Israel Hamas at war today39s news Blinken returns to

Israel Hamas at war, today's news | Blinken returns to the Middle East today. Mourning in Iran after…

• It is the 89th day of the war: “More than 22,000 Palestinians dead,” including around 8,000 children, according to Hamas. In Israel, 1,200 people died in the attack on October 7th.
• Iran, explosions at Soleimani's grave: 103 dead. Raisi: “The perpetrators of this cruel act will be punished.” Who is behind the attack? Guido Olimpio's analysis.
• Hezbollah leader Nasrallah threatened Israel in a speech: “Don’t you dare attack Lebanon or he will regret it.”
• US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the Middle East to prevent the conflict from spreading: expected in Israel next week.

9:36 a.m. – Hezbollah announces the deaths of four militia members in southern Lebanon

Hezbollah has announced the deaths of four of its militiamen in southern Lebanon. In total, 129 Hezbollah members have been killed in clashes with Israel in the past three months.

Sources close to the Lebanese pro-Iranian movement told AFP that the four militants were killed overnight in the border town of Naqoura, where, according to the Ani agency, the Israeli Air Force “carried out some attacks in which one “House and damaged surrounding houses”. Yesterday, Hezbollah announced the deaths of five more fighters in southern Lebanon.

9:21 a.m. – Jerusalem Post: “Israel Defense wants to entrust administration of Gaza to clan families”

According to the Jerusalem Post, senior Israeli defense officials would like to let family groups that have no ties to Hamas run Gaza after the war ends and give them control over deliveries of food, water and other essential supplies.

The plan proposed by senior defense officials would entrust local administration of Gaza to clans traditionally associated with specific cities and sectors, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Hamas has ruled Gaza for 16 years and officials have not explained how they would ensure a clear separation between family clans and the terrorist group, but the tactic has been used by the United States with some success in Iraq and Afghanistan since the fall.

9:04 a.m. – The speech of Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, in Beirut: our correspondent's story

In 2020, Americans killed Soleimani with a drone at Baghdad airport, just as the Israelis did on Tuesday to a Hamas leader in an apartment in Beirut. With the Iranian general, Washington hoped to eliminate the network of Shiite militias that Soleimani had built over the past twenty years: from the Houthis in Yemen to the Lebanese Hezbollah to the Iraqi armed groups with (less organic) derivatives to the Syrian regime and the Palestinians more extremists including Hamas. Given the coalition supporting the Palestinians in Gaza against Israel in various ways, the goal was not achieved.

The Hezbollah leader also spoke about this in Beirut in his speech in response to the Israeli killing of Saleh al-Arouri, one of the Hamas leaders abroad. Hasan Nasrallah appeared on video from an undisclosed location in front of thousands of guests and on live television. “If I'm still alive,” he said without irony, thinking of the Israeli drones patrolling the Lebanese skies, “I'll still be talking on Friday.” For now, he has limited himself to sending a few messages. The most important thing is that Hezbollah's response to the Tel Aviv drone will come: “Israel will pay for its crime,” but not immediately.

8:55 a.m. – Sirens in Ashkelon and other Israeli cities near the Gaza Strip

Sirens are currently sounding in the Israeli region of Ashkelon due to a rocket attack by Palestinian groups from Gaza. According to the Al Jazeera correspondent, sirens sounded in Ashkelon and several cities around the Gaza Strip.

8:31 a.m. – Humanitarian Aid in Gaza, Israel is considering opening the Erez border crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip

Israel is considering opening the Erez border crossing north of the Gaza Strip to bring humanitarian aid to the north of the Gaza Strip. A decision influenced by pressure from the United States, which makes its continued support for the fighting conditional on an increase in aid to Gaza. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's upcoming visit to Israel next week could play a role.

At the same time, Tel Aviv is also considering the possibility of allowing relief trucks to enter through a gap in the border fence near Kibbutz Be'eri, which will be used by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to transport troops into the Gaza Strip.

Currently, two hundred trucks loaded with humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip every day, mostly through Egypt and the Rafah crossing, some through Israel and the Kerem Shalom crossing, which was reopened last month under American pressure. 60% of aid is provided by the International Red Cross and UNRWA, with the remainder provided by other international civil organizations.

7:39 a.m. – According to the NYT, Khamenei wants to avoid clashes with the US and Israel

Despite the rhetoric and accusations against “Zionists”, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is trying to prevent yesterday's attack in Kerman from leading to a military escalation with the United States and Israel. This is what the New York Times writes, citing two people “familiar with Iran’s internal discussions.” According to the American newspaper, Khamenei ordered his military leaders to exercise “strategic patience” and avoid any serious escalation with the United States, for example by limiting proxy attacks by Shiite militias on US military bases in Syria and Iraq and minimizing responses to any alleged Israeli ones Operations within the Islamic Republic. The NYT also states that although Iranian intelligence indicates no Israeli involvement in yesterday's massacre near General Qassem Soleimani's grave, Tehran's leadership has decided to publicly blame Israel for the attack, regardless of the evidence.

6:54 a.m. – The situation, point by point

(by Elena Tebano)
The attack on Iran and the hypotheses about responsibility
Two bombs within 20 minutes killed more than 100 people and injured more than 200 in Kerman, Iran, during a ceremony commemorating General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone in 2020. Iranian authorities have blamed the attack on generic “terrorists”. “Those who committed these crimes must expect a strong and decisive response from the Iranian security forces,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said the attackers would face a “harsh response” without voicing suspicion. No one has claimed responsibility for the explosions and there is more than one possible culprit: Sunni groups, including the Islamic State, which have struck in the past and caused massacres of civilians (as well as groups linked to the exiles). who fled after the Islamic Revolution). from 1979). Israel has also carried out several attacks in Iran, but always targeted attacks or acts of sabotage, never attacks with mass casualties. Iran, for its part, has armed militant groups over the decades, including Hamas, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, all of which are implicated (in different ways) in the ongoing conflict with Israel in Gaza.

Yesterday's attack is the deadliest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The bombs exploded near Soleimani's grave as long lines of people gathered for the event. Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force, was the architect of Iran's regional military activities and is celebrated as a national icon among supporters of Iran's theocracy. It also helped protect Syrian President Bashar Assad's government after the 2011 Arab Spring protests against him escalated into a civil war and then a regional war that rages to this day. He was the best known and most powerful military leader in Iran. He was killed by a Trump administration drone strike four years ago as incidents escalated following the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the international nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018.

Yesterday's attack heightens tensions in a region where the situation is already tense due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. “The investigation is still ongoing and the authorities probably do not have sufficient evidence to determine who is responsible for the massacre.” Or the Iranian government would prefer to remain generic in order to calmly consider how to respond. At the moment we are therefore only arguing on hypotheses. However, I believe that the Iranians see this attack as a provocation by Israel,” says Iranian scientist Vali Nasr in an interview with Giuseppe Sarcina. “American President Joe Biden was very keen to introduce a deterrent system only against Hezbollah and Iran. It is clear that the United States does not want the conflict to expand. But now this attitude may no longer be enough. The dangers of escalation come from many sides. “The US president must also be able to curb Netanyahu’s initiatives,” he added.

Hezbollah's reaction and the fear of new conflicts
Fears of regional escalation had already been growing following Tuesday's drone strike in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed Saleh Arouri, Hamas' deputy political leader and founder of the group's military wing, three months ago. Along with Arouri, six other Hamas members died, including two military commanders. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of the powerful Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, blamed Israel for the attack, calling it a “blatant Israeli aggression” and “a serious and dangerous crime.” In a televised speech, Nasrallah expressed his condolences to Hamas and promised that there would be “limits” and “rules” to his group's fighting if Israel decided to start a war against Lebanon. “In short, anyone who thinks of war with us will regret it,” Nasrallah said.

Tuesday's attack on Arouri – the first in Beirut after nearly three months of continuous gunfire on the Israel-Lebanese border – hit the southern suburb of Dahiyeh, in what analysts say could be a message from Israel to Hezbollah that can also reach the Lebanese capital reached. Officially, Israel declined to comment on Arouri's killing. But yesterday David Barnea, head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, vowed to hunt down all Hamas members involved in the October 7 attack on Israel, regardless of where they are. Barnea's comments were widely interpreted as an indication that Israel was behind Tuesday's explosion: Barnea also recalled the aftermath of the 1972 Munich massacre, when Mossad agents tracked down and killed a number of Palestinian militants involved in the kidnapping and killing of Israeli athletes were involved during the Olympic Games. Observers fear that the conflict against Hamas could also spread to Hezbollah and Lebanon.

With the assassination of Arouri, the Israeli government also sent a message to the citizens of Israel, demonstrating the effectiveness of its security and intelligence system (which was challenged by the Hamas attack on October 7). But relatives of the 129 hostages still held in Gaza have warned that the killing could endanger their families or the hostage negotiations.

Meanwhile, there was new heavy fighting in the central and southern Gaza Strip yesterday. Israel's air, land and sea siege of the Gaza Strip has killed more than 22,100 people, two-thirds of them women and children. The Israeli campaign, unleashed in response to the Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and kidnapped 240 others on October 7, forced around 85% of Gaza's population to leave their homes and into overcrowded or precarious shelters Tent cities to take refuge in supposedly safe areas designated by Israel, which the Israeli army was bombing anyway. According to the United Nations, a quarter of Gaza's population is now at risk of starvation as Israeli restrictions and intense fighting make it difficult to deliver aid.

The hypothesis of “The Day After” plan
The words and decisions of the Israeli government weigh on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Yesterday, the ultra-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote “Hate” on the social network. Smotrich, a proponent of West Bank settlements, had already faced criticism from the United States, Egypt, Germany and France after he called on Israel to restore settlements in the Gaza Strip earlier this week. The US State Department described his comments as “inflammatory and irresponsible.” The mass expulsion brings back memories for Palestinians of the Nakba (literally “catastrophe”), when some 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee during the war that led to the creation of Israel in 1948.

Smotrich's words are fuel to the fire of the conflict. However, they could also be shared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Francesco Battistini explains that there is already a precise plan:

According to the Times of Israel, Bibi recently asked the Democratic Republic of Congo to accept tens of thousands of Palestinians displaced from Gaza. Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi would have said yes. The plan is called “The Day After.” And last night it was discussed in the Cabinet Council convened by Netanyahu after it was postponed for a day because the Lebanon emergency was on the agenda. Congo, but also Saudi Arabia. It's an old Israeli government idea: in October, it suggested that Egypt “temporarily” house Gaza residents in the Sinai Desert (and Al Sisi responded: Why don't you keep them in your Negev Desert?), Now the time has come, other countries are knocking. The hypothesis is officially denied. Bibi admits that “our problem is to find someone willing to accept the residents of Gaza,” and yet only speaks of “exiling” the leaders of Hamas who have not yet been eliminated, perhaps in Qatar.

(This analysis was published in PrimaOra, the newsletter that the Corriere provides for its subscribers: to receive it you must subscribe to Il Punto. You can do this free for 30 days here.)

06:47 – Attack in Kerman, Khamenei calls on us to avoid confrontation with the US

Videos broadcast by Iranian media showed dozens of bodies scattered on the ground as some bystanders tried to help survivors and others rushed to leave the blast area. Iranian state television said the explosions were caused by two suitcases containing remotely activated explosives. The Iranian government has officially declared tomorrow, January 4, a day of national mourning, while there will be three days of national mourning in Kerman. In the nearly three months of conflict, tensions have also spread to southern Lebanon, targeting US bases in Syria and Iraq and in the Red Sea, where pro-Iranian Houthi rebels continue to threaten the passage of oil tankers and container ships. The latest episode to shock the Middle East and suggest the worst occurred less than 24 hours earlier in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon. In Dahiyeh, a stronghold of the Shiite movement Hezbollah, Hamas' number two, Saleh al Arouri, the link between the Palestinian movement and the Pasdaran, was killed in an attack attributed to Israel. However, at first glance there seems to be no connection between the two episodes.

6:25 a.m. – WSJ, Zaher Jabarin, the “CEO” of Hamas, allegedly financed the attack on Israel

Reached by The Wall Street Journal, Jabarin said in an interview that “it's an honor to raise funds for Hamas,” but denied his involvement in the activities of the group's militant wing: “These are allegations, not from facts,” Jabarin said, according to which “Israel likes to cause confusion. The al-Qassam Brigades (the organization's military wing) has its own lawyers, who are far from the Hamas political party.” However, according to the US newspaper, the man's influence on Hamas's finances is so great that Jabarin According to U.S. and Israeli security officials, Israel collected and transferred the funds to purchase weapons and employ the militants involved in the attack, sparking the ongoing conflict in Gaza. “Jabarin played a big role because he manages all of Hamas’s financial activities outside the Gaza Strip,” Uzi Shaya, a former Israeli security official who specializes in illegal financial activities, told the newspaper, saying “Jabarin is the CEO of Hamas.” The businessman is also said to have been close to Saleh al Arouri, the Hamas number two who was killed on Tuesday in an explosion in Beirut blamed on Israel. According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel fears that the financial empire that supports Hamas will survive the organization's military destruction in Gaza.

6:22 a.m. – Blinken will head to the Middle East today, with a stop in Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will depart for the Middle East today with a stop in Israel as the United States continues diplomatic consultations on the Israel-Gaza conflict. This was announced by a senior US official. The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said U.S. diplomatic envoy Amos Hochstein would also travel to the Jewish state to work on detente between Israel and Hezbollah. Blinken will leave this evening “making stops in several capitals, including Israel,” the official said, but gave no further details.

5:15 a.m. – Palestinian media: Dozens of civilians killed in central-south Gaza

Dozens of civilians were killed and others injured last night in an Israeli airstrike on civilian homes in the Khirbat al-Adas area of ​​the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Palestinian news agency Wafa reports. Israeli jets, the agency said, also attacked residential areas in the Central Province of the Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of people. The Palestinian Red Crescent, meanwhile, said Israeli forces continued to bombard houses and sites in the area of ​​Al-Amal Hospital and the PRCS headquarters in Khan Yunis in the south of the strip with artillery from the Wafa agency last night.

5:11 a.m. – The UN is also against the transfer of Palestinians from Gaza

The UN also opposes the relocation of Palestinians from Gaza called for by some right-wing representatives of the Israeli government. “In principle, we are completely against repression. The goal should be to ensure the security of Palestinians in Gaza.” This was said by one of the spokesmen for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, commenting on the statement by the Israeli Finance Minister, who encouraged the Palestinians to commit to Gaza leave. “We have made it very clear that we do not support this. Nobody should support the mass expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza. Everyone has the right to be protected from forcible displacement from their home or place of residence.” “And you know,” she added to reporters, “that so far 85 percent of Gaza's population has been internally displaced and is living in pretty terrible conditions. “You have the right to return to your homeland.”

5:07 a.m. – Borrell condemns the terrorist attack in Kerman

European diplomacy chief Josep Borrell expressed condolences to Tehran in a phone call with Iran's foreign minister following the explosions in Kerman, which Borrell described as a “terrorist attack.” The European diplomat – the media reported – spoke to Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian “to express his condolences after the terrible explosions in Kerman that killed dozens of civilians.” “I strongly condemned this terrorist attack and expressed my solidarity with the Iranian people,” he added. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but a political adviser to the Iranian president accused Israel and the United States of being behind the attack. The State Department in Washington considered any hypothesis of US or Israeli involvement in the attack to be absurd. Iran's arch-enemy Israel has not commented on the attack.