March 25, 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:

Israel Behind Sabotage at Iranian Covert Nuclear Arms Site in 2020 - Masoud Kazemi (Iran International)
    In July 2020, a workshop belonging to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was set ablaze by nine individuals who received $10,000 from a person claiming to be a disgruntled creditor, seeking revenge.
    They were unaware that they had set fire to one of the covert workshops of the AEOI, which Iran had not disclosed to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    According to judicial documents revealed by hacktivists in recent years, the Islamic Republic considers the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, as the main perpetrator of this sabotage operation.

Amid Arms Embargo Calls, 99 Percent of Israeli Weapon Imports Come from U.S., Germany - Tal Schneider (Times of Israel)
    The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports that in 2023, 69% of Israel's arms purchases came from U.S. firms, 30% from Germany, and 0.9% from Italy.
    While constituting a much smaller portion of total imports, other countries such as the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands provide Israel with critical aircraft components.

In a Sane Universe, the Democratic World Would Pull Behind Israel until the War Is Won - Jake Wallis Simons (Telegraph-UK)
    We have entered a topsy-turvy universe. International institutions are used as weapons of Hamas, while those fighting for freedom and democracy are smeared as the agents of genocide.
    British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has vowed to halt arms sales if Israel attacked Rafah. Given their small amount, it is hard to see what this is supposed to achieve.
    But showing that you care about the Palestinians is apparently more important than destroying jihadism.
    While Israel has achieved a civilian-to-combatant casualty ratio that is likely lower than in any comparable theater of war, Hamas has convinced the world that it is acting out of wanton bloodlust.
    In the broadcast media, footage of suffering civilians is ubiquitous, but have you ever seen a picture of the thousands of dead or wounded terrorists?
    Hamas censors this material. No Western media outlet makes this clear to its viewers.
    This is a deceit that turns public opinion against Israel, furthering the aims of Hamas.
    In a sane universe, the democratic world would pull behind Israel until the war is won. It would express its differences behind closed doors, working together to limit civilian casualties while freeing the hostages and beating the jihadis.
    This would reassure Saudi Arabia that the West stands by its friends, encouraging it to normalize relations with Israel.
    Instead, the international community is mobilizing to block an Israeli victory, and at the same time it is blocking peace.
    Deep underground, the leaders of Hamas must be licking their lips.
    The writer is editor of the Jewish Chronicle - UK.

How the IDF Dismantled Gaza's Qatari-Funded Terror Neighborhood - Amir Buhbot (Jerusalem Post)
    Following the Israel-Hamas fighting in 2014, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani donated hundreds of millions of dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza. Some of these funds were invested in establishing "Hamad City," a luxurious neighborhood within Khan Yunis.
    The upscale neighborhood consisted of 124 six-floor buildings with 1,060 apartment units. Hamas senior officials and their families moved into this new neighborhood.
    "The terrorists in the neighborhood...pose a tangible threat with anti-tank missiles, numerous explosives, sniper rifles, and fortified positions, operating amid civilian buildings, heavily armed," explained an Israeli security official.
    Within 15 minutes, IDF forces had surrounded the neighborhood. A curtain of fire before the swift incursion left no possibility for the terrorists to escape, not even underground.
    Drones with powerful speakers urged Palestinians to move south through an "enclosure," where hundreds of terrorists were identified.
    Two IDF soldiers were killed and over 20 injured in the Hamad City operation.
    Why were the buildings not bombed from the air to avoid risking IDF soldiers? IDF officers clarified that it was necessary to enter the neighborhood, as terrorists coerced civilians with weapons and threats to stay in their apartments.
    A senior officer said that Hamas forces are exhausted and suffer from food and ammunition shortages. Most of them hide underground or in apartments, hoping that the fighting will end.
    In his view, if the Israeli side shows resilience and has patience, Hamas could be decisively defeated.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • In Hizbullah's Sights, a Stretch of Northern Israel Becomes a No-Go Zone - Isabel Kershner
    More than 60,000 Israelis who live far from Gaza have in recent months been ordered from their homes along Israel's northern border with Lebanon as the result of an intensifying conflict with Hizbullah, in the first mass evacuation of the area in Israeli history. In one Israeli border town, antitank missiles fired from Lebanon have damaged scores of homes. Military checkpoints block access to communities within a mile of the frontier, and daily life is frozen in a state of suspension.
        Some residents say the evacuation showed weakness and effectively handed Hizbullah a victory. Others say it has saved countless lives. The Hizbullah attacks since Oct. 7 have been big enough to demonstrate solidarity with Hamas, but measured enough to prevent provoking an all-out conflict with Israel.
        Israel's Iron Dome system can intercept many types of rockets, which fly in high arcs, but Hizbullah also fires rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, which fly low to the ground and hit targets in seconds and without warning. There is no time to run to a shelter and the instructions are to hit the ground wherever you are.
        This month, the Israeli military said that its air and ground forces had struck more than 4,500 Hizbullah targets in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 7, and that they had killed more than 300 Hizbullah operatives. Fourteen Israeli soldiers have been killed in the north so far. (New York Times)
  • Gaza Doctors at Center of Harrowing BBC Report Are Long-Time Supporters of Hamas - Mary O'Connor
    On March 12, the BBC led its radio and TV bulletins with a shocking report from Gaza in which hospital medics described being tortured and abused by Israeli forces at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. International condemnation was swift, with British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron among those demanding an explanation from Israel.
        But a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that six of the eight medics interviewed have repeatedly spouted anti-Semitic slurs on social media, with posts ranging from the provocative and inflammatory to the downright obscene. In one post, Dr. Amira Al-Assouli, whose account of being targeted by Israeli gunfire was at the forefront of the BBC's coverage, wrote: "O Lord, turn every Palestinian missile into a Zionist casualty, and turn every casualty into a thousand families that leave our homeland." In another she said: "Lord protect our jihadi fighters and support them with your angels and kill the Jews."
        MP Andrew Percy told the Mail on Sunday: "The BBC seemingly doesn't seem to care that it keeps casually giving airtime to people who openly support the murder and assault of innocent civilians through terrorism.... Their coverage is fueling the hate on our streets and it is fueling anti-Semitism." Last week the MoS revealed that two journalists who worked on the BBC report, Soha Ibrahim and Marie-Jose Al Azzi, had "liked" posts celebrating attacks on Israel.
        The IDF raid on the hospital followed intelligence indicating that it was shielding Hamas operatives. They also said Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 had been held there - and some of the hostages themselves have publicly said they were kept at Nasser. The IDF said it had detained 200 terrorists and "suspects in terrorist activities" and found "large quantities of weapons" at the hospital. (Mail on Sunday-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Hamas Is Firing Mortars at Shifa Hospital - Sam Halpern
    Hamas is holding civilians, including medical staff, as human shields in Gaza's Shifa hospital while simultaneously firing mortars at the hospital, IDF Spokesperson R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari said Sunday. "Terrorists hiding around the hospital fired mortars at our forces, causing extensive damage to the hospital buildings." Hamas admitted on its Telegram channel on Monday that it had fired mortar shells at IDF troops in the vicinity of Shifa hospital.
        Hagari said one such attack shut down the hospital's generator, after which Israeli forces helped to return electricity to the building. "Our operation at Shifa hospital proves once again: Hamas systematically uses hospitals to wage war and consistently uses the people of Gaza as human shields," Hagari concluded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas, Al Jazeera Admit Story of IDF Rapes in Gaza Hospital Fabricated - Ohad Merlin
    After more than 24 hours of letting the story run freely, Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera deleted the page accusing Israeli soldiers of raping women at Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Al Jazeera columnist and former director Yasser Abuhilalah tweeted, "It was revealed through Hamas investigations that the story of the rape of women in Al-Shifa hospital was fabricated....The woman who spoke about rape justified her exaggeration and incorrect talk by saying that the goal was to arouse the nation's fervor."
        Israeli news blogger Abu Ali Express reported that the viral fake testimony had unexpected reverse ripple effects, leading many Gazans to flee their homes in northern Gaza southwards, which may explain the unusual event of a Hamas investigation into the details. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S. State Department Official Accused IDF of Sexually Abusing Palestinian Women
    IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi met with the holder of the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the U.S. State Department, who accused Israel of "systematically" sexually abusing Palestinian woman. (103FM-Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • UK Threat to Withhold Israel Arms Sales Is a Show of Western Weakness - Col. Richard Kemp
    British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has claimed that Israel is deliberately and unnecessarily holding up humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza. This is patent nonsense. I recently visited the Kerem Shalom Crossing and witnessed a highly efficient operation in which staff were working round the clock to get aid into Gaza.
        Multiple reports, first-hand accounts and video evidence show that the blockage is not on the Israeli side but lies with an inadequate UN distribution system as well as extensive hijacking by Hamas strongmen who divert much of the aid for their own use and sell the rest of it off at inflated prices.
        Now Cameron seems to be on the verge of making a grand gesture by cutting off British weapons supplies to Israel in the midst of war, threatening betrayal of one of Britain's most important allies. Britain supplies Israel less than 0.9% of its total arms imports. Most are technical components, a large proportion for non-military dual use or items exported onwards to third countries. The effect on Israel would be negligible.
        Yet a reciprocal move against Britain would be operationally more significant. Arms imports from Israel represent 2.7% of the UK total, including some extremely important systems, notably UAVs, anti-tank missiles and armored vehicle defenses. It's also worth noting that arms sales from Israel increased substantially from 2006, a time of great military need for the UK, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
        The greater danger is that even Israel's closest allies would be seen to turn on it. This would strengthen Hamas, whose entire strategy is based on Israel being ultimately constrained by the international community. This is a time when the civilized world should be putting its energies into demoralizing Hamas, not giving them hope that Israel will be pressured into halting at the final stages of its offensive against them.
        Moreover, for the British government to embargo Israel, or even threaten it, will be used by anti-Israel activists as absolute confirmation that their lies are true, and deployed to incite even greater Jew hate on our streets.
        At a time of increasing danger from the despotic axis of China, Russia and Iran, we are seen to be afraid to stand by our allies when the going gets tough. What kind of message does that send to both our friends and our enemies?
        The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA. (Ynet News)
  • The Myth of Jewish Influence - Ben-Dror Yemini
    Not only is Jewish clout not real, but Jews are increasingly becoming a scapegoat. In the U.S. there is a prestigious university that teaches a course connecting the "occupation" to "genocide" and quite a few universities that associate Zionism as colonialism.
        Were my grandparents, who came to Israel over a hundred years ago due to persecution and oppression against Jews, colonizers? Were the Jews who fled pogroms in Russia and Poland colonizers? Are the rest of the Jewish refugees colonizers? (Ynet News)
  • Human Rights Are Too Important to Be Left to Human-Rights Groups - Danielle Haas
    For 13 years (2010 to 2023), I was the editor of Human Rights Watch's flagship annual review of global human-rights abuses - World Report. And every few years I would raise the same question: "Why is the Israel-Palestine chapter so long?" - longer than more than 90% of the other chapters, including those highlighting corrupt dictatorships sans free speech, repressive regimes in which women are second-class citizens. There never was a clear explanation, and after so many years, I did not need one.
        The political and ideological creep in many NGOs has become so pervasive and deep-rooted that Israel has become their watchword of outrage, the focus of disproportionate attention, and the note to sound for signaling fealty to a human-rights movement that is increasingly hijacked by politics and dominated by groupthink.
        This must change. For too long, human-rights groups have been granted a free pass to serve as society's watchdogs without first proving they are fit to bark. Opaque, unelected, and largely unaccountable, they must finally be required to demonstrate in their own conduct the accountability and transparency they demand of others.
        As Oct. 7 and its aftermath made clear, the outrage of many rights monitors depends not on human-rights principles, but on who is being abused and who is being accused. Within many NGOs, Israel has become so demonized that there is no space to see Israelis as victims. Israel is, a priori, the aggressor, regardless of the brutal human-rights abuses it suffers. Rights groups had little to say about reporting that Gazan teachers and other staff of UNRWA moonlighted on Oct. 7 as kidnappers, killers, and RPG suppliers.
        These are enormous organizations. In 2022, Human Rights Watch's annual budget was around $100 million, Amnesty's nearly $400 million, and Doctors Without Borders' more than $2 billion. They answer to virtually no one. (Sapir)

What Would You Have Israel Do to Defend Itself? - David Brooks (New York Times)
  • If the current Israeli military approach is inhumane, what's the alternative? Is there a better military strategy Israel can use to defeat Hamas without a civilian blood bath? In recent weeks, I've been talking with security and urban warfare experts in search of such ideas.
  • This war is like few others because the crucial theater is underground. The tunnel network is where Hamas lives, holds hostages, stores weapons, builds missiles and moves from place to place. Building these tunnels cost the Gazan people about a billion dollars. Hamas built many of its most important military and strategic facilities under hospitals and schools. Its server farm was built under the offices of the UN relief agency in Gaza City.
  • As Barry Posen, professor at the security studies program at MIT, has written, Hamas' strategy is to maximize the number of Palestinians who die and in that way build international pressure until Israel is forced to end the war before Hamas is wiped out. Hamas' survival depends on support in the court of international opinion and on making this war as bloody as possible for civilians, until Israel relents.
  • John Spencer, the chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, told me that Israel has done far more to protect civilians than the U.S. did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel's measures to warn civilians when and where it is about to begin operations "have prolonged the war, to be honest."
  • As the leaders of Hamas watch Washington grow more critical of Jerusalem, they must know their strategy is working. Yet if this war ends with a large chunk of Hamas in place, it would be a long-term disaster for the region. Victorious, Hamas would dominate whatever government was formed to govern Gaza. Hamas would rebuild its military to continue its efforts to exterminate the Jewish state, delivering on its promise to launch more and more attacks like that of Oct. 7.
  • Moreover, if Hamas survives this war intact, it would be harder for the global community to invest in rebuilding Gaza. It would be impossible to begin a peace process. So I'm left with the tragic conclusion that there is no magical alternative military strategy.
  • The lack of viable alternatives leaves me to conclude that Israel must ultimately confront Hamas leaders and forces in Rafah rather than leave it as a Hamas beachhead. Absent some new alternative strategy, Biden is wrong to stop Israel from confronting the Hamas threat in southern Gaza.

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