SPECIAL BRIEFING DAY 171: Defence Secretary Grant Shapps: “We will never forget” the hostages

By March 25 2024, 05:56 Latest News No Comments

Note to reader: We wanted to give you a trigger warning on what you may read below. We have chosen, as with every one 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.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in the House of Commons today

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps: “We will never forget” the hostages

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps pledged that “we will never forget” about the hostages held in captivity by Hamas, after stating that the current security paradigm in the Middle East “all began with the taking of those hostages”, which is “too often forgotten”.

His assurance came in response to Paul Howell MP, who raised his attendance at the joint Conservative Friends of Israel and UK-Israel All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) event last week, where a released hostage, survivors of the Hamas-led 7 October attacks and relatives of those still held hostage in Gaza addressed Parliamentarians. “It is now five months since the hostages were taken”, Howell said, urging the Government to ensure that “these victims remain right at the front of mind of all decisions taken on the Middle East”.

“Qatar hosts Hamas’ most senior leaders in Doha and should have been applying far more pressure on the terror group to release the Israeli hostages and to surrender”, said Greg Smith MP in the debate, calling out Qatar’s “malign activities”.

David Simmonds MP said that “further steps” should be taken to ensure “British aid finds its way to civilians in need rather than into the hands of Hamas fighters”.

Will Quince MP emphasised Israel’s “pledge” to “flood Gaza with aid” and urged the Government to work with international partners to “assist the Israelis” on their humanitarian objective.

Foreign Secretary: Claiming that “Israel has genocidal intent… is completely wrong”

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has said that claiming “Israel has genocidal intent… is completely wrong”. He added that the accusations are “insulting to a country that was born out of a real genocide – the Holocaust”.

Tory MPs call for BBC inquiry after reporting Hamas-supporting doctors as fact

The BBC has become subject to calls for inquiry from Conservative MPs after Gaza doctors, who were reported as legitimate sources recounting alleged Israeli torture and abuse, have been revealed as long-time supporters of Hamas, according to the Mail on Sunday.

CFI Parliamentary Chair (Lords) Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles said that the BBC “is being led by its nose by Hamas” and that “there seems to be a complete failure of due diligence”. Former Attorney General Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Ellis KC MP, who recently led a debate in Parliament on BBC bias, said that the incident is “more evidence of an endemic anti-Israel bias at the corporation”.

The day-long coverage of alleged Israeli crimes were broadcasted on 12 March by BBC through interviews with eight medics – six of which the Mail on Sunday has found to espouse antisemitic slurs, expressions of support for Hamas and violence on social media.

“It is shocking our national broadcaster is seemingly basing its reports on the accounts of people who have praised terrorist violence against innocent Israeli citizens”, according to CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiars.

CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair Andrew Percy MP said, “the BBC seemingly doesn’t seem to care that it keeps casually giving airtime to people who openly support the murder and assault of innocent civilians through terrorism”.

Dr Amira Al-Assouli, who was at the forefront of the coverage, has called on jihadi fighters to “kill the Jews” on social media, whilst the hospital’s General Manager Atef Al-Hout, who alleged Israeli detention of medics, wrote on social media that “Jerusalem and Gaza are in the camp of resistance. May Allah guide your missiles”, after a Hamas rocket barrage against Israel in 2021.

Other doctors interviewed by the BBC have formerly praised terrorists who blew up a bus – killing 13 children amongst 38 civilians, and have shared Hamas music videos glorifying terror espousing genocidal antisemitism.

Arms and weapons found at Shifa Hospital (IDF)

Weapons found in MRI centre at Shifa Hospital, terrorists firing from maternity ward

A weapons cache has been discovered at the MRI centre of Shifa Hospital, where IDF troops have been engaged in firefights with Hamas terrorists who have barricaded themselves within the hospital complex.

Mortars, grenades, firearms and ammunition were reportedly found under floors, in the maternity ward, the ceiling and elsewhere at the hospital, according to IDF troops.

“Hamas is destroying Shifa Hospital”, said IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari. He added that “Hamas is firing from inside the Shifa emergency room and maternity ward and throwing explosive devices from the Shifa burn ward. Terrorists hiding around the hospital fired mortars at our forces, causing extensive damage to the hospital buildings”.

At least 180 terrorists have been killed in firefights within the hospital and 500 members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been arrested since the operation against the hospital began last week.

Internaitonal law stipulates that when a medical facility is used for military activity, it loses its protected site designation.

“170 terrorists were neutralised in or around the Shifa Hospital compound while firing at our forces”, Hagari stated before stipulating that “a large number of these terrorists were involved in planning and executing the brutal massacre of October 7”.

20 gunmen were killed in the southern Gazan neighbourhood of Khan Younis during an ongoing operation against Hamas, according to the IDF. Military helicopters killed 10 gunmen and struck 50 sites over the past 24 hours.

Iran-backed smuggling terror network in West Bank foiled by Israel

A vast Iran-backed smuggling network in the West Bank was foiled by the Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of MI5, and the IDF on Monday.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), Tehran’s immense organisation charged with sponsoring terror and sorting funds for illicit activity, have reportedly masterminded the plots to shift weapons through the Palestinian territories in order to carry out significant terror attacks against Israel.

“Iran is working to up the severity of attacks by smuggling in many weapons”, said Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, describing the arms that were smuggled as “high-quality”.

Two significant, shrapnel-clad explosives, five anti-tank weapons, four grenade launchers, 31 rocket-propelled grenades, five advanced explosive mechanisms for arming a variety of weapons, 25 grenades, 50 guns, and various weapons.

Juad Ofri and Munir Mukdach – a senior Fatah official – were identified as lead officials affiliated with the IRGC, with Mukdach having actively coordinated with Hezbollah in Lebanon in recent years in planning to carry out the terror attacks.

Weapons smuggled into the West Bank by by Iranian-backed terror groups (IDF)

U.S. suspends funds to UNRWA until 2025

U.S. Congress passed a one-year ban on funding to UNRWA on Saturday morning.

“The historic ban on US funding to UNRWA that passed today with overwhelming bipartisan support, demonstrates what we knew all along: UNRWA is part of the problem and can not be part of the solution”, stated Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

“Thousands of UNRWA employees are involved in Hamas terror activities and their facilities were used for terrorist purposes”, he added.

The new legislation passed by Congress halts funding “for any amounts provided in prior fiscal years or in fiscal year 2024, or for amounts provided in fiscal year 2025, until March 25, 2025.”

$175 million has been earmarked for funding alternative humanitarian projects through the US Agency for International Development, together with a $4 billion in security funding for Israel.

Iran-backed terror groups continue assault against Israel and allies across the Middle East

Iran-backed terror groups have continued to launch rockets toward Israel and its allies across the Middle East throughout the weekend and on Monday.

Hamas launched a barrage of eight rockets toward the Israeli port city of Ashdod today, according to the IDF. The attacks were the first of their kind on the city since January.

Separately today, sirens sounded across Israel’s northern communities near the Lebanese border after warnings of a suspected drone attack, likely conducted by Hezbollah, which has been firing near-daily barrages into Israel’s territory.

The Iran-backed Houthi terror group also reportedly launched three attacks against allied forces and international vessels in the Red Sea on Saturday.

The Yemeni terror group fired four anti-ship ballistic missiles aimed at a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker, a ballistic missile launched toward the same vessel later in the day, and six Houthi UAV’s launched over the southern Red Sea.

Saturday’s Houthi attacks “presented an imminent threat to US, coalition, and merchant vessels in the region”, according to U.S. Central Command. The targeted oil tanker experienced a fire after the attack, but continued its voyages after it was extinguished.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians return to work in Israel

Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers from the West Bank have been entering Israel on a daily basis since after 7 October, according to new Israeli-media reports.

“We need to take into account security needs, but I think that the majority of employers are generally in favour of the return of Palestinian workers”, said the President of the Israeli Federation of Bi-national Chambers of Commerce, Dan Catarivas.

Some 2,396 Israeli businesses and organisations have gained exemptions from a general ban on the continued employment of workers from the Palestinian territories, which was implemented by Israel’s Defence Ministry after the Hamas-led attacks on 7 October.

The exemptions, based on humanitarian grounds, have permitted many more Palestinian workers travelling into Israel to support its economy, joining those who already hold exemptions as part of an essential workforce for Israel’s hospitals, funereal organisations and other vital services.

Prior to 7 October, around 168,500 Palestinians travelled into Israel from the West Bank and Gaza for work.

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