March 31, 2024
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Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Contests UN-Backed Report on Famine in Gaza (Times of Israel)
    COGAT, the Israel Defense Ministry body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, on Friday contested a recent UN-backed report that said famine was imminent in Gaza, saying "the report contains multiple factual and methodological flaws, some of them serious."
    It argued the report grossly underestimated the amount of water available per person per day (claiming over 20 liters versus the report's assessment of less than 1).
    COGAT said it has tracked reports in Palestinian media "every day" of "food markets filled with food of all types and kinds" in various parts of Gaza, including its north.
    "We outright reject any allegations according to which Israel is purposefully starving the civilian population in Gaza."
    "Even at the height of hostilities, in a war that was forced upon it, Israel places no limits on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza, and absolutely does not limit the entrance of food."
    "Israel also facilitates entry of complementary products such as cooking gas and diesel fuel for the operation of aid centers, bakeries, etc. Additionally, 14 million liters of water are supplied by Israel." 
    See also IDF Blasts UN over Failure to Get Aid into Gaza - Einav Halabi (Ynet News)
    The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli liaison to the Palestinians, blasted the UN on Saturday evening for failing to facilitate the introduction of aid to Gaza.
    "Again, the content of 400 trucks worth is waiting to be picked up and distributed from the Gazan side of [the Kerem Shalom crossing] after Israeli inspection," COGAT said on X.
    "UNRWA and UN aid agencies lack the logistic capacity for performing their jobs. They must enhance their logistic capacity and admit its failures."

IDF Denies It Struck Vehicle Carrying UN Peacekeepers - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday denied carrying out a strike in southern Lebanon against a vehicle with UN peacekeepers.

PA in Talks with U.S. to Reform "Pay-to-Slay" Policy - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    The Palestinian Authority is in the final stages of talks with the Biden administration about reforming its policy of payments to terrorists and their families, sources said Friday.
    The reform would base stipends for Palestinian security prisoners on the recipient's financial need rather than the length of their sentence, as is currently the case.

Lebanese Sunni Militant Group Joins Shiite Hizbullah to Fight Israel - Bassem Mroue (AP)
    The Secretary-General of al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, Sheikh Mohammed Takkoush, said in Beirut on Tuesday that his faction decided to join the fighting along the Lebanon-Israel border. The Islamic Group has one member in Lebanon's legislature.
    Like Hamas, the group is inspired by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.
    It carries out attacks against Israel mainly from the city of Sidon.
    Takkoush said his group coordinates closely with Hizbullah, and with the Lebanese branch of Hamas.

I'm Proud to Be a Zionist - Anthony Housefather (National Post-Canada)
    As I listened to the debate in the House of Commons on a motion that sought to reverse the last five decades of Canadian foreign policy as relates to our friend and ally Israel, I realized that there was a fundamental misunderstanding of what Zionism was and why the vast majority of Canadian Jews identified with Israel and supported it in its effort to eradicate the terrorist group Hamas which attacked the country on Oct. 7.
    We are also keenly aware that following the Oct. 7 pogrom, Hamas encouraged followers to target Jewish communities across the world including here in Canada.
    In my address to the House I explained that Jewish Canadians love our country and that there is nothing irreconcilable in being both proud Canadians and Zionists.
    My community has been here since 1760 and helped build this country. We have fought in all of Canada's wars and are an integral part of this country.
    But the vast majority of us are also Zionists, as are many other Canadians who are not Jewish.
    Zionism is simply the belief that Jews have a right to have one state in our ancestral homeland. Jews are indigenous to Israel. We have been there for thousands of years.
    We also have a history where Jews have faced persecution in every country in the world.
    As such, it is etched in our collective understanding that for security we needed one place where every Jew in the world could go if things went wrong in their country.
    That is Israel. That is what Zionism means. I am proud to be a Zionist.
    It means that we will not give willful support to those who seek the disappearance of Israel and create false double standards making ludicrous comparisons between a democratically-elected government and a terrorist organization.
    The writer is a Member of Parliament in Canada.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Signs Off on Planes, Munitions for Israel - John Hudson
    The Biden administration in recent days quietly authorized the transfer of munitions and fighter jets to Israel. Last week, the State Department authorized the transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines worth roughly $2.5 billion, U.S. officials said. The sale was approved by Congress in 2008. The new arms package included 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, which were also approved by Congress years ago.
        Navy Capt. Jereal Dorsey, a spokesman for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., said, "The United States continues to provide security assistance to our ally Israel as they defend themselves from Hamas."  (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Sends Spice Guidance Kits to Israel that Turn "Dumb" Bombs into Precision-Guided Munitions (Wall Street Journal)
  • Tehran Firm in Backing Palestinians, Iran's Military Chief Tells Hamas Leader
    Mohammad Baqeri, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, reaffirmed Tehran's support for the Palestinian cause in their battle against Israel, in a meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, chief of the Hamas political bureau, in Tehran on Friday. "The Palestinian cause has been the centerpiece of Iran's major strategies since the [1979 Islamic] Revolution, and this will undoubtedly continue with full power," Baqeri said.
        He also said the "unprecedented" Al-Aqsa Storm Operation by Hamas against Israel on Oct. 7 inflicted irreparable defeat on the Tel Aviv regime, shattering the myth of Israel's invincibility and making the Palestinians an overriding issue across the world. He said the Palestinians succeeded in showing the power of Islam to the world, and expressed hope that the Palestinians would achieve final victory in the near future. (Tehran Times-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Soldier Killed, 16 Wounded in RPG Attack in Gaza - Yaniv Kubovich
    Sgt. Major Alon Kudriashov, 21, was killed on Friday and 16 others were wounded, six seriously, after a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a Gaza building they were in near Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: Dozens of Terrorists Killed in Gaza on Saturday - Yoav Zitun
    Fighting in the Shifa hospital area in Gaza City continued on Saturday, as the IDF eliminated terrorists barricaded in the area in close-quarters combat. Over the past day, the IAF struck 80 terror targets across Gaza. (Ynet News)
        See also Senior Hamas Official Eliminated at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City - Yoav Zitun
    Ra'ad Thabat, head of Hamas' supply unit, was killed at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, IDF spokesperson Rear-Adm. Daniel Hagari reported Thursday. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Expanding Military Campaign Against Hizbullah - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Friday directed the IDF to "expand the campaign in the north. We are shifting from repelling to actively pursuing Hizbullah. Wherever they are hiding we will reach them, including more distant places like Damascus and beyond. We will increase the rate of attacks and expand our operations."  (Ynet News)
        See also Deputy Commander of Hizbullah's Rocket Unit Eliminated - Yossi Yehoshua
    The IDF on Friday killed the deputy commander of Hizbullah's rocket and missile unit, Ali Abed Akhsan Naim, in a drone attack on his vehicle near Tyre in Lebanon. The IDF said Naim was a "leader in the field of rockets. He was also one of the leaders for heavy-warhead rocket fire and responsible for conducting and planning attacks against Israeli civilians."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Unprecedented Levels of U.S.-Israel Intelligence Coordination - Seth J. Frantzman
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant believes that if there is not a clear, decisive victory over Hamas, then this could bring Israel closer to a major conflict in the north with Hizbullah. This is because Hizbullah and its Iranian backers will not be deterred unless they see what Israel can do to Hamas. In addition, Gallant believes that the war in Gaza will impact the region in decades to come.
        The war in Gaza has also led to unprecedented cooperation between Israel and U.S. Central Command. IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on March 27: "In all my years, I cannot recall such extensive cooperation as we currently have with the U.S. Central Command, encompassing the entire military and the intelligence services. Such collaboration has not existed previously. We are experiencing unprecedented levels of intelligence coordination."
        The writer is an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Interest)
  • The Strategic Significance of the Surrender of Hamas Terrorists - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    Achieving the surrender of large numbers of combatants belonging to Hamas and other terror groups is advantageous, first of all, in terms of incurring fewer casualties and requiring less military effort than a "fight to the finish." In addition, for decades, the Islamist totalitarian terrorist groups, from Hizbullah and Hamas to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, have cultivated the legend that the "Resistance," rooted in (a version of) religious faith, will stand and fight to the last. They posit a willingness, even eagerness, for a "martyr's" death.
        Thus, the change now taking place in Gaza is of great symbolic significance. Documenting the actual acts of surrender and spreading images that reverse and debunk the myth is a strategic asset in the overall war of ideas against totalitarian Islamism. The signs of demoralization and loss of fighting spirit in the enemy ranks in key places can lead to a similar effect in other sectors.
        The writer, former deputy director of Israel's National Security Council, is vice president of JISS. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • Israel Teaches the World about Good and Evil - Dror Eydar
    Our people have a role in the world that is still ongoing. This time, we are called upon to awaken the world from its slumber and fight evil. Western civilization, especially Europe, is tired of war, as are the U.S. and other countries. The initial instinct is to expel the factor that is seen as causing all the problems - namely, Israel. The human tendency is to deny and blame the other - the Jews or their state.
        Israel's war against Hamas is not merely a localized affair. It is the war of the entire Free World against tyranny that seeks to enslave the world in the name of faith in a pagan death cult. The moral perception of the nations that preach to us not to enter Rafah and finish the job stems from a confusion between private morality and political morality. We are not fighting individuals, but a nation whose unifying core is the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews wherever they may be.
        As far as they are concerned, the Jews are the spearhead of all Western (Judeo-Christian) civilization. For them, Israel is only the outpost of this civilization; our enemies believe (and they have stated thousands of times) that we are the gateway to the collapse of the entire West. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the West not to leave Israel alone, but to strengthen it and hasten reinforcements.
        Is Israel isolated? Perhaps. There is nothing new in that. As always, we will survive and win. The God of Israel did not bring us back to Zion after thousands of years in exile in order to toy with us. The question is, will the West understand that its long-term existence lies in the balance?
        The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to Italy. (Israel Hayom)
  • A Free Society Is Only as Strong as the Citizens Willing to Defend It - Bari Weiss
    On Oct. 7, ordinary Israelis left their offices, closed their laptops, and abandoned their fields to pick up weapons, in many cases without waiting for instructions from the state or its army. On that black morning, and in the months since, these men and women have displayed the kind of heroism most thought belonged to the mythic past.
        The public intellectual and Bible scholar Micah Goodman told me in Jerusalem that the country went through a collective near-death experience. "For the first time in our lives, we had a moment where we could imagine that the whole thing was over. That the whole thing ended. You know how when individuals have a near-death experience, they're transformed. Because they learned that life should not be trivialized. As a country, we had a near-death experience, and now we're transformed because we know that Jewish sovereignty should not be taken for granted."
        Israel is currently fighting a second war of independence - an existential war necessary for the survival of the state, as everyone here believes. Before Oct. 7, despite the country's universal draft, many Israelis say they, too, believed that history and heroism were things that belonged to the past. Then the most serious thing imaginable was upon them. And the most serious men and women I have ever encountered emerged to confront it.
        The writer Haviv Rettig Gur told me in Jerusalem: "We will continue as our forefathers and foremothers did before us: to live on our sword. We will defend ourselves. We will stand united against enemies who want to destroy us. And they actually want to destroy us. This isn't World War I-style propaganda. They say it. They're actually coming for us."  (Free Press)
  • Europe Is the Target of Jihadism and Islamism - Manuel Valls
    Europe is more than ever the target of jihadism and Islamism. France has been in the crosshairs for many years, in its democratic, secular, Christian and Jewish dimensions, because we are the country of the Enlightenment and our values are universal. We therefore need all of society to be mobilized, everywhere.
        This war is fed by political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood. Here at home, we have thousands of radicalized people who represent a major threat. I'm particularly troubled when I read that 57% of young Muslims consider Sharia more important than the republic's law. We must also wage an ideological, intellectual, and cultural war against Islamism.
        Defending democracy, our civilization, secularized, tolerant societies, with our Judeo-Christian heritage, and integrating the Islam of millions of citizens who will remain here, the great majority of whom reject Islamism, is a considerable, crucial task.
        The writer served as Prime Minister of France from 2014 to 2016. (Tablet)
  • Stopping Arms Sales to Israel Would Harm the UK - Ian Austin
    How is it possible to say Israel has the right to defend itself after the Oct. 7 atrocities, but threaten to ban arms sales? Last week more than 130 MPs and peers called for arms sales to Israel to be suspended. Given the size of Israel, the Oct. 7 atrocities would equate to the slaughter of 10,000 British citizens. What would people in Britain expect if 2,500 British kids were murdered at Glastonbury or if 1,800 people were kidnapped by Islamist terrorists who had declared war on the UK?
        Responsibility for the situation in Gaza lies with Hamas who deliberately provoked this war. Imposing a ceasefire now would allow the terrorists the opportunity to repeat the atrocities. Hamas is completely opposed to any peace process. They are determined to destroy Israel and also murder Palestinians who believe in negotiations and coexistence. This is why, instead of threatening to ban arms exports, the UK should be doing everything possible to help Israel win the war as quickly as possible.
        The impact of an arms embargo would have much greater propaganda value than any impact on Israel's ability to fight the war. Moscow, Beijing and Tehran would be delighted by another example of the West's weakness in supporting the Middle East's only democracy and standing up for the values we share. Our enemies would be strengthened and our allies weakened.
        The writer is a former Labour MP. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

Israeli Historian Benny Morris: "Hamas Must Be Destroyed" - Elliot Kaufman (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israeli historian Benny Morris, 75, was foremost among the "New Historians" who shook Israel with their revisionist accounts of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet in the year 2000, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton offered a two-state solution and Yasser Arafat rejected it, Morris said in an interview, "I thought this was a terrible decision by the Palestinians, and I wrote that."
  • When the Palestinians, in response to the offer of peace and statehood, then launched a wave of terrorism and suicide bombings unlike any before, Morris disapproved of that, too. "People always forgive the Palestinians, who don't take responsibility," he says. "It's accepted that they are the victim and therefore can do whatever they like."
  • "As we [Israelis] see it, we are surrounded by the Muslim world, organized in some way by Iran, and the West is turning its back on us. So we see ourselves as the underdog. Now, the Palestinians are the underdog, and the underdog is always right, even if it does the wrong things, like Oct. 7. They were joyous in the West Bank and Gaza when 1,200 Jews were killed and 250 were taken hostage....It was a sick ideology and sick people carrying out murder and rape in the name of that ideology."
  • Morris stresses the costs of that Palestinian decision. "There was never destruction like what has happened in Gaza over the past five months in any of Israel's wars. Israel conquered the West Bank [in 1967] with almost no houses being destroyed, and the same applies in '56 in Gaza, and the same applies in '48." Probably, Palestinian nationalists "will look back to Oct. 7 as a sort of minor victory over Zionism and disregard the casualties which they paid as a result."
  • "Not only has each of their big decisions made life worse for their people, but they ensure that each time the idea of a two-state solution is proposed, less of Palestine is offered to them....Each time they're given less of Palestine as a result of being defeated in their efforts to get all of Palestine."
  • "Israelis today don't want to look at the two-state solution. Most Israelis fear Hamas would take over the West Bank" - a fear amply justified by Hamas' popularity - "and that it would be a springboard for attacks on Israel, as Gaza was."
  • "The Israeli public, myself included, thinks that we've begun the job and we must finish the job. We must destroy Hamas, and that will include taking Rafah....Hamas must be destroyed after what it did. We can't allow that on our border, in addition to having Hizbullah on our northern border and Iran."

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