Iranian-backed guided missile equipment found in Gaza via BICom
Iranian-backed guided missile equipment found in Gaza
Gaza: Israel announced its soldiers had uncovered equipment used by Hamas to develop precision-guided missiles under Iranian tutelage.
- The guided-missile programme was discovered during a raid of a Hamas site near Gaza City’s Daraj and Tuffah neighbourhoods, which led to an underground weapons manufacturing plant.
- The IDF said it discovered “components proving terrorists of the Hamas terror organisation studied under Iranian guidance how to operate and build precision components and strategic weapons.”
- Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the IDF has dismantled Hamas military units in northern Gaza and was now focused on the southern part of Gaza.
- “We will continue to deepen the accomplishment, to bolster the obstacle and the defensive elements along the border,” Hagari said. “At the moment, we are focusing on dismantling Hamas in the central Gaza Strip and in the southern Gaza Strip. We will do so in other ways, on a fundamental level, based on the lessons we’ve gleaned from the fighting so far.”
- Hagari added that the refugee camps in central Gaza are crowded and full of terrorists, and that an underground city of tunnels runs beneath Khan Yunis.
- Prime Minister Netanyahu said to ministers that “the war must not be stopped until we complete all of its goals – the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages, and a promise that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel… I say this to both our enemies and our friends. This is our responsibility and this is the commitment from all of us.”
- The IDF and Shin Bet successfully assassinated the commander of Hamas’s Nuseirat battalion, Ismail Siraj, and his deputy, Ahmed Wahaba, in an airstrike in Gaza on Saturday evening.
- Also on Saturday, the IDF announced the death of 31-year-old Lt. Col. Roie Yosef Mordechai of Tel Aviv.
- An airstrike yesterday in Rafah killed Hamza Wael Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh, and Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer for AFP who was also working for the Qatar-based TV outlet. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that a military aircraft “identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft in a way that put IDF forces at risk.”
The north: Hezbollah said it fired more than 60 rockets at the Mount Meron base as an initial response to the killing of Hamas official Saleh al-Aruri in Beirut last week. The IDF confirmed that the attack caused significant damage to a sensitive strategic air traffic control base.
- IAF jets attacked Hezbollah targets, including an armaments warehouse, rocket firing installations, infrastructure to direct terror operations and technology sites. It also hit several targets in villages close to the Israel-Lebanon border.
- The IDF said two of the compounds targeted were “significant assets” of Hezbollah, one of which had housed a surface-to-air missile squad.
- Five Hezbollah fighters were killed, bringing the total number to over 150 since October 7th.
- Minister Benny Gantz said, “The situation in which residents of the northern border can’t return to their homes needs an urgent solution. The world needs to remember that it was the Hezbollah terrorist organisation that started this escalation. Israel wants a political solution. If that doesn’t happen, the State of Israel and the IDF will remove the threat. All of the war cabinet ministers share that position. The only consideration is Israel’s security. That is the duty of every country towards its citizens.”
East Jerusalem & West Bank: Several border policemen were seriously wounded and one killed during an IDF operation in the Jenin refugee camp overnight on Saturday. The Palestinians reported six dead.
- IAF aircraft eliminated a terror cell that had thrown IEDs. Combat helicopters provided cover from the air to allow for the wounded to be evacuated.
- An East Jerusalem man was also shot dead in a terror shooting north of Ramallah.
- A Palestinian child was mistakenly killed by security forces and a Border Police officer was lightly injured during a car-ramming attack at a checkpoint in East Jerusalem.
Context: Hamas’s possession of precision guided technology would represent a dangerous upgrade to the terror group’s weapons capabilities.
- Hagari explained why the below-ground challenge, which suffers from a lack of intelligence at its core, requires slow, complex fighting. At the same time, Khan Yunis has been bearing the brunt of the IDF’s pressure as it tries to get to Yahya Sinwar.
- After completing the task of destroying the command and control capabilities of Hamas’s battalions in the area in northern Gaza, the IDF has de-facto transitioned to the third phase of the war. It primarily features the use of intelligence-guided pinpoint raids, while reserving the option of operating freely if need be.
- According to the IDF, all 12 Hamas battalions in northern Gaza, which represent half of its manpower in all of Gaza, have been destroyed. Remaining are four battalions in central Gaza, four in Khan Yunis and four in Rafah, although a military operation there seems unlikely due to Egyptian concerns.
- During a situational assessment held at IDF Central Command, Chief of Staff Halevi said that 2024 will be a challenging year and that the army will be "fighting in Gaza all year round."
- Israel assesses that Hezbollah used a Kornet Russian anti-tank missile in its attack against the base on Mount Meron. An advanced Kornet missile has a range of up to 10 kilometres.
- Violence in the West Bank has continued since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls. In that period, troops have arrested more than 2,550 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,300 affiliated with Hamas. Palestinian Authority (PA) health ministry data states that approximately 300 West Bank Palestinians have been killed – including more than 100 members of the various PA security organisations, most of them armed men involved in clashes with the IDF.
Looking ahead: US Secretary of State Blinken is due to visit this week. Blinken has also stressed the importance of defusing the situation in the north.
- “We are looking at ways diplomatically to try to defuse that challenge, that tension,” Blinken said, “so that people can return to their homes, that they can live in peace and security, and this is something that we’re very actively working on. It’s going to be part of the discussions we have over the coming days not just in Israel but some of the other countries concerned.”
- Israeli officials are increasingly pessimistic regarding achieving a diplomatic solution in the north. Israel believes Amos Hochstein’s attempt at forging a political arrangement will likely fail, and that a war with Hezbollah may become inevitable. Both Chief of Staff Halevi and Minister Benny Gantz emphasised the importance of residents being able to return to their homes and stressed that if this couldn’t be achieved via pressure, Israel would act to remove the threat.