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Peace and Conflict

One dead, at least seven wounded in rocket attacks on Safed | Update 14th February 2024

One dead, at least seven wounded in rocket attacks on Safed | Update 14th February 2024 via BICom

1. One dead, at least seven wounded in rocket attacks on Safed

The north: One Israeli was killed and at least seven wounded in the northern city of Safed following a rocket barrage fired from Lebanon this morning.

  • Reports claim at least eight rockets were fired at the city, with the IDF confirming that the launches on Safed targeted the Northern Command headquarters.
  • Rocket sirens sounded in the Galilee for the third time in under 15 minutes this morning in what appeared to be one of the heaviest barrages on northern Israel since fighting began.
  • The Israeli military said Tuesday night that the Air Force had attacked two Hezbollah military installations in southern Lebanon.
  • According to the statement, one of the positions had been used to fire missiles at Israel. The army also said that it identified two rocket launches from Lebanese territory earlier Tuesday and that the missiles fell in unpopulated areas.

Hostage deal talks: An Israeli delegation was in Cairo yesterday to discuss a possible ceasefire and hostage release deal with Hamas.

  • Talks were attended by Mossad Director Barnea, Shin Bet Director Bar, the prime minister’s political adviser Falk, CIA Director Burns, Qatari Prime Minister Al Thani and Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Kamel.
  • A senior Egyptian source said that the atmosphere at the summit had been positive. Yet while some progress was reported in the talks, no “breakthrough” is said to have been achieved.
  • A source in Cairo that Israel and Hamas remain deeply divided over several issues.
  • The meeting reportedly focused on formulating a “final draft” of an agreement that would include a six-week ceasefire with a promise that during this time the sides would continue to hold negotiations on a permanent ceasefire.
  • The most problematic issue was the number of terrorists who would be released in exchange for each hostage.
  • A high-ranking source in Cairo said that Egypt had prepared a draft for a hostage deal but Israel did not agree to the list of Palestinian prisoners who would be released in exchange for the hostages, in keeping with the ratio of three prisoners per hostage.
  • A few hours after the Israeli delegation left the Cairo conference, a Hamas delegation arrived, including Hamas representative Khalil al-Hayya.
  • Hamas Political Bureau Head Haniyeh met with Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in Doha yesterday. Haniyeh said that any agreement between Hamas and Israel must include a cease-fire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, in addition to a prisoner and hostage exchange deal.

Gaza Strip: IDF Chief of Staff Halevi said yesterday “In the northern Gaza Strip, we are returning to every place where there is terrorism, we kill more enemies and destroy more terrorist infrastructure. In the southern Gaza Strip, in Khan Yunis, we are reaching places that the enemy never imagined that we would reach. We have so far killed more than 10,000 terrorists, among them many commanders. This is what it means to dismantle Hamas.”

  • Five Israeli soldiers have been killed this week - a reserve battalion commander, an officer and a soldier, as well as two soldiers from the elite Maglan Unit. The reservists were killed in an explosion in a booby-trapped house; the Maglan troops were hit by anti-tank missiles. Every day Hamas is losing dozens of fighters in battles.
  • The IDF has released footage purporting to show Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in a tunnel in the aftermath of October 7th. For more details, see Israeli Media Summary below.

Context: This morning’s rockets come after a 15-year-old boy was seriously wounded and his mother moderately wounded by rockets fired from Lebanon towards Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel yesterday.

  • Yesterday, France submitted a proposal to Lebanon to secure a ceasefire and resolve Lebanon’s border disputes with Israel. The proposal would see Hezbollah withdraw roughly ten kilometres from the Israeli border (less than it is commanded to do by UN Resolution 1701), and to dismantle its military infrastructure within that zone. Some 15,000 Lebanese army troops would be deployed in the area to ensure future compliance with the buffer zone. In response, Hezbollah said it would not comment until a ceasefire had been effected in Gaza.
  • The Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed citied an Egyptian source saying that the Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo with a decision to invade Rafah if no agreement with Hamas were to be reached. The source said that the main point of contention was about a permanent ceasefire.
  • The Israeli delegation left for Cairo after extensive deliberation on whether to attend, after Hamas had previously presented demands that Netanyahu described as delusional.
  • Kan News reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected a new plan for a hostage deal drafted by Mossad Director Barnea, Shin Bet Director Bar and Maj. Gen. (res.) Alon. Netanyahu decided that the three of them would go to Cairo mainly in order to listen. As a result, Maj. Gen. Alon decided to remain in Israel. 
  • For the first time, Netanyahu’s adviser was sent to the talks, most likely because of other subjects that would be raised in the talks, such as Rafah and the Philadelphi Corridor. 
  • The IDF has yet to destroy dozens of kilometres of tunnels in the Khan Yunis area, but the so-called strategic compounds, local headquarters and underground residences have apparently been largely mapped, and the army is preparing for their systematic destruction.

Looking ahead: Talks in Cairo are expected to continue in the days ahead, involving lower-level officials who will continue discussing a new framework for a potential hostage deal.

  • It appears that Khan Yunis will remain the centre of operations for another few weeks. At the same time, Israel is preparing for an assault on Rafah and has been issuing threats and declarations to that effect. The US is not trying to impose a veto on an operation, but wants to ensure Israel upholds its promise that the majority of the civilian population will be safely evacuated in advance.
  • The talk about a seemingly imminent offensive is designed mainly to put pressure on Arab countries in hopes that they can convince Hamas to start looking for a way to end the war.