By Mustafa Abu Sneineh
4 Feb 2024– Israeli forces bomb Rafah, where thousands of Palestinians are displaced in shelters near the Egyptian border, as an Israeli minister wishes to “encourage voluntary emigration” from Gaza. In West Bank, settlers attack Palestinian villages.
- 27,365+ killed* and at least 66,630 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
- 380+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
- Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
- 562 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.**
** This figure is released by the Israeli military.
- Israeli far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, says his plan is to “encourage Gazans to voluntarily emigrate to places around the world” by offering them cash incentives.
- Ben-Gvir says he looks forward to Donald Trump’s return to the Oval Office; believes that Tump will give Israel free hand in Gaza, while President Joe Biden is “hampering Israel’s war effort”.
- Israeli forces bomb kindergarten housing hundreds of displaced Palestinian in Al-Salam neighborhood, east of Rafah, which borders Egypt.
- Israeli forces lay siege for day six over Al-Shifa Hospital in north Gaza, preventing people from accessing the facility.
- Israeli airstrikes bomb two inhabited houses in Rafah and kill at least 26 Palestinians.
- Hamas military wing, Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, releases video of attack in Al-Maghazi that killed 21 Israeli soldiers last month.
- Hamas also releases video of its fighters shooting an Israeli command officer in Gaza City; fighters firing direct and close hit on D9 Bulldozer in Khan Yunis.
- US and UK bomb 48 targets of Yemeni Armed Forces, led by the Ansar Allah group (unofficially known also as “Houthis”).
- Yemeni Armed Forces spokesperson says: “These attacks will not deter us from our moral, religious, and humanitarian stance in support of the steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and will not pass without response and punishment.”
- Israeli authorities and forces kill five Palestinians, demolish 22 properties, detain 163 people, and put 13 under house arrest in occupied Jerusalem in January, according to the Al-Quds Governate report.
Israeli minister wants to ‘encourage Gazans to voluntarily emigrate’
Israel has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling last week, ordering Tel Aviv to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.
The Israeli forces have not ceased to bomb the Gaza Strip since October, except for a temporary pause in November to allow for the exchange of captives.
Gaza’s Ministry of Health said on Sunday morning that Israel killed 127 Palestinians and injured 178 others, committing 14 massacres in the past 24 hours.
The number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli aggression on Gaza now stands at 27,365 martyrs, and 66,630 were injured since October.
Meanwhile, some Israeli government ministers and Knesset members are making it clear that their wish is to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Gaza.
The far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, told the Wall Street Journal that his plan is to “encourage Gazans to voluntarily emigrate to places around the world” by offering them cash incentives.
Ben-Gvir’s position aligns with the Religious Zionism political alliance, one of the core blocs that makes up Netanyahu’s government. Last week, members of Religious Zionism held a conference in occupied Jerusalem, dubbed “Return to Gaza Conference”, in which they called for building 21 Israeli settlements on top of recently destroyed Palestinian neighbourhoods.
Ben-Gvir is also looking forward to the day Donald Trump would sit in the Oval Office, believing that he will give Israel a free hand in Gaza, while President Joe Biden is “hampering Israel’s war effort”.
Ben-Gvir made these statements despite the fact that the Biden administration has stood firmly behind Israel since October 7, authorizing the sale of thousands of munition rounds, rejecting calls for a ceasefire, and supporting Tel Aviv diplomatically and in the UN Security Council.
The U.S. also called Hamas to free all the Israelis captured during the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood cross-fence attack on October 7. However, Hamas had refused these calls before an agreement on a permanent ceasefire is reached.
Currently, Hamas is still deliberating over a proposed truce for 45 days and the release of 35 Israeli captives in return for the freeing of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. The deal is yet to be confirmed.
But releasing Israeli captives is not a top agenda item for some Israeli politicians. Amichai Elhaho, the Israeli Minister of Heritage, who called for nuking Gaza, pleaded to Israelis who protested against Netanyahu to release hostages, to think outside the box.
“We must get out of mental stagnation that the deal is the only way to free the hostages,” Elhaho told army radio on Sunday. “The Jewish morality does not hold us fully responsible for the release of the captives,” he added.
Israeli forces bomb kindergarten sheltering Palestinians in Rafah
Overnight, Israeli forces bombed a kindergarten housing hundreds of displaced Palestinian in Al-Salam neighborhood, east of Rafah, the southern city which borders Egypt.
Wafa news agency reported that two girls were killed in the Israeli airstrike and dozens injured. Another Israeli airstrike on an apartment in Hassan Salama Tower in Al-Geneina neighbourhood, east of Rafah, killed a child and wounded two others.
An Israeli airstrike on the house of the Abu Safar family killed seven Palestinians, including children, in the Al-Hakar area in Deir Al-Balah city, in central Gaza. Wafa also reported that several Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling were launched on Khan Yunis overnight.
An airstrike on the house of Masran family in Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza injured several Palestinians as Israeli forces continued to bomb north Gaza neighbourhoods, killing at least eight Palestinians in an airstrike on the Al-Rimal area.
Wafa reported that in north Gaza, medical teams transferred the bodies and the injured to the Kamal Adwan Hospital, while for the sixth day in a row, Israeli forces are laying siege over the Al-Shifa Hospital, preventing people from accessing the facility.
Last week, Israeli tanks approaching the Al-Shifa Hospital and Al-Rimal neighborhood, forced thousands of Palestinians to flee in panic and fear to the eastern areas of Gaza City. Despite being one of the first hospitals attacked by the Israeli military in its ground offensive campaign, Al-Shifa is one of the few remaining hospitals that are still partially operating in Gaza.
In Rafah, Israeli airstrikes on two inhabited houses killed at least 26 Palestinians, according to Wafa, and injured dozens. Rafah, the southernmost district of the Gaza Strip, has seen the influx of nearly half of Gaza’s 2 million residents, who were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces. Thousands of Palestinian families are living in tents in Rafah and lack sufficient food, fresh water and heating sources.
In the past weeks, Israel has been mulling a plan to invade the Philadelphia Axis, a zone which separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
Palestinians are concerned that Israel will use the military operation in the area to push thousands of people out to the Sinai Peninsula under the threat of bombardment and airstrikes. Israel claims that the border area is still a breathing lung for Hamas fighters and has tunnels running underneath it.
Hamas releases video of attack that killed 21 Israeli soldiers
Hamas’ military wing, Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, released a video of the attack that killed 21 Israeli soldiers last month.
The attack was the heaviest combat loss the Israeli military has suffered since December, when eight soldiers from the Golani Brigade were killed in Al-Shuja’iya refugee camp, east of Gaza City.
Since October, at least 562 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Gaza Strip or during armed clashes with Palestinian fighters, according to the Israeli military. The 562 identified soldiers are, according to the military’s website, the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”
In the video released by Hamas, fighters fired a 105mm Al-Yaseen anti-tank shell on a two-story building in Al-Maghazi in central Gaza, while another one fired another Al-Yaseen on an Israeli tank, followed by detonating a minefield.
The Israeli force were preparing mines and explosives to demolish a building 600 meters away from Kissufim, an Israel kibbutz to the east of the Gaza Strip’s fence.
The Israeli military said one of Hamas’s anti-tank grenades hit the explosives and mines being set up by the Israeli unit inside the building, which led to a massive explosion, killing the 21 soldiers and the collapse of the building, Haaretz reported.
Since December, the Israeli military demolished several houses and residential buildings along the Gaza fence in a bid to create a “buffer zone” and further push Palestinian neighborhoods to the west away from Israeli towns.
Hamas also released a video of shooting an Israeli command officer west of Gaza City, with a sniper fire, while in Khan Yunis, it attacked several Israeli tanks and military vehicles, including the D9 Bulldozer with a direct and close hit, while it was destroying Palestinian homes.
U.S. and U.K. bomb dozens of targets in Yemen
Overnight, the U.S. and U.K. said that they bombed 48 targets of the Yemeni Armed Forces, led by Ansar Allah group (unofficially known also as “Houthis”).
These strikes are the second to be carried out by the US in the region in less than 24 hours, following more than 80 strikes in Iraq and Syria.
Ansar Allah spokesperson said that the US and UK launched 13 airstrikes on Sana’a, nine on Hodeidah on the Red Sea, 11 raids on Taiz, seven on Al-Bayda town, while it struck one target in Saada and seven in Hajjah.
“These attacks will not deter us from our moral, religious, and humanitarian stance in support of the steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and will not pass without response and punishment,” he added.
Yemen’s Ansar Allah vowed to target any Israel-bound or Israeli-owned ships in Bab Al-Mandab Strait as long as Israeli aggression continues on the Gaza Strip. It added the U.S. and U.K. to the list of targeted ships following a joint U.S.-U.K. airstrikes on Yemen early in January.
The U.S. Central Command (Centcom) wrote on X platform that it targeted Ansar Allah’s “multiple underground storage facilities, command and control, missile systems, UAV storage and operations sites, radars, and helicopters.”
On Sunday morning, Centcom said that it shot down an anti-ship cruise missile launched from Yemen against its forces in the Red Sea.
The U.S. strikes in Yemen, Iraq and Syria are endangering a full-blown war in the region.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Sunday that U.S. attacks are “in clear contradiction with the repeated claims of Washington and London that they do not want the expansion of war and conflict in the region.”
Kanaani accused the U.S. and U.K. of “fuelling chaos, disorder, insecurity and instability” by supporting the Israeli war on Gaza.
Israeli settlers rampage Palestinian villages in West Bank
Israeli forces arrested a total of 6,512 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem since October, some of them were released later, according to the Commission for Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs and the Prisoners’ Club.
In occupied Jerusalem, Israel killed five Palestinians since January, demolished 22 properties, detained 163 people, and put 13 under house arrest, according to a comprehensive report by Al-Quds Governate affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
A total of 3,405 Israeli settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem in January.
In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces raided several Palestinian towns, including Husan, Anabta, Khirbet Tuba, Jericho and Ein Al-Sultan refugee camp, Nablus and Balata refugee camp, Deir Jreer and the Jalazon refugee camp.
In Ain al-Auja, north of Jericho, Israeli settlers stole ten sheep from a Palestinian Bedouin community, according to Wafa.
Wafa also reported that Israeli settlers stormed Farasin village, south of Jenin, and vandalized security cameras of shops a poultry farm in the village, and tore down greenhouses.
The Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee said in January, Israeli settlers, protected by soldiers on most occasions, launched 1,593 attacks against Palestinian towns and properties.
5 February 2024