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Peace and Conflict

US & UK show their continued support for Israel | Update 20th October 2023

US & UK show their continued support for Israel via BICom

Diplomatic support : Following his visit to Israel, US President Joe Biden made an address from the Oval Office last night. He called on Congress to approve an expanded aid package for Israel and Ukraine, including an additional $14 billion for Israel.

  • In his address Biden said, “the terrorist group Hamas unleashed pure, unadulterated evil in the world.”
  • He noted, “Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: they both want to completely annihilate a neighbouring democracy… Hamas, its stated purpose for existing is the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and innocent Palestinian families are suffering greatly because of them.”
  • Adding, “Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region. And we’ll continue to hold them accountable.”
  • Relating to the financial support, Biden called it, “a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations, help us keep American troops out of harm’s way, help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful, and more prosperous for our children and grandchildren. In Israel, we must make sure that they have what they need to protect their people today and always”.
  • “The security package I’m sending to Congress and asking Congress to do is an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security that will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge, which we’ve committed to. We’re going to make sure Iron Dome continues to guard the skies over Israel. We’re going to make sure other hostile actors in the region know that Israel is stronger than ever and prevent this conflict from spreading.”
  • Prime Minister Sunak was in Israel yesterday to show his support. In his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Sunak said, “I want to share the deep condolences of the British people and stress that we absolutely support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law, to go after Hamas, to take back hostages, deter further incursions and to strengthen your security for the long-term.”

Continued fighting: The IDF continues to strike hundreds of Hamas’s military targets. According to IDF announcements, targets included an underground tunnel, weapons storage, dozens of operational command centres, anti-tank missile launching posts, terror tunnel shafts.

  • In addition, “numerous” "Nukbha" forces, who led the attack on October 7, have been killed, with “more than ten terrorists targeted in a precision aerial strike.”
  • The IDF also “struck the head of the military branch of the ‘Popular Resistance Committees’ terror organisation in Rafah, Rafat Harb Hussein Abu Hilal”.
  • In the north, twenty rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel. Four were intercepted by anti-missile defence system. There were also more anti-tank missiles attacks.  IDF artillery responded toward the sources of the fire in Lebanon.
  • In the West Bank, the IDF and Shin Bet announced they conducted, “wide-scale counterterrorism activity overnight… over 80 wanted suspects were apprehended, including 63 Hamas terror operatives; the forces demolished the residence of a Hamas terrorist in the town of Qibya and apprehended a number of wanted suspects in the Nur Shams Camp.”
  • After a lull overnight, this morning rocket fire out of Gaza has resumed.    

Context: Hezbollah is slowly ratcheting up its attacks on northern Israel. There has now been over 150 rockets fired from Lebanon and over 20 anti-tank missile strikes, a dozen incidents of small arms fire, as well two infiltrations. So far, these attacks have only targeted the border vicinity.

  • Israel has already evacuated the communities closest to the border, for fear of incursions by Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit.         
  • So far six Israeli have died in the north. In 2006 the war with Hezbollah began after seven soldiers were killed and two were kidnapped. Due to the scale of the task in the south, so far Israel is returning fire at source and not looking to expand the range of targets.
  • Hamas is encouraging Iran to push Hezbollah to increase its attacks and expand its rockets range to target Tel Aviv and Haifa.
  • The underlying reason for the leaders of Israel’s closest allies, US, UK and Germany to all visit Israel this week was to deter Iran and Hezbollah from escalating any further.      
  • Since October 7, the IDF has arrested 524 wanted suspects across the West Bank, over 330 of them are affiliated to Hamas. Over 50 weapons have also been confiscated.

Looking ahead: Defence Minister Gallant has approved the evacuation of the northern town of Kiryat Shemona, with over 20,000 inhabitants.      

  • Like last Friday, Hamas is again inciting for a day of rage and attacks against Israel from across the Palestinian and wider Arab world.
  • The humanitarian aid for Gaza from Egypt appears to be delayed. There is concern over the entry mechanism so as to avoid Hamas seizing the goods. There are also ongoing talks regarding the content of the aid.   
  • The IDF continues to firm up plans ahead of an anticipated ground incursion into Gaza.

via BICom