March 26, 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:

Hamas' Full Plan for Oct. 7 Revealed (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    Veteran journalist Ilan Kfir told Israel's Channel 11 that Hamas had an operative plan to reach the heart of Tel Aviv on Oct. 7, but was ultimately thwarted.
    "If [Hamas'] phase one plan was successful, they would go on to phase two - and it was prepared with large forces ready on standby and prepared to set off at noon."
    "At the heart of the plan was a breach in two areas, in the north as well as in the south and east, towards [Israel's nuclear facility in] Dimona, which was singled out by the group as a very central target."
    "The goal of the operation would have been a raid on Tel Aviv. They marked several focal points in the city that were expected to be crowded in the afternoon and evening in order to carry out a mass massacre in the city."
    "Towards noon on Oct. 7, when Sinwar and his central command realized that they had achieved success above and beyond what was expected, an order was given to the forces of phase two to set off."
    "Here, they encountered a big surprise because unlike in the morning - when...there was minimal IDF presence in the area - there was already an assessment and a huge influx of forces into the Nevatim area where a large blockade was carried out."
    "There is no doubt that if Hamas had carried out its second phase, the trauma and disaster on Oct. 7 would have been doubled."
    "Maps found with terrorists indicated that they intended to reach Kiryat Gat. After that, a plan was discovered...to attack Shikma Prison in Ashkelon and release terrorists. Another plan was to attack the Hatzerim air base."

Israel Foils Iranian Plot to Smuggle Advanced Weapons to West Bank Terrorists - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Security Agency revealed on Monday attempts by Iran to smuggle large amounts of advanced weapons to terror operatives in the West Bank to be used in attacks on Israeli targets.
    Behind the plot was Iran's Unit 4000, the special operations division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' intelligence organization, and the special operations unit of the IRGC's Quds Force in Syria.
    The IDF captured a significant amount of advanced arms from Iran that were smuggled into the West Bank, including fragmentation bombs, anti-tank landmines, grenade launchers, 15 kg. of C4 explosives, 10 kg. of Semtex plastic explosives, shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles, RPG launchers, RPG rockets and propellant, hand grenades, assault rifles and handguns.
    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Iran is working to up the severity of attacks in Israel by smuggling in many "high-quality" weapons.

U.S. Finds Israel Using Weapons in Line with International Law, Not Blocking Gaza Aid - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    The U.S. has deemed Israel to be in compliance with a new national security memorandum after it received a written assurance from Jerusalem that it is using American weapons in line with international law and is not blocking humanitarian assistance in Gaza.
    State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Monday: "We've had ongoing assessments of Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law. We have not found them to be in violation, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or the provision of humanitarian assistance."

The Bitter Choices in Fighting Terrorism - Walter Russell Mead (Wall Street Journal)
    While some of the worldwide sympathy for Palestinian civilians caught up in the horrors of the Gaza war reflects pure hatred of Israel, many of those protesting Israel's campaign are driven by natural human sympathy for innocent people ensnared in the horror of war.
    Israel and all others fighting depraved terrorists must exercise great care to avoid civilian deaths. But ultimately these criminal organizations have to be destroyed.
    Had Franklin D. Roosevelt let concern for civilians in Germany and Japan paralyze his war strategy, the Allies would have lost World War II and many more innocent people would have died.
    The writer, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Security Council Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza as U.S. Abstains - Farnaz Fassihi
    The UN Security Council on Monday passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during the remaining weeks of Ramadan - with 14 votes in favor and the U.S. abstaining. U.S. officials said they abstained in part because the resolution did not condemn Hamas. The resolution also called for the "immediate and unconditional release of all hostages."
        Prime Minister Netanyahu's office called the U.S. abstention a "clear departure from the consistent U.S. position in the Security Council since the beginning of the war," as the U.S. vetoed three previous calls for a halt to the fighting. Netanyahu ordered a delegation scheduled to go to Washington to discuss alternatives to a planned Israeli offensive into Rafah to remain in Israel.
        Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said, "Israel will not cease firing. We will destroy Hamas and continue fighting until every last hostage has come home." Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who was already in Washington for meetings, said, "We will operate against Hamas everywhere - including in places where we have not yet been. We have no moral right to stop the war while there are still hostages held in Gaza." U.S. National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby insisted there had been no change in U.S. policy. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Explains Vote on Nonbinding Security Council Resolution on Gaza War
    U.S. UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday: "A ceasefire could have come about months ago if Hamas had been willing to release hostages. Months ago. Instead, Hamas continues to stand in the way of peace, to throw up roadblocks, cower in tunnels beneath Gaza's cities, and under civilian infrastructure, and hide among the civilian population."
        "Certain key [U.S.] edits were ignored, including our request to add a condemnation of Hamas. And we did not agree with everything in this resolution. For that reason, we were unfortunately not able to vote yes. However, as I said before, we fully support some of the critical objectives in this nonbinding resolution. And we believe it was important for the Council to speak out and make clear that any ceasefire must come with the release of all hostages."
        "A future where Palestinians and Israelis live side-by-side in peace, in two democratic states of their own, [is] something that will never happen with Hamas - a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and killing Jews; a terrorist organization this body still fails to condemn - controlling Gaza."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: UN Security Council Resolution Will Only Harden Hamas Stance in Hostage Talks - Itamar Eichner
    Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told Ynet on Monday: "It is no coincidence that Hamas welcomed this" UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. "From the onset of the war, it was clear to everyone that Hamas had hoped that the international community would bend Israel's will and force us into a ceasefire before the end of the hostilities and the release of the hostages."
        "Until now, the U.S. has withstood this pressure, but this is not a minor change but a dramatic shift." While he noted the resolution's non-binding nature, he said "we are now facing petitions that Israel is violating the Security Council's decision, and courts might intervene. The pressure on the U.S. will increase, and the implications for us are severe."
        While Israel appreciates the American support since the beginning of the war, "When facing a terrorist organization, you expect such actions not to play into the hands of our enemies. Hamas now sees the pressure on Israel increasing, so what incentive do they have to agree? This will only harden their stance in negotiations for a deal. It endangers the efforts to free the hostages because it gives Hamas hope that it can achieve a ceasefire without releasing the hostages....The decision... essentially harms our war efforts and the chances of freeing the hostages."  (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Fired Rockets toward Ashdod from Inside Humanitarian Zone in Gaza - Tzvi Joffre
    Rockets were fired toward Ashdod for the first time since January on Monday. Eight rockets were fired from a humanitarian zone in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. Three were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Later, rockets were fired toward Ashkelon as well.
        Israeli Air Force jets struck the launcher, with secondary explosions after the strike indicating that weapons were stored at the site. "The attack was carried out precisely while avoiding harm to civilians who had evacuated the area before the attack," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Hamas Gunmen Are Destroying Shifa Hospital, Firing from Emergency Room, Maternity Ward - Emanuel Fabian
    The Israel Defense Forces on Monday accused Hamas gunmen of firing from Shifa hospital's emergency room, maternity and burn wards. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, "Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are barricading themselves inside Shifa hospital wards. Hamas is destroying Shifa hospital. Hamas is firing from inside the Shifa emergency room and maternity ward and throwing explosive devices from the Shifa burn ward. Terrorists hiding around the hospital fired mortars at our forces, causing extensive damage to the hospital buildings."
        International law stipulates that while a medical facility is a protected site in conflict, it loses that status if it is used for military activity. The IDF said the number of confirmed members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad captured at the Gaza City medical center had risen to 500, including senior Hamas and PIJ commanders.
        Hagari added, "170 terrorists were neutralized in or around the Shifa hospital compound while firing at our forces....A large number of these terrorists were involved in planning and executing the brutal massacre of Oct. 7."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Biden Abstains on Israel and Hamas - Editorial
    The U.S. withheld its veto and abstained as the UN Security Council passed a resolution that demanded a ceasefire in Gaza but didn't make the ceasefire contingent on Hamas releasing its 134 hostages. That condition, on which the U.S. had previously insisted, has been dropped.
        The reactions to the resolution tell the real story: Hamas welcomed it and Russia, China and Algeria voted for it, while Israel called it "a clear departure from the consistent U.S. position," adding that it "gives Hamas hope that international pressure will force Israel to accept a ceasefire without the release of our hostages."
        Initial support for destroying Hamas has faded. Administration leaks about international isolation and weapons embargoes drive home the point. But Americans don't want to see Hamas survive to repeat Oct. 7. The March Harvard CAPS Harris poll finds that 63% of voters support a ceasefire only after Hamas releases the hostages and is removed from power. 2/3 say Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Has Created a New Standard for Urban Warfare - John Spencer
    In its operation at Shifa hospital in Gaza to root out Hamas terrorists, the Israel Defense Forces took unique precautions to protect the innocent. Doctors accompanied the forces to help Palestinian patients if needed. The IDF also brought in food, water and medical supplies for the civilians inside.
        I've never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy's civilian population, especially while simultaneously combating the enemy in the very same buildings. In fact, Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history - above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
        The international community, and increasingly the U.S., barely acknowledges these measures while repeatedly excoriating the IDF for not doing enough to protect civilians - even as it confronts a ruthless terror organization holding its citizens hostage.
        The predominant Western theory of executing wars seeks to shatter an enemy with surprising, overwhelming force and speed. No warnings to the civilian population or time to evacuate cities is given. Yet Israel has abandoned this established playbook in order to prevent civilian harm.
        The Hamas-supplied estimate of over 31,000 deaths in Gaza does not acknowledge a single combatant death (nor any deaths due to the misfiring of its own rockets or other friendly fire). The IDF estimates it has killed about 13,000 Hamas operatives, a number I believe credible because I believe the armed forces of a democratic American ally over a terrorist regime. That means 18,000 civilians have died in Gaza, a ratio of 1 combatant to 1.5 civilians - a number that would be historically low for modern urban warfare.
        The writer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point. (Newsweek)
  • Gaza Is Neither Lebanon nor Vietnam - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    Our American friends sent military experts to Israel following the Oct. 7 atrocities to "advise" it not to go to war, since in their view it would not be able to decisively defeat Hamas. You will get bogged down in a futile battle, they warned, just as you sank into the Lebanese quagmire four decades ago, and as America got entangled in Vietnam.
        Israel did not heed this advice, and rightly so. True, individual terrorists and even terror cells are still active in the field, just as they are in Judea and Samaria, but Hamas, as an organized army and as a governing body, has been decisively defeated.
        Gaza is neither Lebanon nor Vietnam because it does not provide depth for terror. The Gaza of post-Oct. 7 is similar to Judea and Samaria which also lacks geographic depth for terror, and therefore poses an ongoing security challenge for us, but not a strategic threat.
        The Americans have good intentions, but also naivety and a tendency to believe that a bloody religious-ethno conflict of over 100 years can be resolved with goodwill.
        The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)

  • Global opinion has moved from outrage at Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, to criticism of Israel just months later. How? A Palestinian strategy manipulates perception to distort and present an alternate reality.
  • While the Hamas of Oct. 7 was a vicious terror organization, the passage of time has shifted perception to "innocent Palestinians" who are "victims," consistent with the ongoing Palestinian chronicle of victimization used as a central motif in their national narrative.
  • Facts and accurate information will not always effectively counter misinformation based on previous perceptions created by Palestinian sources. The "primacy effect," where first impressions persist, plays a psychological role.
  • Palestinians distort reality by providing material for perceptions that feed a cognitive set that promotes favoring perceived victims who are presented as suffering, with images of casualties, poor housing conditions, lack of food, and emotional distress.
  • Western thinking that elicits sympathy for victims and absolves them of responsibility feeds into the deception strategy of Palestinian terror.
  • While contextual reality is the basis for accurate information, Palestinians distort this by using civilians as psychological human shields in a cognitive war.
  • Countering with the "truth" is likely ineffective unless the "truth" is framed in a context that appeals to the same cognitive framework of "fairness" and victim appeal that Palestinians have been using.
  • While sterile "counter-narratives" are ineffective, research suggests that adding emotive imagery and personalization can help change perceptions and reality.

    The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center specializing in political psychology and a member of the emergency division of the IDF Homefront Command.

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