March 19, 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:

Poll: Most Israelis Want Rafah Operation despite U.S. Opposition (Globes)
    82% of the Israeli public support a military operation in the area of Rafah in southern Gaza, according to a Globes survey of 989 adult Israelis conducted on March 12-13, 2024.
    49% said that such an operation should go ahead even if the U.S. opposes it, while an additional 13% were in favor of an operation without U.S. coordination as long as a solution was found to evacuate the Gazan population.
    20% were in favor only if it was coordinated with the U.S., and 10% opposed an operation in Rafah.
    62% believe Israel does all it can not to harm civilians in Gaza.
    19% believe Israel does too much, while 11% say Israel does not do enough.
    44% believe Israel should make humanitarian aid to Gaza conditional on the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
    22% oppose any humanitarian aid while the war continues.
    27% support giving humanitarian aid to the Gaza.

450 Jewish Creatives and Professionals Denounce Jonathan Glazer's Oscars Speech - Tatiana Siegel (Variety)
    More than 450 Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals have signed an open letter denouncing Jonathan Glazer's Oscar speech.
    The group's statement says: "We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination."
    "The use of words like 'occupation' to describe an indigenous Jewish people defending a homeland that dates back thousands of years, and has been recognized as a state by the United Nations, distorts history. It gives credence to the modern blood libel that fuels a growing anti-Jewish hatred around the world."
    Director Jonathan Jakubowicz said, "Mr. Glazer used the memory of the victims of the gas chambers to attack those trying to rescue Holocaust survivors and their relatives from captivity and sexual slavery....His comments unfortunately gave legitimacy to the propaganda networks interested in prolonging the war to demonize the Jewish people."

U.S. Destroys More Houthi Weapons in Yemen (CENTCOM)
    On Monday, U.S. forces successfully engaged and destroyed seven anti-ship missiles, three UAVs, and three weapons storage containers in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in self-defense.

We Are All "Settlers" Now - Leo Dee (Jerusalem Post)
    The Gazans had independence for almost 20 years, after Israel evacuated the 10,000 Jews living in Gush Katif in 2005.
    They have enjoyed self-rule and billions of dollars of foreign aid since the Disengagement, with UNRWA-funded schools and Qatar-funded mosques and hospitals.
    By attacking Israeli kibbutzim and launching heavy missile attacks into Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv, the Gazans made something very clear. They regard every Israeli as a "settler."
    This should not have been so surprising since Palestinians and their supporters have been calling for a Palestinian state "from the river to the sea" for many decades, a term that defines the entire State of Israel as their rightful homeland.
    We are all "settlers" now. Hamas has made clear that they see no difference between any type of Israelis.
    Rabbi Leo Dee is Israel's Special Envoy for Social Initiatives. His wife Lucy and daughters Maia and Rina were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in April 2023.

To Evade Pro-Palestinian Protests, Jewish and Israeli Events in U.S. Are Keeping Locations Low-Profile - Luke Tress (New York Jewish Week)
    Following a spike in antisemitic incidents in New York City and beyond following Oct. 7, several Jewish activists and promoters have decided to shield details of the locations of their events.
    In the face of pro-Palestinian marches that have targeted institutions ranging from a cancer hospital to kosher restaurants, some Jewish organizers say they would rather prioritize the safety and well-being of their attendees - even if they risk potentially tamping down attendance.
    Despite the precautions, the events can still draw protesters. A Valentine's Day comedy show to raise funds for survivors of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel drew a crowd outside the event shouting "Nazi scum" and "Zionist freak" at people entering the venue.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Describes President Biden's Call with Prime Minister Netanyahu
    President Joseph Biden spoke on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The President affirmed the need to defeat Hamas in Gaza while also protecting the civilian population and facilitating the safe and unhindered delivery of assistance throughout Gaza.
        The President and Prime Minister agreed to discuss alternative approaches that would target key elements of Hamas and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground operation in Rafah. (White House)
        See also Israel Sending Delegation to Washington to Discuss U.S. Concerns over Rafah Invasion - Vivian Salama (Wall Street Journal)
  • White House: Hamas Should Not Be Allowed a Safe Haven in Rafah or Anywhere Else
    U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday, "Earlier today, President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu....The President emphasized his bone-deep commitment to ensuring the long-term security of Israel. And he affirmed, as he did in the State of the Union, that Israel has a right to go after Hamas, the perpetrators of the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust."
        "The President and the Prime Minister spoke at length about Rafah today. The President explained why he is so deeply concerned about the prospect of Israel conducting major military operations in Rafah of the kind it conducted in Gaza City and Khan Yunis....The President has rejected - and did again today - the strawman that raising questions about Rafah is the same as raising questions about defeating Hamas. That's just nonsense. Our position is that Hamas should not be allowed a safe haven in Rafah or anywhere else."
        "Hamas could, of course, end this crisis tomorrow if it chose to do so. And as I've said before, far too little of the energy and the pressure to end this conflict has been applied to Hamas. We will keep pointing that out."  (White House)
  • UN Security Council Condemns Houthi Attacks in Red Sea
    The UN Security Council on Monday condemned in the strongest terms Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, including the March 6 attack on the MV True Confidence, which resulted in the deaths of two Filipino sailors and one Vietnamese sailor and injuries to at least four other seafarers.
        The Council members demanded that all Houthi attacks against commercial and merchant vessels traversing the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden cease immediately, in accordance with international law.
        The Council members reaffirmed that the exercise of navigational rights and freedoms by merchant and commercial vessels of all states transiting the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab, in accordance with international law, must be respected. (UN Security Council)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Senior Hamas Commander Killed in Shifa Hospital Raid - Einav Halabi
    Faiq Mabhouh, a senior commander in Hamas' internal security, was killed during the IDF operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Monday. Palestinian sources said Mabhouh was tasked by Hamas to guard food trucks bringing supplies to northern Gaza. His mission was to intimidate local clans so that they refuse to cooperate with Israel on food distribution. He may have been behind the execution of the head of the Doghmush clan last week after reports that Israel reached out to the clan to oversee the distribution of aid and to prevent violence. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Kills 40 Gunmen in and near Shifa Hospital - Emanuel Fabian
    In the IDF raid on Gaza City's Shifa Hospital that began on Monday, 20 Hamas gunmen were killed inside the hospital premises and another 20 were killed in the surrounding area. One Israeli soldier, Staff Sgt. Matan Vinogradov, 20, was killed in the gun battles. By Monday evening, some 200 suspects had been detained, some of whom were confirmed as terror operatives.
        The IDF completed destroying the tunnels under Shifa in December. Hamas' latest activity at the hospital took place in its buildings and not tunnels. (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu: There Is Unity among the People of Israel to Achieve Victory
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told AIPAC leaders in Jerusalem on Monday: "The Iran terror axis...is behind everything that we're seeing here today. That is something that we all have to understand, that this is not just Israel's battle. It is a battle for our future, but it's also a battle for the victory of the Israel-America-moderate Arab axis against the Iran axis....This is a war of civilization against barbarism, those who want to bring back the Middle East to the Middle Ages."
        "The picture that is presented in the last few days and weeks in the United States is completely different....[In Israel,] you can go into any cab, go into a mall, walk down the street and talk to people. The great majority will tell you that they support...the goals that the government has set."
        "That's not the description you hear. The description is that you have an outlier prime minister with some extreme fringe groups, and that's what's driving the policy. False. I would say deliberately false. They know it's false. But that falsehood is perpetrated and it's wrong....There is unity among the people to achieve victory along the lines that I described. It is within reach and we're going to do it."
        "The idea that we are going to trap 1.2 million people [in Rafah], we're not going to let them go out, they're not going to leave, we don't have arrangements for them - that's not true....We're going to say: 'move here, move there' - to precise locations. That argument is fallacious. It's repeated over and over again. That doesn't make it true. We have now told the army...to enable the population to move, and also, quite concurrently, [to implement] a humanitarian plan."   (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Video: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with AIPAC Leaders (YouTube)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hamas Fighters Will Continue Fighting as Long as They Have Hope - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The Hamas operatives who returned to hide in Gaza City's Shifa Hospital wrongly assumed that Israel, facing massive international pressure, would not dare to respond, even if it found out about their presence there.
        Hamas won't surrender. Its fighters will try to survive as long as they have hope and sporadically engage in guerrilla warfare against the IDF in Gaza. This could take months, compelling the IDF to firm up its security hold on areas where Hamas' military capacity has been dismantled.
        This scenario mirrors the aftermath of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 in the West Bank: the IDF entered Palestinian cities and towns, but pockets of resistance and terrorist cells remained active until 2004 when the resistance waned. In fact, the IDF's "mowing the grass" tactic continues there to this day. Surviving Hamas terrorists will continue engaging IDF forces for a long time, and it's important to acknowledge this reality.
        Hamas survives because its leaders and operatives believe global public opinion will soon end IDF action. The Israeli government must approach the U.S. and Western allies to clarify that their calls for an immediate ceasefire encourage Hamas not to surrender, prolonging the war and the suffering of the population. (Ynet News)
  • The Saudi Street Opposes Normalizing Relations with Israel - Ilan Zalayat
    Polls conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy since the Abraham Accords in 2020 found that 40% of Saudis supported economic ties with Israel if they proved beneficial to the local economy. This figure, although a minority, indicates an exceptional openness to entertain pragmatic relations with Israel; in contrast, support for similar ties in Egypt and Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel, hovers around 10%.
        However, Saudi sentiments shifted dramatically during the Gaza war. In Nov.-Dec. 2023, support for any form of relations with Israel dropped to 20%, and 96% of Saudis favored the immediate cessation of ties between the Arab states and Israel in response to its actions in Gaza. Even before the war, 87% of Saudis believed that Israel could eventually be defeated, and only 5% agreed that world Jewry should be respected and that relations with them should be improved.
        Only 20% of Saudis expressed support for their government's cooperation with Israel against Iran, while only a slim majority of 60% of Saudis even viewed Tehran as a rival after the Saudi-Iranian reconciliation in March 2023.
        Despite an obvious shift in the discourse on relations with Israel within the Saudi kingdom, hostility to Israel and aversion to the idea of relations with it are firmly rooted among the general public, leaving a clear gap between the positions of the populace and the government. Normalization of relations with Israel will be an unpopular move among the Saudis.
        The writer is a research associate at INSS.  (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Islamist Threat in the UK Is All Too Real - Nick Timothy
    The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) is one of several organizations declared extremist by Secretary of State for Communities Michael Gove in Parliament last week. Previously, an expert government report called it "the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK." Its concern for civil liberties does not apply to those who criticize Islamism, comment on Islam in ways it dislikes, or depict Mohammed in ways it finds offensive. It is among the organizations pushing for an official definition of "Islamophobia," a one-religion blasphemy law that would be used to limit scrutiny of Islamists.
        British politicians and those in wider society urgently need to understand who these extremists are, which organizations speak for them, and where their ideas come from. If they fail to do so, not only violence but political subjugation awaits us. Sermons by some imams in British mosques quote the Koran and sayings of Mohammed recorded in hadiths to justify hatred and violence.
        Many Muslims reject this, citing passages of the Koran that say, "let there be no compulsion in religion." As many moderates and reformers like to argue, there is a scriptural justification for pluralism and tolerance within Islam.
        According to the expert government review, the Brotherhood "shaped the Islamic Society of Britain, dominated the Muslim Association of Britain and played an important role in establishing and then running the Muslim Council of Britain." Yet the public sector, including the NHS, police and military, partners with these organizations and others like them. The media allows news content to be policed by entities created by them. Many receive direct public funding and the tax advantages of charitable status. This is why it is vital that the Government defines extremism, identifies extremist organizations and shuns, punishes and proscribes them accordingly. (Sunday Telegraph-UK)

The Strategy of Atrocity in the Gaza War - Michael Hochberg and Leonard Hochberg (Gatestone Institute)
  • Hamas is perhaps the first regime in recorded history to fight a war designed to maximize casualties among their own population.
  • The Hamas terrorists killed by Israel in the Gaza war are all considered "martyrs" whose families are eligible to receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority.
  • Failing to swiftly destroy Hamas and directly punish Hamas' backers in Iran and Qatar will teach sympathizers in other parts of the Muslim world that strategies of atrocity should be added to the playbook of regimes challenging U.S. allies around the world.
  • Even worse would be for Hamas to actually achieve a strategic victory and gain Palestinian statehood; such an outcome would ensure that atrocity becomes a standard and widely used strategy for at least a generation to come.
  • The laws of war - primarily a Western innovation - are being weaponized by the enemies of the West, who do not subscribe to Western culture or to the laws of war. If the type of warfare that we have seen from Hamas is allowed to succeed, and is not met with utter defeat, it will become the standard approach for those challenging Western dominance.
  • If, however, we want to live in a world where the laws of war mean something, then the penalties for deliberately flouting them need to be terrible. Otherwise, more regimes will be tempted to gain advantage through strategies of atrocity.
  • The popular accusation of disproportionality is aimed to prevent Western-aligned nations from achieving decisive victories. Even when the allies of the U.S. have the military capacity to break the will of the enemy, thereby imposing peace on the defeated, they will be forced to resort to fighting forever wars.

    Michael Hochberg is currently a visiting scholar at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University.
        Leonard Hochberg is a Fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-founded Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (STRATFOR).

Daily Alert is published Sunday through Friday during the war.
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