Israeli forces extended deeper into the Gaza Strip via BICom
What happened: As Israel’s ground manoeuvre enters its twelfth day today, the IDF continues to close in on Shati, in the central Gaza Strip, as well as on Shifa Hospital.
- PM Netanyahu said yesterday that the IDF has reached deeper into Gaza than Hamas ever imagined. “In the south, the war is moving forward with force that Hamas has never seen… Gaza City is surrounded. We are operating within it, we are deepening the pressure on Hamas every hour, every day… Hamas is discovering that we are reaching places they thought we would never reach.”
- As Israel continued its advance, thousands of Palestinian civilians moved southward in a convoy yesterday waving white flags – heeding multiple IDF calls to do so.
- Humanitarian aid also continued to enter Gaza. Yesterday, 96 trucks carrying international humanitarian aid were transferred to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. These included 15 carrying medical supplies, 31 carrying food, eight carrying water, and 19 carrying supplies for shelters.
- As of yesterday, 665 trucks have entered Gaza, with deliveries of vital humanitarian aid. This includes over 3,000 tons of food, over 1,720 tons of medical equipment, over 600 tons of equipment for temporary shelters, and over 1.15 million litres of water.
- An IDF soldier was killed in fighting in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday, taking the total number of soldiers killed since the start of the ground offensive to 32.
- During the fighting, IDF troops spotted a Hamas squad hiding in a mosque. They were killed with air support as soon as they left the mosque and headed for tunnel shafts. Hamas has fired anti-tank missiles at IDF troops from several civilian locations, including a hospital.
- The IDF also reported that in the course of a raid on a school that had served as a base for rocket fire and other terrorist activity, troops from the 402nd Brigade killed a number of terrorists, and found several rocket launchers and a large trove of other weapons on school grounds.
- The IDF this morning announced that an airstrike overnight killed Muhsin Abu Zina, “one of the leaders of weapons production” for Hamas who specialised in manufacturing “strategic weapons and rockets.”
- In the north, more than 20 rockets were fired yesterday from Lebanon into Israel, as US diplomats continue to try to remove Hezbollah from the spiraling fight.
- IAF jets demolished Hezbollah sites including a weapons warehouse, rocket fire installations, infrastructure for directing terror attacks and more.
- Netanyahu warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah that it would be making the “greatest mistake of its life” if it opens a new full-on war front.
- During a press conference in Beirut after meeting Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, US envoy Amos Hochstein said that “the United States does not want to see conflict in Gaza escalating and expanding into Lebanon. Restoring calm along the southern border is of utmost importance to the United States and it should be the highest priority for both Lebanon and Israel.”
Context: President Biden has reportedly urged Netanyahu to agree to a three-day pause in the fighting in Gaza to facilitate progress in releasing some of the hostages being held by Hamas.
- According to the proposal on the table, Hamas will release 10-15 hostages and will use the three-day pause to verify the identity of all the hostages it and other groups in the Gaza Strip are holding, and will provide a list of their names.
- Hamas issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that it had been prepared to release 12 foreign nationals who are being held hostage, but Israel stymied that.
- Netanyahu does not trust Hamas to keep its word. In 2014, Hamas attacked IDF troops in Rafah during a 2014 humanitarian ceasefire, killing several soldiers and kidnapping Hadar Goldin. Netanyahu is also reportedly worried that Israel won’t be able to renew its war efforts after a significant lull in the fighting.
- Israeli officials believe that Hamas holds roughly 180 hostages, Palestinian Islamic Jihad holds roughly 40 hostages, and another 20 hostages are being held by crime organisations, mainly in the southern Gaza Strip.
- While Hamas’s ability to launch rockets on Israel has gradually diminished alongside the Israeli advance, sirens sounded yesterday in the Tel Aviv area and in Rishon Lezion, while today saw a rocket attack on the Kissufim area, adjacent to central Gaza.
- The US continues to clarify its position on the ‘Day After’ the war.
- State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that the United States agrees “there is no returning to the October 6 status quo,” adding “generally speaking, we do not support the reoccupation of Gaza and neither does Israel…our viewpoint is that Palestinians must be at the forefront of these decisions and Gaza is Palestinian land and it will remain Palestinian land.”
- She added “Israel and the region must be secure and Gaza should and can no longer be a base from which to launch terror attacks against the people of Israel or anyone else.”
Looking ahead: The coming days could prove to be decisive regarding the fight against Hamas and the American-Qatari effort to secure a hostage deal.
- Some believe that beyond that point, Israel is unlikely to be able to withstand American pressure for a ceasefire, especially if a hostage deal is on the table.
- Foreign Minister Cohen will head to Brussels tomorrow, along with families of Israeli hostages, where he will speak in front of the European parliament.