Gazans told to move south to safety via BICom
Inside the Gaza Strip: The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has continued to attack Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
- The IDF announced they struck 750 military targets overnight, including underground Hamas tunnels, military compounds and posts, residences of senior terrorist operatives which were used as military command centres, weapons storage warehouses, communication rooms and targeted senior terrorist operatives.
- IAF Commander Maj Gen Tomer Bar said that more than 6,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza and that this was just the beginning. “We have a list of everyone who participated in the despicable crimes against our family, the residents of the Gaza periphery communities. We’ll get them.”
- As well as air strikes the IDF is now calling for a mass evacuation of 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza. All civilians living north of the Besor Stream (Wadi Gaza) will be required to evacuate their homes, including the entire population of Gaza City, the Jabalia refugee camp and the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.
- For example, leaflets were dropped with the warning, "to the residents of Beit Lahiya, the actions of the terrorist organisation Hamas pushed the IDF forces to act against the terrorist organisation Hamas in the areas where you live. For your safety, you must evacuate your homes immediately. The IDF is not interested in harming you or your family members. Anyone who is near Hamas terrorists or terrorist facilities will put their lives in danger."
- Other messages stated, “the Hamas terrorist organisation waged a war against the State of Israel and Gaza City is an area where military operations take place. This evacuation is for your own safety. You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it is made. Do not approach the area of the security fence with the State of Israel.”
- The IDF emphasised that they are, “committed to international law and minimising harm to civilians - contrasting Hamas's actions, which resemble the dark days of the Islamic State. We are not fighting the residents of Gaza but Hamas, which is worse than IS. This is an event of several days, and we will act to expedite it."
- The UN has warned Israel of "severe humanitarian consequences."
- In response, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan replied, "for many years, the UN has turned a blind eye to Hamas's military buildup and its use of the civilian population and civilian infrastructure in the Strip as a hiding place for its weapons and killing machinery. Now, instead of standing with Israel, whose citizens have been slaughtered by Hamas terrorists and who tries to minimise harm to uninvolved parties, [the UN] preaches to Israel instead."
- Hamas is trying to prevent the evacuation by saying it is false. It prefers the civilian population to remain in place and serve as human shields.
- Hamas health officials in Gaza say the death toll has risen to over 1,500 with 6,600 wounded.
Arab world: Hamas has called on all Palestinians and all members of the Arab Islamic Nations for a "Day of Rage" and to mobilise and come from wherever they are to the closest place they can to Al-Aqsa, calling on them to cross borders.
- This morning, thousands of people have gathered on the Lebanese border, attempting to breach the security fence.
- There is a high state of alert across all of Israel, and in Jerusalem in particular.
- Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, rejected the call from Hamas and said, “we reject killing civilians and abusing them on both sides because this is against morality and international law. Peaceful resistance is the way to achieve our national goals.”
- This morning, Jordanian forces are deployed on the Israeli border to prevent demonstrators from approaching.
- Egypt President Sisi said, "we call for a rational approach in de-escalation and for removing civilians from the cycle of revenge. I urge a return to the path of negotiations."
- Demonstrations in support of Hamas are expected in many areas across Lebanon as well as in Iraq and Iran.
- Yesterday, Syrian state media reported that Israeli airstrikes hit the international airports in Damascus and Aleppo.
- The Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, arrived in Lebanon today. He is expected to meet with Hezbollah leadership, and possibly Hamas representatives as well, to coordinate their next steps.
UK sends forces to East Med: Continuing its support for Israel, the UK last night announced that it will send two Royal Navy ships – RFA Argus and RFA Lyme Bay – as well as surveillance aircraft, three Merlin helicopters, and Royal Marines to the eastern Mediterranean.
- The P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft will monitor attempts to transfer weapons to regional terrorist organisations.
- Reinforcements have also been sent to the UK’s Cypriot air base RAF Akrotiri.
- In a call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Prime Minister Sunak "reaffirm[ed] the UK's steadfast support for Israel following Hamas' appalling terrorist attack," Downing Street confirmed.
- Sunak also spoke to Netanyahu of the need to “take all possible measures to protect ordinary Palestinians and facilitate humanitarian aid." He later spoke with Egyptian President Sisi about the “challenging security situation” at Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza and “offered the UK’s support to try to manage this situation and keep the route open for humanitarian and consular reasons, including for British nationals.”
- Following UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Wednesday becoming the first official of a major international ally to visit Israel since the attacks, more are expected to travel to Israel today. The president of the European Commission, the president of the European Parliament, and the foreign ministers of Germany, Canada, and Italy are all set to arrive.
Context: The US and UK’s military presence in the region serves as a projection of force and a warning primarily to Hezbollah and Iran not to attack Israel.
- While UK political support for Israel’s right to respond decisively to Hamas remains firm, there is increasing disquiet, including from the same supportive voices, about the situation of Gazan civilians.
- Egypt has called for Israel to cease its bombing of the Rafah crossing to allow for the flow of Jordanian aid into Gaza.
- Last night Sisi appeared to rule out Egypt allowing Gazan civilians to escape the Strip through the crossing and into Egypt. Their place was to “stay steadfast and remain on their land,” he said.
- Hezbollah has so far refrained from major escalation on the norther border, despite Hamas’s call at the outset of its surprise attack for other members of the “resistance” to join in.
- President Biden’s stark warning to other regional actors of the consequences of joining the fight likely played a role in the Iranian proxy exercising caution.
- Israeli troop reinforcements have been sent to the northern front and air defences set to maximum sensitivity. This perhaps explains the false alarm of a drone infiltration of northern Israel from southern Lebanon on Wednesday. Many residents of towns in the border area have left their homes.
- Incoming rocket fire from Gaza continues, but at a lower rate than on previous days. An evacuation of Sderot has been approved by the Israeli government.
- The apparent strikes in Syria came two days after the IDF confirmed carrying out artillery strikes in on the Syrian source of mortar fire into Israel.
- Israel does not comment on its strikes in Syria, but it is rare for such strikes to take place during the day. It is possible that these strikes were aimed to prevent weapons shipments.