What happened: Hamas has continued to fire rockets into Israel, with over 200 hundred launched in the last 24 hours, including 70 overnight, despite a respite from 1am to 9am this morning (local time).
- The rockets were directed at southern Israel, including heavy barrages fired at Beer Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim and the Gaza periphery communities.
- In Sderot there were direct hits on houses, but no-one was seriously injured.
- Rocket fire resumed this morning towards the Gaza periphery communities and Ashkelon.
- The IDF also kept up its airstrikes against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) target overnight. The IDF attacked dozens of tunnels close to the border fence that Hamas planned to use to infiltrate Israeli territory. According to Kan News, the IDF also foiled a raid by 18 Hamas combatants who entered two tunnels. The IDF demolished these two tunnels and badly damaged Hamas’s underground ‘metro’ network.
- The IDF also continued to target rocket launching positions, including numerous multi-barrel launchers and a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility.
- In the north, four rockets were fired yesterday from southern Lebanon. Two landed in the sea, one in an uninhabited area and one was intercepted. The IDF responded with artillery fire towards the source of fire.
- US President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the fifth time yesterday since the conflict began. President Biden said he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire”.
- Following the call, Netanyahu said that he appreciated Biden’s support for Israel’s right to self-defence but was “determined to continue the operation in Gaza until it achieves the goal of restoring calm”.
Context: Over the last 11 days, Hamas and PIJ have fired over 4,070 rockets toward Israel. However, around 610 landed inside the Gaza Strip. The Iron Dome’s interception rate stands at around 90 per cent.
- There are reports that the IDF are now satisfied with the damage inflicted on Hamas’s network of tunnels and on its rocket production line. A decision to stop the campaign, however, rests with the political echelon.
- The Egyptians are continuing to push for a ceasefire. According to Israeli media reports, Hamas has agreed to their proposal and Egypt has shared it with regional partners and the US. Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat is liaising with Egyptian intelligence officials.
- The Egyptian proposal is that both sides will hold their fire at an agreed-upon time, and all the other details will be agreed on after quiet is resumed.
- Following Biden’s call with Netanyahu, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. The State Department statement said that Blinken repeated the message that the US expects a de-escalation of the situation ahead of a cease-fire.
- There is growing concern over the third occurance of rocket fire from Lebanon, even though the assessment is that it was Palestinian groups, not Hezbollah, responsible for the attack.
- However, due to Hezbollah’s control over southern Lebanon, it would not have happened without their consent.
- The relatively subdued Israeli response indicates the IDF have no desire to open up a second front, but they felt the need to respond following similar incidents of rocket fire and disturbances on the border last weekend.
Looking ahead: A high-ranking Hamas official told CNN Arabic that a cease-fire agreement was likely in the next 24 hours. Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said that he believed the efforts to reach a cease-fire would succeed within a day or two.
- Similarly, other sources suggest that Israel will agree to a ceasefire by Friday afternoon.
- The foreign ministers of Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia will arrive in Israel today to express support and solidarity with Israel. More international figures are expected to visit next week.
- Later today the UN General Assembly will convene to discuss the ongoing conflict.