What’s happened: The temporary ceasefire came into effect at 0500 UK time this morning.
- Fifteen minutes in, a single rocket was fired out of Gaza, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence. Israel has not responded and since then there has been quiet.
- Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron was in Israel yesterday. In his meeting with President Herzog, Cameron explained his motivation behind the visit, “I wanted to come, and I wanted to go to the south of the country to see for myself some of the horrific acts that were carried out by Hamas, by these terrorists when they came into your country. I went to Kibbutz Be’eri and I won’t forget what I saw. It makes a very deep impression, and it’s important that people know that.”
- Cameron added, “you have our support. We stand with the people of Israel at this difficult time.”
- He continued, “of course, all hostages must come out because hostage taking is immoral, and wrong and a terrorist tactic. And some of them are British hostages – so we have a strong interest with you. But I think this humanitarian pause is also an opportunity to get aid into Gaza. And we want to help you with that by increasing the aid we send by helping with the logistics, by helping in any way that we can. I think it is vitally important that we demonstrate to the Palestinian people, to the world, that we want to help. Those people need food, they need water, they need medicine. They need fuel, because it’s essential to be able to get the aid around Gaza to work desalination plants, to make sure that hospitals can run. So I think there’s a real opportunity to use this pause to help deliver that, and I hope that can go ahead.”
- Herzog also related to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, noting, “we are very much aware… we are taking major steps in order to alleviate, to increase the support and the assistance that goes to the citizens of Gaza. Rest assured that we are committed to whatever is necessary, according to the basic rules of international humanitarian law.”
- Cameron also met Prime Minister Netanyahu who told him that after the ceasefire, Israel would continue to “eradicate Hamas,” explaining, “because Hamas has already promised that they will do this again and again and again. They’re a genocidal terrorist cult. There’s no hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and the Arab states, if we don’t eradicate this murderous movement that threatens the future of all of us.”
- Netanyahu continued “it’s a larger battle of civilisation against barbarism… Israel sustained proportionately twenty 9/11s. It’s as though 50,000 Americans were slaughtered in a single day and 10,000 were held hostage, including a nine-month-old baby. He can’t walk, he can’t talk, he’s a hostage. What kind of people do this? The answer is these are not people; these are monsters. These monsters have to go. They’ll go. We’ll pursue the battle until that goal is achieved, and we give a different future for Gaza and for us.”
- Earlier in the day, whilst accompanying Cameron in Kibbutz Be’eri, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen asked him, as a member of the UN Security Council, “to act on the implementation of Resolution 1701 in order to prevent the expansion of the war to the northern region.”
- This morning, as part of the humanitarian pause, 200 trucks are entering Gaza, including four diesel tanks (130,000 litres of fuel) and four with cooking gas.
Context: The next few hours will be fraught as Israel waits to see if Hamas will honour its commitment to release the first batch of 13 hostages, children and mothers, at 1400 UK time.
- Yesterday, the IDF ground operation continued in northern Gaza. Fighting focused on the remaining pockets of Hamas military forces in Jabalya, Nusseirat and Beit Lahiya.
- In Jabalya, troops exposed more examples of terror infrastructure embedded within civilian population, including large quantities of weapons found under children’s beds and six more tunnel shafts, including one inside a Mosque.
- Shortly before the ceasefire came into effect the IDF destroyed the section of tunnel found underneath Shifa hospital.
- Israel will try to extract as many hostages as possible through the current mechanism, but sees it as essential to then return to fighting so as to complete the mission and remove Hamas from power. It will be impossible to do this without an operation in southern Gaza.
- Last night, the Israeli Air Force carried out a significant airstrike in southern Gaza, killing the commander of Hamas’s naval force in Khan Yunis, Amir Abu Jalala, along with another fighter from the naval force. Jalala was responsible for numerous infiltration attempts via the sea.
- The IDF also targeted Hamas weapons warehouses, tunnels, training areas and lookout positions.
- In the north, yesterday saw particularly heavy fire from Hezbollah, with over 50 rockets fired into northern Israel.
- The IDF retaliated by attacking numerous Hezbollah targets, including two cells responsible for the rocket fire.
- Lebanese sources have claimed that Hezbollah will also abide by the ceasefire, and so far this morning the north has remained quiet. However, Israel has not committed to a cessation in the north.
Looking ahead: At 1400 UK time today, the first 13 hostages are expected to be handed over to the IDF via the Red Cross.
- They will be taken to an isolated medical compound, to be reunited with their family and medically assessed.
- If the deal goes to plan, 50 hostages are due to be released over the next four days, whilst Israel will release 150 female and teenage Palestinian prisoners.
- Israel expects every day to receive a list of those to be released the following day.
- The talks via US and Qatari mediation are expected to continue, with the aim of extending the pause in fighting for an extra day for each additional 10 hostages released