Gallant says ground operation approaching as Israel kills 5 senior Hamas operatives


What happened: Defence Minister Gallant stated that a ground war was approaching, that Israel would win the war, and it would make a “supreme effort” to return the hostages.

  • “We are in decisive moments. This is a war for our home and we will win it. It’s either us or them,” Gallant said.
  • Discussing a ground incursion, Gallant detailed that “additional stages in the war will also come, we are creating the conditions for them and we will carry them out. I am determined… to ensure the State of Israel is victorious over this tough and evil enemy — over this epitome of evil.”

In the south: The IDF conducted targeted raids in the Gaza Strip and struck dozens of terror targets belonging to Hamas. Yesterday, IDF ground forces, accompanied by IDF fighter jets and UAVs, conducted an additional targeted raid in the central Gaza Strip hitting Hamas targets in the Shuja’iyya area and throughout Gaza.

  • The IDF announced it had killed five senior Hamas commanders yesterday in airstrikes, including three senior commanders in Hamas’s Daraj-Tuffah Battalion, which “played a significant role in the invasion and murderous attack against Israel on October 7th,” and is “considered the most significant brigade of the Hamas terrorist organisation.”. Those Daraj-Tuffah terrorists killed were:
    • The battalion’s commander, Rifaat Abbas.
    • The deputy commander, Ibrahim Jadba.
    • A combat support commander, Tarek Maarouf.
  • Also killed in IDF strikes were:
    • Shadi Barud, the deputy head of Hamas’s intelligence directorate who planned the October 7 attacks with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.
    • Hassan al-Abdullah, the head of Hamas’s North Khan Younis rocket array.
  • Hamas continued to fire missiles at the Israeli home front. Air raid sirens sounded yesterday in Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Bat Yam, Givatayim, Ramat Gan, Holon and others, following a heavy barrage of rockets from Gaza. In total, over 7,000 rockets have been fired at Israel.
  • A building in the central city of Petah Tikvah was damaged in a rocket attack on central Israel.
  • President Herzog visited Rahat where he met with and offered sympathy to Bedouin leaders and families of hostages held by Hamas. “I say to everyone around the world, that this is not a war between Jews and Muslims. This is a war between the people of who seek to bring light and the people who seek to bring darkness. Between good and bad. Between good and evil. This is the war that we are fighting.”
  • Officials confirmed a report that Israel is considering allowing fuel into Gaza in exchange for the release of hostages, if a large exchange deal is proposed, although no such concrete proposal is on the agenda.

In the north: The IDF carried out a drone strike against a Hezbollah cell which was preparing to launch an anti-tank guided missile attack against an army post on the northern border. Hezbollah has so far named 46 members killed by Israel since the war began.

  • Gallant said Israel was “not interested in widening the war, but will deal with it if necessary,” emphasising that Israel was “ready for any eventuality”.

US strikes Iranian targets: Two US fighter jets struck weapons and ammunition facilities near Abu Kamal, a Syrian town on the border with Iraq on Friday morning, in response to attacks on US forces by Iranian-backed militia, as concerns grew that the Israel-Hamas conflict may spread in the Middle East.

  • The Pentagon said that President Biden ordered strikes on the two facilities used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and militia groups that it backs. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop.”

Diplomacy: Israel criticised Russia for a meeting it hosted with Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas’s political bureau in Moscow.

  • “Israel sees the invitation of senior Hamas officials to Moscow as an obscene step that gives support to terrorism and legitimises the atrocities of Hamas terrorists,” tweeted Foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry argued that the release of the hostages was discussed as well as the evacuation of Russian and other foreign citizens from Gaza.
  • Foreign ministers of the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco blasted Israel for killing civilians. In a joint statement calling on the UN Security Council to implement an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, they argued that “self-defence does not justify violations of international law, and deliberate disregard for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
  • Israel is seeking to block a General Assembly resolution. “The drafters of the resolution claim to be concerned about ‘peace,’” Ambassador Erdan said, “yet the depraved murderers who initiated this war are not even mentioned in the resolution.”

Context: This is the second night of a limited IDF ground incursion followed by a withdrawal.

  • Israel continues to try and balance between its military aims of toppling Hamas in Gaza and releasing the over 200 hostages.
  • Qatar is pressuring the Israeli government to agree to a deal to release the hostages at the expense of giving up on the ground operation. There is currently talk of a deal that will include women and children in exchange for humanitarian gestures. However, Hamas and Qatar are stalling in the belief this helps improve their negotiating power and postpones Israel carrying out a ground operation.
  • In his speech on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that the war’s two aims were to “eliminate Hamas by destroying its military and governance capabilities, and to do everything possible to get our hostages back.”
  • Yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said at the UN that that if Israel’s offensive against Hamas did not stop the US would “not be spared from this fire”.
  • US and coalition troops have already been attacked at least 19 times in Iraq and in Syria by Iran-backed forces in the past week. On Thursday, a US base at Kharab al-Jir in Syria was attacked for the second time in two days, and a base in western Iraq was also hit.
  • Yesterday Opposition leader Lapid presented a plan for government to better support Israelis. The eight-part plan covers education, small business support, increased mental health care, and measures to ease the economic burden on families whose members have mobilised. These include small and medium-sized businesses being supplied with economic allowances and flexible grants, flexible economic allowances for families of reserve soldiers who were called up, and enlisting more therapists and transferring the responsibility and budget for them to local authorities.

Looking ahead: A (non-binding and generally symbolic) General Assembly resolution will be voted on today and is expected to pass. The text calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all civilian hostages, the protection of civilians and international institutions, and ensuring the safe passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza.