Day 72-78

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   NIAS Course on Global Politics
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
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Day 72-78
NIAS-Conflict Weekly Special Alert | The War in Gaza: Tenth Week

  IPRI Team

Israel-Hamas War: DAY 78
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 23 December, Al Jazeera reported that Israel was still bombing Gaza, with the  most recent attacks in Khan Younis and the Nuseirat refugee camp. The head of the World Health Organization issued a further warning, stating that there was a "famine looming in Gaza" due to the blockade of vital supplies and food by the conflict.

On 23 December, BBC reported that Israel claimed to have detained 200 members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the last week and taken them to Israel for questioning. According to a statement, a few of the suspects willingly turned themselves in after hiding among the general public. As per Israeli claims, since the beginning of its military campaign and invasion into Gaza to overthrow Hamas, 700 Palestinian militants have been taken into custody.

On 23 December, Arab News reported that Pierre Rai, the priest of the Christian village Qalaya in Lebanon, urged the Parish to keep the Christmas spirit alive. He further stated: “So long as we have decided to remain in this village, and in other southern Lebanon border villages, we must live and enjoy each thing in its right time.” 

On 23 December, Ebrahim Raisi, the President of Iran, and Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the President of Egypt, discussed the developments in Gaza as per Iranian state TV. The state TV stated that Raisi said Iran was “ready to provide all its capacities to stop the genocide by the Zionist regime and send aid to the Palestinians.” Additionally, according to the Jersusalem Post, El-Sisi spoke on the issue of removing the threat of Houthis in the Red Sea.

On 23 December, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, said that the inability of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to impose a permanent ceasefire in Gaza was equivalent to giving “Israel license to kill.” He said that there should be serious efforts taken to end the humanitarian catastrophe.

On 22 December, the UNSC adopted a resolution to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, after the US abstained. The modified resolution that removed calls for a ceasefire, included a call for “urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access to create conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” 

Israel-Hamas War: DAY 77
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 22 December, Al Jazeera reported that Hapag-Lloyd of Germany and OOCL of Hong Kong said on on 21 December that they were the latest shipping companies to steer clear of the waterways due to Houthi strikes in the Red Sea. The Israeli army reported on Thursday that it had stopped a missile assault launched by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

On 22 December, Najib Mikati, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, said that Lebanon was ready to implement UN Resolution 1701, to end the cross-border attacks by Hezbollah on Israel, provided Israel agrees to vacate the disputed territory. The UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and called for the removal of armed personnel south of the Litani River in Lebanon. According to the resolution, only UN Peacekeeping forces and the Lebanese army and state security forces can be stationed in the region. 

On 21 December, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, met with Hussein al-Sheikh, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Both discussed the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and Al Nahyan called for negotiations on a two-state solution.

On 22 December, according to Al Jazeera, the US agreed to support a watered-down UNSC resolution calling for more humanitarian aid into Gaza, after several votes were delayed by disagreement over text. The latest text of the resolution removed the notion of “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities,” which several countries have condemned.

On 22 December, the AP news agency cited an analysis of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite data, which stated that the destruction caused by Israel has led to the destruction of over two-thirds of all structures in northern Gaza and a quarter of buildings in the southern area of Khan Younis. Corey Scher, a mapping expert, said that Gaza is now a “different colour” and a different “texture” from space.

Israel-Hamas War: DAY 76
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 21 December, BBC reported that Hamas said that Palestinian groups have rejected the prospect of further hostage releases until Israel agreed to end the war in Gaza. The statement was released as talks in Cairo continued to reach a new truce in the war. Israel has repeatedly rejected a permanent ceasefire, with its national security minister saying ending the war before Hamas is defeated would constitute a "failure". 

The UN Security Council is again due to a hold vote on "urgent humanitarian pauses" in Gaza after the previous vote was postponed on 20 December. Israeli forces claimed to have discovered a system of tunnels in the center of Gaza City, with openings leading to the homes of Hamas officials. 
On 20 December, the Gaza administration, which is administered by Hamas, declared that 20,000 Palestinians have died in the region since Israel began its offensive campaign against the organization. 

On 21 December, Zedan Khalaf, an advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq for humanitarian affairs, said that Iraq sent a fuel tanker to Gaza to support the humanitarian relief which was hampered due to fuel shortages. He also said that the country would send cargo in the future to aid the Palestinians. 

On 20 December, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthis of Yemen, said that the group wouldretaliate if the US targets them in the Red Sea. Washington set up a multinational initiative, mostly consisting of NATO countries, to patrol the Red Sea to respond to Houthi attacks. Abdel-Malek al-Houthi also warned to not escalate the situation by waging war against Yemen.

On 21 December, according to Al Jazeera, the UN called for an inquiry on the Israeli army accused of executing unarmed Palestinians in Gaza, which it called “a possible war crime”. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) asked the Israeli government to initiate a probe and “those responsible must be brought to justice and measures implemented to prevent any such serious violations from recurring”. 

On 21 December, according to Reuters, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, stated that Israel’s allies were concerned over the country’s long-term safety, commenting on the military campaign in Gaza. Trudeau stated that “the short term actions being taken by Israel are actually putting at risk the long-term safety (of) and even support for a Jewish state into the future”. 

On 21 December, according to Reuters, Greece joined the US by sending a frigate to the Red Sea to protect shipping on the route. Nikos Dendias, the Defence Minister of Greece, stated that “the frigate will participate in the multinational operation ‘Prosperity Guardian’, for the protection of merchant ships, the lives of seafarers, (and) the global economy”. 

On 22 December, Aljazeera reported that Canada has announced a temporary immigration visa for relatives of Canadian citizens and permanent residents affected by the Gaza war. However, it has cautioned that leaving the country would be a challenge and thus require Israel’s approval on that.  

On 21 December, the UN stated that Gaza was facing “catastrophic conditions” which could cause mass starvation. Cindy McCain, an official of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), stated that “no one in Gaza is safe from starvation.” She further stated that “humanitarian access is needed now for supplies to flow into and throughout Gaza.” 

On 21 December the Pentagon stated that more than 20 countries have joined in the effort to safeguard commercial shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by the Houthi rebels from Yemen. Some countries have refused to publicly declare their participation. Major General Patrick Ryder, the Press Secretary of the US Department of Defence, stated: “We’ll allow other countries, defer to them to talk about their participation.”

Israel-Hamas War: DAY 75
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 20 December, Al Jazeera reported that Israeli airstrikes struck a residential building next to a hospital in Rafah, right in front of an Al Jazeera crew that was doing live on-air reporting. The Health Ministry in Gaza said that at least 46 people were killed and dozens wounded in Israeli attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

On 20 December, the World Food Programme (WFP) of the UN said that it had delivered aid to Gaza through the Israeli Kerem Shalom border. It was the first direct aid convoy from Jordan. 
On 19 December, that Israel informed Qatar that it would be okay with  a week-long truce if Hamas was ready to release 40 hostages in return. Senior officials of Israel said that Israel had sent a new truce proposal to Hamas through Qatar.

On 20 December, UNICEF warned that water shortages in Gaza could threaten the lives of children. Catherine Russel, the Executive Director of UNICEF, stated that “children in Gaza have barely a drop to drink”, which could causea “dramatic” risk.

On 20 December, according to Arab News, David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary of the UK, is set to travel to Egypt and Jordan to push for his call for a sustainable ceasefire in the fighting in Gaza. Along with Tariq Ahmed, the UK’s Minister of State for the Middle East, Cameron will travel to the region in an attempt to “secure the release of hostages, step up aid to Gaza and end Hamas rocket attacks and threats against Israel”.

On 19 December, Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, banned the Israeli shipping company ZIM and any other ships that have Israel’s flag from “loading cargo at Malaysian ports.” He said that this restriction was a “response” to Israel “disregarding basic humanitarian principles and violating international law” as it continued its “massacre and atrocities against Palestinians.”

On 19 December, the vote to increase aid deliveries into Gaza by the UN Security Council was delayed by a day, over talks to prevent a third US veto. An agreement over the language of the proposed resolution drafted by the UAE was in the works.

Israel-Hamas War: DAY 74
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 19 December, at least 20 Palestinians were killed when three houses in the Rafah neighbourhood of southern Gaza were hit by Israeli missiles and airstrikes, according to Gaza health officials . Despite worries that they wouldn't be safe there either, tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees crowded into Rafah on Gaza's border with Egypt in an attempt to flee Israeli bombardment farther north.

On 18 December, a World Health Organization (WHO) official stated that the hospital in north Gaza that was raided by Israeli troops was no longer in operation. He added that  patients, including infants, had been evacuated, endangering the already precarious health services in the enclave. According to Gazan officials, Israeli forces broke through the Kamal Adwan hospital's perimeter last week with a bulldozer, forcing displaced people to leave. Israel claimed that Hamas fighters had been using the hospital.

On 19 December, the Houthis, a pro-Palestinian group in Yemen, kept hitting Israeli targets in the Red Sea, defying the U.S.-led naval mission. The Israel- Hamas war spread beyond Gaza, including the Red Sea where Hamas, who are aligned with Iran are involved. 

On 18 December, Majed El Shafie, a human rights activist from Egypt, said that Hamas did what Israel couldn't, referring to the unification of Israel. He said Hamas had shown the world the “ugly face of terrorism” and made a call for Israel to not let Hamas win the war. 

On 19 December, according to the BBC, Alicia Kearns, a British Conservative MP, told Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the UK, that Israel’s attack in Gaza had “gone beyond self-defence”, further stating that Israel had lost all moral authority against Hamas. Sunak agreed, responding that “too many civilians” were victims of Israel’s war against Hamas.

On 19 December, David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary of the UK, urged that Israel take a more “surgical, clinical and targeted approach: in its war against Hamas. He further stated that Israel must “recognise that they have to minimise civilian casualties” and obey international laws.

On 18 December, Lloyd Austin, the Defence Secretary of the US, stated that he had urged Israel to take a “surgical” approach to its war against Hamas and protect civilian lives. He further ensured that the US’s support for Israel was “ironclad”. 

Israel-Hamas War: DAY 73
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 18 December, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that Israel was purposefully denying the Palestinian people access to food, water, and other essentials. The NGO declared that using hunger as a weapon against civilians is a war crime and urged worldleaders to act.

On 18 December, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) atleast 90 people have been killed and 100 people have been injured in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza during the attack by Israeli forces. The local reported that women and children were affected in the shelling. 

On 18 December, Israeli-linked Predatory Sparrow group claimed that it was responsible for a cyber-attack that disrupted services at around 70 per cent of fuel stations in Iran. The group said that the attack was carried out in a manner to avoid disruption of emergency services. The Civil Defence Agency of Iran, which looks after the cybersecurity of the country, said that it was considering the causes behind the disruption.

On 18 December, The Jerusalem Post reported that the news outlet Iran International revealed that a group of young women, trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran, contacted Israeli soldiers to access information. They sent explicit images and videos to lure the soldiers into the honey trap. 

On 18 December, Lloyd Austin, the Defence Secretary of the US, arrived in Israel to talk about an Israeli transition to a focused, limited conflict, according to US officials. Austin had been expressing his support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, and had expressed concern over the increasing number of civilian casualties in Gaza. According to an official with Austin, the US had “an interest in supporting the Israelis in planning for what a transition looks like when they make the decision that major ground operations should end and they’re ready to transition.” 

On 18 December, the UN Security Council was set to vote on a proposal seeking to enable the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The Council would further discuss a UN-monitored aid delivery. The resolution text was drafted by the United Arab Emirates. 

On 18 December, according to Reuters, Bill Burns, the chief of the CIA, will meet with Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar, along with the chief of Mossad, in Warsaw, to discuss a new deal about the release of Israeli hostages under Hamas capture. 

On 18 December, according to Arab News, Catherine Colonna, the Foreign Minister of France, is expected to meet officials in Lebanon to discuss the de-escalation of the exchange of fire in the Lebanon-Israel border to prevent a larger regional conflict. Colonna will be meeting Najib Mikati, the Prime Minister of Lebanon and Nabih Berri, a parliament speaker, to discuss restraint along the border facing Israel.

The Israel-Hamas War: Day 72
Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

On 17 December, Arab News reported that a source claimed that Israel's chief negotiator met with Qatar's Prime Minister, giving the impression that fresh talks to free the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza were underway. This was confirmed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, on 16 December.

 On 17 December, according to the IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, the accidental shooting of three Israeli hostages who were held by Hamas was unacceptable. The three waved a white flag and shouted out "help" and “SOS” in Hebrew but were misidentified as a threat and killed. Herzi stated while addressing the incident stated: "We have set three goals: to dismantle Hamas, to restore security to the residents of the Gaza border area, and the third mission is to recover the hostages."

On 16 December according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, three Palestinians, including an adolescent, were killed by Israeli gunfire in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank


On 17 December, according to the BBC, David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary of the UK, expressed his support for a “sustainable ceasefire” in the war in Gaza and condemned the increasing civilian killings in the region. Cameron stated that the ceasefire must bring “peace lasting for days, years, generations” and expressed his support for a “sustainable” ceasefire. 

On 17 December, according to Arab News, top military officials from the US went to Israel to discuss a transition in the war in Gaza from major combat against Hamas to a more limited approach, stating that potential regional wars should be avoided. This came at a time when there was an increase in attacks by Iranian-backed militants against ships in the Red Sea. The latter stated that the attacks would continue as long as Israeli “aggression” in Gaza was ongoing.

On 16 December, France condemned an Israeli attack on a residential building in Rafah, which killed a French staff member in the region. The French Foreign Ministry demanded that “all light be shed by the Israeli authorities on the circumstances of this bombing,” as Israel bombed a region which was previously declared a safe zone. France further called for an “immediate and durable” truce in the war in Gaza.

About the Authors
Rosemary Kurian and Nuha Aamina are undergraduate scholars from St Joseph's University, Bangalore. Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari are postgraduate scholars from Pondicherry University.

Curated by Dhriti Mukherjee and Shamini, Research Assistants at NIAS.

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