|The Telegraph reports that Israel shot down a ballistic missile using its Arrow missile-defence system, in what is believed to be the first combat to ever have taken place in space. The Arrow missile-defence system took out a ballistic missile fired over 1,000km away in Yemen.
The Telegraph further reports that a hospital in Gaza funded by foreign Muslim donors was custom-built with tunnels for Hamas terrorists to use, Israel claimed on Sunday. In a briefing to international media, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari played video footage showing an underground entrance on the site of the Qatari-built Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Hospital in Gaza City, which he said connects to the wide Hamas tunnel network. Another clip shared by the IDF shows Hamas gunmen firing from inside the hospital at Israeli forces outside, Mr Hagari claimed. The Indonesia Hospital – “funded by several NGOs from Indonesia” – had been equipped with tunnels for Hamas to use when its foundations were being built in 2010, Mr Hagari said.
The Telegraph and The Independent both report that Israel’s military said it has encircled Gaza City and divided “the besieged coastal strip into two”.
Sky News writes on what potential escalations in the conflict could look like, saying that “the unresolved regional issues have led to decades of deteriorating living conditions for Palestinians, high unemployment of 50 percent, and a growing sense of despair at the bleak prospects for the region. Hamas (and Iran) has exploited this despair by routinely conducting rocket attacks against Israel which eventually provokes a robust military response. However, on this occasion, Hamas’s deplorable actions triggered a significantly more dramatic reaction from Mr Netanyahu. He declared war on Hamas.”
Sky News reports from the National Center of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv, where remains of victims from October 7 are brought to be identified. Interviewing the Director of the centre, Chen Kugel, they report that “Mr Kugel has witnessed a pattern of brutality that haunts him and it’s on a massive scale.” The Economist further reports on the recovery effort, saying: “two weeks after the Hamas invasion of Israel, Moshe Ajami, deputy director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, received a call from the Israel Defence Forces (idf) asking for help. Ajami has built a career meticulously unearthing layers of biblical archaeology. Now his expertise in identifying charred and disintegrated remains was required to find bodies in the burnt-out houses on the kibbutzim which Hamas overran on October 7.”
The Economist reports on President Biden’s Iran problem, saying: “Having abandoned the Trump-era approach of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran, in recent months the Biden administration had sought quietly to reduce tensions. Today, however, not only has Iran celebrated Hamas’s attacks and through its proxies threatened American interests. It also appears to be acting with the tacit co-operation of Russia, and even China, in a loose grouping of autocracies. That raises grave questions about whether Mr Biden can refashion a new strategy for the Middle East.”
The Economist further reports on Hezbollah, saying that the speech given by Hassan Nasrallah on November 3rd “was the most momentous speech he ever gave, and it was underwhelming… His militant group has been involved almost since the start, launching scores of rockets and, more recently, explosive-laden drones at northern Israel. It warned that it would escalate the fighting if Israel went ahead with a ground invasion of Gaza, which Israel did a week before Mr Nasrallah spoke. The days leading up to his speech were tense in Lebanon. Supporters released a series of slick videos of Mr Nasrallah, which were meant to look ominous—although the aesthetic was not so much a declaration of war as a trailer for a new Marvel film.”
The Financial Times reports Yahya Sinwar, widely known as Abu Ibrahim, who had helped build Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades. Decades before he orchestrated the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel, Sinwar was jailed by an Israeli military tribunal for multiple murders. His response: to study Hebrew. “[Vladimir] Jabotinsky and [Menachem] Begin and [Yitzhak] Rabin — he read all the books that came out about prominent Israeli figures,” said Micha Kobi, who interrogated Sinwar for the Shin Bet intelligence service. “He learned us from the bottom all the way to the top.”
The Financial Times also reports that British Jews are “fearful” and UK society is showing a lack of “moral clarity” about the importance of Jewish lives in the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel last month, the deputy prime minister has said. Oliver Dowden warned on Sunday that he harboured concerns about pro-Palestinian protests after fireworks were set off during a demonstration in central London on Saturday and four police officers were injured.
The Financial Times further reports that US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s push for a “pause” in Israel’s assault on Gaza has highlighted how allies are pivoting from unconditional support for Israeli self-defence to a focus on the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territory. Over the past 10 days, amid soaring numbers of civilian casualties and brutal imagery of Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza, a significant shift in tone and rhetoric has occurred, with western allies calling for pauses in the conflict in order to help protect the enclave’s non-combatants, and free hostages held by the terror group.
The BBC reports that an Irishman who was told his eight-year-old daughter had been killed by Hamas in Israel has now been told that she may still be alive. Dublin-born Tom Hand was initially informed that Emily Hand was among a group of people killed in an attack on a kibbutz on 7 October. The Irish embassy in Israel confirmed to Irish broadcaster RTÉ that Emily was now believed to have been abducted rather than killed. An official from the embassy said tests had shown her DNA was not found among victims in Kibbutz Be’eri.
The Guardian also reports that relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to make significant concessions to secure the freedom of their loved ones. Netanyahu has told families that freeing the hostages is “one of the missions” of the war being waged against Hamas, but has so far not said that he will prioritise obtaining their release above the military objective of destroying the extremist Islamist organisation.
Israel Hayom’s Yoav Limor assesses the state of play on day 31 of the war. “On the operational-tactical level,” he writes, “Israel has the upper hand for now. The operation in Gaza is progressing as planned and is likely to chalk up more achievements as it proceeds. Anyone who expected a lightning-fast operation doesn’t understand the current battlefield. The IDF is coping with unprecedented challenges, but if it is given time and support—it will deliver results.” Limor also considers the Israeli position in the light of repeated US demands for a humanitarian pause. “Israel will likely agree to pinpoint solutions, not broad ones (a truce, not a ceasefire),” he says, “but will try to have them include a solution for the hostages. Jerusalem knows that this is playing for time and it hopes that its achievements and the pressure on the population might paint Yahya Sinwar into a corner and facilitate extracting concessions from him.”
Yediot Ahronot’s Yossi Yehoshua focusses on the northern front, following the death of an Israeli civilian from Hezbollah anti-tank missile fire in the border area yesterday. “The Northern Command’s defensive actions truly have improved significantly, but a lot of questions about the offensive remain. Northern Command officials have noted with satisfaction that nearly 70 Hezbollah operatives have been killed in battles (compared to seven IDF soldiers) and that Palestinian squads that operated and acted on Hezbollah orders were also neutralised. There is no question that the IDF is not indifferent to Hezbollah’s capabilities and it is taking steps to weaken them. But the [Hezbollah] Radwan Force is still deployed along the border fence, and that is enough to guarantee that the civilians who were evacuated cannot return.”
Yehoshua’s Yediot Ahronot colleague Nahum Barnea offers several concerns about the conduct of the war. “When a ‘senior security official’ begins to define the war’s achievements by the number of dead on the other side—2,000, 10,000 or 20,000—I begin to worry,” he writes. “That is how the generals sold the Vietnam War to the American public. They didn’t understand that the fate of the war would be decided by the number of casualties on their side, not the enemy’s side.” Barnea also criticises Prime Minister Netanyahu for continuing to appear to cast blame on others for the failures contributing to the devastation seen on October 7th. Having previously implicated the directors of the Shin Bet and military intelligence, Netanyahu yesterday appeared to give weight to the idea that the protests of reservists against the collation’s programme of judicial reforms contributed to Israel’s weakness. “Netanyahu knows that that is a fallacy and a knife that is needlessly being plunged into the fighting reservists’ backs,” Barnea says, “but he couldn’t resist.”
Barnea also criticises the government for failing to give due consideration to the plan for a post-Hamas Gaza. With the US positioning Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party as the natural heirs to power in the Strip, Barnea says the government “has dodged responsibility. It hasn’t formulated a stance; it hasn’t reported to the public and it has continued to sell it the line that the PA security forces are Nazis. But it is precisely with those Nazis that the government is going to have to come to an accommodation; it doesn’t have any others.”
Ynet features former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders saying in a CNN interview that “I don’t know how you can have a permanent cease-fire with an organisation like Hamas which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the State of Israel. And I think what the Arab countries in the region understand is that Hamas has got to go.”
Kan Radio reports that the Jordanian air force has parachuted medical equipment and medicine into a field hospital that it set up in the Gaza Strip. It is not yet clear if this was done in coordination with Israel.
Army Radio reveals that the French navy has proposed establishing a ship hospital off the Gaza coast to treat injured Gazans and ease the burden on the Strip’s overcrowded hospitals.
Kan Radio also reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu is to summon Heritage Minister Amichay Eliyahu, of the Jewish Power Party, to rebuke him over his comments in a Sunday interview saying that dropping an atomic bomb on Gaza was a feasible option.
Channel 12 reports former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting Israel yesterday. Alongside former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Johnson visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where 100 residents were murdered by Hamas. He said what he had seen was “horrifying” and he wished people around the world could see with “clarity” what had happened, “so people could be under no illusions about the savagery, the sadism, the lack of humanity of Hamas terrorists… of course, it is right for Israel to take the necessary steps… to stop that happening again,” he said.