Where we stand as of midday
It’s been a busy morning, so let’s take a moment to recap the key events:
Earlier this morning, anti-Israel protestors stormed a Russian airport in Makhchkala, with local news reports stating people in the crowd were shouting antisemitic slogans. People were also reported storming the airliner belonging to Russian carrier Red Wings that had landed from Tel Aviv. Within hours, the Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia said security forces had removed the group. The airport will remain closed until further notice. Russia’s Investigative Committee ordered a criminal probe into the incident.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll among Palestinians passed 8000, mostly women and minors, as Israeli tanks and infantry pursued what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “second stage” in the war ignited by Hamas’ incursion on October 7.
Highlighting the new phase of attacks, the Israeli military released grainy images showing tank columns moving slowly in open areas of Gaza, many apparently near the border. It now appears Israel will conduct a staged escalation on the ground in Gaza, instead of the sudden and overwhelming offensive many had expected. Israeli airstrikes hit areas around Gaza’s largest hospital, destroying roads leading to the Shifa facility, which has sheltered Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombardment. Israel says the hospital sits above underground Hamas bunkers used as military command posts.
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim A. A Khan KC said his office will scrutinise the actions of Israel and Hamas during this period. In a briefing this morning, he was adamant that both Israel and Hamas have clear moral and legal obligation to comply with the laws of armed conflict. He warned that either side will be held responsible for any actions that do not follow these rules – this includes any attacks on innocent civilians or protected objects such as a school, church or mosque. “The law isn’t an optional extra one can take and leave, it is there to band us together and keep us away from the gates of hell. This principle equally applies to Hamas.”
I’m handing the blog to Angus Dalton, who will take you through this afternoon’s events.
UN human rights expert says Western countries not doing enough
United Nations Human Rights Council-appointed expert Francesca Albanese said the international community has failed to do enough to end the war.
“What the international community had an opportunity to do, for once, was to show support to both the Israeli and Palestinian people,” she said.
“It was horrific what the Israelis have suffered as of October 7, and at the same time, the international community missed the opportunity to act wisely and even-handedly, vis a vis both in a way that could be seen as leading to peace.
Smoke rises following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City over the weekend.Credit: AP
“Western countries have, with a few exceptions, rallied around Israel, basically supporting what Israel is doing, self-defence. What Israel does should be in line with international [law]. But it’s not.”
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim A. A Khan KC said earlier today that his office was investigating actions by both Hamas and Israel during this time, urging them to follow armed conflict laws.
“The law isn’t an optional extra one can take and leave, it is there to band us together and keep us away from the gates of hell,” he said.
The Israel-Hamas war is a battle of words as well as weapons
Looking for some mid-morning reading? Take a look at Nick Enfield’s opinion piece:
Israeli ground forces are now inside Gaza following the bombing campaign sparked by Hamas’ October 7 killing and kidnapping operation. People globally are voicing their outrage at these events, mostly taking one side or the other, and choosing their words accordingly. As weapons can be loaded, so can words. They are shaping an alarmingly polarised discourse, making solutions ever more elusive.
Finding the words: A masked Palestinian protester takes cover during clashes with Israeli forces.Credit: Hazem Bader/ AFP
The BBC, for example, has stated that it will not refer to Hamas as a “terrorist group”. This has outraged some, who say that the killing of civilians in Israel by Hamas earlier this month is textbook terrorism and should be labelled as such. Similar issues arise in relation to subsequent actions of the Israeli Defence Force. Is it “genocide”? Or “exercising the right to defend oneself”?
This is another battle over words in the framing of public discourse.
The BBC explains that terrorism is “a loaded word” because it expresses disapproval. In the interests of maintaining objectivity, journalists should avoid it. At the same time, the BBC suggests it is nevertheless right to refer to the actions of Hamas as “atrocities”, to convey the facts of the matter. This is interesting because clearly “atrocity” conveys disapproval. Not all words are lightning rods for outrage.
Why do certain words matter to us so much?
‘Follow armed conflict laws to keep us away from the gates of hell’: ICC prosecutor
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim A. A Khan KC said his office will scrutinise the actions of Israel and Hamas during this period.
He said Israel has a clear moral and legal obligation to comply with the laws of armed conflict, and will be held responsible for any actions that do not follow these rules – this includes any attacks on innocent civilians or protected objects such as a school, church or mosque.
“My office will scrutinise all information we receive to show that the law isn’t an optional extra one can take and leave, it is there to band us together and keep us away from the gates of hell. This principle equally applies to Hamas,” he said.
“Justice is every child’s birthright and every civilians’ entitlement. It is that any person with their trigger on a gun or a missile, that believes they have power, they have a certain responsibility. We will look closely to see if those responsibilities are being adhered to.”
Watch the briefing here:
US president’s support for Israel faces criticism
US President Joe Biden’s steadfast support for Israel is facing increasing pressure as some of his staunch supporters from within his party are warning about the ways in which the Israeli response is being carried out.
Biden has resisted calls to join other Democrats who are seeking a cease-fire, and has largely avoided commenting on how Israel is carrying out a new phase in a war that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend warned “is going to be long and difficult”.
But in recent days, other Democrats have pointedly criticised the pace of humanitarian aid, a communications blackout, and the rising death toll among Palestinian civilians.
With one of America’s closest allies now steeling itself for a potentially prolonged conflict, they also raised concerns about whether Israel has clear and achievable objectives as it conducts a major ground assault.
The Washington Post
Photos from the frontline
Our incredible photographer Kate Geraghty is in Jerusalem with reporter Matthew Knott. The pair have been travelling across the region for the past few weeks documenting the conflict. You can read their latest reports here, but let’s take a moment to look at Kate’s images.
Perchya, 61, wants to evacuate her home in Israel near the Lebanon border, but hasn’t been able to escape. She has sought help from local officials, who promised to assist her.Credit: Kate Geraghty
Afraid to show faces, fearful of what comes next: some of the Gazans in the Ramallah Recreational Complex.Credit: Kate Geraghty
Unusually quiet: Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.Credit: Kate Geraghty
Smoke rises from explosions in northern Gaza seen from Sderot in Israel.Credit: Kate Geraghty
Jordan asks US for support
Staunch US ally Jordan asked Washington to deploy Patriot air defence systems to bolster its border defence at a time of heightened regional tensions and conflict, the spokesperson for the country’s army said on Sunday.
“We asked the American side to help bolster our defence system with Patriot air defence missile systems,” Brigadier General Mustafa Hiyari, Jordan’s army spokesperson, told state television.
US Patriot missiles were stationed in the kingdom in 2013 following an uprising in northern neighbour Syria where the kingdom feared a civil war could spill over and ignite a regional conflict.
Jordan has been increasingly nervous that Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza since a deadly assault on Israel by Hamas on October 7 could also spread into a wider conflagration, officials said.
They want Israel to take full control of Gaza, but controversially they won’t enlist to fight
By Matthew Knott and Kate Geraghty
Reporter Matthew Knott and photographer Kate Geraghty are in Jerusalem. Here’s their latest report:
Schmuel Zilberman has two big hopes for Israel’s war against Hamas. He wants to see his nation occupy and take full control of the enclave of 2.3 million people, almost all of whom consider themselves Palestinians. And he wants Jews to again begin building settlements in Gaza to solidify their presence there.
Zilberman is 18, the age at which Israelis begin their compulsory military service. But he won’t be serving on the frontline. He is an ultra-Orthodox Jew, meaning that he is exempt from conscription on religious grounds. Standing in the old city of Jerusalem he and his friend Josef Haim explain how ultra-Orthodox Israelis have an entirely different view of military service to zionist Israelis, who are driven primarily by their commitment to the nation state.
Orthodox Jewish males in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.Credit: Kate Geraghty
Known as the Haredim, meaning “those who tremble before God” in Hebrew, ultra-Orthodox Jews can claim a military exemption because they have to devote themselves full-time to the study of the Torah, the holy Jewish text.
“Each one of us has our own way to contribute,” Haim, 21, says. “Ours is to study and learn the Torah. By doing that we help the war effort.” Haim is wearing tefillin: a pair of black leather boxes containing Hebrew parchment scrolls. The Torah commands Jewish men to bind tefillin onto their head and upper arm every weekday as part of their religious practice.
Anti-Israel protesters removed from Russian airport: authorities
There is an update on the situation at the Russian airport of Makhchkala, where a group of anti-Israel protesters tried to prevent a plane from Tel Aviv landing.
The Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia said security forces had by 10.20pm (local time, 6.20am AEDT) removed the group from the airport in Dagestan, one of several areas in the north Caucasus region that is home to large Muslim communities.
The authority said the airport would remain closed pending “normalisation” of the situation. Russia’s Investigative Committee ordered a criminal probe into the incident.
Israel urged Russian authorities to protect Israelis and Jews in their jurisdictions following the reports.
A statement by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said the Israeli ambassador in Moscow was working with Russian authorities. “The State of Israel views gravely attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere,” the statement said.
Kavkaz-Realii, a division of US-funded Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, posted videos of noisy crowds waving Palestinian flags in and around the terminal building in Makhachkala.
Other Russian media showed one group attempting to approach the aircraft, but the passengers remained safely on board. Reuters could not determine if the passengers were able to eventually disembark.
The identification number on the tail of the plane indicated it had arrived from Israel, according to the FlightRadar24 flight tracking website.
Reuters journalist in Lebanon a targeted strike: RSF
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday that the killing of Reuters visual journalist Issam Abdallah in Lebanon on October 13 was the result of a targeted strike from the direction of the Israeli border.
“According to the ballistic analysis carried out by RSF, the shots came from the east of where the journalists were standing; from the direction of the Israeli border,” RSF said.
Mourners carry the body of Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah on Saturday.Credit: Associated Press
“Two strikes in the same place in such a short space of time (just over 30 seconds), from the same direction, clearly indicate precise targeting.”
The Israeli military has said it does not deliberately target journalists and that it is investigating the October 13 incident. Reuters has asked the Israel Defence Forces for comment on the RSF report.
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