anyone involved in the creation of Israel is evil and deserves erasure from public life. It was a clamorous declaration of intolerance towards anyone who helped to found or who supports this allegedly evil state. What will no doubt be justified as an anti-imperial act was in truth an imperious expression of haughty English disgust for a tiny state overseas.
        Some seem to be in the grip of a kind of Palestine mania. Their feverish obsession with Israel and the idea that it is a "uniquely murderous" entity belongs less to the realm of reason than to the sphere of moral delirium. Why does Israel-Palestine induce in some people more wrath and more emotion than anything else happening in the world right now? I know why I think it does. (Spectator-UK)

The Day After the Gaza War - in Israel - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin (Foreign Affairs)
  • Since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, Israel has found itself in a multifront war for the first time in nearly 60 years. It is fighting in Gaza, countering armed groups in the West Bank, and facing missile strikes from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.
  • Moreover, Israel must also take more far-reaching steps to avoid another Oct. 7. It must ramp up defense spending and reinforce its borders. Any arrangement for governing Palestinian areas will have to include strong provisions to prevent the emergence of a remilitarized Palestinian territory. The longer-term objective of a two-state solution is currently perceived as unfeasible and even detached from reality by most Israelis.
  • After five months of fighting in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces have made impressive progress. The territory is one of the most complex combat zones in the world, with an intricate urban landscape and an enemy that is operating within the civilian population, using an extensive network of tunnels and underground facilities. Nonetheless, IDF forces have been able to dismantle the nerve centers and organizational structures of Hamas in Gaza City and Khan Yunis and significantly degrade terrorist infrastructure in other areas.
  • They have also established a security buffer zone between Gaza and Israeli territory to largely neutralize the immediate ground threat to the towns and villages near Gaza, allowing residents to return to their homes.
  • Realizing these objectives has come at a high cost to the population of Gaza, and the humanitarian situation has raised pressure on Israel to limit its operations. Yet, calls for Israel to stand down are premature. Israel cannot bring an end to the conflict in Gaza as long as Israeli hostages are held captive there.
  • Israel has no interest in occupying or assuming full responsibility for Gaza. But as long as Gaza remains militarized and attacks against Israeli territory persist, Israel will be compelled to maintain overriding security control. Israel's efforts to dismantle Hamas will require a long-term commitment.

    The writer served as the head of IDF Military Intelligence from 2006 to 2010.

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