An assessment conducted by Israeli intelligence officials has concluded that at least 30 of the remaining 136 hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7 have died and that at least 20 other hostages may have also been killed. Some were killed inside Israel on Oct. 7, and their bodies were taken by Hamas to Gaza. Others were injured and died of their injuries after being abducted. Others still were murdered by Hamas inside Gaza.Report here (paywall)Also here
The Gaza conflict is now Israel’s longest war since the 1948 War of Independence. Report here
Israel claimed Monday that the IDF had killed or seriously injured half of the Hamas terror group’s fighters, and said the end of a nearly 4-month-old offensive in Gaza was a matter of months, not years, as fighting was set to spread to Rafah. Report here
In the past week IDF discoveries in Gaza have included:
1.The largest rocket manufacturing plant found so far along and beneath the Gaza Strip’s main north-south highway, where Hamas terror group produced its long-range rockets. An IDF commander described the area as ” a chain of terror factories…on the main road and under the homes of civilians.”
2. Twelve more Hamas hostage cages underground in Khan Yunis.
3. Documents proving direct cooperation and communication between Iran and Hamas, detailing $154 million transferred from Iran to Hamas in 2014-2020.
4. A major military base of Hamas’ Khan Yunis Brigade including extensive training complexes, some of which featured models replicating the entrance gates of Israeli communities, military bases, and IDF armoured vehicles plus warehouses filled with rockets and mortars, and a workshop manufacturing combat equipment and weapons.
5. Based on intelligence collected by the IDF during the ground operation as well as intelligence gathered by IDF soldiers in the field, Hamas and Islamic Jihad embedded weapons storage facilities, tunnel entrances and operational gathering points in dozens of mosques.
IDF big data saved Israeli mourners in Rishon LeZion from a mass casualty Hamas attack. The IDF’s Lotem technology unit’s analysts broke down Hamas’ rocket firing patterns which they had gathered using new big data gathering tools. Report here
Underground tunnels in Rafah on the Egyptian border are a key route for smuggling weapons and materiel into Gaza, and Israel has told Egypt there are at least 12 tunnels left between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula. “Leaving Rafah an open gate between the world and Gaza means that Hamas immediately will start reconstruction of its military capacities.” Report here (paywall)
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau who lives in Qatar, has two brothers and eight sisters, three of whom are married to Israeli Bedouins, have Israeli citizenship, and live in Tel Sheva, a Bedouin town in Israel bordering the city of Beersheba. One of Haniyeh’s sisters recently gave birth to a premature baby which received life-saving treatment at a Beersheba hospital. Report here
According to a recent PCPSR survey, over 90% of Palestinians polled believe that “Hamas did not commit the atrocities seen in the videos” on October 7, referring to attacks on civilians. That number rises to a whopping 97% for West Bank residents, compared to 83% of Gazans. The dismissal of the incontrovertible evidence is mainly due to the lack of coverage in Palestinian and Arab media, including Al Jazeera. Report here
The Associated Press recently falsely claimed that the Israeli campaign against Hamas “sits among the deadliest and most destructive in recent history” and was even worse than “the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II.” However, even accepting the Hamas casualty figures (in which there are no terrorists, only civilians), this is still one of the least violent conflicts in the region.
In 2016, the Washington Post described the Syrian Civil War, with 250,000 deaths, as “the most destructive conflict in the region.”
In 2020, the UN called the Yemeni Civil War, with 150,000 deaths, “the most destructive conflict since the end of the Cold War.” Every significant war and civil war in the region had a much higher death toll than the Hamas war. Article here
21 Bedouin Israelis were murdered in the Hamas massacre of October 7, in addition to 5 Arab Israelis from the North… 7 Bedouin Israelis were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, with five still remaining there. Wahid Al-Hazeel, a former major in the IDF and an ex-commander of its Bedouin brigade has set an initiative The Civil Forum for Those Harmed among the Negev Bedouins which aims to provide aid to the bereaved families, as well as families of the kidnapped, in various fields.He said “Our society as a whole disavows Hamas and views them as a group which does not represent Islam in any way and which harms the very fabric of relations between Jews and Arabs”. Article here
Hamas official Ali Baraka told Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV on Jan. 30, 2024:
“We can repeat Oct. 7 many times…Today, the Arab fighters storm in. They stormed [the Gaza envelope] and tomorrow, they will storm the Galilee. They will storm in from wherever they can.” Report here
I was recently released from reserve duty in Gaza after serving 100 days in the IDF… Gaza has been depicted as a backwards, “densely populated” area that’s been under Israeli “siege” for years. But pre-war Gaza City was modern, beautiful, and developed – with large, furnished houses, wide avenues, public areas, a promenade, and parks…Gaza City reminds me more of Tel Aviv than the awful slums that some people try to make it out to be. And Gaza is far from being the “most densely populated area in the world.”
The houses in Gaza were full of goods and food from across the Middle East. They had modern furniture, appliances, and pretty much any up-to-date consumer product and electronics you can imagine. There are also high-end mansions that could easily have been in Los Angeles or Beverly Hills. There was no lack of wealth in Gaza.
I realize now that the optimistic notion that “if only Gazans had the chance for a better life, they would not be fighting Israel,” is irrelevant for Gaza. Many of them had everything a normal person in the West strives for, yet Hamas still executed their Oct. 7 massacre. Article here
Last month, Shahar Shnorman, 62, and his wife Ayelet Cohen became the first residents to return to Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where Hamas terrorists on October 7 murdered about 80 people,one in 10 residents, and abducted another 18. Article here
A group of Thai workers has returned to to Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Article here.
A Druze mother, Arabic speaker Nasreen Yousef, fooled Hamas into revealing its attack plans and saved her town.Article here
Numerous anti-tank missiles were fired by Hizbullah from Lebanon at northern Israel today Thursday. Three soldiers were wounded, one seriously, at an IDF base.Report here
Two soldiers were lightly wounded in a rocket attack from Lebanon on Tuesday. Report here
Hezbollah, has fired more than 2,000 rockets and dozens of anti-tank guided missiles and drones at Israel since October 7. The group has embedded itself within communities in southern Lebanon over several decades. It has built tunnels, bunkers, and observation posts. 80,000 residents of Israeli communities along the northern border have been evacuated. Article here
Israeli wineries near Lebanon fear harvest failure due to the manpower shortage caused by Hezbollah’s cross-border attacks. Article here
Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank opened fire at nearby Kibbutz Meirav in Israel on Tuesday. There were no injuries, but a home was damaged. Report here
In separate incidents on Tuesday and Thursday, Palestinian terrorists opened fire on IDF reservists near Nablus and were shot by the IDF .
According to Israeli military sources and political figures, 60% of the aid entering Gaza ends up with Hamas.Report here
After suspending UNWRA funding, the US is looking at redirecting money to other groups operating in Gaza for example World Food Programme. Report here
Israel’s long-range Arrow air defence system on Friday shot down a ballistic missile over the Red Sea, fired by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, and targeting Eilat.Report here
The original Israeli Opera production “Theodor,” launched in May 2023 about two periods in the life of the founder of modern Zionism Theodor Herzl, was chosen as one of the world’s best opera productions of the year, picked from 19 productions by the magazine “Opera Now.”Report here
Israeli windsurfer Sharon Kantor won a gold medal at the iQFoil World Championships while her compatriot Katy Spychakov, 24, finished third. Report here
Israeli swimmer Matan Roditi finished 10th in the Open 10km at the World Championships in Doha and qualified for the Paris Olympics. Results here
From Follow Team Israel:
At the Jujitsu Genoa Open Guy Borstein won gold and Daniel Jacobson won bronze in their weight class while Tommy Buaron won gold in another.
Israeli skiier Mia Mazur won gold at the Special Olympics Germany National Winter Games.
Israeli judoka Raz Hershko won bronze at the Paris Grand Slam
Wall St Journal Editorial: Hamas losses are mounting, and support for the Israeli war effort has endured around the world longer than Hamas expected. The war is far from over, but Hamas’ southern stronghold of Khan Yunis is falling. Hamas’ remaining forces face an Israeli advance on all sides, and Israel is now fighting below ground in force…This war has passed 120 days, and the U.S. and Europe refuse to call for a ceasefire.
Israel says it has killed, incapacitated or arrested some 20,000 of Hamas’ 30,000 men, and the losses have quieted its rocket fire, down more than 95% from the war’s early days.
The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll finds that large majorities of Americans support Israel and its war aims. Europe’s elected leaders are also holding the line, and no Arab state has quit the Abraham Accords. Winning the war is essential for a secure Israel and a chance for Palestinians to have a normal life in Gaza.(paywall) Article here
VIDEO: Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy joined Brendan O’Neill to discuss the media smearing of Israel, the whitewashing of the 7 October pogrom, and why Israel must defeat Hamas.View here
David Luhnow: In 2014, part of the parking lot at the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza began sinking, likely from a Hamas tunnel dug beneath. A former UNRWA official said, “No one talked about what was causing the collapse, but everyone knew.” (paywall) Article here
Raymond J. de Souza: Why does UNRWA provide medical and social services more than 70 years after it was established…The principal problem with UNRWA is that it is doing things that the Palestinians ought to be doing for themselves…UNRWA has deployed untold billions over generations to entrench a welfare mentality that denies Palestinians the opportunity to exercise their own agency, creativity and freedom.Article here
Jonathan S. Tobin: Unlike every other refugee population, the Palestinian Arabs were not resettled. They were kept in camps throughout the Middle East with the largest concentration in Gaza. They were prevented from finding new homes in Arab and Muslim countries, where they spoke the language and shared a common culture. Instead, they were kept in place to wait for the day when they could “go home” to their former villages in what was now Israel. Their leaders and the rest of the Arab world opposed their resettlement, doing all they could to prevent it. The agency that enabled this policy to continue for generations was UNRWA, which exists solely to ensure that Palestinian refugees are never resettled.Article here
Einat Wilf : 40% of the (Palestinian) refugees live in the West Bank and Gaza. By their telling they live in Palestine. They were born there and lived there. They are not refugees and have no need of resettlement. Another 40% are citizens of Jordan and were born in that country. Nowhere else in the world is a citizen of a country, born in that country, somehow a refugee of another sovereign country. The remaining 20% are registered in Syria and Lebanon. Recent data shows that most of those have long left these countries. UNRWA and the Palestinian “refugee” issue are not marginal aspects of the conflict. They are at the core of the conflict and the reason for its perpetuation. UNRWA has been one of the most substantial forces in ensuring that the rejection of Israel never ends. Article here
Dan Perry: UNRWA has become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy with an interest in maintaining the dangerous fiction that there are many millions of Palestinian “refugees” – instead of pawns being denied basic rights by the countries of their birth, whose language they naturally speak and whose customs they fully share. Article here
Keith Black:..the Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, said that “we – with allies – will look at the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state,” suggesting the UK Government could take this momentous and consequential step before a two-state solution had been negotiated…It would send a strong signal to Hamas terrorists that their aims can be furthered by the most heinous of acts…
Crucially, unilateral recognition would also undermine the necessary message to the Palestinian leadership that they must negotiate and collaborate with Israel to ensure they can share a mutually-beneficial peace. ..Instead, the UK Government would do better to focus on pushing the Palestinian Authority to remove its self-imposed barriers to peace – including their horrific pay-for-slay programme or their wide-scale teaching of antisemitism in classrooms to radicalize children against Jews and Israelis. Article here
Con Coughlin:Raising the prospect of recognizing a Palestinian state when the Israeli people remain traumatized by the events of Oct. 7, and when the fate of the 100 or so Israeli hostages still being held by Hamas hangs in the balance, is not the unequivocal demonstration of support Israel deserves to receive from a key ally in its hour of need.(paywall)
Elliott Abrams: The day a Palestinian state is declared is the day Iran hypes up its efforts to turn the West Bank into what Gaza became in the last decade: a maze of arsenals, training centres, tunnels, launching sites, and bases for terrorist attacks. Only this time the geography will be different because the hills of Judea and Samaria overlook Ben-Gurion Airport, Jerusalem, and the coastal plain where most of Israel’s economy, its largest port, and its largest city are located.
Creating a Palestinian state will not end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it will not end the Palestinian and Iranian dream of eliminating the State of Israel. On the contrary, it can be a launching pad for new attacks on Israel and will certainly be viewed that way by the Jewish state’s most dedicated enemies. Article here
Jonathan S. Tobin: The majority of Israelis were ready to welcome a Palestinian state if it meant peace during the period of post-Oslo Accords euphoria in the 1990s. That… optimism died in the violence of the Second Intifada that followed Yasser Arafat’s rejection of statehood offers in 2000 and 2001.
Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state in all but name ruled by Hamas. That allowed the terrorists to build a subterranean terrorist fortress from which they fired rockets at Israel for years, and eventually launched the terrorist pogroms of Oct. 7.
After that, the Israeli constituency for allowing the Palestinians sovereignty and the freedom of action to repeat those atrocities from either a rebuilt Gaza or a state in Judea and Samaria that would likely also fall under Hamas rule became nearly nonexistent. Article here.
Also: Melanie Phillips: An Obsession with a Two-State Solution Threatens to Incentivise Hamas