May 16, 2024
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Watch Hamas Terrorists Use UN Vehicles, UNRWA Compound as Cover in Rafah (Jerusalem Post)
    In video footage taken Saturday by the IDF, several Hamas terrorists and gunfire can be seen near UN vehicles and in the area of UNRWA's logistics warehouse compound in eastern Rafah.
    Israel warned the UN of the presence of terrorists in the area and the danger their presence brings to the logistics compound.

U.S. and Israeli Intelligence: Hamas Leaders Are Still in Khan Yunis, Not Rafah (New York Times)
    U.S. officials say Israeli intelligence agencies agree with the American assessment that Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas leaders are not hiding in Rafah, but most likely never left the tunnel network under Khan Yunis, the next major Gazan city to the north.
    Hamas' tunnel network in Khan Yunis goes down as many as 15 stories in some places.
    Sinwar is also protected by Israeli hostages he uses as human shields.
    American officials believe that Israeli intelligence agencies have as good, or better, information on Sinwar's location and insisted that the U.S. shares with Israel everything it knows.

Secret Hamas Files Show How It Spied on Everyday Palestinians - Adam Rasgon and Ronen Bergman (New York Times)
    Hamas' General Security Service is a secret police force in Gaza that conducted surveillance on everyday Palestinians and built files on young people, journalists and those who questioned the government, according to intelligence officials and a trove of internal documents reviewed by the New York Times.
    The unit relied on a network of Gaza informants, some of whom reported their own neighbors to the police.
    The documents show that Hamas leaders would not tolerate even a whiff of dissent.

Secret Papers Reveal Hamas Plan to Set Up Base in Turkey - Anshel Pfeffer (The Times-UK)
    Hamas planned to establish a secret base in Turkey and other terror cells elsewhere to co-ordinate attacks against Israeli targets in neighboring countries, including NATO members, according to files captured by the Israeli army in Gaza and seen by The Times.
    The document was discovered in the home of Hamza Abu Shanab, chief of staff to Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader in Gaza.
    The document sets out a three-year plan with the aim of "setting up many military cells and safe houses in many countries," followed by "training the military cells and...practical planning of sabotage and assassination."
    The plan includes details on the funding and personnel to be sent to set up the base in Turkey.
    The Turkish government has been vocal in its support of Hamas, calling it a "liberation group."
    On Sunday, President Erdogan said that more than 1,000 members of Hamas were being treated in hospitals in Turkey.
    Zaher Jabarin, who handles Hamas funding outside Gaza, is based in Istanbul.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Kuperwasser: IDF Rafah Operation Critical to Defeat Hamas - Debbie Mohnblatt (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of National Security and Middle East Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, said in an interview:
    "If we want to defeat Hamas, we have to defeat Hamas in Rafah, just like we did in the rest of Gaza. As long as they control it, they can bring in all kinds of weapons or any kind of other equipment that they need."
    "Militarily speaking, Hamas had plenty of time to improve their defensive posture in Rafah."
    In addition, "we should probably expect more terror attacks from the Houthis, Hizbullah, more challenges coming from the Iraqi militias that are subordinate to Iran, and more challenges from Iran directly."

No Point Talking about a "Post-Hamas" Era until We Actually Finish the Job - Yossi Yehoshua (Ynet News)
    Any force attempting to enter Gaza while Hamas still holds sway would face grim consequences - execution by hanging, being thrown from roofs, or a bullet to the head.
    No one will fight our battles for us, and no one will sacrifice themselves or their families for our cause.
    This is why Israel was established - to defend ourselves, by ourselves.
    No one will enter Gaza, and certainly not manage it, until Israel dismantles Hamas.
    An enemy that sent 3,000 terrorists to slaughter, rape, and abduct civilians cannot be left standing.
    We have no choice. The costs are, and will continue to be, very high.
    Every Israeli longs for the day when the bleeding in Gaza stops, the northern front calms down, and life returns to normal. But the mission isn't over. Giving up is not an option.
    Enemies and potential allies are watching our every move, and failure could cost us even more than we are paying now.

U.S. Encouraging Arab States to Join Multinational Postwar Force in Gaza - Andrew England (Financial Times-UK)
    The Biden administration is encouraging Arab states to participate in a peacekeeping force that would deploy in Gaza once the war ends, in the hope of filling a vacuum until a credible Palestinian security apparatus is established.
    Egypt, the UAE and Morocco are considering the initiative, "but they would want the U.S. to recognize a Palestinian state first," a Western official said.
    A source briefed on the discussions said Washington had "been trying to build some momentum for a stability force, but the American policy is pretty firm that there will be no American troops on the ground, so it's hard for them to make the argument that others should."

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Tehran Negotiates with Niger for 300 Tons of Yellowcake Uranium (National Council of Resistance of Iran)
    The French newspaper Le Monde has confirmed clandestine negotiations between the Iranian regime and military rulers in Niger to export 300 tons of yellowcake uranium from mines operated by the French group Orano for $56 million, triggering alarm in both Washington and Paris.

Two Men Accused of Plot to Attack Jews with Machine Guns in England - Vikram Dodd (Guardian-UK)
    Walid Saadaoui, 36, and Amar Hussein, 50, have appeared in court accused of a machine gun terrorism plot to attack Jewish communities in northwest England, as well as police and military targets.
    A third man, Bilel Saadaoui, 35, brother of Walid, is accused of failing to disclose information about an act of terrorism. All three were arrested on Wednesday.
    Westminster magistrates court heard the plot involved attempts to obtain machine guns, a hand gun and ammunition, and identifying a safe house where these could be stored.

Eurovision Shows World Does Not Share Israel Haters' Bigotry - Stephen Pollard (Jewish Chronicle)
    Thanks to the Jew haters of Malmo, and their supporters across social media and elsewhere, this year's Eurovision had become far more than a song contest.
    Israel's 20-year-old singer, Eden Golan, required an armed multi-car convoy to travel from her hotel to the competition venue.
    Fellow competitors demanded that Israel be barred. The haters had decided to make a song contest a proxy for their hatred of Israel.
    I was forced by the bigots' behavior to care deeply about the voting. And what a joy it proved to be.
    The haters assumed that Europe shared their bigotry and their hatred of Jews. Well, they don't.
    Eurovision has a public vote alongside the so-called "professional" national juries. When all the votes were tallied, Israel came second (to Croatia) in the public vote.
    Even in Ireland - with a public realm widely viewed by Jews as one of the most antisemitic in Europe - Israel came second.
    Eden Golan actually finished fifth in the contest - despite the virtue-signaling juries doing their best to keep her out of the running.
    Eurovision showed that a broad mass of the public understand that Israel is fighting to defeat a genocidal terrorist organization. And they support it.

Israel's Population on Independence Day - 9.9 Million (Times of Israel)
    Israel's population has risen to 9.9 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.
    There are 7,247,000 Jewish Israelis (73.2%), 2,089,000 Arabs (21.1%), and 564,000 (5.7%) Christians and those with no registered religion.

Let's Focus on Our Wins This Israel Independence Day - Gil Troy (Jerusalem Post)
    This year, on Israel's Independence Day, I was celebrating wholeheartedly. I won't allow Hamas killers and kidnappers, or world opinion, to rob me of my joy.
    Every day in Jerusalem, I live the miracle of Israel: Jews' freedom, prosperity, dignity, and power.
    We don't hurt our necks by constantly looking over our shoulders - neither for approval nor out of fear.
    And we feel history's breeze on our backs, propelling us forward, noting how every decade in Israeli history was better than the previous one.
    The decades-long campaign - presenting the Palestinians as the world's greatest victims who are never held responsible for any crime, no matter how vicious - has hit new heights and seduced millions, some well-meaning and some less so.
    It's stunning to see so many people assume that the Palestinian-Israel conflict is black-and-white and about blacks versus whites.
    Most depressing has been the passivity of the silenced majority.
    The answer to so many lies about Israel is Identity Zionism - not a defense, but a sweeping, inspiring, appealing vision.
    The writer, a Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University, is a Senior Fellow in Zionist Thought at the Jewish People Policy Institute.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Poised to Send $1 Billion in Weapons to Israel - Alan He
    The Biden administration has informed Congress that it intends to transfer $1 billion in weapons to Israel, two congressional sources confirmed Tuesday. "We are continuing to send military assistance, and we will ensure that Israel receives the full amount provided in the supplemental," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday, referring to a recently signed funding package that includes $14 billion for Israel's defense. (CBS News)
  • UN Says 600,000 People Have Left Rafah in Nine Days - David Gritten
    Almost 600,000 Palestinians have left the southern Gaza city of Rafah since the start of an Israeli ground operation in the city's eastern outskirts nine days ago, including 150,000 people in the past 48 hours, the UN say. The IDF ordered civilians to evacuate eastern Rafah for their own safety before starting the assaults.
        On Tuesday, UNRWA posted several photos showing empty streets in Rafah which were packed with tents and makeshift shelters before the start of the Israeli operation. UNRWA spokeswoman Louise Wateridge said families had "moved as far west as possible" and had set up tents on beaches along the Mediterranean coast. Further inland was "now a ghost town."  (BBC News)
  • Jordan Foils Iranian Plot to Smuggle Arms into Kingdom - Samia Nakhoul
    Jordan has foiled an Iranian plot to smuggle weapons into the kingdom to help opponents of the ruling monarchy carry out acts of sabotage to destabilize Jordan, Jordanian sources said. The weapons were sent by Iranian-backed militias in Syria to a cell of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan that has links to Hamas. The cache was seized when members of the cell, Jordanians of Palestinian descent, were arrested in March. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Kills Dozens of Hamas Terrorists in Largest Gaza Battle in Two Months - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The IDF on Tuesday killed dozens of Hamas terrorists in Jabalya in northern Gaza in the largest Gaza battle since mid-March. In addition, the IDF is operating in Rafah in southern Gaza and in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City in the north. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Completes New Operation in Zeitun in Gaza - Yoav Zitun
    IDF forces withdrew from the Zeitun area in Gaza on Wednesday after killing more than 30 terrorists and capturing a massive amount of ammunition. After the IDF operated there in November and December, Hamas returned with a new battalion, gathering hundreds of terrorists and thousands of weapons including rockets, RPGs, mortars and even a small weapons production plant. The IDF also found stores of food from humanitarian aid supplies confiscated by Hamas.
        Commanders agree there would be a need to return and fight in the city again. "This is the reality we can expect, if we want to defeat Hamas," they said. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Civilian Killed, Five IDF Soldiers Wounded by Hizbullah Missile in Northern Israel - Adi Hashmonai
    An Israeli civilian was killed and five soldiers were wounded from anti-tank missiles fired from Lebanon towards Kibbutz Adamit in northern Israel on Tuesday. Anti-tank missiles and rockets were also fired at the Upper Galilee, causing fires. Ten launches were detected from Lebanon toward the Golan Heights; the rockets fell in open areas. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Strikes Deep in Lebanon after Hizbullah Drone Attack - Tzvi Joffre
    The IDF struck several sites in the Baalbek area in eastern Lebanon on Wednesday, just hours after Hizbullah launched two kamikaze drones toward an IDF base west of Tiberias in northern Israel, the deepest Hizbullah strike since the start of the war in October. One drone exploded near the Golani Junction, causing damage but no casualties. The IDF shot down the second attack drone. Earlier on Wednesday, 60 rockets were fired toward the Kiryat Shmona and Meron areas in northern Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Pressure from Allies Will Not Stop Israel from Achieving War Aims in Gaza - Lazar Berman
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview released Sunday that pressure from allies would not stop him from achieving Israel's war aims. "In Israel's history, when faced with this kind of pressure, the leaders did what they had to do....You cannot say that you support the right of Israel to defend itself and then condemn it when it seeks to exercise that right."
        Netanyahu said the military campaign in Gaza will continue for a long time, in order to prevent Hamas from reemerging. "You don't have to reoccupy it. You just have to demilitarize it actively. And you know, the distances are so small. So you go in, you go out. Or you remain where you have to be."
        He said the next stage was to find another civil administration in Gaza. His hope was to use locals unaffiliated with Hamas with the support of Arab states. But "no one's going to come in until they know that you either destroyed Hamas, or you're about to destroy Hamas. And that's a certainty. Because if they think Hamas is going to emerge from the rubble and retake Gaza, they're not going to commit suicide."
        Once Hamas is eliminated, he said, new opportunities will present themselves. Victory over Hamas "is not when every last Hamas fighter disappears, but when we vanquish them, destroy their organized battalions, and mop up the remaining places, and that's going to take some time, but we can do it."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Netanyahu: Discussions of "Day After" in Gaza Are Irrelevant before Hamas Is Eliminated - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Gaza War

  • Enough Mediating. America Should Deploy Its Might Against Hamas - Roger Zakheim
    On Oct. 7, Hamas murdered more than 40 Americans, and five Americans are still being held captive more than 200 days later. Since then, the Biden administration has tried to get the hostages home by playing the role of mediator. This approach fundamentally misunderstands the conflict, as well as the tools required to free captive Americans. It is time to jettison this approach and deploy U.S. might instead.
        For more than seven months, U.S. officials have treated the Gaza war as if it were a conflict between state actors, employing shuttle diplomacy and negotiating with both sides. They have indulged in the conceit that you can negotiate with a terrorist organization by treating it as an equal party. Yet the mediator approach has applied equal, if not more, pressure on U.S. ally Israel to make concessions than it has on Hamas, the original aggressors.
        U.S. mediation has achieved little. It is long overdue for the U.S. to shift the paradigm. Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has developed an array of intelligence, economic, and military tools and techniques that can pressure and destroy terrorist networks. They should be deployed against Hamas.
        For starters, the Treasury Department should aggressively target sanctions on entities that fund and fuel Hamas. At the top of the list should be the Central Bank of Iran. The same should be done for Qatari and Turkish entities that support and aid the terrorist organization. We should also unleash our military and intelligence community's world-class targeting and strike capability. Shifting to a more aggressive stance would also send a powerful signal to Hamas' leadership that the U.S. will hold Hamas directly responsible for how it treats American citizens.
        The writer, director of the Ronald Reagan Institute, is a former general counsel for the House Armed Services Committee. (Washington Post)
  • The Arguments for Blocking Israel's Operation Against Hamas in Rafah Don't Stand Up to Scrutiny - Editorial
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Israel's taking Rafah won't achieve anything. "Israel is on the trajectory potentially to inherit an insurgency with many armed Hamas left or, if it leaves, a vacuum filled by chaos, filled by anarchy, and probably refilled by Hamas." This is defeatism.
        What remains of Hamas could attempt an insurgency, but that's a lower risk than leaving Hamas' four military battalions and leadership to survive in Rafah. The only way Israel can fill a "vacuum" with a day-after plan is if it reaches the day after by defeating Hamas in Rafah. Any plan to replace Hamas depends on victory in its last Gaza stronghold. The truth is that the war isn't over, and Hamas will win if it keeps control of Rafah and its people.
        Israel has already evacuated some 400,000 Gazans and won much of eastern Rafah while keeping civilian casualties low. Advancing only a few neighborhoods at a time, Israel has been faster and more effective at getting civilians to safety than the U.S. expected. (Wall Street Journal)
  • What Hamas Wants in Postwar Gaza: The Power to Fight without the Burden of Governing - Matthew Levitt
    After seven months of war in Gaza, the Israel-Hamas conflict has caused untold devastation to the two million Gazans that Hamas claims to represent and has all but destroyed Hamas' governance project. With its heinous Oct. 7 assault on Israel, Hamas sought to put itself and the Palestinian issue back at the center of the international agenda, even if that meant destroying much of Gaza itself.
        But Hamas' leaders also are trying to relieve themselves of the sole burden of governing Gaza, which had become an impediment to achieving the group's goal of destroying Israel. The Hamas leadership is also trying to jump-start a process of reconciliation with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.
        In seeking to force a new governance structure on Gaza and to refashion the PLO in its own image, Hamas hopes to impose a Hizbullah model on the territory. Like Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas wants a future in which it is both a part of, and apart from, whatever Palestinian governance structure next emerges in Gaza. That way, it hopes to wield political and military dominance in Gaza and ultimately the West Bank without bearing any of the accountability that comes from ruling.
        As Hamas sees it, it must first secure a victory as Hizbullah did in 2006, simply by surviving. Then, it must adopt a Hizbullah model in its relation to the postwar governance structure that emerges - joining with the PLO and changing the Palestinian movement from within while maintaining Hamas as an independent fighting force. To arrest this plan before it is set in motion, it will be paramount for Israel, the U.S., and their Arab and Western allies to keep Hamas out of whatever Palestinian governance structure is built.
        The writer is Director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Affairs)
  • The Real Reason Hamas and Egypt Oppose Israel's Control of Rafah, the Only Border Out of Gaza - Bassam Tawil
    On May 6, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) captured the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, drawing condemnations from Egypt. A day earlier, Hamas terrorists fired rockets from near the Rafah terminal toward the Israel-Gaza border, killing four Israeli soldiers and wounding several others.
        The Egyptians have good reason to be angry with the presence of the IDF at the Rafah border crossing. Arab and Western media outlets have reported that since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October 2023, Palestinians who want to leave Gaza through the Rafah terminal are being compelled to bribe Egyptian officials with thousands of dollars.
        "To leave Gaza, people are paying a $5,000 bribe to Egypt," the Gaza-based Palestinian journalist Hind Khoudary wrote on X on Nov. 23, 2023. According to The Guardian, Palestinians seeking to leave Gaza "say they are being asked to pay large 'coordination fees' by a network of brokers and couriers with alleged links to the Egyptian intelligence services."
        Hala Consulting and Tourism Services, a company owned by an influential Egyptian businessman and ally of President el-Sisi, Ibrahim al-Organi, is making $2 million a day from Palestinians fleeing Gaza, the UK-based Middle East Eye reported on May 1, 2024. In the past three months alone, the company is estimated to have made a minimum of $118 million from desperate Palestinians trying to leave Gaza.
        One can understand why Egypt and Hamas strongly oppose having the IDF stationed at the border crossing: the millions of dollars they have been receiving may disappear. (Gatestone Institute)

  • The War Against Hizbullah

  • The IDF Is Not Just Reactive Against Hizbullah in Lebanon - Yair Kraus
    Day after day, the IDF targets terror hubs in southern Lebanon including Hizbullah command centers, weapon storage facilities and hideouts. The army isn't waiting to see what will come of diplomatic efforts to deal with Hizbullah; they are training to achieve security through firepower and the spirit of their fighters. Everyone I meet at the 91st Division's headquarters on the Lebanon border declares that above all, they want to restore security and bring back the tens of thousands of northern residents to their homes and communities from which they were uprooted over seven months ago.
        Lt. R, 22, heads the Target Team. She lives in Kibbutz Dan near the Lebanon border, and was evacuated along with her family and relatives in the surrounding communities in October. She said the IDF is not just attacking in response to Hizbullah fire.
        "We are not waiting to be hit first. There are days when they haven't fired anything at us, and we attacked 12 targets. We have response targets and strategic targets, and we act according to the situation and evolving needs. We create targets in real-time. It's no secret there was a large number of Radwan operatives sitting on the fence. Now they hide 23 hours and 40 minutes a day. Then they come out for 20 minutes, shoot and go into hiding again. The operatives left on the front are a trickle compared to what was here in routine times."
        "If an anti-tank missile hits Metula and a house is slightly damaged or burned, houses on the other side are on the receiving end of our bombs. If you look at [the Lebanese village of] Kfarkela...it looks much worse than how Metula looks today. On their side, many more houses have been hit by the battalions on the front line. They won't regain normalcy anytime soon."  (Ynet News)

  • Impact of Gaza War on U.S. Elections

  • Biden's Campaign Has Miscalculated on Israel - Mark Penn
    President Biden's re-election campaign has fundamentally miscalculated on Israel. In Michigan, Biden lost 101,000 uncommitted votes in the Democratic primary, but Trump lost nearly 300,000 votes to Nikki Haley in the Michigan Republican primary. These people are in the moderate center, and many of them could be persuaded to vote for Biden if he fine-tuned his message to bring them in. The same math applies to Pennsylvania, where 158,000 people voted for Haley instead of Trump in the Republican primary, even though she dropped out seven weeks earlier. Biden is pushing the Haley vote to Trump.
        Those Haley voters are strong defense voters who would back our ally Israel unreservedly and, I believe, want to see a president who would put maximum pressure on Hamas to release hostages. 84% of Independents surveyed said they supported Israel more than Hamas in the conflict, and 63% said they believed a ceasefire should occur only after the hostages have been released. The more Biden has softened his support of Israel, the weaker he looks, and the more his foreign policy ratings have declined.
        Rather than pull decisively away from Israel, Biden should instead find a plan that enables Israel to go into Rafah and that has enough precautions for Rafah's civilians so the American president can back it.
        The writer was a pollster and an adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton from 1995 to 2008 and is chairman of the Harris Poll. (New York Times)
  • How Much Will Gaza Affect Joe Biden's Re-election Chances? - Nicholas Grossman
    The Israel-Hamas war doesn't appear to be driving voters away from Biden in significant numbers, and most of the people criticizing Biden from the left for his support of Israel don't appear to be his voters anyway. A May 5 poll from ABC/Ipsos found voters ranked "the Israel-Hamas war" last in importance out of ten issues.
        According to FiveThirtyEight, Biden's approval on Oct. 6, 2023, (the day before the Hamas attack on Israel) was 39.1%. On May 3, after more than six months of war, Biden's approval rating was 39.1%.
        It's frequently assumed that Biden's Israel policy is hurting him with young voters, but the claim doesn't stand up to scrutiny. The July 2022 New York Times/Siena poll found that among 18-29-year-olds, 19% approved of Biden, while 69% disapproved. The latest Times/Siena poll, from April 2024, found that 28% of 18-29-year-olds approve of Biden and 67% disapprove. This shows that Gaza isn't cratering Biden's approval among young Americans. (Bulwark)
  • The Political Fallout of Biden's Threat to Cut Israel Military Aid - Matt Lewis
    Joe Biden is in the process of alienating his allies for the sake of adversaries he can neither win over, nor appease, with his threat that the U.S. will not supply weapons for Israel to invade Rafah, what the Associated Press describes as "the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza." In so doing, Biden is being less than a loyal friend to Israel, an ally that rightly views Hamas as an existential threat. But he's also alienating his political allies right here in America.
        Biden's move has disappointed lots of mainstream Democrats who support Israel and make up a core portion of Biden's constituency. Meanwhile, does anyone seriously believe that the young radicals on college campuses who refer to Biden as "Genocide Joe" will be appeased?
        Biden has also limited his appeal to Never Trump conservatives. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said the move sent "a terrible message," and former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called it "wrong and dangerous." Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called Biden's decision "unforgivable," adding that "Israel didn't start this war, Hamas did. Withholding ammunition helps our enemies win and puts American lives at risk, including the hostages still held in Gaza."  (Daily Beast)

  • U.S.-Israel Relations

  • The American Administration Is Guilty of Wishful Thinking - Efraim Inbar
    The American administration sees the war in Gaza as an opportunity to build a regional defense architecture against Iran. In its view, Saudi Arabia, after signing a defense treaty with the U.S., will develop the military capability to stand up to Iran and will join the Abraham Accords. For its part, Israel will have to commit to a path to a Palestinian state, while the Palestinians will have to undertake major political reforms. Unfortunately, some of the assumptions behind this American plan are misplaced.
        Every defense alliance is based on the deterrent capability and willingness of the lead member of the alliance to employ military force. As we have seen, the U.S., despite its strength, has failed to deter Iran from operating its proxies against American forces in Syria and Iraq. The Houthis, an additional Iranian proxy, opened fire on ships in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, an important international waterway, and were not deterred by limited American strikes. In addition, the American policy shift aimed at holding Israel back and preventing it from defeating Hamas does nothing to shore up the fragile trust that the moderate Arab countries - who wish to see an Israeli victory - have in the U.S.
        Moreover, despite a warning from the U.S. president, Iran launched a direct missile and drone attack on Israel. Without American willingness to confront Iran militarily - a necessary component of deterrence - the Arab states will not be convinced that the U.S. will come to their defense in the event of Iranian aggression.
        Nor does the American obsession with a Palestinian state serve its alliance-building. Hamas, an Iranian ally, has a good chance of taking over the state that the Americans are eager to establish. This state would be a Trojan horse. Moreover, the chances of a fundamental change in Palestinian politics are minimal. Such a Palestinian state would not be much different from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, or Yemen. In addition, the assumption that the Saudis, who until now have bought their influence with their riches, will now become fierce fighters, is problematic.
        The writer is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and chairman of the Department of Strategy, Diplomacy, and Security at Shalem College. (Jerusalem Post)
  • How Bad Is the U.S. Weapons Freeze for Israel? - Shimon Sherman
    The Biden administration confirmed that it was holding up a large weapons shipment over fears it would be used in an ongoing Israeli operation in Rafah in Gaza. Despite the critical strategic importance of the operation, the Biden administration had made clear that they strongly oppose any large-scale Israeli incursion in Rafah and would expand the weapons freeze should Israel seek to root out Hamas from its southern stronghold.
        However, according to experts, U.S. concerns stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of combat in Gaza. According to John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, "The use of heavy ordinance is consistent with an operation targeting subterranean positions in a populated area. Israel is fighting the most advanced and complex terror tunnel system ever encountered in modern combat, so their disproportionate use of 2,000-pound bombs is a response to their fighting environment."
        Ephraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy, told JNS, "We can go into Rafah without the Americans, the question is what happens afterward." In case of a second front in the north opening up against Hizbullah, "We need the Americans [in order] to also go into Lebanon, so it is better if we can settle this issue."
        IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, "The U.S. has so far provided security assistance to the State of Israel and the IDF in an unprecedented manner during the war. Even when there are disagreements between us, we resolve them behind closed doors. Israel has security interests, but we are also aware of the interests of the U.S., and that's how we will continue to act."  (JNS)

  • Palestinian Arabs

  • What a "Free Palestine" Means in Practice - Bret Stephens
    Imagine that the campus protesters got their wish tomorrow: The creation of a "Free Palestine." Israeli leaders have repeatedly offered the creation of a Palestinian state - offers Arafat and Abbas rejected. Palestinians have had a measure of self-rule in the West Bank since 1994. Israel evacuated its civilians and soldiers from Gaza in 2005. How much freedom have Palestinians enjoyed since then?
        When Abbas was elected in 2005, it was for a four-year term. He is now in the 20th year of his four-year term. When Hamas won the 2006 legislative elections, it didn't just defeat its political rivals in Fatah. It overthrew the Palestinian Authority completely in Gaza after a brief civil war and followed it up with a killing, torture and terror spree that eliminated all political opposition.
        Would an independent Palestinian state, living alongside Israel, improve its internal governance? Not if Hamas took control - which it almost certainly would if it isn't utterly defeated in the current war. What the campus protesters happily envisage as a utopian, post-Zionist state would under Hamas be one in which Jews were killed, exiled, and prosecuted. (New York Times)
  • Just How Many of Gaza's Civilians Are Entirely "Innocent"? - Alan Dershowitz and Andrew Stein
    Gaza's adult "civilians" include those who wear civilian clothing and work in civilian jobs by day but fire rockets by night. There are also those who aren't part of Hamas but who took part in the terrorism of Oct. 7. There are those who harbor and directly assist terrorists in their murderous activities, as well as those that help them hide hostages.
        They include the thousands who built the terror tunnels, and those who allow their homes, hospitals, schools and mosques to be used to store rockets and ammunition, or to accommodate entrances and exits to the tunnels. Finally, there are those who brought Hamas to power and who keep it there.
        The truth is that no country in modern history has made more efforts, and has been more successful, in avoiding civilian casualties than Israel. Yet, no nation in modern history has been condemned so irrationally for civilian deaths - which are largely the fault of those who started the war. There is no moral, political, diplomatic or legal equivalence between terrorists who deliberately murder and rape, and democracies that seek to protect their citizens and take precautions to reduce civilian deaths.
        Alan Dershowitz is Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School. Andrew Stein served as New York City Council president. (New York Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • On Independence Day, Israelis Choose Life - Dr. Fiamma Nirenstein
    Despite a terrible war, on Israel's 76th birthday, nothing is clearer than the strength of its extraordinary people. They should be admired the world over for their intensity, dedication, practicality, patriotism, and love of life. Look at the photos of young Israelis, even those who have fallen in battle. They smile with a determination unknown to our times; the smile of someone who knows who they are and why they are here.
        Over the centuries, the Jewish people have been forced to learn the difficult lesson of how to live despite and against, how never to give up. The Jewish people have done so again after the tragedy they suffered on Oct. 7 and the months of war that followed. This year, all the memorials and celebrations have a different tone and style than they had before. Yet the fallen and the soldiers who have fought in their memories are a light to the world and to Israel.
        At 76, Israel still has to choose between its right to life and the world's biased assessment of whether it is a nice guy. It must face the problem of global antisemitism. But despite all of this, it has already chosen democracy, human rights and life itself.
        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)
  • A Fallen Soldier's Letter to His Parents: "I Have No Regrets"
    Sgt. First Class Joseph Gitarts, 25, was killed on Dec. 25, 2023, after an anti-tank missile hit the tank he was driving in southern Gaza. This is a note he left for his family in the event of his not returning:
        "Dear Mom and Dad, I love you very much. Everything is as it is supposed to be. I have chosen this. I had a good and interesting life. And yet, I was never afraid of death."
        "I could have skipped reserve duty and hid. But this would contradict everything I believe in and appreciate, and who I consider myself to be. So I didn't really have a choice, and I would do the same if I could choose again. I came to this decision by myself and stuck with it until the end. I fell proudly for the sake of my people. I have no regrets."
        Joseph Gitarts' story and many more stories of those who fell in battle or were murdered in terror attacks can be found in Those We Have Lost: Stories of Civilians and Soldiers Killed since Hamas' Onslaught on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.  (Times of Israel)

The UN's World of the Absurd - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Only in the world of the absurd can 143 states parrot their support for what they blindly proclaim to be a "two-state solution" without really understanding what they are talking about out. Only in the world of the absurd can the majority of the international community deliberately ignore the openly declared genocidal intentions of Iran, Hamas, and the Palestine Liberation Organization in their efforts to eliminate the Jewish state and kill all Jews, while at the same time upgrading the Palestinian representation in the UN.
  • The bottom line is that the UN General Assembly vote on May 10 to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority in the UN does not grant the Palestinians statehood or UN membership. The UN General Assembly has neither authority nor jurisdiction to establish states and grant membership status without Security Council sanction.
  • The General Assembly resolution determines that "the State of Palestine is qualified for membership in the UN in accordance with Article 4 of the UN Charter." But Article 4 requires that UN membership be open to "all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter." Do the states voting in favor of this resolution genuinely believe that the Palestinians could be a "peace-loving state"?
  • International law requires the fulfillment of universally accepted criteria for statehood, including control of a defined population and territory and enforcement of the rule of law, none of which the Palestinian Authority has ever fulfilled. This is in addition to the Charter requirement of being a peace-loving state. No element of Palestinian political existence - neither Hamas, the PLO, or the Palestinian Authority - can seriously claim to fulfill such criteria.
  • Like all General Assembly resolutions, the resolution is not binding, does not represent international law, and only reflects the political views of those states that supported it. The Palestinian delegation remains an observer, wherever they may be seated.
  • Moreover, in the context of the Palestinian obligations set out in the Oslo Accords, this attempted change of status constitutes a serious and fundamental violation of the agreed obligation not to change the status of the territories pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
  • The message emanating from this resolution is that the international community is not just ignoring Palestinian terror against a fellow UN member state; it is encouraging it.

    The writer, Director of the Institute for Diplomatic Affairs at the Jerusalem Center, served as Legal Adviser and Deputy Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

        See also Israel Rejects UN Decision on Recognition of a Palestinian State
    On Wednesday, the Israeli government unanimously rejected the UN General Assembly decision of 10 May 2024 to advance recognition of a Palestinian state. "We will not reward the terrible massacre of October 7, which 80% of Palestinians, both in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza, support. We will not allow them to establish a terrorist state from which they will be able to vigorously attack us."
        "Nobody will prevent Israel from realizing our basic right to self-defense - neither the UN General Assembly nor any other body. We will stand together with our head held high in order to defend our country."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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