IDF encircles Gaza City as calls for a ceasefire grow via BICom
IDF encircles Gaza City as calls for a ceasefire grow
What happened: The IDF has advanced another stage in its war against Hamas, expanding its ground activity further into the northern Gaza Strip.
- IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that “The IDF soldiers completed the encirclement of Gaza City, the hub of the Hamas terrorist group.”
- He added that the troops have “been eliminating terrorists in face-to-face battles, and everywhere where there is combat, even if it’s hard, the IDF and its soldiers have the upper hand. We are constantly working and aiming fire from the air and sea.”
- The IDF said that around 130 Hamas terrorists were killed in gun battles Thursday afternoon and early evening.
- This morning, the IDF said it has killed the commander of Hamas’s Sabra-Tel al-Hawa battalion, Mustafa Dalloul, in an overnight airstrike.
- Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel possessed advanced technology to destroy Hamas’s tunnels. “We have unique solutions to get to all the tunnels and dismantle them from underground. We’re ready to do so. The terrorists will have two choices: they can die in the tunnels or on the surface from our troops’ gunfire, or they can surrender unconditionally. There is no third option.”
- Four soldiers were killed fighting in the Gaza Strip yesterday, bringing the death toll since Israel began its ground offensive against Hamas to 23.
- Missile barrages were fired yesterday setting sirens off in Rishon Lezion, Lod, Ramle, Rosh Ha’ayin and Beersheva. No further rocket fire on Israel has been reported since 9.00pm last night.
- The US is reportedly flying drones over Gaza to help gather intelligence on the locations of hostages.
- As Israel comes under increasing international pressure for a humanitarian pause, Hagari said “the term ‘ceasefire’ is not at all on the table at the moment.”
- Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said that Israel would allow fuel to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing should it determine that hospitals have run out. “We check the situation in the Strip every day. For over a week, they tell us that the fuel in the hospitals will run out, and it hasn’t. We’ll see when that day comes. Fuel will be transferred, with oversight, to the hospitals, and we will do everything to ensure that it doesn’t reach Hamas infrastructure and won’t serve [Hamas’s] war aims.”
- In the north, last night the military attacked Hezbollah infrastructure in Lebanese territory in retaliation for attack on Israel in which two soldiers were injured in the Mount Dov area on the Lebanon border.
- Separately, an Israeli tank shelled a Hezbollah anti-tank guided squad in southern Lebanon overnight.
- IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said that the army was well prepared in every sector. “We are employing less than half the Air Force’s power in the Gaza Strip. Most of its strength is prepared and ready, with bombs attached to the wings, to depart and attack in other sectors as well as soon as it’s needed,”
- In the West Bank, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that seven Palestinians were killed overnight by Israeli army fire in Jenin and the al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron.
Context: Pressure is building on Israel to agree to a temporary humanitarian truce in Gaza to enable a supply of aid and to evacuate the civilian population as well as to potentially facilitate an exchange deal involving the hostages.
- Yesterday, the New York Times wrote that Secretary of State Blinken will pressure Israel to agree to short lulls to enable the safe passage of humanitarian aid and for the hostages’ release. White House sources said that Blinken will relay this message to Netanyahu and other officials.
- However, in remarks delivered on a trip to London, US Vice-President Harris said “we are going to continue to stand with Israel’s right to defend itself,” and that “we are not going to create any conditions on the support that we are giving Israel...”
- The UAE is also trying to make intense efforts to achieve a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Noura al Kaabi said at a Abu Dhabi conference “As we continue working to stop this war we cannot ignore the wider context and the necessity to turn down the regional temperature that is approaching a boiling point.”
- Prime Minister Netanyahu is reportedly considering accepting the US demand for a temporary cease-fire, but Israeli officials said that it would depend on the circumstances.
- NBC reported yesterday that American and Israeli officials believe that Hamas has more than 750,000 litres of fuel, which it is holding onto to use to fire rockets and operate generators in the tunnels. Last week the IDF released images last week of half a million liters of diesel it said the terror group was holding in the Strip.
- While the assessment remains that Hezbollah does not currently seek all out war with Israel, the military and security establishments are proceeding with caution.
Looking ahead: Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is giving a speech this afternoon as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken lands in Israel.
- In clashes on the northern border, more than 60 Hezbollah terrorists have been killed. The commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, the successor to Qassem Soleimani, has been in Beirut since October 8 to potentially coordinate a wider war with Israel.
- Blinken landed in Israel today, his third visit since October 7. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Herzog and to attend a meeting of the war cabinet. Before departing, Blinken said Washington is focused on the two-state solution.