Arrow 3 achieves first success via BICom
What happened: Israel’s most advanced missile interception system, the long-range “Arrow 3”, marked its first successful interception last night, of a surface-to-surface missile over the Red Sea launched toward Eilat.
- The interception came as Iran’s Yemeni proxy the Houthis fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at the Eilat area of southern Israel.
- In the Gaza Strip, as Israel deepens its control of Gaza City and the surrounding areas, the IDF announced it has killed two senior members of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force in operations executed following information from the Shin Bet.
- Ahmed Musa, a Nukhba company commander, and Amr Alhandi, a Nukhba platoon commander, were both killed while hiding in the city of Jabaliya, just north of Gaza City.
- According to the IDF, Musa led the October 7th attack on the Zikim military bases and the nearby kibbutz. Also, “In recent days Ahmed Musa led offensive activity against IDF forces in the west Jabaliya area.”
- Elsewhere, the IDF also confirmed the killing of Muhammed Kahlout, head of the sniper array in Hamas’s northern Gaza brigade.
- In a separate mission, troops from the IDF’s 252nd Division killed 19 Hamas operatives who were planning to attack soldiers.
- An Israeli soldier was killed in fighting in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday.
- In an interview with US Fox News, Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed that Israel is seeking neither to displace Gazans nor to rule the Strip once Hamas is defeated.
- “We don’t seek to conquer Gaza. We don’t seek to occupy Gaza. And we don’t seek to govern Gaza,” he said. “What we have to see is Gaza demilitarised, deradicalised and rebuilt. All of that can be achieved.”
- On Israel’s much-repeated calls for Gazans to move south, Netanyahu said “we don’t seek to displace anyone… What we’re trying to do is get the Gazans in the northern part of the Gaza Strip where the fighting has taken place to move one to four miles south where we have established a safe zone.”
- “We want to see field hospitals,” Netanyahu added. “We’re encouraging and enabling humanitarian help to go there. That’s how we’re fighting this war.”
- CIA Director William Burns, Mossad Director David Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Al Thani met yesterday in Doha to discuss the potential release of hostages, with Israeli officials saying after that “we are not close to finalising a deal, but the deal has not collapsed, and we are making slow progress. We need patience. There is no deal in the works for the release of all the hostages.”
- With speculation ongoing regarding a potential pause in the fighting designed to secure the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas and other terrorist organisations in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) yesterday announced that it would consider releasing two of its hostages.
- In parallel, PIJ released a video showing two of its hostages, 77-year-old Hannah Katzir and 13-year-old Yagil Yaakov from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Both suffer from medical conditions.
- In the north, the IDF conducted strikes in Syria in response to yesterday’s drone attack on a school in the southern Israeli city of Eilat.
- The IDF did not publicly identify which Syria-based group was responsible for the drone attack, but said that “the Syrian regime is fully responsible for all terror activity that is carried out from Syrian territory. The IDF will respond severely to any attempt to harm the territory of the State of Israel.”
- Clashes between the IDF and Hezbollah on the northern border continued yesterday. Last night Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at the western Galilee, to which the IDF responded with artillery fire at the source of the attack. Earlier, the IAF hit terrorist infrastructure and Hezbollah targets in response to rocket fire.
- In the West Bank, 14 Palestinians were killed and more than 20 injured in clashes with the IDF in the Jenin refugee camp yesterday.
- The IDF carried out a drone strike against a group of armed Palestinians who were shooting at Israeli forces in the morning.
- In searches of the camp, the IDF discovered weapons and explosives.
- Palestinian media also reported four Palestinians killed in clashes with the IDF in the West Bank town of Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, in Dura, near Hebron, in Nablus, and near Ramallah.
Context: The Arrow 3 system complements its Arrow 2 predecessor, which has also succeeded in downing a Houthi ballistic missile from Yemen and a long-range rocket from Gaza in recent weeks.
- The IDF has made significant progress establishing itself deep into Gaza City, but the military commanders are still asking for more time to reach their objective of destroying Hamas’s military infrastructure.
- The IDF has taken control of numerous Hamas strongholds and has destroyed 150 tunnel shafts, but hundred more could still remain.
- The IDF has encircled the most condensed Hamas military zone which will require extreme caution.
- Hamas fighters have for the most part remained underground, in general only coming to the surface to fire anti-tank missiles.
- However, they remain a cohesive fighting unit and Israel has not yet managed to disrupt and destroy Hamas’s command structure.
- Israel is conscious that along with the military’s desire to complete their objectives, diplomatic pressure continues to push for a cessation of fighting.
- So far, the IDF has exposed Hamas operating out of mosques, schools and hospitals.
- With the understanding that the centre of Hamas operations are underneath Shifa hospital, the IDF is making provisions to evacuate and remove patients to alternative medical facilities, either in the south, over the border into Egypt, or even off shore.
- So far 38 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground incursion began, with Hamas affiliated deaths estimated to be 100 times larger, at over 3,000.
- Israel has implemented localised pauses to allow streams of Palestinian civilians continue to head south.
- Yesterday, some 50,000 northern Gazans headed south through humanitarian corridors set up by Israel.
- At some point the IDF will also need to turn their attention to the military infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip. This will be further complicated due to the influx in the civilians from the north.
- Despite ongoing talks rumoured to include the idea of releasing hostages in return for a temporary ceasefire, Israel insists that no pause in the fighting is in the offing.
- It is thought that of the hostages, Hamas is holding 180, PIJ 40, and criminal clans in southern Gaza 20.
- Since October 7th, the IDF has arrested 1,430 terror suspects in the West Bank, including more than 900 affiliated with Hamas.
- The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry has said that in that time more than 176 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in some cases by settlers. President Biden has publicly indicated his concern over the rise in settler violence since October 7th.
Looking ahead: The UN Security council will meet today. No resolution is expected, with the US pledging to veto any calls for a ceasefire.