The BBC and the Financial Times reports that Israel’s communications minister has accused four freelance Gaza-based journalists who have worked with Western outlets of knowing that Hamas was going to attack Israel. Shlomo Karhi told Reuters, AP, CNN and the New York Times that “individuals within your organization… had prior knowledge of these horrific actions”.
The BBC and the Financial Times reports that Israel’s communications minister has accused four freelance Gaza-based journalists who have worked with Western outlets of knowing that Hamas was going to attack Israel. Shlomo Karhi told Reuters, AP, CNN and the New York Times that “individuals within your organization… had prior knowledge of these horrific actions”. Reuters, AP, CNN and the New York Times denied any prior knowledge. Such “unsupported accusations” endangered freelancers, the NYT added.
The BBC reports that the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group has posted videos of two Israeli hostages held in Gaza. The group said it was prepared to release a 77-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy for humanitarian and medical reasons, but only if “appropriate measures” were met. Israel described the videos as an important sign of life, but declined to say whether they would be released. That would play into the captors’ “psychological terror”, it said. In the video, the two hostages are seen addressing the camera.
The Mirror reports that Efraim Halevy has warned the war against Hamas has not even reached the halfway mark yet. But Halevy – who was director of Mossad before retiring in 2002 -said he believes Iran will not join the war because of Israel’s superior military might. Claims by UK-born Halevy – who spent four decades in Mossad – were made as Israeli troops were fighting a ferocious battle with Hamas to wipe out the network. He told reporters: “I think that it is true to say that we are not even at the middle of the war. I believe that the war will last for longer than either side could have anticipated.” Sky News reports that Israel claims to have the leader of Hamas holed up in his Gaza City bunker. Yahya Sinwar has led Hamas since 2017, having joined its ranks in the early 1980s. Believed to be the architect of the 7 October attacks, he is Israel’s most wanted – a “dead man walking”, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claims to have him “surrounded and isolated”.
The Times also reports that the “Israel-Hamas war is coming to us”, says Hezbollah hostage-taker. A veteran field commander of the Iran-backed militia says it is an army the Jewish state cannot hope to defeat, and captives are the most powerful weapon of all. “Fresh from briefing his fighters, the tall grey-haired man in civilian clothes and with a military bearing drew on a cigarette. He had an old Israeli bullet wound to his stomach, a shrapnel scar running along his jaw, a likely US bounty on his head and evidence of his 40 years of fighting for Hezbollah etched in the lines of his face. “It feels that the war is coming at us, and it will be here soon,” he said, speaking to The Times in a frontier town close to Wadi Al-Hujeir, near Lebanon’s border with Israel, untroubled by the Israeli drone that flew overhead in the dusk. “I have been in battles with [the] Israeli army all my life. We are completely ready to close”.
The Times also reports that The BBC has admitted mistakes in its coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas but denied accusations of systemic antisemitism. In a fiery 90-minute debate organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism to build trust between British Jews and the BBC, Rhodri Talfan Davies, its director of nations, said that the broadcaster has got some things wrong on the “polarising” conflict. He singled out the decision by one of its correspondents to speculate that a rocket that fell outside al-Ahli hospital in Gaza had been fired by Israel.
The Guardian reports that Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel does not seek to conquer, occupy or govern Gaza after its war against Hamas, but a “credible force” would be needed to enter the Palestinian territory if necessary to prevent the emergence of militant threats. Netanyahu suggested earlier this week that Israel would be responsible for Gaza security indefinitely, drawing pushback from the United States, Israel’s main ally. Speaking on Fox News on Thursday, the Israeli prime minister said: “We don’t seek to conquer Gaza, we don’t seek to occupy Gaza, and we don’t seek to govern Gaza.”
The Guardian also reports that Tens of thousands of Palestinians fled northern Gaza on Wednesday, the Israeli military has said, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of “worrying trends” in the risk of disease after weeks of Israeli airstrikes. The increasing evacuation came as Israeli forces closed in on the centre of Gaza City, launching intense bombardments, and claimed Hamas had lost control of the north of the Gaza Strip.
The Economist reports on Gazans stranded in Israel and the West Bank: “Abu Anas, an intelligent man in his 40s going grey at the temples, was delighted when, in July, he received a permit to work in Israel. In Gaza he made no more than $10 a day as a labourer, when he could find the work; in Israel he could earn ten times as much on construction sites. Like many Gazans who found regular jobs in Israel, he lodged in Rahat, a Bedouin Arab city in the south of the country for several weeks at a time. “When the war began, we were worried. We didn’t feel safe,” Abu Anas, who didn’t want me to use his real name, told me.
The Standard reports that the “Let’s Keep The World Clean” placard with the figure of someone throwing the Israeli flag into a dustbin finally made its way to Trafalgar Square last weekend. It was only a matter of time. We have arrived at the point at which protesters accusing Israel of genocide are simultaneously calling for genocide against Israel. If only there was some example from recent history to help them understand what genocide really means.
In Yediot Ahronot, Nahum Barnea writes that the IDF is in a race against time and that “Israel has a pre-October 7 government that is not built for the October 8 reality. The dissonance between its immediate needs and the political conditions creates a problem. The result is increased American pressure for a ceasefire agreement.” Barnea adds “Netanyahu’s talk about a war for a long time is not a Churchillian vision to an anguished nation—it is a marketing substitute for a non-existent victory. Victory or war. The reality that awaits us is different: clashes with our ally, ceasefires, a prisoner release, extortion by bloodthirsty terrorists. Nonetheless, any person who is released alive from there should be seen as a victory. Every day that the troops advance without many losses is a victory. Less boasting, more humility. Sometimes, as I wrote this week, the understanding that there is no victory is also a victory.” He concludes that “Within a week, two weeks tops, Israel will have to agree to a ceasefire. The IDF will remain in the northern Gaza Strip, with a small number of troops, in something like a security zone. And then, what then? At the moment, Israel’s decision-makers have no answers.”
In Israel Hayom, Yoav Limor explains why the statements by the political-security leadership that there will be no ceasefire are important. “First, they show that Israel is serious in its intention to meet the strategic objective that it set for itself: to topple the Hamas regime and deny it military capabilities. Second, because they send a clear and sharp message to the world and to Hamas and can also be a major factor in the negotiations to release the hostages. And third, because the troops are not a yo-yo that can be played with.” He adds that “Israel can agree to short pauses of a few hours each time in order to lower the international pressure it faces on the humanitarian issue and to try and bring about the release of some of the hostages. But it cannot agree to more than that at this stage. Longer pauses will only serve Hamas. It will be able to obtain the water, food, and fuel that it no doubt lacks after five weeks of living in tunnels. It will be able to move troops to areas that have been hit and to strengthen its lines of defence against the IDF. It will be able to relocate the commanders and the hostages, and it will also be able to smuggle assets from the Gaza Strip into Sinai.”
In Yediot Ahronot, Sima Kadmon writes that “Whatever happens, and however this war ends, even if it ends the best way imaginable – it will not be a victory.” She argues that “if the military maneuver concludes successfully, but not all the hostages are returned – not only will it be impossible to speak of victory, but this war will also go down in history as a stinging defeat, a colossal failure, the climax of the crisis of faith between the citizens of the state and its leaders. If even a single hostage is left there, it will mean that the war’s objectives were not met.”
Amos Harel in Haaretz discusses the IDF’s progress. “The difficulty – compared to the American-Iraqi offensive against ISIS in Mosul around five years ago – is compounded by two elements: an extraordinarily ramified network of tunnels below ground, and many tall buildings above ground, though a considerable portion of them were destroyed in Israeli attacks. But it’s also worth remembering that victory in war is achieved when one side ceases to function, whether in the form of an outright surrender or because of the collapse of its systems. Hamas looks far from that at the moment. Its functioning in the northern Gaza Strip has been badly hurt, but surrender is not in sight.”
Ynet reports new polling data showing that Israeli citizens currently feel an unprecedented level of connection to the state and the challenges it faces. Particularly notable were the numbers for Israeli Arabs, who showed a remarkable, historic high 70 percent attachment to the state.
Yediot Ahronot also feature reports about violence in the West Bank in which the month since the war erupted has been especially tense. “Even though the troops have been substantially reinforced, the terror attacks have not stopped. Three weeks ago, Elhanan Klein was murdered by gunfire in an ambush while he was on his way home in the settlement Einav for a brief furlough from reserve duty. He left behind three children and a pregnant wife. Last Friday night, shots were fired at the settlement Rehelim and hit four houses. But instead of helping the IDF keep the West Bank out of the cycle of warfare, assaults by violent settlers have been taking place on a near-daily basis. It is not only the quantity of incidents, but also the audacity and level of violence. On the other hand, the army is making a huge effort to provide security to the settlements. Since the war began, 21 reserve battalions have been called up to defend the communities, the illegal outposts, and the agricultural farms in Judea and Samaria. Machine guns have been posted at the entrances to the settlements. Approximately 8,000 new rifles have been issued, allowing the civilian security teams to fortify themselves with soldiers defending the area, mostly reservists who live in the territories, and residents who joined the civilian security teams without being drafted.”