The war in Gaza is at a tipping point

The conflict in Gaza could be about to reach a defining moment. After weeks of air strikes, artillery bombardments and drone attacks, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) appear to have the Hamas leadership and those remaining fighters still loyal to the group’s murderous ideals trapped in ever-shrinking pockets of land. Intense street fighting is now taking place between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen in the southern city of Khan Yunis, believed to be the last stronghold of the terrorist group. In the north, Hamas’s general headquarters, located within the Jabaliya refugee camp, has been occupied after a three day operation involving a naval commando unit and elements of the Israeli army’s

Israel should think twice before assassinating Hamas’s leaders

Israel knows that airstrikes alone cannot help it to win its war against Hamas. To handicap its enemy, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) must kill or capture the group’s leaders, both in Gaza – where they are hiding out in intricate tunnel complexes – and elsewhere, in other countries in the Middle East, including Qatar. But the cost of such dangerous operations will be high – and could easily backfire. For now, the priority for Israel is targeting Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. On the hitlist is Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza; Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades; and Deif’s second-in-command,

Brendan O’Neill

The chilling link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

Isn’t it remarkable how similar anti-Zionism is to anti-Semitism? The latest proof of an intimate link between these two ideologies comes from Philadelphia. There, last night, a baying mob gathered outside a Jewish-owned restaurant to accuse the owners of being complicit in ‘genocide’. Guys, the 1930s called, they want their bigotry back. Last night’s protest was a genuinely vile affair. Actually, ‘protest’ is far too grand a name for this kind of gathering. It was more like a mini-pogrom, the noisy harassment of a restaurant for its sin of being founded by a Jew. The restaurant is called Goldie. It is owned by Mike Solomonov, an Israeli-born, Pittsburgh-raised, award-winning chef. ‘Goldie, Goldie, you

Why Israel is changing tactics in its war on Hamas

The conflict in Gaza is about to enter a crucial phase as Israel continues its military campaign to destroy Hamas. After a seven-day pause in hostilities saw Hamas release 110 hostages in return for 240 Palestinians, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are now locked into a more complex and politically tricky battle as they venture into southern Gaza. If the IDF adopts the same tactics in the south as they did in the north of the Gaza Strip, then thousands more Palestinian civilians will die. There are signs, however, that Israel is changing tactics after bowing to pressure from allies. Over 15,000 civilians have been killed, according to the Hamas-controlled

How Hamas’s ceasefire gamble backfired

Hamas’s refusal to negotiate the return of the remaining women still in captivity and an early morning missile attack on Israel brought the ceasefire to an abrupt end on Friday. The Israeli government would have continued to put up with minor infractions by Hamas, and carried on with the deal, despite their repeated violations. However, Hamas’s insistence on drastically changing the terms of the agreement pushed Israel to resume assaults in a sign to Hamas that it refuses to be pushed around. Hamas needed the ceasefire, but miscalculated – thinking that it could push the envelope even more without consequence. It went too far. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has been

Can Hamas really be ‘eliminated’?

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell offered a provocative insight into the nature of Hamas this week. Speaking at the Union of the Mediterranean Forum, Borrell said that: ‘Hamas is not merely a group of individuals but an unkillable idea and ideology.’ This view is a worrying one for Israel as it seeks, in the words of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to ‘eliminate’ Hamas. But what if Borell is right that Hamas cannot be destroyed? History suggests that seemingly invincible organisations and ideologies can indeed be defeated, often after military defeat, through thorough socio-economic and political reformations. Take Nazi Germany. While comparisons with the Third Reich are easy to reach

Has Israel learned the lessons of Ukraine’s war with Russia?

Israel’s ceasefire with Hamas – which has allowed for the release of dozens of hostages – looks set to continue. But make no mistake: this war is far from over. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas, a mission that he will not back down from any time soon. The fight against an estimated 30,000 Hamas soldiers will be a long and difficult one. While Israel’s firepower vastly outmatches that of Hamas, defeating an insurgent army will prove a difficult endeavour for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Israel could find itself in a situation comparable to Ukraine – another country with state-of-the-art weaponry that struggles to deliver

Can Israel’s ceasefire in Gaza hold?

Originally meant to expire on Monday, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has been extended by at least two days. During the first four days of the ceasefire, 69 hostages abducted on 7 October, including 50 Israelis and 19 foreign nationals were freed by Hamas. In return, Israel freed 120 Palestinian prisoners, many incarcerated for terrorism offences. The deal also included a substantial increase in humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Across the two added days of ceasefire, Hamas has agreed to release 20 additional hostages. It is likely that, following this extension, with about 170 hostages remaining in Gaza, the sides will agree to prolong the ceasefire. It seems

What’s the truth about Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital?

Last week’s military operation in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital was mired in controversy. According to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the hospital was a significant target in Israel’s war against Hamas because they believed a command centre was located under the hospital complex. International spectators, including some of Israel’s closest allies, were concerned about the raid and told Israel to act with extreme caution to avoid casualties among hospital staff and patients.   International organisations – including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nation Population Fund, UN officials, media outlets and Middle Eastern countries including Jordan and Turkey – condemned Israel’s operations in the hospital. The WHO described the scene as a ‘death zone’, but without

Why climate activists love to hate Israel

Climate activists have been busy since 7 October. The demands for ‘action now’ on global warming continue, but affairs in the Middle East are proving to be a distraction for Just Stop Oil. Cries of ‘free Gaza’, ‘ceasefire now’, and even ‘from the river to the sea’ – a chant, purported to be a cry for peace and ‘solidarity’ with Palestinians, but used by those who want to wipe Israel off the map – have now joined, and at times drowned out, the usual green slogans. Just Stop Oil (JSO) activists took part in a sit-in protest at London’s Waterloo station on Saturday to demand a ceasefire, despite Hamas continuing to

Nick Cohen

Vivian Silver and the collapse of the Israeli left

The well-lived life and foul murder of Vivian Silver encapsulate the hopelessness of Israel-Hamas war and the bad faith that drives the world’s reactions to it. You could see the bad faith on display in the hours after her death. It inspired a gruesome social media pile-on. Maybe it was just a mistake by an underpaid intern. Maybe, as conservatives were to claim, the liberal media was revealing its deep biases. But, intentionally or not, a tweet on X from the Canadian broadcaster CTV News appeared to be yet another example of the wilful refusal by progressives to condemn or even acknowledge the existence of theocratic terror. If something better

How will Israel deal with the threat of Hezbollah?

From the very beginning, the war between Israel and Hamas has not been confined to just one front. The Iran-backed, Lebanon-based Islamist militant organisation Hezbollah started attacking Israel on 8 October – one day after Hamas’s deadly assault. In the weeks since, Iranian militias in Syria and Houthi rebels in Yemen have attacked Israel with missiles and drones, while Iranian-backed forces in Iraq have targeted American troops. For now, Gaza is at the heart of the war – but this may soon change. Israel has been fighting Hezbollah since the First Lebanon war ended in 1985. During the 15 years the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) controlled the ‘security zone’, extending

Victory over Hamas will be hard to achieve

‘If you want peace, destroy Hamas. If you want security, destroy Hamas. If you want a future for Israel, the Palestinians, the Middle East, destroy Hamas,’ Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week. Given its formidable military capabilities and the considerable international support it receives, Israel holds the upper hand in the ongoing war. But if the Middle East has taught us anything, it is that the notion of ‘victory’ is an elusive endeavour.   The total defeat of Hamas will be a difficult, if not impossible, task for Israel. Following the devastating terror attack on 7 October, Israel has found itself ensnared in a brutal war. But as the

It’s time Israel stopped playing by Hamas’s rules in Gaza

For Israel, the war in Gaza is a zero sum game. Israel must win and Hamas must lose. Nothing but total victory over Hamas after the appalling terrorist attacks which left over 1,400 Israelis dead, hundreds injured and over 200 civilians taken hostage, will suffice. But how is victory going to be defined and what is Israel’s end game? When the dust of war finally settles what does Israel want Gaza to look like? An empty, lifeless, bomb-cratered ruin or a self-governing entity, secure within its own borders and no longer a threat to Israel? Unless Israel has a clear strategic aim, its troops risk becoming trapped inside Gaza, possibly

Toby Young

My futile morning guarding Churchill’s statue

On Armistice Day I made my way to Parliament Square with some vague notion of protecting Churchill’s statue. I’d discussed the need to stop it being defiled by pro-Palestinian protestors a few days earlier with a group I’m involved with called the British Friends of Israel, but in my head this had been a theoretical discussion, not something that involved me personally. Then Allison Pearson, a member of the group, announced in the Telegraph that she intended to stand in front of the statue armed with a rolled-up copy of the paper, and I felt shamed into joining her. Not that I was worried about her being knocked over by

Will Lebanon be dragged into a war with Israel?

Southern Lebanon In the week following the 7/10 attacks by Hamas, a journalist in Beirut put the question all of Lebanon wanted to ask to the Prime Minister, Najib Mikati: do we have to be dragged into the war with Israel? It was more of a cri de coeur than a question, because the whole country knows the answer and knows that Lebanon has no choice. Hezbollah, the Shia Islamist party and militant group, unofficially controls many, if not most, of the levers of power in Lebanon and it does not answer to the people or the government here. Hezbollah’s leader, the reclusive cleric Hassan Nasrallah, holds no public office

Douglas Murray

Why don’t celebrities care about the Israeli hostages?

My mind keeps going back almost ten years, to Nigeria in 2014. As some readers will remember, on the night of 14 April, 276 mainly Christian schoolgirls were abducted by terrorists from the Boko Haram group. It happened at a school in a town called Chibok in Borno State. In some ways it is obvious why there was such international outrage at the incident. After all, this was 276 schoolgirls, kidnapped by an Islamic terrorist group. Even a world that had seen the Beslan school siege in 2004 and was starting to see the workings of Isis still had the capacity to be shocked. The Chibok schoolgirls story caught on,

Time is running out for Israel to defeat Hamas

Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza is making steady progress. They moved into the strip on 27 October after a sustained air campaign which paved the way for infantry, armoured and engineering units to enter. Despite military analysts predicting that Israel would sustain heavy combat losses, because of decent intelligence gathered in the preceding three weeks, they remain relatively low (46 dead at the time of writing).  The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are now operating inside the Al-Shifa hospital, beneath which Israel believes the main operational headquarters of Hamas is located. According to Israeli media sources, five Hamas fighters were killed in the course of the IDF’s raid into a part of the hospital

Saudi Arabia’s Israel dilemma

The war in Gaza presents a major challenge for Saudi Arabia. The Saudi leadership is trying to placate two different camps: its own population along with the publics of the Arab and Muslim worlds as well as the US administration and influential westerners. The former are horrified by the killings of Palestinians in Gaza whereas the latter want some acknowledgment of Israel’s right to self-defence. This effort to keep everyone happy was on full display over the past weekend at the joint summit of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that was held in Riyadh. At the event, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) gave