Israel-Hamas War – Week 17 Commencing January 28, 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 February 3, 2024 (Day 120):

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction with Hezbollah.
  • USA: The USA launched heavy B1 bombing attacks against pro Iranian militants in Iraq and Syria retaliation for the killing of 3 US soldiers in a US base in Jordan near Iraq and Syria. Biden said on X/Twitter: “We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But to all those who seek to do us harm: We will respond.”
  • UNWRA fake news: See this interesting article in the Jerusalem Post – real role of UNWRA

Thursday/Friday February 1/2, 2024 (Days 118, 119)

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction with Hezbollah.
  • Hostage deal: still no published finalized deal.
  • Rafah: Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is preparing to enter Rafah on the GazaEgypt border (BBC, Kan and others)
  • ICJ: in another genocide case between Ukraine and Russia today, the International Court of Justice ruled that Russia is to face further proceedings )BBC)
  • Marwan Barghouti?? Hamas reportedly want Barghouti included in the terrorists to be released by Israel in any hostage deal (Kan). Barghouti is a senior Fatah terrorists who was jailed for murder and starting both Intifadas. It was Barghouti who sabotaged the Oslo Accords with his Tanzim West Bank terrorists. He is 64. He could one day replace Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is 88. But if Hamas secure his release he would be indebted to Hamas, turning Blinken/Biden’s Middle East vision into every Israeli’s nightmare.
  • Egypt: doesn’t want Gazans in Sinai at any cost, hence their objections to the IDF plans to occupy the Phiadelphi border corridor, and to the far right wing conference this week to re-settle Jews in Gaza.
  • Lebanon: A US envoy to Lebanon is rushing to Israel. The IDF has pulled out some troops from Gaza and might send them to Lebanon….
  • USA: 66 American Israelis affected by Ocober 7 launched a lawsuit against Iran in a US federal court in Washington DC.
  • Construction: the US is pressing Israel not to allow Israeli manpower companies to import foreign building labor to replace Palestinians. Meanwhile, the Bank of Israel is warning that Israeli building companies are over leveraged and face difficulties paying back loan finance due to rising interest costs and reduced demand (Calcalist).
  • West Bank Settlors: The US State Department announced a block on US financial assets of 4 unnamed Israeli settlors alleged to be violent. This is thought to be a warning to other settlors and the Israeli government that more may follow.

Wednesday January 31, 2024 (Day 117):

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction with Hezbollah.
  • Hostage release talks: have shifted from Parus to Cairo, prompting speculation whether or not a deal might emerge. But the terms apparently have not been settled (various media). It seems Hamas wants a permanent cease-fire that leaves them ruling Gaza and 150 terrorists released for every hostage (Kan and others). Comment: 136 hostages X 150 = 20,400 terrorists – does Israel hold that many? The number was thought to be only around 6,000.
  • October 6 Ceasefire: US National Security Advisor John Kirby said that Hamas already had a cease-fire on October 6 and broke it on October 7 (Kan).
  • Coalition: There is speculation that the main Israeli Opposition party Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, might be considering joining the national unity war government. This could conceivably be to enable PM Netanyahu to have a majority to approve a difficult hostage deal without needing far right support (Ben Gvir, Smotrich). (Kan).
  • Food: If humanitarian aid and food supplies are withheld from Gaza, this could mean no food for the Israeli hostages there. A member of the families of hostages appealed to PM Netanyahu not to withhold aid and food supplies to Gaza (on Israeli TV Channel 11 main news – Kan). Comment: The IDF says food supplies are entering Gaza.

Tuesday January 30, 2024 (Day 116):

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction with Hezbollah. Hamas fired missiles at Tel-Aviv area. No casualties were reported.
  • Khan Younis tactics: The IDF thinks it is “close to” defeating Hamas in Khan Younis in Southern Gaza “within weeks”. Of the 4,500 original Hamas fighters, 2,700 have been killed, over 1,000 in close combat and over 1,700 by tank, artillery, or aerial attacks. It has struck 400 tunnel shafts in Khan Yunis, 150 of which it has destroyed. How? Instead of just using robots, the IDF shifted to attacking Hamas simultaneously both above and below ground, including sending in full platoons of dozens of IDF forces all at once into the tunnels to combat Hamas terrorists (Jerusalem Post).
  • Northern Israel IDF base: A terrorist carried out a ramming attack on IDF soldiers adjacent to an IDF base in Haifa. Then, the terrorist exited his vehicle and tried to attack an IDF soldiers with an axe. The soldiers responded with live fire and an IDF officer neutralized the terrorist (IDF X/Twitter and Kan)
  • Not the NHS: IDF special forces dressed up as doctors and infiltrated a hospital in Jenin at 5a.m to eliminate three terrorists in their hospital beds, then slipped away (Kan). Later footage showed some dressed up as women, some as men with beards.
  • Knesset consensus: The government and opposition are in consensus that UNWRA must be closed down (Kan). Comment: Whatever steps into UNWRA’s shoes should be very different, starting with eradication of terror incitement from the education syllabus.
  • Hostage deal deadline dilemma: PM Netanyahu said today Israel won’t release thousands of Hamas terrorists nor withdraw from Gaza until Hamas is toppled, which Hamas of course objects to. Israel is sorely aware that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was released by Israel in 2011 as part of the deal to release IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity. There is a deadline – not just the US elections in November 2024 but a much closer deadline: sundown on March 10, 2024 when Ramadan is expected to start, and moods considerably harden across the Moslem world. It seems Netanyahu’s main issue is one of numbers: if he accepts Hamas’ terms before March 10 to free 136 hostages, will 9.7 million Israelis become exposed to future Hamas holocaust attacks? Or can the IDF conclude its underground campaign by March 10? Will the IDF get right its tunnel flooding techniques using water pumped from the Med? Time will tell – it’s all about time.

Monday January 29, 2024 (Day 115):

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction with Hezbollah.
  • Hostage Deal? Talks continue regarding a 3 phase hostage release deal. Israel is apparently prepared to release terrorists jailed for serious crimes (taken to mean murder). But Hamas apparently wants the IDF out of Gaza first. In short, no deal yet. (Kan and others).
  • US retaliation? Biden and Blinken have said retaliation has yet to follow for the death of three US soldiers at a base in Jordan near Iraq and Syria on January 28. Reports suggest the US soldiers mistook the drone that killed them for a US drone also approaching. Around 40 US troops were wounded (Wall Street Journal & New York Times).
  • UNWRA: “I have just canceled the meetings of UNWRA head, Philippe Lazzarini with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel on Wednesday. UNWRA employees participated in the massacre of October 7. Lazzarini should draw conclusions and resign. Supporters of terrorism are not welcome here” (Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on X/Twitter). This was after Lazzarini said on X/Twitter about UNWRA employees’ participation in October 7 atrocities: “This stains all of us.”

Sunday January 28, 2024 (Day 114):

  • Situation: The Israel-Hamas war continues, so does friction with Hezbollah.
  • Paris: peace talks among intelligence chiefs are progressing well according to Saudi Arabia, but they aren’t according to Netanyahu’s Office (Kan).
  • US casualties: three U.S. service members were killed—and many wounded—during an unmanned aerial drone attack on US forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syria border.  It was carried out by Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq (White House website).
  • UNWRA: is trying to resist the funding freeze by several countries after admitting that 12 UNWRA employees took part in the October 7 atrocities. UNWRA says this is collective punishment as thousands of employees and millions of Gazans will suffer. Comment: Not if a reformed replacement for UNWRA is set up.
  • UNWRA’s Funding: will decrease around 60% due to cutbacks by governments alarmed that UNWRA staff participated in the October 7 atrocities (Calcalist). Comment: As the ICJ Court in the Hague also belongs to the UN, that gives the ICJ and its judges (lawyers) a huge conflict of interest. Can the genocide case continue in good faith?
  • US: officials told NBC that the Biden administration is considering slowing down some arms supplies to the IDF including artillery shells and guidance components as pressure to stop Israeli operations in Gaza. The White House then denied this (Kan and army radio). Comment: Slugging it out in public is generally a vote loser in each country.
  • Tunnels: Only 20%-40% of tunnels have been affected reports, apparently Hamas have defenses against some of the IDF techniques. These include hostage human shield protection (Wall Street Journal today).
  • Israel Defense Minister Gallant: Israel must win the war with a knockout not on points, if Israel wants to stay in the Middle East (Kan).
  • Order Number 9: This is the name adopted by protestors trying to bodily block humanitarian supplies from Israel to Gaza whole Hamas holds hostages. After largely succeeding for 3 days, the IDF cleared them out today and declared the Kerem Shalom passage a closed military area. Then attention switched to the Nitzana crossing (Kan and others