Day 86-92

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Day 86-92
NIAS-Conflict Weekly Special Alert | The War in Gaza: Twelfth Week

  IPRI Team

Israel Hamas War Day 86

Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

WAR ON THE GROUND 
On 31 December, Al Jazeera reported that according to the Government Media Office, more than 70 per cent of Gaza’s homes had been damaged by Israel’s bombardment. 

On 31 December, at least 17 Palestinians were injured in the Tulkarem and Nur Shams refugee camps during another night of raids and drone attacks in the occupied West Bank. Over 100,000 Palestinians fled to the southern town of Rafah in just a few days, as part of an increasing outflow of displaced people, according to the UN. According to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, Israel ought to be in charge of the area separating Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Egypt has refused to consider giving this land to Israel.

REGIONAL RESPONSES
On 31 December, Arab News reported on air strikes that were “likely” carried out by Israel in Eastern Syria, which killed at least 23 pro-Iranian fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The air strikes were initially considered to be linked to the US, but a US military official stated that the “US did not conduct any defensive strikes overnight.” 

GLOBAL RESPONSES 
On 31 December, Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed to have lost ten fighters after the US attacked three of their vessels in the Red Sea. During its patrol mission to counter the threat of militant attacks on commercial vessels, the US shot at “Iranian-backed Houthi small boats” on the Red Sea after receiving an SOS from a Maersk vessel under the Singapore flag. The Houthi group reportedly said that their boats were performing tasks directed toward “establishing security and stability and protecting maritime navigation.” 


Israel -Hamas War: Day 87

Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

WAR ON THE GROUND
On 1 January Daniel Hagari, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman, stated in a greeting for the new year that soldier deployments were being modified in anticipation of “prolonged fighting” and that some soldiers, particularly reservists, would be pulled back to give them time to reorganize. He stated that these “adaptations are intended to ensure the planning and preparation for continuing the war in 2024.”

REGIONAL RESPONSE 
On 1 January, Hezbollah launched a drone fleet targeting Israeli territory. Fighter jets of the Israeli Air Force foiled the attack with a strike that destroyed the drones. The IDF also struck the infrastructure of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

GLOBAL RESPONSE 
On 1 January, the BBC reported that Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary of the UK, stated that the UK was ready to repel any attacks by Houthi militants targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea. In a newspaper article, he said that the UK was “willing to take direct action” against any further attack on the trade route. A British warship had shot down a possible attack drone sent supposedly by the Iran-backed militants in the Red Sea. Shapps reiterated that the UK “won’t hesitate to take further action.”


Israel- Hamas war: Day 88 

Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

WAR ON THE GROUND 
On 2 January, Hamas’s deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, was killed along with at least five other people in an Israeli drone strike in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon. 

REGIONAL RESPONSE 
On 2 January, Hamas and Islamist Jihad responded to a proposal put forward by Egypt. The first clause in their response was a call for a ceasefire and withdrawal of Israel from Gaza in total. Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas , stated: “We presented to Qatar and Egypt our position and vision, which is based on a comprehensive cessation of aggression against our people. 

GLOBAL RESPONSE 
On 2 January, Hapag-Lloyd announced that it would divert its vessels away from the Red Sea to avoid potential attacks by the Houthi rebels. A spokesperson for the company stated that they would “continue to reroute (their) vessels until Jan. 9.” Until then, the German shipping company’s vessels would use the Cape of Good Hope to continue shipping.

On 1 January, USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, was set to return to the US “in the coming days,” as per the US Navy. The carrier was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea after the 7 October attack by Hamas, but was redeployed “to prepare for future deployments.” The statement added that the US “will retain extensive capability both in the Mediterranean and across the Middle East.”

On 2 January, in an online briefing, Eylon Levy, an Israeli spokesperon, said that Israel “will appear before the International Court of Justice at The Hague to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel.” He further added a list of measures the military had adopted to “minimise harm to non-combatants.” 


Israel- Hamas: Day 89

Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

WAR ON THE GROUND 
On 3 January, six individuals were killed,including top Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri, after a drone attack struck a Hamas office in Dahiyeh, a bastion for Hezbollah in Beirut, according to a report from Lebanon’s official news agency.

On 3 January, according to a presidency statement from Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the President of Egypt, told a delegation from the US Congress to prioritise a ceasefire in Gaza. He said that “responsible action” had to be taken to prevent conflict spillover in the region. 

GLOBAL RESPONSE 

On 3 January, according to Arab News, the UK Maritime Trade Operations, a British maritime security agency, reported explosions on the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, near a merchant vessel. The agency further stated that there was no “damage to the vessel and crew are reported safe at present.”

On 2 January, Nicolas de Riviere, the French Ambassador to the UN, stated that the Security Council may meet soon to discuss the crisis in the Red Sea. “There is a repetition of violations and military actions in this area,: he said, pointing at the severity of the Issue. 

On 2 January, the US Department of State slammed comments by Israeli ministers who commented that Palestinians must be resettled outside Gaza. The US stated that comments made by the Israeli ministers Ben Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvirwere “inflammatory and irresponsible.” 


Israel- Hamas war: Day 90 

Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

WAR ON THE GROUND
On 4 January, the Hamas-run health ministry accused Israel of hitting Al-Mawasi in Khan Younis, Gaza's 'safe zone'. 14 people were killed in the explosion according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. Al-Mawasi, which is about the size of London's Heathrow airport, had been declared as a ‘safe zone’ in Gaza by Israeli forces.

On 4 January, the funeral of Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas who was killed in Lebanon by an Israeli drone strike, took place.

REGIONAL RESPONSE 
On 4 January, Iran blamed Israel and the US for the twin bomb blasts in its southern region that killed 84 people. The blasts happened in the area where people were commemorating Qasem Soleimani, the General of the Revolutionary Guards, who died in a US strike four years ago. The attacks raised apprehension about the expansion of the conflict in the Middle East. 

On 4 January, The Jerusalem Post reported that Hezbollah, a terrorist organisation in Lebanon, withdrew from the Israeli border two to three kilometres. It was described as a “tactical withdrawal,” but also viewed as a signal to the US and Israel that the organisation did not want to get involved in a full-scale war. 

GLOBAL RESPONSE 
On 4 January, Mathew Miller, the spokesperson of the US Department of State, noted that the US was “not seeing any acts that constitute genocide” in Gaza. The statement came after South Africa initiated genocide proceedings against Israel’s military operation in Gaza at the International Court of Justice. 

On 4 January, the members of the UN Security Council called for an end to attacks by Houthi militants on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Members claimed that the illegal attacks were posing a risk to regional stability and freedom of navigation in the region. They further demanded the release of the Japanese cargo ship, the Galaxy Leader, along with its crew, which was seized by the Houthis on 19 November.


Israel- Hamas war: Day 91

Rosemary Kurian, Nuha Aamina, Rishita Verma and Gananthula Uma Maheshwari

REGIONAL RESPONSE 
On 5 January, a formal complaint was filed to the UN Security Council (UNSC) by Lebanon, following allegations that Israel assassinated Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas deputy chief outside of Gaza. Abdallah Bou Habib, the Foreign Minister of Lebanon, called the attack the “most dangerous escalation since 2006.”

On 5 January, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said that Lebanon would be more exposed to Israeli attacks if its army did not respond to killing of Saleh al-Arouri. Nasrallah explained that Hezbollah “cannot be silent about a violation of this level,” because it would “mean that all of Lebanon will become exposed.”  

GLOBAL RESPONSE 
On 5 January, senior American and European officals began a diplomatic visit to the Middle East to try and avoid a large-scale regional spill over of the war in Gaza. Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, was due to visit the West Bank, followed by Israel, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, along with Greece. Matthew Miller, the spokesperson of the US Department of State, said that the US did not “expect every conversation on this trip to be easy.” Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was expected to visit Lebanon to discuss tensions along its border with Israel, while Annalena Baerbock, the the Foreign Minister of Germany, is set to visit Israel and Palestine to avoid “the risk of escalation.” 

On 5 January, Reuters reported that the Danish shipping giant Maersk decided to divert all its vessels from the Red Sea route via the Suez Canal to the Cape of Good Hope. This decision was taken “for the foreseeable future” as a result of the  threat of attacks by the Houthi militants in the Red Sea. A statement from Maersk noted that “all available intelligence at hand confirms that the security risk continues to be at a significantly elevated level.” The route along the Cape of Good Hope is a longer route, adding around ten shipping days along with significant shipping costs.


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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