How Israel Got the Most Recent Gaza War Right

In the West, discussion of Operation Guardian of the Walls—Jerusalem’s official term for the latest round of fighting—has centered on the morality and legality of the IDF’s use of force. Since Israel struck over 1,000 targets, killing 160 Hamas fighters and fewer than 50 civilians—proportions unprecedented in the history of modern warfare—this question need not be particularly fraught. Israelis, by contrast, must ask themselves more complex and vital questions about the operation’s efficacy. Here, Akiva Bigman offers a useful comparison to 2014’s Operation Protective Edge:

During the 2014 military campaign, the IDF rarely bombed targets deep in the coastal enclave, focusing mainly on neighborhoods near the border. . . . The Israeli air force had to provide cover for ground forces destroying Hamas’s grid of terror tunnels, but Hamas’s home front—the towers housing its offices and the lavish homes in which top operatives live—was mostly untouched.

It was only as the conflict was waning, 50 days into the fighting and as a truce deal was being formulated, that several high-rises in Gaza were leveled.

Fast-forward seven years and Operation Guardian of the Walls was completely different. Almost immediately once hostilities erupted on May 10, massive airstrikes targeted significant Hamas assets: towers fell, luxury estates were demolished, vacation homes and hideouts were reduced to rubble and, most dramatically, Hamas’s flagship project—the strategic tunnel grid—was destroyed.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza, Guardian of the Walls, Hamas, IDF, Israeli Security

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount