April 14, 2024
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Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Iran TV Shows Blaze in Chile, Claims It Shows Destruction in Israel (Times of Israel)
    A video clip aired by Iran's state TV claiming to show fiery destruction in Israel due to a massive Iranian missile and drone attack is months-old footage of a fire in Chile, a BBC reporter clarified Sunday.
    Shayan Sardarizadeh posted screen captures from the video broadcast by Iran alongside shots from the same video circulating on social media since February.
    Sardarizadeh also clarified that a video claiming to show jubilant Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem celebrating the Iranian attack was in fact taken Friday as worshipers marked the end of Ramadan.

Iranian Navy Seizes Israel-Linked Container Ship - Adam Pourahmadi (CNN)
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, an Israeli-linked container ship, in a helicopter operation near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday.
    IRNA reported that the vessel is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a company linked to Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

The Staggering Cost of Israel's Defense Against Iran's Missile Attack - Alexandra Lukash (Ynet News)
    Brig.-Gen. Reem Aminoach, former financial advisor to the IDF chief of staff, estimated the cost of operating Israel's sophisticated defense systems on Saturday night to be "on the order of 4-5 billion shekels" ($1.06 billion-$1.33 billion).
    "Add up the costs - $3.5 million for an Arrow missile, $1 million for a David's Sling [missile], such and such costs for airplanes."

Secret Letters Show Iran's $222 Million Payment to Hamas - Anshel Pfeffer (The Times-UK)
    Correspondence discovered during the war in Gaza offers compelling evidence of the extent of Tehran's continued funding for Hamas, including a typed letter addressed to Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas chief in Gaza, stating:
    "Attached is a table of payments from Iran between 2014 and 2020." It details at least $222 million received from Iran.
    The money is believed to have arrived in Beirut from Iran, in cash, where it was given by officers from Iran's Republican Guard to their Hamas contacts.
    A bump in payments after the 12-day war with Hamas in 2021 indicates Iranian appreciation and encouragement.
    Israeli intelligence believes the payments continued at least until the Oct. 7 attack and helped finance the arsenal of rockets and weapons used in it.

The U.S. and Israel Negotiate Over the Fate of Hamas' Last Bastion - Enia Krivine (National Interest)
    Six months into the war with Hamas, the best thing for Israelis and innocent Gazans is for the IDF to get as many civilians out of harm's way as possible and crush Hamas' last bastion in Rafah.
    Israel can move people gradually, block by block, the way it operated in the early months of the war. The task is enormous but not insurmountable.
    Once this is done, the U.S. and international partners will have a better chance at safely transporting aid into Gaza.
    To defeat Hamas in Gaza, Israel must stem the flow of weapons into the enclave. Rafah is the known entry point of weapons smuggled via tunnels from Egypt.
    Ensuring that the Hamas weapons smuggling routes are closed and remain closed will require Israel's military engineers to enter Rafah and seal the subterranean smuggling routes.
    In March, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. military would build a pier off the coast of Gaza to facilitate aid entry.
    To protect the lives of the estimated 1,000 U.S. men and women in uniform who will administer the humanitarian effort, the IDF must finish the job in Rafah.
    The U.S. should back Israel's Rafah operation and work with the Jewish state to move civilians to safer ground.
    The writer is the senior director of the Israel Program and the National Security Network at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Despite Hamas' Hopes, Ramadan Didn't Spread Gaza War to Jerusalem - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    On Feb. 28, before the holy month of Ramadan, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh issued "a call to our people in Jerusalem and the West Bank to march to Al-Aqsa on the first day of Ramadan."
    Several days later, President Joe Biden said that if the Gaza war "continues through Ramadan...Jerusalem... could [get] very, very dangerous."
    Yet, last week brought a close to one of Jerusalem's quietest Ramadans in years, even as war raged in Gaza.
    An average of 100,000 Palestinians did attend each of the four Ramadan Friday services, but they overwhelmingly did so peacefully.
    Analysts cited cooperation from Jordan, which helped foster calm on the Temple Mount. An Israeli security official said the Jordanians "recognize that allowing incitement to violence at the Temple Mount will only provide more fuel to Hamas-backers inside Jordan."
    The official added, "Palestinians might identify with Hamas' struggle - partially because they've been shielded from seeing what it did on Oct. 7 by networks like Al Jazeera - but even in the West Bank, where support for Hamas is higher, we haven't seen Palestinians join the fight because very few want to pay the price those in Gaza are now paying."

IDF Sees Surge in Female Conscripts Joining Combat Units - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The IDF said Thursday there had been a massive spike in female conscripts joining combat units since the start of the war in Gaza.
    The draft turnout for female troops in combat units was 157%, meaning 57% more than it had initially planned for.
    Combat Intelligence Collection units, where surveillance soldiers serve, saw a 210% turnout. The Artillery Corps saw a 195% draft turnout.
    The Home Front Command's Search and Rescue units saw 170%; and the Border Police saw 139%.
    There has been a similar rise among male conscripts.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Launches Massive Drone and Missile Attack Against Israel - Steve Hendrix
    Iran launched a massive attack with hundreds of missiles and drones against Israel Saturday night. Iran's Tasnim news agency reported that the Iranian strike was "four-pronged," originating from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
        Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor, said, "There is no question this is an escalation. There is no question that the Iranians have now given Israel the legitimacy to attack on Iranian soil....Iran opened a new chapter in the war."  (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Faced a Sophisticated Attack from Iran - Jin Yu Young
    In Saturday's Iranian attack, 185 drones, 36 cruise missiles and 110 surface-to-surface missiles were fired toward Israel, according to Israeli military officials. (New York Times)
        See also Israel and Allies Intercepted 99 Percent of Over 300 Iranian Drones and Missiles - Elisha Ben Kimon
    IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Sunday that "99% of the threats" launched by Iran against Israel "were intercepted." "This is a very significant strategic achievement. None of the 170 drones launched by Iran entered Israeli territory. Dozens of them were intercepted by Air Force fighter jets and Israeli and foreign air defense systems. None of the 30 cruise missiles Iran launched entered Israeli territory. Some 25 of them were intercepted by Air Force fighter jets outside the country's borders."
        Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday, "The IDF has impressively foiled the attack. Together with our American and other partners, we managed to limit damage to Israeli territory to a minimal degree, a most impressive achievement accomplished by the IDF with distinction. The whole world saw who Iran is tonight - a terrorist state that attacks Israel from a distance of 1,500 km. away and tries to activate all of its proxies."  (Ynet News)
  • Biden: We Helped Israel Take Down Iranian Drones and Missiles
    President Joe Biden said Saturday: "Iran - and its proxies operating out of Yemen, Syria and Iraq - launched an unprecedented air attack against military facilities in Israel. I condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms....To support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week....We helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles."  (White House)
        See also Biden Told Netanyahu U.S. Won't Support an Israeli Counterattack on Iran - Barak Ravid
    President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during a call on Saturday that the U.S. will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran and will not support such operations, a senior White House official said. Biden told Netanyahu the joint defensive efforts by Israel, the U.S. and other countries in the region led to the failure of the Iranian attack, according to the official. "You got a win. Take the win," Biden said. (Axios)
  • U.S. Intercepts Dozens of Iranian Drones and Missiles Aimed at Israel - Gaya Gupta
    U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said U.S. forces had intercepted dozens of missiles and attack drones launched at Israel on Saturday. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli, U.S. Jets Downed Dozens of Iranian Drones over Syrian Airspace
    Most of the Iranian drones flying over Syria's airspace during Tehran's strikes were downed by Israeli and U.S. jets before reaching their targets in Israel, two Western intelligence sources say. Dozens of missiles and drones fired by Iran were shot down above southern Syria in Deraa province, the Syrian Golan Heights, and several locations in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq. (Reuters)
        See also Jordan Airforce Shoots Down Iranian Drones Flying toward Israel - Suleiman Al-Khalidi
    Jordan's air force shot down dozens of Iranian drones that violated its airspace and were heading to Israel, two regional security sources said. Several downed drones were seen in neighborhoods south of the capital Amman. (Reuters)
        See also IDF Says France Helped in Defense Against Iranian Attack
    Israel's military spokesperson said Sunday that France was among the countries involved in defending against Iran's overnight attack on Israel. "France has very good technology, jets, radar - and I know they were contributing in patrolling airspace," he said. (Reuters)
  • Israel's Leaders Consider Response to Iranian Attack - Rory Jones
    More than 300 drones and cruise and ballistic missiles were fired by Iran in a direct attack on Israeli soil, though no deaths were reported. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said last week his country would attack Iran should Tehran launch an assault on Israeli territory. "That assertion remains valid," Katz told the Israel's Army Radio on Sunday.
        Iran appeared to want to overwhelm Israel's defenses and destroy infrastructure at the major Nevatim air base, where its fleet of F-35 fighter planes is based, said Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence. The base suffered only minor damage. "The idea of trying to de-escalate the war in the Middle East is no doubt in the U.S. interest, and no doubt also in Israel's," Yadlin said. "However, the deterrence of Iran and the punishment of Iran for Israel is more important."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Rejects Hostage Release Proposal - Jonathan Lis
    Hamas has rejected a hostage release deal proposed by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt, Israel's Mossad said Sunday. "By rejecting the deal, in which Israel showed flexibility, [Hamas leader] Sinwar has proved he doesn't want a humanitarian deal and to return the hostages."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Teenage Shepherd Murdered in Samaria - Emanuel Fabian
    Jerusalem resident Benjamin Achimeir, 14, was murdered in a terror attack, the IDF said Saturday. He set out early Friday shepherding a flock near the outpost of Malachei Shalom in Samaria. Hours later, the sheep returned without him. His body was found by an IDF drone unit on Saturday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Iran Attacks Israel

  • What Has Iran's Attack on Israel Achieved? - Lazar Berman
    The result of the Iranian attack on Israel was underwhelming, to say the least. The attacks only managed to harm one Israeli, a 7-year-old Muslim Bedouin girl. "It's kind of pathetic," said Danielle Pletka, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "This is not the outcome they were hoping for." Tehran refocused Arab attention on the importance of stopping Iran's nuclear program, Pletka maintained. "They're looking at the attack and saying, 'That was bad. What would have happened if they had nuclear weapons?'"
        "Iran officially inaugurated the regional defense coalition that has been in the works for the last decade," observed Israeli military theorist Brig.-Gen. (res.) Eran Ortal. "Iran gave Israel its first strategic achievement in this war."
        Moreover, the focus has shifted from Gazan civilians, as Iran succeeded in rallying the U.S. and top European powers to Israel's side. Instead of the UN Security Council discussing the need for a ceasefire in Gaza, it will be debating the Iranian threat and Israel's right to self-defense on Sunday. And in Washington, the Iranian attack pushed the Republicans to accelerate an aid bill for Israel that had been stalled in the House. (Times of Israel)
  • Iran Failed and Israel Succeeded - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The unprecedented Iranian attack against Israel has failed, due to the IDF's defensive plan which relied on precise military intelligence and the exceptional capabilities of the Air Force pilots and their active protection systems. Israel needs to deter Iran. The ayatollahs deliberately attacked Israel, aiming to cause significant damage. If Israel fails to respond to this attack aggressively, the ayatollahs and their allies - as well as regional countries willing to normalize their relations with Israel - may see it as weakness.
        At the same time, Israel must consider the aggressive demand by the U.S., the UK, France, and Germany that Israel refrain from a response that could lead to a regional war. Israel has an interest in responding to the Western demand and returning to focus on the wars in Gaza and the northern border, leaving the schooling of Iran for another opportunity.
        In any case, response and revenge are dishes best served cold. It's better to plan them well to ensure their effectiveness, even if it takes time and is done covertly. When considering a response, priority should be given to maintaining Israel's legitimacy in the eyes of the West. Deterrence is a passing thing by its nature, whereas the alliance with the West and the regional defense architecture are strategic assets to Israel.
        As a result of early detection, Israel's air defense system was able to focus its efforts and intercept the ballistic missiles, drones and cruise missiles launches by Iran before they reached its territory. Out of 100 ballistic missiles fired, only a handful crossed into Israeli airspace. Most of the ballistic missiles were intercepted by the Arrow and David's Sling air-defense systems. Similarly, not a single drone or cruise missile out of the 200 fired reached the country. The U.S. and its allies intercepted around 70 missiles, with the rest downed by Israeli Air Force fighter jets.
        Iran, naturally, is trying to turn its failure into a victory in the eyes of its domestic audience using fake news, but the Iranian public will know what really happened within days, and this will mark another blow to the regime's credibility and its ability to threaten its surroundings. This is another Israeli achievement in repelling this attack. (Ynet News)

  • Other Issues

  • Yahya Sinwar and Marwan Barghouti Share the Same Beliefs in Spilling Blood - Assaf Gabor
    "Our task was to kill. Not capture, to kill everyone we saw, including women and children, and then return to Gaza. We arrived at the first house in Kfar Aza, and my friend Ahmad set it on fire. When someone came out to put out the fire, we killed him. I set fire to the second house."
        "In the third house, my friend Himza shot a woman. We sat in that house an hour and a half; we brought a laptop and watched the news. When three members of the kibbutz came, we shot them and killed them. In the fourth house that we entered, we sat and ate. And then we heard the voices of young children, children crying. Ahmed and I fired at the door until we didn't hear any voices, until they died." This is just one testimony from a Nukhba terrorist who was captured and interrogated.
        Moshe Pozilov, a veteran interrogator for the Israel Security Agency who is assisting in the interrogation of Hamas prisoners, had interrogated Fatah Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, who was captured in 2004 and sentenced to 5 life terms plus 40 years for his role in the Second Intifada. His name has come up in dicussions on exchanging Palestinian prisoners for Israeli captives. "People don't understand how much Barghouti is a religious man," said Pozilov. "Just like [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar, who wants to see Barghouti as head of the Palestinian Authority, he believes that spilling blood is the way to achieve Palestinian goals."
        "Sinwar and Barghouti share the same beliefs....[Barghouti] is the one who used the lie of "Al-Aqsa is in danger" to incite the Second Intifada. Barghouti called it the "Al-Aqsa Intifada," and Sinwar called the Oct. 7 massacre the "Al-Aqsa Flood."  (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 12April2024)
  • The Arsonist - Dumisani Washington and Karys Rhea
    The commentator Tucker Carlson has made it clear on several occasions that anyone in America "overly" concerned with what is happening in Israel is insufficiently patriotic. But now, Tucker has dedicated a 40-minute episode of his show to express outrage at Israel. "How does the government of Israel treat Christians?...Here's the view of a pastor from Bethlehem." He then lamented with his guest about Israel's alleged mistreatment of Christians, peddling sheer falsities in a reckless and deliberate disregard for truth.
        Instead of speaking to one of the 180,000 Christian Israelis, Tucker chose to interview Lutheran pastor Munther Isaac who lives under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, a place where priests live in fear and toe the party line about Israel's "occupation" in order to protect their churches. He is a malicious agitator who publicly lauded the Oct. 7 massacre one day after it occurred.
        In 2002, Palestinian militants holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and forced civilians and clergymen to remain in the church with them at gunpoint. Catholic priests said the Palestinian gunmen tore up Bibles for toilet paper and stole valuable sacramental objects.
        The real story is in the demographics. Christians in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, represented more than 80% of the population when the territory was controlled by Israel. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization took over in 1995, it is now over 80% Muslim. This is in keeping with the larger trend in the region, where Christian communities have largely been driven out and disappeared after two millennia of faithful presence.
        Some Palestinian Christians flee to Israel seeking safety. Those from the West Bank reveal a hostile environment where churches and monasteries are attacked, graffitied with Islamic slogans, vandalized and looted, and PLO flags draped over crosses. By contrast, Israel is the only place in the Middle East where the Christian population has been steadily increasing.
        Pastor Dumisani Washington is founder and CEO of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel. Karys Rhea is a fellow with The Jewish Leadership Project.  (Tablet)
  • Why Do Many People in Ireland Think It Perfectly Acceptable to Deny Israel's National Identity? - Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Dana Erlich
    When I became ambassador to Ireland in August 2023, I looked forward to a recalibration of relations between our two countries. Unfortunately, six months into the war that was launched upon Israel by Hamas, we see the one-sided media coverage and hear the often-vitriolic rhetoric of politicians.
        After the horrific event of Oct. 7 when 1,200 of our people were slaughtered, hundreds raped and tortured, and hundreds more including children were kidnapped and sent into a living hell of captivity in Gaza, in most EU capitals there were strong expressions of solidarity with Israel. But in Ireland there was an automatic expression of solidarity with Palestinians, and even Hamas. Politicians and commentators saw an opportunity to castigate my country even before the IDF began its ground operation in Gaza to release the hostages and defeat Hamas.
        It appears that any show of empathy or humanity expressed toward Israel has been bullied out of public spaces due to an environment of hostility that has been allowed to prevail. It seems that in Ireland there is limited freedom of opinion. Many Irish politicians have called for my expulsion, all the while disregarding any suffering of people in Israel. They have embraced the "Palestinian cause" unconditionally, which in essence gives support to Hamas and other jihadist movements.
        In Ireland, Hamas is not held to any account, nor is it the subject of protest or pressure. Some even celebrate it as Palestinian "resistance." Criticism of Israel in Ireland has crossed a line. Delegitimizing Israel and Zionism as a whole is anti-Semitic. Why in Ireland do many people think it perfectly acceptable to deny my people's national identity? Why is Zionism the only national identity called into question by some Irish people?
        Israel has achieved peace with its neighbors many times before when a desire for coexistence has been present among all sides. Hamas is not interested in coexistence. (Irish Times)

Hamas' Bet on the World Is Paying Off - Jason Greenblatt (CNN)
  • Hamas considers it a victory to survive when Israel has vowed to destroy it. Hamas counts on a long-running strategy of Westerners intervening to stop Israel's successful offensives due to humanitarian concerns, which is why Hamas enables Palestinian suffering by using human shields, stealing aid and employing hospitals as military facilities. Hamas then engages in a PR campaign to magnify the criticism of Israel by failing to distinguish between civilians and combatants in casualty reports.
  • Governments and NGOs then scrutinize Israel's responsibility for civilian deaths, despite Hamas being far more to blame since they launch deadly attacks from and store weapons among them.
  • As the Biden administration has ramped up pressure on Israel to make more concessions in negotiations with Hamas, declaring that the U.S. cannot accept anything other than a successful deal, is it a coincidence that Hamas has repeatedly rejected Israel's offers?
  • Israeli diplomatic reporter Nadav Eyal cited Israeli intelligence assessments that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar "thinks that he's winning, and the reason for that is that he's seeing the kind of pressure employed on Israel." Sinwar expects to survive because "someone is going to restrain the IDF."
  • Hamas and its Iranian sponsors are now getting the message that they should never adopt the attitude that leads to peace because the West will never allow Israel to conduct its wars the way any other sovereign would: until its enemies are defeated and no longer pose a threat. Israel must be allowed to demonstrate to those who wish to destroy it that they are fighting a losing battle, or this cycle will only continue, with more innocents lost on both sides.
  • To keep America, Israel, and all of America's other friends and allies in the Middle East safe and secure, and to free the Palestinians in Gaza from the horrific leadership of Hamas, the Biden administration must signal to the world that it unequivocally defends Israel's right to ensure that Hamas will no longer be a threat to Israel and that all the hostages must be released. Anything less will yield only more death, disaster and destruction in the near term and for the foreseeable future.

    The writer was the White House special envoy to the Middle East from 2017-2019.

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