April 11, 2024
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Says It Doesn't Have 40 Israeli Hostages for Ceasefire Deal - Alex Marquardt (CNN)
    Hamas has told international mediators it does not have 40 living Israeli hostages needed for the first phase of a ceasefire deal, according to an Israeli official, raising fears that more hostages may be dead than are publicly known.
    See also Israel Works to Free Hostages, without Knowing If They Are Alive or Dead - Shira Rubin (Washington Post)
    So far, Hamas has failed to provide Israeli negotiators with a list of the remaining hostages.
    36 of the hostages taken to Gaza are confirmed dead, but the fates of about 100 hostages - including Israelis and foreign nationals, peace activists and soldiers, mothers and grandfathers - are still unclear, six months after the start of the war.
    None of the hostages have been seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

USAID Chief Sees "Sea Change" in Assistance for Gaza - Patricia Zengerle (Reuters)
    U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power told the U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees U.S. diplomatic and foreign assistance on Tuesday that humanitarian aid into Gaza had risen sharply in the past few days.
    Israel said 468 aid trucks moved into Gaza on Tuesday, following 419 on Monday, the highest number in six months.

Defense Minister: Israel "Aiming to Flood Gaza with Humanitarian Assistance" - Guy Azriel (i24News)
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday cited major initiatives to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
    These include approval of using Ashdod Port for the entry of goods into Gaza; approval of a new crossing point for aid to reach northern Gaza, relieving pressure on existing entry points; and collaboration with Jordan to deliver aid by trucks transiting Israel.
    They also include increasing cooperation with international organizations to prevent misidentification such as occurred in the World Central Kitchen incident, and collaboration with the U.S. on the floating pier it is building for the delivery of aid by sea.

Indonesian Air Force Drops Humanitarian Aid in Gaza - Barak Ravid (Jerusalem Post)
    An Indonesian Air Force plane in coordination with the IDF dropped humanitarian aid in Gaza on Tuesday.
    There are no diplomatic relations between Israel and Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.
    The Hercules-type plane took off from Jordan, passed through Israel's airspace en route to Gaza, and returned to Jordan after the drop.
    Israel has refused the requests of Qatar and Turkey to perform similar drops.

People Don't Die in Gaza Unless It's in a War - Sefi Kedmi (Ynet News)
    The natural mortality rate in the West Bank and Gaza, according to World Bank data, stands at 0.4%.
    Applied to the six months since the war began, this would mean 4,400 individuals died in circumstances unrelated to the war, to Israel or to the conflict. However, they are counted by Hamas as war victims.
    From Oct. 7 until the end of the 2023, 12,000 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. Around 3,000 of the rockets landed on the Gazan civilian population, who had no shelters or other means of defense. These are likely a major cause of civilian casualties in Gaza.

Turkey Imposes Export Restrictions on Israel - Tuvan Gumrukcu (Reuters)
    Turkey restricted exports of a wide range of products to Israel on Tuesday until a ceasefire is declared in Gaza.
    Israel said it would respond to the measures with its own restrictions on products from Turkey.
    Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and other opposition parties supported the decision, but said the measures did not go far enough.
    See also Turkey's Ban on Key Exports to Israel Is Bad Economics - David Rosenberg (Ha'aretz)
    President Erdogan's announcement on Tuesday that Turkey would ban a long list of exports to Israel may do some limited harm to the Israeli economy, but the Turkish economy will suffer even more.
    Between 2009 and 2023, two-way trade expanded nearly three-fold. Turkey became the fifth-largest source of imported goods for Israel and Israel's 10th-largest export market.
    Turkey was the leading destination for flights out of Ben-Gurion International Airport last year as record numbers flew Turkish airlines to Istanbul to connect with onward flights.

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U.S. Sends Seized Iranian Weapons to Ukraine - Jonathan Landay (Reuters)
    The U.S. has transferred to Ukraine 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition seized a year ago as they were being shipped by Iran to Houthi forces in Yemen, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
    The weaponry transferred to Kyiv on April 4 "constituted enough materiel to equip" a Ukrainian brigade, U.S. Central Command said.

At International Al-Quds Day Rally in Dearborn, Michigan, Protesters Chant "Death to America!" (MEMRI-TV)
    At an International Al-Quds Day rally in Dearborn, Michigan, on April 5, 2024, streamed live on Dearborn.org on Facebook, protesters chanted: "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!"
    Activist Tarek Bazzi said it is the entire system of the United States "that has to go."
    He quoted Malcolm X, saying: "We live in one of the rottenest countries that has ever existed on this earth."

Toronto Demonstrators Urged to "Live Up to the Example" of Hamas - Tristin Hopper (National Post-Canada)
    After six months of routine anti-Israel rallies in Toronto, weekend demonstrations featured a notable increase in pro-terror rhetoric and extremist symbology.
    On April 5, speakers were recorded telling cheering crowds to emulate the example of Gazan or Yemeni terrorist groups.
    "On Oct. 7, we saw the potential for a Palestine liberated from Zionism by the forces of the resistance," said Charlotte Kates of Samidoun, a Vancouver-based non-profit with close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Gazan terror group whose members participated in the Oct. 7 attacks.
    She urged attendees "to live up to the examples that every fighter in the brigades and every Yemeni marine are showing on a daily basis." The "Yemeni marines" are in reference to Houthis, a Yemeni terror group that has been attacking civilian shipping in the Red Sea for the last several months.
    Kates spoke on Al Quds Day, a holiday conceived by the Islamic Republic of Iran for the explicit purpose of calling for Israel's destruction, first declared by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Workers from India Begin to Arrive in Israel - Nadav Elimelech (i24News)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a meeting Wednesday aimed at streamlining procedures to increase the number of foreign workers in Israel after Palestinian workers were barred from entering Israel following the Oct. 7 attacks.
    Over 6,000 construction workers from India will arrive in April and May.

Conveying Israel's Truths to American Audiences - Amb. Michael Oren (Times of Israel)
    Over the past six months, I've spoken before dozens of Jewish communities in North America.
    I talked about the broken covenant of "never again," and Israel's need to restore it, about the irreconcilable goals of destroying Hamas and freeing all the hostages, about the loneliness. Nobody understands us in the world.
    Everyone is condemning us for killing 30,000 Palestinians. That figure was libelous.
    It was formulated by Hamas, infamous for inflating its statistics, and included the 12,000 terrorists killed by the IDF, the Palestinians killed by short-falling Hamas rockets, and the people who had naturally died.
    Equally insidious was the charge that Israel "indiscriminately" bombed Gaza. Each air force operation must first be approved by military and legal experts.
    The U.S. administration's mantra of "too many Palestinians have been killed" was misleading, suggesting that some lower number would have been acceptable.
    Though every collateral Palestinian death is a tragedy, the ratio of combatant-to-civilian fatalities in Gaza is the lowest in modern urban warfare.
    Washington's tendency to downplay this reality and condemn our conduct of war was especially painful.
    The remainder of my speech was devoted to optimism - born of an Israeli society that had proven itself to be the world's strongest and most resilient, of a country that, from the moment of its birth, had overcome serial challenges. Our newfound Jewish unity was also a source of hope.
    The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • President Biden: "Our Commitment to Israel's Security Against Threats from Iran Is Ironclad"
    President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the Iranians "are threatening to launch a significant attack on Israel. As I told Prime Minister Netanyahu, our commitment to Israel's security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad....We're going to do all we can to protect Israel's security."  (White House)
        See also Secretary of State Blinken: The U.S. Will Stand with Israel Against Any Threats by Iran
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday that the U.S. will stand with Israel against any threats by Iran and its proxies. Secretary Blinken also welcomed Israel's recent announcements of urgent steps to facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. (U.S. State Department)
        See also Israeli General: "Iran's Capabilities Are Very Limited, and They Are Aware of Our Response Capabilities"
    IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli National Security Council, referred to the Iranian threat this week: "Our preparedness [to respond to any Iranian attack] is top-notch. Iran's capabilities are very limited, and they are aware of our response capabilities. However, potential escalation should be taken seriously."  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Edges Close to Nuclear Weapons Capability - Joby Warrick
    International inspectors who visited Iran's Fordow underground nuclear complex in February reported newly installed equipment producing enriched uranium at ever faster speeds, and an expansion underway that could soon double the plant's output. Moreover, Fordow was scaling up production of highly enriched uranium, just shy of weapons grade.
        Iran now has a supply of highly enriched uranium that could be converted to weapons-grade fuel for at least three bombs in a time frame ranging from a few days to a few weeks. The making of a crude nuclear device could follow in as little as six months, while building a nuclear warhead deliverable by a missile would take perhaps two years or more, officials said. One U.S. official said of Iran, "they are dancing right up to the edge."  (Washington Post)
  • Hamas Rejects U.S. Plan for Temporary Gaza Truce - Summer Said
    Hamas largely rejected a U.S. plan for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, mediators said Wednesday. The dismissal reflects Hamas' growing confidence that diplomatic and domestic pressure on Israel to end the war gives the U.S.-designated terrorist group the upper hand in negotiations.
        The U.S. plan, presented by CIA Director William Burns in Cairo, calls for a six-week ceasefire in Gaza. During the pause, Hamas would release 40 of the hostages it is holding - women, children and elderly, but not Israeli soldiers - in exchange for 900 Palestinian prisoners, including 100 serving long sentences on terrorism-related charges. A senior Israeli official said Wednesday that Israel was open to using the U.S. proposal as a basis for talks, but that the plan is seen as favoring Hamas. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Kills 3 Sons of Hamas Political Leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, Says They Were Terrorists - Haley Ott
    Amir, Hazem and Mohammed Haniyeh, three sons of Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh, were killed Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike near Gaza City. The Israel Defense Forces said it killed "three Hamas military operatives that conducted terrorist activity in central Gaza." The IDF said Amir Haniyeh was a Hamas military squad commander, while Mohammad and Hazem were military operatives. Israel and the U.S. have long considered Hamas a terrorist organization. (CBS News)
  • After Viewing Khan Yunis, Palestinians Return to Their Tents in Rafah - Omar Abdel-Baqui
    After hearing that Israeli ground troops were leaving Khan Yunis on Sunday, Walid Abu Amro, 43, traveled north from his tent shelter in southern Gaza to check his home. "There's nothing there, it's all gone," he said. Khan Yunis, a Hamas stronghold and the site of particularly fierce fighting over the past four months, is the first major city that Palestinians have returned to since the fighting has subsided, and reflects what will lie ahead for those who have been displaced by the war.
        Many displaced Palestinians returned to their tents in Rafah after finding their Khan Yunis homes destroyed or uninhabitable. Even if people were lucky enough to have an intact home, seeing the wreckage of Khan Yunis made many realize there is no point in moving back there. Mohammad Abu Watfa said, "At least in Rafah there is some water, some services, some electricity with solar panels. There is none of that in Khan Yunis."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Launches Ground Assault in Central Gaza - Elisha Ben Kimon
    The IDF on Thursday launched a ground assault in central Gaza near Nuseirat, following airstrikes by fighter jets and drones on dozens of terrorist targets in the area overnight. The operation is expected to last several days. Ground forces are not entering the Nuseirat and Al-Bureij refugee camps themselves. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli War Cabinet Member Benny Gantz: "We Will Not Stop. We Will Enter Rafah"
    Israeli War Cabinet member Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of staff, said Wednesday, "From a military point of view, Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or in hiding. Its abilities are cut off, and we will continue to strike what remains. Victory will come step by step. We are on our way to it, and we will not stop. We will enter Rafah. We will return to Khan Yunis. And we will operate in Gaza. Wherever there are terror targets, the IDF will be there."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • As Hamas Reclaims Khan Yunis, Israeli Officers Warn of Protracted Battle Ahead - Yoav Zitun
    Four days after the IDF's withdrawal from Khan Yunis, alongside masses of residents returning to their destroyed homes, Hamas operatives have been seen beginning to reassert their control over the city. The internal security mechanisms of Hamas remain operational and instill fear among Gaza's civilians.
        In the bustling markets of Jabaliya in northern Gaza, Hamas operatives are currently maintaining order and preventing price gouging.
        In recent nights, over 60 Jordanian trucks, escorted by IDF military police, journeyed on the roads of Israel to the Nitzana crossing. After inspection, they continued to the Kerem Shalom crossing and into Gaza.
        Israeli security officials believe this and other aid is unnecessary. According to all security monitoring systems, there's no real famine in Gaza. Bakeries are full, and a humanitarian crisis is not expected. Israel shares daily images of Gaza's markets brimming with goods. Israeli officials are frustrated over the dramatic expansion of aid to nearly 500 truckloads daily from every possible direction, given to Hamas free of charge instead of as a key bargaining chip in a deal for the release of hostages in exchange for terrorists. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Applies Next Stage of Its War Plan to Khan Yunis - Yaakov Lappin
    After Sunday's withdrawal of IDF forces from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, a combination of heavy American pressure and an Israeli desire to give one more chance to hostage negotiations underway in Cairo led Israel's War Cabinet to hit the "pause" button on entering Rafah, the final Hamas stronghold. Having destroyed Hamas' Khan Yunis Brigade as an organized fighting force, the decision not to enter Rafah is a departure from operational logic, but is the result of broader calculations by the War Cabinet.
        What exists in Gaza now is the remnants of the jihadist army, operating as cells of guerilla terrorists, cut off from the Hamas leadership in Rafah's tunnels. (JNS)
  • Israel Police Thwart Attempt to Blow Up Jerusalem's Light Rail
    Jerusalem District Police, together with Border Police personnel, arrested four Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem, aged 15-16, who made multiple pipe bombs and placed them under a light rail station in Jerusalem. One explosive device had been thrown towards the light rail. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Gaza War

  • Israel's Security Depends on Rafah - Benny Morris
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right that it's crucial for Israel to conquer Rafah and destroy the Hamas battalions ensconced in that city. If this does not happen, Hamas will survive to fight and murder and rape another day - and its leader, Yahya Sinwar, will emerge from his hiding place declaring victory. For Palestinian-Israeli peace to have any chance, Hamas must be obliterated.
        Assaulting Rafah will inevitably cause many civilian casualties, despite assurances by Israel that it will move the civilians out of harm's way before launching the offensive. The additional civilian casualties and the attendant disruption of humanitarian aid through the Egypt-Gaza border will ratchet up condemnation of Israel's conduct by its Western allies, led by the U.S.
        Yet, Israel must take Rafah if it wants to demolish Hamas as a military and governing organization. For Israel, that potential outcome outweighs the many risks. Above all, an Israeli failure to take Rafah and smash Hamas will paint Israel, in its enemies' eyes, as a weak, defeated polity, easy prey for the next potential assailant.
        Zionism came into this world some 140 years ago to end the 2,000 years of Jewish humiliation and oppression, and to provide the Jews, at last, with a haven. To now allow the badly mauled Hamas to emerge victorious will underline Zionism's failure. Invading Rafah is vital to eliminating Hamas and restoring that safe haven.
        The writer is professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University. (New York Times)
  • Antony Blinken's Ahistorical Advice for Israel - John Spencer and Liam Collins
    The Biden administration is keeping the pressure on Israel not to invade Hamas' final stronghold in Rafah. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims that Israel could defeat Hamas by using "targeted operations with a smaller number of forces." But could it? A strategy dependent on raids and airstrikes alone has never been effective in defeating a large enemy.
        U.S. thinking about the war is plagued by the mistaken belief that raiding alone can constitute a military strategy. In their new book, Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine, Gen. David Petraeus and historian Andrew Roberts argue that intelligence-driven special-ops raids aren't enough to wage successful counterinsurgency campaigns. There is no historical evidence that commando raids or a series of precision strikes have defeated a deeply entrenched urban defender.
        Commando raids and precision strikes are a tactic, not a strategy to win a war, no matter how much Washington argues to the contrary.
        Mr. Spencer is chair of urban warfare studies at West Point's Modern War Institute. Mr. Collins is executive director of the Madison Policy forum. They are the co-authors of Understanding Urban Warfare. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Is Demonstrating What the West Will Have to Do to Defend Its Civilization - Dr. Fiamma Nirenstein
    Six months after Oct. 7, the Israel-Hamas war has made everyone more aware of the preciousness of life. They are determined not to allow it to be taken. They are saddened by the vicious hatred of Israel's enemies and those enemies' willingness to commit horrendous atrocities. They are determined to fight those enemies more intensely than ever.
        Each day, there are new stories of unprecedented courage and faith. Israel has been fighting a long and difficult war provoked by the worst attack suffered by Jews since the Holocaust. This war has forced us to accept that hatred is stronger than any attempt at coexistence and tolerance, stronger than concessions like the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.
        Israel is demonstrating what the West will have to do to defend its civilization. Fearless soldiers have lost some 500 of their comrades - and thousands have been wounded. These soldiers have demonstrated that when massacre strikes a democratic nation, that nation can fight back while still protecting its values.
        And it can do so with all its citizens on board. From the moment the Oct. 7 attack began, everyone rushed to put their lives on the line. They are fighting a war of survival. They know millions of people, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, and their own families are depending on them. One soldier told me, "My grandfather was in Auschwitz, my father fought in the Yom Kippur War in '73, now 'never again' is me."
        The writer, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. (JNS)
  • Destroying Hamas Is in Britain's Interest. We Should Be Backing Israel to Achieve It - David Frost
    Israelis are well aware that polling shows that majorities in Gaza still support Hamas and the Oct. 7 attacks. They believe that much of Palestinian opinion is unreconciled to Israel's existence. They are in no doubt that the intention of Iran and its many proxies, including Hamas, is to destroy their country if they can. Even now, tens of thousands of Israelis are still displaced from their homes because it's too dangerous for them to return, and scores of Israeli hostages are still in Gaza.
        But Israelis are also determined to remedy that situation - and rightly so. Repeated Israeli concessions have failed to provide security: it's obvious to us all now that the earlier withdrawal from south Lebanon and then Gaza just put heavily armed Iranian proxy forces on Israel's borders. That is why there is now wide support for the defeat and destruction of Hamas, and above all for the robust handling of Iran. Many Arab states in the region are also privately quite happy with those aims.
        Israelis rightly point out that Hamas fighters sheltering behind civilians is a clear violation of the laws of war. So is taking hostages. So is building tunnels under mosques. So is firing rockets from hospitals. What is Israel supposed to do: just let that happen? Instead, it is reacting in the only way possible, by doing everything it can to comply with international law, and accepting the losses that come with bitter urban fighting in which Hamas is quite happy for civilians to be casualties.
        Israel must not just be allowed, but enabled, to win this war. That's because it's in our own national interest that it does so. Our rivals around the world see international relations not in terms of law but of power. If Western countries don't have the stomach to face down our enemies - and Islamist extremism, in the form of Hamas or anything else, is definitely our enemy - others will calibrate their actions accordingly. The end of Hamas would be a real blow to Iran and its allies, and a real win for the West - if we can just let Israel finish the job. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The West's Cowardice over Israel Is Abominable - Sherelle Jacobs
    The West's abrupt U-turn - at first vowing to lend "rock solid, unwavering support" to Israel and now threatening to withdraw support unless Jerusalem agrees to a ceasefire - has imperiled Israel's mission to decapitate Hamas.
        The Israeli Defense Forces' mission to obliterate Hamas as a fighting force is both perfectionally rational and realistically achievable. It has already destroyed half of the terrorist group's warpower. The next task - to take out the thousands of fighters operating in small cells via an elaborate network of defensive tunnels - will be fiendishly tricky, given that Hamas uses innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields in their cold-blooded battle strategy.
        Recalling the West's thumping defeats of Islamic State, the historic evidence is that military muscle can play a vital role in breaking the idea that weaker parties can achieve political objectives through subjecting superior powers to violent campaigns of fear.
        Defeating Hamas is existentially vital for both Israel and the West. Since taking over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has upgraded from a guerrilla force to a modern terror army skilled in asymmetric urban warfare. A perceived victory for Hamas would spell the normalization of a terrorist government as a viable alternative to peaceful democracy in the Middle East. This would leave Israel vulnerable to further incursions by bordering terror groups. (Telegraph-UK)

  • Iran

  • The Precision Israeli Attacks on Iranians and Hizbullah in Syria - Andrew J. Tabler
    On April 1, Israel reportedly struck a four-story "military building of Quds Forces disguised as a civilian building" in Damascus, killing IRGC-QF Commander in Syria and Lebanon Mohammad Reza Zahedi, his deputy Mohammad-Hadi Haji-Rahimi, and five other IRGC officers.
        In the six months since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, open-source reporting indicates Israel has carried out over 50 air strikes in Syria, including five on Aleppo airport, two on the adjacent Nairab military airport, four on Damascus airport, and one on the Mezzeh military airport. All reportedly targeted Iranian assets, including weapons warehouses - a strike tempo nearly double that of pre-Oct. 7 levels.
        These strikes reflect a sharp uptick in targeting Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iran-aligned groups' leaderships operating in Syria, including 18 IRGC officers, 32 from Lebanese Hizbullah, and one from Hamas. Some 75 Syrians also have perished in the strikes. In comparison, between January and October 2023, only two IRGC officers and none from Hizbullah or Hamas perished from Israeli strikes.
        Since Oct. 7, there have been between 20 and 30 missile or rocket attacks from Syria on Israeli-controlled territory. Nearly all reportedly "landed in open areas" and led to no Israeli casualties.
        The writer is a senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Iran-Israel War in Syria - Arman Mahmoudian
    Since the beginning of the conflict with Hamas, Israel has engaged in exchanges with Hizbullah and has intensified its attacks in Syria against Iran. The rationale behind Israel's recent attacks in Syria is understandable. Shortly after the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, many sources indicated that Iran was planning to enhance Syria's aerial defense by deploying the Khordad-15, an advanced system resembling the U.S. Patriot system, that can engage up to six fighter-jets simultaneously from a range of 120 km.
        At the same time, reports suggested that Russia was planning to deliver the Pantsir, a point-defense system, to Hizbullah. Combining the Khordad-15 and Pantsir defense systems could pose severe challenges to Israel's Air Force. Therefore, there is a significant chance that Israel's attacks are meant to prevent the buildup of Iranian military installations in Syria, as Russia has been rapidly redeploying its troops from Syria to Ukraine, creating a vacuum that Iran and Hizbullah have been trying to fill by deploying additional troops.
        Moreover, according to Israeli officials, since the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Iran has increased its efforts to deliver air defense systems, such as Shahed-101 and Shahed-136 drones, and mini-Ababil missiles, to Hizbullah. By increasing military pressure on Iran in Syria, the IDF might aim to disrupt these arms deliveries to Hizbullah. (National Interest)
  • Iran Smuggles Arms to West Bank to Foment Unrest with Israel - Farnaz Fassihi
    Iran is operating a clandestine smuggling route across the Middle East, employing intelligence operatives, militants and criminal gangs to deliver weapons to Palestinians in the West Bank, according to officials from the U.S., Israel and Iran. The goal, as described by three Iranian officials, is to foment unrest against Israel by flooding the enclave with weapons.
        Afshon Ostovar, an associate professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, said Iran was focusing on the West Bank because it understood that access to Gaza would be curtailed for the foreseeable future.
        While the majority of the smuggled weapons are handguns and assault rifles, Iran is also smuggling advanced weapons, Israeli officials said, including antitank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. The Israel Security Agency recently seized advanced military equipment smuggled into the West Bank. (New York Times)
  • To Thwart Iran, Fight a War of Attrition - Seth Cropsey
    Iran's objectives are expansive: the elimination of American regional power and the destruction of Israel to clear the path for the Islamic Revolution's ascendance throughout the Muslim world. Its means, however, are relatively limited. Iran lacks the high-tech weapons to take on the U.S. and Israel directly. Its proxy alliance lacks the cohesion or capability to conquer Israel.
        Iran's strategy is long-term attrition. It hopes to keep the U.S. and Israel under continuous military stress through Hamas pressure in Gaza and Houthi attacks on international shipping. To counter Iran, a ground invasion is out of the question for strategic and political reasons. The only remaining option, beyond capitulation, is a long-term campaign of attrition that undermines Iranian power projection and destabilizes the Iranian state.
        The writer, former deputy undersecretary of the Navy, is president of the Yorktown Institute. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • The Roots of the Oct. 7 Massacre - Professor Moshe Sharon interviewed by Nadav Shragai
    Professor Moshe Sharon, 86, one of the most senior Middle East scholars in Israel, is convinced that the majority of Israelis have no real idea as to the profound depth of the hatred of Jews and Israel that is ingrained in Islam. These are the roots that gave birth to the vicious massacre carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7. "For years now, we have been busy telling ourselves stories that we have wanted to believe," says Sharon. "Some of this stems from ignorance and a lack of familiarity with the most basic issues in Islam, and we really insist on not looking the reality of the situation squarely in the eye."
        Sharon, a special consultant on Arab affairs to the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, headed the Department of Islamic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He notes: "From the outset, Islam has abhorred the Jews. The Jews' decision to reject the teachings of Muhammad was sufficient to categorize them as the 'enemies of Islam,' and this animosity of Islam towards the Jews is a continuing sentiment."
        "We projected our desires and view of things onto the Muslim world. We deluded ourselves into thinking that what we want is what they want. We sincerely desire peace, but that term, as both you and I understand it, does not exist at all in their lexicon....The implication of this is that if you are going to pay for 'peace,' you are in fact going to pay for something that simply does not exist. It is a fiction....We must be sufficiently strong so that Islam will have an alibi to enter into an agreement with us. Islam needs that alibi in order to establish a pact with the Jews."  (Israel Hayom)

  • Weekend Features

  • New Program Teaches Israeli Students Arabic Language and Culture
    The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has launched a new initiative titled "Speaking Middle East," designed to provide Israeli university students a unique opportunity to delve into the complexities of the Arab and Muslim world. Students in their third year or beyond will have the chance to learn from Israeli diplomats, journalists, security personnel, and former government officials, including former U.S. envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser.
        The JCPA created the program after recognizing a growing need for Israeli students to bridge the cultural divide with their Arab neighbors. "The Arabic language and culture have become important and even essential tools for every Israeli, especially those seeking to participate in Israel's efforts in the Middle East," said Middle East expert and JCPA vice president Aviram Bellaishe.
        Khaled Abu Toameh, a former Jerusalem Post Palestinian affairs correspondent and course leader, said that participants "will not only be able to speak Arabic fluently but also understand regional thinking."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why I Got a Gun - Matti Friedman
    I was recently at an indoor shooting range in Jerusalem watching new gun-license applicants blast paper targets. They included a young mother who'd been evacuated from Sderot after Hamas terrorists killed dozens of her neighbors on Oct. 7. A religious woman was trying out a stomach holster that could be concealed under her shirt - she's a kindergarten teacher and doesn't want to frighten the children.
        Many visitors to Israel are startled by the sight of armed young men and women in uniform carrying M-16s on the bus, assuming an enthusiasm for weapons and a free approach to acquiring them. But Israelis have no legal right to bear arms. Guns are simply a tool for protection against the Arab violence that has shaped this society over the last century.
        Before Oct. 7, less than 2% of Israelis owned guns. Since the attacks, more than 300,000 Israelis have requested gun permits. Gun ownership is still tightly restricted and involves paperwork beyond the wildest dreams of U.S. gun-control advocates. If you're cleared for a permit by the Ministry of Internal Security after a background check of your medical and psychological records and your military service, and then pass a test that includes firing 100 bullets, you're licensed to own and carry a single weapon. You cannot buy another gun. It's virtually impossible to buy a rifle.
        For years, we have suffered regular episodes in which Palestinian men go berserk in public places with knives or guns, killing people until they themselves are shot and killed by security forces or an armed civilian. In Jerusalem, where I live, I can think of a dozen such attacks in the last year.
        We have now absorbed lessons from the Hamas attack. The first is that we could not afford any further delusions about the intentions or capabilities of our Palestinian neighbors. These delusions had just led to the deaths of 1,200 Israelis like us, many of whom were murdered in their kitchens and living rooms, and to the kidnapping of 250 more, with enthusiastic support across the Palestinian public.
        The second lesson involved our basic assumption that security forces would always arrive fast. In Israel, guns are a matter of communal defense.
        The writer was an Associated Press reporter in Jerusalem between 2006 and 2011. (Free Press)

Do Hamas' Leaders Abroad Have a Mandate to Negotiate? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Egyptians and Qataris are negotiating with Hamas leaders in Qatar and Lebanon to reach an agreement on a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages. In 2017, Yahya Sinwar was secretly elected Hamas leader in Gaza, taking over from Ismail Haniyeh, who is the current chairman of Hamas Politburo and has been living in Qatar for the last five years.
  • In recent years, several other senior Hamas officials have also left Gaza after falling out with Sinwar and his brother, Mohammed, a commander of Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades. "The Sinwar brothers carried out a silent coup against the veteran political leadership of Hamas," Palestinian sources in Gaza said. "Yahya and Mohammed did not tolerate any competition and ruled Gaza as if it were their private fiefdom."
  • The Sinwar brothers, with the help of Hamas military commanders Mohammed Deif and Marwan Issa, often refused to accept dictates from Haniyeh and other senior Hamas officials outside of Gaza. The Sinwar brothers opened direct channels with Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In return, the Iranians rewarded the Gaza-based Hamas leaders with financial and military aid. Haniyeh and the other Hamas leaders silently watched as the Sinwar brothers pushed them to the sidelines.
  • In the aftermath of the Israeli military operation in Gaza, the disconnect between the Sinwar brothers and the Hamas leadership abroad has only deepened. According to an Arab diplomatic source, Yahya Sinwar recently sent an urgent message to the Egyptians that any deal brokered by Haniyeh would be turned down by the Gaza-based leadership.
  • The tensions between Hamas' leadership in the Gaza tunnels and the terror group's leaders in Doha and Beirut are the main reason why the ceasefire negotiations remain stalled. The Sinwar brothers are worried that the group's leaders abroad are prepared to make unacceptable concessions to Israel as a result of immense pressure from Qatar and Egypt.
  • Given the mistrust (and disconnect) between the Gaza-based Hamas leadership and the terror group's leaders abroad, one can only wonder whether the Qataris and Egyptians are not wasting their time negotiating with representatives who do not represent the Sinwar brothers and what remains of the al-Qassam Brigades.

    The writer, a veteran Israeli Arab journalist, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Center.
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