The Aftermath of Israel’s Hostage Rescue

Assessing the daring rescue of four hostages yesterday, Tamir Hayman offers some straightforward insights, and cautions against excessive optimism. He observes, most importantly, that—contrary to what many in the West seem to believe—prosecuting the war can help get the hostages out, rather than hinder efforts. Moreover, for the first time since the war began, the assumption “that time is working in Hamas’s favor is being undermined.”

Kobi Michael elaborates, explaining that the operation

has posed a serious dilemma for Hamas, exposing all its vulnerabilities in terms of intelligence penetration, operational capability, the ability to protect its most important assets, and especially the cynical and cruel use it makes of its people as human shields.

[W]ith most of its military and intelligence capabilities dismantled, and as it’s busy preserving and protecting its organizational remnants in the wake of a severe war as the IDF continues to besiege it and as the chain of command no longer functions regularly, the organization will find it difficult to conduct processes of drawing fundamental lessons as it did in the past. This means that the organization will be left vulnerable and exposed, and it’s likely that this insight is permeating the consciousness of its leaders who are hiding from the long arm of the IDF.

While this is good news, Michael writes, it also means that Hamas, pushed further into a corner, will likely employ “psychological and emotional blackmail” about the condition of the remaining hostages to put further pressure Israel

For the time being, however, Israelis are experiencing joy and relief. Indeed, the reaction of Israeli society explains much about the entire war. Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs describes the scene she saw on Saturday:

On midday Saturday in Tel Aviv, my husband and I were sitting on the beach with our two-year-old son when the lifeguard’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Attention, citizens of Tel Aviv! We are thrilled to announce that four hostages have been rescued by the Israel Defense Forces alive! Noa Argamani, Andrey Kozlov, Almog Meir Jan, and Shlomi Ziv! Am Yisrael Ḥai!”

The cheers were immediate and ecstatic. People threw their children into the air. Strangers hugged strangers. Many openly wept. The clapping and singing and dancing spread all the way down the beach.

Because it was Saturday, secular Israelis posted handwritten notes with the announcement and the names of the rescued hostages around religious neighborhoods to update their neighbors who observe the Sabbath and wouldn’t have been checking their phones or watching TV.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli society

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy