What you need to know today:
• Yesterday, there were more air raid sirens in the north of Israel than the South as Hezbollah attacks intensified. 3 Israeli civilians have been killed in the north since the war began.
• The IDF has imposed tactical pauses and extended humanitarian corridors to allow residents from neighbourhoods in the North to evacuate south.
• The IDF supplied 300 litres of fuel to Al Shifa hospital in coordination with senior officials there, but Hamas prohibited its use.
• America on Sunday night backed Israeli claims that Hamas was using hospitals in Gaza as military bases, accusing the terror group of “a violation of the rules of war”.
• This weekend, IDF troops located Hamas infrastructure in the Al-Quds University, and a cache of explosives inside the Abi Bakr Mosque.
• Defence Secretary Grant Shapps: “Calling for a ceasefire is in effect to say don’t worry about going after those terrorists”.
“We should absolutely be on the side of right, and right in this case is going after Hamas”, declared Defence Secretary Grant Shapps on Sunday.
Talking on BBC’s Laura Kuensberg’s show, the Defence Secretary said that “the answer is for Hamas to stop using those people as human shields and … release the over 200 hostages they have, some of whom are Brits”. “Our thoughts are with those who are being held, well over 200, every single day. They’ve been, I think, in some ways forgotten in this conflict. It’s where it started and the wrong is entirely on Hamas’ side for keeping them hostage at this time” he added.
“If Britain had been subject to an attack of terrorists coming in, murdering 1,400 people, cutting off heads, we would not, and we knew where those terrorists had gone, no one would be saying to Britain, well just stop going after them, even though you know those tunnels, those caves that they operate from, where all of those tens of thousands of rockets are being stored, how can we ask Israel not to go and destroy those bunkers?”
Speaking on Sky News, the Defence Secretary said that “calling for a ceasefire is in effect to say don’t worry about going after those terrorists. And that is in effect to say it will all happen again because tens of thousands of rockets and missiles are still on the ground in Gaza and will surely be used if Israel was to simply stop their current action. So, I think it’s unrealistic to say cease fire, pause”.
The Defence Secretary acknowledged that Israel is doing everything in its power to protect Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a war setting. Shapps noted that “something that we all know from when London was bombed in the Blitz from when we bombed Dresden, for example, is that sometimes civilians get hurt in wars and Israel has been attacked… Israel [is] going out of their way to try to protect civilians, making extraordinary phone calls to people to ask them to help clear areas where they know that Hamas are hiding in that network of extraordinary tunnels under the ground”.
38 days have passed since Hamas’s deadly massacre on Israel’s citizens. 1,200 people were killed. 239 men, women and children are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip without visitation from the Red Cross.
Yesterday, in an interview with CNN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “there will be no ceasefire without the release of all the abductees”.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, said the families of the hostages that Israel is “looking for any way to return our people, Hamas is looking for a way to stop the IDF”.
IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari on Saturday said: “There’s something that the world must not forget and we will not let the world forget it: Hamas has been holding hostages, 239 men, women, children, elderly and babies. Don’t forget – babies. For 36 days. This is a crime against humanity and we will not let the world forget it”.
According to an intelligence source in Egypt, Hamas has set a condition that terrorist Ibrahim Hamed – the former leader of Hamas in the West Bank, be released at the top of the list, otherwise there will be no exchange deal.
44 IDF soldiers have been killed since the beginning if Israel’s ground incursion in Gaza.
Israel’s northern border
Yesterday, more air raid sirens were heard in the north of Israel than the south, for the first time since the war began on 7th October. It also marked the largest escalation in the north of Israel by Hezbollah since the 7th October.
In Moshav Dolev, anti-tank missiles directly hit four vehicles in the area injuring ten Israeli civilians including six employees of the Electricity Corporation. Today it was announced, Shalom Eboudi, 56-years-old from Tiberias succumbed to his injuries.
In another anti-tank missile attack, seven soldiers were injured in the area of Manara.
Approximately 15 rockets were launched towards Acco and Kiryat Bialik, within which four were intercepted and the rest landed in open areas. Rockets were also launched towards Kiryat Shmona.
This morning, approximately 22 rockets were fired by Hezbollah from Lebanon, all of which landed in open areas. A drone attack was also reported.
An anti-tank missile fired at Moshav Netu’a injured two.
In response, the IDF attacked terrorist infrastructure in the area of Ayta ash Shab, Ramish and Bint Jbeil, in southern Lebanon.
Operation Swords of Iron
Yesterday, 143 trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza from the Rafah crossing including 1,620 tons worth of food, 444 tons of water, 220 tons of equipment for shelters, and 137 tons of medical equipment.
The evacuation corridor was open for an extended period between 9am-4pm allowing 25,000 people to evacuate.
The IDF has also allowed tactical pauses in certain neighbourhoods to allow residents to evacuate. Yesterday, tactical pauses were imposed in Jabaliya village and Azbat-Malin. Today, the IDF announced a four-hour humanitarian truce in Southern Gaza, west of the Salah al-Din Road.
This weekend, IDF troops located Hamas infrastructure in the Al-Quds University, and a cache of explosives inside the Abi Bakr mosque.
Four Israeli soldiers from the 697th Battalion, were killed by an explosion from a booby-trapped tunnel shaft next to a mosque on Saturday.
Adolf Hitler’s infamous Mein Kampf was also found amongst some items in a Hamas base terror base. Israeli President Isaac Herzog said of the reading material that this “is the book that led to the Holocaust and the book that led to World War II. This book was found a few days ago in northern Gaza. In a children’s room, which became a base used for terrorist activities by the terrorist organisation Hamas. The terrorist wrote notes, marked the sections, and studied again and again, the ideology of Adolf Hitler to hate the Jews, to kill the Jews, to burn and slaughter Jews wherever they are. This is the real war we are facing”.
Today, the IDF announced that they had killed Yakub Ashur – commander of Hamas’s anti-tank guided missile array in the Khan Younis Brigade, Hamis Dababash – former head of Hamas’ intelligence division, Tahsin Maslam – head of the combat support company for Hamas’ special operations in Beit Lahia, Jihad Azam – Hamas intelligence officer, and Munir Harb – head of information in the Rafah Brigade.
20 Hamas terrorists have also been arrested for questioning.
Hospitals in the Gaza Strip
On Saturday, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said that “there is no siege… on Shifa Hospital. The east side of the hospital is open for the safe passage of Gazans who wish to leave the hospital. We’re speaking directly and regularly with the hospital staff. The staff of Shifa Hospital has requested that tomorrow we will help the babies in the paediatric department to get to a safer hospital. We will provide the assistance needed”.
Yesterday, the IDF opened additional corridors from the Shifa, Rantisi and Nassar hospitals, in order for civilians and patients to evacuate on foot if they were able or via ambulance to the South. The IDF are in contact with the director of Shifa Hospital to help facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of the hospital towards the south.
Yesterday evening, the U.S. backed Israeli claims that Hamas was using hospitals in Gaza as military bases, accusing the terror group of “a violation of the rules of war”.
Hamas has denied these accusations as Israeli propaganda. However, a 2015 report by Amnesty International also alleges that Shifa hospital has served as a Hamas interrogation and torture centre.