March 22, 2024
Special Edition
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Most Jewish Americans Support Israel's War Against Hamas and How It's Fought - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
    A Pew Research Center study published Thursday found that 89% of Jewish Americans say Israel's reasons for launching a war against Hamas are justified, among 58% of Americans overall.
    62% of Jewish Americans said they approve of how Israel is conducting the war.
    61% of U.S. Jews say they are following the news "extremely" or "very" closely. Just 11% of Jews said they were not following the news at all, compared to 43% of Americans overall and 58% of young adults.
    Nearly half of Muslim Americans said Hamas had valid reasons for fighting, compared to 22% of Americans overall and 16% of Jews.
    See also Majority in U.S. Say Israel Has Valid Reasons for Fighting Hamas - Laura Silver (Pew Research Center)

Israeli Border Towns Eye War with Hizbullah - Robbie Corey-Boulet (AFP)
    As head of the Metula town council, David Azulay felt an obligation to stay behind following the evacuation of the town and monitor damage wrought by Hizbullah as it fires missiles and mortars on northern Israel in solidarity with Hamas.
    He's the man who calls the displaced residents when Hizbullah rockets have crashed into their abandoned homes.
    So far, 130 out of 650 homes have been hit, some with entire floors destroyed and entrances covered in glass and rubble. "They are shooting at the houses of civilians, not army bases," he told journalists.
    Some 43 communities have been reduced to "ghost towns," said former military intelligence officer Sarit Zehavi.
    Kiryat Shmona deputy security chief Ariel Frisch said that after the Oct. 7 attack, "everything changed because we understood invasion is really a threat....We want peace and we deserve peace. This isn't peace and this isn't life."
    See also Metula, a Border Town Devastated - Edward Docks (Ynet News)

IDF: Hizbullah Storing Weapons and Explosives in Heart of Civilian Areas (i24News)
    "The terrorist organization Hizbullah places its [weapons] production infrastructure in the heart of civilian populations in southern Lebanon, in the Bekaa [Valley] and in Beirut, and uses the Lebanese people as a human shield," the IDF said Wednesday.
    "It stores explosives and dangerous chemical substances in civilian villages."

Israel Foils Palestinian Suicide Attack in Jordan Valley (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Police and IDF troops arrested a terrorist who intended to carry out a suicide attack in the near future and eliminated three more terrorists during an exchange of fire in Aqabat Jabr in the Jordan Valley on Thursday evening.

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Are Israelis Really as Happy as the World Happiness Report Says? - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel again ranked exceptionally high in the UN's annual World Happiness Report released Wednesday, ranking fifth.
    With Israel at war after having just experienced the single bloodiest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust, how can this be?
    According to David Leiser, a professor of social psychology and dean of behavioral sciences at Netanya Academic College, what the report ranks is not happiness but rather life satisfaction.
    "If you feel that your life is meaningful, you may have all kinds of issues and still feel that your life is satisfying."
    Edith Zakai-Or, the CEO of the Maytiv Center for Positive Psychology at Reichman University, said, "One of the things that make people happier in Israel is connecting to meaning. And in Israel, there are many opportunities to connect to something that is greater than yourself. There is a lot of ideology around here. We are here for a reason."
    "When you feel that you are doing something for the greater good, it makes you happy."
    Zakai-Or said the sense of being a part of a community, of not being alone, of having someone to lean on, and of being connected to family and friends is a major factor in explaining Israeli happiness despite all the country's issues.
    "When you have no challenges, then something inside you doesn't grow. Here we are challenged all the time, and we have succeeded. We grow, and this is also a part of being happy."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Determined to Take Rafah - Dan Williams
    Israel will take control of Rafah even if it causes a rift with the U.S., a senior Israeli official said on Thursday, describing the Gazan city as a final Hamas bastion harboring a quarter of the group's fighters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to ensure a civilian evacuation and humanitarian aid - measures that top Israeli aides are due to discuss in the White House in the coming days, at the behest of U.S. President Joe Biden.
        "We're quite confident that we can do this in a way that would be effective - not only militarily, but also on the humanitarian side. And they have less confidence that we can do it," said Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, a former ambassador to the U.S. "It will happen even if Israel is forced to fight alone. Even if the entire world turns on Israel, including the United States, we're going to fight until the battle's won."
        Dermer said leaving the Iran-backed Islamists standing would invite open-ended attacks against Israel from across the region: "And that's why the determination to take them out is so strong, even if it leads to a potential breach with the United States....We're going into Rafah because we have to....and I think what people don't understand is that Oct. 7 is an existential moment for Israel."  (Reuters)
  • U.S. Ratchets Up Pressure on Israel with UN Vote Friday on Ceasefire Resolution - Stephen Kalin
    The U.S. is set to bring a draft UN resolution calling for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza to a vote in the Security Council on Friday, a U.S. official said, raising the pressure on Israel to pause its war with Hamas.
        The call for an immediate ceasefire is a shift for the Biden administration, which has previously called for a ceasefire "as soon as practicable." The draft also repeats the past U.S. demand that any ceasefire be tied to the release of hostages from Hamas. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Israel "Can Live with" U.S. Ceasefire Motion at UN Security Council - Mike Wagenheim
    Israel is "not entirely happy" with some aspects of a ceasefire resolution the U.S. will bring up for a vote at the UN Security Council on Friday but, overall, "can live with it," Israel's Mission to the UN told i24News on Thursday. (i24News)
  • Israel Seizes Trove of Intelligence on Hamas in Gaza Offensive - Dan De Luce
    Israel has secured a trove of intelligence on Hamas during its military offensive in Gaza, giving a detailed picture of its internal workings. The intelligence has been gleaned from seized hard drives, cellphones, laptops, and maps, sources said. It includes extremely detailed information about Hamas' leadership, command and control, and communications. The intelligence successes most likely enabled Israel to locate and kill Hamas' No. 3 official, Marwan Issa, in an airstrike last week in Gaza.
        As it tries to track Hamas' leaders and weapons stockpiles, Israel is also receiving assistance from U.S. intelligence agencies. "The rest of the top [Hamas] leaders are in hiding, likely deep in the Hamas tunnel network, and justice will come for them, too," White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday. "We are helping to ensure that." Since the Oct. 7 attacks, U.S. spy agencies have stepped up intelligence gathering in Gaza to help Israel in its fight against Hamas. (NBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Assailant Opens Fire at Minibus near Dolev, 7 Wounded - Emanuel Fabian
    A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an Israeli vehicle near the community of Dolev in the West Bank early Friday, leading to an hours-long exchange of fire that resulted in the gunman being killed in a helicopter strike. At least seven people were wounded in the clashes, including one in critical condition and two in serious condition. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Rejects Claims of Limiting Food Aid to Gaza - Einav Halabi
    Israel has recently provided data refuting accusations it was deliberately causing hunger in Gaza. According to official numbers, Israel has been providing humanitarian aid including food, water, shelter and medicine through two border crossings, in amounts that exceed the delivery from humanitarian groups.
        Israeli officials say distribution of the aid that is delivered is hampered by an inability of human rights organizations in Gaza to organize orderly provisions in some areas due to the ongoing fighting. They also point to Hamas taking over the aid for their fighters or selling it to vendors at exorbitant prices.
        The IDF said Thursday that since the start of the war, over 17,400 aid trucks provided humanitarian supplies to Gaza, including 10,300 trucks carrying more than 218,000 tons of food. The daily average number of trucks carrying food to Gaza before the war was 70. Since the beginning of March, the average has grown to over 125. However, a large portion of the aid has been looted. (Ynet News)
        See also Critics Ignore Israel's Humanitarian Efforts for Gazan Civilians - Itamar Eichner
    The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, claimed Monday, that Israel intentionally causes hunger in Gaza and uses starvation as a war tactic. Yet since the start of the Gaza war, the IDF has been monitoring the civilian situation and is carrying out humanitarian efforts for non-combatants as complementary measures to the IDF's operations.
        Israel inspects aid deliveries much faster than the ability of international organizations to distribute it. There were days in which 300 trucks carrying food and humanitarian aid awaited on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom crossing after having gone through Israeli inspection - yet no one took them in.
        Israel has recently facilitated additional humanitarian initiatives to ease access to aid to northern Gaza. These initiatives include opening a new crossing in northern Gaza alongside over 40 airdrops and the establishment of a temporary port which has already received 115 tons of food. There has also been a significant increase in security inspection capabilities at the Nitzana and Kerem Shalom border crossings. Israel has bolstered personnel, extended working hours, and acquired additional scanners to increase throughput. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Invites British Foreign Secretary Cameron to Inspect Gaza Aid Mechanisms
    After British Foreign Secretary David Cameron accused Israel of hindering the flow of aid into Gaza, COGAT, the Israeli body governing civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, rejected his accusations and invited him to come and learn about the extent of Israel's humanitarian operations in Gaza. It added that Israel is able to inspect "44 trucks an hour."
        COGAT denied Cameron's claim that Israel closes the Kerem Shalom crossing on Saturdays due to the Sabbath. The crossings "are closed on Sabbath by agreement with the UN to enable the UN to collect the aid transferred during the week that has accumulated due to low logistic capacity. Coordinate more aid to Gaza. We will facilitate" it. (Times of Israel)
  • Shifa Hospital Operation Nets Senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad Operatives - Sivan Hilaie
    IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Thursday that 600 terrorists have been apprehended and more than 140 were killed since Monday during the IDF's operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. "This is the largest concentration of terrorists we have captured since the start of the war," Hagai said. "The terrorists from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are surrendering and providing valuable intelligence during their interrogations. We've captured the senior commanders of the PIJ, dealing the terror faction a serious blow." Some of those captured had taken part in the Oct. 7 massacre. Fighting was still taking place. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel's Critics Aren't Interested in Dialogue - Daniel Finkelstein
    Aware that Israel's supporters and its critics have been talking past each other, I decided to write an article for The London Times in which I set out some of the things critics had been saying that I might be willing to accept. I had written that I was trying to establish a dialogue in which all of us showed we were listening to each other.
        But I didn't get the dialogue I had been asking for. Not in a single email. Not in a single tweet. Not one person matched my concessions with concessions of their own. The only replies I got were to tell me I was right to concede and demand more. I wrote another column repeating the arguments and was even more explicit this time about seeking a response. But still, I got nothing.
        My experience has reinforced the feeling that quite a lot of the protest rhetoric is dishonest. The protest is not against Israel's actions, it is simply against Israel. There is nothing that Israel can do that will satisfy the demands the protesters are making. They do not actually want a dialogue. Without this, what is there to talk about? All one can do is resist militarily and politically until a change in attitude takes place.
        The writer is associate editor of The London Times. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • The Jew-Haters Who Support the Islamist War on Israel Are Responsible for Antisemitism in the U.S. - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The wave of Jew-hatred that has spread across the globe, and specifically in the United States in the streets and on college campuses, has targeted Jewish critics of Israel and their children as much as any other sector of Jewish society. Worst of all, it's their longtime allies who have embraced a virulent form of antisemitism who are responsible. Open contempt for Jewish rights and safety has become mainstream discourse in America in recent months.
        Those who demonize Israel and treat its every measure of self-defense as illegitimate are not really interested in the details of the fighting in Gaza. What is happening there is nothing when compared to the toll of deaths and displacement caused elsewhere in places like Syria. The only reason anyone cares about the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza is because the Jews can be blamed for them.
        The problem is that the Palestinians all define their rights in a way that denies those of the Jews. For them, it is a zero-sum game and always has been. Israel and its supporters are in no way responsible for the antisemitism we are witnessing in the U.S. The Jew-haters who support the Islamist war against Jewish life are the only ones to blame.
        Calling for a ceasefire will leave the greatest enemies of peace - Hamas - still standing and ready to make good on their pledges to repeat the devastation of Oct. 7. Efforts to undermine Jewish self-defense by blaming Israel are only encouraging Hamas and its apologists, aiding the efforts of the terrorists to win this war. (JNS)
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency and International Avoidance of Aggressive Actions Against Iran's Nuclear Program - Sima Shine and Eldad Shavit
    The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded its quarterly meeting held on March 4-8, and once again no resolution was adopted against Iran. This is despite the IAEA report leaving no doubt that Iran is vigorously advancing its nuclear program and preventing the agency from exercising its oversight responsibilities.
        The U.S. and European countries reacted strongly to the report and threatened that they would demand such action if Iran did not cooperate by the next meeting. The American administration, in an election year and faced with numerous international challenges, seems inclined to postpone a decision to a later date. Tehran also appears to recognize that as long as it does not enrich uranium to 90% purity, it can continue to advance its plan without risking a fierce confrontation with the U.S.
        Sima Shine served in the Israeli intelligence community and heads the Iran program at INSS. Eldad Shavit had a long career in IDF Intelligence and is a senior researcher at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Hamas commandos from the Gaza town of Khuza'a invaded Kibbutz Nir Oz, less than 2 km. away, on Oct. 7. They left behind a demolished kibbutz soaked in the blood of 38 slain victims, taking 77 hostages with them. To ensure such horrors never occur again, the army is fundamentally reconceiving how it defends the towns closest to Gaza.
  • The process will see the military shift away from more passive defensive measures to a security doctrine that will push Gazans away from the border, together with a beefed-up force along the fence actively engaged in keeping Israeli towns safe, according to a well-placed defense source.
  • The IDF located an "approach tunnel" that begins at the first line of houses in Khuza'a and leads to the border fence with Israel. Israel estimates there are hundreds of approach tunnels near the border between Israel and Gaza, meant to allow terrorists to mount a surprise attack on the fence.
  • The risk of invasion from Gaza underpins the new defense doctrine. This will include a 1 km. buffer zone inside Gaza and a line of military outposts built along the fence and next to communities near the border, promising a massive military presence and immediate response to threats.
  • Along with manpower, firepower will also be beefed up. The army is looking to station a large number of attack drones in the area, giving soldiers on the border the ability to deploy air power before the air force can arrive.
  • Beyond that, the IDF is replanning its surveillance array, adding tools and allowing troops to control various surveillance systems from multiple places at the same time.
  • One plan already nearing implementation is the creation of a quick-response counterterror reserve force made up of residents living near the Gaza border with experience in special forces.
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