News Digest — 11/19/21

Report: Hamas Preparing Surprises For Next War 

Gaza-based terror group Hamas is preparing numerous “surprises” for the next round of conflict with Israel, according to a recent report from the Jerusalem Center for Public and State Affairs (JCPSA).

During a recent meeting in Cairo, Egyptian security officials told Israeli intelligence that Hamas is developing a number of new strategies and offensive that the Jewish State has not seen in previous wars.

“The next round of fighting will be the most dangerous of the four major rounds of conflict between Hamas and Israel so far…the new rockets will hit sensitive security areas that have not been hit before,” JCPSA quoted a Hamas source as saying.

Ground invasions into Israel by Hamas operatives via the Mediterranean, abductions of Israeli civilians and soldiers, and more precise rocket fire aided by UAV surveillance are some of the potential attacks that the Jewish State may see in a future clash.

Iran is reportedly “pouring drones” into the hands of terror groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Egyptian daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid reported that Egypt’s top security brass warned Israel that utilizing UAVs for intelligence gathering and attacks are now part of Hamas’ agenda.

Earlier this month, Hamas launched an experimental UAV that was seen soaring through the sky in southern Israel for nearly 40 minutes before being destroyed by the IDF.

Security sources in Israel believe that Hamas is working to increase the range of its rockets which typically strike Gaza-adjacent Jewish communities in Israel’s south, to hit more targets in the country’s north.

Hamas is also working to hone its accuracy when firing rockets and may look to destroy Israeli infrastructure, such as oil and gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.

During the May 2021 Operation Guardian of the Walls clash, a rocket fired from Gaza struck an apartment building in Ramat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, killing a disabled man.

The attack marked the first time that an Israeli was killed by a Gaza-launched rocket in the Gush Dan (central Tel Aviv) region.



Britain To Recognize All Of Hamas As Terror Organization

The UK is poised to designate all of Hamas as a terrorist organization 20 years after blacklisting part of Hamas.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to announce Friday (10th) that the entirety of Hamas will be proscribed  as a terrorist organization in her first keynote speech on security in Washington, DC.

Hamas military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been recognized as a terrorist organization in the United Kingdom since 2001.

Friday’s (19th) announcement will now expand the terrorist designation to include Hamas’ political wing as well, making affiliation with any part of the Hamas organization illegal in the UK.

“Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities, and it has long been involved in significant terrorist violence,” Patel will say in her Friday (19th) speech.  “But the current listing of Hamas in the UK creates an artificial distinction between various parts of the organization – it is right that the listing is updated to reflect this.”

“This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community.  Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic.  Anti-Semitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate.  Jewish people routinely feel unsafe – at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes and online.  This step will strengthen the case against anyone who waves a Hamas flag in the United Kingdom, an act that is bound to make Jewish people feel unsafe.  Anyone who supports or invites support for a proscribed organization is breaking the law.  That now includes Hamas in whatever form it takes.”

“If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his support for the UK move Friday (19th), and thanked his British counterpart, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization – that’s just what it is,” tweeted Bennett.

“The ‘political wing’ makes its military activities possible. They are the same terrorists, just with suits.  Thanks and much appreciation to my friend Boris Johnson for his leadership on this issue.”



Florida Firefighters Visit Israel To Train With Rescue Specialists Who Aided Them

Last June, following the deadly collapse of a 12-story apartment building in Surfside, Florida, a team of Israeli disaster-relief specialists flew over to help.

Earlier this month, 15 firefighters from Florida, Ohio and Virginia who’d worked with the Israelis at the scene came to Israel for five days.

They participated in a rescue training drill with the IDF HomeFront Command, conducted a joint review of the Surfside rescue operation, visited an Iron Dome anti-missile defense installation and met with officials in the Gaza border city of Sderot. 

The Israeli and American colleagues hope to craft a “rescue doctrine” to be available for disaster specialists around the world.  The HomeFront Command has requested another meeting of the two sides next year to further this goal.

Col. (Res) Golan Vach, commander of the National Rescue Unit in the HomeFront Command, told the Times of Israel that he invited the American responders to Israel so that the two sides could learn from one another.

Vach noted that the Americans brought to the rescue operation advanced equipment, logistical and organizational excellence and a comprehensive manual of instructions.

The Israelis contributed their well-honed ability to gather critical intelligence at the scene to map out where to search for victims.  This methodology significantly shortens the time needed to find trapped individuals, Vach said.

Brandon Webb, program manager for Florida Task Force One and battalion chief for Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, called his Israeli counterparts “Great people, highly trained and dedicated to what they do.”

“I haven’t met any of them that I wouldn’t consider my friend,” he added.



UNRWA Is A Nursery For Growing Palestinian Refugees – Itamar Marcus

Is funding UNRWA good for the Palestinians?  

Even if UNRWA fixed its schoolbooks and guaranteed that UNRWA schools will no longer hide terror tunnels, it will still remain the most human rights abusing institution funded by the international community.

Prior to the Trump administration, the US was the largest donor to UNRWA.  During the Obama administration, the US gave UNRWA over $2 billion.  During those years, the number of refugees increased by 700,000.  The US investment did not rehabilitate even one refugee.  Moreover, the core UNRWA budget since Obama’s first year has risen from $545 million to $806 million today.

By refusing to resettle the original refugees, UNRWA turned a limited problem into a permanent misery, including for the 5.5 million people who were born refugees.  UNRWA is the real Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe).  For all other refugees, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped resettle over 50 million refugees in the same period that UNRWA didn’t resettle even one.  UNRWA imposed refugee status on millions of children, some born 72 years ago, trampling their right to be born into freedom.

Funding UNRWA is not only a waste of limited international resources but is funding an organization that is fundamentally a human rights abuser.  It is not intended to help the refugees but to preserve them as refugees serving the PA’s goals.  The UNRWA infrastructure must be closed and its administration transferred to UNHCR – free of the dictates of the PA.  UNHCR will be tasked with solving the problem instead of perpetuating the problem.  UNHCR will use its billions to train refugees, create jobs and give them homes in the countries where they were born and lived their entire lives.  Resettling these people is a human rights imperative.



A Mindset Of Pure, Unadulterated Anti-Semitism – Michael Levitt

An inordinate amount of the content on Twitter is directed against Jews and Israel, reflecting a toxic, widespread obsession online and off which betrays a disturbing anti-Semitic bent.  The endless defamation of Israel is of little surprise, marked by troubling double-standard and righteous indignation reserved only for the Jewish homeland.  In addition to social media, this preoccupation also plays out in news coverage, the UN, NGOs, in academia, and in the arts community.

Of course, like all other countries, Israel is and should be subject to criticism.  But when its very existence is questioned, it’s an attack on the Jewish people.  Anti-Israel activists often wrap themselves in the “anti-Zionist” flag, as if denying Jews the right to their own state in their ancestral homeland were a badge of honor.  This has a negative impact for Jews, with many feeling they’re having their safe space stripped away.

Let’s be clear, diaspora Jews and Israelis criticize Israel all the time.  But it’s something else entirely when celebrities and social media influencers with millions of followers use their platforms to regularly denigrate Israel with highly charged misinformation and falsehoods, sometimes even justifying violence and terror against it and its civilian population.  One has to wonder why they devote such wildly disproportionate attention to a liberal democracy – that just happens to be the world’s only Jewish state.

The writer is president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.