March 24, 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:

IDF Establishes Field Medical Aid Center amid Shifa Hospital Operation (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF announced Saturday that it is establishing a center to provide medical treatment and humanitarian aid to wounded Gazans and medical teams in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City who have been evacuated due to the ongoing military operation.
    The IDF has brought in medical equipment and medical teams to monitor the well-being of the evacuated Gazans.
    On Friday, IDF soldiers facilitated the entry of trucks full of medical equipment, food, and water into the hospital.
    This included ten thousand units of medications, hundreds of pain relievers, over a hundred packages of bandages and infusions, and dozens of advanced monitoring devices.
    Additionally, the trucks brought two tons of food and three tons of water.

Member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Political Bureau Arrested in Gaza's Shifa Hospital (MEMRI)
    According to Palestinian sources, Khalid Al-Batsh, a member of the political bureau of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was arrested by Israeli forces during a military operation in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
    Israeli authorities have not confirmed the arrest.
    Al-Batsh was the organizer of 2018's "March of Return" Gaza border demonstrations.

Hizbullah Continues Rocket Fire on Northern Israel - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    Hizbullah fired 50 rockets at Israel from Lebanon on Saturday. Some rockets were intercepted, while others fell in open areas.
    The IDF targeted the sites from where the rockets were fired.
    The IDF also targeted weapons stored in Baalbek in the Beqaa Valley, 100 km. from the Israeli-Lebanese border.
    Israeli airstrikes were also reported in the Qalamoun Mountains in Syria, north of Damascus.

Saudi Expert Analyzes Israel's Warfare Tactics Against Iran and Hizbullah (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    Assad Awad, the military commentator from the Saudi channel Al-Hadath, said Thursday that Israel "has adopted a new strategy for regional deterrence."
    In the initial stage, "Israel severely hit Iranian shipment operations to the region and destroyed many weapon shipments that were on their way from Iran."
    "In the next stage, warehouses in eastern Syria were attacked and destroyed. [They] contain[ed] weapons that could have been deployed to the border with Israel within hours."
    "In fact, it undermined Iran's supply lines to Hizbullah and Iranian militias in the region."
    "All these actions may serve as a prelude to more significant activities" by Israel.

The Coming Conflict with Hizbullah - Seth G. Jones, et al. (Center for Strategic & International Studies)
    The Hizbullah that Israel would face if violence were to escalate to major ground operations is more capable than in 2006.
    Hizbullah is larger, better armed, and more experienced, thanks in part to its experience fighting in Syria.
    It is designed to fight a campaign aimed at killing Israeli soldiers and civilians at a steady rate through rockets, long-range missiles, anti-tank guided missiles, and drone attacks.
    It may also have some ability to conduct combined arms offensives against Israeli troops and limit Israeli air dominance.
    Even so, it remains technologically outmatched by the IDF, which has long prepared for a rematch of the 2006 war, has been engaged in a war with Hamas since October 2023, and will be able to bring much greater firepower to bear from its land- and air-based platforms.
    Seth G. Jones is senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at CSIS.

Every Jew around the World Is Fighting Hamas - Judah Eisen (Jerusalem Post)
    Up until October, antisemitism was just something we learned about in history class. Then Hamas attacked.
    My world and the world of every Jewish person I know turned upside down. Every university campus, friend, and relative I know is affected by a fierce anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment.
    Neither I nor anyone I know has a clue how to handle this. We have no lived experience that guides us through this.
    My own parents tell me they have never personally experienced palpable Jew-hatred before this.
    In a very brief moment, Hamas was able to convert a sharply-divided Jewish nation into a tightly unified one. We now reach out and hold onto each other tighter than ever before in recent history.
    In record time, I have become a warrior for the Jewish people. It is incumbent upon me and every student on every campus to recognize the current state and get to work.
    The writer is an undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario.

War Room Briefing by Jerusalem Center Experts
There will be no briefing on Monday, March 25,
due to the Purim Holiday in Jerusalem.
View recent briefings

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Tells Visiting Secretary of State Blinken: "We Have No Way to Defeat Hamas without Going into Rafah" - Michael Crowley
    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Israeli leaders on Friday to discuss the country's plans to press ahead with an invasion of Rafah in Gaza. U.S. officials have grown more vocal in criticizing Israel's war strategy, but the Biden administration has stopped short of placing restrictions on military aid to Israel. It has also not demanded a permanent stop to Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
        After their meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had repeated to Blinken that Israel recognized the need to protect civilians and ensure humanitarian aid for Gaza but was determined to send troops into Rafah, where well-organized Hamas forces remain. "We have no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there," Netanyahu said. "I told him that I hope we will do it with the support of the U.S., but if we must - we will do it alone."
        A member of Israel's war cabinet, Benny Gantz, thanked Blinken "for his support for Israel and the deep American commitment to its security." Gantz - a longtime political rival of Netanyahu - said he had emphasized that Israel must "dismantle Hamas' military infrastructure, including in Rafah."
        Blinken said in Cairo on Thursday that Israel had taken positive steps in recent weeks to allow more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza. (New York Times)
  • Why Israel Plans to Attack Rafah despite U.S. Doubts - Carrie Keller-Lynn
    While the U.S. is trying to dissuade Israel from launching a ground assault on the Gaza city of Rafah, Israel says taking Rafah from Hamas is too important to its strategy for winning the war. Seizing control of Rafah is vital if Israel is to forestall a Hamas-led insurgency in Gaza, said Danny Orbach, a military historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "An insurgency can intensify only when it has safe havens," he said. Israel says Hamas has for years used Rafah and the Gaza-Egypt border zone to smuggle in weapons.
        U.S. leaders don't understand that after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, the Israeli public strongly supports eliminating the group as a threat, whatever the cost in Israeli and Palestinian lives, said Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser. "In the end, we have to go there and destroy the military capability of Hamas in Rafah."
        Israel has promised it will prepare the evacuation of many of the refugees currently crowded into Rafah before launching a ground assault. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said earlier this month that Israel would work with its international partners to build "humanitarian enclaves" inside Gaza where refugees evacuated from Rafah can get food, water, shelter and medical treatment. A ground assault against Hamas in Rafah would take place only once those facilities are ready. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Russia and China Veto U.S. Call for Gaza Ceasefire at UN Security Council - Alan Yuhas
    A U.S. bid to have the UN Security Council call for "an immediate and sustained ceasefire" in Gaza failed on Friday, after Russia and China vetoed the American resolution. Eleven members voted in favor of the resolution, while Russia and China - permanent members with veto power - voted against it, as did Algeria. Guyana abstained. The U.S. had vetoed three previous resolutions demanding a stop to the fighting in Gaza. (New York Times)
  • Chinese-Owned Tanker Hit by Houthi Missiles in Red Sea
    A Chinese-owned oil tanker was attacked on Saturday off Yemen by ballistic missiles fired by Houthi rebels, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Sunday. The MV Huang Pu issued a distress call but did not request assistance. A fire broke out on board the ship but was extinguished within 30 minutes. No casualties were reported and the vessel resumed its course for India.
        CENTCOM said Houthi rebels had launched four anti-ship missiles in the Red Sea near the MV Huang Pu before a fifth hit the vessel. Following the attack, CENTCOM said U.S. forces engaged six drones launched by the Houthis, five of which crashed into the Red Sea. (AFP-South China Morning Post-Hong Kong)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Over 170 Terrorists Eliminated, 480 Arrested in Shifa Hospital Raid
    The IDF and Israel Security Agency conducted additional raids into Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Friday and Saturday, eliminating dozens of terrorists. Over the course of the current operation, more than 170 terrorists in the hospital and surrounding area were eliminated. Israeli forces arrested 480 terrorists affiliated with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and located numerous weapons.
        Israeli fighter jets struck 65 targets throughout Gaza on Saturday. Nahal Brigade troops eliminated 15 terrorists in central Gaza using sniper fire, a missile strike, and a helicopter strike on Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Foils Attack by Terrorists Who Crossed Jordanian Border - Alon Hachmon
    Two terrorists who crossed into Israel from Jordan armed with AK-47s were arrested Friday night near the Israeli community of Petzael in the Jordan Valley by the security coordinator and emergency squad members. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Lauds U.S. Ban on UNRWA Financing until 2025 - Jacob Magid
    The U.S. Congress on Saturday approved a one-year ban on U.S. funding to UNRWA, following allegations that its employees actively participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 massacre and have ties to terror groups. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said, "The historic ban on U.S. funding to UNRWA that passed today with overwhelming bipartisan support, demonstrates what we knew all along: UNRWA is part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution....Thousands of UNRWA employees are involved in Hamas terror activities and their facilities were used for terrorist purposes."
        The appropriations bills passed Saturday earmarked $175 million in funds for other humanitarian projects in the West Bank and Gaza, which will go through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The figure is a $50 million reduction from last year. The U.S. has historically been the leading donor to UNRWA, giving $300-400 million a year. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli-Palestinian Peace Must Reflect Reality - Lawrence Haas
    In pressuring Jerusalem to scale back its military plans and pursue the two-state solution at this moment, its critics ignore an ugly reality on the Palestinian side - that among its leaders and people, there is no constituency for "two states living side-by-side in peace." Pressing for the two-state solution now, while Israel is at war and Palestinians largely oppose co-existence, surely will prove fruitless, setting back prospects of ever achieving peace.
        Any hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace rests on Hamas' destruction, which Israel is pursuing, not on a naive "reasonable expectation" that it and such like-minded allies as Palestinian Islamic Jihad will lay down their arms.
        True peace must also reside in the hearts of the population. But just 17% of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank supported a two-state solution in a November poll, while 75% supported a "Palestinian state from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea" - replacing what is now Israel. In a December poll, 72% of Palestinians supported the Hamas attack.
        Rather than part company with reality, U.S. officials and opinion leaders should embrace it. Long-term Israeli-Palestinian peace requires, among other things, a destroyed Hamas, an overhauled Palestinian Authority, and a spirit of co-existence that's nurtured among the Palestinian people.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.  (1945)
  • There Is No Rafah Workaround - Meir Ben Shabbat
    The Americans are seeking to discuss alternatives to an Israeli military operation in Rafah. They will not disagree on the necessity of dismantling Hamas' Rafah Brigade. They will also support the demand for effective control over the border with Egypt to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza.
        They will likely present an alternative to a large-scale military operation that will include several components: First, American support for Israeli offensive air operations and limited ground raids on targets in the Rafah area; second, a mechanism for Israeli-Egyptian coordination, with the support of the U.S. and other countries, to prevent smuggling across the border. As for toppling Hamas, the entry of Palestinian Authority elements into Gaza is likely their envisioned solution.
        However, based on past experience, it is not possible to uproot Hamas and strip it of its military capabilities solely through air operations or limited raids. As for international mechanisms to prevent the smuggling of weapons, such initiatives have been attempted for years. Despite the good intentions and serious commitments made, the attempts failed miserably. There is no reason to assume that the results will be different this time.
        Meanwhile, IDF activity on the ground continues to deliver results. The IDF raid on Shifa Hospital in Gaza serves to demonstrate that Israel is determined to continue the mission in Gaza without compromise.
        The writer, a former Israeli national security advisor, is chairman of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem.  (Israel Hayom)
  • The U.S. Sees Gaza through Hamas' Optics - Atar Porat
    At a press conference ahead of the American mission to establish a causeway for aid in Gaza, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder was asked how the Administration was going to ensure the humanitarian aid reaches civilians and not Hamas. Ryder replied, "If Hamas truly believes that the Palestinian people are suffering, then why would they want to take this aid and use it for themselves to support their terrorist organization? One would hope that this aid will get to the people that are most deserving and in need."
        The U.S. assumes that at the end of the day, Hamas cares about the well-being of the Palestinians. However, Hamas is using the most powerful weapon in its arsenal, which is to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza in order to generate international pressure. The fact that the U.S. has fallen for this Hamas tactic is shocking. It only reinforces Hamas' incentive to use the civilian population as a human shield since this strategy works.
        The administration's policy is consistently drifting toward hope-based optimism rather than being pragmatic, which raises serious concerns regarding their ability to develop realistic plans for the conflict going forward. For the U.S., the optics of the situation in Gaza supersedes long-term thinking. (Ynet News)
  • "The Sky Rained Rockets" - Wounded IDF Soldier Shares His Story - Barbara Sofer
    AZ is a staff sergeant and squad commander in the Nahal Brigade who was on duty on Oct. 7 in the Sufa outpost near Kibbutz Sufa opposite southern Gaza. The troops there are accustomed to rocket attacks. "But this one is different," he says. "The sky is raining rockets, a purple rain (the Israeli army term for incoming missiles)." Then came the first wave of 60 heavily armed, highly trained Hamas Nukhba commandos, followed by an additional wave of 60.
        The IDF troops took shelter in the reinforced mess hall where the outnumbered soldiers fought back for nine hours. The mess hall provides protection from rockets, but not from the grenades and RPGs from the entrance. One of the grenades blows up close to AZ. His arm bleeds profusely and he assumes he is going to die. He writes texts to his friends, saying goodbye and that he loves them.
        Then reinforcements arrive. Four members of his squad are dead - Segev Schwartz, Amir Lavi, Nahman Dekel, and Tal Levy. AZ is evacuated. By the time he gets to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, a bullet has been discovered in his skull. "Half a centimeter over, I would have been among the dead," he says. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Images of malnourished children and desperate civilians seeking food and water in war-torn Gaza have flooded both mainstream and social media channels in recent weeks. Yet the reaction of the international community is to force those people to keep living in an ever-worsening humanitarian situation.
  • Regional nations in the past have offered refuge to civilians escaping wars in Syria, Iraq and Sudan. But they refuse to address people in Gaza who are desperate to get themselves or their families out of harm's way, even temporarily, until a ceasefire is declared. They also do not address the reality that much of Gaza's housing and civilian infrastructure has been destroyed by five months of fighting and could take years to rebuild.
  • "We are now watching a black comedy scene where Israel is pleading with the Palestinian civilians to empty the areas where Hamas terrorists are hiding, so the Israeli forces can target them, while Arab states and even some Western powers and international organizations are urging and even forcing the Palestinian people to remain in a dangerous territory of war," said Dalia Ziada, director of the MEEM Center for Middle East and East Mediterranean Studies.
  • "These Arab states and international organizations will later blame Israel for carrying out disproportionate attacks in densely populated areas where Hamas terrorists are purposefully hiding among Palestinian civilians."
  • Instead of allowing those fleeing the violence to enter, Egypt, which shares a direct border and land crossing with Gaza, has claimed that opening its doors to Palestinian refugees, even temporarily, would constitute a threat to the country's national security. Other Arab states in the region have not been so eager to allow entry to Palestinian refugees. Some are actively even blocking entry by refusing to issue visas to Palestinian passports holders.
  • Egyptian analyst Ziada said the only way to explain the indifference of Arab countries to the suffering of Palestinian civilians is that "Arab leaders do not really want to carry the burden of rescuing them. They only chose to curse Israel and sing love to the Palestinians....I am sad to say that it is in the best interest of Arab leaders right now for the war to keep going and for the Palestinian civilians to keep suffering, so they have a tool to distract their own people from their failures in running state affairs."

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