Media Summary

The BBC, The Financial Times and The Guardian report that deliveries of medicine for Israeli hostages and Palestinian civilians were expected to start arriving in Gaza on Wednesday under a deal mediated by Qatar and France. 


The BBCThe Financial Times and The Guardian report that deliveries of medicine for Israeli hostages and Palestinian civilians were expected to start arriving in Gaza on Wednesday under a deal mediated by Qatar and France.

Sky News and The Telegraph report that Gary Lineker has removed a social media post that called for Israel to be banned from international football. The former England star, now one of the highest profile presenters on the BBC, retweeted a post by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) on X, formerly Twitter. The Times responds with an article saying: “There already is a sporting boycott of Israel’s footballers, Gary. That’s why they play in Europe. The 18th edition of the AFC Asian Cup is under way right now in Qatar. Palestine are competing, Israel are not.”

The BBC reports that ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has called for a “permanent and immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, jumping into the heated debates over the conflict. The move is in keeping with the brand, which previously tried to stop sales in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, provoking a clash with owner Unilever.

The BBC reports that the mother of an Israeli hostage accidentally killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza has described hostage videos released by Hamas as “psychological warfare”. A video released by Hamas on 15 January appears to show the bodies of two hostages, Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky. The Telegraph publishes a piece on the hostages still held captive in Gaza.

The Telegraph reports that Iran has said that it destroyed an Israeli “spy headquarters” in a missile attack near the US consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. Israel has not acknowledged or confirmed the target of the attack.

Roger Boyes writes in The Times: “Security is tighter than usual at the Davos gabfest in Switzerland this year, perhaps because the penny has finally dropped for the business elite: globalisation, the conference’s guiding creed, is in the crosshairs. The fact is, war is everywhere, spreading across regions, turning every maritime choke point into a potential danger zone, blocking the passage of Ukrainian grain to developing countries. And then there’s the unchecked, frequently menacing build-up of Chinese naval power in Asia.”

The Guardian reports that US senators have defeated a measure, introduced by Bernie Sanders, that would have made military aid to Israel conditional on whether the Israeli government is violating human rights and international accords. A majority of senators struck down the proposal on Tuesday evening, with 72 voting to kill the measure, and 11 supporting it.

The Guardian further reports on the decision of the International Cricket Council to not get involved in the decision by Cricket South Africa to strip David Teeger of his captaincy of their under-19 side, after the move was described by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies as a “disgrace” for which “the only explanation is plain antisemitism”. CSA met the Board of Deputies on Tuesday morning in an attempt to defuse the row over Teeger’s demotion, which was announced last week and apparently was blamed on security concerns in the leadup to the Under-19 World Cup.

Reuters reports that Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawaneh said on Tuesday that peace with Israel remained a strategic choice but any push to drive Palestinians to the kingdom would pose an “existentialist” threat. Jordan, which shares a border with the West Bank, fears that the Gaza conflict could spread with wider violence by armed settlers encouraged by the army triggering a large-scale Palestinian exodus to the other side of the Jordan River.

Ynet reports that the families of Yossi Sharabi and Itai Svirsky have been told that their relatives have been murdered in captivity in Gaza. “It is with heartbreak and deep sorrow that we learned this evening of the murder of Itai Svirsky and Yossi Sharabi,” said a statement from Kibbutz Be’eri, from where the two men were kidnapped. “Their bodies are in the hands of Hamas; we will demand their return along with the rest of our hostages. Our hearts are with the families in their immense pain.”

Meanwhile, Army Radio features several relatives of hostages reporting that American officials who are involved in negotiating a new hostage deal told them that significant progress has been  made towards a new hostage deal.

Much of the commentary across Israeli media focusses on where the return of the hostages fits into current Israeli war aims. In Yediot Ahronot, Ronen Bergman writes: “For 100 days official Israel—the government, the defence minister and the IDF—has been saying that the first of the war’s objectives—stripping Hamas of its capabilities—is an objective that facilitates and fuels the achievement of the second objective—freeing the hostages. That assertion is so deeply embedded in the entire Israeli establishment’s throat, and has been echoed by the security establishment and its representatives in the media, that it has become all-but axiomatic without the establishment’s spokespersons having been asked to show that that formula actually works, and without sharing the footnotes that validate that assertion, which is the excuse, alibi and national stimulant propelling the ground manoeuvre.”

In Haaretz¸ Amos Harel argues that “the two main goals of the war in the Gaza Strip – dismantling Hamas’ capabilities and creating conditions for the return of the hostages – not only clash, but their timetables aren’t synchronised.” While the IDF has moved into the third phase of the war strategy – in which IDF forces in Gaza are thinned out and the army transitions to more localised operations – senior officers are saying that this phase will last several months. This, Harel notes, puts the remaining hostages in Gaza in “real and growing danger”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, “also keeps repeating his empty slogans (‘we’ll fight until victory’), but in his case, this stems mainly from considerations of political survival. Netanyahu knows that despite the growing public support for a hostage deal that would include difficult concessions, such a deal would break up his government, because his far-right partners would likely quit over it.” Harel also fears that despite Israel’s advances in Khan Yunis, “there’s no guarantee that either Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, or the hostages are still in the tunnels under Khan Yunis rather than having moved to Rafah over the past few weeks. Sinwar might well feel safer in Rafah, where almost 1.5 million Palestinians provide an aboveground human shield.”

Yediot Ahronot’s Sima Kadmon also criticises what she presents as the muddled thinking of the political echelon regarding the war in Gaza. “Even the defence minister said the other day that the failure to make policy decisions will undermine the military operation,” she writes. “What more do we need than an incisive and challenging question of that kind being put by the defence minister to his own government? It isn’t only the defence minister either. The IDF chief of staff spoke in similar terms as well. He said that the IDF’s achievements would be eroded in the absence of political objectives. Who else needs to tell Netanyahu that all that is his responsibility, and that this debacle will be in his name too? Or maybe not. Maybe Netanyahu won’t take responsibility for that either, and will successfully normalise the abnormal—a war without any planning for the day after, without any political achievement and without any exit strategy. Instead, maybe we will simply continue to plod ahead without a plan for another year or two, just so long as this war, which is the only thing keeping him in office and keeping everything that threatens him at bay, remains ongoing.” Kadmon also urges greater decisiveness from Opposition members and War Cabinet ministers Gantz and Eisenkot. “The time has come for us to hear what Gantz thinks: is he in favour of the continued prosecution of the wear or a hostage deal? We’ve heard what Eisenkot’s position is on that issue, though not directly from him. By all signs, he is in favour of a deal, even at the cost of stopping the war. Either way, he needs to speak to us. Speak to us, Gadi. Your position is important. Tell us how much influence you have in the cabinet. Tell us how you’re contributing if no deal is on the table and the IDF has already transitioned to the third stage of the war and, by the looks of things, may have already transitioned to the fourth or fifth stage of the war.”

Israel Hayom’s Amnon Lord rejects demands for greater planning for the ‘day after’. “Plans for the day after,” he writes, “encourage Sinwar to think that the war is nearing its end. All he needs to do is to survive for the hostages’ fate to be included in the political plan [on the day after]. Obviously, for ethical and security reasons, no plan for Gaza’s future and the State of Israel’s future should be linked to a hostage deal.”

Of the third phase drawdown of forces, Ynet’s Ron Ben Yishai says that “the barrage of rockets on the southern city of Netivot on Tuesday must force Israel to pause and rethink its decision to withdraw some of its forces from the refugee camps in central Gaza.” The rockets emanated from areas of Gaza in which IDF forces had previously engaged terrorists, of which Ben Yishai observes: “As long as launch sites and command and control locations are active in Gaza, the IDF’s job is not complete and Hamas terror infrastructure remain intact, without which there can be no safety for residents near the Gaza border. The military should examine if there is a need to go back and complete the mission.”

Similarly, Maariv quotes an interview with Likud MK Danny Danon, who says “we see that unfortunately the IDF is withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, the determined military effort that I believe in is unfortunately changing direction, [and] it is also time to take stock of what we are doing now and how we are doing it.”

In the same vein, Maariv also quotes Opposition member Gideon Saar, who said: “Lowering the intensity of IDF activity in the Gaza Strip and reducing the number of troops in it under the current circumstances is a mistake. The security cabinet must make the decision to increase military pressure on Hamas immediately. We need to stipulate that changes to the war’s features are to be made based on a study of the progress made in achieving the objectives, and not on timetables.”

Conversely, Yossi Yehoshua, in Yediot Ahronot, argues that even had the thinning out of troops not occurred, “Hamas would still have rocket capabilities. No number of human troops can prevent that, though offensive activity can certainly depress the volume.”