By January 09 2024, 19:46 Latest News No Comments

Addressing South Africa’s upcoming case at the International Court of Justice against Israel, Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee today: “I don’t think that is helpful, I don’t agree with it, I don’t think it’s right”. Cameron underscored that allegations of “genocide” should not be “band[ied] around”, stating it is “not correct”.

“Israel has a right to defend itself, has a right to try and stop Hamas from launching future terrorist attacks”, he added.

The Foreign Secretary said that he “can’t see a comprehensive ceasefire coming in now while Hamas are still able to launch rockets out of Gaza”. “A ceasefire to work…means you can’t have Hamas in power, able to launch rockets, not releasing hostages”.

“We spend a lot of time asking what Israel should do to bring this to an end”, he noted, stating that “we should also spend a nanosecond saying if Hamas wanted, they could end this tomorrow. They could lay own their arms, they could leave Gaza. They are the ones prolonging this conflict in many ways”.

Recalling his visit to Kibbutz Be’eri, he said it is somewhere he will “never forget” where “children were shot in front of their parents, people were raped”, and where he witnessed “blood on the floor, bullet holes in the wall”.

He called Iran a “malign influence in the region”, where “there is no doubt that they give weapons, they give training, they give ability, they give money, they give support to all these [terror groups] groups”. He also said that the Iran-backed Houthi’s attacks in the Red Sea, are “illegal, unacceptable, [and] have to stop”.

Antisemitism raised in Westminster Hall Debate

Nicola Richards MP led a Westminster Hall Debate today on increases in antisemitic offences, noting that Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 2,098 antisemitic incidents from 7th October until 13th December.

There has also been a “50-fold increase” in online antisemitism and incidents whereby “glorifying Hamas” has led to a sharp increase in hateful incidents.

Discussing her recent visit to Israel with CFI, Richards expressed that “witnessed a nation still overcome with grief”. “For those who diminish what happened on 7th October, or seek to justify it, I hope you will never witness what these strong and brave people did. I watched 47 minutes of a gleeful spree and slaughter by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as civilians. Nothing will ever erase those images from my mind, the look of fear in their eyes that I did not know was possible”.

That hate crimes have gained in prominence since Hamas atrocities’ serve as a “national embarrassment”, Richards stressed, but added that she has been “pleased to hear the commitment by colleagues” to do “all we can to reverse that”.

CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair Andrew Percy MP and Nickie Aiken MP also contributed to the debate.

Yesterday in Parliament

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said that “the UK will not tolerate the Houthi’s closing international waterways” yesterday in Defence OPQs in the House of Commons.

“We absolutely call on the Iranian-backed Houthi’s to immediately cease these attacks. The Houthi’s will bear responsibility, and I have to say, the consequences, should they ignore these warnings”, he added, warning that the UK is “prepared to take action”. 

“Some 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in northern Israel because of the fear that if Hezbollah adopt the same tactics as Hamas, the carnage could be even worse than on 7 October”, highlighted CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair the Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP. She raised the need to prevent the Iran-backed terror group from obtaining “more weapons” and urged steps to see Hezbollah “retreat further north from the border”.

In response, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to working alongside its partners to strengthen the Lebanese armed forces across the country’s southern border and ensure the “implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701”, which should see Hezbollah pushed back away from Israel.

In an Urgent Question on the situation in Israel and Gaza, Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell MP reiterated the Government’s “fundamental belief in Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas”, calling the events of 7th October “horrifying”, and said that there is “no place for Hamas and its vile ideology, and terrorist actions”.

CFI Parliamentary Chair (Commons) the Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP quoted the U.S. in describing South Africa’s application into the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as “meritless, counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact”. He added that the “Irish Prime Minister also appears to have distanced himself from it” due to the application’s “inversion” of Hamas’ genocidal ambitions and Israel’s stated goal of destroying the Hamas terror group. 

Former Attorney General the Rt Hon Sir Michael Ellis KC MP, noted that “South Africa’s case at The Hague has no legal merit whatsoever”. “Israel’s actions are in lawful self-defence”, he said, calling the case a “dangerous political stunt”.

CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair Andrew Percy MP raised Hamas’ procurement of “North Korean weapons”, “gender-based violence”, and “hostages being kept in cages”. He recalled the testimony of released  hostage Agam Goldstein Almog (17), who “spoke of sexual violence and torture perpetrated against hostages who are still being held”. Percy added that Palestinian Authority (PA) representative and the secretary of Fatah’s central committee recently said that Hamas is viewed as “the fabric of our struggle and our political and social fabric”.

“It is now almost 100 days since Hamas committed their evil atrocities in Israel”, noted CFI Parliamentary Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP, and “130 hostages are still held in captivity… oldest of which are over 75 and the youngest under one year old”.

Blackman raised that the hostages have not been visited by the International Red Cross, a point echoed by CFI Parliamentary Officer Nicola Richards MP who said that the organisation should be “stopping at nothing” to assess them. She added that “women and girls are reported to have been raped or mutilated by Hamas in at least seven different locations in Israel in a deliberate, systematic and premeditated way”, pointing out that “girls as young as 18 or 19” are still kept hostage in Gaza.

Tom Hunt MP called out the Red Cross and UN organisations which have not extended welfare “to the hostages, one of whom is only 11 months old”. He also spoke of his CFI-led visit to Kfar Aza last week, where he felt “the closest to evil that [he] had ever been”.

On ending the conflict, the Rt. Hon. Sir Alec Shelbrooke MP called on Government discussions with the “wider Arab region to get Hamas to move away from their stated aims of destroying Israel and to ensure they disarm”, allowing for a “basis to actually bring this fighting to an end”. 

“Hamas will never accept a two-state solution”, said the Rt. Hon. Sir Julian Lewis MP, stating that “any two-state solution must exclude Hamas—or any renamed successor—from any role”. 

Steve Double MP also noted that “a ceasefire existed between Israel and Hamas on 6th October, and we all know what happened the following day”.

Greg Smith MP called out Hamas leader’s “long enjoyed impunity, moving freely between Turkey, Lebanon and Qatar, financing and amassing international support for their terror activities” and asserted that such “special treatment” resulted in “Hamas accruing the capabilities that led to the barbaric, evil and, frankly, medieval 7 October massacre”.

“A red line has already been crossed because ships have been targeted”, said the Rt. Hon. Tobias Ellwood MP of the Houthi attacks across the Red Sea, raising the matter of taking out not only “missiles in the air”, but “the silos from which they are launched”. CFI Parliamentary Vice Chair the Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP also asked if “consequences” for Houthi belligerence will apply to their “backers”, Iran.

Weapons found in UNRWA bags in Jabalya, Gaza (IDF)

IDF moves to less intensive phase

The IDF has announced that the war with Hamas has shifted into a new, less intensive, phase of conflict. “The war shifted a stage”, said IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari in an interview with the New York Times.

Hagari said that Israel had dismantled Hamas’ “military framework” in northern Gaza, which has rendered the terror group incapable of large-scale attacks – although sporadic rocket-fire could still occur.

The IDF is transitioning towards a counterinsurgency phase with focused operations in the centre and south of the Gaza Strip. Troops will soon be recalled in the IDF’s shift toward “different types of special operations” which will “take into consideration the huge number of civilians”, Hagari said.

“This is still an intense and complex operational activity”, Hagari warned, forecasting that fighting will continue throughout this year.

Elite Hezbollah commander killed in strike

Wissam al-Tawil, a commander of the Iran-backed Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force, was killed when a missile targeted his SUV in the Lebanese town of Majdal Selm on Monday. 

Tawil played a prominent role in high-profile attacks on Israel, including the cross-border raid that triggered the Second Lebanon War in 2006. 

A Lebanese security official called the strike “very painful”, with Hezbollah releasing images of the commander alongside the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, and former Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh. 

Exchanges of fire between the Hezbollah terror group and state of Israel have persisted on an almost daily basis since October.

Three senior Hezbollah terrorists were killed in Lebanon when an Israeli UAC attacked a vehicle in Ghandouriyeh, southern Lebanon, on Tuesday morning.

Largest weapons production site discovered since the beginning of the war in Bureij (IDF)

Largest-ever Hamas weapon production factory destroyed

The IDF discovered Hamas’ largest weapons production site, since the beginning of the war, located beneaththe Strip’s main Salah a-Din road, reaching nearly 30 metres in depth. The complex constituted a “chain of terror factories…on the main road, and under the homes of civilians”, according to Israel’s Col. Or Vollozinsky

The facility represents a “terror stronghold of weapons production”, according to the IDF. Uncovered in the Bureij area, the facility included a rocket engine production laboratory, manufacturing warehouse and storage facility. A nearby tunnel housed a further chemical laboratory for explosive manufacturing and additional rocket engines.

Approximately a dozen tunnel entrances and the headquarters of Hamas’ al-Bureij Battalion were found near the site, with the factory itself connecting to an underground network. A nearby warehouse featured an elevator leading to a central point from which weapons could be distributed to Hamas terrorists across the Strip. An unusually large tunnel entrance is thought to have been used to move and store massive rockets.

The IDF also found evidence that Hamas is developing precision-guided munitions (PGMs) in Gaza, with the assistance of Iran, after new intelligence surfaced at the site.

Arab states look toward normalisation with Israel despite war

Arab States in the Middle East are presenting a “clear interest” in continued normalisation with Israel, despite the countries ongoing war with Hamas, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The possibility for establishing relations is “real, and it could be transformative”, he added.

Blinken’s comments came after he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. “Everywhere I went, I found leaders who are determined to prevent the conflict that we are facing now from spreading”, Blinken stated.

He noted that the release of the Israeli hostages from Hamas captivity, continued aid to Gaza, and “the establishment of an independent Palestinian state”, remained broad objectives for states across the region.

Israeli Arabs

The highest percentage of Arab respondents recorded by Israel Democracy Index since 2003, feel like part of the State of Israel and its problems, according to new polling taken in a flash survey after 7th October.

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