Tuesday, January 02, 2024

01/02 Links Pt1: Israeli drone kills Hamas deputy chief al-Arouri in Beirut; Top UN official ‘breached’ guidelines over liking series of anti-Israel tweets

From Ian:

The Peace Processors Return, Having Learned Nothing from Their Mistakes
Among Western opinionmakers and policy experts—even those supportive of Israel in its war against Hamas—there is a widely held belief that after the fighting ends, Washington must renew efforts to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution. Daniel Kurtzer and Aaron David Miller, both former State Department officials, recently made such a case in Foreign Affairs, despite the repeated failures of this approach, and the bloodstained results. Elliott Abrams comments:

Our two peace processors . . . acknowledge that “addressing legitimate Israeli security concerns” must be part of the picture—but they give no sense of what they think those concerns might be and how they might be “addressed.” They acknowledge that “even if Netanyahu leaves office, no other current top politician in Israel appears eager to embark down a path of peace. And there are no Palestinian leaders with the gravitas and political weight to engage seriously with Israel in the aftermath of the conflict.” But they do not draw the obvious conclusion from those two sentences: well, okay, so that’s dead. . . .

From everything we can see about Palestinian politics and public opinion, basing Israeli security on dreams about Palestinian pacifism is nuts. Moreover, Iran has under way a vast effort to build proxy forces and strengthen every terrorist group—from the Houthis to Hizballah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to Hamas—to attack Israel by stocking the groups with guns and money. That is the problem with the two-state solution: no one can explain how a sovereign and independent Palestinian state will not constitute a grave security threat to Israel (and Jordan as well, by the way). Kurtzer and Miller certainly don’t explain it; like all the peace processors, they wish it away, conjuring up a mythical Palestine that loves peace. If you believe, clap your hands!

This is going to be a hard sell in Israel. It ought to be an equally hard sell in Washington.
Inside the tunnels of Gaza
The types of sandy or loamy soils common in Gaza made it both easier for Hamas to excavate the tunnels and harder for Israel to destroy them, two experts said.

The three main types of soil in the 365 sq. km. enclave are:

An illustration of the three types of soil in the Gaza Strip: Dune sand, loess, fluvial and eolian, and calcareous sandstone.

Even in the trickier areas - such as the dunes near the Mediterranean coast that are prone to water infiltration - Hamas had enough building materials and resources to adjust to the type of soil they were dealing with, said Professor Joel Roskin, a geomorphologist and geologist with Israel's Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, who has studied the tunnel network.

“What we've seen is that there are so many tunnels that have been reinforced with concrete,” Roskin said, adding that Hamas had invested considerable money and manpower in construction.

“To dig deeper demands more resources, more energy. The deeper tunnels are of course more difficult to detect.”

A map of the major exposed rock types across Israel and Gaza. Alluvium (gravel, sand, silt, clay, and rock), sand, and calcareous sandstone, red sandstone, and loam are the types found in the Gaza Strip. In the east, towards Jerusalem, the area is predominantly covered by chalk, limestone, dolostone, and chert. Next to the map sits two charts visualizing a cross section of the rock layers below the surface. One for the Nirim area in the Gaza Strip and another for the area surrounding Jerusalem.

John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute and a founding member of the International Working Group on Subterranean Warfare, said the sandy nature of the soil had certainly made it easier for Hamas.

“I have seen many videos of them digging by hand or using simple power tools,” he told Reuters. “The soil is conducive to rapid and unskilled digging.” By contrast, he said, the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah had to dig through solid rock in south Lebanon to build cross border tunnels into northern Israel.

Hezbollah has not confirmed the existence of the tunnel network but, in 2019, the Israeli military put on display one tunnel that, it said, reached depths of 80 meters (265 feet) as it ran from a kilometer inside Lebanon into Israel near Zar’it in the Upper Galilee.

The relative softness of the soil in Gaza is also a disadvantage to the IDF teams seeking to clear and destroy the network, Spencer said.

“The loose soil actually reduces the IDF use of explosives to destroy tunnels as the soft soil absorbs explosive force. Add the blast doors in the tunnels we’ve seen, and that further reduces the effects of explosive force traveling through the tunnel.”

An illustration showing the steps for building a tunnel. Initial excavation is usually done manually, with the help of shovels and other tools. In areas where the terrain is tougher, pneumatic hammers are utilized. Lastly, the illustration shows that as progress is made, the walls are reinforced with prefabricated cement or wood slabs.

On Nov. 22, the Israeli army showed some news organizations a concrete-lined tunnel near Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City that, it said, was a command post for Hamas fighters. The tunnel complex, which the IDF said was at a depth of around 10 meters below ground, featured a bedroom, a tiled bathroom, kitchen and meeting room.

Reuters photographer Ronen Zvulun went inside the tunnels. “The tunnel floor is sand but the walls and roof are lined with concrete, like a tiny road or train tunnel. And just about high enough for someone to stand upright.”
Expert: Hezbollah has built a vast tunnel network far more sophisticated than Hamas’s
Two weeks ago, the IDF spokesman revealed one of the biggest attack tunnels in the Gaza Strip — four kilometers long, wide enough for vehicles to drive through, and running from Jabaliya, north of Gaza City, up until some 400 meters from the Erez border crossing into Israel.

While the tunnel did not cross the border, it presumably could have enabled terrorists on motorcycles and other vehicles to drive underground from the Jabaliya area and exit close to the border before IDF surveillance soldiers or patrols could block them. The IDF did not specify whether this was the case when 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists poured into Israel on October 7, slaughtering 1,200 people and abducting 240.

The uncovering of this vast tunnel, of which there are several more in Gaza, has revived discussion of similar tunnels near, at and under the Lebanon border — especially amid the ongoing clashes there with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist army, the forced evacuation of tens of thousands of Israeli residents of the north, and the Israeli leadership’s repeated insistence that Hezbollah must be forced back from the border and deterred.

The Lebanon tunnel project was begun and developed long before the one in Gaza. Existing intelligence indicates a vast tunnel network in southern Lebanon, deep and multi-pronged.

At the Alma Research and Education Center, which focuses on the security challenges on Israel’s northern border, researchers have spent many years investigating Lebanon’s underworld. Tal Beeri, the director of Alma’s Research Department, who served for decades in IDF intelligence units, has exposed that subterranean network in material based on considerable open-source intelligence.

Several years ago, Beeri managed to track down on the internet a “map of polygons,” covering what he called the “Land of the Tunnels” in southern Lebanon. “The map is marked, by an unknown party, with polygons (circles) indicating 36 geographic regions, towns and villages,” he wrote in 2021 paper.

“In our assessment, these polygons mark Hezbollah’s staging centers as part of the ‘defense’ plan against an Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Each local staging center (‘defense’) possesses a network of local underground tunnels. Between all these centers, an infrastructure of regional tunnels was built, interconnected [with] them.”

Beeri assessed that the cumulative length of Hezbollah’s tunnel network in south Lebanon amounts to hundreds of kilometers.

In an interview, Beeri recalls that the research paper on Hezbollah’s “Land of the Tunnels” was published immediately after 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls — where the IDF had engaged in tackling Hamas’s underground “metro” in Gaza, an operation that in retrospect did not achieve its goal of destroying the tunnels in the enclave.

The paper also featured a map assessing the likely 45-kilometer route of one “attack tunnel” in south Lebanon.
Israeli drone kills Hamas deputy chief al-Arouri in Beirut
An Israeli drone strike on a Hamas office in Beirut eliminated top terror chief Saleh al-Arouri on Tuesday night, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Radio announced.

The explosion rocked the south Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold. In addition to al-Arouri, at least three other Hamas operatives were also killed in the blast, Reuters reported.

Al-Arouri, the commander of Hamas operations in Judea and Samaria, as well as the deputy politburo chief under Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh, had been based in Lebanon in recent years.

He was one of the top Hamas leaders on Israel’s target list following the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre of at least 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev.

In a statement cited by Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya channel on Tuesday, Hamas described al-Arouri as the “architect” of the massacre.

Al-Arouri was informed of the impending invasion half an hour beforehand so he could alert Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, French outlet Le Figaro reported last week.

Local media said Nasrallah canceled a speech scheduled for Wednesday following the reports of al-Arouri’s death.

Israel is anticipating a response to the alleged assassination, according to Hebrew-language media, including possible long-range rocket fire.

During a Nov. 3 speech, Nasrallah threatened the Jewish state, telling Israelis that a preemptive strike against Lebanon would be “the most foolish mistake you make in your entire existence.”

The Hezbollah leader has repeatedly warned that any assassination in Lebanese territory would be met with a “strong reaction.”

Top UN official ‘breached’ guidelines over liking series of anti-Israel tweets
The UN has admitted that a senior official breached their code of conduct over liking a series of anti-Israel tweets, including one accusing the Jewish state of funding “genocide” in Gaza. Sarah Douglas, the deputy chief for peace, security and resilience at UN Women, endorsed a string of incendiary claims on social media following the October 7 attack.

One tweet posted on X/Twitter liked by Douglas that was posted on 16 October read: "We are currently witnessing all the forces of empire team up to annihilate the Palestinian people and struggle for freedom."

An 18 November tweet liked by Douglas declared: "The tide has turned. Young people simply will not allow our politicians to keep supporting the mass murder of Palestinians."

Meanwhile, a tweet posted by Jewish Voice for Peace on 11 December and also liked by Douglas accused America of "funding and arming the genocide in Gaza". The revelations have led to calls for the bureaucrat to be stripped of her office from various politicians including American senators Rick Scott and Marsha Blackburn.

UN guidelines require all staff to be “mindful at all times that their conduct on social media must be consistent with the principles set out in the United Nations Charter”. These principles include “loyalty, impartiality, and responsibility to the organisation”.

UN Secretary-General's spokesman Stรฉphane Dujarric said of Ms Douglas: “On the issue of the UN-Women staffer, who used her personal account, I understand UN-Women is dealing with the issue that there was a violation of the code of conduct by this individual and it is being dealt with.”

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, welcomed the “rare admission by the UN of malfeasance committed by one of their senior officials”.

But he added: “Sarah Douglas has publicly endorsed the Hamas narrative, and every day that she remains is not only a black stain on the credibility of UN Women, but casts a shadow upon the United Nations itself. We are calling on the UN to remove her immediately.”

Advocacy group UK Lawyers for Israel said that Douglas’ “overt political activity, including her public endorsement of extreme statements by politicians and political organisations amounts to a material breach of her UN obligation to be neutral and impartial”. This is not the first time Douglas has been critisiced. During a webcam broadcast to the UN earlier this month, the official was seen with a Palestine poster behind her.

UN Watch: UNRWA Misinformation on 2023 Israel/Hamas War

Salah al Arouri, senior political leader in Hamas reported killed in Beirut Blast

WSJ: Israel Prepares for Long-Term Conflict in Gaza
Israel began preparations for prolonged fighting in Gaza, reshuffling forces as it weighs how to sustain lower-intensity fighting over the long term. Destroying Hamas' military capabilities is expected to take at least several more months. The military has recalibrated the types of troops required, now relying more heavily on commando and combat engineering forces, as Israel tries to penetrate subterranean tunnel infrastructure and hunt down senior Hamas leadership.

While some Western analysts have questioned whether Israel can succeed in its goal of eradicating Hamas, the new military plans reflect Israel's determination to pursue that goal. Swapping out forces who have been serving for long periods in Gaza is important to refresh weary troops ahead of a planned long campaign.

"Once you stop advancing and you take stay there with so many soldiers is what guerrilla forces want you to do," said Ofer Shelah, a military analyst with Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
The Current Fighting in Gaza
The intensity of combat in northern Gaza is declining. Two Hamas brigades in the north have been hit hard and have suffered thousands of casualties.

Hamas is now staging mainly sporadic attacks by small units, while conducting a last-ditch battle in Daraj and Tuffah in eastern Gaza City.

Other IDF offensive operations are focused mainly on Bureij in the center of Gaza and the Khan Yunis area.

The rate of Israeli casualties recorded in the last few days has been lower than in the previous two weeks.

Major engineering work is being carried out to level the area within Gaza beyond the border fence, where Israel intends to create a new security perimeter.

Meanwhile, thousands of Gazans have returned to their destroyed neighborhoods in northern Gaza. It is likely that Hamas fighters without uniforms or visible weapons move among them, mainly in areas where the IDF has reduced its presence.
IDF reservists demand the Gaza offensive continue till victory

Netanyahu: Hostage release talks taking place ‘right now’

Caroline Glick: As Israel Fights on 7 Fronts, the US Signals It's on Its Own
As Israel faces threats on multiple fronts, the US moves out its aircraft carrier from the Middle East and continues to weaken Netanyahu and push for a two-state solution.

Most Israelis oppose US demand to weaken Gaza fight

Israeli forces seize Hamas’s strategic Gaza City stronghold

A rare glimpse into the recovery of wounded soldiers

‘If we get our hostages back, we are lucky’: Former Israeli official on war with Hamas
Former senior Israeli official Emanuel Shahaf says Israel must try to do the “best” in the war with Hamas and negotiating hostage deals.

“It has to – try to do the best of the situation by negotiating a reasonable hostage deal,” Mr Shahaf told Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus.

“In order to do that we have to stop the war.

“We have to throw in a few other things otherwise we’re not going to get the hostages back.

“This is not a good situation for Israel to be in.”

The Israel Guys: BREAKING: Israel Preparing for Potential Attack From Jordanian Border
It’s 2024! For normal people around the world, New Years is a time to celebrate life and happiness for the year ahead. For Hamas, they celebrated by shooting a massive barrage of rockets at innocent Israeli civilians. But then again, I said that normal people celebrate New Years with a toast to life and happiness.

Breaking news from the defense establishment, Israel is now securing their border with Jordan over fears that an attack from Hezbollah could come from that direction. In the Gaza Strip the IDF is deploying a large number of K9 fighters to help the soldiers locate and fight Hamas scumbags hiding in tunnels and under hospitals and schools. Also, we have some positive stories from here in Israel at the end of today’s show.

Australian fighting with IDF reportedly killed by Hamas
An Australian has reportedly been killed while fighting with the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza.

It is understood Captain Lior Sivian was killed by Hamas militants on December 19 while fighting in Southern Gaza.

The 32-year-old was born in Melbourne before he moved to Israel with his family.

The Federal government is aware of the reports and DFAT is seeking confirmation from Israel’s Foreign Affairs ministry.

Sky News Australia was joined by Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham to discuss this.

‘Immense sadness’: Australian killed in southern Gaza while fighting alongside IDF
An Australian has been killed while fighting with the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza.

Reserves Captain Lior Sivan was serving as a tank commander when he was killed in Gaza’s southern region by Hamas militants on December 19.

Mr Sivan is the first Australian to be killed while fighting for Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim said the death of Mr Sivan is sad but he died defending his country and those he loved.

“We're feeling both immense sadness but also great pride,” he told Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus.

“The sadness is because he was a young husband, and his wife is shortly expecting another baby … he had the better part of his life ahead of him.

“And yet we're also feeling pride because Lior died in the noblest traditions of the IDF.

“He was defending those he loved, and his adopted country from an unimaginably barbarous cruel and sadistic enemy.”

Shocking video exposes rise of anti-Semitism in US universities
Filmmaker Ami Horowitz says his video exposing the rise of anti-Semitism in university students always leaves him shaking his head “in shock”.

“I made that video, I was there, I’ve seen it a million times, every time I see that I just, I can’t believe what I am watching,” Mr Horowitz told Sky News host James Macpherson.

“I have to shake my head in shock.

“Anti-Semitism – has been really increasing precipitously over the last – ten years.

“But we’ve seen a significant ramp up after October 7 which is shocking, because Israel and Jews are the victims of those attacks.”

Australian Christian Lobby starts online petition against anti-Semitism
The Australian Christian Lobby has started an online petition against anti-Semitism following a sharp increase in attacks against the Jewish communities due to Israel’s war with Hamas.

Australian Jewish Association President David Adler says it was “very heartwarming” to see the ACL support the Jewish community as anti-Semitism continues to increase throughout the globe.

“There have been times frankly when the Jewish community has felt both vulnerable and isolated,” he told Sky News host James Macpherson.

“To learn a couple of weeks ago that the Australian Christian Lobby was launching a campaign against anti-Semitism and one of the initiatives is an online petition.

“Go to the ACL website which is, sign the petition if you oppose anti-Semitism, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not, or religious or not – it costs nothing, it’s something that everyone can do.”

‘Paid to score runs’: Usman Khawaja slammed for scoring political points in protest
Australian Cricketer Usman Khawaja is “paid to score runs” and not political points, Sky News host James Macpherson says.

“Someone needs to tell Australian Cricketer Usman Khawaja that grandstand is a noun, not a verb,” Mr Macpherson said.

“For the third match in a row, all the pre-game talk is about the Pakistan-born batsman’s bid to score political points.

“He’s paid to score runs.

Mr Khawaja made headlines before the Perth Test, when he revealed he was planning to wear shoes protesting the war in Gaza.

‘No bigger endorsement’: PM supports Cricketer Usman Khawaja’s ‘peace stance’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has praised Cricketer Usman Khawaja’s “so-called” peace stance during a New Year's Day reception at Kirribilli House, Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus says.

“The opening batsman was sanctioned during the Perth Test for wearing a black armband that wasn’t approved by the governing body,” Ms Marcus said.

“And has been banned from displaying a dove sticker on his bat.

“However, Cricket Australia says it will allow him to use the symbol if he plays in the BBL this summer.

Ms Marcus said there was “no bigger endorsement” due to Mr Albanese’s comments regarding the issue.

Anti-Israel rally at JFK Airport causes New Year’s Day nightmare on one of the busiest travel days of the year

JFK Airport BESIEGED as Pro-Palestine Protesters BLOCK Roads Around

FBI said to be investigating balloons over JFK airport amid anti-Israel protests

Jewish girl attacked for wearing IDF sweatshirt in New Jersey mall

Belgian Hezbollah activist files war crimes complaint against JNS Israel correspondent

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