By February 09 2024, 18:22 Latest News No Comments

“We will continue to do all we can to bring hostages held by Hamas in Gaza safely home”, said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, after meeting with families of hostages at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister told the families that he keeps a ‘Bring them home’ dog tag in his pocket to “remind him of the importance of the hostages”.

He met with Stephen Brisley and Raz Matalon, brother-in-laws of hostage Eli Sharabi, who has been held captive in Gaza for over four months, and Sharone Lifschitz, whose 83-year-old father Oded remains in Hamas captivity.

Stephen Brisley said that “it was helpful to be able to look the Prime Minister in the eye and look the Qatari Minister in the eye”, who also attended the meeting, “and make that personal connection so that they are really aware that this is about families”.

“To have a loved one taken hostage by terrorists is an unthinkable horror”, the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets the families of hostages
(Photo credit: 10 Downing Street)

UK Government to introduce measures to tackle dangerous disorder at anti-Israel protests

The Government will introduce new amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which will grant the police greater powers to arrest those who wear face coverings to avoid prosecution, use flares or other pyrotechnics or who climb on war memorials during protests.

The ability to use the right to protest as a reasonable or lawful excuse to commit crimes such as obstructing public highways and public nuisance will also be removed.

“Since the October 7th attacks in Israel”, protests have seen “far too many appalling examples of antisemitism, violent intimidation and the glorification of terrorism”, said the Prime Minister on Thursday.

He said that “this must not stand”, and passed measures to ban “fireworks and flares that intimidate communities and have put our police officers in hospital, stop people being able to climb on our sacred war memorials and stop people from covering their faces to conceal their identity and evade arrest”.

The Prime Minister pledged to give the police “the powers they need” to uphold “public safety” and the UK’s “democratic values”.

Home Secretary James Cleverly met with policing leaders to discuss their response to the widespread and disruptive anti-Israel protests that have followed Hamas’ barbaric attack on 7 October. The Home Office tweeted on X, that it urges police forces to utilise the new public order powers to limit the disruption caused by the protests.

“In the aftermath of the horrific attacks on 7 October, many people took to the streets to make their views heard”, said Security Minister Tom Tugendhat in the House of Commons on Thursday. “We have all seen disturbing and distressing examples of hateful abuse, of serious damage, and of law-abiding citizens being intimidated and prevented from going about their daily life”. 

“Blocking roads, preventing ambulances from getting through and stopping people from getting to work or visiting loved ones”, “attacking our national memorials”, wearing “face coverings to conceal their identity” when shouting “racist abuse and extremist rhetoric”, and “bringing flares on marches”, will now be met with “serious consequences, including up to three months in jail and a £1,000 fine for those who climb on war memorials”, he outlined. 

Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said in a separate session that the Government “will continue to do all in our power to protect Jewish people throughout our country”, and “antisemitism must continue to be challenged wherever it arises”.

She added that “we have seen people in this country use their views on Israel as an excuse to display antisemitism. We have seen that in protests on our streets, and also in our universities”. Disguised as “discourse about Israel”, such prejudice “would be no more lawful than any other form of antisemitism”.

“Since the atrocities on 7 October, the regular hate marches that have taken place in London have forced Jewish Londoners to remove their kippahs, remove their Star of David necklaces and, in some cases, even vacate their homes because they are scared”, said CFI Parliamentary Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP

“Only 16% of British Jews believe that the police treat antisemitism as equivalent to other forms of hate crime, and two thirds of British Jews believe that the police have double standards on these crimes”. He emphasised the need to ensure that “the people expressing hatred towards British Jews” are “arrested and taken to court”. 

Greg Smith MP said that a lack of immediate police action amid the “vile antisemitism” of recent protests “emboldens those who have these foul views to carry on, and it sends a much deeper and disturbing message, particularly to Jewish communities across the country, that the police are just letting those offences go by”. He called for “a presumption of instant and immediate application of these new measures where offences occur”. 

Martin Vickers MP, Robin Millar MP and Sir Peter Bottomley MP also voiced their support for the measures in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch: “We cannot be silent” about Hamas’ “mass-scale perpetration of sexual violence”

Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said that “we cannot be silent” about Hamas’ “mass-scale perpetration of sexual violence on the 7th of October”, describing (CONTENT WARNING) the “sharp objects” shoved into the genitals of women, “nails” imbedded in some of their bodies and others with their “hands tied behind” their back, “bleeding from the waste down”, made to clutch a “live grenade”.

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt said on Thursday that she met with Annabel, “who is helping the Sharabi family, who lost multiple members of their family in the 7 October attack”. She said that two family members, Eli and Yossi, had been taken hostage. While Yossi “has been murdered”, Eli’s “wife and two daughters were among those murdered in the attack, which I do not think he will know yet”.

CFI Vice Chair Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiars MP called the captivity of Israeli hostages by Hamas for over 100 days, “intolerable and heartbreaking”. She asked “who knows what horrors are being inflicted on them as we sit here today?”

In a separate questions session, CFI Parliamentary Officer Nicola Richards MP said that “sexual violence must be condemned by [everyone] who cares about women’s rights”.

Foreign Minister Leo Docherty: “Iran-aligned militia groups have targeted coalition forces across Iraq and Syria more than 160 times since 7 October”

“Iran-aligned militia groups have targeted coalition forces across Iraq and Syria more than 160 times since 7 October. This is a trend that we are very concerned about and focused on”, said Foreign Minister Leo Docherty in a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday. “Iran bears responsibility for the actions of groups that it has long supported”.

Addressing Iran-backed Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, Transport Minister Mark Harper said that the UK “will not hesitate to take action to protect innocent lives and preserve freedom of navigation” on Thursday. He pointed out that the R.A.F. has undertaken “three waves of proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets with the United States and other allies”.

Warning against Iran’s influence via its proxies in Iraq, Jack Lopresti MP said on Wednesday that “Shi’a militia attacks have targeted British and American military facilities” and have killed many civilians “on the laughable grounds that [their targets] were Mossad bases”. He stated that “Iran is the main menace”.

CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE: “Hamas started this and Hamas can bring it to an end”

In the House of Lords on Thursday, CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE stated that “Hamas started this and Hamas can bring it to an end. The 7 October massacre and the holding and mistreatment of hostages by Hamas has caused the terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza”. He called out the double standards of Hamas, with the sister of its political leader and her premature baby “receiving life-saving treatment in Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, Israel, while the hostages in his hands are starving, being raped and dying in brutal conditions”.

Lord Frost said that “after 7 October, Israel has an absolute right to act to remove the threat of terrorism from its borders and topple Hamas” and “goes out of its way to prevent civilian casualties and takes precautions that no other military in the world takes”. 

The “2:1 ratio of civilians to Hamas terrorists killed”, left after the subtraction of “the quarter or so of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas rockets that fall short (…) is an astonishingly low ratio for modern urban warfare where the terrorists routinely use civilians as human shields. It is a testament to the professionalism, ethics and values of the Israel Defense Forces”, said Lord Roberts of Belgravia.

Baroness Noakes stated that Gazans been been “failed by Hamas and by UNRWA. Hamas killed, raped and mutilated Israelis on 7 October. It killed 1,200 and wounded many more, and it took more than 200 hostages. It knew exactly what it was doing and what the consequences would be for the people of Gaza. UNRWA is rotten to its core and has been a willing accomplice to Hamas. Its schools taught hatred of Israel. UNRWA staff have allowed weapons and rockets to be stored in aid centres. Most shockingly, some of them willingly joined the murderous gangs on 7 October”.

The Israel-Hamas War “could be resolved within hours, if Hamas wanted to, by releasing the hostages. Hamas does not want that and should be held liable for the terrible deaths, destruction and injury, as Israel has no choice but to try to protect and rescue its citizens”, said Lord Leigh of Hurley. Gaza “could have flourished, like Tel Aviv, but was prevented from so doing by Hamas”, he added. 

Lord Leigh of Hurley also questioned if a future Palestinian state “is it to be a democracy or an autocracy”, if it will “be required to ban Hamas and other terrorists”, “have a military army”, end “the discredited and corrupt UNRWA, and “allow regular inspections to ensure there are no more tunnels”. 

Defence Minister the Lord Minto explained the Government’s strategy on the Houthi terror group in the House of Lords on Tuesday. “Our approach is founded on four pillars. First, we are increasing diplomatic engagement”, “secondly, we must end the illegal flow of arms to the Houthis”, “thirdly, we must cut off the Houthis’ financial resources”, “fourthly, we continue to help the people of Yemen by delivering humanitarian aid and supporting a negotiated peace”.

In another debate in the House of Lords on Tuesday, Baroness Altmann called out “Houthi’s slogans”: “Death to America”, “Death to Israel” and “Victory to Islam”. She urged the designation of the Houthis “and their backers in Iran, the IRGC” as terror groups, and called for their proscription by the UK Government.

Home Secretary James Cleverly meeting with policing leaders to discuss their response to anti-Israel protests

Jewish students in the UK targeted on campus

Jewish students continue to be targeted across Campus since 7th October.

A “day of action”, on Wednesday, at Birmingham University, saw protestors holding banners reading “Zionists off our campus”, chanting “death to Zionists”. 

Hillel House at the University of Leeds, was vandalised with graffiti splaying “Free Palestine” and “IDF off campus”, yesterday evening.

It is reported that a professor at the University of Leeds, shared the location of the Jewish building, Hillel House.

In an online statement, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said that “the University of Leeds has serious questions to answer as to how an environment was allowed to be created where a professor deemed it acceptable to publicise the location of a Jewish building, for the sole purpose of intimidating Jewish students on campus”. 

In a separate statement, UJS highlighted that “university should be a place where we feel safe. A place where we’re not scared to live, study and socialise, and where we can be free to identify as we wish”. 

“We’re scared and we’re heartbroken. This antisemitic hatred has been allowed to fester on our campus for too long”, they added.

In just 13 days, from 7th October to 20th October, Jewish students suffered a years’ worth of antisemitic incidents on campus. 

A demonstration was held at the University of Leeds this afternoon with placards reading “thank you Houthis”.

“Delusional” hostage deal rejected 

Hamas demanded a three-phase ceasefire deal in return for the release of the 136 hostages who remain in Gaza, which Israel has rejected.

In the first phase of the deal, Hamas requested the IDF to halt military activity in the Gaza Strip, including drones used for monitoring purposes, and withdraw troops to the border.

They also requested that Israel permanently supply diesel, water, and electricity to the entire Strip.

Hamas have asked for the prevention of Jews entering any part of the Al-Aqsa (Temple Mount Square) compound – the Jewish holy site, where the first and second Temple one stood – which Jewish people have been allowed to do since 2002, and for the release of all Palestinian prisoners under the age of 19, with a further 1,500 prisoners named by Hamas, with an agreement they will not be re-arrested.

In return Hamas had said that they will release all Israeli hostages under the age of 19, who are not soldiers, as well as the elderly and sick, whose names were given during the hostage exchange in November. 

The exchange of hostages, will be closely related to how Hamas perceives Israel upholding the deal.

In the second phase of the deal, the first-stage will continue, as well as the start of reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure in the Strip. Hamas also expects an announcement for a permanent ceasefire and “end to the siege” before Hamas releases male hostages including soldiers, in exchange for more Palestinian prisoners. 

The third stage includes the continuation of phase one and two in exchange for dead bodies returned to Israel.

U.S. President Joe Biden, called the demands, “a little over the top”. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the deal arguing Hamas’ demands will “invite another massacre”, and that their proposal is “delusional”.

In a press statement, the Israeli Prime Minister said that, “at the start of the war, I outlined three goals; destroy Hamas, free the hostages, and ensure that Gaza doesn’t pose a threat to Israel in the future. Achieving these goals will ensure Israel’s security and pave the way for additional historic peace agreements with our Arab neighbours. But peace and security require total victory over Hamas. We cannot accept anything else”.

“When people talk about ‘the day after,’ let’s be clear about one thing. It’s the day after all of Hamas is destroyed. Not half of Hamas, not ¾ of Hamas; all of Hamas”, he added.

Last week, Israel offered a ceasefire deal consisting of a two-month ceasefire, and the release of Palestinian prisoners, in return for the return of all hostages in Gaza, and the exile of Hamas leaders from Gaza. Hamas rejected the deal.

Reports of more dead hostages than previously thought

Tuesday marked four months since the 7th October massacre where over 1200 people were killed and over 240 people were kidnapped by Hamas. 126 days later, 136 hostages still remain in Gaza.

Reports have surfaced this week that at least one-fifth of hostages who remain in Gaza have been killed. 
32 Israeli families so far have been notified that their loved ones have been killed.

In a New York Times report, published Tuesday, it cites an Israeli Intelligence assessment that a further 20 hostages have been killed, bringing the total hostages killed to over 50. 

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said that the IDF is “working in all ways to return [the hostages] home, and exhausting all information about them and their conditions.”

Rocket launcher and further tunnels discovered in civilian areas of Gaza

A rocket launcher armed with projectiles aiming towards Israel, was discovered adjacent to a children’s daycare centre and mosque this morning. 

A tunnel was also discovered under a water facility in Khan Younis, where two Hamas terrorists were hiding.

A major tunnel “in the heart of a civilian area in Khan Younis” was discovered on Wednesday, containing a holding cell for hostages, a bathroom, and resting area for terrorists guarding them. The tunnel is thought to have held 12 hostages at different times, including three hostages who were returned to Israel.

Weaponry was also discovered in the tunnel, as well as links to other tunnels, forming a “branching underground labyrinth” according to the IDF.

Ceremony held in Moshav Shokeda

A ceremony was held this week to mark all residents of Moshav Shokeda returning home.
The Moshav, is the first in the Gaza envelope, to be completely restored.

It is around a 15-minute drive from Kibbutz Be’eri, with a population just over 600. 

Hezbollah attacks on Israel continue with a barrage of 30 rockets launched yesterday

Over 2,000 rockets have been launched from Lebanon and Syria towards Israel since 7th October. 
A barrage of over 30 rockets were launched by Hezbollah yesterday, towards Mount Meron. Explosions were heard in the area, as well as in the area of Sasupa. Three IDF soldiers were wounded, one in serious condition.

In response, the IDF struck Hezbollah sites including military, infrastructure, and observations posts in Khiam, southern Lebanon. One-sixth of rockets launched towards Israel, have been fired from Khiam, according to the IDF.

In a drone strike, the IDF targeted a Hezbollah commander in his vehicle. The Commander is said to be wounded, and two others killed. 

Israel has issued a warning to Hezbollah, signalling its readiness for escalation, with dozens of aircraft airborne over southern Lebanon. 

A suicide drone was launched from Lebanon towards Haifa’s maritime space this morning. The IDF Aerial Defence Array intercepted the drone over the sea. 

Houthis attack British ship in the Red Sea

Three missiles were launched at a British ship, and a further three at a Greek-owned ship on Wednesday by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

All three missiles targeting the British ship missed, but minor damage was caused to the Greek ship from a missile exploding nearby. 

In response, the U.S., UK coalition struck Houthi sites in the Hodeida area, a port city in the west of Yemen.

The European Union announced today that they too have authorised military operations in the Red Sea designed to “secure the passage of commercial ships”.

In order to bypass the Houthi’s Red Sea blockade, some cargo ships heading for Israel are docking in the UAE, where goods are unloaded and transported by trucks to Saudi Arabia, and then to Jordan, eventually reaching Israel through the Jordan River Crossing and arriving in Haifa. Egypt has today joined the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to facilitate a land-route into Israel. 

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