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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 102: Israel Pulls Forces From Gaza

Above photo: Israel has begun to pull out thousands of troops, including soldiers from the 36th division, from Northern Gaza, as the army says it is starting its transition to a different stage of fighting at a ‘lower intensity.’ Ilia Yefimovich on December 13, 2023/DPA via Zuma Press APA Images.

As Hamas Announces Death Of Two Captives.

Iran bombed a spy center for the Mossad in Iraq’s Erbil, Yemen attacked a U.S. ship in the Red Sea, and a Palestinian car-ramming attack took place near Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Gaza’s Health Ministry warned hospitals are running out of crucial supplies.

Casualties

  • 24,285+ killed* and at least 61,154 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 387+ 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.
  • 524 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 2,193 injured.**

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on January 16. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 31,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

**This figure is released by the Israeli military. 

Key Developments

  • Israel pulls out 36th Division from Gaza Strip as Minister of Defense announces that “intensive stage” of war in north Gaza reached end.
  • Hamas releases video confirming death of two Israeli captives during two separate Israeli bombings of locations in Gaza .
  • Hamas fires volley of rockets on Sderot settlement and releases video of Hamas fighters attacking Israeli tanks and armored vehicles near Al-Bureij.
  • Yemeni Armed Forces, led by Ansar Allah, claims attack on American ship in Gulf of Aden on Monday.
  • Iran Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) launches ballistic missiles at spy center run by Israeli Mossad in northern Iraq.
  • Israeli military announces one female soldier injured in  shooting attack near border crossing with Egypt, claims drug smuggling incident.
  • Gaza Ministry of Health says it is “running out of nitrous gas in operating rooms and a severe shortage of other medical gases.”
  • Israeli forces bomb houses of Al-Haddad, Al-Sousi, Muznar, and Shamaa families in Gaza.
  • Israel transfers and redeploys Duvdevan special unit from Gaza Strip to West Bank.
  • Disturbing video emerges of Israeli cold-blooded killing of Muhammad Sayel Abdel Qader Al-Jundi, 38, from town of Yatta, south of Hebron in December.

Israeli Military Pulls Out Entire Division From Gaza Strip

The Israeli army withdrew the 36th Division from the occupied Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon, leaving behind the 162nd Division in northern Gaza, the 99th Division in central Gaza, and the 98th Division in the southern region of Khan Younis.

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and military vehicles were seen leaving the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said the 36th Division would be given a short break and go through a training period, confirming that the war on Gaza would carry on.

However, the pullout of the division came as Yoav Gallant, the Minister of Defense, said that the “intensive stage” of the war in north Gaza has reached its end.

“We made it clear that the intensive manoeuvring [sic] stage would last for approximately three months,” Gallant said on Monday.

“In southern Gaza, we will reach this achievement, and it will end soon, and in both places, the moment will come when we will move to the next phase,” he added.

Gallant said that the 36th Division was pulled out after it achieved its goals of “eliminating hundreds of terrorists” and destroying kilometers of Palestinian resistance tunnels in central and northern Gaza.

Hamas Says Two Israeli Captives Died During Airstrikes In Gaza

On Monday evening, Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades launched a volley of rockets on Sderot, an Israeli settlement close to north Gaza, which was built in 1984 on lands of the depopulated Palestinian village of Najd.

According to Abu Obaida, the spokesperson Qassam Brigades, said that the Palestinian resistance would not have been able to continue launching rockets, mortar shells, and guerilla attacks on Israeli forces for the past 102 days without the Palestinian fighters.

“You created the largest, most lethal, and bloodiest type of military arsenal, but we created the greatest type of fighter on the face of the earth, the Palestinian resistance fighter and hero,” Abu Obaida said in a speech on the 100th day of the war.

“The occupation’s alleged achievements [about tunnels and rockets] in Gaza are ridiculous… the day will come when we prove its lies,” he added.

Hamas released on Monday a video confirming the death of two Israeli captives during two separate Israeli bombings of locations in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have been unable to achieve the release of any Israeli captive through the use of force and military pressure since its military operation began in October. Egyptian-Qatari mediation efforts, on the other hand, have secured the release of 50 Israelis and several foreign workers were released in November.

The Hamas leadership has made it clear that it won’t release any more captives as long as Gaza remains under bombardment and Israeli fire. Israel’s assassination of Hamas’s deputy political leader in Beirut in early January, Saled al-Aruri, further complicated and hindered the hostage exchange talks mediated by Qatar.

At least 132 Israeli captives remain held in Gaza out of the 240 captured during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7.

Hamas released a video on Monday of resistance fighters attacking Israeli tanks and armored vehicles near the Al-Bureij neighborhood south of Gaza City.

Yemeni Armed Forces Attack U.S. Ship In Red Sea

Israeli analysts have previously warned that Hamas has dragged Israel into a strategic trap in the Middle East and the West Asia region. The echoes of these warnings could be heard on Monday evening, when various regional incidents and attacks — extending from Egypt’s border with occupied Palestine (southern Israel) to Syria and Iraq’s city of Erbil — threatened to lead to a regional conflagration.

While in the Red Sea, the spokesperson of the Yemeni Armed Forces, led by Ansar Allah (unofficially known as “the Houthis”) said the group attacked an American ship in the Gulf of Aden on Monday.

“[This is] in response to the American-British aggression that targeted a number of Yemeni governorates” last week, Ansar Allah added on its Telegram channel.

Iran Bombs Mossad And ISIS Targets In Iraq And Syria

Hours later, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it launched ballistic missiles at a spy center run by Israel’s external intelligence the Mossad in Erbil.

“In response to the recent terrorist crimes committed by Iran’s enemies, the Revolutionary Guard targeted and destroyed spy centers and gatherings of anti-Iranian terrorist groups in parts of the region at midnight tonight with ballistic missiles,” IRGC said in a statement.

“This headquarters was a center for espionage operations and planning terrorist acts in the region, especially in our country,” it added.

Early in January, two suicide bombers of the Islamic State (ISIS) group killed nearly 100 people and injured 300 others as thousands of people gathered in Iran’ city of Kerman to mark the fourth anniversary of the U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

The IRGC strikes killed four people in Erbil, one of them a prominent businessman named Bishru Dizayi, in addition to injuring six others. Minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, said the attack was “a crime against the Kurdish people.”

The IRGC added that it also attacked ISIS sites in Syria and destroyed them with ballistic missiles.

In December, Turkey announced that it dismantled and arrested a Mossad-run network of spies and informers, some of them Arabs.

One Israeli Soldier Injured In Shooting Attack Near Border Crossing With Egypt

As events unfolded in Erbil, a shooting attack took place near the NitzanaAl-Auja crossing with the border with Egypt.

The Israeli army announced that one female soldier was injured while forces fired back at the gunmen.

The military also claimed that 20 people, some of them armed, entered from Egypt as part of a drug smuggling operation before clashing with Israeli forces.

The Egyptian army said in a statement that one man was killed and six were arrested as it thwarted “a narcotic smuggling operation south of the Al-Awja port, estimated at approximately 174 kilograms of narcotic substances of various types.”

Details about the incident remain scarce, and it is unclear if they are connected to the events in Gaza. However, the events echo an incident in June, when Muhammad Salah, an Egyptian soldier, opened fire at Israeli forces, killing three near the Al-Awja crossing.

Egyptian authorities claimed at the time that the incident was linked to the pursuit of drug smugglers across the border with Israel.

Last week, Israel’s Netanyahu indicated that the Egyptian border area of southern Gaza, known as the “Philadelphia axis,” remains a breathing lung for the Palestinian resistance movement and should be closed.

Netanyahu stopped short of announcing any military operation to occupy the 14-kilometer stretch of land on the border, which would have strained Israel’s ties with Egypt.

Israeli Forces Bomb Homes Of The Al-Haddad, Al-Sousi, Muznar, And Shamaa Families

Amid regional developments, Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has continued unabated.

On Tuesday, Gaza’s Ministry of Health announced on its Telegram channel that Israeli forces committed 15 massacres, killing 158 Palestinian martyrs and injuring 320 people in the past 24 hours. Since October, the total number of those killed in Israeli bombardment reached 24,285 martyrs and 61,154 injured.

The ministry spokesperson, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, said that Gaza health institutions are “runing out of nitrous gas in operating rooms, with a severe shortage of other medical gases.”

“350,000 chronic patients [remain] without medication in the Gaza Strip,” he warned. “We call on international institutions to urgently provide medicines for chronic patients.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza continue to battle harsh winter conditions while facing continued indiscriminate Israeli bombardment. Tens of thousands of families are now living in tents, with candles serving as a main source of light, and wood and charcoal as a primary source of heat.

Wafa news agency reported that an Israeli airstrike on a house belonging to the Al-Sousi family in the Al-Sabra neighborhood in the center of Gaza City killed at least 20 people on Monday evening.

While in the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, southeast of Gaza City, 11 people were killed in the Israeli bombing of the Al-Haddad home. Shahad Harbi Al-Haddad was the only survivor of the attack on her family, according to Wafa, who was seriously injured.

Another Israeli bombing of a house south of Gaza City killed another 11 Palestinians, while seven others were killed near Nasser Hospital in Gaza.

In Al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij refugee camps, at least seven people were killed by Israel, while one Palestinian was killed and several injured in an airstrike on the house of the Muznar family in the Al-Saftawi area, north of Gaza City.

Four members of the Shamaa family were also killed in an airstrike in the Al-Nafaq area, while three people were injured in an Israeli bombing that targeted a school shelter in the Al-Daraj neighborhood. Both attacks tool place east of Gaza City.

Wafa reported that Israeli air forces launched overnight raids on Gaza’s neighborhoods of Tal Al-Hawa, Sheikh Ajleen, Al-Sabra, and Al-Zaytoun in the northern Gaza Strip, in addition to airstrikes on Jabalia refugee camp, also in northern Gaza. Meanwhile, Khan Younis in the south was shelled by heavy artillery.

Moreover, Gaza has entered its fifth day in a row without internet and mobile services.

One Israeli Killed Near Tel Aviv As A Special Unit Is Deployed In The West Bank

One Israeli was killed and 17 injured, four of them in serious conditions, in a car ramming attack in the city of Ra’anana, north of Tel Aviv, on Monday.

The Israeli police said it arrested two Palestinians from Hebron’s Bani Naim village, south of the occupied West Bank. They were identified as Ahmad Zidat, 25, and Mahmoud Zidat, 44. Israeli forces stormed their homes later on Monday.

Tensions are expected to rise as Israel transferred and redeployed the Duvdevan special forces from the Gaza Strip on Monday to the West Bank.

Israeli forces arrested 36 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight, 16 of whom were from Hebron, 10 from Ramallah, and the rest were from Jenin, Jericho, Qalqilya, and Nablus.

A disturbing video emerged of the cold-blooded killing of Muhammad Sayel Abdel Qader Al-Jundi, 38, from the town of Yatta, south of Hebron.

An Israeli soldier shot and killed Al-Jundi last month in Beit Jala, a town near Bethlehem. Al-Jundi attempted to open a metal gate that blocked Palestinian vehicles before a soldier ambushed him in the dark and shot him dead without prior warning.

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