May 28, 2024
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Secondary Explosions after Airstrike Indicate Hamas Weapons Spread Fire in Rafah Tent Camp (X)
    Video taken of the fire in Rafah following an Israeli airstrike on Hamas commanders Sunday night includes the report of Gaza eyewitnesses:
    "Did they attack a (Hamas) warehouse?"
    "Not a warehouse. A vehicle filled with ammo and weapons. It was a jeep."
    "That belongs to the guys (Hamas)?"
    "Of course, who else?... At any moment a (Hamas) rocket can fly at us."
    See also IDF Says Steps Were Taken to Prevent Civilian Deaths in Rafah Strike - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The IDF said Monday that its Sunday airstrike in Rafah was carried out based on "intelligence information on the presence of the terrorists in the area."
    Beforehand, the IDF carried out "many steps to reduce the chance of harming uninvolved [civilians], including aerial surveillance, the use of precision munitions, and additional intelligence information."
    "Based on [these steps], it was estimated that no harm was expected to uninvolved civilians."
    A military source said that two missiles with a "reduced in size" warhead adapted for such targets were used in the strike.
    The IDF added that the strike did not take place in the designated "humanitarian zone" on the coast, where the military has called Palestinians to evacuate to in recent weeks.
    See also Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths from Fire following Rafah Strike a "Tragic Mishap" (Times of Israel)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in the Knesset on Monday about the IDF strike against two top Hamas commanders on Sunday that was followed by a blaze that spread through a tent encampment, killing dozens.
    He noted that Israel has made attempts to keep Palestinian civilians safe, evacuating 1 million people from Rafah.
    "Despite our efforts not to hurt them, there was a tragic mishap. We are investigating the incident. For us it's a tragedy, for Hamas it's a strategy."

Nothing Justifies the Taking of Hostages - Tara D. Sonenshine (The Hill)
    Taking innocent civilians and locking them away without a trace is unacceptable, especially in the case of women and children.
    Rule 96 of the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages is very clear: "The taking of hostages is prohibited."
    Hostages are not prisoners. They are not charged with any crime. There is no due process.
    America experienced this barbaric act with the taking of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979.
    Regardless of politics, the reality of hostage-taking is cruel and unthinkable, no matter why or where.
    The writer is former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and a senior fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt: October 7 Was a Great Moment (MEMRI-TV)
    Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told BBC Arabic on May 16, 2024, that Oct. 7 was a "great moment in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The land that [Hamas] attacked is the land of Palestine."

Egyptian TV Host Qaswaa Al-Khalali: Teach Your Children to Hate Israel (MEMRI-TV)
    TV host Qaswaa Al-Khalali said on Egyptian CBC on May 14, 2024, "We should teach all the future generations, all our children, to hate Israel, to hate the Zionist entity."
    "We do not recognize this state. Even if the governments sign treaties, the [Egyptian] people do not engage in normalization."
    "Hating the Zionist entity and the so-called 'Israel' is a human, moral and national duty before anything else. [Israel] is our first and last enemy."

Want to Divest from Israel? Better Get Rid of Your iPhone - William Daroff (Newsweek)
    Despite the howling of activists in Students for Justice in Palestine, no American university to date has adopted the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) program against Israel.
    American Jewry's consensus remains constant and more emphatic than ever: The BDS movement is fundamentally antisemitic, singling out the Jewish state alone among the nations for economic punishment, cultural ostracism, and academic isolation.
    BDS seeks to place Israelis in a separate, lesser class of humanity.
    One should also ask what it means to boycott Israel.
    Israeli innovation is embedded in much of the technology we use daily - from Google Maps' GPS directions to the iPhone's SIM card.
    Israel also punches far above its weight in pharmaceuticals.
    BDS supporters, if they want to be consistent and intellectually honest, would have to divest themselves of many of the conveniences of the modern world.
    Today, as 20 years ago, the BDS movement is repugnant in both moral and practical terms.
    In a world of so many evil regimes, to subscribe to this campaign is to treat Israel as the Jew among the nations.
    Also, did I mention? It's not working.
    The writer is CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Ireland's "Progressive" Elite Has Fallen for a Lie - Jake Wallis Simons (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    Ireland has taken its Israelophobic fetish to a new level.
    On Wednesday - seven months after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust - it joined Norway and Spain in unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state.
    While the prime minister, Simon Harris, insisted that "Hamas is not the Palestinian people," the terror group enjoys majority Palestinian support.
    In truth, without a credible plan for Israeli security, the two-state solution is currently simply a staging-post for the final solution.
  Given the absence of a single meaningful democracy in the Arab world, the chances of a democratic State of Palestine are not good.
    If a future Palestinian state turned into an Iranian-sponsored terroristan - a second Gaza - would Ireland's leader accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide (until the Jews succumbed to ethnic cleansing and genocide themselves)?
    In the 1940s, during the movement for Israeli independence, Ireland supported the Jewish insurgency in Palestine, viewing it as a struggle for indigenous self-determination against imperial Britain.
    In the late sixties, however, the rise of radical academics forcibly reinvented the identity of the Jews of Israel, replacing a persecuted, non-Caucasian people rooted in the Middle East with a fantasy of Aryan imperialist invaders.
    Such obvious bunkum is credible only in a world of Israelophobia.
    The writer is editor of the Jewish Chronicle-UK.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden Administration Presses Allies Not to Confront Iran on Nuclear Program - Laurence Norman
    The Biden administration is arguing against an effort by Britain and France to censure Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency's board meeting in early June, as it expands its stockpile of near-weapons-grade fissile material to a record level, diplomats said. The U.S. has pressed a number of countries to abstain in a censure vote, saying that is what Washington will do.
        On Monday, the IAEA reported that Iran's stockpile of 60% highly enriched uranium rose 20.6 kg. to 142.1 kg. as of May 11 from three months earlier, its highest level to date. U.S. officials say that material could be converted into weapons-grade enriched uranium in a matter of days and would be enough to fuel three nuclear weapons. European diplomats have warned that failure to take action would undermine the authority of the IAEA and weaken the credibility of Western pressure on Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Rockets from Rafah Target Tel Aviv - Emanuel Fabian
    Hamas fired eight rockets at central Israel from Rafah on Sunday afternoon in the most significant attack on the Tel Aviv area in four months. Three of the rockets were downed by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and five landed in open areas. A home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya suffered minor damage from falling shrapnel and two people suffered light injuries. Air raid sirens sounded in a large swath of central Israel as many children were getting out of school.
        Later Sunday, additional rockets were fired at several communities adjacent to Gaza, where residents have returned to live in the last several months. Following the rocket attack on central Israel, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz argued that the rocket launches showed the need for Israel to push ahead with its military offensive. "Today's [missile] fire from Rafah proves the IDF must act wherever Hamas is and so it will be," he said. (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF: Hamas Rocket Fire Launched amid Civilian Population in Rafah
    IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Sunday that Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv "from within a civilian population" in Rafah. "The launch was carried out between a mosque and a school."  (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Strike on Rafah Eliminates Senior Hamas Officials
    "An IDF aircraft struck a Hamas compound in Rafah in which significant Hamas terrorists were operating. The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, using precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas' use of the area," the IDF said Sunday.
        The strike eliminated Yassin Rabia, a senior Hamas commander who managed all of Hamas' terrorist activity in the West Bank. Khaled Nagar, a senior official in Hamas' West Bank wing, was also killed in the attack. Nagar had reportedly directed shooting attacks and the transfer of funds to Hamas in Gaza. Both were serving life sentences in Israeli prison but were freed in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap deal for the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
        Palestinians reported that the strike in Tel al-Sultan was followed by a fire which spread to refugee tents, causing deaths and injuries. (Ynet News)
  • Egyptian Soldier Killed in Exchange of Gunfire with IDF - Tzvi Joffre
    Israeli and Egyptian forces exchanged fire near Rafah on Monday. An Egyptian soldier was killed. Sources in the IDF said Egyptian soldiers fired at Israeli soldiers who returned fire. The IDF said the incident was under investigation and that a dialogue was occurring with the Egyptians. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Palestinian Arabs

  • The Flawed Notion of a "Renewed Palestinian Authority" - Nadav Shragai
    The U.S. is failing in its attempt to transform the Palestinian Authority and establish what American envoys call a "renewed Palestinian Authority," as a prelude to what will eventually become a Palestinian state. However, what suits the U.S. does not necessarily suit Israel.
        A Palestinian state, particularly now, is a security threat to Israel. It also directly rewards the murderers and perpetrators of the Oct. 7 massacre and could embolden Palestinians in the West Bank to replicate such an event against Israel's population centers.
        Yet, it is gradually becoming apparent to the Biden administration as well, though it does not admit it, that there is no truly "renewed" Palestinian Authority. This is evident from the high number of incidents in which PA officers and security personnel are involved in terrorist activities or firing on Israel Defense Forces operating against terrorism.
        Since 2021, more than 120 members of the Palestinian security forces have been killed while attempting to carry out attacks. In 2023-2024, over 150 attacks and attempted attacks can be attributed to Palestinian police officers and members of the PA security apparatus.
        In counterterrorism and arrest operations, not only Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives are being neutralized or arrested, but also hundreds of Fatah members. More and more joint terrorist networks of rival groups such as Fatah, Hamas, PIJ, and the PFLP are being exposed. (Israel Hayom)
  • "Moderate" Palestinian Terrorist Group Participated in Oct. 7 Massacre - Bassam Tawil
    The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah faction headed by the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, participated in the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel. Many in the West consider Fatah, which dominates the PA, to be a "moderate" party that wants to live in peace and harmony with Israel. We have been told many times by Palestinian officials that Fatah's armed wing was dismantled.
        In a video message published earlier this month, Abu Mohammed, the official spokesman for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said: "On October 7, our heroes in the brave unit participated in the invasion of the colonies surrounding Gaza and the [Israeli military] bases known as the Gaza Division, and together with our brothers in the Palestinian struggle organizations captured many Zionists. Some of them were transferred to us and some are still in our hands."
        Abu Mohammed disclosed that members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are currently participating in the fighting against the Israeli army in Gaza and have carried out more than 470 "military missions" since Oct. 7.
        In November 2023, Fatah released a video showing Fatah terrorists firing Kalashnikov rifles at an Israeli kibbutz. A Fatah terrorist then presents captured Israeli military equipment and says: "We have plundered from them....Today we broke into the military post Nahal Oz [a civilian kibbutz] and we hit what we hit, we took as plunder what we took, and we killed soldiers and stepped on their heads."
        The video is clear evidence that Abbas's Fatah loyalists have been working in coordination with Hamas. Their participation shows that there is little distinction between Fatah and Hamas. This is why, after Hamas is removed from power, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority cannot be trusted to rule Gaza. Both Fatah and Hamas are outspokenly proud of their attacks on Jews. They seem to be competing to prove to the Palestinians who can carry out more attacks against Israel. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Lawfare Against Israel

  • The War Against Israel in the Courts Is a Danger to Britain's Armed Forces, Too - Sir Michael Ellis
    The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, announced he is seeking arrest warrants for Israel's prime minister and defense minister - potentially the first ever arrest warrant to be issued against the leader of a democratic Western nation.
        In the perverse otherworld view of the ICC, it is Israel's leaders who are seeking "extermination," "intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population" and "starving" civilians. No impartial observer could reasonably conclude that Israeli leaders are committing such heinous crimes. On the contrary, Israel has made extensive efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza's civilian population, totaling more than 550,000 tons since Oct. 7.
        What other country is expected to support and sustain those trying to destroy it? But Israel rightly does all this despite the knowledge that Hamas misappropriates much of this aid and despite the presence of terrorists within UN aid facilities in Gaza.
        The ICC's move is a grotesque overreach. It will have profound implications for the UK and other democratic nations in an increasingly dangerous world. Lawfare and the politicization of armed conflict puts Britain's own Armed Forces at great risk.
        Terrorist groups and their sympathizers - in tandem with disruptive state actors - are exploiting the very international bodies set up to counter them. South Africa's vexatious case at the International Court of Justice is another alarming example.
        The ICC move is illegitimate, immoral and beyond the limits of its competence. It violates the Court's charter and integrity. Sadly, we in the West will all be dealing with its consequences for years to come.
        The writer is a former attorney general for England and Wales. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The UK Should Pull Its Funding from the International Criminal Court - Ian Austin
    The call by the International Criminal Court's Prosecutor Karim Khan for the arrest of Israel's leaders is an insulting disgrace. How would we have felt if Britain's leaders had been indicted alongside leaders of the IRA? If Churchill had been treated in the same way as Hitler?
        Britain is one of the court's most significant donors and we should withdraw funding immediately in protest. The decent mainstream majority in the UK know that Israel is the victim and has to defend itself.
        Israel's security services provided warnings of Iranian-sponsored Islamist terrorism that prevented attacks in the UK. Military experts say the RAF could not get its planes off the ground without Israeli technology. Their drones and armored vehicle defenses protected British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Good luck to politicians who try to explain why they want to deprive our security services of vital intelligence and our troops of the means to defend themselves.
        The lunatic fundamentalists in Iran have declared war on the West and Israel is the front-line. Hamas are completely opposed to peace with Israel. They will not stop until they have destroyed the country and murdered its citizens. There is no prospect of peace until Hamas are destroyed. This is why the UK must do everything it can to help Israel defeat the terrorists as quickly as possible. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

  • Other Issues

  • Former Israeli Foreign Minister: We Cannot Accept Hamas Murderers Living Next to Us - Laura Cellier
    Israel's former foreign minister and current Minister of Energy Eli Cohen highlighted the necessity of Israeli military operations in Gaza in an interview on Monday. "The main thing we need to do right now is to completely destroy Hamas's military and governmental capabilities." Responding to criticism that Israel is not discussing its post-war plan for Gaza, Cohen noted, "When they set out to finish off the Nazis in Germany, nobody thought about what would come after them."
        "The State of Israel has the intention to have security control over Gaza, but it has no intention to be involved in any kind of civilian control over Gaza." He suggested that international elements would handle civilian activities in Gaza during an interim period.
        "Our primary focus remains on eliminating the immediate threat posed by Hamas and ensuring the security of Israeli citizens....We in Israel cannot continue to live here with these despicable murderers living next to us. Therefore, we will not agree to stop the war and we are going to continue to act against Hamas until we find the very last one of them."
        "We are saying very clearly we will not agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state here. There are 22 Arab countries but there's only one country which is the homeland of the Jews and that is the State of Israel. We gave Gaza to the Palestinians until the very last inch. Over the past 18 years there was not one Israeli in Gaza and they're the ones who chose to commit that crime [Oct. 7]."
        Cohen emphasized the importance of creating a security buffer between Israel and Gaza to protect Israeli civilians. The Israelis living in the communities near Gaza "are the ones who wanted peace the most, and the Palestinians used to work in these kibbutzim and moshavim, and the Palestinians entered their homes and massacred them."  (i24News)
  • UNRWA Is in Trouble - James G. Lindsay
    The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is in trouble. Recent Israeli reports that certain personnel were deeply involved in Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel; that more than 450 employees are "military operatives" within Hamas and other terrorist organizations; and that numerous UNRWA institutions were used as cover for Hamas arsenals, warehouses, military installations, and computer servers, have triggered unprecedented anger toward UNRWA.
        For decades, UNRWA has declined to make meaningful reforms with regard to prohibiting the employment of or provision of services to members and supporters of terrorist organizations. Donor nations should demand - on threat of suspension of financial support - that UNRWA immediately implement a system to vet all current area staff and initiate a vetting process to ensure that terrorists, their supporters, and their immediate families do not receive UNRWA benefits.
        UNRWA applies a unique definition of "refugees" - different from every other refugee context globally - based on patrilineal lineage to persons displaced from their homes in the 1947-49 war, regardless of their current citizenship. The result is that UNRWA's 5.9 million registered refugees include millions of beneficiaries who would not merit inclusion based on the universally recognized definition of refugees.
        Donor countries should demand that continued financial aid to UNRWA be contingent on aligning the agency's definition of "refugee" with the language in the UN Convention on Refugees. The move would strike millions from UNRWA rolls and allow huge savings in the agency's operations.
        UNRWA schools continue to expose students to antisemitic, anti-peace, jihadist, and other inflammatory or unbalanced material. All expressions of antisemitism and other content incompatible with UN principles should be removed from educational materials employed in UNRWA schools. Donor nations should insist that continued funding of UNRWA schools and their personnel is contingent on vetting all resources used in schools by a team of independent experts.
        Yet even the most robust reform process will not fix what ails UNRWA in Gaza if the territory remains under the influence of Hamas and other terrorist groups. For this reason, Israel's success in achieving its principal war aim - dismantling Hamas's military capacity and political governance - is essential for ending the group's regime of fear imposed on the people of Gaza, and is a prerequisite for any serious effort at UNRWA reform there.
        Should the agency and its allies prove resistant to change, dissolution could then become the default option.
        The writer served as legal advisor and general counsel to UNRWA. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • How Hamas Criticism Vanished in the New York Times - Lilac Sigan
    During the first seven months of the Gaza war, from Oct. 7 to May 7, the New York Times published 3,848 articles on the subject. Since the number of headlines was huge, we decided to analyze only the 1,398 articles that the Times itself defined as most important - those in its newsletter called "Today's Headlines."
        Each headline was examined according to whether it expressed empathy or criticism towards an entity or group. Out of 1,398 articles, 647 expressed empathy only towards Palestinians (46.2%), and 147 expressed empathy only towards Israelis (10.5%), 50 of which expressed empathy towards the hostages. Thus, Palestinians received 4.4 times more empathy than Israelis.
        Even in the first month of the war, which was the peak month of empathy toward Israelis after the worst deliberate violence against civilian Jews since the Holocaust, empathy towards Palestinians was almost double the level of empathy towards Israel in the Times. There were 50 articles expressing empathy for Israelis and hostages in October, while the number of articles expressing empathy for Palestinians was 90. From then on, the gap only widened.
        Empathy towards Israelis dropped by more than 50% in November and kept shrinking from January forward until it almost disappeared. Empathy for Israelis was expressed in 16 articles in January, 10 in February, 9 in March, and 7 in April. Articles expressing empathy towards Palestinians included 63 in January, 72 in February, 76 in March, and 100 in April. 72 op-eds criticized Israel during the war, while 23 criticized Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)

Iran's "Cognitive War" Is More Dangerous than Missiles and Killer Drones - Aviram Bellaishe (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei understands that while Iran cannot defeat the U.S. militarily, it can strive to erode its foundations through propaganda. The front page of the May 2, 2024, issue of the weekly Khat-e-Hizbullah, the mouthpiece of Khamenei's office, featured a photo from the American campus protests with the heading: "A Flame in the Heart of Darkness: Uprising of American Students against the Genocide of the People of Gaza."
  • Khamenei himself directs the propaganda activity aimed at linking the American students' support for Gaza with the destruction of the U.S. itself, using these students. Khamenei sees his role as a cognitive guide, directing the use of psychological tools and influencers. He employs the narrative of the "Palestinian struggle" to construct new narratives portraying Israel as the occupier, the racist, and the agent of genocide.
  • In their naive blindness, the demonstrators believe in the messages full-heartedly but are unaware of the narratives invented by the Ayatollah regime. Part of this cognitive project is to turn Americans against the U.S. itself, which is portrayed as supporting the racist and genocidal Israel as described in the Iranian propaganda.
  • Khamenei asserts that the war is now a cognitive war. He said, "The press has more potent influence than a missile, a drone, a warplane, and weapons in general. The media influences the mind and hearts, and he who controls the media succeeds in achieving his goals."
  • On Oct. 17, 2023, ten days after Hamas' onslaught (and before Israeli ground forces entered Gaza), he chose to call the war in Gaza a "genocide," claiming that the Israelis were deliberately attacking residential areas. He called to put them on trial. He also shares his hope that "the world population will gain a deep understanding of Islam and its superiority to the West."
  • Professor Fuad Yazdi of Tehran University, one of the prominent spokespersons of the Iranian regime, claimed on April 26, 2024, that the student protesters at U.S. universities "will take to the streets to support Iran." In his view, Iran can replicate its achievements in Lebanon in the U.S., where the "Hizbullah" groups are "much larger" than in Lebanon. Yazdi's words reflect the fact that the U.S. is the main target. He calls it the "Great Satan" and the "cardinal enemy of Iran" and says the recent events there "give us hope."

    The writer, VP for Strategy, Security, and Communications at the Jerusalem Center, has served in senior government positions for over 25 years.

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