March 21, 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:

New Poll: 71 Percent of Palestinians Support Oct. 7 Attack on Israel - Dr. Khalil Shikaki (PSR-PA)
    71% of Palestinians say Hamas' decision to launch the Oct. 7 offensive was correct, according to a poll conducted on March 5-10, 2024, by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and Gaza.
    64% blame Israel for the suffering of Gazans in the current war, while 7% blame Hamas.
    94% think Israel has committed war crimes during the current war, while 5% think Hamas also committed such crimes.
    80% say they did not see videos, shown by international news outlets, of acts committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians, such as the killing of women and children in their homes. 93% said Hamas did not commit these atrocities.
    Overall, 64% believe Hamas will win the war. In Gaza, 56% believe this, up from 50% in December. In the West Bank, 69% believe this, down from 83% in December.
    On the day after the war, 59% say Hamas will be in control of Gaza.
    49% believe Hamas is the most deserving to lead the Palestinian people today, while 17% believe that Fatah under the leadership of Abbas is more deserving; 29% believe both are unworthy.
    46% believe that armed struggle is the best means of achieving Palestinian goals (51% in the West Bank and 39% in Gaza).
    59% oppose a return to Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

IDF General Explains Rafah Attack Considerations (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Prof. Jacob Nagel, former acting National Security Council chief, told 103FM that, "Today, the army and the political echelon...are waiting, they are currently giving a chance to the last attempt to reach a hostage deal" before attacking Hamas in Rafah.
    "There won't be a deal because Hamas doesn't currently feel enough pressure, especially [Hamas chief Yahya] Sinwar, and that's why it makes ridiculous demands."
    "We will need to continue working underground and above the ground [in Gaza] for years, just like it was in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin [in 2002]."
    "Until today, years later, there are still nests of terrorism in Jenin. So whoever thinks that there will be no terrorists after we destroy Hamas in Rafah is wrong."
    "The fight against terrorism will take place for [years to come], but if the IDF controls security in Gaza, it will be able to enter and exit as it does in Judea and Samaria, which will be much better."

Waiting for the IDF Offensive in Rafah - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli public has not shifted to the political center since Oct. 7.
    Hamas' monstrous massacre, the support for that attack among Gaza and West Bank Palestinians, the widespread refusal in the Arab world to denounce the barbarism, the anti-Israel protests worldwide, and the assiduous misrepresentation, negation and rapid airbrushing from history of what actually took place on Oct. 7 - all this and more has left Israelis unprecedentedly wary of compromise with and relinquishing land to the Palestinians.
    Nearing six months into the war, the IDF has intelligence of a whole different order on Hamas' remaining fighting forces, above and below ground - retrieved from the interrogation of captive Hamas gunmen and from captured computer and other data.
    It also has six months of experience in combat with Hamas, and a deeper grasp of how Hamas fights.
    For the time being, the Rafah operation is on hold - awaiting both the coordination that the U.S. is demanding and the results of the resumed negotiations on a hostage deal.
    But when it comes, the signs are that the IDF ground offensive in Rafah will be a phased campaign, area by area, utilizing the intelligence and experience the IDF has amassed.

Palestinians Demolish Jewish Archaeological Site in Samaria - Elisha Ben Kimon (Ynet News)
    Dozens of Palestinians vandalized the archaeological site of Umm ar-Rihan, a historic site from the Second Temple period located on state land in Area C of Samaria, near the community of Katzir.
    The Palestinians completely flattened the site and built a parking lot on top of it. The perpetrators were arrested.
    Umm ar-Rihan was an ancient Jewish settlement dating to the Hellenistic, Byzantine and Roman periods, one of the largest in the region. The site featured limestone buildings, a watchtower and a mausoleum.
    Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, said, "An attempt to deliberately erase Jewish history was made here. This is a crime not only against Jewish history and people, but against all of humanity."

Eilat Port to Lay Off Half Its Staff due to Houthi Attacks (Times of Israel)
    Half of the 120 workers at Eilat Port are at risk of losing their jobs as shipping firms rerouted vessels due to Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes, Israel's Histadrut Labor Federation said on Wednesday.
    Eilat, which primarily handles car imports and potash exports coming from the Dead Sea, offers Israel a gateway to the east without the need to navigate the Suez Canal.
    In 2023, 149,000 vehicles entered Eilat from the east, while since the beginning of 2024, there have been none.

U.S. Imperialism and Its Israeli Puppet - Kathleen Hayes (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    The unchallengeable dogma shared by countless people today is that nothing is, and cannot possibly be, worse than U.S. imperialism.
    Once a person accepts that Western imperialism is the greatest possible evil, she must cheer any atrocity carried out by the neocolonial oppressed against it; or if she has any kind of conscience, lie about what her heroes actually do.
    A corollary of the doctrine is that tiny Israel is the U.S.' war-crazed puppet, if not the puppeteer.
    Antisemites have always used Jews to represent whatever it is they hate. So for today's anti-imperialists, Israel is the quintessence of imperialism, truth be damned.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israelis Craft Plan to Put Anti-Hamas Palestinians in Charge of Gaza Aid - Summer Said
    Israeli security officials are quietly developing a plan to distribute aid in Gaza that could eventually create a Palestinian-led governing authority there, Israeli and Arab officials said. A top Israeli defense official has held talks with Egypt, the UAE and Jordan to build regional support for an emerging effort to enlist Palestinian leaders and businessmen who have no links to Hamas in distributing aid.
        When the war is over, the people in charge of aid would assume authority to govern. "Gaza will be run by those who do not seek to kill Israelis," said a senior Israeli official from the prime minister's office.
        Hamas opposes the plan. One Hamas official said the group already felt it was being sidelined by the sea bridge backed by the U.S., UAE and other partners to deliver aid to Gaza. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Is the Palestinian Authority Taking a Secret Role in Gaza? - Lahav Harkov
    According to Palestinian affairs expert and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Fellow Khaled Abu Toameh, "the clans are making a comeback." Clans were the power centers in Palestinian society before the Palestinian Authority was established. Israel has already reached out to some of these ostensibly unaligned Palestinian clans.
        However, Abu Toameh explained that no one in Gaza can safely be totally unaffiliated. Anyone coordinating humanitarian aid needs the protection of either Hamas or the PA. "There have been statements of some clans pledging allegiance to Hamas and others to the PA, which shows the power struggle between Hamas and the PA in Gaza."
        The Palestinian Authority recently began playing a major role in distributing aid in Gaza, he said. "In the last few days, we hear a lot about increased cooperation between Israel and the PA to secure aid into Gaza. The PA had a lot of Palestinian officers in Gaza before the Hamas coup in 2007 and some of these officers were instructed by the PA to help bring in humanitarian aid trucks to northern Gaza. This was done only after the PA received permission from Israel....It seems that's why in the last few days there haven't been any incidents over the delivery of aid."
        The Palestinians working with Israel in recent days "are clan leaders, local officials or activists with Fatah. Some are just ordinary people not affiliated with any group, local aid workers." All kinds of relief groups have suddenly been established. "The best-known secret is that the PA has its hand in it," he said.
        This situation not only works well for Israel, whose official position opposes Palestinian Authority involvement, but for the PA, whose "biggest fear is being depicted as coming back into Gaza through Israel....So they call them security firms, relief workers, clan members," Abu Toameh said. "Israel should work with any Palestinians who want to work with them. It serves Israel's interest....Obviously, something is happening."  (Jewish Insider)
  • Israelis Evacuated from Lebanese Border Wonder When They'll Return Home - Melanie Lidman
    For four years, Sivan Shoshani Partush recruited families for Kibbutz Malkiya, a community of 400 that she calls her "little slice of heaven." It wasn't a hard sell: spacious homes, beautiful nature, paths winding through manicured lawns, and a slower pace of life than in Israel's frantic cities. The border with Lebanon is just 200 meters away. Among 60,000 Israelis evacuated from northern Israel after months of cross-border fighting, Partush and her children are staying temporarily in another kibbutz.
        Lebanon's Hizbullah began launching rockets toward Israel one day after Hamas stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 250 hostage. There has since been near-daily violence along the Lebanon-Israel border, in which 8 Israeli civilians and 11 soldiers have been killed.
        Israel has targeted 4,500 Hizbullah sites in the past five months. But Hizbullah's well-stocked and deeply entrenched militants continue to launch rockets, and Israel said the militants have attempted to or actually crossed the border half a dozen times.
        Partush said the reality of living next to Lebanon has irrevocably changed. "They need to create a security belt, we need to have an Israeli army presence always, and they need to strengthen the emergency squads so not even a mouse can pass through the border."
        "I don't want my daughters to grow up like I did," said Michal Nidam, a high school counselor from Kiryat Shmona, which has suffered rocket fire from Lebanon for decades. "I have had anxiety since I was little. I used to sleep with my fingers in my ears, under the bed, and many times I slept with shoes and clothes on." Nidam and her children now live in a hotel in Tiberias. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • At Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Israel Captures Architect of 2014 Abduction, Murder of 3 Teens - Yoav Zitun
    Mahmoud Kawasme, a senior Hamas official who was one of the planners and financiers of a terror cell that kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens in 2014, was arrested by Israeli security forces at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Israeli security officials announced Wednesday.
        Kawasme was deported to Gaza in the 2011 prisoner swap for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, from where he directed Hamas terrorist activities in the West Bank, including the murder of Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, as well as several shooting attacks in recent years. (Ynet News)
  • Watch: IDF Airstrike Kills Terrorist in Jenin behind Major Attacks - Elisha Ben Kimon
    The IDF and Israel Security Agency eliminated senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Ahmed Barakat, who murdered Meir Tamari in May 2023 in a drive-by shooting near Hermesh, and was behind an attack on March 8 near Homesh that injured seven soldiers.
        The airstrike on a car in Jenin killed two other terrorists, but Muhammad Hawashin, commander of Islamic Jihad's Jenin branch, survived. The IDF said Barakat and Hawashin were planning "significant terror attacks" against Israeli civilians. They were also behind a recent thwarted attempt to infiltrate Israel with an explosive device.
        Since the beginning of the war, 3,500 wanted individuals have been arrested in the West Bank, including 1,500 linked to Hamas. About 350 terrorists were killed. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Internal Palestinian Rivalry Pushes Israel toward Temporary Military Administration in Gaza - Prof. Kobi Michael
    The enmity between Fatah and Hamas, rooted in ideological differences, centers around the competition to lead the Palestinian national struggle. Currently, what Hamas views as the national war of liberation on a historic scale, comparable to Salah al-Din's victory over the Crusaders, Fatah sees as a national catastrophe worse than the Nakba in 1948. The ongoing hostility between Fatah and Hamas, as long as Hamas retains de facto control over Gaza, means that even if a ceasefire is reached, it will not be possible to begin the process of rebuilding Gaza.
        In light of the current situation, Israel is being pushed toward establishing a temporary military administration in Gaza. This is because there are no viable alternatives. Hamas is not an option, the return of the PA to the Strip is unrealistic, and there is no regional or international entity ready to take action. Without any effective control of the area, Israel cannot ensure that humanitarian aid reaches its intended recipients. Furthermore, without an alternative to Hamas, the population will continue to believe in the possibility of its survival and continued rule.
        Therefore, Israel should announce the formation of a temporary military administration in northern Gaza, where there are relatively few residents and weakened Hamas infrastructures. This would help ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the intended recipients, while bypassing Hamas. It would send a clear message to the Palestinian people that Hamas is no longer a viable option, which could weaken its popular support. This could lay the groundwork for the entry of an international or regional task force to assume authority over the management of the area and its population.
        The writer is a senior researcher at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Canada Should Be Ashamed of Its "Arms Embargo" on Israel - Editorial
    Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced Tuesday that Ottawa will halt arms sales to Israel. It surely came as a sorely needed piece of good news to Hamas leaders, who can look at this decision as evidence that if they hold out just a little bit longer, then the world will condemn Israel and seek to tie the Jewish state's hands behind its back.
        Canada's decision also must bring joy to terrorist organizations worldwide searching for a winning strategy. If they see that through the cruel use of Palestinian human shields, Hamas can survive and murder more Jews and Israeli innocents, then they could be saying to themselves, "This is a great game plan, and if it works for Hamas, it can work for us."
        The military equipment that Canada sells Israel - $21 million in 2022 - is not going to determine the course of this war. The Canadian government has confused the aggressor with the victim and lost sight of who is responsible for the horrible and undeniable suffering taking place inside Gaza.
        Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said: "It is unfortunate that the Canadian government is taking a step that undermines Israel's right to self-defense against the Hamas murderers who have committed terrible crimes against humanity and against innocent Israeli citizens, including the elderly, women, and children." History "will judge the Canadian government's current move harshly." He is correct. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also In the Last Decade, Canada Purchased Israeli Weapons Worth over $1 Billion - Udi Ezion
    Israeli weapons systems are now protecting Canadian pilots, fighters, and naval combatants around the world. They are deployed to protect Canada's borders and NATO countries bordering Russia. In the last decade, the Canadian Defense Ministry purchased Israeli weapon systems worth more than $1 billion after examining their performance, price, and delivery time compared to those of other Western companies. In those years, Israel purchased components and subsystems worth only tens of millions of dollars from the Canadians.
        In December 2023, Canada announced the purchase of advanced anti-tank Spike missiles from Rafael, worth $32 million, to help protect Canadian forces stationed in Latvia. General Dynamics Canada last year sold dozens of armored personnel carriers to the Colombian military for $418 million. They are equipped with remote-controlled 30 mm cannon turrets manufactured by Rafael. In 2015, the Canadians purchased 10 Iron Dome radars produced by Israel Aerospace Industries to detect air threats to their forces. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A More Accurate Accounting of the War in Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    30,000 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza - it's a number you hear everywhere when talking about Israel's war against Hamas, and it is pointed to as the reason Israel must commit to a ceasefire.
        The fact that the number comes from Hamas makes no difference to any world leaders, even though none of them would ever think of quoting al-Qaeda or ISIS about their own death tolls during past American or British operations. In fact, many publications merely refer to the Gaza Health Ministry as if it was an independent agency without an agenda of its own.
        But it does have an agenda. The job of the ministry is to supply numbers that suit a terrorist regime in the battle for the world's hearts and minds. And why are these Hamas-generated numbers automatically believed when the credibility of Israeli sources - that 12,000 of the dead are terrorist fighters - are denied?
        It is an unpleasant fact of combat that civilians are always caught in the crossfire. But unlike Israel's enemies, the Israel Defense Forces have a code of conduct that works to ensure the fewest civilian casualties possible. Even if you take the Hamas numbers at face value, Israel is fighting this threat with far more care than is the norm. Why is it that so many around the world prefer the fabrications of Hamas to the facts on the ground?
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute. (Newsweek)
  • A Pro-Israel Musician Faces Challenges to Artistic Freedom - in the U.S. - Charles Lane
    Matisyahu, the international reggae-hip-hop-rock artist, burst on the scene 20 years ago. NBC picked "One Day," his stirring antiwar anthem, as theme music for its 2010 Winter Olympics coverage. His music reflects his strong Jewish identity, religiosity and affinity for Israel.
        Since Hamas' massacre in Israel on Oct. 7, the singer has spoken out against rising antisemitism and in support of Israel. He has draped himself in an Israeli flag at concerts and placed an empty chair onstage to represent Israeli hostages in Gaza. He has called for Hamas to be "destroyed" and has visited Israeli troops.
        For all of that, he is paying a price. His March 8 show at the 1,400-capacity House of Blues in Chicago was canceled. The reason: the potential for unruly protests against him outside the venue. This was the third time during his tour that a concert venue had canceled a show amid protest-related security concerns.
        Such is the state of artistic freedom in post-Oct. 7 America. No matter where you stand regarding the war in Gaza, or any other issue, this heckler's veto against Matisyahu should trouble you. A major performing artist was denied a stage in the third-largest U.S. city, apparently because of threats from political opponents. Just a handful of entertainment-world colleagues, most also Jews, have expressed solidarity with him, he said. (Washington Post)

Crossing a Red Line Over Israel - Joe Lieberman (Wall Street Journal)
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last Thursday crossed a political red line that had never before been breached by a leader of his stature and never should be again. In a speech to the Senate, he told the people of Israel - one of our closest allies, a true democracy that is at war with an enemy that hates America as well as the Jews - that they should vote their prime minister out of office.
  • In Israel, Netanyahu's policy of fighting in Gaza until Hamas is destroyed has the support of an overwhelming majority. Israelis don't want the atrocities of Oct. 7 ever to be repeated. While Schumer's statement undoubtedly pleased American critics of Israel, for the Israelis it was meaningless, gratuitous and offensive.
  • Schumer ended his argument by lecturing our Israeli friends that if Netanyahu and his coalition remain in power, "then the U.S. will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israel's policy by using our leverage to change the present course." This is a shocking statement that treats Israel differently from other American allies by threatening to intervene in their domestic democratic politics and making American support for Israel conditional.
  • Schumer's statement will have every other democratic ally of the U.S. worrying that America may try to bully our way into its domestic politics. That will diminish our allies' loyalty to us. Without dependable allies, we will have a much harder time protecting America's security, prosperity and freedom.
  • Schumer has a record of supporting Israel. That makes his equivocation a particularly troubling and disappointing sign that his party is catering to members and voters who are hostile to the Jewish state.
  • I enjoyed working with Schumer during our years in the Senate together. He is an excellent legislative leader and became a personal friend. But in this case, I believe he has made a grievous mistake. I hope he can find a way to say so and then lead his fellow Democrats to support Israel - and the shared values and interests of our two great democracies.

    The writer served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut (1989-2013) and was the Democratic Party nominee for vice president in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

        See also Jewish Leaders Respond to Senator Schumer's Speech
    Harriet P. Schleifer, Chair, and William Daroff, CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Tuesday:
        "The pro-Israel community and our membership continue to have deep reservations about Senator Schumer's speech on the Senate floor last week regarding impediments to peace between Israel and the Palestinians."
        "We believe that at a time when Israel is fighting an existential war, on the embers of the 1,200 innocents massacred on Oct. 7, it is not a time for public criticisms that serve only to empower the detractors of Israel, and which foster greater divisiveness, when unity is so desperately needed."
        "Our member organizations, representing the broad swath of American Jewry, remain distressed that an American official would tell a sovereign, democratic ally when to conduct its electoral process and assert that the U.S. should possibly 'play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.' In actuality, what is really needed is U.S. leverage to bolster and support the Jewish state in this time of need."  (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)

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