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Peace and Conflict

President Biden offers Israel his unequivocol backing

President Biden offers Israel his unequivocal backing via BICom

President Biden offers Israel his unequivocal backing BICom

What happened: In a presidential address, President Biden, flanked by his vice president and secretary of state, reassured Israel of their strong support.    

  • Biden spoke of Hamas as a “pure, unadulterated evil… unleashed on this world.” “The brutality of Hamas — this bloodthirstiness,” he said later, “brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS.”
  • He made explicit the US’s unequivocal backing of Israel in its response. “We must be crystal clear,” he said: “we stand with Israel.  We stand with Israel.  And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack.”
  • In materialising this support, Biden confirmed that the US was “surging additional military assistance, including ammunition and interceptors to replenish Iron Dome. We’re going to make sure that Israel does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.” He continued: “The United States has also enhanced our military force posture in the region to strengthen our deterrence.”
  • In a thinly-veiled warning to Iran and its other proxies such as Hezbollah, Biden said: “to any country, any organisation, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t.”

On the Gaza Strip border: The Israeli death toll from the weekend attacks rose to over 1,200, with an additional estimated 150 hostages captive inside Gaza, and with 500 of the over 3,000 Israelis injured still hospitalised - 28 in critical and 345 in serious condition.

  • Hamas rockets continue to strike at central and southern Israel, now exceeding 5,000 since Saturday morning.
  • Four buildings in Sderot were hit this morning, and a 40-year-old man moderately wounded by shrapnel.
  • Despite previous assurances that the terror threat inside Israel was neutralised there were still terror cells operating inside Israel.
  • According to the IDF 18 Palestinian terrorists in seven separate incidents were killed inside Israeli in the last day. 
  • Among the incidents, on Tuesday night, troops killed three Palestinian terrorists in the Ashkelon industrial zone.
  • Hamas have again sent frogman to infiltrate from the sea in Zikim, which were again successfully repelled.  
  • Over 1,000 bodies of terrorists have been found in the Gaza border area.
  • As Israeli forces enter Israeli border communities, the scale of the atrocities are being further exposed. These include in Be’eri, where 100 Israelis are though to have been murdered, and in Kfar Aza, where Major General Itai Veruv said: “I’ve served as a combat soldier and officer for 39 years… I’ve never seen anything that comes close to this. It’s not even something that our parents knew. This is something out of the world of our grandfathers back in Europe, from the pogroms and the Holocaust.”

Inside Gaza: The Israeli Air Force is conducting an intensive bombing campaign and has struck over 2,500 Hamas targets. 

  • Overnight, it launched 200 attacks on the Al-Furqan neighbourhood in Gaza City which is a known Hamas hub.
  • Over 70 Hamas targets in the Gaza City district of at-Tuffah were struck, as well as a military structure operated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • Over 80 Hamas infrastructure targets were hit in norther Gaza’s Beit Hanoun, including two bank branches used by Hamas, an underground tunnel, several war rooms, and other military installations.
  • Another target hit included the Khan Younis home of the father of Mohammad Deif, the senior Hamas military commander. The home of Hamas’s military wing spokesman, known as Abu Obeida, was also hit.
  • According to Palestinian sources 950 Gazans have been killed, with 5,000 injured.

Northern front: Missiles were launched at northern Israel from Lebanon last night. 15 rockets were launched from Lebanon – 4 were intercepted by Iron Dome with the rest landing in open areas. Though Hamas claimed responsibility, Hezbollah is considered responsible for any fire emanating from southern Lebanon, and IDF tanks shelled two Hezbollah posts in response.

  • An anti-tank guided missile was later launched from Lebanon at an armoured vehicle near the northern town of Avivim. It was claimed by Hezbollah and an Israeli helicopter struck a third Hezbollah site in response.
  • Mortar fire was also incoming from Syria, with several crossing into Israeli territory. They landed in open areas, causing no damage. The IDF carried out artillery strikes on the mortars’ source in Syria in response.
  • This morning there were more sirens in northern Israel.

Context: The Israeli government has set as its objective to completely destroy all of Hamas’s military capabilities.

  • With 300,000 reservists called up – deployed both in the north and the south – the IDF is poised to intensify its engagement. The intensive air force bombing campaign is also understood to be part of the preparation to allow for a ground incursion, by targeting Hamas’s preparations.
  • Biden’s warning is being interpreted as a direct threat to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that if Iran’s Lebanese proxy attempts to intervene in the fighting, it will be met with the might of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group recently moved to the Eastern Mediterranean along with a bolstered US fighter aircraft presence.
  • Israeli commentators have interpreted Biden’s backing as the most significant support a US president has ever given Israel.
  • In adding that "this is not about party or politics; this is about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America," Biden underscored that Israel's security is intertwined with that of the free world.
  • Biden also confirmed he had spoken yesterday with the leaders of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy to discuss “coordinat[ing] our united response”.
  • Similarly, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Sky News that "we stand in solidarity with Israel and the people of Israel in the face of these barbaric acts of terrorism".
  • Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, has also indicated that the US is in negotiations to try to create a safe passage for Gaza’s civilians to leave the Strip. 

Looking ahead: As part of the pressure tactic on Hamas, Israel has temporarily blocked all supplies into Gaza.

  • According to sources inside Gaza, their power plant only has enough fuel for another 10-12 hours. The main Shifa hospital in Gaza City has enough diesel to power generators for another four days.
  • The bombing campaign is seen to be a precursor to a ground operation, that will further target Hamas and possibly include attempts to free the hostages.
  • On the Israeli internal political front, negotiations are ongoing to bring Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party into the government.

Via BICom