ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

search
Live updates (closed)

Jan. 29: Blinken says there is ‘real hope’ for a new hostage deal following Paris talks

Top US diplomat hails ‘strong’ proposal for deal on table * Qatar says ‘good progress’ made * 11 rockets from Gaza set off sirens in central Israel * War cabinet meets tonight

  • People attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, January 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)
    People attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, January 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)
  • Israeli protesters, including relatives of hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attack by Hamas, wave national flags and hold placards during a demonstration aimed at blocking aid trucks from entering the Palestinian territory, on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the southern Gaza Strip on January 29, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)
    Israeli protesters, including relatives of hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attack by Hamas, wave national flags and hold placards during a demonstration aimed at blocking aid trucks from entering the Palestinian territory, on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the southern Gaza Strip on January 29, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)
  • Iron Dome interceptions over Tel Aviv following rocket fire from Gaza on January 29, 2024. (Times of Israel)
    Iron Dome interceptions over Tel Aviv following rocket fire from Gaza on January 29, 2024. (Times of Israel)
  • Displaced Palestinians receive food aid at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) center in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024. (AFP)
    Displaced Palestinians receive food aid at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) center in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024. (AFP)
  • UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict Pramila Patten (center) meets with First Lady Michal Herzog (left) and President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on January 29, 2024. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
    UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict Pramila Patten (center) meets with First Lady Michal Herzog (left) and President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on January 29, 2024. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
  • Police at the scene of a terror attack at the entrance to the Haifa naval base, on January 29, 2024. (Flash90)
    Police at the scene of a terror attack at the entrance to the Haifa naval base, on January 29, 2024. (Flash90)
  • Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on January 29, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on January 29, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Blinken says there is ‘real hope’ for a new hostage deal following Paris talks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voices hope for a deal to pause fighting in Gaza in exchange for releasing hostages, after talks in Paris involving the CIA director as well as Qatari, Egyptian, and Israeli officials.

“Very important, productive work has been done. And there is some real hope going forward,” Blinken tells reporters after meeting earlier in Washington with Qatar’s prime minister.

“Hamas will have to make its own decisions. I can just tell you that there is good, strong alignment among the countries involved that this is a good, strong proposal,” Blinken said.

The meeting Sunday in Paris brought together CIA chief William Burns with top officials from Israel, Egypt and Qatar, a US ally that hosts Hamas leaders.

Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who attended the talks, said “good progress” had been made and the parties were “hoping to relay this proposal to Hamas and to get them to a place where they engage positively and constructively in the process.”

A senior official of Hamas has said the group wants a “complete and comprehensive ceasefire” rather than a temporary truce.

Blinken says evidence some UNRWA staffers joined Hamas onslaught is ‘highly credible’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures during his speech at the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures during his speech at the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Israeli-supplied evidence alleging that roughly a dozen UNRWA staffers participated in Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught is “highly credible.”

“We haven’t had the ability to investigate [the allegations] ourselves. But they are highly, highly credible,” Blinken says during a press conference.

However, the secretary stresses that UNRWA plays an “indispensable” role in providing assistance to civilians in Gaza and that “no one else can play the role that UNRWA has been playing, certainly not in the near term.”

This highlights the “imperative” for UNRWA to carry out an immediate investigation and to address the allegations “as thoroughly as possible,” Blinken says.

Blinken says there is no reason that any US response to the deadly attack by Iran-backed militants on its troops in Jordan will impact US efforts to secure another hostage deal between Israel and Hamas.

He adds that “the world has not seen such a situation in the Middle East since 1973,” apparently referring to the tensions surrounding the Yom Kippur War.

Pentagon says US is not seeking a war with Iran, ‘but we will take action’

The Pentagon says it does not believe that Iran is seeking a war with the United States, and that Washington does not want a war either, a day after an Iran-backed group killed three US soldiers and wounded dozens more in Jordan.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh blames Iran for enabling groups attacking the United States and says the latest attack carries the “footprints” of Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah.

“We don’t seek war, but we will take action, and respond to attacks on our forces,” Singh says.

Hamas official says group seeking ‘complete ceasefire,’ not a ‘temporary truce’

Smoke billows over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli air strikes on January 29, 2024. (AFP)
Smoke billows over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli air strikes on January 29, 2024. (AFP)

A senior Hamas official says that the terror group wants a “complete and comprehensive ceasefire” in Gaza, after mediator Qatar said earlier that a framework for a temporary truce was being proposed.

“We are talking first of all about a complete and comprehensive ceasefire, and not a temporary truce,” Taher al-Nunu tells AFP, saying that once the fighting stops, “the rest of the details can be discussed” including hostage release.

Earlier, the Qatari prime minister said that he believed Hamas had “moved” from its demand for a complete ceasefire as a condition of any deal, something that has been outright rejected by Israel.

Rockets target American forces in Syria after deadly Jordan attack, says US official

Illustrative: Jordanian soldiers patrol near the eastern Jordan-Syria border, in al-Washash, Mafraq governorate, Jordan, on February 17, 2022, during a media tour organized by the Jordanian army. (AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh/ File)
Illustrative: Jordanian soldiers patrol near the eastern Jordan-Syria border, in al-Washash, Mafraq governorate, Jordan, on February 17, 2022, during a media tour organized by the Jordanian army. (AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh/ File)

American and allied forces in Syria were targeted with rockets today, a US defense official says, after three of Washington’s troops were killed in a drone attack in Jordan yesterday.

“Multiple rockets were launched against US and coalition forces at Patrol Base Shaddadi, Syria. No injuries reported and no damage to infrastructure,” the US defense official says, on condition of anonymity, referring to an installation in northeastern Syria.

The United States has some 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in neighboring Iraq, as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State group, a jihadist organization that once controlled swaths of both countries.

Massachusetts man arrested for allegedly threatening to bomb synagogues

Police and emergency personnel respond the scene of an explosion in Boston, September 13, 2022. (WCVB via AP)
Police and emergency personnel respond the scene of an explosion in Boston, September 13, 2022. (WCVB via AP/ File)

A Massachusetts man was arrested today for allegedly threatening to kill members of the state’s Jewish community and bomb local synagogues, the US attorney’s office in Boston says.

John Reardon, 59, of Millis, Massachusetts, allegedly called Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, Massachusetts, on January 25, and left a voicemail making several threats to kill congregants and bomb the synagogue, including, “If you can kill the Palestinians, we can kill you,” federal authorities say.

Ten minutes later, he allegedly made a call to another local synagogue, as well as to a Jewish organization.

Reardon, who had been in the custody of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, has been charged with one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to threaten a person or place with harm via an explosive.

If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Families of hostages meet Qatar PM in DC, warn ‘we are out of time’ to bring them home

People attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, January 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)
People attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, January 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)

The families of some of the hostages still being held by Hamas meet in Washington with the prime minister of Qatar, thanking the Gulf state for its role in working to secure a deal.

“In our meeting with the prime minister of Qatar, we made our position clear: all parties must do a deal and bring the hostages home,” the families’ forum says in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt thanks for the efforts of the state of Qatar to date and the critical role played by Qatar in facilitating the release of over 100 hostages in November.”

The statement says that so many weeks later, “we know that the conditions and treatment of remaining hostages are brutal and dire, and we are out of time to bring them home.”

Soldier wounded in Haifa terror attack is stable after 8-hour surgery, says hospital

The scene of a suspected ramming attack in Haifa on January 29, 2024. (Magen David Adom)
The scene of a suspected ramming attack in Haifa on January 29, 2024. (Magen David Adom)

The soldier severely injured in the terror attack in Haifa this morning leaves the operating room at Rambam Medical Center after eight hours of surgery.

According to Prof. Doron Norman, head of Rambam’s orthopedic service, the soldier was operated on by three different surgical teams to repair injuries to his extremities. The soldier is now in stable condition, breathing on his own and being cared for in the intensive care unit.

White House cautions against ‘impugning’ UNRWA over allegations against dozen

Displaced Palestinians receive food aid at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) center in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024. (AFP)
Displaced Palestinians receive food aid at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) center in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024. (AFP)

The White House cautions against dismissing the entire UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) over the allegations that roughly a dozen employees out of some 13,000 local staffers participated in Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught.

“Let’s not impugn the good work of a whole agency because of the potential bad actions here by a small number,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says during a press briefing, clarifying that he is not dismissing the seriousness of the allegations against UNRWA’s employees.

Asked whether the US will consider resuming funding to the agency after the administration announced a suspension on Friday, Kirby says, “It’s going to depend on what [UNRWA’s] investigation finds and what accountability measures and corrective measures UNRWA is willing to make.”

“We understand that [UNRWA is] very dependent on donor contributions, and the United States has been a leading donor for many years… All the more reason that this investigation needs to be credible, transparent, thorough and timely.”

Meeting Herzogs, visiting UN envoy on sexual violence says victims ‘deserve justice’

UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict Pramila Patten (center) meets with First Lady Michal Herzog (left) and President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on January 29, 2024. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict Pramila Patten (center) meets with First Lady Michal Herzog (left) and President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on January 29, 2024. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)

President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog meet in Jerusalem with Pramila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, who is in Israel to probe a wave of allegations of Hamas sexual violence on October 7.

Pramila Patten arrived in Israel with a team to investigate the many charges of rape and sexual assault against Israeli women that day. She calls on victims, survivors, and witnesses to come forward and speak with her about their experience.

“I have a message for survivors, I have a message for families of victims, and another message for witnesses: Please come forward, please break your silence,” she says in a video statement released by the President’s Office.

“My team and I, we are here to listen to you in all safety and confidentiality,” she says. “I’m here for a week, I’m prepared to meet you in a safe and enabling environment and to listen to your stories, the world needs to know what really happened on October 7.”

Patten says that survivors should not feel any stigma, but rather “the stigma, the shame, is on the perpetrators.” She says that the world owes them “more than solidarity. We really want to ensure that you have justice at the end of the day, and that we put an end to this to this heinous crime.”

Gallant says troops along northern border will ‘very soon go into action’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to IDF reservists near the Gaza border on January 29, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to IDF reservists near the Gaza border on January 29, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tells reservists along the Gaza border that their comrades along the northern border will be going into action soon.

Gallant tells troops near the border with Gaza that, while they battle Hamas in the Strip, others are being deployed to the border with Lebanon.

“They will very soon go into action… so the forces in the north are reinforced,” Gallant says. He adds that reservists will be gradually released “to prepare and come ready” for future operations.

After sirens in Kiryat Shmona, IDF says it carried out wave of strikes in southern Lebanon

A picture taken from Lebanon's southern village of Majdelzoun shows smoke billowing during an Israeli airstrike on its outskirts towards Zibqin village, January 28, 2024. (KAWNAT HAJU / AFP)
A picture taken from Lebanon's southern village of Majdelzoun shows smoke billowing during an Israeli airstrike on its outskirts towards Zibqin village, January 28, 2024. (KAWNAT HAJU / AFP)

Sirens sound in Kiryat Shmona along Israel’s border with Lebanon, as the IDF says it carried out another wave of airstrikes in south Lebanon.

The military says a number of missiles crossed into Israeli territory, and IDF troops struck the sources of the fire, as well as other targets.

The IDF also destroyed a number of terror infrastructure sites belonging to Hezbollah, as well as a lookout post in the south of the country.

IDF spokesman says troops have killed more than 2,000 Hamas gunmen in Khan Younis

Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on January 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on January 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says that IDF troops have so far killed more than 2,000 Hamas operatives in the Khan Younis area.

At an evening press conference, Hagari says that fighting is currently centered on Khan Younis, “which is the Hamas capital in the south,” where troops are working in a focused manner to take out Hamas.

In Khan Younis, “more than 2,000 Hamas operatives have been killed above and below ground” since troops began operating in the south of the Strip last month, he says, including hundreds over the past week.

Many Hamas commanders were killed, fled and surrendered to IDF troops, he says, handing over valuable intelligence information about the terror group. He also says that soldiers have also arrested many Hamas gunmen who took part in the October 7 onslaught.

Hagari also addresses comments to the 136 hostages — not all of them alive — still being held in Gaza: “If you can hear me now, we have not forgotten you, we think about you all the time… There is a huge international effort, and our job is to create the conditions to bring everyone home.”

US National Security Council’s Kirby: ‘We’re closer than we’ve ever been’ to new hostage deal

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on January 11, 2024. (Saul Loeb/ AFP)
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on January 11, 2024. (Saul Loeb/ AFP)

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says the parties are closer than they have ever been to a new hostage deal, though he stresses that one is not “imminent.”

Speaking to Channel 12 about the timeframe for a deal to be finalized, Kirby says: “There’s still a lot of diplomacy left in front of us. But we’re hoping, in the near future, to get this over the finish line. We’re closer than we’ve ever been. I would caution you from thinking that we’re sort of imminent — that it’s about to happen any day now. I don’t think it’s that close. But we are… cautiously optimistic.”

He says the deal taking shape does not provide for a permanent ceasefire, but for a protracted halt. “This would be a lengthier humanitarian pause than we saw last time… a longer, temporary pause in the fighting… [It would be] an opportunity to get more hostages out… and humanitarian assistance in.”

Kirby denies that the US is losing trust or patience in Israel’s handling of the war, saying, “We are still solidly behind our Israeli partners in their right, in their responsibility to go after Hamas, which we still recognize is a viable threat to the Israeli people. And so the support we’re providing Israel is going to continue.”

Nonetheless, he says, “we obviously want to see a reduction in civilian casualties, we want to see more humanitarian assistance get in, we want there to be care and precision in the way these operations are conducted.”

He says Israel has been “receptive” on this and has “made an effort to try to reduce the number of civilian casualties. They have relied less on air power. They have structured their ground operations in such a way as to be more targeted and precise.”

Kirby says it is put to him “all the time” that Israel “is ignoring us, that they’re not listening to us. Frankly the facts just don’t bear that out.”

France calls on Israel to condemn conference promoting establishing settlements in Gaza

France condemns the holding of a conference yesterday in Jerusalem promoting the establishment of Israeli settlements in Gaza, the French foreign ministry spokesperson says.

“We expect from the Israeli authorities a clear denunciation of these positions,” the spokesperson says.

Palestine knocked out of Asian Cup by Qatar ahead of quarterfinals

Defending champions Qatar survive a scare to beat Palestine 2-1 and advance to the Asian Cup quarter-finals, thanks to goals from Hassan Al-Haydos and Akram Afif at Al Bayt Stadium.

Despite Qatar starting as firm favorites on home turf in front of nearly 64,000 fans, it was an industrious Palestine side that looked more promising in attack in the first half and which was rewarded for its perseverance in the 37th minute.

Palestine stole the ball off Qatar high up the pitch before Oday Dabbagh embarked on a solo run and shot past keeper Meshaal Barsham into the bottom corner for his third goal of the tournament and the country’s first ever in the knockout stage, but failed to hold on to the lead for the rest of the game.

UN chief to meet with major UNRWA donors, calls for ‘swift’ inquiry into Oct. 7 claims

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting regarding the Middle East war at the UN headquarters in New York on January 23, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting regarding the Middle East war at the UN headquarters in New York on January 23, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with the head of internal UN investigations to ensure that an inquiry into Israeli accusations that staff at a UN Palestinian aid agency took part in Hamas’s October 7 massacre “will be done swiftly and as efficiently as possible,” a UN spokesperson says.

Guterres has “been engaging with the UNRWA leadership and donors to UNRWA” and will host a meeting with major UNRWA donors in New York tomorrow, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric tells reporters.

White House blasts Israeli confab on Gaza resettlement attended by PM’s allies

Cabinet ministers and MKs dance during the 'Settlements Bring Security' conference to promote rebuilding Jewish settlements in Gaza at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, January 28, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Cabinet ministers and MKs dance during the 'Settlements Bring Security' conference to promote rebuilding Jewish settlements in Gaza at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, January 28, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The White House slams yesterday’s conference in Jerusalem encouraging reestablishing settlements in the Gaza Strip, which was attended by nearly one-third of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet.

A statement issued by a National Security Council spokesperson says the US is “troubled” by the gathering, particularly the host of controversial statements by participants calling for the mass displacement of Gaza’s Palestinian population.

“We have also been clear, consistent, and unequivocal against the forced relocation of Palestinians outside of Gaza,” the White House statement says. “This rhetoric is incendiary and irresponsible, and we take the prime minister at his word when he says that Israel does not intend to reoccupy Gaza,” the statement adds.

Netanyahu said Saturday that the agenda advanced at the conference does not represent his government’s policy, but the decision by 12 ministers and 15 coalition lawmakers to attend the gathering called into question Israel’s motives in urging nearly two million Palestinians to evacuate from their homes.

While the IDF says the directive was issued in order to ensure that civilians would not be caught in the crossfire, calls by ministers for Palestinians to be encouraged to emigrate from Gaza and for settlements to be re-established there have painted the evacuations in a different light around the world.

Visiting destroyed home, freed hostage says entire 55 days was ’emotional and physical terror’

Amit Soussana, right, embraced by a friend in front of her destroyed house in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/ Leo Correa)
Amit Soussana, right, embraced by a friend in front of her destroyed house in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/ Leo Correa)

Freed Israeli hostage Amit Soussana, who spent 55 days in Hamas captivity in Gaza, says every second of that time felt like eternity — and she fears for the resilience of the more than 100 remaining hostages abducted on October 7.

Returning to the ruins of the Kfar Aza kibbutz, her former home, where she was seized by Hamas terrorists during their deadly rampage across southern Israel, Amit Soussana is campaigning in support of the hostages alongside some of their relatives.

“I was under an emotional and physical terror the entire 55 days I was held in captivity, feeling like every moment can be my last. Every second felt like eternity,” says Soussana, 40, wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “Bring them home NOW.”

She says it is hard to imagine how those still held in Gaza must feel 115 days into their ordeal, with no end in sight.

“I hope that the remaining hostages there are able to keep their faith alive and stay strong. But even the toughest souls can’t hold on for such a long time,” she says.

Qatar PM says hostage deal framework sent to Hamas, which has ‘moved’ away from demanding ceasefire

Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar attends the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024. (AP/ Markus Schreiber)
Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar attends the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024. (AP/ Markus Schreiber)

A framework for a halt in fighting in Gaza and the release of hostages is to be relayed to Hamas, Qatar’s prime minister says, following meetings with US, Israeli, and Egyptian officials.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani says “good progress” has been made during the talks this week, and the parties are “hoping to relay this proposal to Hamas and to get them to a place where they engage positively and constructively in the process.”

He says there was a “clear demand” by Hamas for a “permanent ceasefire” ahead of the talks, but “I believe that we moved from that place.”

He adds the current phase of talks could lead to a permanent ceasefire “in the future.”

IDF says troops raid Hamas chief Sinwar’s office in Khan Younis

IDF troops from the 98th Division raiding Hamas offices in Khan Younis in this handout photo released on January 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops from the 98th Division raiding Hamas offices in Khan Younis in this handout photo released on January 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Troops from the IDF’s 98th Division raided the offices of a number of senior Hamas officials in Khan Younis, including the terror group’s chief Yahya Sinwar, according to the IDF.

The military says that troops have “raided hundreds of terrorist infrastructures,” including a military intelligence building, a major rocket producing factory as well as Sinwar’s office.

Israel tells US buffer zone it’s establishing in Gaza temporary; Washington dissatisfied

Israeli soldiers take positions near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, December 11, 2023. (AP/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israeli soldiers take positions near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, December 11, 2023. (AP/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Israeli officials have told their American counterparts in recent days that the buffer zone the IDF is establishing on the Gaza side of the border with Israel is only meant to be temporary and will be removed once Hamas is completely removed from power, a US official tells The Times of Israel.

Over the past several weeks, the IDF has been razing Palestinian homes along the border in order to establish the buffer zone, sparking alarm in Washington, which has insisted that there be no reduction in Gaza’s territory after the war.

The US official says that the Biden administration is not on board with even a temporary buffer zone and has voiced that stance with Jerusalem.

Washington believes that, once established, Israel will not actually agree to withdraw from the buffer zone, the US official adds.

Netanyahu’s office says reports of hostage deal ‘include conditions unacceptable to Israel’

Women protest for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in Rosh Pina, January 24, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Women protest for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in Rosh Pina, January 24, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The Prime Minister’s Office issues a statement that does not deny Israel agreed to a framework for a hostage release, but does say that “the reports about a deal are not correct and include conditions that are not acceptable to Israel.”

Multiple reports have emerged about a deal, including a Channel 12 report from Amit Segal alleging that Israel agreed to a 45-day pause in fighting in exchange for 35 hostages in the first phase. Some 100-250 Palestinian security prisoners would be released for each Israeli sent home, according to the report.

“We are continuing until total victory,” says the Prime Minister’s Office.

Report: Gallant promises US he won’t allow new Israeli settlements in Gaza

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outside the Kirya military HQ in Tel Aviv, January 9, 2024. (Elad Malka/ Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outside the Kirya military HQ in Tel Aviv, January 9, 2024. (Elad Malka/ Defense Ministry)

After a dozen government ministers took part in a conference last night calling to resettle Gaza, a report claims that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has promised the US that won’t happen on his watch.

According to a report in Axios, Gallant told US officials last week he wouldn’t allow settlements to be built in Gaza, citing four US and Israeli officials.

US defense chief vows ‘all necessary actions’ after 3 American troops killed in Jordan

Screen capture from video of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin provides opening remarks at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, January 23, 2024 from his home in Great Falls, Virginia. (US Department of Defense via AP)
Screen capture from video of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin provides opening remarks at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, January 23, 2024 from his home in Great Falls, Virginia. (US Department of Defense via AP)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vows that the United States will take “all necessary actions” to defend US troops, as he expresses outrage and sorrow over a drone attack yesterday by Iran-backed militants that killed three US troops and wounded dozens more.

“Let me start with my outrage and sorrow [for] the deaths of three brave US troops in Jordan and for the other troops who were wounded,” Austin says at the Pentagon, returning today after an illness and hospital stay. “The president and I will not tolerate attacks on US forces and we will take all necessary actions to defend the US and our troops.”

PMO: ‘Significant progress’ made toward returning residents of south to their homes

A home hit by an anti-tank rocket at Moshav Netiv HaAsara, pictured November 21, 2023. (David Horovitz / Times of Israel)
A home hit by an anti-tank rocket at Moshav Netiv HaAsara, pictured November 21, 2023. (David Horovitz / Times of Israel)

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that “significant progress” is being made toward returning displaced residents of southern Israel to their homes.

In a statement, his office says Netanyahu held a meeting today on the topic with a variety of officials, and that “significant progress has been made in preparing for this, and final adjustments are being made in order to progress on the issue.”

The decisions will be brought to the cabinet for discussion soon, the statement adds.

Gallant says Israel has killed or wounded half of Hamas operatives in Gaza

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to IDF reservists near the Gaza border on January 29, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to IDF reservists near the Gaza border on January 29, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tells IDF reservists that at least half of Hamas operatives in Gaza have been killed or wounded.

“We’re in a long war, but at the end we will break Hamas,” Gallant says. “Terrorists remain, and we are fighting against pockets of resistance… it will take months, not one day,” he adds.

“On the other hand, they don’t have supplies, they don’t have ammunition and they don’t have reinforcements,” he continues. “It’s hard for them to take care of themselves, of their wounded, and other things. We have killed already a quarter of the Hamas terrorists at least, and the same number are wounded.”

Ahead of war cabinet meeting, Israeli officials say hostage talks progressing but ‘long road ahead’

The war cabinet meets at the IDF's Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on January 18, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
The war cabinet meets at the IDF's Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on January 18, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli officials do not deny the Sky News report about a potential hostage deal emerging from Paris talks yesterday, but tell The Times of Israel they are being cautious: “There is still a long road ahead,” an official says.

Israel Hayom reports that the Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs told their Qatari, Egyptian and American interlocutors that Israel is willing to be flexible about the length of a ceasefire, the number of prisoners released, and the amount of humanitarian aid let in, but will not under any circumstances agree to end the war.

They are now trying to get Hamas to negotiate the terms of a deal.

The war cabinet is slated to meet tonight at 8 p.m., an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

US, UK impose sanctions on Iranian officials over plot to kill dissidents, journalists

The United States and Britain announce sanctions on a network which they say targeted Iranian dissidents and activists for assassination.

The group, said to run “at the behest of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS),” is alleged to have conducted assassinations and kidnappings “across multiple jurisdictions,” says the US Treasury Department in a statement.

It aims to silence the Iranian regime’s perceived critics, says the US Treasury, adding that the network has also plotted operations in America.

Among the five individuals named is Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti, whom the Treasury identified as a narcotics trafficker. Others include members of his family, and an MOIS officer overseeing some of his operations, says the Treasury.

The United Kingdom says in a separate notice that it will “sanction seven individuals and one organization, including senior Iranian officials and members of organized criminal gangs who collaborate with the regime.”

They include members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Unit 840, over reported “plots to assassinate two television presenters from news channel Iran International on UK soil,” says the British announcement.

At least 10 rockets fired from Gaza toward central Israel, no injuries reported

Iron Dome interceptions over Tel Aviv following rocket fire from Gaza on January 29, 2024. (Times of Israel)
Iron Dome interceptions over Tel Aviv following rocket fire from Gaza on January 29, 2024. (Times of Israel)

At least 10 rockets were fired from Gaza toward central Israel not long ago, setting off sirens in Tel Aviv and surrounding cities including Rishon Lezion, Holon and Bat Yam.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says no injuries have been reported so far.

Hebrew media reports say that a car in Rishon Lezion was hit by shrapnel, but that nobody was wounded.

Report: Israel agrees to hostage release deal in Paris, Hamas yet to respond

Relatives and supporters hold placards bearing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas in southern Israel, during a rally calling for their release, in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2024. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Relatives and supporters hold placards bearing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas in southern Israel, during a rally calling for their release, in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2024. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Israel, in its meeting in Paris yesterday with senior officials from the US, Qatar and Egypt, agreed to a framework for a hostage release deal, Sky News reports.

The deal is being presented today to Hamas, according to the report.

The agreement would see all the hostages released, starting with women and children. There would be “phased pauses” in Israel’s war against Hamas, the report says.

Israel would also allow more aid into Gaza and would release more Palestinian prisoners.

Air raid sirens sound in Tel Aviv for the first time in more than a month

Iron Dome interceptions over Tel Aviv following rocket fire from Gaza on January 29, 2024. (Times of Israel)
Iron Dome interceptions over Tel Aviv following rocket fire from Gaza on January 29, 2024. (Times of Israel)

Air raid sirens sound in Tel Aviv for the first time in more than a month, indicating rocket fire from Gaza.

Sirens also sound in Rishon Lezion, Holon, Bat Yam and other areas in the center.

Hamas-run health ministry says 215 killed in past day, 26,637 total

Smoke billows over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli air strikes on January 29, 2024. (AFP)
Smoke billows over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli air strikes on January 29, 2024. (AFP)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says at least 26,637 people have been killed in the Strip during the ongoing war.

The latest toll includes 215 deaths over the past 24 hours, the ministry says, while 65,387 people have been wounded since October 7.

The death toll cannot be independently verified and is believed to include close to 10,000 Hamas operatives.

Netanyahu: Qatar is not a ‘passive’ intermediary, must press Hamas for hostage release

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on January 18, 2024. (Yariv Katz/Flash90/pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on January 18, 2024. (Yariv Katz/Flash90/pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describes Qatar as having “enormous leverage” over Hamas, and says Doha’s role in mediating so-far fruitless talks for the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza is being scrutinized internationally.

“I think we should demand from Qatar, that hosts Hamas — they host Hamas leaders, they fund Hamas… to achieve the release of the remainder of our hostages,” he tells Britain’s TalkTV. “I think that the entire world is looking at Qatar.”

Asked what the US or other world powers might do on the issue, Netanyahu says: “That’s something I’ll speak to them directly about… I don’t think they [Qatar] are an intermediary that is passive.”

FM Katz says his office canceled meetings with UNRWA head Lazzarini, ‘terror supporters not welcome’

The Commissioner-General of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the UNRWA headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, December 6, 2023. (AP/Bilal Hussein)
The Commissioner-General of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the UNRWA headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, December 6, 2023. (AP/Bilal Hussein)

Foreign Minister Israel Katz announces that he has canceled meetings planned for this week between ministry officials and UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini.

“UNRWA employees participated in the massacre of October 7,” Katz tweets. “Lazzarini should draw conclusions and resign. Supporters of terrorism are not welcome here.”

Israel has accused at least a dozen UNRWA employees of taking part in Hamas’s onslaught against southern Israel, circulating a dossier of allegations to a number of countries.

IDF says it struck military sites in south Lebanon being used by Hezbollah

A picture taken from Lebanon's southern village of Majdelzoun shows smoke billowing during an Israeli airstrike on its outskirts towards Zibqin village, January 28, 2024. (KAWNAT HAJU / AFP)
A picture taken from Lebanon's southern village of Majdelzoun shows smoke billowing during an Israeli airstrike on its outskirts towards Zibqin village, January 28, 2024. (KAWNAT HAJU / AFP)

The IDF says it struck military sites in south Lebanon that were being used by Hezbollah in the Yaroun area.

Earlier, troops also struck a rocket-firing site from which missiles were directed at Israel, the IDF says, saying that a number of rockets crossed into northern Israel and the IDF responded by shelling the sources of the fire.

Ben Gvir threatens coalition over open-fire rule changes; IDF says there’ve been no changes

A picture taken from a position in southern Israel along the border with the Gaza Strip on January 19, 2024, shows an Israeli tank rolling along the fence as damaged buildings are seen in the Gaza Strip. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
A picture taken from a position in southern Israel along the border with the Gaza Strip on January 19, 2024, shows an Israeli tank rolling along the fence as damaged buildings are seen in the Gaza Strip. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir sends a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatening the stability of the coalition over open-fire rules for IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip, which he claims have changed while the IDF says they have not.

In his letter, Ben Gvir writes that it was reported that IDF soldiers stationed along the border with Gaza “were ordered not to fire” on Gazans approaching the border fence. He says that the cabinet’s military secretary denied that was the case, “but since then more and more testimony from soldiers is confirming the report.”

He says that “if the open-fire rules are not changed [back], there will be an effect on the coalition.”

Shortly after his letter is publicized, the IDF issues a statement denying any change in open-fire regulations, stating that “IDF troops are acting according to the rules not to allow anyone to approach the border fence.” The rules in question enable troops to operate while preventing friendly fire or harm to Israeli citizens including hostages who may approach the area, the IDF says.

IDF: Troops discover, destroy Hamas attack tunnel underneath Khan Younis cemetery

A handout image the IDF says is from a Hamas attack tunnel underneath a cemetery in Khan Younis, distributed on January 29, 2024. (IDF)
A handout image the IDF says is from a Hamas attack tunnel underneath a cemetery in Khan Younis, distributed on January 29, 2024. (IDF)

Troops with the 98th division discovered a Hamas underground tunnel underneath a cemetery in the heart of Khan Younis, the military says.

Soldiers discovered explosives in the tunnel and also killed terrorists who were inside it, the IDF adds, which says it also uncovered in the tunnel an office used by the commander of Hamas’s eastern battallion of the Khan Younis Brigade to direct its activities on October 7.

The Yahalom unit later destroyed the tunnel, the IDF says, which was equipped with multiple rooms, running water and sliding doors.

Netanyahu accuses UNRWA schools of ‘teaching the doctrines of extermination’ of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2024. (Tomer Appelbaum/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on January 27, 2024. (Tomer Appelbaum/POOL)

In the wake of allegations that some UNRWA staffers participated in Hamas’s October 7 massacre, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describes the the UN relief agency as “perforated with Hamas.”

“We discovered that there were 13 UNRWA workers who actually participated, either directly or indirectly, in the October 7 massacre,” he tells Britain’s TalkTV. “In UNRWA schools they’ve been teaching the doctrines of extermination of Israel — the doctrines of terrorism, lauding terrorism, glorifying terrorism.”

Suspect in Haifa ramming named as Tamra resident

Police at the scene of a terror attack at the entrance to the Haifa naval base, on January 29, 2024. (Flash90)
Police at the scene of a terror attack at the entrance to the Haifa naval base, on January 29, 2024. (Flash90)

Police say the suspect in an alleged terror attack outside a Haifa naval base as an Israeli citizen born in 1996.

The suspect is named as Wassim Abu al-Hoga from the northern Israeli city of Tamra.

Al-Hoga has a criminal record for transporting people in Israel illegally, presumably Palestinians, police say in a statement.

The statement refers to the incident, in which the suspect rammed his vehicle into a soldier before attempting to attack others with an axe, as a terror attack.

The condition of al-Hoga, who was shot during the apparent attack, is not given.

The soldier injured in the attack is in moderate-to-serious condition, police say.

Syria says Iranian advisers killed in alleged Israeli strike on Damascus

Syrian state media says “a number of Iranian advisers” were killed in an Israeli attack south of the capital, in a rare acknowledgment by Damascus of Iranian casualties in alleged Israeli strikes on Syrian territory.

It also says civilians were killed but does not give a figure for either set of fatalities.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency reports that “the Zionist regime (Israel) targeted an Iranian advisory center in the Sayyida Zeinab area.”

Iran’s ambassador to Syria, however, claims there were no Iranian casualties in the strike and no advisory center targeted.

Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, claims that the “Israeli strikes targeted a base belonging to Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, killing seven people” including pro-Iran fighters.

The war monitor has been accused of inflating casualty numbers in the past.

White House sees framework for new hostage deal, says talks constructive

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on January 11, 2024. (Saul Loeb/ AFP)
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on January 11, 2024. (Saul Loeb/ AFP)

Talks on releasing hostages in Gaza have been “constructive” and the United States sees a framework for another deal, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tells MSNBC in an interview. “I don’t think we have a deal that’s imminently about to happen or that we can announce,” he says, “but I do think we’ve made some progress.”

He says the US still believes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict offers the best promise for the future.

He notes that Washington is pleased that the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA appears to be taking seriously allegations that its staffers were involved in the October 7 massacre in Israel.

Kirby also says the US does not want a wider war with Iran or the region, adding that the administration believes a single drone was responsible for targeting US service members in Jordan over the weekend.

Report: Israel believes 10 percent of UNRWA employees belong to terror groups

A report in the Wall Street Journal citing Israeli intelligence shared with the US claims that at least 1,200 employees of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees are members of the Hamas or Islamic Jihad terror groups. The number represents some 10 percent of UNRWA’s staff in Gaza.

According to the report, a number of UNRWA teachers were involved in planning or carrying out the attack, one UNRWA staffer kidnapped the body of a soldier, and another set up a war room for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on October 8, a day after the massacre.

The US has said 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the attack, but the Journal reports that a 13th staffer also entered Israel on October 7, though they did not have a clear link to any terror group.

Details of the dossier were first reported by The New York Times.

Hezbollah rockets fall in open areas in north

Several projectiles fell in open areas in northern Israel following sirens there, local authorities say.

Hezbollah claims it targeted soldiers near Margaliot, near the Lebanon border.

No injuries or damage are reported in the attack.

Iran-backed groups in Iraq, Syria said to evacuate ahead of feared US retaliation

Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria are vacating their military posts in anticipation of a US retaliatory strike.

A source from the Islamic Resistance in Iraq umbrella group tells al-Araby al-Jadeed that the group has evacuated its positions along the Iraq-Syria border, leaving only one or two guards to man each post, amid intensified reconnaissance activity by American aircraft in the area, which has led the militias to fret that the US response will come quickly.

After leaving their positions, militia leaders have reduced their use of mobile phones for fear of being tracked and targeted, the source adds to the London-based Qatari-owned outlet.

Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who heads the Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet, says Iran-backed fighters in east Syria also began evacuating their posts. He tells The Associated Press that the areas are the strongholds of Mayadeen and Boukamal.

US President Joe Biden said that the United States “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing,” after a drone strike killed three US service members and wounded dozens in a military base in northeastern Jordan yesterday. Biden has blamed the deadly attack on “radical Iran-backed militia groups.”

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group for Iran-backed factions, earlier claimed launching explosive drone attacks targeting three areas in Syria, as well as one inside of “occupied Palestine.” The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks against bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Three officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists, said the drone attack against the base in Jordan was launched by one of the Iraqi groups. No faction has yet officially claimed responsibility.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani has denied his country’s involvement.

Two killed in Damascus strike — Iranian state media

Two people were killed and several others were injured in strikes near the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine complex on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Iranian state media says.

A source in Iran’s regional alliance tells Reuters the strike had hit a location used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

There is no immediate comment from Syrian authorities and no statement on state media.

An Israeli military spokesperson declines to comment on the explosions.

Cassif rejects allegation of supporting Hamas, happy to ‘pay high price’ for backing Hague case

Hadash-Ta’al MK Ofer Cassif declares that he is fighting for his values and to advance freedom and security for all, pushing back against allegations that he supports Hamas’s armed struggle against Israel.

Addressing the Knesset House Committee during an impeachment hearing, the far-left lawmaker declares that he is “paying a high price” for his political views but is doing so “with joy.”

If the hearing goes badly for Cassif, he could face an unprecedented Knesset vote to expel him under a 2016 law under which legislators may expel colleagues if they are found to have committed one of a number of infractions, including expressing support “for an armed struggle” against Israel or inciting racism.

The hearing is the result of his fellow lawmakers’ intense anger over his
public support for a South African petition to the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

“I never supported Hamas and certainly not its armed struggle against Israel,” he says, prompting angry yelling from coalition MKs, whom he accuses of pushing for “right-wing Kahanist rule.”

During the hearing, far-right MK Limor Son Har Melech (Otzma Yehudit) engaged in a shouting match with Hadash-Ta’al chairman Ahmad Tibi.

“Terror supporters don’t need to sit here,” Har Melech screamed, in the latest of a series of angry interruptions by Likud and Otzma Yehudit lawmakers.

“So leave,” Tibi shouted back.

Four reportedly detained as dozens rally near Kerem Shalom

Israeli border police stand guard as protesters, including relatives of the hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas, take part in a demonstration aimed at blocking aid trucks from entering the Palestinian territory, on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the southern Gaza Strip on January 29, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)
Israeli border police stand guard as protesters, including relatives of the hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas, take part in a demonstration aimed at blocking aid trucks from entering the Palestinian territory, on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the southern Gaza Strip on January 29, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)

Four people have been detained at a protest at the Kerem Shalom crossing seeking to block aid from entering the Gaza Strip, the Ynet news site reports.

The IDF declared the area a closed military zone on Sunday after several days of demonstrations, many attended by family members of hostages held in the Strip.

While lines of border officers block the protesters from reaching the road where trucks loaded with humanitarian equipment are queued to enter, scores of people still rally nearby, waving flags and holding signs demanding that Hamas release the 136 Israelis it is holding.

EU says it is reviewing funding for UNRWA, Romania suspends payments

The EU is demanding an “urgent” audit of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA and says it is reviewing funding, following Israeli allegations that some staff participated in Hamas’s October 7 attack.

The audit should be led by European Commission-appointed experts and be conducted alongside a UN investigation into the claims, commission spokesman Eric Mamer tells journalists.

The EU was the agency’s third largest funder in 2022, behind the US and Germany, which have already announced funding freezes.

Romania’s foreign ministry says it has also suspended its voluntary payments to UNRWA.

“We express our full confidence that the UN investigation will clarify the situation as soon as possible,” the ministry says. “Until the investigation is concluded, the ministry will … not make any new voluntary contributions to UNRWA.”

Treasury’s deputy head of budgets quits days before Knesset vote on spending update

Itai Temkin, the Finance Ministry’s deputy budget commissioner, announces that he is resigning from his post.

The announcement comes just days before the revised state budget for 2024, which contains adjustments to release funds to the war effort, is expected to be brought to the Knesset for approval.

As deputy head of the budget division for macrofinance and budgetary matters, Temkin in recent weeks led the plans for spending changes stemming from the ongoing war against the Hamas terror group.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich describes Temkin as “one of the most talented people” at the ministry, thanks him on behalf of the government for his service in the public sector, and wishes him “great success in his future in the private sector.”

At the ministry, Temkin was also responsible for the budget department’s relationship with global credit rating agencies as well as for leading negotiations with the Histadrut labor union regarding wage agreements.

As part of his role, Temkin over the past decade was involved in building and approving the state budget, including the formulation of the budget frameworks that led to a “significant and constant improvement in the fiscal soundness of the government and enabled it to deal with the economic crises that battered the economy in recent years,” the Finance Ministry says in a statement.

UNRWA says it will shutter in month if funding not restored

The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA says it will not be able to continue operations in Gaza and across the region beyond the end of February if funding is not resumed.

A string of countries including the United States, Germany and Britain have paused their funding to the aid agency in the wake of allegations that 12 UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 massacre by Hamas in southern Israel.

“If the funding is not resumed, UNRWA will not be able to continue its services and operations across the region, including in Gaza, beyond the end of February,” a spokesperson for the agency says.

However, Germany says UNRWA is not the only source of humanitarian aid for Palestinians, and other avenues can be found.

“We continue to advocate for more humanitarian aid to be provided,” a German foreign ministry spokesperson tells a government press conference in Berlin.

Report: PA held secret meet with 3 Arab countries to advance postwar plan for Gaza

Axios reports that top security officials from the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt held a secret meeting in Riyadh 10 days ago to hatch a plan to bring Gaza back under the rule of a “revived” Palestinian Authority after a postwar transition period.

The meeting was reportedly hosted by Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser Musaed bin Mohammed al-Aiban, and saw the participation of powerful Palestinian spy chief Majed Faraj and his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts.

A similar idea has been put forward by the Biden administration in the context of the contact group it has been establishing with Middle East allies to formulate a united policy for the Gaza Strip after the war.

At the secret Riyadh meeting, the Saudi national security adviser reiterated that the Gulf monarchy is still interested in normalizing relations with Israel in return for practical steps by Jerusalem towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, Axios reports.

Damascus strike said to target IRGC site

A source in Iran’s regional alliance tells Reuters that a strike on the outskirts of Damascus hit a location used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Reports attribute the attack to Israel, with local outlets claiming that three missiles hit the area.

 

 

Likud MK kicked out of impeachment hearing for rant against Cassif

MK Ofer Cassif, left, and lawyer Michael Sfard at an impeachment hearing on January 29, 2024. (Sam Sokol/ Times of Israel)
MK Ofer Cassif, left, and lawyer Michael Sfard at an impeachment hearing on January 29, 2024. (Sam Sokol/ Times of Israel)

As the Knesset House Committee debates impeaching Hadash-Ta’al MK Ofer Cassif, Likud MK Hanoch Milwidsky is asked to leave the hearing for several minutes after interrupting Cassif’s lawyer with an angry tirade.

“You are enemies of Israel, you support our enemies and we will never allow this to become normal,” Milwidsky screams, cutting off attorney Michael Sfard.

Sfard argues that Cassif’s actions in supporting a South African genocide petition against Israel in the International Court of Justice do not rise to the standard needed to be considered support for armed struggle against the State of Israel.

Rare daytime airstrike reported in Damascus

Reports indicate that a rare daytime airstrike has targeted an area in southern Damascus, in an attack being blamed on Israel.

Lebanon’s Al Meyadeen reports that blasts were heard in the area of Sayyida Zeinab in the south of the city.

Footage on social media shows smoke rising from a populated area.

There is no confirmation from official Syrian news agency Sana or Israeli authorities.

 

Hearing begins on booting MK who backed Hague genocide case

The Knesset House Committee has begun an unprecedented hearing on whether to allow the plenum to vote on expelling MK Ofer Cassif for his support of a case accusing Israel of genocide at the Hague.

Kicking off the hearing, committee head Ofir Katz says “it would be my great privilege to boot the most despicable person the Knesset has ever known,” claiming that Cassif has “continued to make harsh comments during the war.”

Cassif, the only Jewish member of the Arab-majority Hadash-Ta’al party, is in the dock for comments made in support of South Africa’s claim that Israel is carrying out a genocide in Gaza.

In response to Cassif’s “treasonous” actions, Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer set out to invoke a previously unused legal mechanism contained in the 2016 Suspension Law, under which legislators may expel colleagues from their ranks if they are found to have committed one of a number of infractions, including expressing support “for an armed struggle” against Israel or inciting racism.

Knesset legal adviser Sagit Afik tells the gathered lawmakers that the hearing is “quite unprecedented,” noting that its use against Balad MK Basel Ghattas, the only other time it was used, came after he had already been charged by police.

She calls on the lawmakers to put politics and emotions aside and consider the case on its legal merits, as it is essentially an extrajudicial process.

“You must differentiate between disgust, revulsion and your rejection of the MK’s actions and statements and compliance with the conditions established by the Basic Law legislation,” she says.

If 75 percent of the committee agrees, the plenum will be able to vote on expelling Cassif.

Lapid urges top cop to lay off protesters

Police detain a man during a demonstration calling for new elections in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Police detain a man during a demonstration calling for new elections in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid calls on Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to prevent unnecessary use of force against anti-government protesters.

“The demonstrations and protests that return to the squares are the protest of patriots and patriotism crying out from their hearts,” Lapid writes, adding that “the photos from the demonstrations are heartbreaking.”

“I am aware of the pressures being exerted on you, and despite this — and perhaps because of this — you must instruct your people to respect the citizens and the democratic protest, refine the guidelines for the use of force for exceptional cases only, make sure that the police response is designed to calm and not further inflame spirits,” he urges. “Every possible effort must be made to prevent police violence against protesters, especially at this time.”

On Saturday night, police arrested several people blocking a road during an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv, in some cases manhandling them.

Earlier this month, the High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction barring National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir from giving operational orders to police forces regarding how they manage demonstrations and how they use force during protests.

This included issuing orders as to whether force was to be used, how force could be used, and the means of dispersing protesters. The minister was also to have no involvement in whether permission was to be given for a protest to be held, or on the time, location or manner of the event.

Palestinian teen with knife killed by troops near Bethlehem

The military says it shot and killed a knife-wielding Palestinian who attempted to attack troops guarding near the West Bank village of Tuqu’, near Bethlehem.

No soldiers were hurt in the incident.

Soldiers are regularly stationed in the village to protect Israeli drivers traversing a road linking two settlement blocs south of Jerusalem.

Official Palestinian outlet Wafa names the suspected attacker as Ranny Yasser Khalaf Alshaer, 16. It says the incident occurred during clashes with troops, citing the local mayor.

Israel said to advise those near Khan Younis hospital to evacuate

A Palestinian report says a drone equipped with loudspeakers is urging residents near al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis to evacuate for the al-Mawasi safe zone, as fighting in the area appears to intensify.

The Red Crescent claims it is unable to reach a person who was killed “meters” from the hospital due to shooting in the area.

The IDF earlier said it had killed four Hamas gunmen who attempted to ambush troops near the hospital.

On Sunday, Palestinian medics and residents alleged that Israeli bombardments near al-Amal and Nasser Hospital were hindering efforts by rescue teams to respond to desperate calls from people caught in the crossfire.

The two hospitals are the largest in southern Gaza.

Israel says it is taking steps to keep hospitals running and minimize civilian casualties.

It accuses Hamas of operating in densely populated areas, including in and around hospitals, and using civilians as human shields and has released photos and videos supporting this allegation, which the Islamist group denies.

 

 

Victim in suspected Haifa attack in serious condition — hospital

Rambam Medical Center deputy director-general Dr. Avi Weissman says the victim of a suspected terror attack that took place about a block from the hospital is in serious condition.

He is sedated and intubated in the trauma center, suffering from injuries to his extremities. The victim, a young man, will undergo a series of surgeries.

Following the apparent attack, entrances and roads leading to the hospital were blocked off to non-rescue vehicles for a period, but are now being opened up.

Houthis claim to attack floating US naval base

Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they attacked the USS Lewis B. Puller, a ship that serves as a floating landing base for the US Navy.

Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree says in a statement it fired a missile at the Puller in the Gulf of Aden. He offers no evidence.

Houthi attacks will continue “until the aggression is stopped, and the siege is lifted on the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip,” Saree says in the statement.

A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said there had been no reported attack on the Puller. However, the Houthis have previously launched missiles that did not reach their intended target, instead crashing down onto land or sea.

The Puller served as a mobile base for the US Navy SEALs who conducted a January 11 operation seizing Iranian-made ballistic missile and cruise missile components believed to be bound for Yemen.

Two SEALs went missing in the operation and are presumed to have died.

Attacker shot while trying to axe troops, IDF says

The military says in a statement that an attacker with a hatchet was shot by an officer while attempting to assault troops, referring to a suspected attack in Haifa.

The army says the suspect was a terrorist, though police are still investigating the incident.

“A short while ago, a terrorist carried out a car-ramming attack next to an army base in the north of the country,” an army statement reads. “Afterward, the terrorist exited the car and attempted to attack IDF troops with a hatchet.”

Police confirm Haifa suspect disarmed after apparent attack with car, hatchet

The scene of a suspected ramming attack in Haifa on January 29, 2024. (Courtesy Magen David Adom)
The scene of a suspected ramming attack in Haifa on January 29, 2024. (Courtesy Magen David Adom)

Police confirm that a suspected attacker in Haifa was “neutralized.”

According to reports, the attacker rammed his car into a young man before getting out wielding a hatchet, after which he was shot by troops.

Pictures on social media show troops with guns drawn standing near a man lying in the street with a hatchet next to him. Other footage shows a car with its front smashed next to the outer wall of what appears to be a military facility.

The attack apparently occurred next to an IDF naval base and about a block from Rambam Medical Center.

The Magen David Adom rescue service says it treated a 20-year-old man with serious injuries to his lower extremities.

The condition of the attacker is not known.

Man badly hurt in suspected ramming attack in Haifa

A young man has been badly injured in a suspected car-ramming and stabbing terror attack in the Bat Galim area of Haifa.

According to initial reports, a car ran into a young man, after which the driver got out and attacked him with an axe.

Rambam Medical Center in Haifa  says a patient was brought to the emergency room after being hit by a car.

The attacker has been neutralized, according to reports.

Eisenkot, Kisch slam Gaza resettlement conference for widening divisions

A participant at a conference calling to resettle the Gaza Strip at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on January 28, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
A participant at a conference calling to resettle the Gaza Strip at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on January 28, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

War cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot, a former IDF chief of staff and current MK, joins a chorus of criticism aimed at politicians and others who attended a conference last night to push for Israel to reestablish civilian settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Eisenkot tells the Kan broadcaster that those who participated — especially MKs and ministers — are exacerbating societal divisions as if they hadn’t just seen the country get torn apart by the judicial overhaul protests of 2023.

“They didn’t learn a thing from what happened last year, about the importance of working with a wide national consensus and about solidarity in Israeli society,” he says.

War cabinet observer and former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, with family and friends, at the funeral of his son Gal, in Herzliya on December 8, 2023. Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eisenkot was killed fighting in the Gaza Strip on December 7. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“While troops are fighting shoulder to shoulder in a war with unparalleled justification, and while we are choosing to look for what unites us, even if there are disagreements… others are finding time for an event that sunders Israeli society, increases the lack of trust in the government and its elected officials, and really sharpens divisions over that which brings us together,” adds Eisenkot, whose son was killed in the fighting in Gaza.

Education Minister Yoav Kisch also aims criticism at the conference, telling Army Radio it was a mistake to hold the event. “It’s not right to get into this conversation now. This isn’t the time. We need to focus the discourse on unity for our troops.”

Palestinian reported killed in clash near Hebron; wanted gunman killed in northern West Bank raid — IDF

Official Palestinian news outlet WAFA reports that a Palestinian man died after suffering a head injury during clashes with troops in Dura, a West Bank city near Hebron.

There is no immediate comment from the military on the incident, but the IDF acknowledges that it killed a wanted Palestinian gunman during an attempt to arrest him in the northern West Bank town of Yamun earlier this morning.

As the elite Duvdevan unit attempted to arrest the wanted man, he opened fire at the soldiers, whereupon they returned fire, killing him, the IDF says.

According to the IDF, 19 other wanted Palestinians were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.

During a raid in the Jenin camp in the northern West Bank, the IDF says, engineering vehicles uncovered explosive devices hidden under the roads, and troops detained two terror suspects.

The IDF says troops also returned fire at gunmen who opened fire and hurled explosives at the forces in Jenin.

The army also carried out raids in the Nablus area, including in the city itself and the nearby Askar and Balata camps.

Since October 7, troops have arrested more than 2,960 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,350 affiliated with Hamas. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, more than 300 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time.

Sirens in Rosh Hanikra as IDF reported to retaliate in southern Lebanon

Rocket sirens are sounding in Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanon border.

The Hezbollah affiliated al-Manar news outlet reports that Israeli forces are shelling areas in southern Lebanon, including near Ayta al-Shab.

 

IDF advises civilians along Gaza City coastline to flee southward as fighting appears to return

The army is urging Gazan civilians in the western parts of Gaza City to move south into central Gaza, indicating it plans to ratchet up military operations in the area.

A map published by IDF Arabic spokesman Avichai Adraee shows evacuations ordered for much of the city’s coastline, including the al-Shati refugee camp, Sheikh Radwan and Tel al-Hawa, an area that also encompasses the Strip’s Shifa Hospital.

The order comes after troops engaged with Hamas fighters in al-Shati over the past day, according to the IDF. A report by Army Radio earlier indicated that the army planned to ratchet up fighting in the north to thwart Hamas attempts to reestablish itself militarily in the area, which the army largely conquered over a month ago.

Austria freezes funds to UNRWA

Austria’s Foreign Ministry says it is suspending payments to UNRWA, Reuters reports.

On Friday, Vienna said allegations that UNRWA workers participated in the October 7 attacks were “shocking and alarming,” calling for the agency to take immediate action to investigate the charges.

Austria donated some $8 million to UNRWA in 2022, making it the 22nd largest funder of the agency for Palestinian refugees.

Troops lightly injured in Hezbollah attack on north

Two soldiers are hurt in a Hezbollah rocket attack on the Lebanon border this morning, the IDF says.

The pair are being taken to hospital, and according to initial assessments are in good condition.

Hezbollah earlier claimed to have fired Burkan rockets, which carry heavy warheads, at the Biranit army base on the Lebanon border.

A Hezbollah-affiliated journalist publishes a picture of what he says is the aftermath of the attack.

Khan Younis offensive grinds into western environs of city, IDF says

Rocket launchers found by troops in Gaza City according to the IDF, which released this photo on January 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Rocket launchers found by troops in Gaza City according to the IDF, which released this photo on January 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Troops from the Israel Defense Forces’ 98th Division are pressing a large offensive in western Khan Younis, while the 162nd Division is operating “in the heart of” Gaza City to “deepen the achievements” of damage caused to Hamas, the army says in a morning update.

In Khan Younis, the Air Force struck two buildings where Hamas gunmen were gathered; a Commando Brigade spotted and killed a five-man Hamas cell, one of whom was armed with an RPG; and the Paratroopers Brigade raided several Hamas sites and killed four gunmen near the Al-Amal Hospital, the IDF says.

Soldiers also located weapons at Hamas sites and at an apartment used by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the IDF says.

Meanwhile, in central Gaza, the IDF says the Nahal Brigade killed dozens of Hamas gunmen amid several clashes, as well as with tank shelling.

In the Shati camp of Gaza City, reservists of the 5th Brigade killed several Hamas gunmen in a number of engagements, the IDF says, adding that the soldiers also located several rocket launchers and seized many weapons.

The Air Force also carried out strikes in the Gaza City area, targeting gunmen and striking several Hamas sites. The IDF says fighter jets hit anti-tank missile launch sites, tunnel entrances, observation posts, and other infrastructure belonging to Hamas.

IDF said planning to ramp up northern Gaza fighting as Hamas looks to move back in

The Israel Defense Forces plans to bolster troop activity in northern Gaza in the coming weeks amid indications that Hamas is attempting to re-establish its military presence there, Army Radio reports, pointing to rocket fire emanating from the area on Sunday and a recent gun battle near the coastline in northern Gaza in which five Hamas members were killed.

According to the unsourced report, the army believes some 2,000 Hamas combatants remain in the area, largely under the control of local commander Izzadin al-Haddad, with Hamas’s leadership — thought to have decamped to the south — basically cut off from the group.

The IDF is planning to carry out brigade-level raids on areas where Hamas is attempting to retake northern redoubts, which may include broad operations where needed, the report notes, a shift from recent weeks in which the army has been mainly concerned with hunting down weapons, tunnels and small pockets of remaining resistance.

Renewed fighting in the north would likely complicate plans to begin allowing Gazans to return to northern Gaza, which Israel advised all civilians to leave during the first stages of the war.

The report quotes a defense source blaming the lack of plans for a civilian body to manage affairs in northern Gaza as a major factor in Hamas being able to move in to refill the power vacuum. “If there were a party able to deliver the goods for the north, Hamas would become irrelevant,” the unnamed source says.

Hezbollah says it fired heavy rockets at northern Israel base

The Hezbollah terror group claims to have fired Burkan rockets, which carry heavy warheads, at the Biranit army base near Israel’s northern border.

There is no immediate comment from the IDF on the attack. No sirens sounded in the area, according to reports.

Hezbollah has been carrying out daily rocket, missile and drone attacks on northern Israel amid the Gaza war.

Anti-Muslim bigotry in US up sharply since October 7, group says

Complaints of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian discrimination and hate in the US rose by about 180 percent in the three months after October 7 following Hamas’s onslaught in southern Israel Israel and Israel’s subsequent campaign to oust Hamas from Gaza, the Council on American-Islamic Relations says.

CAIR says it has received 3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023, amid what it calls “an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate.” The figure is a 178% rise from complaints in the same period from a year earlier.

Complaints of employment discrimination lead the list with 662 instances; hate crimes and hate incidents were reported 472 times; and education discrimination 448 times, the organization says.

The rise coincides with spiking antisemitism in the US. In December, the Anti-Defamation League said it had recorded over 2,000 incidents in the two months after October 7, a jump of 337% of the previous year.

IDF drone crashes near Gedera

A fire burning in a field in the Shfela region following a military drone crash on January 29, 2024. (Courtesy)
A fire burning in a field in the Shfela region following a military drone crash on January 29, 2024. (Courtesy)

A military drone crashed overnight in the near the central city of Gedera, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The army says the crash was caused by a technical malfunction.

Debris was collected by troops, and the IDF says there is no fear of sensitive information leaking.

Iran executes four accused of plotting to blow up missile plant for Mossad

Iran executed four men at dawn on Monday after they were convicted of spying for Israel, according to Tehran’s judiciary.

“The death sentence of four members of a group affiliated with the Zionist spy organization, who were arrested… for plotting a bombing operation in [the central province of] Isfahan, was carried out this morning,” the judiciary’s website Mizan Online reports.

According to state-run news outlet ISNA, the four had plotted to blow up a Defense Ministry plant related to missile production.

The report claimed the four, from Iran’s Kurdish region, were arrested in August last year, and that the plot, which involved 16 different bombs, had been personally overseen by Mossad head David Barnea.

Palestinian man reportedly killed in gunfight during IDF raid in West Bank

Palestinian media reports that one man was killed overnight in an Israel Defense Forces raid on the northern West Bank town of Al-Yamun, west of Jenin.

Gun battles are reported to have taken place between Palestinian gunmen and IDF forces.

There is no immediate statement by the IDF.

Iran denies links to Jordan drone strike that killed 3 US troops

Iran denies US and British accusations that it supported militias behind a drone strike on Jordan that killed three US military personnel, Tehran’s official IRNA news agency reports.

“These claims are made with specific political goals to reverse the realities of the region,” IRNA quotes foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani as saying.

NYT: UNRWA employees accused of kidnapping woman, taking part in kibbutz massacre

Destruction caused by Hamas on Kibbutz Be'eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, seen on October 19, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
Destruction caused by Hamas on Kibbutz Be'eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, seen on October 19, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Details have been published about some of Israel’s specific accusations against individual employees of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, UNRWA, which have caused the agency to fire 12 workers and many countries to halt their funding for the body.

The New York Times, citing a dossier provided to the US government, reports that one UNRWA school counselor from Khan Younis in southern Gaza is “accused of working with his son to abduct a woman from Israel.”

“A social worker from Nuseirat, in central Gaza, is accused of helping to bring the body of a dead Israeli soldier to Gaza, as well as distributing ammunition and coordinating vehicles on the day of the attack,” the report continues.

It also says a third employee is “described as taking part in the massacre at a kibbutz where 97 people died” — apparently Kibbutz Be’eri, which was ravaged on October 7 in the Hamas-led onslaught.

The Times says the dossier details the names, details and positions in UNRWA of the 12 people, and contends that 10 of the UNRWA workers in question are members of Hamas while one belongs to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The report says Israel’s intelligence is based on tracking the phones of six of the people, monitoring of phone calls by others who allegedly discussed their involvement in the onslaught, and text messages received by three others, including one ordering him to bring RPGs stored at his home.

Report: Under US pressure, Israel okays UN visit to northern Gaza, places conditions

Acceding to US pressure, the war cabinet last Thursday approved allowing a United Nations delegation to enter northern Gaza to assess the situation there and map the residents’ needs ahead of a mass return home, the Ynet news site reports, adding the Jerusalem has placed conditions.

The move is largely procedural after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month that Israeli leaders had agreed to facilitate the visit.

There are no details on when the visit will take place.

Ynet says Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has conditioned the visit on the UN team first touring Israeli communities ravaged during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught; on Israel clarifying that okaying the visit doesn’t constitute an intention to return Gazans to the Strip’s north; and on having a US official join the UN delegation.

Hezbollah fires 2 anti-tank missiles at north, IDF responds with shelling

Hezbollah terrorists have fired two anti-tank missiles toward IDF bases in the area of Shomera in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel, the IDF says according to Hebrew media.

No damage or casualties are reported in the incident.

The military responds with artillery shelling toward the sources of the fire.

Biden says US ‘shall respond’ to attack that killed three US soldiers

The United States will respond to a weekend attack that killed three US service members in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border, US President Joe Biden says.

“We shall respond,” he says at a campaign event in South Carolina, asking for a moment of silence.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
image
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure: example@domain.com
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.