Operation Iron Swords (Updated to 1 p.m., February 26, 2024)

An al-Jazeera TV presenter describes the IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (right) and in the west and north of Khan Yunis (left) (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 25, 2024)

An al-Jazeera TV presenter describes the IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (right) and in the west and north of Khan Yunis (left) (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 25, 2024)

The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)

The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)

The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)

The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)

Israeli Air Force strikes in eastern Gaza City (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)

Israeli Air Force strikes in eastern Gaza City (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)

Vehicles of the Gaza municipality damaged by IDF activity (Shehab X account, February 26, 2024)

Vehicles of the Gaza municipality damaged by IDF activity (Shehab X account, February 26, 2024)

Residents who managed to receive sacks of flour from humanitarian aid trucks that arrived in the west of Gaza City (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)

Residents who managed to receive sacks of flour from humanitarian aid trucks that arrived in the west of Gaza City (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)

An Israel UAV after being hit by a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile (Ali Shoeib's X account, February 26, 2024)

An Israel UAV after being hit by a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile (Ali Shoeib's X account, February 26, 2024)

Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle, manufactured by Elbit Systems (Adnan's X account, February 26, 2024)

Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle, manufactured by Elbit Systems (Adnan's X account, February 26, 2024)

Sign hung by the Israeli security forces on the print shop in Nablus stating that it supports Hamas and that Hamas = ISIS (Malak's X account, 26, 2024)

Sign hung by the Israeli security forces on the print shop in Nablus stating that it supports Hamas and that Hamas = ISIS (Malak's X account, 26, 2024)

The march in Ramallah (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)

The march in Ramallah (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)

Mahmoud Abbas meets with King Abdullah of Jordan (Wafa, February 25, 2024)

Mahmoud Abbas meets with King Abdullah of Jordan (Wafa, February 25, 2024)

Northern Arena, Israeli Casualties, Rocket Fire

Overview[1]
  • The southern arena: During the past day the IDF forces continued their activity in the southern, central and northern Gaza Strip, mainly fighting armed terrorist organizations who had remained in the areas and tried to attack them.
  • According to unofficial data, since October 7, 2023, approximately 1,500 Israeli civilians and security personnel have been killed, 580 of them soldiers and officers; 130 civilian and military hostages are still being held by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip; 123 hostages have been released.
  • Negotiations for a hostage deal: Senior Hamas members accused Israel of making it difficult to continue the negotiations. They claimed that while some progress had been made on specific points, they reiterated their priorities for an agreement, which were that before a hostage deal there had to be a ceasefire, IDF forces had to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and humanitarian aid had to be introduced into the Gaza Strip, especially in the north. Basem Na’im, a senior Hamas member, said he was not aware progress had been made in the negotiations. Walid al-Kilani, responsible for Hamas media information in Lebanon, said that the atmosphere of optimism surrounding the hostage deal did not reflect reality.
  • The northern arena: Hezbollah claimed responsibility for six attacks. On the morning of February 26, 2024, Hezbollah shot down an Israeli UAV with a surface-to-air missile. In response, Israeli Air Force fighter jets attacked Hezbollah aerial defense targets deep inside Lebanon.
  • Judea and Samaria: During the past day, Israeli security forces operated in several locations in Judea and Samaria. In Kafr Qalil (southeast of Nablus) they confiscated funds that were intended for financing terrorist activity. The forces closed a printshop in Nablus that printed inflammatory materials for Hamas.
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA): Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh is supposed to submit his resignation today. The government will likely continue to serve as an interim government. According to reports, his resignation is a preventive measure for dealing with the pressure exerted on the PA by regional and global countries, especially the United States. Hamas expressed doubt regarding the measure and any possible benefit it might bring.
  • The UN General Assembly: The Arab bloc in the UN submitted a formal request to the General Assembly president an emergency session to discuss the “escalating humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip and the situation of UNRWA.” A date for the session has not been set.
The Southern Arena
  • Palestinian media reported that during the past day the IDF integrated ground maneuver focused on the following locations: Gaza City, where the Israeli Air Force attacked in the Zeitoun and Sheikh Radwan neighborhoods; the central Gaza Strip, where the ground and aerial forces attacked in the Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah refugee camps; Khan Yunis, where the forces attacked in the city center. According to claims, they shot at casualties being evacuated to Nasser Hospital, although in fact the IDF announced it was no longer operating in the area. The media also reported that in Rafah the IDF was attacking in the north and east of the city and near the European Hospital (Ma’an, Wafa, February 26, 2024).
An al-Jazeera TV presenter describes the IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (right) and in the west and north of Khan Yunis (left) (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 25, 2024)     An al-Jazeera TV presenter describes the IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (right) and in the west and north of Khan Yunis (left) (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 25, 2024)
An al-Jazeera TV presenter describes the IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (right) and in the west and north of Khan Yunis (left) (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 25, 2024)
IDF attack on Hamas terrorist facilities (IDF spokesperson, February 26, 2024)      IDF attack on Hamas terrorist facilities (IDF spokesperson, February 26, 2024)
IDF attack on Hamas terrorist facilities (IDF spokesperson, February 26, 2024)
  • The southern Gaza Strip: IDF forces continued fighting in the densely-populated areas in western Khan Yunis. They clashed with a large number of armed terrorist squads and fought them face-to-face. In some cases, armed operatives barricaded themselves in houses and compounds, and the fighters attacked them. During the activity large quantities of weapons were found (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024).
Weapons found in a terrorist facility (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024)     Weapons found in a terrorist facility (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024)
Weapons found in a terrorist facility (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024)
  • On the morning of February 26, 2024, an al-Jazeera TV correspondent reported on the destruction caused by IDF activity in the Austrian neighborhood in west Khan Yunis. He interviewed residents who were retrieving sacks of flour and equipment from their houses, determined to leave because of the expansion of the IDF’s activities (Aljazeera YouTube channel , February 26, 2024).
The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis
 (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)
     The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis
 (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)
The destruction and displacement of residents from the west of Khan Yunis
(al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)
  • Gaza City: Ground forces, assisted by the Israeli Air Force, continued fighting in the Zeitoun neighborhood in the east of the city. During the past day, the forces killed about 30 terrorist operatives (IDF spokesperson, February 26, 2024).
 Israeli Air Force strikes in eastern Gaza City (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)    IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (Shehab X account, February 25, 2024).
Right: IDF activity in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza (Shehab X account, February 25, 2024). Left: Israeli Air Force strikes in eastern Gaza City (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)
  • The central Gaza Strip: During the past day the forces clashed with armed terrorist operatives, killing more than ten (IDF spokesperson, February 26, 2024).
Israeli casualties
  • According to unofficial data, since October 7, 2023, approximately 1,500 Israeli people have been killed. According to the IDF spokesperson, 580 of them are soldiers and officers (240 since the start of the ground maneuver on 27 October, 2023); 130 civilian and military hostages are still being held by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip; 123 hostages have been released.
The issue of the hostages and a ceasefire agreement
  • Muhammad Nazzal, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said that the negotiations had moved from behind the scenes to the media. He said Netanyahu was issuing threats to exert pressure on Hamas, stating that military action would be initiated in Rafah if Hamas did not meet his demands and conditions. Regarding Netanyahu’s statements that Hamas’ demands were not realistic, he said that all of Hamas’ demands were realistic and “supported by the international community.” He said a framework for an agreement had been reached at the first meeting in Paris and now they were talking about a new framework, and the problem was turning talk into action. He noted that while the negotiations were ongoing they were also raising the issue of hunger in the Gaza Strip. He said the issue had been raised during the visit of the Hamas delegation to Cairo, in meetings with Qatari officials, and in front of all the regional and international forces with which Hamas was in contact. He claimed it was the main issue, and they could not possibly agree to allow the Gazans to be “starved.” Regarding the number of prisoners to be released in an agreement, he claimed that so far they had not decided or determined numbers. They had talked about categories, but they had not been translated into numbers or a mechanism for release. He said the issue has been postponed until after the decision on the basic issues, which were the cessation of “aggression,” the withdrawal of IDF forces, the introduction of aid and the end of the [alleged] “policy of starvation.” He added that Hamas wanted to complete the agreement as quickly as possible “in order to spare the Gazans further suffering” (al-Arabi Channel YouTube channel, February 26, 2024).
  • On another occasion, asked if Hamas had retreated from some of its demands to reach a ceasefire agreement, Muhammad Nazzal claimed that was inaccurate, since there was a difference between retreat and flexibility. He claimed Hamas had demonstrated its flexibility from the first day of the negotiations but there were important issues it could not ignore. The basic idea was that Hamas does not want the [alleged] “genocide” of the Palestinians to continue and therefore demanded that the negotiations end with a cessation of “aggression.” He claimed Hamas had shown its flexibility by agreeing that the “aggression” could end by stages, adding that the problem was that Israel did not want flexibility but surrender to its demands (al-Jazeera Mubasher TV website, February 26, 2024).
  • Regarding the meeting in Paris, “exclusive sources in the Palestinian resistance” [terrorist organizations] claimed Israel had prevented a final agreement from being reached and the gap between the two sides was still large because of Israel’s opposition to a final ceasefire and complete withdrawal. According to the sources, there were “unsatisfactory changes” in the Israeli position at the meeting. They also stated that Hamas believed Israel was trying to procrastinate in order to avoid reaching a final agreement, which would cause an internal crisis in Israel. The sources also claimed that during the meeting the parties had ignored Hamas’ main demands, even though some progress was made on specific points. They noted that progress had been made at the meeting to increase the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released, with the ratio of one Israeli hostage in return for three Palestinian changed to one Israeli hostage for 13 Palestinian prisoners. The sources stated that one issue which had been ignored was an agreement would that include a final ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of the IDF forces from the Gaza Strip. The return of the displaced residents was also discussed, but in a limited and gradual manner, after the first meeting determined that their return would be reexamined and Hamas insisted on their full return during the first phase of the agreement (al-Mayadeen TV website, February 25, 2024). However, Basem Na’im, a senior Hamas figure, said he was not aware of any progress in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas (CNN website in Arabic, February 25, 2024).
  • Walid al-Kilani, responsible for Hamas media information in Lebanon, said that the atmosphere of optimism surrounding the approach of a hostage deal, as reported by several Israeli sources, did not reflect reality and the statements claiming positive achievements were untrue. He claimed Hamas had dealt with the mediators positively “to end the suffering of the Palestinians and stop the [alleged] genocidal war against them,” but reiterated that Israel still avoided responding to Hamas’ most important demands: a ceasefire and a cessation of “aggression,” a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the return of the displaced residents to the northern Gaza Strip. He claimed the [alleged] “starvation and murder” threatened the negotiations, and what Israel was unable to achieve on the battlefield it would not be able to achieve on the political level or by breaking the will of the Palestinian people. He said that nothing new had been raised at the meeting in Paris, and Hamas had learned that minor, insubstantial changes had been made to the document presented to them weeks ago and to which they had responded, but so far there had been no progress in the negotiations (AWP, February 26, 2024).
  • Muhammad al-Hajj Musa, spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Lebanon, claimed Netanyahu wanted to convince the Israeli public that the “organizations” were sabotaging the negotiations. He added that what Netanyahu had not achieved in the northern and central Gaza Strip, he would not achieve in Rafah, and warned there would be a “massacre” if the IDF entered it. He also claimed that the “documented achievements of the resistance” [terrorist organizations] confirmed that Netanyahu was lying to the Israeli public. He claimed the “stable support fronts” and their activities would continue until the “aggression” against the Gaza Strip ended. Al-Hajj Musa called on the PA to reexamine its policy, abandon all agreements with Israel and commit itself to the interests of the Palestinian people. He claimed the PIJ would not withdraw from the basic points of the negotiations, adding that the Israelis were trying to take “advantage” of October 7 [the terrorist attack and massacre] to eliminate the Palestinian cause (Filastin al-Yawm Telegram channel, February 25, 2024).

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The Gaza Strip
Palestinian casualties
  • The Hamas-controlled ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported at 10:40 a.m., February 26, 2024, that during the past day 90 Gazans had been killed and 164 wounded, bringing the number of dead since the beginning of the war to 29,782 and the number of wounded to 70,043 (ministry of health in Gaza Facebook page, February 26, 2024).
  • The government media office in the Gaza Strip announced that on February 23, 2024 that the number of journalists killed in the war had risen to 132 (government media office Telegram channel, February 23, 2024), and reported the death of two additional journalists:
  • Muhammad Tishrin Yaghi, 30 years old, killed with 36 family members in an attack on the Yaghi family house in Zuweida on February 22, 2024. Yaghi worked as a professional photographer for many international media outlets, including aljazeera.net. He was also famous for filming and editing documentary films (aljazeera.net, February 24, 2024). His organizational affiliation was not identified.
Muhammad Yaghi (Aljazeera.net, February 24, 2024)
Muhammad Yaghi (Aljazeera.net, February 24, 2024)
  • Musab Abu Zayid, 31 years old. Killed together with his brother, Dr. Ziyad Abu Zayid, who was the manager of the Holy Quran radio station, in the attack on the home of the Riyan family in the Nuseirat refugee camp on February 15, 2024. He was a broadcaster and presented programs on the Holy Quran radio (Shireen Abu Aqleh Monitoring Center website; Hamza al-Masri’s Telegram channel, February 15, 2024). His organizational affiliation was not identified.

Musab Abu Zayid (Shireen Abu Aqleh Monitoring Center website)
Musab Abu Zayid (Shireen Abu Aqleh Monitoring Center website)

 

  • According to reports, on February 21, 2024, journalist Ihab Nasrallah was killed by IDF forces in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City (Wafa, February 21, 2024).

The situation in the Gaza Strip

  • A correspondent from Gaza reported that since the beginning of the war, 125 heavy vehicles of the Gaza municipality, which are used collect garbage and open traffic lanes, had been damaged by IDF attacks and activities (Shehab X account, February 26, 2024).
Vehicles of the Gaza municipality damaged by IDF activity
 (Shehab X account, February 26, 2024)
     Vehicles of the Gaza municipality damaged by IDF activity
 (Shehab X account, February 26, 2024)
Vehicles of the Gaza municipality damaged by IDF activity
(Shehab X account, February 26, 2024)
Support for the Gaza Strip
Residents who managed to receive sacks of flour from humanitarian aid trucks that arrived in the west of Gaza City (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)    Residents in western Gaza City await the arrival of trucks bringing humanitarian aid (Wafa YouTube channel, February 26, 2024).
Right: Residents in western Gaza City await the arrival of trucks bringing humanitarian aid (Wafa YouTube channel, February 26, 2024). Left: Residents who managed to receive sacks of flour from humanitarian aid trucks that arrived in the west of Gaza City (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 26, 2024)
The issue of “the day after”
  • “A source in Hamas” stated that they were interested in the establishment of a decent national Palestinian government with the consent of the “organizations.” The source also said progress was being made on the humanitarian side of the Egyptian-mediated negotiations, in response to the reports of growing hunger in the Gaza Strip (al-Arabiya, February 26, 2024).

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The Northern Arena
Hezbollah attacks
  • During the past day, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for six attacks using anti-tank missiles, rockets, including Burkan rockets, whose warheads weigh between 300 and 500 kilograms (between 660 and 1,100 pounds) and a surface-to-air missile (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, February 25-26, 2024).
IDF response
  • In response to Hezbollah attacks, Israeli Air Force aircraft carried out strikes against Hezbollah targets. An aircraft detected a squad of terrorist operatives who left a Hezbollah military structure in the Balida area. Fighter jets attacked the squad and two other military buildings in the area (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024).
 Attack on Hezbollah military buildings in the Balida area (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024)    An attack in al-Zhahira.
Right: the attack on the terrorist squad. Left: Attack on Hezbollah military buildings in the Balida area (IDF spokesperson, February 25, 2024)
Attack in Bar'asheet
 (Fouad Khreiss' X account, February 25, 2024)
      תמונה שמכילה זיהום, אסון, בחוץ, רעידת אדמה

התיאור נוצר באופן אוטומטי
Right: An attack in al-Zhahira. Left: Attack in Bar’asheet
(Fouad Khreiss’ X account, February 25, 2024)
Intercepting an Israeli UAV
  • On the morning of February 26, 2024, aerial defense fighters used a David’s Sling to intercept a surface-to-air missile launched at an Israeli Air Force UAV operating in the skies over Lebanon. After a short time, another missile was launched at and hit the UAV, which fell inside Lebanese territory. In response, Israeli Air Force jets attacked Hezbollah air defense targets deep inside Lebanon (IDF spokesperson, February 26, 2024). The Lebanese reported an airstrike in the Ba’albek area of the Lebanon Valley (al-Akhbar Telegram channel, February 26 2024). The Lebanese also reported an attack between al-Jarmaq and Jabal al-Rafee’ in an area that was about four kilometers northeast of Nabatiyeh (Ali Shoeib’s X account, February 26 2024).

Attack between al-Jarmaq and Jabal al-Rafee' in the Nabatieh area
 (Ali Shoeib's X account, February 26, 2024)
Attack between al-Jarmaq and Jabal al-Rafee’ in the Nabatieh area
(Ali Shoeib’s X account, February 26, 2024)

Attack in Ba'albek (Akhbar Kul Muwatin, February 26, 2024)     Attack in Ba'albek (Akhbar Kul Muwatin, February 26, 2024)
Attack in Ba’albek (Akhbar Kul Muwatin, February 26, 2024)
  • Hezbollah said in a statement that its air defense unit had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 UAV with an air-to-surface missile in the al-Tufah area, and it had been seen crashing to the ground (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, February 26, 2024).
  • Two Lebanese sources, one of which was defined as “a security source,” said that at least two Hezbollah operatives were killed in an Israeli attack in Ba’albek (Reuters, February 26, 2024).
An Israel UAV after being hit by a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile
 (Ali Shoeib's X account, February 26, 2024)
      An Israel UAV after being hit by a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile
 (Ali Shoeib's X account, February 26, 2024)
An Israel UAV after being hit by a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile
(Ali Shoeib’s X account, February 26, 2024)
Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle, manufactured by Elbit Systems
 (Adnan's X account, February 26, 2024)
Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle, manufactured by Elbit Systems
(Adnan’s X account, February 26, 2024)
Hezbollah casualties
  • Hezbollah reported the death of one operative from south Lebanon (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, February 25, 2024).
    • Ali Karim Nasser, aka Fida’, born in 1989 in Hadatha.
The Hezbollah casualty (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, February 25, 2024)
The Hezbollah casualty (Hezbollah combat information Telegram channel, February 25, 2024)

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Israel, Judea and Samaria
Counterterrorism activities
  • The Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria, detaining 22 wanted Palestinians. Since the beginning of the war, about 3,250 wanted Palestinians have been detained, including more than 1,350 Hamas operatives (IDF spokesperson’s X account, February 26, 2024).
  • During the past day, Israeli security forces operated in several locations in Judea and Samaria: in Nablus and Kafr Qalil (south of Nablus), they seized NIS 100,000 (about $27,400) intended to finance terrorist activity. In Nablus, they closed a print shop that printed inflammatory materials for Hamas, and in Silwad they detained several Hamas-affiliated operatives and wanted Palestinians (IDF spokesperson’s X account, February 26, 2024).
Sign hung by the Israeli security forces on the print shop in Nablus stating that it supports Hamas and that Hamas = ISIS (Malak's X account, 26, 2024)
Sign hung by the Israeli security forces on the print shop in Nablus stating that it supports Hamas and that Hamas = ISIS (Malak’s X account, 26, 2024)
Solidarity with the Gaza Strip
  • On February 25, 2024, it was reported that a march had been held in Ramallah in support of the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian prisoners (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024).
The march in Ramallah (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)      The march in Ramallah (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)
The march in Ramallah (QudsN X account, February 25, 2024)
Palestinian Authority (PA)
  • Mahmoud Abbas, PA chairman, met in Amman with King Abdullah II of Jordan. They discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian arena and the contacts to stop the “Israeli aggression.” Mahmoud Abbas warned of Israel’s intention to impose restrictions on the entry of worshippers to al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan (Wafa, February 25, 2024). King Abdullah of Jordan stressed the need to reach an immediate ceasefire and noted that Jordan would continue to provide humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip. He also warned against continuing the war during the month of Ramadan, which, in his opinion, would increase the chances of the conflict spreading (Jordanian News Agency, February 25, 2024).
Mahmoud Abbas meets with King Abdullah of Jordan (Wafa, February 25, 2024)
Mahmoud Abbas meets with King Abdullah of Jordan (Wafa, February 25, 2024)
Resignation of the PA government
  • At the weekly cabinet meeting, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced that he had informed Mahmoud Abbas, PA chairman, of his resignation as prime minister on February 20, 2024, and that today he would submit his resignation in writing. He said the decision was made in light of the latest political, security and economic developments related to the war in the Gaza Strip and the situation in Judea and Samaria. He noted that his government had acted under complicated circumstances and dealt with the challenges imposed on it, and that the next stage required new governmental and political arrangements in accordance with the emerging situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories. He stressed that it was Mahmoud Abbas’ government and that he had the right to shape it in accordance with the law and the political situation (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, February 26, 2024).
  • The al-Mayadeen network reported “from an official, knowledgeable source” that the resigning government would continue to serve as a transitional government. According to the source, the resignation was a preventive step in dealing with the pressure exerted on the PA by regional and global countries, especially the United States. It was also intended to bring an end to the war and provide international guarantees for the withdrawal of IDF forces and the lifting of the economic blockade of the PA. The source added that after these goals had been achieved a national consensus government would be established, composed of representatives of all the Palestinian organizations, including Hamas (al-Mayadeen, February 16, 2024).
  • Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas’ office, said they would not cooperate with the Americans before the “aggression” in the Gaza Strip stopped, and that Mahmoud Abbas stressed the unity of the Palestinian cause. Abu Rudeina noted the American administration had to understand that it was harming Arab national security and that there were Palestinian and Arab red lines. He stressed that their priority was Jerusalem, stopping the “aggression” against the Gaza Strip, and the unity of the Palestinian people, and that was at the foundation of what they were striving for (al-Mayadeen, February 26, 2024).
  • Fatah spokesman Hossein Hamail said the new government had not been formed and the one heading it had not yet been appointed. He said Hamas should not be an obstacle to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and that Hamas leaders were issuing contradictory statements to sabotage the process, stressing that the statements of Hamas leaders did not serve the residents of the Gaza Strip. He also noted that the establishment of the new government was not a response to American demands (al-Arabiya, February 26, 2024).
  • Hamas sources expressed doubt about the step and the benefit it would bring:
    • “A Hamas source” said Hamas did not care about Mahmoud Abbas’ change in the government, since Muhammad Shtayyeh, the PA prime minister, would leave the premiership and Abbas would appoint someone more corrupt than him. He stressed that Hamas wanted to establish an uncorrupted national Palestinian government in agreement between the organizations. He also said that the next government had to have specific tasks for a defined period of time (alarabia.net, February 25, 2024).
    • Jihad Taha, Hamas spokesman based in Lebanon, said that the talks about forming a “technocratic” government, as disseminated by some of the media outlets, was premature and that the priority now was a ceasefire and an end to the “aggression” against the Palestinians. He noted that the contact and coordination between the Palestinian organizations continued, but the issue of establishing a government was not raised at this time (al-Araby al-Jadeed, February 25, 2023).
    • Walid al-Kilani, who is in charge of Hamas information in Lebanon, said that the establishment of a new Palestinian government of technocrats came in response to an American demand that the PA make changes in the government; it was not done in the interests of the Palestinians, but in accordance with what the American administration wanted. He said the objective of the Palestinian government’s response to American pressure was to obtain budgets allocated to it (AWP, February 26, 2024).

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Iran
  • Hossein-Amir Abdollahian, Iranian foreign minister, met in Geneva with Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip. Abdollahian, who came to Geneva to participate in UN Human Rights Council deliberations, expressed his appreciation for the Red Cross’ efforts to assist Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and stressed the need to end “Israel’s war crimes in Gaza” (ISNA, February 26, 2024). 
Pro-Iranian militias
Iraq
  • Akram al-Kaabi, leader of the Nujaba Movement militia, said the current quiet was not only a temporary tactic intended for preparations and deployment but “it is the calm before the storm,” and surprises were about to come. He added that they believed in the unity of the arenas and had a central role in the campaign to deal with Israel’s “aggression” against the Gaza Strip. He also said their campaign with the United States was open (Akram al-Kaabi’s X account, February 25, 2024).
Yemen
  • The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that on February 24, 2024, the Houthis launched a ballistic missile to attack the American tanker M/V Torm Thor in the Gulf of Aden. The missile hit the water, there was no damage and there were no casualties. In the southern Red Sea, the forces intercepted two UAVs, and a third crashed (CENTCOM X account, February 25, 2024).
  • According to an initial report, the Houthis damaged at least four submarine communications cables in the Red Sea between Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti in East Africa. As far as is known, the cables belong to EIG, Seacom, AAE-1 and TGN. It constitutes a severe disruption of communications between Europe and Asia, with the Gulf states and India suffering most of the damage (Globes, February 25, 2024).

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The Arab Arena
Jordan
  • Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh said that Jordan’s position on the “brutal Israeli aggression” in the Gaza Strip did not need clarification and that no country was making a political effort regarding the events in the Gaza Strip like Jordan. Regarding the effects of the war on the Jordanian economy, he noted that Jordanian economic data were positive until the end of the third quarter of last year, but during the last quarter, after the war in the Gaza Strip began, developments cast a shadow over the national economy and vital sectors, including transportation, supplies and tourism (Jordanian News Agency, February 25, 2024).
The International Arena
United Nations General Assembly
  • The Arab bloc at the UN submitted a formal request to Denis Francis, president of the General Assembly, to convene an emergency meeting to discuss “the worsening humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip and the situation of UNRWA.” Behind the request was a communiqué sent by Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, to the president of the General Assembly, in which he stressed the severity of the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip and the dire situation in which UNRWA found itself. It was reported that the date of the meeting had not yet been set, and that Francis would announce it in the coming days (al-Quds al-Arabi, February 26, 2024).
European Union
  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the situation in the Gaza Strip was a disaster and that Israel was using hunger as a weapon in violation of international law. He stressed that Israel’s use of force was disproportionate and that its plans for the future of the Gaza Strip were unacceptable (El País, February 25, 2024).

 

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