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Israel Update 3.1.24

Publication on Wednesday  due to travel this week.


The IDF’s death toll in the ground operation is 175. War update here


Hamas Political Bureau Deputy Chairman, Saleh Al-Arouri, was killed along with at least five other people in an alleged Israeli drone strike in Beirut. Arouri was one of the master planners of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in Israel. Arouri also gave the order to kidnap and murder three Israeli teenagers in 2014, which led to the 2014 Gaza conflict. Azzam Al-Aqra and Samir Fendi, two commanders in Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades, were also killed in the strike.Report here


Al-Arouri had said in an interview in August
“A total war has become inevitable… in a “total conflict,” Israel’s airspace, seaports, electricity, water supply, and communications will be shut down, and that Hamas is capable of imposing a curfew in Israel and bringing its economy to a standstill.”Article here


A barrage of rockets was fired at central Israel by Hamas in Gaza shortly after midnight on Monday, New Year’s Day. Report here


The IDF said Monday it would begin withdrawing several thousand troops from Gaza at least temporarily…Reservists from at least two brigades will be sent home this week and three brigades will be taken back for scheduled training. Report here (paywall)



Recent IDF interrogations of Gazans captured during the war detail Hamas’s use of civilians as cover for terror operations.

Zuhadi Ali Zahadi Shahi, a former Hamas operative, said, “We felt we’re being used as human shields. Why should we protect them? We want to live too. IDF gave us a clear path south, where there would be food and water, but Hamas stopped us along the way and took us to sit with them inside Al-Shifa Hospital…”In all honesty, I prefer the IDF. If they had been there, right where we lived, we wouldn’t have been starving. At first, we were scared about what would happen when the IDF came inside Al-Shifa, but they actually gave us food and water and sat with us. We felt safe.” Report here



Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy has accused UNRWA of “failing miserably” to aid Palestinians in Gaza…. “The administration workers in the agency are Hamas (operatives)….Those in charge of the departments or the regional headquarters are Hamas operatives themselves.”
Levy emphasized that the humanitarian aid workers were complicit in theft, and that Hamas prioritized aid delivery to its operatives over starving refugees. Israel says one of the reasons for the slow pace of aid is the UN’s inefficient handling of border crossings. Report here




Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, says UNRWA “should be dismantled. It was established because of pressure by the Arab world as a platform to leverage the interests of Arab leaders against the State of Israel using the Palestinian [refugee] issue…”The idea that we are still talking about Palestinian refugees is not reasonable. We’re talking about fifth-generation refugees when actually they are not refugees at all” The worst aspect of UNRWA is that it’s controlled by Hamas. “All the workers of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip – something like 13,000 – all of them are approved by Hamas.” ”
James G. Lindsay, an American civil servant who served as UNRWA’s general counsel, has called for a close examination of its activities, saying it doesn’t solve the Palestinian refugee problem, but rather perpetuates it. He noted that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which handles all the rest of the world’s refugees, “does not consider someone a refugee who has acquired citizenship in another country….If you can’t be a refugee under those definitions, then a very large number of UNRWA Palestinian refugees would not be refugees at all.”  Article here




At least five IDF soldiers were hurt in a rocket attack on the Western Galilee on Monday. Amid rocket fire at Israeli communities in the north, the IDF conducted strikes on south Lebanon throughout the day. On Monday evening, the IDF intercepted a drone launched by Hizbullah over Kiryat Shmona. Report here



Intelligence indicates a vast Hezbollah tunnel network in southern Lebanon, far more sophisticated than Hamas’s, begun and developed long before the one in Gaza. The tunnel system in Lebanon runs hundreds of kms up to the border and even into Israel; launchers can fire precision-guided missiles from there, then disappear.

Report here



Many of the Israeli evacuees from northern communities are still living in hotels, nearly three months after the evacuation. Itzik Perz, a grower of peonies from Moshav Shomer has lost his market for this year. Eitan Davidi of Moshav Margaliot, experiences warnings of incoming missile fire from Lebanon several times a day and says, “Margaliot is the most shelled place in Israel at the moment.”
“They’re pounding us from every direction. Houses have been hit, agricultural buildings have been destroyed. Just a few days ago, a large farm with almost 170,000 laying hens was hit. The hens died. An anti-tank missile flew over my head, and a rocket landed beside my house.”  Report here



In his sermon on Sunday in honour of the new year, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi said, “We don’t want the war to spread to southern Lebanon. It must be stopped to protect Lebanon’s people, their homes and their livelihoods… We urge that every missile launchpad located among residential homes in Lebanese villages, which are suffering from the destructive Israeli responses, be removed.”
Other Christian, Druze and Sunni leaders in Lebanon have voiced their concerns, as have the tens of thousands of Lebanese who have evacuated their villages in southern Lebanon and who are liable to lose the entire agricultural year, their main source of income.(paywall) Report here





Pro-Iranian militias fired rockets toward the southern Golan Heights from southwestern Syria on Monday night. Report here


Two drones launched by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed paramilitary groups were downed by Israeli jets on Sunday. Another drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria was also downed.Report here





This short film explores the haunting aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Kibbutz Be’eri. View here -around 4 mins




Hamza Howidy: I was born in Gaza and  attended school and university there.
I observed a huge social gap between the wealthy elite who belong to Hamas and the rest of the population who were increasingly living in poverty. Public sector jobs were limited to Hamas members.
Though we knew dissenters were subject to imprisonment, torture, and even murder, in 2019 a few of us decided to join forces and voice our opposition to Hamas in a “We Want to Live” demonstration. We were all arrested.
I was held for 21 days, was beaten with batons and sprayed with cold water in the late winter night hours. After we were released, we suffered ongoing harassment by Hamas members.
Most of those who participated in the demonstrations emigrated from Gaza.
The continuous threats from Hamas members and accusations of treason made me lose hope that I could make any kind of change. I left Gaza in August to seek a better future for myself and my family. Article here



Jonathan Spyer: The closest recent parallel to the current Gaza war, both in terms of the actions that triggered it and the way it is being conducted, is the U.S.-led Coalition’s war against Islamic State in 2014-19.

I am one of the small group of journalists who covered the ISIS war from close up and who are currently reporting on the Gaza war. Both the similarities in the wars and the enormous difference in Western perception of them are striking.

The current Israeli campaign in Gaza particularly resembles the Coalition’s battle against ISIS in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the largest urban centre that the ISIS jihadis controlled. Getting them out of there took nine months of fighting. Estimates suggest that there were between one and four civilians killed in Mosul for each ISIS fighter slain. Yet no one demonstrated for the civilians killed by Coalition bombing during the ISIS war. There were no furious crowds in Western cities denouncing “genocide.” Most in the West understood that the deeds of Islamic State and its ideology made it necessary that it be removed from power, in spite of the deaths of innocents that this would involve.

It is difficult not to conclude that the reason for the furious demonstrations today is because Jews are involved.

Full article here



Douglas Murray : To Hamas all civilians, all children, are tools of war :

On one occasion recently, Major Y’s unit spotted an old lady in a wheelchair alone on a street corner in the south of Gaza. As they approached her, they were suddenly fired on by a Hamas terrorist who was under her wheelchair. On another occasion, the soldiers saw a 13-year-old boy running with a bag near an UNRWA school. He put it down and ran away. A few minutes later it detonated, badly wounding an Israeli soldier.
Recently, a group of old women and old men came out of a building waving a white flag. Then someone from within their ranks started shooting at the soldiers. Because of the civilians, the Israelis did not shoot back at the terrorist. Situations like this happen every day, says Major Y. Full article here


Jake Wallis Simons: The (Hamas) terrorists know that they need only enable a supply of videos of civilian casualties and the journalists, diplomats, jihadi sympathizers, and useful idiots will do the rest.
During a lesson on Lord of the Flies, my daughter’s English teacher cited the actions of the IDF, not Hamas, as a modern example of “savagery.”
The truth remains the truth: Israel is acting as any other democracy would in impossible circumstances.(paywall) Full article here



Warren Kinsella: A few weeks ago, I was invited to the Israeli consulate in Toronto to see 42 minutes of raw video footage, mostly taken from video recorders of dead Hamas terrorists. The uniformed Hamas killers were proud of what they did: on the videos, they said so, over and over.

But here’s something else we witnessed: people who weren’t in uniforms, flooding into Israel to participate in the barbarity of that dark Saturday…There are videos of Palestinian civilians beating hostages – some elderly – with sticks and their fists.

The Hamas footage shows non-Hamas Palestinians looting and vandalizing the homes and bodies of Jews. Some Palestinians came by car, and some on foot and on bicycles. Some are children. They can then be seen stealing agricultural equipment, televisions, motorbikes and more. On that terrible day, many, many Palestinians were supporting Hamas.

One of the reasons why Hamas mass murder on Oct. 7 was so effective and efficient was because Palestinian civilians who had been working alongside Israelis in those kibbutzim had told Hamas how to disable the Israeli security and communications systems. They had told them who to kill first, and where victims could be found. Hamas did not act alone on Oct. 7. Ordinary Palestinians aided and abetted Hamas. Full article here