MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 27 OCTOBER 2023
Top Hamas leader killed in air strike, says Israel; EU leaders call for humanitarian aid corridors, pause in warfare
Israel’s military said it had killed Hamas’ deputy head of intelligence, who, it said, was responsible for helping plan the October 7 attacks that killed 1,400 people. The army overnight also made a limited ground raid into northern Gaza with infantry and tanks.
A small number of humanitarian aid trucks reached Gaza on Thursday, but there have been no indications of fuel being supplied. The United Nations, which has said the fuel shortages risk it halting relief operations, is seeking to ration its existing reserves for its facilities, including bakeries and health centres.
Meanwhile, Israel is asking for help from spyware companies, including the maker of the controversial Pegasus software, to track hostages in the Gaza Strip, people familiar with the matter said. NSO Group and Candiru, both blacklisted by the US, are among several companies asked to quickly upgrade their spyware capabilities.
- Israel is losing support as fury grows over its strikes on Gaza
- US presses Gulf allies to help stem fresh fundraising for Hamas
- Biden asked Israel to delay ground war if it helps free hostages
- Understanding the roots of the Israel-Hamas war: QuickTake
UN says it’s rationing fuel supplies to Gaza facilities
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is trying to stretch its existing fuel reserves in Gaza, rationing supplies for facilities including bakeries and health centres, according to a UN official in New York. The official didn’t offer an estimate of how long the supplies would last, but said it would not be long.
Separately, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Richard Hecht, said in a briefing that there was fuel in Gaza and it was up to Hamas to decide whether it wanted to use it for its own operations or give it to hospitals.
Israel says it killed key planner of October 7 attacks
The Israeli military said it killed in an air strike on Thursday the deputy head of the Hamas intelligence directorate, Shadi Barud. It said in a statement that he was responsible for the planning of the 7 October attacks with Yahya Sinwar, the top Hamas leader in Gaza. Hamas hasn’t publicly commented on the claim.
Israel also said it killed three commanders from the Daraj Tuffah Battalion of Hamas’s Gaza City Brigade, who it said also had significant roles in the 7 October attacks.
Israel is using spyware to track hostages
Israel is asking for the help of spyware companies, including the maker of the controversial Pegasus software, to track hostages in the Gaza Strip, people familiar with the matter said.
NSO Group and Candiru, both blacklisted by the US, are among several companies asked to quickly upgrade their spyware capabilities to meet needs laid out by the country’s security forces. They, with several other software firms, are collaborating on the requests.
Turkey’s Erdoğan lashes out against Israel
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out against Israel Thursday for “carrying out a cruel massacre” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as part of a speech where he also targeted the EU and the UN Security Council.
“How many more children should die for the EU Commission to urge a ceasefire? How many more tons of bombs should be dropped on Gaza for the UN Security Council to act?”
Erdogan had also criticised Israel on Wednesday when he said he was cancelling a planned visit to the country later this year and putting energy cooperation on pause. He has also slammed the US, a Nato ally, for the deployment of warships to the eastern Mediterranean.
EU leaders seek unity to call for ‘pauses’ in the war
EU leaders are moving closer to calling for a humanitarian pause that would allow aid to reach Gaza in bigger quantities. Member states wrangled over the wording of a joint statement due to be signed off by the leaders, according to people familiar with the issue.
The latest version calls for “continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses”, according to a text seen by Bloomberg.
Israel says 60 arrests made in the West Bank
The IDF said that more than 60 arrests were made in the West Bank on Wednesday night, according to a post on X. It added that 46 of those detained were Hamas operatives, bringing the total number of arrests in the area, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority, to more than 1,000 since the war started.
Some aid trucks enter Gaza
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it received 12 trucks of aid from its Egyptian counterpart, according to a post on X. The trucks, which entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, contained water, food and medical supplies. Fuel has not been allowed to enter yet.
The UN has also warned that its shelters are overwhelmed by almost 600,000 Palestinians fleeing their homes and that it might have to halt humanitarian operations if no fuel is delivered. A total of 74 aid trucks have been allowed into the Gaza Strip since 7 October, short of the 100 trucks of humanitarian supplies per day a UN official estimated last week were needed.
Israel says 309 soldiers killed in conflict so far, 224 hostages held in Gaza
The families of 309 soldiers have been notified by the IDF that they had been killed since the 7 October infiltration by Hamas, spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement. The military also updated the number of hostages who are believed to be held in Gaza to 224.
Police said that 808 civilians who died following the attack by Hamas had been identified, or 84% of the bodies that were recovered.
Army attacks cells inside northern Gaza
Israeli tanks and infantry entered northern Gaza overnight in the latest limited incursion, according to the IDF. The military attacked numerous cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts before returning to Israeli territory, it said.
The incursion was to “prepare the battlefield for the next stages of combat”, the IDF said. Earlier this week, an Israeli soldier was killed and three others wounded during a Gaza raid that aimed to locate missing people and bodies and target Hamas infrastructure and weapons. DM