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Israel and Palestinian Territories in March 2024

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2024-3-6

  1. Israeli Forces Cripple Hamas Infrastructure
    The Israeli army destroyed a vast Hamas tunnel in northern Gaza, showcasing the tunnel’s elaborate design with facilities such as sanitation, electricity, and vehicle-capable paths. Concurrently, Operation “Taj Al-Gharb” saw intensified actions in Gaza, from Jabalia to Khan Yunis, including the strategic besieging of Hamad Town and capturing dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants during the evacuation of civilians. These synchronized efforts mark a critical blow to Hamas’s operational capabilities, reflecting Israel’s determined military strategies.
  2. U.S. Airdrops Aid to Besieged Gaza
    In response to escalating famine risks for a third of Gaza’s population, the U.S. military, collaborating with the Jordanian Air Force, executed its second humanitarian airdrop into Gaza, delivering 36.8 thousand food baskets, primarily targeting the conflict-affected northern region. This initiative follows the tragic Nabulsi Roundabout incident, where over 110 civilians were killed by Israeli fire. Concurrently, the World Health Organization reports a severe rise in malnutrition among northern Gaza’s children, with the UN highlighting that 576,000 individuals are nearing famine conditions, five months post the onset of the Israeli siege triggered by Hamas attacks.

2024-3-12

  1. U.S. Intelligence Report Says Netanyahu’s Hold on Power is Shaky–and Israel May Not Be Able to Finish Hamas.
    The US intelligence community’s annual threat assessment report to Congress, published on Monday, asserts that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership is endangered by widespread public distrust. The report also criticizes Netanyahu’s military response, which it says has inflicted heavy civilian casualties in Gaza, and suggests his policies may not align with the Israeli public’s wishes. It also warns of prolonged armed resistance from Hamas and potential inspiration for future terrorist acts by al-Qaeda and ISIS. The report acknowledges that the majority of Israelis are in alignment with the Netanyahu government’s military actions in Gaza, even if most Israelis no longer support Netanyahu’s role as prime minister. The report predicts renewed large-scale protests against Netanyahu and projects that Netanyahu’s right-wing government will be replaced by a more moderate governing coalition.
  2. Netanyahu Defies Biden’s Warning over Rafah Operation.
    The public dispute between President Joe Biden and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu escalated on Monday as the two leaders traded tense public statements. Biden stated he does not expect to meet Netanyahu or address the Israeli Knesset in coming days, indicating he is keeping the Israeli leader at arm’s length. Netanyahu on Monday said that while Biden and the Israeli government agree about the war’s basic goals, they do not agree about Rafah, and Israel would decide for itself how best to conduct the war, regardless of external pressure.
  3. Qatar Says Hostage and Ceasefire Deal is Not Imminent.
    Qatari spokesman Majed al-Ansari said on Monday that while Qatar remains hopeful for a Gaza ceasefire deal and is still working toward a permanent ceasefire, Hamas and Israel are not closing the gap between them in negotiations and no deal is imminent. He added that he could not offer a timeline for when talks might progress. The most recent deal on the table would have seen a six-week truce during which Hamas would release 40 Israeli hostages and Israel would release 400 Palestinian security prisoners.
  4. Aid Ship Leaves Cyprus Bound for Gaza as UN Says Palestinians Are on Brink of Famine.
    On Tuesday, a humanitarian mission embarked from Cyprus to Gaza, carrying 200 tons of essential supplies, including flour, rice, and protein, aboard the charity ship Open Arms. This pilot project, chiefly funded by the UAE and organized by a U.S.-based NGO, aims to establish a new sea route to deliver aid directly to the Gaza Strip, where the UN estimates a large portion of the population is reportedly on the brink of famine. The initiative comes as land aid deliveries face significant impediments due to bureaucratic red tape and the volatile security situation. It also coincides with U.S. military plans to construct a temporary port to deliver aid to Gaza.
  5. Israel-Hizballah War Heats Up:  IDF Strikes Hizballah Deep inside Lebanon; Hizballah Hits Northern Israel with 100 Rockets.
    In a significant escalation in hostilities on Tuesday, the IDF struck Hizballah positions in Baalbek, deep inside Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, killing one person. In response, Hezbollah launched 100 rockets towards the Golan Heights. The Israeli airstrikes targeted Hizballah’s “aerial unit” facilities, following drone attacks aimed at Israel. Despite the substantial Hizballah rocket barrage, there were no Israeli injuries reported, thanks to the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system. The IDF’s subsequent counter-strikes focused on three rocket launchers in southern Lebanon and two Hizballah command centers in the Baalbek area.
  6. Iraqi Militias Send Armed Drone to Attack Ben Gurion Airport; Jordan Apparently Shoots Down Same Militia Drone.
    The “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” the label the Iranian-backed Iraqi militias apply to themselves, announced on Tuesday it had launched a drone strike on Ben Gurion Airport as an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The attack was the latest in a series of strikes by Iraqi militias against Israel since October 7. At the same time, however, the Jordanian government announced it had shot down a drone over Irbid inside Jordanian airspace, probably the Iraqi militias’ attack drone on its way to Ben Gurion airport. 
  7. Israeli Forces Not Sure Yet Whether Strike Killed Hamas’s Number 3 Military Leader.
    The IDF targeted Marwan Issa, Hamas’s deputy military commander, in a strike on a tunnel in Gaza on Monday, but it remains unclear if he was killed. The operation, part of efforts to target Hamas leadership, involved no hostages in the area. Issa, a significant figure in Hamas, is implicated in orchestrating a massacre in southern Israel that precipitated the current conflict. The IDF continues to assess the strike’s outcome and vows to pursue Hamas leaders responsible for the attack. Reports suggest five Palestinians were killed in the operation.
  8. In Provocative Step, Hundreds of Israeli Settlers Enter Al-Aqsa Complex on Ramadan’s First Day.
    On Tuesday, hundreds of Jewish settlers entered the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in East Jerusalem. The settlers entered through the Mugharbah gate under the protection of Israeli forces and during heightened security measures that restrict Palestinians’ access to the complext. The incursion followed Monday’s similar entrance of approximately 275 settlers to the same area. Taken together, the settlers’ marches will be viewed as a deliberate provocation by Palestinians and the broader Islamic world. Despite security restrictions, around 35,000 Palestinians managed to perform taraweeh prayers at Islam’s third holiest site on Monday night to mark the beginning of Ramadan. 

2024-3-13

  1. Abbas to Name Mohammad Mustafa as New PA Prime Minister
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas plans to appoint Mohammad Mustafa, an economist and close ally, as the next PA prime minister. This move aims to establish a technocratic government in the West Bank and prepare for eventual PA leadership in Gaza once the current conflict has ended. Mustafa will face the difficult task of forming a cabinet that meets both domestic and international expectations for reform. Skepticism stemming from his close relationship with Abbas raises questions about the potential for genuine change within the PA, especially with Abbas himself remaining as the overall head of the PA.
  2. Israeli Official Rebukes US Intel Report on Netanyahu’s Leadership
    A senior Israeli official, speaking anonymously, blasted a US intelligence report that casts doubt on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership. The annual U.S. intelligence threat assessment, released to Congress on Monday, suggested Netanyahu’s position could be weakened by public dissatisfaction and ongoing protests demanding his resignation. The official emphasized Israel’s sovereignty in electing its leaders and implied that the intelligence report was part of an attempt by the U.S. administration to pressure Netanyahu out of power and steer Israelis into forming a new centrist government without him. 
  3. U.S. Military Ships Head Toward Gaza to Construct Floating Pier
    Four U.S. Army vessels have departed Virginia, bound for Gaza with equipment to construct a floating pier to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip. The mission will involve around 1,000 U.S. troops and will seek to address the growing food crisis affecting Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants by enabling over 2 million meal deliveries daily.
  4. American-Israeli Soldier Itay Chen Confirmed Killed in Hamas Attack
    The Israeli military has confirmed the death of Itay Chen, a 19-year-old American-Israeli soldier missing since the Hamas attack on October 7. New intelligence revealed Chen was killed on October 7 and his body taken to Gaza by Hamas. Recent cease fire talks have stalled due to Hamas’s refusal of terms for releasing the remaining hostages or revealing the status of the hostages, alive or dead, that Hamas holds.
  5. Knesset Passes Law Pressuring Palestinian Authority Finances
    Israel has increased its pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) by passing a law in the Knesset allowing Israeli citizens affected by Palestinian armed actions to seek compensation. The move could result in significant new pressure on already weakened PA finances and affect the struggling economy in PA territories.
  6. Israeli Police Shoot Palestinian Teen Who Aimed Fireworks at Them in East Jerusalem
    In East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, Israeli Border Police officers fatally shot a 13-year-old Palestinian who aimed fireworks at them. Witnesses claimed the fireworks posed no threat to the officers. Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir commended the police response to the incident.
  7. Ben Gvir Calls for Declaration of War on Lebanon
    Following Hizballah’s launch of over 100 rockets into Israel, Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir publicly urged Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to declare war on Lebanon. The Israeli military responded to the Hizballah rocket salvo by striking Hizballah targets in Lebanon, including as far north as Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley. Israeli officials threatened further attacks on Lebanese territory unless Hizballah withdraws from the border area.
  8. Gantz Ally Breaks Away, Demands Independent Seat in Israeli War Cabinet
    Gideon Sa’ar, Israeli Minister and former ally of Benny Gantz, has announced his departure from their joint political platform and his plans to reinstate his previous party, New Hope, to ensure his perspectives are represented in the Israeli War Cabinet. The move comes after months of growing political discord between Sa’ar and Gantz, with Sa’ar expressing a desire to return to his right-wing roots while Gantz remains aligned with more left-wing or centrist factions. The Knesset House Committee is set to discuss the reformation of New Hope, as Sa’ar and his followers seek a more significant role in shaping Israel’s wartime policies.

2024-3-14

  1. IDF Says it Will Displace Gazans to “Humanitarian Islands” Ahead of Rafah Operation; Biden Admin Signals Conditional Support
    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced plans to relocate a significant portion of the 1.4 million displaced Gazans from Rafah tohumanitarian islands ahead of a ground operation. The IDF said this strategy aims to protect civilians and coordinate with international actors and reflects Israel’s efforts to mitigate humanitarian concerns while targeting Hamas strongholds. The move precedes potential ground operations in Rafah, a city on the Egypt border and a key Hamas base. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant emphasized Israel’s determination to eliminate Hamas threats and ensure aid reaches Gaza’s civilians, not Hamas. The Biden administration, prioritizing the protection of civilians, has indicated possible support for a precise IDF operation that would focus on targeting high-value Hamas objectives in Rafah while taking concrete measures to mitigate humanitarian concerns and minimize civilian casualties.
  2. US, Qatar, UAE, and European Countries Say There’s No Alternative to Land Routes for Gaza Aid Delivery
    In a joint statement released on Thursday, Qatar, the UAE, the United States, the UK, Cyprus, and the European Union stressed the indispensability of land routes for delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. Following a ministerial meeting that included high-ranking officials from these nations, the statement emphasized the necessity of using Egypt, Jordan, and Israeli entry points for large-scale aid delivery. Additionally, the opening of Israel’s Ashdod port for humanitarian aid was highlighted as a welcome complement to the maritime corridor under consideration, alongside discussions on establishing a joint fund to support the corridor for sustained aid to Gaza.
  3. US to Impose Sanctions on Jewish Outposts for Settler Violence
    The Biden administration plans to sanction two Jewish settlements in the West Bank for their involvement in violence against Palestinians. This move aims to address settler violence by freezing US assets, denying visas, and blocking access to the US financial system. The sanctions follow President Biden’s executive order targeting actions that undermine peace in the West Bank, despite Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertion that the majority of Israeli settlers are law-abiding.
  4. Haniyeh Signals Openness to Truce if Israel Abandons “Obstinacy”
    Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas’s political bureau, asserts that a multi-phase truce agreement in Gaza is feasible if Israel relinquishes its “obstinacy.” Haniyeh’s statement, as reported by the Arab World News Agency, calls for concrete actions from the US administration to halt what he describes as a genocidal war and starvation policies against Gazans. Despite parallel negotiations and resistance efforts, previous mediation by the US, Qatar, and Egypt since January has yet to yield an agreement. A temporary ceasefire facilitated by Egyptian and Qatari mediation in November saw the exchange of detainees between Hamas and Israel.

2024-3-19

  1. Biden Rules Out Israeli Operation in Rafah, Urges Targeted Approach
    In a significant policy shift, US President Joe Biden expressed opposition to a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah during a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 18 March. Biden pressed Netanyahu for a more targeted strategy to avoid civilian casualties and worsening the humanitarian situation. This call, marking their first discussion since February 15, underscored concerns about the operation’s potential to deepen Gaza’s anarchy and isolate Israel globally. The discussion follows Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s critique of Netanyahu’s leadership and his call for early Israeli elections, a stance that has stirred tensions between the US and Israel.
  2. Israeli Delegation Heads to Qatar for Gaza Ceasefire Negotiations
    An Israeli negotiation team, led by Mossad Chief David Barnea, is heading to Qatar today to discuss a ceasefire and prisoner exchange with Hamas. The Israeli cabinet has granted the team broad, though limited, negotiation powers. Hamas has presented 13 new demands for the deal, which include the release of around 800 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. The potential agreement also involves a 6-week ceasefire in Gaza, with further conditions for withdrawal of Israeli forces and easing of the blockade for reconstruction efforts. This round of talks could last up to two weeks.
  3. Ben-Gvir and Smotrich Threaten to Leave Government Over Potential Hostage Deal with Hamas
    Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have threatened to withdraw from PM Netanyahu’s government if a potential deal with Hamas includes the release of Palestinian prisoners convicted of killing Israelis. Their declaration comes as an Israeli delegation heads to Qatar for negotiations on a prisoner exchange plan. Despite wide support within Israeli circles for the emerging deal, Ben-Gvir and Smotrich’s stance represents a significant potential political rift. The Israeli Cabinet has authorized the delegation, led by the Mossad chief, to negotiate the deal, which remains a contentious issue due to Hamas’s demands for guarantees from international actors.
  4. EU Will Sanction Hamas Members and, for the First Time, Israeli Settlers
    European Union foreign ministers have reached a preliminary agreement to impose sanctions on Israeli settlers committing violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and to intensify sanctions on Hamas members. This marks the first time the EU, consisting of 27 member states, has agreed to sanction Israeli settlers for violence, aligning with actions previously taken by the United States and Britain. 

2024-3-20

  1. U.S. Administration to Propose Alternatives to Israel’s Hamas Pursuit Without Rafah Offensive
    The Biden administration will propose alternatives to a major Israeli offensive in Rafah during upcoming discussions with an Israeli delegation in Washington next week. The U.S. team will propose that the IDF should counter Hamas without significant ground operations, focusing instead on preventing weapon smuggling through the Philadelphi Corridor and relying on cooperation with Egypt to secure the Gaza-Egypt border as a more effective approach to dismantle Hamas capabilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dispatching a high-level Israeli security delegation to discuss the U.S. proposals at President Joe Biden’s request. The delegation, led by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi will focus on potential actions in Rafah and humanitarian arrangements for the region but will underscore Israel’s determination to dismantle Hamas’s remaining forces in the Rafah area.
  2. Houthi Missile Struck Near Israel’s Eilat Port, Evading Defense System
    For the first time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acknowledged a breach in its missile air defense by a cruise missile launched by the Iran-sponsored Houthi militia. Originating from the direction of the Red Sea, the missile managed to evade interception before landing in an open area north of Eilat. This incident is a significant change, as previous Houthi launches of ballistic missiles were successfully neutralized by Israel’s defense systems, including the Arrow missile defense. The IDF is investigating whether the incident exposed potential vulnerabilities in Israel’s missile defense capabilities. A Houthi spokesman claimed responsibility for targeting Eilat with several cruise missiles and attacking the American ship Madu in the Red Sea with maritime missiles.
  3. Iran-Sponsored Iraqi Militants Claim Drone Attack on Ben Gurion Airport
    Iran-backed Iraqi armed factions announced they targeted Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with drones early Wednesday, March 20, describing the attack as part of their “Islamic resistance” against Israel. This announcement follows their recent drone attack on an Israeli military airbase in the Golan Heights region and a previous strike on Ben Gurion Airport last week. The Iraqi militants have also warned the United States they might escalate armed operations in retaliation for continued U.S. military support to Israel.
  4. Canada Bans Arms Sales to Israel Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced a total ban on arms sales to Israel following the Canadian Parliament’s majority vote in favor of a non-binding proposal to halt such sales after extensive debate. The decision shifts from an initial suspension to a complete prohibition, reflecting Canada’s concerns over military sales to Israel while the conflict is ongoing in Gaza. The move also aligns with Canada’s support for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
  5. Schumer Doubles Down on Warning About Netanyahu, Says Israel’s Future at Risk Without US Support
    Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, expressed concerns to The New York Times about Israel’s future without American support, particularly under Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership. Schumer fears Israel could become globally isolated, including in the U.S. He suggested Netanyahu might delay Israeli elections until 2026. His recent calls for early elections in Israel have sparked controversy and criticism from Netanyahu and others in Israel. Despite increasing international pressure, notably from President Joe Biden, who praised Schumer’s call for elections, Netanyahu has dismissed Schumer’s criticism and emphasized Israel’s sovereignty.
  6. Israel Submits Official Proposal to Hamas in Doha Talks
    Israel formally offered a counterproposal to Hamas on Monday, signaling a potential advance in the ongoing cease fire and hostage release negotiations in Qatar, led on the Israeli side by Mossad Chief David Barnea. The Israeli offer includes discussions on the repatriation of residents to Northern Gaza and the release of prisoners. The focus of the Doha talks, as reported by “Kaan” and officials familiar with the negotiations, is primarily on exchanging Palestinian security detainees for 40 Israeli hostages. Observers expect that discussions may extend over several weeks and rounds of negotiations.
  7. Qatar Warns Rafah Operation Would Derail Hostage Negotiations
    Qatar has expressed concerns that a significant Israeli military operation in Rafah could jeopardize ongoing talks in Doha aimed at securing a hostage deal involving Palestinian prisoners. This warning came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit the region to promote the agreement. According to Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari, such an operation would constitute a humanitarian catastrophe and severely affect the negotiations. Mossad Director David Barnea, who led the Israeli delegation, has briefed the war cabinet upon his return, with serious discussions continuing in Qatar. The talks aim to facilitate a temporary ceasefire and the release of about 40 hostages in exchange for Palestinian detainees, a process mediated by Qatar and Egypt.
  8. Hamas Says Israel’s Shifa Hospital Operation Disrupts Doha Talks, Seeks Russian and Turkish Guarantees for Gaza Deal
    Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, accused Israel of attempting to derail ongoing ceasefire negotiations in Doha by launching a military operation that involved encircling and storming Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City early Monday. The attack on Gaza’s largest medical facility, Haniyeh asserted, demonstrates Israel’s broader assault on the vital infrastructure necessary for life in Gaza, as well as its efforts to sow chaos and bloodshed. Meanwhile, an Israeli channel reported that Hamas is demanding guarantees from Russia and Turkiye in any potential prisoner exchange and ceasefire deal concerning the Gaza Strip. Channel 13 revealed that besides the involvement of Egypt and Qatar, which have been mediating the talks, Hamas introduced new demands over the weekend for Russian and Turkish guarantees. Israel is against this request, according to the report. There has been no confirmation or denial from Hamas, Turkiye, or Russia regarding this claim. 
  9. U.S. Congress Extends UNRWA Funding Ban Until 2025
    A deal between U.S. Congressional leaders and the White House has extended the prohibition on American funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which assists Palestinian refugees, until March 2025. This decision follows a temporary suspension of new U.S. contributions to UNRWA by the Biden administration, sparked by Israeli evidence that UNRWA employees took part in the October 7 assault on Israel and have ties to Hamas. Discussions on alternative humanitarian assistance methods for Palestinians in Gaza are expected to follow the public release of the bill details.

2024-3-21

  1. Netanyahu Greenlights IDF Plan to Evacuate Civilians from Rafah
    Ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has approved an IDF plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians from “battle zones” in Rafah, thereby clearing the way for an IDF operation against Hamas remnants in the Rafah area. The U.S. has expressed concern over potential humanitarian consequences of a Rafah operation and has pressed Israel to adopt targeted actions against Hamas without affecting civilians. An Israeli delegation is set to discuss military strategies in Washington next week.
  2. Report:  Israel Developing Secret Plan for Gaza Aid Distribution Excluding Hamas
    Arabic media amplified a Wall Street Journal report that Israeli officials are crafting a secretstrategy to manage aid distribution in Gaza, potentially setting the stage for Palestinian-led governance post-conflict. This initiative, aimed at filling the governance vacuum left by the war, involves regional discussions for non-Hamas Palestinian involvement in aid logistics. The plan, facing opposition from Hamas and internal Israeli cabinet divisions, seeks to ensure aid delivery and establish a governance framework supported by Arab-funded security forces. Despite challenges and Hamas’s threats against cooperation, the proposal represents an early step toward addressing the humanitarian crisis and future governance in Gaza.
  3. Blinken Says U.S. is Circulating Draft UN Resolution for Immediate Ceasefire and Hostage Release in Gaza
    The United States has introduced a draft resolution to the UN Security Council, advocating for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, contingent upon the release of hostages. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the resolution’s importance during his visit to Saudi Arabia, highlighting its potential to send a strong international message. This proposal marks a significant shift for the U.S., as Washington had previously vetoed similar resolutions. 
  4. Hamdan Says Israel Rejected Hamas’s Ceasefire Proposal
    Hamas senior official Osama Hamdan reported that intermediaries from Egypt and Qatar relayed Israel’s negative overall response to their comprehensive ceasefire proposal, which emphasizes principles Hamas deems essential. At a press conference in Beirut, Hamdan criticized Israel for not meeting the demands of the Palestinian people and resistance, and for retreating from previous agreements, thereby stalling and potentially deadlocking negotiations. He held Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government accountable for obstructing peace efforts and emphasized the necessity of opening Gaza’s crossings and allowing aid, particularly to northern Gaza, condemning Israel’s targeting of aid convoys and their protection teams.
  5. UK Says it Will Restrict Arms Sales to Israel Unless Palestinian Prison Visits are Allowed
    Britain has demanded that Israel allow Red Cross or diplomatic visits to the detained terrorists of Hamas elite Nukhba force, as part of the conditions for continuing arms supplies to Israel. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron also warned Israeli officials that Europe might impose a weapons embargo on Israel if the current situation persists. The threat comes on the heels of Canada’s decision to impose an arms embargo on Israel over its alleged violations of international law in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials reportedly believe Washington is nudging Western allies to pressure Jerusalem as Biden administration faces electoral headwinds for support of Gaza campaign.

2024-3-25

  1. Gantz Threatens to Quit Government if Law Exempting Haredi from Military Service Passes
    Benny Gantz, Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio, has declared that his National Unity Party will exit the government if a controversial haredi conscription law proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu passes. Labeling the law’s passage a “red line,” Gantz emphasized its unacceptability even in normal times, highlighting the societal rift it exacerbates. The proposed legislation, aiming to exempt Haredi men from mandatory military service until age 35, intensifies as the IDF faces increased demands for a larger standing army amidst ongoing conflict. The law’s advancement through the Knesset could take months, with immediate implications for military enlistment practices pending.
  2. Israel Agrees to Prisoner Swap for Hostages, Awaits Hamas Response
    In a significant development during truce negotiations in Doha, Israel has consented to release 700 to 800 Palestinian security prisoners, including 100 sentenced to life for the murder of Israelis, in exchange for 40 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. The exchange, part of efforts to secure a six-week ceasefire potentially leading to a permanent truce, reflects mediation efforts by international actors. The proposal, doubling the initially suggested figure in Paris talks, is pending Hamas’s response. Israel’s flexibility comes amid broader negotiations aiming for a decisive resolution to the conflict, including a military strategy and humanitarian considerations.
  3. Israel Imposes Permanent Ban on UNRWA Convoys to Northern Gaza
    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) disclosed that Israel has formally notified it of a permanent ban on UNRWA food convoys entering Northern Gaza. According to UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, this decision severely impedes life-saving aid amid a man-made famine situation. Despite repeated efforts, UNRWA has been unable to deliver food to Northern Gaza since January 29, highlighting a deliberate obstruction of humanitarian assistance. This move comes amid ongoing ceasefire negotiations, with Hamas insisting on UNRWA’s role in distributing aid, a stance opposed by Israel due to security concerns.
  4. Report: Israel Sabotaged Secret Iranian Nuclear Site in 2020
    An Iranian dissident media outlet has reported that in 2020, nine individuals, believed to have been recruited by an entity thought to be Israel’s Mossad, initiated a fire at an unremarkable workshop in the Tehran suburb of Shadabad. This location is suspected to be an undeclared nuclear weapons site. The Islamic Republic has allegedly concealed this act of sabotage, revealed by the independent news organization Iran International through documents acquired from hackers.
  5. Israel Seeks Alternative Ammunition Sources Amid Tensions with the US Over Rafah Invasion
    The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation reported on Monday that Israel is exploring alternative methods to procure military ammunition, citing concerns that tensions with the United States over the potential invasion of Rafah could impede military support. Despite the US being a primary supplier, Israel is looking for workaround methods to address the shortage of vital ammunition necessary for ongoing combat operations. This exploration for alternatives is in response to increased criticism and the potential impact of US-Israel tensions on military assistance, with some countries already halting weapon supplies to Israel under a “silent boycott” or legal constraints against arming nations in conflict.

2024-3-26

  1. U.S. Abstains as U.N. Passes Ceasefire Resolution not Contingent on Hostage Release
    The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a Ramadan ceasefire and the release of all hostages in the Gaza conflict, with the U.S. abstaining from the vote. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned delegation to Washington in response, asserting Israel will not cease military operations. The resolution, altered from demanding a “permanent” to a “lasting” ceasefire, emphasizes the need for humanitarian aid flow and compliance with international law. The U.S. stated the vote does not signal a policy shift, maintaining the stance that a ceasefire should accompany the release of hostages—although the resolution text does not make the ceasefire contingent on Hamas’s release of Israeli hostages.
  2. Netanyahu Cancels Israeli Delegation to Washington Following U.N. Ceasefire Resolution
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off a planned visit to Washington by an Israeli delegation after the United States did not veto a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a Ramadan ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution, which passed with the U.S. abstaining, marked a departure from previous U.S. positions linking ceasefire to hostage release. Netanyahu’s office criticized the U.S. for altering its stance, which they believe compromises efforts to free Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The cancellation reflects escalating tensions and dissatisfaction with the international response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
  3. Blinken Discusses Alternatives to Ground Invasion of Rafah with Israeli Defense Minister
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, emphasized alternatives to a ground invasion of Rafah, which the White House argues would better secure Israel’s safety and protect Palestinian civilians. Blinken reiterated the U.S.’s support for defeating Hamas, including in Rafah, but opposed a broad ground operation, highlighting solutions that could ensure Israel’s security while safeguarding civilians. The discussions took place at the U.S. State Department, shortly after Israel canceled a high-level delegation’s visit to Washington, following the U.S. abstention in a UN Security Council vote calling for an immediate ceasefire.
  4. In Blow to Netanyahu, Gideon Saar Announces Resignation from Israeli Government
    Gideon Saar, leader of the New Hopeparty, announced his resignation from the government, citing a lack of influence on policy direction amidst the ongoing conflict. In a press conference, Saar stated his responsibility for decisions made since joining the government but emphasized the inability to effect change. He criticized the prolongation of military action, claiming it counteracts national interest, and highlighted the inefficacy in addressing the humanitarian crisis and military objectives. Saar also criticized the exclusion of the broader Cabinet from critical information, advocating for a more inclusive and critical discussion within the government’s decision-making process.
  5. Hamas Accuses Israel of Thwarting Ceasefire Efforts in Gaza
    Hamas accused Israel of undermining efforts to achieve a temporary ceasefire in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, including the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. Hamas, emphasizing its commitment to its initial demands presented on March 14, insists on a comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal from Gaza, return of displaced persons, and a genuine prisoner exchange. The movement holds Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government fully responsible for blocking the negotiation efforts. This stance follows the UN Security Council’s call for an immediate ceasefire, which the U.S. abstained from vetoing, marking a significant moment in the council’s response to the crisis.
  6. Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh Plans Tehran Visit
    Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas, is set to visit Tehran to engage with top Iranian officials. Hosting senior members of Hamas, Qatar is currently Haniyeh’s residence. This trip follows a November meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, where Khamenei condemned actions by the “Zionist regime” and affirmed Iran’s support for Palestinian resistance. This visit underscores the enduring ties between Iran and Hamas, especially significant considering Iran’s role in training up to 500 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members prior to recent conflicts, and Hezbollah’s support for Hamas with attacks from Lebanon.

2024-3-27

  1. US Denies Netanyahu’s Claim That UN Vote Impeded Hostage Negotiations
    The US State Department dismissed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that a UN resolution for a Gaza ceasefire hampered Israeli hostage release efforts by Hamas. Spokesperson Matthew Miller labeled Netanyahu’s remarks as “unfair,” and said Hamas’s rejection of a proposed agreement in Qatar preceded the Security Council’s vote, which the US did not veto. Netanyahu criticized Hamas for refusing a US compromise and making “extreme demands.” The US reiterated its stance supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, emphasizing that Hamas must not govern Gaza and bears partial responsibility for Gazan civilians’ hardships.
  2. Egypt Says Israel May Postpone Rafah Operation Until After Eid al-Fitr
    Egypt has received indications that Israel plans to delay its potential military invasion of Palestinian Rafah until after Eid al-Fitr, expected in mid-April. Despite ongoing security communications, Israel has not disclosed its exact intentions regarding the operation. Cairo has been assured that any military action in Rafah would be precisely targeted. 
  3. Severe Blow to Palestinian Economy: Purchasing Power Plummets
    The conflict in Gaza since October 7 continues to cast a shadow over the Palestinian economy, now facing one of the most significant downturns in its recent history, according to the World Bank. Despite the availability of basic goods at reasonable prices compared to previous years, Palestinians’ purchasing power has notably declined, affecting the economy severely. Factors contributing to this downturn include the impact on Palestinian workers in Israel, unpaid public sector salaries, and reduced private sector productivity. This situation has led to increased supply but decreased consumer demand.
  4. Israel Withdraws Negotiators from Doha Due to Stalemate with Hamas
    Israel has recalled its negotiators from Doha after declaring that ceasefire talks regarding Gaza have reached an impasse, primarily due to demands from Hamas. An official close to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which is leading the negotiations, accused Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, of sabotaging diplomatic efforts and escalating the conflict during Ramadan. Israel agreed to increase the number of Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for hostages to approximately 700-800 and allow some displaced Palestinians to return to northern Gaza. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office has labeled Hamas’s demands—including a permanent cease fire and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces—as unrealistic, indicating a lack of interest in reaching an agreement on their part.
  5. Colombian President Threatens to Sever Diplomatic Ties with Israel Over Ceasefire Non-Compliance
    Colombian President Gustavo Petro has warned of breaking diplomatic relations with Israel if it fails to adhere to the UN Security Council’s resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire. This statement on X was met with strong criticism from Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who condemned Petro’s support for Hamas. Following the resolution, Hamas attacked Ashdod, launching rockets from a humanitarian center in Deir al-Balah, Gaza.

 

2024-3-28

  1. IDF Orders 40,000 Evacuation Tents in Preparation for Rafah Operation
    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are moving forward with isolation and evacuation preparations in Rafah, Gaza’s last Hamas stronghold, despite international opposition to a ground operation. With the aim of targeting the remaining Hamas battalions, Israel plans to relocate over a million Gazans, ordering 40,000 tents for evacuees. This operation, stressed for its necessity by Jerusalem, faces U.S. pressure for alternative strategies.
  2. Hamas Issues Rare Audio Message from Military Leader Mohammed Deif
    Hamas released a rare audio recording of Mohammed Deif, their military wing’s commander, calling for Muslims worldwide to join the fight for Al-Aqsa Mosque’s liberation. The recording, purportedly from around the time of the October 7 attacks, encourages action across national borders for jihad. Following these events, Israeli forces targeted Deif’s familial home, intensifying efforts to locate him, including offering rewards for information leading to his capture.
  3. Washington Presses Israel to Undertake Limited Operation to Target Remaining Hamas Leaders
    As discussions continue between Israel and Hamas regarding prisoners, the US State Department, through spokesperson Matthew Miller, highlighted the ongoing potential for negotiations. However, under significant pressure for a ceasefire, US-Israeli talks have pivoted towards minimizing civilian harm during a potential Israeli military operation in Rafah, should diplomatic efforts fail post-Ramadan. This strategic shift signals Washington’s conditional support for a targeted approach to dismantle Hamas’s stronghold in Rafah.
  4. In Reversal, Netanyahu Will Send Senior Delegation to Washington for Rafah Discussion
    Israel has requested a new meeting date with the White House to discuss its military plans in Rafah following a sudden cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The cancellation came after the U.S. abstained from vetoing a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, marking a strain in relations with President Joe Biden. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held extensive talks in the U.S. to ease tensions. The U.S. wants the upcoming discussions to focus on avoiding a ground assault in Rafah, where over a million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge.
  5. Hamas Sticks to Demands, Refuses to Release Hostages
    Hamas says it will refuse to release Israeli captives until its demands are met, including halting aggression, withdrawing Israeli forces from Gaza, and allowing the return of displaced persons. In response, Israel accuses Hamas of presenting unrealistic demands and vows to continue its efforts to achieve its objectives, which include the release of all captives and the dismantling of Hamas’ military capabilities. The Israeli War Council will discuss Hamas’ rejection of a U.S.-proposed settlement and the future of negotiations.
  6. Smotrich Booed Off Stage by Protestors in Eilat
    Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Transportation Minister Miri Regev faced vocal protests at a real estate conference in Eilat, leading to both ministers exiting the stage prematurely. Smotrich was confronted over military service issues, while Regev rebuked the protestors, emphasizing unity against Hamas. The incident reflects deep societal divisions over some of the government’s controversial policies.
  7. Over 130 UK Parliamentarians Call for Halt on Arms Sales to Israel
    More than 130 British MPs and Lords have signed a letter urging the government to stop arms sales to Israel as international criticism grows over Israeli actions in Gaza. The campaign, led by Labour MP Zarah Sultana, highlights concerns over the use of UK-made weapons in the conflict and cites a UN inquiry suggesting UK components in Israeli military equipment. Past UK responses to Gaza escalations included arms sale halts, a measure not yet taken in the current situation.

 

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