Last week, Israel conducted Operation Shield and Arrow in response to rocket fire and to preempt additional terrorist attacks from the Gaza-based terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In this week’s installment of the Action Update, we’ll discuss what happened during the flare-up. In addition, we’ll also bring you the latest on the unresolved national elections in Turkey.

The Data

Israel launched Operation Shield and Arrow last Tuesday. The initial aim of the military engagement was to deal a significant strategic blow to PIJ. For those unfamiliar with the exceptionally radical, Iran-backed terrorist group, please check out CUFI’s primer on the subject.

The initial stage of the operation was successful, with three top PIJ leaders eliminated in surgical airstrikes. For the next five days, Israel and PIJ slugged it out, until, finally, PIJ agreed to a cease-fire with the Jewish state with Israel giving no concessions – returning quiet for quiet as Israeli leaders said.

During the conflict, 1,469 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel with 1,139 breaching Israel’s airspace and the remainder failing in some capacity – including many falling inside Gaza. Israel’s Missile Defense System was more than 90% effective in destroying rockets that were headed toward Israeli population centers, with Iron Dome and David’s Sling destroying 439 projectiles.

Despite the objectively impressive successes of Israel’s missile defense systems, tragically, not every rocket was destroyed en route to its target. There were two fatalities in Israel: an elderly Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, who had permission to work inside Israel, were killed. Thirty-two Israelis were wounded and treated by Israel’s emergency medical service, and some 45 others were treated for emotional distress caused by the rocket barrages.

Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were targeted by PIJ rocket attacks during the conflict, but those rockets were destroyed before they could kill or maim anyone.

Operational Results

By the end of the skirmish, Israel had launched 422 strikes against Palestinian terrorist targets. Thirty-three Palestinians were killed in the clash. The majority of these, 20, were PIJ terrorists including a total of six senior commanders. Tragically, despite Israel taking every effort – including calling off strikes at the last second when civilians were visibly present – 13 Palestinian noncombatants were killed. The blame for these deaths quite obviously lies with PIJ terrorists who, like Hamas and Hezbollah, hide amongst the civilian population using their neighbors and even loved ones as human shields.

Ultimately, in military terms, Israel’s operation was a success. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted, “The performance was indeed perfect. With complete surprise and continuous initiative, we eliminated Islamic Jihad’s entire top brass in Gaza, destroyed 17 Islamic Jihad command centers, eliminated dozens of terrorists, struck missile storage sites, took out anti-tank squads and more.”

Turkish Elections

As Israel was dealing a hard-hitting blow to Palestinian terrorists, the people of Turkey were headed to the polls with many of us hoping they would strike a blow for democracy in their beleaguered nation. The Turkish elections feature the incumbent, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Erdogan, as Action Update readers are likely aware, is an authoritarian antisemite, who harbors terrorists and antagonizes the West. Kılıçdaroğlu, on the other hand, has promised to end his country’s regression to an undemocratic, economically unstable international pariah state that has occurred under Erdogan’s nearly twenty-year rule (the first decade he was Prime Minister, and since then he’s served as President).

Last week, CUFI Action Fund Director of Public Policy and Strategy Boris Zilberman penned an op-ed for the Times of Israel discussing the importance of this election. He sums up his key point by noting, “If Turkey is interested in freedom at home and being allied with free nations abroad, Ankara must address all the issues undermining its bilateral relationship with the United States and end its antagonism towards Israel. It is unlikely this would happen under a newly re-elected Erdogan.

“If free and fair elections are held, and Kılıçdaroğlu is victorious, his work would be cut out for him if he indeed seeks to resolve these issues. Still, in Washington, Jerusalem, and European capitals, the new Turkish leader would be heard,” Zilberman goes on to write.

As things stand, despite Erdogan’s hold over the country, including its press, the race is officially headed to a runoff as neither of the top two candidates received more than 50% of the vote. The question remains whether the runoff elections will be free and fair. We’re not holding our breath, but we’re not giving up either.

From continuing to contend with Palestinian terrorism to reacting appropriately to the final results of the Turkish election, we will have our work cut out for us in the coming months. Right now, we are awaiting some answers to key questions. Will Israel need another resupply of its missile defense systems? And if so, how will Congressional leaders avoid a repeat of having American foreign policy in this context hijacked by fringe Members of Congress (as we saw following the May 2021 conflict with Hamas)? And who wins in Turkey will have an immediate, and important impact not just on the region, but on the world at large given that Turkey is both a NATO member but also a nation that, under Erdogan, has often marched shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the world’s worst actors including Russia and Hamas.

Whatever the answers to these questions, we’ll be ready, traveling the Halls of Congress ensuring the millions of Christian Zionists across the country are heard by our elected officials.


The CUFI Action Fund Team


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