Note to reader: We wanted to give you a trigger warning on what you may read below. We have chosen, as with every night of these briefings, to not share horrific images, however we want to alert you as sensitively as we can to the reports coming out of Israel and Gaza.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: “Israel’s lasting security must be guaranteed”
“Israel’s lasting security must be guaranteed”, said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after calling for “the removal of Hamas from Gaza”, as the “first and foremost step” for the resolution of the ongoing Israel-Hamas War. “Let me be clear: We stand with Israel. The terrorist threat it faces must be eliminated”, the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister’s statement came in response to former Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis KC MP, who said that “Israel remains in shock following the rape, murder and butchery carried out by Hamas”. He added that the terror group, which “remain in control” in Gaza and retain “growing” support in the West Bank, “reject co-existence with Israel and the Palestinian Authority has continued to promote hatred of Jews”. He added that “any recognition of a Palestinian state must address these issues”.
Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt met with Ashley Warman Bakshi, the cousin of 19-year-old Israeli hostage Agam Berger, who was abducted by Hamas on 7th October.
Reflecting on the meeting in Business Questions yesterday while wearing a ‘Bring Them Home’ dog tag, the Leader of the House of Commons said that Agam “volunteered with special educational needs children, and was actively involved in working towards a peaceful solution in her region”.
She thanked the Parliamentarians “who are working hard to keep the spotlight on these people and their families”, hoping that “they will all be home soon”.
“We want to see civilians protected and an end to hostilities. Key to that is ensuring that Israel is safe and secure, and that its citizens who have been kidnapped and are being held hostage are returned”, she added during the Questions session.
In a speech in D.C., the Lord High Chancellor Alex Chalk called Hamas brutal 7th October massacre “an unprecedented, and wholly unlawful assault”. He called “recent assaults on commercial cargo ships in the Red Sea by the Hamas-supporting Houthis” an “axis” in “direct opposition to the Rules Based International Order”, adding that “they are backed by agents of chaos in Iran”.
Over 20 Conservative Parliamentarians hear testimonies about Hamas’ sexual violence against women and girls
Over 20 Conservative Parliamentarians attended a UK-Israel All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) event to hear testimonies about Hamas’ sexual violence against women and girls.
Ashley, cousin of hostage Agam Berger, together with Shari Mendes, who as a member of an all-women’s army reserve unit was tasked with the identification and burial preparations of deceased female soldiers killed during 7th October, shared their testimonies. Parliamentarians also heard from Simcha Greiniman, who worked as a first responder collecting the bodies of victims as part of his work at the Israeli NGO ZAKA, and Mirit Ben Mayor, Chief Superintendent in the Israeli Police, who gathered first-hand testimonies of Hamas’ sexual crimes.
The event was hosted by CFI Parliamentary Officer Nicola Richards MP, together with colleagues.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will “deal with” antisemitic attitudes, after the resignation of Finchley and Golders Green Mike Freer MP
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to “deal with” the intimidation faced by many MPs, after Mike Freer MP for Finchley and Golders Green, announced his resignation following antisemitism and death threats. On Thursday, the Prime Minister pledged to stop the “attitudes from which these threats emanate”.
In the House of Commons, CFI Parliamentary Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP called on the Attorney General to “ensure that is the last such case and that antisemitism is prosecuted properly”, after calling out near-weekly “hate-filled demonstrations with antisemitism rife”.
Foreign Office Minister: Palestinian Government must not “have Hamas anywhere near them, or as part of them”
Minister for Overseas Territories Lord Benyon said that in any prospective two state solution, “we want to make sure that the Government do not have Hamas anywhere near them, or as part of them, and that they are trusted in those territories but also by the people of Israel, who want to live in peace with their neighbours”. He also re-emphasised Israel’s “right to defend itself against the vile terrorism that it suffered on 7th October”.
CFI Parliamentary Chair (Lords) Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles reminded the House of Lords this week that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “has asked [Hamas] for the release of hostages”, with the terror group since having “broken its word”. He questioned how Israel’s security could be ensured “if we are to recognise an independent Palestinian state before there is a lasting peace and mutual recognition of boundaries”.
“If we want to see peace in the Middle East after that conflict, the first step must be to get the hostages released”, agreed Lord Wolfson of Tredegar.
Lord Leigh of Hurley asked the Government to be “crystal clear” that the UK will not recognise a state of Palestine led by the Fatah organisation, which “has been so involved in terror”, or a “Gaza-led Government where Hamas has either control or power”.
Foreign Office Minister: “We will not tolerate Iran’s illegal threats”
Foreign Office Minister David Rutley said that, “we will not tolerate Iran’s illegal threats against UK-based journalists, its escalating nuclear programme, its desperate coalition with Russia or its reckless use of proxies in the region”.
He said that “the UK Government stand in solidarity with [women and girls] as they continue to show immense bravery in the face of brutal repression”.
Leading a debate on Freedom and Democracy in Iran yesterday, CFI Parliamentary Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP called out “attacks by the Houthis in the Red sea, an illegal war in Gaza by the Hamas terror group, Hezbollah in Lebanon and war in Syria, as well as other dangerous militant groups”.
Blackman raised that “the one thing that links all those examples is the IRGC, which stands as the head of the snake, funding, training and supplying weaponry to all those organisations. Its outreach and capabilities are frankly frightening”.
He said that the IRGC provides “weapons to Russia as Moscow and Tehran deepen their co-operation in a partnership that is likely to continue and intensify as they commonly seek to weaken the west”.
“The IRGC provided significant direct funding and training to Hamas in the lead-up to the dreadful 7th October attacks”, he said – adding that “the Houthis in Yemen have targeted shipping lanes in the Red sea”, who were “set up by Iran and remains under its influence. Linked to those attacks, Iran announced that it had subsequently launched into low-earth orbit three satellites that the U.S. believes can be used to more accurately target intercontinental ballistic missiles”.
He raised the Iranian opposition’s calls for the Government “to include Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the list of proscribed terrorist organisations; and further calls upon the Government to work with international counterparts to ensure that further sanctions are placed on Iran without delay and Iran is held to account for its illegal activities at home and abroad”.
“I am truly horrified by the current situation in Iran”, Blackman continued. “The IRGC literally runs and rules Iran, disregarding democracy, freedom of expression and basic human rights”.
Conservative Peers reflect on 7th October massacre in Holocaust Memorial Day debate
Communities Minister Baroness Scott of Bybrook raised the murder of 91 year-old Moshe Ridler, “who escaped from a Nazi camp” and was killed by Hamas in grenade attacks.
Baroness Bybrook said, “we witnessed the mass murder of over 1,200 Israelis by Hamas, the mass rape of women and young girls, and the abduction of 240 hostages. It is incumbent on us on Holocaust Memorial Day to speak the truth and to repudiate the attempt to level false charges against Israel”.
CFI Parliamentary Chair (Lords) Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles gave thanks to “5,000 different organisations putting together local events, 3,000 buildings lit up, including the Blackpool Tower and the London Eye; thousands of candles in peoples’ windows and 6 million digital candles on billboards across the United Kingdom”.
Lord Pickles recalled how “before Israel did anything in Gaza, people were dancing in the streets throughout the world—and, to our eternal shame, in the United Kingdom—celebrating the murder of children. I came to the conclusion that the world is very happy to bow its head once a year in remembrance of long dead Jews, but it is indifferent to the fate of living Jews and hostile to the thought that Jews might defend themselves”.
Lord Pickles added, “many of the #MeToo campaigners and the campaigners against female genital mutilation turned a blind eye to Israeli suffering. We were asked to consider these mutilations “in context. Have we really become a country in which parents are advised not to send their children to Jewish schools in school uniform; where Jewish students are reluctant to wear a kippah on campus; where travellers are advised not to wear a Star of David on the Tube; where Hebrew-speaking tourists are assaulted on London streets; or where a decent, hard-working MP is hounded out of office for standing up for his Jewish constituents? The very nature of liberal democracy is at risk”.
“We will have succeeded only when we can say “never again” in our hearts as well as our mouths. I hope that better times will come”, he concluded.
CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE stated, “this year, as has been said, we not only reflect on the enduring scars of the atrocities of the Holocaust, but we mourn and grapple with the anguish caused by Hamas’ barbaric massacre on 7th October”, calling the massacre an “unprecedented antisemitic attack marking a dark chapter reminiscent of the Holocaust itself”.
“As we stand today”, Lord Polak continued, “we find ourselves struggling to comprehend how, once more, the Jewish people are confronted with ominous signs of history repeating itself. Our commitment to “never again” feels rather fragile and shallow”.
He continued, “our pledge must extend beyond rhetoric; it demands tangible actions”, before adding that his own family “are scared to send their children—my grandchildren—to school”.
“Hamas tore off my clothes”, freed Gaza hostage testifies
“Hamas tore off my clothes”, freed Gaza hostage Mia Regev told a UN delegation on Wednesday, led by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan.
Mia and her brother Itai, who was also abducted, told the UN ambassadors of their 50+ day captivity in Gaza.
“They took my identity and my name from me. The terrorist who was watching over me told me every day that if the army came to save me, then he would shoot me immediately and not die alone”, Mia said.
Erdan called the two “true heroes” and commended their courage and strength. “I salute you”, he said.
Addressing the delegation, Erdan stated that “a ceasefire is unacceptable”. He added that, “I hope you will understand why we cannot continue to live with these threats and why we are so determined to destroy [Hamas]”.
Hamas “defeated” in Khan Younis
Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced last night that Hamas forces in Khan Younis have been “defeated”.
He added that 10,000 Hamas terrorists have been killed and the same number wounded, 1,000 more killed than the previous update a week and a half ago.
This would mean that 56-75% of Hamas fighters that have been incapacitated, including those arrested by the IDF. Israel has yet refrained from announcing full operational control, as after its victory in Gaza City.
Reports indicate that Hamas officials and hostages fled from the southern Gazan neighbourhood to Rafa, where the IDF has so far refrained from deploying ground troops in recognition of Egyptian concerns. Now however, Gallant has pledged to pursue Hamas to the border region.
IDF: Documents reveal Hamas, Islamic Jihad use mosques for terror
The IDF have revealed how Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups use mosques for terror, publishing new images of tunnel entrances and arms dumps at a mosque in northern Gaza, and documents found in Khan Younis which show the extent of Hamas’ influence on religious leaders.
The “exploitation” of religious leaders and mosques by terrorist organisations is aimed at “promoting terrorism, storing explosives and carrying out attacks”, the IDF stated, calling the practice a “grave misuse of religious institutions turning worshippers into human shields”.
2,000 rockets fired by Hezbollah so far, after launch of 20 rockets at northern Israel
Hezbollah has fired 2,000 rockets at Israel between 7th October – 9th January, according to IDF reports. As of yesterday, 427 Israeli homes have received structural damage and 80 have been hit directly.
Hezbollah today fired a barrage of over 20 rockets at the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona. No injuries were reported.
The northern Israeli communities of Metulla, Shlomi and Manarah remain the worst effected towns, with over 100 homes damaged each, as of yesterday.
Israel has evacuated 80,000 civilians from northern border communities due to Hezbollah rocket fire.
Houthi’s claim to strike British vessel, UK denies
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) stated that an explosion was reported some way from a vessel, west of Yemen’s Hodeidah. The crew remained unharmed.
The Houthi’s claimed to have struck a British merchant vessel yesterday, the Iran-backed proxy recently announced.
IDF air defences shot down Houthi rockets this evening, fired from Yemen, according to recent reports.
Overnight, the U.S. struck up to a dozen Houthi drones preparing to launch from Yemen. Since January 11, the UK and U.S. have pursued Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG) to deter the group after it launched its terror campaign across the Red Sea.
India today announced that it would join the two allies to establish a security presence in the Indian Ocean region.
New Delhi has reportedly deployed two warships in the Gulf of Aden, maintains a fleet of at least ten Arabian Sea warships, accompanied by surveillance aircraft, and has investigated 250 vessels in the last two months for suspected Iranian weapons smuggling.
Since December, India has reported 17 incidents involving hijacking, attempted hijacking, and suspicious approaches.
“India is seeking to augment its role as a security provider in the Indian Ocean region”, said Berlin-based energy and politics consultant Dr. Ramu C.M.