Netanyahu: No ceasefire without the release of hostages

  • Prime Minister Netanyahu told US network ABC News that Israel would remain in control “for an indefinite period [Israel] will have the overall security responsibility [of the Strip] because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” Netanyahu explained, “When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine.”
  • Asked whether Israel will accede to US pressure to implement humanitarian pauses to allow the delivery of additional aid and for civilians to flee, Netanyahu said “there’ll be no cease-fire, general cease-fire, in Gaza without the release of our hostages.”
  • “As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there. We’ve had them before, I suppose, will check the circumstances in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don’t think there’s going to be a general cease-fire.”
  • He added, “I think it will hamper the war effort. It’ll hamper our effort to get our hostages out because the only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure that we’re exerting.”
  • When asked if would take responsibility for the failures on October 7 Netanyahu replied, “of course” but that was “going to be resolved after the war.” Adding, “The first task of government is to protect the people and, clearly, we didn’t live up to that.”

Gaza Strip: IDF forces continue to advance into more neighbourhoods within Gaza City.

  • As they advanced troops documented a children’s scouts clubhouse also housed rocket launchers.
  • In a second location troops exposed a rocket launching site within the compound of a mosque which included an electricity cable running inside the mosque and more than 50 rockets that were ready for firing.
  • The IDF confirmed they killed another senior field commander, Wael Asefa, the head of Hamas’s Deir al-Balah Battalion. Asefa was one of the commanders responsible for sending Hamas “Nukhba” terrorists into Israeli on October 7th.
  • The IDF also confirmed they have taken control of another Hamas military stronghold in the northern Gaza Strip. The post was found to contain anti-tank missile launchers, weapons and intelligence materials.
  • Israel again opened a safe passage to allowing Gazan civilians to leave the north for the south. IDF soldiers checked IDs and made some arrests of known fighters among the civilians.
  • Defence Minister Gallant taunted the Hamas leader saying, “Sinwar is hiding in a bunker and is letting the field commanders die on the ground.”

The north: Around 30 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon at Israel’s northern communities in the space of an hour yesterday.

  • No Israeli injuries were reported, as sirens sounded in Nahariya, Acre, and several nearby towns in the Western Galilee and the Krayot areas.
  • Responsibility for 16 of the rockets was claimed by Hamas in southern Lebanon, who said it had fired at Nahariya, Haifa, and other towns.
  • The IDF responded with artillery fire on the sources of the rocket launches, later also targeting airstrikes on Hezbollah positions, including a site housing “technological assets,” a weapons depot, rocket launch positions and other infrastructure.
  • With the majority of the 20,000 residents of Kiryat Shmona already having fled south following previous rocket fire from Lebanon, Israeli authorities urged the remaining approximately 3,000 to evacuate.

West Bank: In a joint operation the Israeli security establishment carried out a targeted strike in Tulkarem against a vehicle with four terror suspects inside.

  • Among the four were both the local head of the Hamas military and the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, (Fatah’s military wing).
  • According to the Shin Bet, they were responsible for dozens of past shooting attacks and had also been planning additional attacks, including planting explosives.
  • In the last month more than 1,350 wanted men have been arrested, over half were affiliated with Hamas.

Context: As the IDF advance inside the Gaza Strip the military echelon continue to ask for patience to carry out their mission.

  • The political leadership is inclined to support the military, but wary that international pressure will also increase.
  • Precise Palestinian casualty figures are difficult to reliably report, given that information on them comes from the Hamas-run Health Ministry. According to the ministry’s figures, over 10,000 Gazans have died since October 7th
  • Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas have not announced how many of their fighters have been killed, but Israeli estimates that over 3,000 fighters have been killed.
  • Compounding the issue, yesterday new footage emerged of combatants launching rockets in civilian clothes, another violation of international law.
  • It is estimated the IDF has killed around 15 battalion commanders, but targeting Hamas’ most senior leaders remains a high priority.
  • There is concern that some senior commanders could have fled south among the civilian population. There is also concern that there may still be underground tunnels running north to south underneath the bisected strip.
  • The IDF civilian crossing is the first time the Gazan civilian population have directly encountered IDF troops since Israel’s withdrawal in 2005.
  • In a further effort to rehabilitate the image of the Israeli military, yesterday Lt Gen. Halevi the IDF Chief of Staff spoke of unprecedented coordination between fighter jets and troops on the ground. In direct communication the fighter jets operated within 200 metres of ground forces striking a terror cell preparing an ambush in adjacent building 130 metres from ground troops.
  • Monday’s rocket fire from Lebanon came a day after an Israeli civilian was killed by an anti-tank guided missile, the second civilian killed on Israel’s side of the border in attacks by Hezbollah and Palestinian Lebanon-based terrorists since October 7. Six IDF soldiers have also been killed in the north.
  • Hezbollah targets are struck in response to rocket fire, regardless of whether they came from their sites or those of Palestinian terror groups operating in southern Lebanon. As the de facto ruling authority in the area, Hezbollah is considered responsible.
  • According to AFP calculations, at least 81 people on the Lebanese side of the border have been killed, including at least 63 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, a number of civilians, and one journalist.
  • In a speech last Friday, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah made clear that the October 7th attacks were planned entirely by Hamas.
  • Israeli military and intelligence continue to estimate that Nasrallah does not seek a major escalation on the northern border, but is planning for the worst-case scenario. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Sunday that the military was “ready at any moment to go on the offence in the north.”
  • For the last month, at least 240 Israelis have remained hostages inside Gaza.

Looking ahead: Shifa Hospital in Gaza City remains a significant target, as it is considered to be one of Hamas’s major headquarters. Israel is anticipating a PR success when it can prove this decade-old claim.

  • There are plans to remove civilian patients from the hospital. One option is to evacuate them to a French naval hospital off the coast.
  • The UAE is also planning to set up a field hospital in southern Gaza.
  • Though no official policy on a post-Hamas Gaza has been declared, various scenarios have been speculated, including the Palestinian Authority assuming control with the support of regional and international actors.