Continued fighting across Gaza, with two further cases of UNRWA being compromised


Gaza Strip: The precision operation in Eastern Rafah has been extended into three more neighbourhoods, with the IDF claiming to have killed around 100 terrorists.

  • This morning, the IDF announced the death of Sgt. Ira Yair Gispan, a 19 year-old resident of Petah Tikva, who was killed in action, the first Israeli fatality in the Rafah operation.
  • There have been two further examples of Hamas operating in close proximity to the UN.
  • During IDF operational activity in eastern Rafah on Saturday, terrorists were identified in UNRWA’s central logistics compound alongside UN vehicles. The IDF released footage  of armed terrorists next to UN vehicles and in the area of UNRWA’s logistics warehouse compound in eastern Rafah.
  • This is a central point for UNRWA’s distribution of aid.
  • IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Hagari said, “Today, we revealed unusual footage of armed terrorists next to UN vehicles, which we located a few days ago, and shooting inside an UNRWA compound in eastern Rafah. We forwarded the findings to senior members of the international community, and called on the UN to urgently investigate the connection between UNRWA’s logistics centres to Hamas operatives by their vehicles.”
  • In a second incident in Nuseirat yesterday, a joint IDF and Shin Bet announcement noted, “a Hamas war room embedded inside an UNRWA school used by Hamas commanders was targeted in a precise strike by the IDF and ISA; Over 10 Hamas terrorists were eliminated in the strike.”
  • Adding, “the war room was used by terrorist operatives in Hamas’ military wing. The strike was carried out using precise munitions in order to minimise harm to uninvolved civilians. The Hamas war room had been used by the terrorist organization to plan multiple attacks against IDF troops in central Gaza in recent weeks. The Nukhba terrorists situated inside the war room took part in the October 7th Massacre and carried out ambushes and attacks on IDF troops in the Gaza Strip. In the IAF strike, approximately 15 operatives from terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip were eliminated, more than 10 of which were part of Hamas.
  • In addition, several other soldiers sustained  injuries fighting Hamas terrorists elsewhere in the Strip.
  • The IDF have killed several terrorists in face-to-face fighting. They also found, confiscated and destroyed rocket launchers and other weapons.
  • Despite IDF operations, five rockets were fired at Sderot, Ibim and Nir Am yesterday. Three of the rockets were intercepted and two landed in open areas.
  • Elsewhere in Gaza, IDF troops have also intensified operations in Jabaliya. According to the IDF, “Over the past day, IDF troops in the area have engaged in intense battles with dozens of terrorist cells and eliminated a large number of terrorists. In one of the joint ground and aerial strikes in the area, the terrorist cell that fired toward the city of Sderot  on Tuesday was eliminated.”
  • Over the past day, IAF aircraft struck and eliminated approximately 80 terror targets including military compounds, weapons storage facilities, missile launchers, observation posts, and additional terrorist infrastructure.
  • Whilst this morning, the IDF concluded part of its operational activity in the Zeitoun area.

Northern front: Once more, throughout Tuesday, alarms were sounded as several anti-tank missiles were launched into northern Israel.

  • Since then, over 100 rockets have been fired towards Israel.
  • In Adamit in the western Galilee, an IDF soldier was moderately injured and four additional soldiers were lightly injured.
  • In the familiar pattern, in response Israel Air Force jets struck a Hezbollah military structures.
  • In addition, the IDF announced they “eliminated the terrorist Hussain Ibrahim Mekky in the area of Tyre, southern Lebanon. Mekky was a senior field commander in the Hezbollah terrorist organisation on the southern front, who was responsible for the planning and execution of numerous terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and territory since the start of the war.”
  • Hezbollah officially confirmed his death, also noting that he was an associate of Mohammad Reza Zahedi, the Iranian official who was killed in Damascus in April.
  • Hezbollah also confirmed he is their 300th fatality since October.

Context: Although now being expanded, Israel is still limiting its operations in Rafah to pinpoint missions. Concern for the safety of any hostages being held in Rafah, along with the over one million civilians, is allied to a desire to reduce tensions with Egypt which have been inflamed over Cairo’s opposition to any operation in Rafah.

  • It is estimated that close to half a million people have left Rafah, most of whom were encouraged to leave by the IDF in the eastern sector, but also many from other parts of the city that have chosen to leave.
  • Israeli-Egyptian tensions over an operation in Rafah have intensified in recent weeks.
  • Egypt recently announced its support for South Africa’s case at the ICJ accusing Israel of genocide.
  • Israel’s peace deal with Egypt is one of its most significant regional accords, and Egyptian officials have been careful not to indicate that it is at risk. “The situation is difficult,” said one senior Egyptian official this week, “but we haven’t reached, and I hope we do not reach, that stage.”
  • Israeli officials were quoted expressing shock at the news of Egypt’s support for the South African case. “It isn’t the statement about The Hague that troubles us,” said one, “but the fact that it is part of a problematic whole. We are in a situation we haven’t been in in the past in the relations between the countries. Egypt is showing us that it no longer has patience for us. That is sad and worrisome.”
  • The Gaza conflict has had a consequences for Egypt, including the loss of income due to the Houthis attacks which has caused many of the ships to choosing an alternative route, thus diminishing the use of the Suez canal.
  • The operation in Rafah risks Gazan population attempts to flee into Egypt. Already around 100,000 Gazans have entered into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing, and there is heighted concern for a further influx.
  • Last week, a Jewish Canadian businessman, (who also held an Israeli passport) Ziv Kiefer, was murdered in a terror attack Alexandria. This primarily reflects badly on Egypt, and troubles their image as their other major source of income is tourism.
  • From the Israeli perspective, there is frustration that the Egyptians failed in their role as mediators over the latest round of hostage talks. The terms that Hamas agreed to, were partly a result of Egypt over accommodation of Hamas demands including:
    • Hamas cannot guarantee how many of the 33 female soldiers, sick and elderly are still alive.
    • Hamas refusing Israel’s insistence to have a veto over certain heavyweight terrorists that will be released in exchange.
    • The sequencing of the deal: how may hostages will be released after how many days.
    • Hamas are also seeking a longer pause: 12 weeks as opposed to 6 in an effort to end the fighting completely – something Israel will only consider for the release of all the hostages.

Looking ahead: There is concern that the Israeli – Egyptian tension could lead Egypt to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

  • However, there is still hope that Israel and Egypt can resolve their disagreements and maintain their crucial strategic ties.
  • Further precise operations across Gaza are anticipated as intelligence shows Hamas fighters rebuilding their capacity in other areas vacated by the IDF.
  • Despite further evidence of UNRWA-Hamas connections, the IDF is determined to continue to distribute aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip.