The IDF continues to operate within the Shifa hospital compound via BICom
Gaza Strip: According to the IDF, they discovered an “operational command centre, weapons, and technological assets in the MRI building of the Shifa Hospital.”
- “In another department in the hospital, the soldiers located an operational command centre and technological assets belonging to Hamas, indicating that the terrorist organisation uses the hospital for terrorist purposes.”
- In the initial entry, the IDF killed several gunmen at the entrance to the hospital. According to Al-Jazeera, 200 Palestinians were arrested.
- The IDF also took over Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's residence (Haniyeh is based in Qatar), which according to the IDF, “was used as terrorist infrastructure, and often served as a meeting point for Hamas' senior leaders to direct terror attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.”
- In addition, during operations in the Shati neighbourhood, “IDF troops located and destroyed a Hamas naval forces weapons cache, containing diving gear, explosive devices, and weapons. IDF troops also struck terrorists and located weapons including explosive belts, explosive barrels, RPGs, anti-tank missiles, comms equipment, and intelligence documents.”
- In the course of the fighting two more IDF soldiers were killed, taking the total to 50 since the ground operation began.
- According to Hamas, the Gazan death toll has reached 11,500. It is not clear how many of them were combatants.
- Israel also allowed 23,000 litres of diesel to enter into Gaza via Egypt under the auspice of the UN.
Hostages: There is continued speculation for a deal.
The latest contours suggest:
- Hamas release 50 hostages, comprising children with their mothers.
- Israel will agree to three to five days of ceasefire.
- Israel will allow in more fuel and humanitarian aid.
- Israel will release 150 prisoners, including minors over 16, who have not committed murder.
- The mechanism suggests that the ceasefire will only start once the first batch are released. There will then be a staggered release on both sides each day of the ceasefire.
- Israel is also demanding that Hamas takes full responsibility for all the children, so as not to claim that some are held by other factions or cannot be found.
- Israel has further demands, with some government officials arguing that by continuing the fighting at this point they can extract further concessions, including the release of closer to 100 hostages including all the children and their parents.
- The negotiations are facilitated by a series of talks via the US, Egypt and Qatar and then onto Hamas leaders. The process is complicated by limited contact with Hamas leaders inside Gaza.
- Any deal will first be approved by the security cabinet, but according to Israeli law the whole cabinet needs to vote on it. Last night a meeting to convene the full cabinet was cancelled.
UK Parliament: A Scottish National Party motion calling for a ceasefire in the House of Commons was defeated by 293 votes against to 125 in favour last night.
- The Israeli embassy in London welcomed the result of the vote, saying "the UK parliament vote this evening shows a strong moral clarity."
- Eight shadow cabinet members from the UK opposition Labour party either resigned or were fired last night after rebelling against the party in voting for a ceasefire.
- A total of 56 Labour MPs voted for the motion, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer having warned in advance that shadow cabinet members would face consequences for doing so.
- Starmer has continued to back Israel’s right to defend itself, and to support the US position, shared with the UK government, in favour of humanitarian pauses rather than a ceasefire.
- His position has caused divisions within the party, with a number of local government officials across the country resigning from the party.
- Saying he regretted the decisions of his frontbench colleagues, Starmer affirmed that “alongside leaders around the world, I have called throughout for adherence to international law, for humanitarian pauses to allow access for aid, food, water, utilities and medicine, and have expressed our concerns at the scale of civilian casualties.”
- He added: “leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”
- Labour’s own motion calling for humanitarian pauses was defeated by 290 to 183 votes.
- Elsewhere in Parliament, dozens of British MPs yesterday viewed a screening of the IDF’s raw footage of October 7th obtained from Hamas bodycams.
UN Security Council: The council last night agreed a resolution introduced by Malta calling for the implementation of “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip”.
- It further called for “all parties [to] comply with their obligations under international law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians, especially children.”
- The resolution made no condemnation of Hamas, nor mentioned its devastating attack of October 7th in which at least 1,200 Israelis were killed.
- The US, UK, and Russia abstained from the vote, resulting in a 12-0 vote in favour. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield explained the American abstention by saying that “there’s no excuse for failing to condemn these acts of terror. Let’s be crystal clear … Hamas set this conflict in motion.”
- Russia proposed an amendment calling for a more immediate ceasefire. It was defeated when it failed to gain sufficient votes, hence its abstention from vote on the main resolution.
- In response, Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said the resolution “will have no meaning in practice” and that Israel “is acting according to international law, while the Hamas terrorists will not read the resolution at all and will not act on it.”
- The Israeli Foreign Ministry also responded, saying there would be “no room for extended humanitarian pauses as long as 239 hostages are still in the hands of Hamas terrorists.”
- The vote was the first time the council succeeded in passing a resolution since October 7th, with four previous resolutions having failed – one introduced by Brazil was vetoed by the US, a US resolution was vetoed by Russia and China, and two Russian-drafted resolutions failed to get the minimum yay votes.
Context: From the Israeli perspective the Shifa hospital has been considered an infamous Hamas stronghold for over a decade.
- With IDF advances over the last week, Hamas had time to remove the most incriminating evidence and for key commanders to escape among the civilians. Meanwhile, searches continue for tunnel shafts within the hospital complex.
- Whilst not capturing or killing senior Hamas leadership, the IDF’s more cautious approach to the hospital bought it important credit, especially with the Biden administration, allowing them to continue operations.
- Hamas deliberately used the hospital as a base, precisely because they felt it gave them immunity from aerial attack. It could also use the hospital’s power supply for operating the underground tunnel system.
- The IDF’s public campaign of messages to the Gazan population and direct conversations with hospital staff led to the evacuation of around 50,000 people who were in the hospital compound a week ago, down to an estimated 1,500, roughly half patients, half staff.
- In parallel to the elite commandos that continue to search the hospital, the IDF also brought in vital medical equipment, including incubators for the premature babies, and to ensure they keep their power supply.
- Israel’s position remains that a pause or extended ceasefire is out of the question as long as Hamas and its fellow Gazan terrorists retain the hostages.
- It is also disinclined to provide Hamas time to regroup, re-arm and jeopardise the Israeli gains in the northern Strip, and is concerned that, based on experience from previous rounds of fighting, international pressure will only increase if it re-engages after an extensive pause.
In the north of Israel, Hezbollah continued to launch rockets into Israel. Yesterday 20 rockets landed in open areas.
- One landed in the town of Shlomi.
- Three anti-tank missiles were fired toward IDF positions on the border.
- In all these instances, the IDF returned fire to the source.
- This morning there was a terror attack on the tunnels road south of Jerusalem. Initial reports suggest three terrorists opened fire, four people were injured one in critical condition, the three gunmen were shot and killed.
Looking ahead: The search of the hospital is expected to continue. In order to maintain legitimacy the IDF is conscious to keep their activity as transparent as possible, and continue to allow international media to be embedded among the troops.
- With the IDF in control of northern Gaza there remains significant Hamas military infrastructure in the south. Eastern neighbourhoods of the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis have been warned to evacuate their homes to proscribed safe zones elsewhere in the south.
- It is anticipated that the UK’s new Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, will visit Israel soon.