Israel-Hamas War – Week 14 Commencing January 7, 2024

We present here a diary of reported news from Israel and elsewhere about the Israel-Hamas war of 2023/2024, known in Israel as Swords of Iron. Our sources include the IDF Spokesman, Israeli Kan TV/radio service, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on Twitter/X (@IsraeliPM) and other sources considered reliable…

Saturday January 13, 2024

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction on the Israel-Lebanon border
  • Houthis: The US Navy launched a follow-on strike of tomahawk at a Houthi radar target. The Houthis said it was ineffective and remain defiant. Reports suggest the goal isn’t to beat the resilient battle hardened Houthis but to make them and Iran think twice before attacking Western shipping related and unrelated to Israel. (BBC and others).
  • Medicine: Israel has agreed with Qatar that Israel will send medical supplies needed by hostages still held by Hamas, not via the Red Cross (Kan and others).
  • Tomorrow marks 100 days of the Israel-Hamas war. PM Netanyahu, IDF Commander in Chief Herzi Halevi are making televised speeches “explaining” things.
  • Issues for Day 100 include: 136 hostages; how to take control of the “Philadelphia Highway” from Egypt to prevent more tunnel supplies and missiles entering Gaza; ongoing combat across Gaza preventing the return of Gazans to Northern Gaza; many thousands of evacuees from Southern and Northern Israel in hotels; US-Saudi suggestions of peace in return for the re-building of Gaza and Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia.
  • Netanyahu said: the Israeli government had enough money for the emergency budget in 2023 (including money for Haredi education) but he always said cutbacks would be needed in 2024. Netanyahu also revealed the Palestinian Authority refuses to use tax funds (under the Oslo Accords) paid by Israel until Israel adds funds for Gaza which Israel is holding back. Herzi Halevy hinted that IDF hostage rescue missions have yet to succeed.
  • Germany: announced it will join Israel in defending genocide allegations at the International Court of Justice (ICJ)(Kan). A provisional pronouncement is expected in a few weeks from the ICJ, but the full proceedings may take years.
  • Houthis: are training to carry out attacks on Israeli Kibbutzim similar to the attacks of Hamas on October 7. Televised footage shows armed Houthis rushing into a mock Israeli home and telling the residents three times in Hebrew to “get up” (Koom Koom Koom!), before shooting them (Kan).

Friday January 12, 2024

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues.
  • The Hague: January 12, 2024 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) opened its proceedings in the case in which South Africa alleges genocide by Israel. Israel outlined its case and sought to refuse all the South African allegations – some as presenting an incomplete picture, some as wrong, using many facts and pictures. These include warnings, delaying the ground campaign 3 weeks, humanitarian efforts and commands issued by the Israeli chain of command. Requests to civilians to evacuate combat areas are not displacement, they are necessary precautionary measures. Angry remarks of a few politicians straight after October 7 were not commands. Bakeries have re-opened in Gaza producing 2 million loaves per day, more supplies are trucked and parachuted in and this is increasing. Hamas theft of humanitarian supplies was noted. Israel’s cooperation with international aid organizations were detailed. The IDF is shifting to less intense activity involving less troops and aircraft. A UN resolution calling for release of hostages has not been implemented but the appointment of a UN Senior Coordinator has been implemented, contrary to what South Africa alleged. Also, South Africa has no dispute with Israel as it refused to discuss anything with Israel before lodging the application for “provisional measures” at the ICJ alleging genocide. Article 41 of the Genocide Convention and past case law in similar cases require the rights of the respondent (Israel here) to also be considered. The procedures for giving legal advice and redress on an ongoing basis within Israel to the government and the IDF was spelt out. Israel is a country where the rule of law prevails as does an independent judiciary.
  • Comments: Extremely detailed Israeli testimony from a range of angles in a tight time schedule. Numbers of military and civilian casualties were apparently not discussed, it was more about principles. Most telling was the look of astonishment on the faces of South Africa’s legal team watching the testimony of the Israeli legal team. Different League.
  • The present stage of the hearing closed around 13.10 pm Dutch Time. The Court will pronounce at a later date.
  • For another summary, click here:
  • Click her for: Fake claims by South Africa at the ICJ in the Hague yesterday Jan 11, 2024.
  • Iran: detained an oil tanker, the St. Nikolas (formerly known as the Zuez Rajan) off the coast of Oman. Last year the US seized the same tanker and disgorged Iranian oil breaking sanctions on Iran. Iran apparently claims it is taking back equivalent oil (Wall Street Journal and others)
  • Houthis: After continuing its attacks in the Red Sea, the US and UK launched an extensive retaliatory in Houthi territory in Yemen (many media)..

Thursday January 11, 2024

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing clashes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border and on the West Bank. Hamas is still firing missiles into Israel from time to time.
  • The Hague: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) opened its proceedings in the case in which South Africa alleges genocide by Israel. The case is being covered extensively by the world’s media. South Africa outlined its case. For one graphic account:
  • UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “The South Africa case to the International Court of Justice, I don’t think it’s helpful, I don’t agree with it. I don’t think it’s right.” (film clip on Israeli Foreign Ministry X/.Twitter)
  • Food shortage argument: The IDF unit overseeing the transport of humanitarian aid into Gaza said on Wednesday that there are no shortages of food in the Strip and that existing problems were caused by the inability of the United Nations to properly distribute the goods once they entered the enclave – said Col. Moshe Tetro, head of COGAT’s Coordination and Liaison Administration to Gaza (Times of Israel). Comment: He was politely saying Hamas takes much of the food.
  • Missed them: Underneath the city of Khan Yunis, IDF troops exposed an underground tunnel confirmed to have held Israeli hostages. The tunnel was connected to an extensive network beneath a civilian area. Millions of shekels are estimated to have been invested in excavating the tunnel and equipping it with air ventilation systems, electrical supply and plumbing (IDF, X/Twitter).
  • The IDF Spokesman: Pointed out Hamas that started the war, carried out the October 7 massacre, and still holds 136 hostages. Never again. (Televised news conference). Comment: The IDF is switching from daily news conferences to news conferences as needed every few days. Could it be that at the ICJ in the Hague, South Africa imputes genocide intent into everything said publicly.
  • Israeli VAT: Looks like rising from 17% to 18% in 2025 due to pressure on Israel’s credit rating by the international credit rating agencies. Otherwise, Israeli defense spending looks set to raise the government deficit (to 6%-7% reportedly) of GDP (Kan and others). Comment: Can Israel wait until 2025?

Wednesday January 10, 2024

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing clashes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border and on the West Bank. Hamas is still firing missiles into Israel from time to time.
  • The opposite of genocide – NB not for the faint-hearted: Israeli radio (Kan Bet) interviewed a father who spoke very calmy and we found out why. The family received a picture of their daughter in Gaza, a young IDF soldier taken hostage, who they suspect is 96 days pregnant. There isn’t much time to get her out and terminate it. At that the broadcast switched abruptly to an advert and the interview was over.
  • Houthis: The US Navy and British Royal Navy intercepted around 20 Houthi missiles in the Red Sea (BBC). The Houthis claimed they used cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones against an American ship apparently helping the Israelis (Kan).
  • Blinken: He now favors moving Gazans back into North Gaza only when conditions permit. In the meantime, a UN committee can check what will be needed. Comment: Moving everything into a committee seems a good way of agreeing without agreeing. It is hard to see the UN committee risking their lives by rushing to work in North Gaza….
  • International Court of Justice (ICJ): Tomorrow sees the start of the genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. South Africa initiated the case. Israel has plenty of evidence but apparently lacks some of the forensic evidence they could have taken from the deceased shortly after October 7 had someone thought of the future legal side (Kan). Comment: This author was at the IDF base concerned and knows the real problem. Many of the bodies were too badly burned by Hamas terrorists on October 7.
  • ICJ (more): The ICJ is composed of 15 judges who serve nine-year terms. Current judges are from the US, Russia, China, Slovakia, Morocco, Lebanon, India, France, Somalia, Jamaica, Japan, Germany, Australia, Uganda and Brazil. Five seats come up for election every three years, with no consecutive term limit. Four new judges will take their seats in February, one of whom is South Africa’s Dire Tladi (CNN).
  • Click on the link for details of the: ICJ case Israel faces
  • Hezbollah: Commander of the Southern Lebanon Region of Hezbollah’s Aerial Unit, Ali Hussein, has been eliminated by an IAF aircraft. Ali led dozens of explosive and surveillance UAV terrorist activities against Israel, as well as the attack against the headquarters of the IDF (IDF X/Twitter).
  • Houthis: are starting to come to understandings with shipping companies like Maersk of Denmark and Cosco of China about sailing through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal (Calcalist)

Tuesday January 9, 2024

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing clashes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border and on the West Bank. Hamas is still firing missiles into Israel from time to time.
  • Radwan: Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirmed Monday evening in an interview with Channel 14 that Israel is behind the assassination of the commander of the Radwan Force, Wissam al-Tawil (Channel 14 and others).
  • Lawfare: “This is a continuation of a Palestinian strategy of terrorist groups over the past decades of what’s been called lawfare. On the one hand you create impossible dilemmas on the ground for any democracy trying to defend itself and on the other within the international institutions you try to criminalize Israel’s defense.” (Israeli Foreign Ministry, X/Twitter).
  • Guatamala: issued a statement supporting Israel in the upcoming genocide case in the International Court of Justice: “Guatemala confirms that Israel’s purpose has always been to repel the constant invasions that seek to frighten the population and generate instability in the region. Likewise, it recognizes the full right of defense against terrorist threats and calls for reconsidering any unfounded demands, since these do not contribute to generating cohesion in these moments that are so necessary for stability in the Middle East.” (Jerusalem Post and others).
  • Surprises: Not only Israel was surprised on October 7. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said “intelligence indicates that Hamas leaders didn’t expect Israel would mount a large-scale ground operation in response…They didn’t take it seriously, even when we first went in”…He called this a failure of deterrence. (Wall Street Journal).  
  • Next stage: The IDF spokesman said Israel is starting to Shift to a more targeted campaign in Gaza. The hope is to complete the transition by the end of January, but that the timeline could change (New York Times). US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Israeli President Herzog about the shift to lower intensity operations in Gaza (White House website)
  • Sinwar: A number of reports indicate the IDF knows where Hamas Leader is hiding under Khan Younis but is shielded by hostages (Kan and others).
  • “Fauda” star injured: Actor Idan Amedi, who is known for playing a soldier in an elite IDF unit that operates in Palestinian areas of the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip in the hit TV show “Fauda,” was serving as a real-life IDF reservist in the Combat Engineering Corps when he was injured. He was helicoptered to Sheba hospital for treatment (Times of Israel and others)
  • Blinken: The US Secretary of State held discussions in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Qatar about improving the Middle East situation and is in contact with Israel (Anthony Blinken, X/Twitter).
  • Blinken also said: “We condemn the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea – one of the busiest trade corridors – which have disrupted or diverted nearly 20% of global shipping. This increases the cost and time of moving food, fuel, medicine, and humanitarian assistance.” (Anthony Blinken, X/Twitter).
  • Cameron chimed in: “Illegal Houthi drone strikes, missile attacks and attempted hijackings in the Red Sea are risking innocent lives, harming the global economy, and could increase food and fuel prices in the UK” (UK Foreign Office, X/Twitter)
  • Tragedy: 6 IDF soldiers died and more were injured in an accident in a Gaza tunnel caused by an IDF tank shell that hit an electricity pylon which set off explosives being used to blow up a large arms factory.
  • Blinken: Arrived in Israel with a Saudi Arabian plan for overall peace, we await details. As a first step Blinken wants the Israeli Cabinet to let Gazans back into Northern Gaza. Horrified Israeli ministers left and right refused point blank as it would enable terrorists to slip back too and resume heavy missile barrages into Israel. According to Blinken, first, the UN would conduct an assessment of what is needed for Gazans to return home (Kan, Blinken on TV). Comment: Sounds naive to Israelis. War is raging,136 Israelis are still held as hostages, UNWRA is used by Hamas, and Israelis from areas hit on October 7 are unwilling to go home.
  • Hostages: There are reports that the US is dissatisfied with Qatar’s inability to move the hostage release talks forward, as some of the hostages are US citizens (Kan).

Sunday January 7, 2024

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing clashes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border and on the West Bank. Hamas is still firing missiles into Israel from time to time.
  • Blinken: The US Secretary of State visited Israel and is now visiting other Mideast countries. He wrote on X/Twitter: “I’m in the Middle East this week to meet with our partners in the region on the situation in Gaza. These are not necessarily easy conversations. But it is vital that we engage in this diplomacy…”
  • Meron: Hezbollah hit the air surveillance base with missiles and caused property damage but the air surveillance systems remain functional. The IDF retaliated against the Hezbollah missile systems.
  • Gaza: The IDF spokesman announced: “We have completed the dismantling of Hamas’ military framework in the northern Gaza Strip….Now, we are focusing on dismantling Hamas in the central and southern Gaza Strip. We will do this differently, thoroughly, based on the lessons we have learned from the fighting so far.”
  • Special offer: “Come stay at the Blue Beach Hotel in Gaza, where Hamas replaced the room service and the spa with complementary AK-47s and terrorist tunnels” (IDF X/Twitter)
  • Barak: Israel nominated Aaron Barak to be a judge at the upcoming International Court of Justice genocide case at the Hague. Barak has a top notch international legal reputation. He was also the Supreme Court president that brought in the reasonableness test of governmental decisions. The present Israeli government tried to abolish the reasonableness test as part of the judicial reform – which divided Israelis and partly prompted Hamas to launch the October 7 atrocities. Anyone unfamiliar with Barak should bone up on his achievements.