Media Summary

BBC News, Reuters, The Telegraph, Channel 4 , The Times, The Sun, The Guardian and The Financial Times all report that at least 112 Palestinians are said to have been killed and 760 injured trying to get aid in Gaza.


BBC NewsReutersThe TelegraphChannel 4 , The Times, The Sun, The Guardian and The Financial Times all report that at least 112 Palestinians are said to have been killed and 760 injured trying to get aid in Gaza. Crowds descended on a convoy of lorries on the coastal road south-west of Gaza City, in the presence of Israeli tanks. Israel’s military say tanks fired warning shots but did not strike the lorries, adding many of the dead were trampled or run over. Anshel Pfeffer in The Times asks whether this is the moment “US patience runs out”.

The BBCSky NewsThe GuardianThe SpectatorThe Financial TimesThe IndependentThe Evening StandardITV News, The Times and The Telegraph report that George Galloway has won the Rochdale by-election, declaring “this is for Gaza”. The former Labour MP, who was standing for the Workers Party of Britain, secured 12,335 votes, a majority of 5,697. He has been accused of stirring racial tension to win the by-election. Sky News also adds “when Labour holds its inquest into the debacle of this by-election, it will reflect on how what should have been a routine by-election win in a relatively safe seat turned into Sir Keir’s worst nightmare – a win for George Galloway.”

The Times reports Rishi Sunak warned that Britain risked descending into “mob rule” as he urged the police to do more to stop disruptive protests. The prime minister said the nation’s democratic institutions needed better protection from “intimidation, disruption [and] subversion” amid a wave of Gaza ceasefire protests that has targeted parliament and MPs’ homes.

The Guardian reports that a month after Israeli allegations that a dozen United Nations staff were involved in the 7 October Hamas attack, UN investigators have yet to receive evidence from Israel to support the claims though they expect some material to be forthcoming “shortly”.

The Guardian also reports that while Israel’s divided government stalls on deciding whether to bring Palestinian workers back into the country, an unexpected solution to fix the hole in the construction industry has been found: recruiting labourers from India.

The Guardian further reports that Ed Davey has argued that the UK should impose sanctions on two far-right Israeli ministers who have pushed for more settlements on Palestinian land, saying this is vital to stop the fighting in Gaza spreading to the West Bank. The Liberal Democrat leader, who returned on Wednesday morning from a visit to Israel where he had spoken to charities, politicians and relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, said there was a risk of the prospect of a two-state solution collapsing.

The Telegraph and Sky News report that Israel has killed more than 25,000 Palestinian women and children since the Oct 7 attack by militant group Hamas, according to Gaza health ministry. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin shared the figure during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

The BBC reports on the IDF saying it has killed more than 10,000 fighters in its air strikes and ground operations in response to the Hamas attack which killed about 1,200 people. But there are concerns about whether it is able to separate fighters from ordinary civilians. President Joe Biden said in December that Israel had the support of the world as well as the US, but “they’re starting to lose that support by the indiscriminate bombing that takes place”.

The BBC also reports that more than 50 journalists have sent an open letter calling on Israel and Egypt to provide “free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media”. The letter is signed by correspondents and presenters for broadcasters with UK bases.

The Sun reports that families of Israeli hostages marched to Jerusalem yesterday, calling for the immediate release of their loved ones. Devastated relatives of the 134 people still held in Gaza were seen near Kiryat Gat on the second day of a four-day trek.

Reuters reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday his government would find a way to end exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israeli military service in the face of political pressures that threaten his narrow coalition’s future. “We will determine goals for conscripting ultra-Orthodox people to the IDF and national civil service,” Netanyahu said at a press conference, referring to the Israel Defence Forces. “We will also determine the ways to implement those goals.”

Reuters also reports the Palestinian Authority has received 407 million shekels ($114 million) from Israel with more funds on the way soon following a deal to release frozen tax funds, the Norwegian government said on Thursday.

The Independent reports that an Israel-Gaza peace mural which depicted two children painted on a street in east London has been defaced just over two weeks after it was unveiled. Located on Old Street in Shoreditch, it was created by the charity Circle of Toys which aims to highlight that children are the “true victims of war”.
All the Israeli media reports on yesterday’s deadly shooting attack at a gas station at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Eli, in which two Israelis were killed. Haaretz reports that ‘The two victims were identified as 57-year-old Yitzhak Zeiger and 16-year-old Uria Hartum. According to Magen David Adom emergency services, the two were in a car when they were shot and were found at the scene in critical condition. They were pronounced dead a short time later. The terrorist involved in the attack was identified as Mahmoud Manassera, 31 years old, from the Qalandiya refugee camp. Manassera is linked to Fatah, and according to a security source, he was an officer in the Palestinian police. Between 2018 and 2019, he served a prison sentence in Ofer prison in Israel for trafficking weapons.’ Ynet adds that ‘According to Shin Bet data, since the beginning of the year about 200 terrorist attacks have been thwarted in the West Bank, of which about 150 were shooting attacks.’

Kan Radio reports that an air raid siren sounded a short while ago in Ghajar, on the border with Lebanon. (For more details on recent escalations in the north, see Wednesday’s BICOM Morning Brief.)

Haaretz’s Amos Harel focusses on our main item, and writes: “The chaos and despair in Gaza are increasing, the month of Ramadan is approaching, and the horrors of Thursday are liable to inflame the atmosphere in other arenas as well, such as the West Bank. The impact of the events could extend farther, into Muslim and Arab countries, which are already accusing Israel of massacring civilians. Israel has defeated Hamas militarily in large parts of the Gaza Strip, and has seriously degraded the organization’s operational and organizational capabilities; but Israel is not truly in control in the chaotic situation that its assault has fomented. The army doesn’t have enough forces to control civilian activity in all parts of the Strip, and every case of prolonged friction with the population is liable to lead to additional tragedies.”

Haaretz reacts to Defence Minister Gallant’s pledge this week that, following public outcry and protest over the continued avoidance of military service by the ultra-Orthodox, the government cannot submit a new conscription bill without the National Unity Party’s approval. Gallant’s statement, says the paper, “was clearly meant to imply that National Unity, led by Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, would have veto power over the legislation. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could get around this by asking a Knesset member from his Likud party to submit the legislation as a private member’s bill. That could be done even without National Unity’s consent. Sources close to Gallant said his statement Tuesday night was meant to encourage all the parties to reach an agreement and that he believes this is possible. Consequently, they added, he hasn’t considered what he will do if no agreement is reached and the legislation is submitted as a private member’s bill.”

Israel Hayom writes that “a United Torah Judaism (UJT) official said yesterday that if agreements are not reached with Minister Benny Ganz, Minister Yoav Gallant need not table a bill of his own for Knesset approval. ‘If the defence minister doesn’t introduce a military draft law, we’ll introduce a military draft bill and will pass it with a regular majority.’ The official further said that they found the plan presented earlier this week by Benny Ganz and Gadi Eisenkot to be acceptable to them in general terms, though they do have a number of reservations. According to the plan, the Haredim will be required to agree to being drafted and sanctions will be against Haredim and yeshivas that fail to meet target quotas. The Haredim are adamant about protecting the principle that anyone who wishes to study Torah should be allowed to do so, and that anyone who wishes to remain in yeshiva should not be forcibly drafted into military service.”

Relatedly, Yediot Ahronot reports that “the IDF General Staff officers say the military urgently needs an additional 7,000 male and female soldiers, half for combat positions. Notably, this number comes on top of the teenagers who are already poised to be recruited in upcoming drafts. Furthermore, the military needs a further 7,500 for officers and commanders, whereas the Finance Ministry is currently prepared to sign off on only 2,500. These are unprecedented numbers, attesting to the IDF’s shock of almost 150 days of war that started out with major losses on October 7.”

Ynet features Netanyahu’s remarks to the press last night. “Netanyahu, who fears that Gallant’s decision will eventually lead to new elections, said that ‘would mean the end of the war, the defeat of Israel.’ He pointed out that going to new elections would mean ‘six months in which the government and the Knesset will be paralysed and divided. In this situation, the government’s hands will be tied and it will not be able to make decisions – not about the hostages, not about Hezbollah, not about Rafah. The soldiers will also be divided, there will be emotions, camps, defiance. This is a fatal shot in the middle of nowhere and it must not happen while we are close to victory. General elections mean the defeat of Israel. This is the dream of Hamas, Nasrallah and Iran, and all members of the cabinet know what am I talking about.’”

Kan Radio features Israeli security officials rejecting National Security Minister Ben Gvir’s claim that the release of more than 30 Palestinian administrative detainees was a gesture for Ramadan. The IDF and Shin Bet announced last night that their detention was due to expire in any case next month and it was decided to move their release up in order to make space for more dangerous detainees.

Maariv includes its lates polling, showing Gantz’s National Unity Party continuing to hold a substantial lead over the Likud (41 Knesset seats to the Likud’s 18). Overall, the poll shows the current coalition on 43 seats (in a 120-seat Knesset), the opposition on 68, and Hadash-Ta’al-the United Arab List on 9. Gantz leads Netanyahu 50 percent to 33 on who is best-suited to serve as prime minister.