Media Summary

Sky News, The Mirror, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Economist, and The Guardian all report on our main story, that a temporary truce period between Israel and Hamas has begun – with the first group of Israeli women and children due to be released later today.


Sky News, The Mirror, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Economist, and The Guardian all report on our main story, that a temporary truce period between Israel and Hamas has begun – with the first group of Israeli women and children due to be released later today.

Sky News reports that ninety per cent of the 300 Palestinian prisoners who may be released by Israel are aged 18 or under. Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners in a deal with Hamas, who in turn will free some of the Israeli hostages in Gaza. It is expected that 50 women and children held by Hamas would be freed over four days during a planned pause in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

The BBC, The Guardian, The Sun and The Telegraph all report on another aspect of our main item, that Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, while showing solidarity to Israel, has also urged Israel to allow more aid into Gaza to show the Palestinian people and the world that the west wants to help.

The BBC reports that Israeli forces have detained the director of the hospital for questioning, a week after their controversial raid there. Dr Mohammed Abu Salmiya was held at a checkpoint as he evacuated patients to the south, a colleague told the BBC. The Israeli military said he was being questioned over evidence that al-Shifa “served as a Hamas command and control centre”. He and Hamas have denied that.

Reuters reports that the IDF showed evidence of a reinforced tunnel beside Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Wednesday, complete with a bathroom, kitchen and an air conditioned meeting room that it said had served as a command post for Hamas fighters. The tunnel shaft, some two metres high, was accessed through an outdoor shaft in the hospital complex grounds, which were once crowded with tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians the army said had served as a human shield.

Reuters also reports that Bahrain has been walking a political tightrope since war erupted in Gaza as it seeks to ease public fury at a conflict that has killed thousands of Palestinians while preserving a deal with Israel that brought the Gulf state closer to the United States.
The Guardian reports that advanced plans by Saudi Arabia to strike a peace deal with the Houthi rebels in Yemen are being jeopardised by Houthi attacks on Israel and this week’s seizure of an Israeli-linked commercial vessel in the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia hopes it can maintain a firewall between the Yemen peace talks and the Houthis’ attacks on Israel, but in London and Washington there is pressure to redesignate the Houthis as a terrorist organisation, which would threaten any deal.

The Guardian reports on an NBC poll which shows President Biden “in dire straits, with his approval rating falling to the lowest it has ever been: 40 percent.” The poll found that he was faring especially poorly with Democrats and young voters, large numbers of whom are dissatisfied with his handling of an issue that is exposing a growing divide within the party: Israel’s war in Gaza.

The Financial Times publishes an article from Professor Mark Mazower, who says: “none of Israel’s security crises in the following decades fundamentally challenged the Zionist credo that the safest place for Jews was to be in their own state. Thanks to its Arab neighbours’ refusal to recognise it, the country existed in what amounted to a permanent state of war. Yet the events of 1967 demonstrated Israel’s military superiority in a conventional conflict. Its chief (and never solved) problem was rather how to turn battlefield territorial gains into a lasting peace”.

The Sun reports on the IRGC, saying it: “subscribes to a wider extremist ideology that is hellbent on the eradication of Israel”. An expert spoke to The Sun about its relationship to Hamas, and the antisemitic extremism which drove the October 7 attacks.

Yediot Ahronot’s Yossi Yehoshua, who has previously written opposing the temporary ceasefire, predicts that “the start of the ceasefire is the start of Israel being caught in Yahya Sinwar’s big humanitarian ambush. Presumably, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, who had no problem stopping the deal even after the prime minister, the defence minister and Benny Gantz had already celebrated it at a press conference, has an orderly plan to bring about a full halt to Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The first step is probably a very small deal, but it has the potential not only to refresh his militants after the huge pressure on them in the last three and a half weeks, but also a series of steps that are liable to end the war. One of those steps, for example, is the entry of foreign media outlets, with an emphasis on the Americans, to show them the pictures that even the Israeli public does not know: a devastated and destroyed Gaza from the air force’s massive shelling. There are dead and injured above and below ground. Without a doubt, no matter how much we feel that we are in the right, the world will be shocked. Even the temporary hospitals that will be erected in the Gaza Strip, along with the aid that will enter from Egypt and from other countries, will make it difficult for the IDF to manoeuvre and will also increase the international pressure to stop the attacks entirely. This means that the operation in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, without which the words ‘topple the Hamas regime’ have no meaning, is in real danger.”

Yehoshua’s Yediot Ahronot colleague Sima Kadmon, who has been notable for a repeated insistence on Israel prioritising the return of the hostages, concedes that “even if the first day of the deal to release hostages goes smoothly, it doesn’t say anything about what will come afterwards. Everything is fragile and uncertain. A wrong word, an unanticipated event could change everything.” Kadmon argues that Israeli leaders have already spoken in such a way that might threaten this delicate balance, citing Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Gallant’s threatening language towards Hamas leaders at a press conference on Wednesday. Kadmon attributes this lack of caution to a need to appease right and far right-wingers opposed to the deal, in which context she writes, “Smotrich’s vote in favour of the deal is admirable. Almost 100 percent of his supporters are against it, and even so, Smotrich went against his base and retracted. Those are two things Netanyahu would never do: go against his base and apologise.”

Like Kadmon, Haaretz’s Amos Harel is critical of the timing of the threats to Hamas leaders. “To the Israeli public it’s already clear that the killing of all the leading figures in Hamas, in the Gaza Strip and abroad, is an ancillary purpose of the campaign,” he writes, “even if accomplishing that will take years after the present war concludes… But it’s doubtful whether this was the right time for bombast, when Qatar, which hosts many ranking officials of Hamas, is the chief mediator in the deal and while the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, and the coordinator of matters related to the captives and the MIAs, Maj. Gen. (res.) Nitzan Alon, were in Doha to implement the deal.”

Israel Hayom’s Ariel Kahana predicts that the ceasefire could last far longer than the mooted four days. And “what will we do,” he asks, “if, at the end of the tenth day, Hamas announces that another group of captives will be released the next day? Renew the fire? And the family members of those destined for release will plead on television not to do so? In this cynical and cruel way, Hamas can drag out the ceasefire for days and even months.”

Maariv’s Anna Barsky also focusses on Netanyahu and, agreeing with Yehoshua that it will be difficult to resume the war after the ceasefire, predicts that in that event “the National Unity Party will quit the government, and members of the protest movement will begin demonstrations calling on Netanyahu to resign. Sources close to the prime minister believe that in this scenario, his option will be to announce his intention to resign and to retire from political life—when the political process for a regional agreement is concluded.”

Yediot Ahronot’s Nahum Barnea also signals the end of the government saying it, “in its current composition, is incapable of addressing the questions that will challenge it on the day after. Ben Gvir and Smotrich’s factions live in a different universe: Ben Gvir and his insistence on the embarrassing, thuggish, malicious performance on the issue of the death penalty; Smotrich and his insistence on continuing to plunder the public coffers. Israeli society is sitting shiva, while they do their dances.”

Maariv’s latest polling also makes grim reading for the prime minister, with Benny Gantz leading Netanyahu on who would make the better prime minister by 52 percent to 27. Netanyahu only receives a 56 percent endorsement from Likud party voters. Neither Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party nor the Labour Party would return any MKs at all in the prospected Knesset, while responses indicate that a combined “right-wing liberal” list headed by former prime minister Bennett and Yoaz Hendel could lead a Knesset faction of as many as 18 MKs. Gantz’s National Unity is predicted by far the largest faction, with 43 seats to its nearest rival, the Likud’s, 18.

Haaretz reports that Israel’s Justice Ministry is floating legislation to allow for specialist child investigators rather than regular police officers to debrief minors returned in the hostage deal. The proposal seeks to limit “the additional harm to children that may be caused during the investigation”. It also empowers the specialists to recommend that the potential harm to the child is so great that a debrief is not appropriate.