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The Region – ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

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Ramadan Truce Breaks; Nasrallah’s Grandson Killed

  1. U.S. Engages Netanyahu’s Rival

The Biden administration’s engagement with Israeli Centrist leader Benny Gantz, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s explicit disapproval, marks a significant moment in U.S.-Israel relations. Netanyahu’s rebuke, highlighted by his remark, “There is only one prime minister,” underscores the tensions arising from Gantz’s unauthorized visit to the U.S. Despite lacking Netanyahu’s consent, Gantz proceeded with his trip, leading Netanyahu to instruct the Israeli Embassy in Washington to abstain from any involvement with Gantz’s activities. Gantz, a political adversary to Netanyahu, engaged with AIPAC’s executive board and is scheduled for discussions with top Biden administration officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. These meetings, aimed at reinforcing the U.S.-Israel alliance, signals a shift in the dynamics of U.S. support within Israeli politics, challenging Netanyahu’s leadership stance and possibly influencing internal political alignments. Gantz’s meetings coincide with the United States beginning a series of airdrops of aid to Gaza, days after dozens of Palestinians were killed while trying to obtain food from a convoy organized by Israel. On Saturday, the first batch of American aid included about 38,000 meals in southwestern Gaza, some of which also fell into the sea

  1. IDF’s Strikes Worsening the Hostage Dilemma

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have intensified actions against Hamas, focusing on dismantling infrastructure and facing challenges in hostage negotiations. An explosive device targeted an IDF bulldozer at Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm, highlighting the threat of hidden Hamas explosives. In Rafah, IDF airstrikes targeted the Philadelphi Corridor, aiming to disrupt Hamas’s underground operations and neutralize Islamic Jihad members, with efforts to avoid civilian casualties in collaboration with Egypt. Approximately 50 IDF airstrikes hit Hamas in Khan Younis’s Hemed neighborhood. Within minutes, however, a booby-trapped explosion resulted in the death of three IDF fighters and 14 injuries in southern Gaza. Hamas claims that seven Israeli hostages taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz, were killed in the latest strikes, a claim not yet verified, during the usual psychological warfare tactics. 

  1. Ceasefire Talks Collapse Over Hostage List Dispute

Israel’s efforts toward a ceasefire with Hamas ahead of Ramadan have hit a snag, despite tentative approval of a proposal involving a hostage release. The deadlock came after Hamas did not provide the requested detailed list of hostages still alive, leading Israel to skip Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo. Reports indicate that communication between negotiators and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has been stalled for over a week. The US, however, remains optimistic, with officials describing the ceasefire agreement as complex but achievable before Ramadan’s start on March 10. The proposed deal includes a phased release of hostages, prioritizing women, the elderly, and the sick in the initial six weeks. It also encompasses measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, such as increased aid and expanded crossings, while averting a large-scale Israeli military operation in Rafah. Despite these efforts, the proposal does not fully meet Hamas’s demands for a permanent war cessation and leaves the fate of many hostages uncertain, with further negotiations anticipated to address these issues.

  1. Misinformation Saga: IDF Spokesperson Unit Rumors

Recent reports alleging mass resignations within the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) Spokesperson Unit, specifically under Daniel Hagari, were debunked. Originating from Israel’s Channel 14 and exacerbated by Al Jazeera and Al Hadath, these claims were clarified by the IDF as misinformation. The reports misconstrued routine resignations and rotations as signs of disarray. IDF’s response on X (formerly Twitter) emphasized the unit’s ongoing commitment amidst challenging times, countering misinformation while managing war complexities and international scrutiny.

  1. U.S. C-130s Drop Aid Over Gaza Strip

Three American C-130 aircraft successfully delivered 66 aid packages over the Gaza Strip, dispersing 38,000 food rations. The operation targeted western Khan Yunis, in Gaza’s southern region. However, some of the previous day’s aid inadvertently fell into the sea.

  1. BiBi Malware: Pro-Hamas Cyberattacks Target Israel

In recent days, Israel has experienced a surge in cyberattacks by pro-Hamas hackers deploying the BiBi malware, which involves four new variants capable of bypassing antivirus defenses. This malware, identified as a wiper-type designed to irreversibly erase and corrupt data, marks a significant escalation in cyber warfare tactics. Originating from a Hamas-associated hacker group at the onset of the conflict in October, these attacks have primarily targeted Israeli businesses with the intent of maximizing disruption by destroying data and operating systems, notably without any demands for ransom.

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