March 18, 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:

Released American Hostage Says Nurses in Gaza Hospital "Cheered" at Sight of "Jewish Prey" (i24News)
    Released hostage Judith Raanan, 56, an American citizen who was abducted to Gaza with her teenage daughter Natalie from Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Oct. 7, gave her first interview to NewsNation on March 14.
    "Once we entered the Gaza Strip, my daughter and I were taken with other hostages by armed Hamas terrorists to a hospital. When we arrived, the nurses and medical staff were all so happy that they came back with prey, with Israeli, Jewish prey. The minute we came in, all the nurses were standing there and ululating (cheering)."

How the Gaza Ministry of Health Fakes Casualty Numbers - Abraham Wyner (Tablet)
    The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry now claims more than 30,000 dead since the start of Hamas' war on Israel, the majority of which it says are children and women.
    The problem is the numbers are not real. That much is obvious to anyone who understands how naturally occurring numbers work.
    The casualties are not overwhelmingly women and children, and the majority may be Hamas fighters.
    From Oct. 26 until Nov. 10, 2023, the Gaza Health Ministry released daily casualty figures that included both a total number and a specific number of women and children.
    The numbers increase with almost metronomical linearity, while one would expect quite a bit of variation day to day. There should be days with twice the average and others with half.
    Similarly, we should see variation in the number of child casualties that tracks the variation in the number of women. On the days with many women casualties there should be large numbers of children casualties, and on the days when just a few women are reported to have been killed, just a few children should be reported.
    The lack of correlation suggests the numbers are not real.
    Taken together, the evidence is highly suggestive that a process unconnected or loosely connected to reality was used to report the numbers.
    The writer is Professor of Statistics and Data Science at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The War on Terror Is Back - Ilan Berman (National Interest)
    The grisly success of Hamas' offensive against Israel on Oct. 7 has breathed new life and vitality into an array of extremist Islamic factions.
    "Both al-Qaeda and ISIS, inspired by the Hamas attack against Israel, have directed their supporters to conduct attacks against Israeli and U.S. interests," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines informed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Feb. 5.
    Furthermore, Hamas' actions are now "galvanizing individuals to leverage the Palestinian plight for recruitment and inspiration to conduct attacks."
    Gen. Michael Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 7 that regional threats like attacks on maritime commerce by Yemen's Houthi rebels and the targeting of U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria by Shia militias are part of a larger pattern, with the Islamic Republic at its center.
    Kurilla said the events of Oct. 7 "created the conditions for malign actors to sow instability throughout the region and beyond," and Iran's leaders have "exploited what they saw as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape the Middle East to their advantage."
    All of this demands that Washington refocus in earnest on the counterterrorism fight without delay.
    The writer is Senior Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.
    See also Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community (Office of the Director of National Intelligence)

10,000 Foreign Construction Workers to Arrive in Israel by June - Yosi Dayan (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Ministry of Housing has begun a plan to bring 40,000 more foreign workers to Israel for the construction industry.
    By the end of June, 10,000 foreign workers will arrive from India who will replace the foreign workers from China and Moldova, who left after the war.
    So far, 1,200 workers from India have arrived and another 1,200 more are now being processed.
    Also by the end of June, "the process of absorbing about 10,000 foreign workers from other countries such as Georgia, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, and more will begin," said Eldad Nitzan, Chairman of Foreign Workers' Manpower in the Construction Industry at the Chamber of Commerce.
    The goal is to ultimately bring 65,000 foreign workers to Israel to replace Palestinian workers.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Renews Iran Sanctions Waiver that Unlocks $10 Billion for Regime - Adam Kredo
    The Biden administration on Wednesday reapproved a sanctions waiver that unlocks upwards of $10 billion in frozen funds for the Iranian government. The sanctions waiver allows Iraq to transfer electricity payments to Iran via third-party countries.
        While the State Department maintains the funds can only be accessed by Iran to pay for humanitarian supplies, like food and medicine, critics of the sanctions waiver argue that money is fungible, and that the waiver frees up cash for Iran to spend on its global terrorism operations.
        Richard Goldberg, a former White House National Security Council member who worked on the Iran portfolio, said the latest version of the sanctions waiver is substantially different than the one issued during the previous administration.
        "This is not the same waiver for Iraqi electricity imports that has been issued since 2018. This is an Iran sanctions relief waiver that allows Tehran to access money and use it for budget support, including debt payments and import subsidies," said Goldberg, a senior adviser for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Hizbullah Member Caught at U.S. Border, Planned to "Make a Bomb" - Jennie Taer
    Basel Bassel Ebbadi, 22, was caught by the border patrol on March 9 near El Paso, Texas. He admitted he's from Lebanon and a member of Hizbullah, and was headed to New York. Asked what he was doing in the U.S., he replied: "I'm going to try to make a bomb," according to a Border Patrol document. (New York Post)
  • Jordanian Planes Down Drone in Syria
    Royal Jordanian Air Force jets mobilized on Monday in response to a radar alert that detected two drones of unknown origin that were about to enter Jordanian territory, an informed Jordanian army source said. One of the drones fell ablaze inside Syrian territory near the Nassib crossing on the Amman-Damascus highway. The source said they were offensive drones on a one-way course coming from Iraq. (Enab Baladi-Syria)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Launches 2nd Operation in Gaza City's Shifa Hospital - Yoav Zitun
    IDF troops have entered Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, acting on intelligence that senior Hamas terrorists are using the facility as a command center to carry out attacks against Israeli forces, the IDF announced Monday. IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that the operation was targeting limited areas within the hospital complex based on "concrete intelligence that demanded immediate action."  (Ynet News)
        See also Heavy Clashes Reported at Gaza's Shifa Hospital - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The IDF said it had planned the reinvasion of Shifa Hospital for a number of days, waiting for the right timing when they can surprise the Hamas terrorists and catch them off guard. The IDF arrested 80 people and is currently identifying who among them is Hamas. IDF soldiers identified terrorist fire toward them from a number of hospital buildings and engaged the terrorists, identifying several hits.
        When the IDF took over Shifa in mid-November, it allowed around 200 Hamas terrorists to escape the area along with thousands of civilians before it went in. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Will Enable Palestinian Civilians to Leave Rafah before Fighting
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Jerusalem on Sunday: "Our goal in eliminating the remaining terrorist battalions in Rafah goes hand in hand with enabling the civilian population to leave Rafah. It's not something that we will do while keeping the population locked in place. In fact, we'll do the very opposite. We'll enable them to leave because our consideration for reducing and minimizing civilian casualties has guided us, and will continue to guide us in the future."
        "We believe that the key to peace is security. Many believe that the key to security is peace. But peace is unsustainable without a strong Israel. And if we are offered a peace agreement or a path to peace that makes Israel so weak and unable to defend itself, and our neighbors still adhere to the goal of destroying the Jewish state, then obviously we will set peace backward and not forward. We want to move peace forward. For that, Israel has to have the necessary security responsibility in this tiny area. Otherwise, the radicals take over. (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israel: No Gap with U.S. on Evacuating Rafah Civilians
    Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Israel's Channel 11 on Monday, "Of course, we will act in Rafah, and before the major activity, we will evacuate the residents from there to the western area. When we have to act in Rafah, I see no gap between the U.S. and Israel, including evacuating civilians."  (Anadolu-Turkey)
  • Netanyahu: Instead of Pressuring Israel, Pressure Hamas and Its Patron - Iran
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday: "In the international community, there are those who are trying to stop the war now....If we stop the war now, before all of its goals are achieved, this means that Israel will have lost the war, and this we will not allow....No international pressure will stop us from realizing all of the goals of the war: Eliminating Hamas, freeing all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel."
        "In order to do this, we will operate in Rafah. This is the only way to eliminate Hamas' murderous brigades, and this is the only way to use the military pressure necessary to free all of our hostages."
        "To our friends in the international community, I say: Are your memories that short? Have you so quickly forgotten Oct. 7, the most horrific massacre of Jews since the Holocaust? Are you so quick to deny Israel the right to defend itself against the Hamas monsters? Have you so quickly lost your moral consciences? Instead of pressuring Israel, which is fighting a war, the justice of which is unparalleled, against an enemy of unparalleled brutality, apply your pressure to Hamas and its patron - Iran. It is they who constitute a danger to the region and to the entire world."  (Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Does the U.S. Need a Palestinian State? - Russell A. Berman
    As the war in Gaza grinds on, the Biden administration has signaled interest in establishing a Palestinian state. Yet it is vital to recognize that the two-state solution has little support in the region itself from either side. The Israeli Cabinet, including both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rivals, has rejected a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state without direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Not surprisingly, since the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, the Israeli public has grown more hawkish, with at least 2/3 opposing a Palestinian state.
        Meanwhile in the West Bank and Gaza, there is no clear majority for an independent Palestine side by side with Israel. There is, however, very clear indication of widespread support for Hamas, according to a December poll. This disconnect between Washington's policy aspirations and genuine public opinion in the region shows how this quixotic effort lacks credible realism.
        That a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank hills overlooking the Israeli population centers around Tel Aviv would represent a security threat to Israel is clear. Moreover, the implications for Jordan could be dire. A "free Palestine" will send shock waves to Amman. Instability in Jordan will then turn into opportunities both for terrorist factions that will spill over from Syria and Iraq, or for Iranian intrusion.
        In addition, the likely political character of the Palestinian state is cause for concern. Once elections take place, it is very likely that Hamas will come to power. Does Washington really want to build such a state as a platform for Hamas' Islamist radicalism? A Hamas-dominated Palestine is sure to ally with Iran, whose influence would then extend throughout the region. It should not be hard to understand that building the Iranian bloc is not in American national interest.
        Forcing Israel to accept the security threat that a Palestinian state will inevitably represent will harm America's reputation throughout the Middle East and beyond. If Washington suddenly chooses to reverse course on Israel, other partners will question the reliability of American promises. How Washington treats Israel will be watched closely around the world.
        The question of a Palestinian state is not only a question of an abstract principle of a right to national self-determination, since that ideal ought to apply equally for the Kurds and the Sikhs as well. For the U.S., the Palestinian question should be foremost about the effectiveness of American power in the region - particularly with regard to Iran.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. (The Hill)
  • Hamas Blew Gaza's Golden Opportunity - Paul Morland
    The argument that conditions in Gaza were so dreadful that Gazans had no choice but to "break out" on Oct. 7 is wrong-headed. Just how dire were the circumstances in Gaza before Oct. 7?
        The sheer growth of Gaza's population tells an eloquent story. In 1967, when Israel occupied the Strip, its population was slightly below 400,000. By the eve of the current conflict it had risen five-fold. Really fast population growth occurs when a society gets improved healthcare and rising access to food and other resources.
        Gaza's golden opportunity came after the Israelis arrived in 1967, accelerating the flow of many benefits of modernity. In the mid-1960s, around one baby in ten died in the Palestinian territories before he or she reached the age of one; by the late 2010s, this had fallen well over 80% to a level similar to other Arab countries such as Jordan and Egypt and equivalent to the level the UK reached in the early 1970s.
        At 75 years, life expectancy in Gaza was better than experienced by several U.S. states. Males in Glasgow live only a few months longer than males in Gaza. By 2020, the average Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza was living a whole two decades longer than had been the case when the Israelis had conquered the Strip in 1967.
        Illiteracy has been more or less banished and the share of those going to university has approached 50%; before 1967, neither the West Bank nor Gaza had a single fully-fledged university. Better-educated people are invariably better able to keep themselves and their offspring alive, which accounts in large part for the rising life expectancy.
        So, too, does the general availability of food in Gaza which, despite the propagandistic claims of Hamas, was plentiful before it instigated the current war. There were more than four overweight children in the territories for each underweight one. Beach resorts, five-star hotels and luxury-car dealerships graced Gaza prior to the present conflict. Poverty had more to do with the welfare and redistributive policies of the Hamas regime rather than any restrictions on the import of goods by Israel or Egypt.
        The writer is a senior member at St. Antony's College, Oxford.  (Spectator-UK)

The West's Abandonment of the Jews - Melanie Phillips (JNS)
  • Israel's war of defense against a genocidal enemy is an inflection point in the seismic battle between civilization and barbarism. The West is failing that test. This was illustrated at the Oscars, which featured an attempt to transform Israeli suffering into Israeli oppression by Jonathan Glazer, director of a much-lauded Holocaust movie. He implied that Israelis were like Nazis and that their behavior went against Jewish principles. This is how he described a war caused by the worst atrocities against Jews since the Holocaust and Israel's attempt to ensure that a second Holocaust does not happen.
  • The belief that demonizing Israeli Jews somehow represents Jewish values is a pathology. It is being fed by a venomously distorted presentation of Israelis as child-killers in Gaza that's being ruthlessly pumped out by Western media.
  • Why do so many believe these patent untruths propagated by Hamas? For decades, the Palestinians have accused Israelis of being "Nazis" and committing "genocide" to obscure the fact that their own Holocaust denial runs in tandem with their declared intention to kill every Jew.
  • In total contradiction to its foundational ideals, human rights culture has turned into a vehicle for singling out certain human rights for extinction: The right of the Jewish people to live in their own ancestral homeland. In the 1970s, radical idealists alighted upon "human rights" as a universalizing creed promising to bring about utopia. Judaism is in the way of all universalizing creeds; and so Israel, the particularist Jewish state, had to be dumped.
  • Israel is fighting a desperate battle for its survival. Its people are in a state of ever-deepening trauma, grief and anxiety. Some of their families and friends are still hostages in Gaza, meeting unthinkable fates. The death toll among their conscripted children and grandchildren fighting to defend their country is steadily ticking upwards. They understand that genocidal savages intend to continue their attacks until they have destroyed the Jewish homeland and slaughtered every Jew.
  • In this truly desperate situation, what's even worse is that the "civilized" West is accusing Israelis of the crime of which they are the present and intended victims. That is an unspeakable abandonment of the Jewish people and to the West a source of ineradicable shame.

    The writer is a columnist for The Times of London.

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