Terrorists belonging to an independent faction connected to Islamic Jihad fired 4 rockets and one incendiary balloon into Israel from Gaza. In response, The IDF carried out strikes against Hamas targets in the northern part of Gaza. Security officials in Israel say they are concerned Hamas allowed the attack to take place in order to exert pressure on Israel and Egypt to resume talks with Hamas.
The Egyptian government had committed to increasing imports from Gaza through the Rafah Crossing if calm on the border is maintained. Egypt canceled a planned visit by its negotiating delegation to Gaza after Hamas leader Haniyeh traveled to Tehran to attend the funeral of Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, though he had assured Egyptian intelligence officials he would not do so. Following this visit, Egypt began increasing the cost of products entering Gaza across the Rafah border including cooking gas, which has caused shortages for Gazans. Cairo also raised taxes on other products.
The Jewish Home party has joined forces with Israel’s more mainstream right-wing parties under the leadership of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, after being forced to break a previous agreement to join with the far-right Otzma Yehudit party under intense pressure from PM Netanyahu and the polls showing that Jewish Home would not pass the minimum threshold if it stuck with Otzma Yehudit.
In a phone call with Russian President Putin, PM Netanyahu raised the issue of Naama Issachar, the 26 year old Israeli woman jailed in Russia for drug smuggling. She was arrested in April while in transit at a Moscow airport, en route from India to Israel, and accused of carrying 9.5 grams of cannabis. She was sentenced to 7 and a half years in October. Issachar’s mother, Yaffa, said that Netanyahu spoke to her after his conversation with Putin and told her to remain strong and optimistic, and that he is doing everything he can to get her released.
The latest three polls published last night by Israel’s news television stations – Channels 11, 12, and 13 – show Benny Gantz’s Blue & White party consolidating its lead. Channel 11 projected Blue & White winning 36 seats and Likud 31 but the Channel 12 poll was 34-32 and the Channel 13 poll 34-31. All 3 polls show a continued stalemate between the Right and Center-Left.