Media Summary

Reuters and the BBC both report on ongoing ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, focusing on the decreasing likelihood of an agreement being reached before Ramadan.


Reuters and the BBC both report on ongoing ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, focusing on the decreasing likelihood of an agreement being reached before Ramadan. The Independent reports that while the hostage crisis “poses dilemma for Israel”, it also offers Hamas a “path to victory” which the terrorist group could plausibly claim if it can push Israel into reaching a favourable deal. The Times  and Telegraph both report on President Biden’s comments that a ceasefire “is in the hands of Hamas”, and his warning of a “very, very dangerous” situation if Israel and Hamas fail to reach a ceasefire deal by the start of Ramadan.

The Guardian reports that “UK patience with Israel wearing thin over Gaza aid, Cameron to tell Gantz” when the War Cabinet Minister visits London following his recent trip to Washington DC.

The BBCIndependent, and Financial Times all report on this week’s United Nations report which found that there were “grounds to believe” that Hamas committed sexual violence during and after the 7th October attacks, especially against Israeli hostages it held in the Gaza Strip.

The Times reports on findings from open source intelligence website, Bellingcat, which show that IDF soldiers ran an Instagram account which posted photos of Palestinians detained in Gaza being mistreated and humiliated.

The Economist asks “Can Israel afford to wage war?” with a piece analysing this current war’s impact on the Israeli economy, reporting that an emergency wartime budget will double the IDF’s funding from 2023. It also argues that “Israel’s unwritten social contract, which has for 70-odd years promised both a generous welfare state and a fearsome military, is under threat.”

The Guardian has published a feature on the Old City of Jerusalem, and the economic challenges its Palestinian residents are facing against a backdrop of mounting political and security tensions in the run-up to Ramadan.

Following a Hezbollah anti-tank missile attack on the northern Israeli community of Margaliot which killed one foreign agricultural worker, the Telegraph reports that Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, has told US Special Envoy, Amos Hochstein, they were at a “critical point” in deciding whether or not to pursue military action in Lebanon. The Daily Mail has published footage of an Iron Dome battery intercepting and destroying approximately 30 rockets fired at northern Israel by Hezbollah.

In the aftermath of the Rubymar’s sinking in the Red Sea, the Financial Times has published an article on the complexity of ship nationalities, arguing that “Missile strikes aimed at Israeli, US and British vessels sailing near Yemen expose flag and ownership ambiguities”. The BBC also reports that “Several undersea communications cables in the Red Sea have been cut, affecting 25 percent of data traffic flowing between Asia and Europe”. While it states that the cause is unknown, it does imply that there is a realistic prospect of it having been an act of Houthi sabotage.

The Telegraph reports on comments from former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, where she claims that pro-Palestinian protests have turned parts of London into no-go areas for Jewish people, and urged the Prime Minister to introduce emergency counter-extremism legislation. Much of this would build on the pre-existing Public Order Act, and involve introducing an amendable list of conduct that would constitute “threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour”.

Army Radio reports that Hamas formally announced that it had shown all requisite flexibility with the goal of reaching a hostage release agreement but that Israel was still opposed to a permanent ceasefire that would allow displaced residents to return to the northern Gaza Strip and remained opposed to a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In a statement, Hamas said that it “will continue to hold negotiations by means of the mediators in order to reach an agreement that will meet our demands.”

According to Channel 12 News, reports that hostage deal negotiations are at an impasse have raised the question of whether and when Israel will expand its ground operation in Gaza to Rafah. Contrary to allegations made by several cabinet ministers, the IDF has already approved the plans to do so, leaving the ball in the political leadership’s court. In the past number of days Hamas has been trying to map out the various hostages’ location and condition. Given that, Israel has decided to give the negotiations a last chance and has refrained from taking major action. The prevailing assessment is that Israel will continue to do so for only a number of days longer. In response to intense American pressure, Israel has allowed aid to be airdropped twice a day by the Jordanians and the Americans. The French and Egyptians have also been party to that effort. Aid is airdropped two times every day in an effort to improve the situation, amid Israel’s ongoing indecision as to who should take responsibility for the administration of civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip [instead of Hamas].

Israel Hayom reports on Benny Gantz’s meetings in Washington. “Not destroying Hamas in Rafah means sending a fire truck to put out 80 percent of the fire,” Gantz told National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. That was Gantz’s response to the assertion that was made by Sullivan, Vice President Kamala Harris and other top administration officials, who said it would be impossible to evacuate 1.2 million Gazans (an estimate that is probably inflated) from the Rafah area—an evacuation that they view as an essential precondition for any military operation in that southern Gaza Strip city. Gantz disagreed. The paper argues that even larger gaps came to the fore in discussions about humanitarian aid. “Whereas many Israelis are livid about the decision to deliver supplies to the enemy – an act that has helped Hamas, has prolonged the war and has delayed a hostage deal – the Americans believe that Israel isn’t doing enough. Biden’s aides have even accused Israeli officials of lying about the quantity of aid that has been delivered and the pace of its delivery.”

Amos Harel in Haaretz writes that ahead of Ramadan, the Biden administration is making its final appeal to reach a deal to release the hostages and reach a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, adding that the Israeli defence establishment has come to suspect that Sinwar has become less interested in a deal and is instead counting on a regional escalation with the onset of Ramadan. “When Hamas launched its surprise attack on October 7” says Harel, “Sinwar assumed other members of the “axis of resistance” – specifically Hezbollah, and, to some degree, Iran – would come to his aid and attack Israel. That didn’t happen. Hezbollah, which Israel believes was not informed in advance of Hamas’ plans, did open a second front against Israel on the Lebanese border. But it has engaged only in limited operations that have not escalated into a full-scale war. Now, due to the religious character of the Ramadan period, Sinwar may be hoping to set off a regional conflagration, inflaming Jerusalem and the West Bank, and perhaps mass demonstrations in neighboring Arab countries. It looks like another big gamble on top of the gamble the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip took in October. If that is what he hopes, he’s getting some help from the Israeli side in the provocations of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has been raising tensions around the Temple Mount by seeking to restrict Muslim access during Ramadan.”

Channel 13 News reports that Israel is expected to expand the scope of humanitarian aid delivered to the Gaza Strip in the next number of days. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Ghassan Aliyan has twice travelled twice to the UAE to discuss the issue at the behest of Defence Minister Gallant. Yesterday, White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said that the United States was looking into ways of delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via the sea.  The aid in question will be paid for and transported by the UAE, which will send a ship laden with large quantities of aid to Cyprus, where it will be inspected by Israeli representatives. The ship will then sail for the Gaza coast, where the aid will be unloaded. Israel will provide security, but will not be otherwise party to the effort. Since Emirati officials have insisted that the project get underway before Ramadan, the ship is expected to set sail early next week.

In related news, Kan Radio reports that more trucks transporting food have entered Gaza in the past two weeks than did prior to the war. An average of 102 food trucks have entered the Gaza Strip every day, as opposed to just 70 daily trucks on average prior to the war.  The aid is delivered by international organisations and it enters Gaza from Egypt, after being inspected by Israel.

Maariv questions the wisdom of the Israeli preoccupation with killing or apprehending Sinwar, writing: “That is a worthy goal, but it does not justify all the means. If Sinwar is killed, a replacement for him will be found. However, if we end the war with an entire Hamas brigade still intact in Rafah along with two battalions intact in the central Gaza Strip – we’ve lost.”

Yediot Ahronot writes that one scenario that Israeli military officials are preparing for is for Iranian militia squads, possibly consisting of recruits from the Shiite minority groups in Afghanistan, receiving training either in Iran or Iraq and then being dispatched via the deserts in Jordan to try to carry out terror attacks similar to the October 7 attack. Israel has already begun to take operational and intelligence measures to prevent any such attacks from being carried out.

Both Haaretz and Yediot Ahronot report that the Israel Police and the government are tensely awaiting the submission this afternoon of the conclusions of the state commission of inquiry into the Mt. Meron disaster, which took place 3 years and led to the death of 45 people due to overcrowding. The state commission of inquiry sent warning letters to several officials, among them Prime Minister Netanyahu, Amir Ohana, who was then public security minister, and Police Commissioner Insp. Gen. Yaakov Shabtai.