March 27, 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:

Hizbullah Targets Israel with 40 Rockets on Tuesday - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    A barrage of at least 40 Hizbullah rockets targeted northern Israel on Tuesday.
    In response, the Israel Air Force attacked targets in Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley, 120 km. north of the Israel-Lebanon border.
    See also Man Killed in Golan Heights in Hizbullah Rocket Barrage - Fadi Amun (Ha'aretz)
    Zaher Bishara, in his thirties, from the Druze village of Ein Qiniyyeh in the northern Golan Heights, was killed in a rocket barrage fired at northern Israel from Lebanon Wednesday morning.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad Chiefs Welcomed in Tehran - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    The head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, and the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhala, arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to meet with Iranian leaders.
    During a press conference with Iran's foreign minister, Haniyeh celebrated the UN Security Council resolution approved on Monday, saying it "indicates the unprecedented political isolation experienced by" Israel.

Terrorists Confess Shifa Hospital's Role as Gaza Terror Base - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF intelligence unit for interrogations, Unit 504, on Tuesday published recordings of terrorists admitting to their groups' abusing Shifa hospital by using it as a command center.
    Terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad said there were 600 to 1,000 of their fighters utilizing Shifa as a center for managing fighting the IDF.
    Islamic Jihad terrorist Nabil Regev Abd Ishtivi said, "The fighters are in every building, spread out in every area."
    See also Dozens of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Gunmen Killed as Shifa Hospital Raid Continues - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)

18 Palestinians Dead following Gaza Aid Drop (BBC News)
    Hamas said Tuesday that 18 Palestinians were killed while trying to collect aid that was airdropped over northern Gaza.
    Twelve people drowned when they went into the sea to retrieve food packages, while six were trampled to death in stampedes.
    Hamas called for "an immediate end" to airdrops.

Mob Rule Shuts British Museum over Palestinians - Richard Littlejohn (Daily Mail-UK)
    Mob rule returned to the streets of London on Sunday, forcing the closure of the British Museum.
    Hundreds of masked demonstrators laid siege to the main gates, blocking access to visitors and trapping others inside.
    The protest was organized by "Energy Embargo for Palestine," who link the war in Gaza to the museum's ten-year sponsorship deal with the BP oil company, which has been awarded an offshore license to explore for oil and gas in Israeli waters.
    Protesters waved Palestinian flags, and brandished banners including "Boycott the British Museum" and "BP fuels colonial genocide."
    The museum was shut on police advice and never reopened. Once again, the mob had succeeded in stopping people going about their lawful business.
    There's little to be gained by pointing out that Hamas - which has been occupying Gaza for the past 18 years, started this war and is hell-bent on genocide against Israel - is bankrolled by Iran.
    Mob rule is not going to stop the war, it's not going to stop BP drilling for gas. So how much longer do we have to put up with this anarchic lunacy?

Israel's New Spy Plane Is a War Game Changer - Yoav Zitun (Calcalist)
    The Israeli Air Force's newest spy plane, the Oron, is now operational and has amassed hundreds of hours of flights.
    The American-manufactured aircraft can simultaneously monitor a high-ranking official in Rafah, pinpoint the origin of a ballistic missile in Yemen, identify a weapons convoy between Iraq and Syria, locate a suspect near a nuclear reactor in Iran, and track a vehicle carrying senior officials that must be neutralized in the heart of Beirut.

Israelis Will Fight Hamas on Their Own If They Must - Clifford D. May (Washington Times)
    In 1967, when all the Arab states surrounding Israel were mounting what they expected would be an annihilationist war, President Lyndon Johnson told the Israelis to hold their fire.
    Rejecting that advice, the Israelis fought and won what became known as the Six-Day War.
    In 1981, President Ronald Reagan advised the Israelis not to bomb a nuclear reactor in Iraq, and in 2007, President George W. Bush advised the Israelis not to bomb a nuclear reactor in Syria.
    In those instances, too, the Israelis did what was necessary.
    The writer is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

IDF Veterans Rejoin the Ranks - Iris Lifshitz Klieger (Ynet News)
    Following Oct. 7, Lt.-Col. (res.) Itzik Grossman, 71, a combat navigator who fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, re-enlisted.
    "I received a call that volunteers were needed, and immediately joined the effort," he recounts.
    "We, as auxiliary officers, mediate between the Air Force and ground forces that require assistance, coordinating support for them with combat aircraft or conducting rescues with helicopters. In this war, the Israeli Air Force provides support unlike anything before."
    "I'm glad for the opportunity to contribute," he says.
    "In the first months of the war...an officer approached me and said, 'You don't know what it does to us to see you here. When we see a person your age volunteering, we understand what we're doing here, and it gives us motivation.'"
    "I've been thanked many times. My family is very supportive and appreciative of my volunteering, and my grandchildren are very proud of me."

War Room Briefing by Jerusalem Center Experts
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas "Dismantled" but Not Destroyed, IDF Says - William Booth
    Israeli military briefers show journalists a map of Gaza illustrating the case that the IDF is steadily winning its battles - if not yet the war - against Hamas. The IDF says it has "dismantled" 20 of the original 24 Hamas battalions. Dismantled does not mean destroyed; its remnants are still capable of waging a lethal insurgency.
        The IDF could soon turn its focus to the four "completely operational" Hamas battalions in Rafah. The city is above a network of Hamas tunnels that the IDF suspects hold not only thousands of fighters, but also its "most wanted" commanders - alongside more than 100 Israeli hostages.
        The battlefield looks very different than it did a month or two ago. "It is now warfare. It is not a full-scale war. It is very different," said Amos Harel, defense analyst for Ha'aretz, describing the change in intensity and reduction of IDF forces active in Gaza. "The IDF tactical advantage is clear." There is less bombardment, less artillery and tank fire by Israel, and less ambushes, RPG assaults and sniping by Hamas. Far fewer Israeli soldiers are dying. Almost all of the Israeli reservists have gone home.
        After nearly six months of fighting, the Israeli military might not have complete control of the strip, but they have freedom of movement. Kobi Michael, a former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs and now a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, said the IDF is now carrying out more precise raids - aimed at targets where its intelligence officers say Hamas is regrouping, such as Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
        In the early months of the war, Hamas launched more than 13,000 projectiles toward Israel. In the last two months, rocket fire from Gaza has become rare. Yet Hamas and its allies retain some capacity.
        Netanel Flamer, a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on Hamas and asymmetric warfare, said that precision raids by IDF special forces on areas where militants are regrouping will be "the model" for future fighting. This will go on "for as long as it takes."  (Washington Post)
  • Israel to Provide Security for Gaza Pier Project - Lara Seligman
    Israel has agreed to provide security for the temporary pier the U.S. military is planning to build in Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid, according to two U.S. officials. The IDF will protect the U.S. personnel building the pier as well as the individuals involved in offloading and distributing the aid. The IDF would also be responsible for physically securing the pier to the beach.
        U.S. military personnel will construct a floating pier 3 to 5 miles off shore and a 1,800-foot floating causeway that will be anchored to the beach. Vessels will offload aid onto the pier, where small U.S. boats will then bring it to the causeway, where it will be taken to trucks and then distributed into Gaza. (Politico)
  • Israeli Hostage Says She Was Sexually Assaulted and Tortured in Gaza - Patrick Kingsley and Ronen Bergman
    Amit Soussana, 40, an Israeli lawyer, was abducted from her home in Kibbutz Kfar Azza on Oct. 7, beaten and dragged into Gaza by at least 10 men, some armed. She said she was held alone in a child's bedroom, chained by her left ankle. Sometimes, the guard would enter, sit beside her on the bed, lift her shirt and touch her, she said.
        Around Oct. 24, the guard, who called himself Muhammad, attacked her. That morning, she said, Muhammad unlocked her chain and left her in the bathroom. After she undressed and began washing herself in the bathtub, Muhammad returned and stood in the doorway, holding a pistol. "He came towards me and shoved the gun at my forehead," she recalled during eight hours of interviews with the New York Times in mid-March.
        Muhammad hit her and dragged her at gunpoint back to the child's bedroom. "Then he, with the gun pointed at me, forced me to commit a sexual act on him." In her interviews, she provided extensive details of sexual and other violence she suffered during a 55-day ordeal. Her account of her experience is consistent with what she told two doctors and a social worker less than 24 hours after she was freed on Nov. 30. She said she had decided to speak out now to raise awareness about the plight of the hostages still in Gaza. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Rejects Hostage Deal - Eve Young
    Hamas rejected a U.S. compromise deal for a Gaza truce and the release of Israeli hostages on Monday. Israel recalled its negotiators from Qatar after deeming the mediation talks "at a dead end" due to Hamas demands, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas' response proves that they are not interested in continuing negotiations for a deal. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli President Herzog: Getting to Sinwar, Dead or Alive, Only Way to Bring Hostages Back - Itamar Eichner
    President Isaac Herzog responded Tuesday to the negotiation breakdown in Qatar after Hamas rejected a U.S. proposal, saying, "We must get to Sinwar - either alive or dead - so that we can see the hostages back home. The reality is this - and the world and us must face it - everything begins and ends with Yahya Sinwar. He's the one who decided on the October massacre, he's been seeking to shed the blood of the innocent ever since."
        "It is he who aims to escalate the regional situation, to desecrate Ramadan, to do everything to shatter coexistence in our country and in the whole region, to sow discord among us and around the world. He seeks terror, and the entire world and our entire region must know that the responsibility lies with him, and with him alone."  (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Minister Dermer Backs Decision to Nix U.S. Trip over Ceasefire Resolution, Says War in "Home Stretch" - Lazar Berman
    Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the right decision in canceling a trip to Washington where Dermer was to discuss alternate options for dealing with Hamas in Rafah. Netanyahu nixed the trip after the U.S. declined to use its veto on a ceasefire resolution in the UN Security Council.
        "It's not surprising that Hamas decided to reject the latest proposal that was put forth by the Americans," Dermer said. "They think they're going to get a ceasefire without giving up the hostages because that's what the resolution said." If the U.S. continues to insist there not be a major military operation in Rafah, then "we won't be on the same page."
        Dermer said the war is in "the home stretch." "Stand with us, let us finish the job, and let's get to a day after where we can have a real peace process that can give hope not only to Israelis, but also to Palestinians."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Strikes Iran-Linked Operatives in Syria Involved in Smuggling Advanced Arms to West Bank - Emanuel Fabian
    The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes Tuesday in eastern Syria targeting Iranian assets and operatives involved in a recent plot to smuggle advanced arms to West Bank terrorists. Israeli defense sources said the strikes targeted Iran's Revolutionary Guards units. More than 15 people, most of them pro-Iran fighters including an IRGC official, were reportedly killed in the strikes in the Deir Ezzor and al-Bukamal areas, close to Syria's border with Iraq. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • What If the U.S. Helps Hamas Win? - Bernard-Henri Levy
    Let's imagine that Israel yields to the pressure, refrains from entering Rafah to finish off Hamas' four surviving battalions, and agrees to the general cease-fire of indeterminate duration that the U.S. administration seems to push. If that came to pass, Hamas would declare victory - on the verge of defeat, then the next minute revived. These criminals against humanity would emerge from their tunnels triumphant.
        The Arab street would view Hamas terrorists as resistance fighters. In the West Bank, Hamas would quickly eclipse the corrupt and ineffective Palestinian Authority, whose image would pale next to the aura of martyrdom and endurance in which Hamas would cloak itself.
        After that, none of the experts' extravagant plans for an international stabilization force, an interim Arab authority, or a technocratic government presiding over the reconstruction of Gaza would stand long against the return of this group of criminals adorned with the most heroic of virtues. Hamas would set the ideological and political agenda, and hope for peace harbored by moderates on both sides will be dead.
        The writer is a philosopher and author of more than 30 books. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Britain Is Letting Hamas Weaponize International Law - Natasha Hausdorff
    British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron's latest demands of Israel reveal a concerning detachment from reality. The allegation that Israel is stopping food from entering is false. The sole purpose of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) IDF unit is to organize humanitarian provision for Palestinian civilians; it provides constant updates on aid entering Gaza. The IDF's capacity to inspect aid trucks far exceeds current international provision. On Sunday, 142 aid trucks were still waiting to be picked up by the UN on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom crossing.
        The repeated calls for Israel to "turn the water back on" are also dishonest, as Israel is not withholding water. When the facts are so readily available, those perpetuating these falsehoods are partaking in a malicious smear campaign. The failure to call out Hamas for stealing humanitarian aid, and acknowledge that the impasse lies with distribution rather than with access, plays into the terrorists' hands.
        The failure of Lord Cameron to call upon Egypt to comply with its international law obligations is also unforgivable. Egypt acceded in 1980 to the 1969 African Union Refugee Convention, which requires it to use its "best endeavors" to receive refugees fleeing "civil disorder." Egypt has an obligation to every Palestinian civilian presenting themselves on the Egyptian border. Egypt's failure to adhere to its obligations under the Convention is the real breach of international law.
        Has Lord Cameron demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross access the Israeli hostages in Hamas captivity for 169 days? No. He has, however, demanded that the Red Cross be admitted to visit terrorist detainees, including those who committed atrocities on Oct. 7, a demand that has no basis in international law. Having engaged in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war, Hamas terrorists are not protected by the Geneva Conventions and there is therefore no mandated access to terrorists in detention.
        Tarnishing Israel with the stigma of being a human rights offender when the opposite is true is a malevolent attempt at character assassination. The Foreign Secretary's echoing of Hamas propaganda perpetuates the war by encouraging Hamas to keep fighting in the hope that mounting international pressure will hand the terrorists a victory.
        The writer, a barrister, is legal director at UK Lawyers for Israel Charitable Trust. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Why Is the World Not Helping Gazans Flee a War Zone? - Josh Feldman
    For all its professed care for Palestinians, the world has a funny way of showing it. The international community has essentially trapped Palestinians in Gaza, leaving them no way to escape the horrors of war.
        Historically speaking, this is quite the anomaly, as war consistently produces refugees. As George Mason University's Eugene Kontorovich has observed, 3.5 million Ukrainians had applied for temporary residence in countries such as Poland and Germany. The Syrian civil war produced five million refugees. The American invasion of Iraq produced two million international refugees.
        Choosing to flee a war zone is a decision for Palestinians alone to make. For months, countless politicians and human rights groups have decried the civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Yet few, if any, have shown the slightest interest in helping Gazans do what millions in previous conflicts have done: Find refuge in a third country.
        Inexplicably, the world is denying Palestinians one of the most fundamental human rights, that of being allowed to flee war zones - one that's enshrined in multiple UN conventions - when they need it most. The most logical places of refuge for Gazans are surrounding Arab and Muslim countries, many of which have no shortage of Palestinian inhabitants.
        The brutal truth is that from Egypt, to Jordan, the Gulf states, Turkey, or Iran, none of these nations care enough to absorb significant numbers of refugees from Gaza. In other words, nobody wants them. In a grotesquely ironic twist, world leaders and human rights advocates have unwittingly united with Hamas in keeping Gazans in harm's way. If in every other major conflict, millions of refugees flee their homes in an attempt to find safety, there is no moral justification for denying this option to Palestinians. (Forward)
  • The BBC's Warped View of the World and Israel's Place in It - Tom Gross
    A few months before I graduated from Oxford, I was interviewed for the British Broadcasting Corporation's prestigious two-year journalist trainee course. A committee of five asked whether there was anything I would have changed about a recent edition of the BBC's "Nine O'Clock News." In a calm and reasoned way, I said that Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Iraqi Kurds at Halabja deserved to be much higher up than it had been.
        This horrific act was the largest use of chemical weapons against a civilian target since World War II. Some 3,000-5,000 Kurdish children and adults had been gassed to death. Yet the BBC had only mentioned it in passing about 20 minutes into its news bulletin, after a light-hearted item about Prince Charles. I added that the BBC's main news competitor in Britain at the time, ITN, had led its evening news with a five-minute report on the gassing of the Kurds.
        The chair of the panel then asked me, with a slight scowl, "Are you a Zionist?" Before I could answer, my interview came to an end. At no point in my interview had I mentioned Israelis, Palestinians, or Jews, and in the pre-Google era, my family background is not something that the BBC could easily have discovered. The BBC's misreporting about Israel derives from the same warped view of the world and Israel's place in it. For decades, the BBC has simultaneously castigated Israel while turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism.
        The writer is a British journalist, commentator, and human-rights campaigner specializing in the Middle East. (Sapir)

What Would Victory Mean in Gaza? - Col. (res.) Shay Shabtai (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Decision/victory is the only optimal outcome of a military campaign. In the last three decades, deterrence has become the desired outcome of an IDF military campaign, while decision/victory has essentially disappeared as the primary goal. This pushing aside of victory and centralization of deterrence was largely due to the limitations the State of Israel and the IDF placed on themselves regarding the use of force.
  • The goals of these limitations were to reduce casualties among IDF soldiers; reduce civilian losses from rockets hitting the home front; reduce enemy collateral damage; reduce international criticism of Israel over its military conduct; and avoid the need to provide a civil response to the needs of a local enemy population.
  • Israel's belief that it can rely on intermittent deterrence operations was painfully shattered on Oct. 7. It took a severe blow to national security to force a review of the security doctrine and a rediscovery of the concept of victory/decision. It was quickly understood that victory/decision is required in the current campaign and probably also in future campaigns.
  • Tactical victory is not about killing all opposing military soldiers or terrorist operatives, but about breaking their ability to fight as a combatant framework. In the current war, operational victory does not mean the threat of guerrilla warfare and terrorism has been removed from Gaza, but that Hamas' ability to cause damage, especially to the Israeli civilian home front, is declining dramatically.
  • Strategic victory is the removal of the enemy's ability to pose a military threat in the operational arena for many years to come. It is achieved by continuing military operations in order to weaken the enemy's guerrilla warfare and terrorism capabilities until they either stop completely or are reduced to the scale of individual events.
  • Grand victory in Gaza would mean a years' long process until the creation of fundamental change. A civilian authority would be established with an effective police force and the capacity for civil, economic and law enforcement governance. The population would implement a basic approach of coexistence with Israel. Yet such a process does not yet appear practical or feasible.
  • This means the Israeli military will continue to fight guerrilla and terrorist operatives in the strip alongside extensive activity by a local civilian government with an effective police force and international and regional economic and civil backing. But the absence of a fundamental change in the situation on the ground is likely to lead to a long-term erosion of security quiet and the re-creation of challenges to Israel.

    The writer is a senior researcher at the BESA Center.

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