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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Airstrike kills Iran Revolutionary Guards

Published January 20, 2024last updated January 20, 2024

Iranian sources say Israeli airstrike targeted members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps meeting in Syria. Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell has accused Israel of creating Hamas. Follow DW has more.

Rescue teams go through the rubble in Damascus
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were overseeing military coordination between Syria and IranImage: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Iran Revolutionary Guards reportedly killed in airstrike in Damascus
  • EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell accused Israel of having "financed" terror group Hamas
  • Borrell called for a two-state solution and criticized Israel for opposing it
  • Israel has increased attacks in south of the Gaza Strip as talks with the US continue about the future of the Palestinian territories
Skip next section Thousands demonstrate in Israel, some demanding 'elections now'
January 20, 2024

Thousands demonstrate in Israel, some demanding 'elections now'

People, many holding Israeli flags, in a march in Tel Aviv protesting Netanyahu
People gathered in Tel Aviv calling for Netanyahu to resignImage: Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu/picture alliance

Thousands of people took to the streets of Israel on Saturday, calling for the return of hostages held in Gaza and early elections to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Demonstrators marched through Tel Aviv's Habima Square, a frequent protest site, with some carrying signs calling Netanyahu "the face of evil" and demanding "elections now."

Protesters demanding the return of hostages also gathered in Haifa and outside the premier's Jerusalem residence.

"We can't take it anymore. We've been told to sit quiet, let the government do its job. Well, it's not bringing us any result for the last two months," Yuval Bar On, whose father-in-law, Keith Siegel, is among the hostages, told the Associated Press.

Pressure on Netanyahu to secure the release of the hostages increased this week after Hamas announced the deaths of two more of its captives on Monday.

Families of the more than 100 remaining hostages held by Hamas and other militants have been holding regular weekend protests demanding their rapid return. They fear that Israel's military activity further endangers hostages' lives. 

Netanyahu has said the only way to secure the hostages' release was for Israel to continue fighting until it achieves "complete victory" and Hamas no longer poses a threat, but he has not outlined how this will be accomplished.

Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took about 240 more hostage during attacks on Israel on October 7. A brief November cease-fire incorporated the release of more than 100 hostages, with Israelis released in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Israel has said more than 130 hostages remain in Gaza, but only 100 are believed still to be alive.

Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by Israel, Germany and the United States among other countries, has said several hostages died as a result of Israel's military operation in Gaza. The retaliatory offensive has killed nearly 25,000 people in Gaza, according to the enclave's Hamas-led Health Ministry.

Skip next section Guterres: Refusal to accept Palestinian statehood 'unacceptable'
January 20, 2024

Guterres: Refusal to accept Palestinian statehood 'unacceptable'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "the right of the Palestinian people to build their own state must be recognized by all" in an address to the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Uganda on Saturday.

"The refusal to accept a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and the denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people, are unacceptable," Guterres said in Kampala.

He added that such a stance "would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security; exacerbate polarization; and embolden extremists everywhere."

Antonio Guterres speaking in Kampala
UN Secretary-General Guterres attended the Non-Aligned Movement summit in UgandaImage: Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images

The Non-Aligned Movement is a forum of 120 countries that aren't formally aligned with any major power bloc.

In its final summit communique on Saturday, the Non-Aligned Movement called for "the independence and sovereignty of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in order to achieve a two-state solution."

It also "strongly condemned" what it described as "the illegal Israeli military aggression against the Gaza Strip" and called for a lasting humanitarian cease-fire.

Israel maintains that it is fighting in Gaza in order to eradicate Hamas, the militant group behind the October 7 terrorist attack. Hamas is also considered a terrorist group by the US, the EU, Germany and other governments.

Skip next section US strikes Houthi anti-ship missile in Yemen
January 20, 2024

US strikes Houthi anti-ship missile in Yemen

US forces struck another Houthi anti-ship missile in Yemen, the US Central Command said late on Saturday.

Central Command said the missile was aimed at the Gulf of Aden and was ready to launch.

"US forces determined the missile presented a threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region, and subsequently struck and destroyed the missile in self-defense," it said on social media.

The Houthis have vowed to target cargo ships on the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden in retaliation for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza. The United States has increasingly struck targets in Yemen in recent weeks to combat this.

Skip next section IDF and Hezbollah trade fire in southern Lebanon
January 20, 2024

IDF and Hezbollah trade fire in southern Lebanon

An Israeli airstrike on a car near the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre killed two people who were in the vehicle, a state news agency reported. 

The Iran-backed Hezbollah militia and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also exchanged fire across the border with Lebanon. 

Hezbollah said its forces had conducted three attacks on Israeli forces and that Israeli troops had been hit in the vicinity of Hunin
Castle, a former crusader fortification near the Israeli settlement of Margaliot less than a kilometer south of the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Israel has been carrying out airstrikes on southern Lebanon against Palestinian militant groups based there as well as their Lebanese ally Hezbollah, a powerful armed group, which have fired rockets across the border at Israel.

Skip next section Iran accuses Israel of deadly Damascus strike, vows revenge
January 20, 2024

Iran accuses Israel of deadly Damascus strike, vows revenge

Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned an attack on Damascus that killed five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a violation of Syrian sovereignty and a "desperate attempt to spread instability in region," state media reported.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike targeted a building "where Iran-aligned leaders were meeting." 

The Observatory's director, Rami Abdel Rahman, said members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and pro-Iran Palestinian factions were taking part in the meeting. Israel has not commented on the matter.

Tehran said the airstrike was "an escalation in aggressive and provocative attacks." 

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani, Iran "reserves its right to respond to the organized terrorism of the fake Zionist regime at the appropriate time and place."

Kanaani also called on other countries and international organizations to condemn the attack.

The Revolutionary Guard Corps recently reacted to the killing of a general and terrorist attacks in Iran by hitting targets in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan

Skip next section Israel drops leaflets seeking info on hostages
January 20, 2024

Israel drops leaflets seeking info on hostages

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets on the southern area of Rafah urging Palestinians seeking refuge there to help locate hostages held by militants, residents say. 

The leaflets, showing photos of 33 hostages, suggest benefits for anyone providing information.

"You want to return home? Please report if you identified one of them," read the message, which also listed a phone number and a line to a website containing images and names of the hostages in Arabic.

Over a million Palestinians are taking shelter in and around Rafah.

Israel says 132 hostages remain in Gaza, 27 of whom have been killed in captivity.

On Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press on with the war until Hamas is defeated and the remaining hostages released.

Freed Israeli hostage speaks to DW

Skip next section Gaza's death toll nears 25,000: ministry
January 20, 2024

Gaza's death toll nears 25,000: ministry

Some 165 Palestinians were killed and 280 injured in the Gaza Strip during the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory said.

Since Israel launched retaliatory military operations against Hamas, 24,927 people were killed and 61,154 wounded, according to the ministry.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry does not distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties. The Palestinian officials said the majority of the dead were women and children.

According to Israeli media, 194 Israeli soldiers have died since the start of the ground offensive.

Skip next section Two senior Iranian advisers among those killed in Damascus
January 20, 2024

Two senior Iranian advisers among those killed in Damascus

Iranian state media has confirmed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps spy chief for Syria and one of his deputies were killed in an airstrike on the Mazzeh neighborhood in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

"The Revolutionary Guards' Syria intel chief, his deputy and two other Guards members were martyred in the attack on Syria by Israel," Iran's Mehr news agency said.

Iran's state-run Press TV reported the Iranian Guards confirmed that four of its members were killed in what it said was an Israeli attack.

Later, Iran's Revolutionary Guards said a fifth member of the elite force died after being wounded in an Israeli missile strike in Syria on Saturday, Iranian state media reported.

A security source told the Reuters news agency a multistory building used by Iranian advisers supporting President Bashar Assad's government was entirely flattened by "precision-targeted Israeli missiles."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said a total of 10 people were killed in the Israeli strike.

Israel has stepped up its bombing campaign against Iran-linked targets in Syria in the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel by militants of the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza.. 

Skip next section Iran Revolutionary Guards reportedly killed in airstrike in Syria
January 20, 2024

Iran Revolutionary Guards reportedly killed in airstrike in Syria

A reported Israeli strike in Syria's capital, Damascus, has killed a number of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and wounded others. 

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike targeted a building "where Iran-aligned leaders were meeting."  The Observatory's director, Rami Abdel Rahman, said members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and pro-Iran Palestinian factions were taking part in the meeting. 

The death toll was not immediately clear. A security source in the regional pro-Syria alliance quoted by the Reuters news agency said four member of the Revolutionary Guards were killed in the strike, but Syria's state news agency reported two senior Iranian military advisers were killed. 

Syria's state news agency SANA meanwhile said the attack "resulting from an Israeli aggression" had targeted a residential building in the al-Mazeh neighborhood.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Iran backs several groups that have targeted Israel, including Hamas in Gaza, Lebanon's Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Skip next section Israel's Eurovision Song Contest participation draws protest
January 20, 2024

Israel's Eurovision Song Contest participation draws protest

In view of the war in Gaza, calls to ban Israel from the Eurovision Song Contest of 2024are growing louder.

Some 1,400 Finnish musicians have joined pro-Palestinian artists and activists in Finland, signing a petition demanding that Israel be excluded from the Eurovision Song Contest.

They state that "it is not in accordance with our values that a country that commits war crimes and continues a military occupation is given a public stage to polish its image in the name of music."

A similar campaign was previously staged in Iceland. In Norway, according to local media reports, demonstrators from the "Aksjonsgruppa for Palestine" (Action Group for Palestine) gathered in front of the headquarters of the NRK television station in Oslo and demanded that Norway also support the exclusion of Israel.

In Ireland, a Labor MP publicly called for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest were Israel to remain in the competition. 

Read the full article here.

Skip next section Israel steps up attacks in south of Gaza
January 20, 2024

Israel steps up attacks in south of Gaza

Israeli forces have increased attacks in the south of the Gaza Strip after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed options for a post-war future for Palestinians with US President Joe Biden. 

News agency AFP reported that Israeli bombardment was focused overnight on Khan Yunis, citing witnesses. Palestinian media also spoke of intense fire around Jabalia, which is in the north.

Isarel's war on Hamas, which passed the 100-day mark this week, has killed over 24,700 Palestinians so far, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry does not distinguish between militants and civilians in the statistics it provides on deaths. 

The conflict began on October 7 after unprecedented Hamas attacks on Israel killed about 1,200 people there. 

Many fear Israel-Hamas war could spread across Middle East

Skip next section Borrell calls for two-state solution, accuses Israel of having 'created' Hamas
January 20, 2024

Borrell calls for two-state solution, accuses Israel of having 'created' Hamas

Top European Union Diplomat Josep Borrell has accused Israel of having "created" and "financed" the militant group Hamas — which carried out unprecedented and deadly attacks on Israel on October 7 — in a bid to weaken the two-state solution.

"We believe that a two-state solution must be imposed from outside to bring peace. Although, I insist, Israel is reaffirming its refusal (of this solution), and to prevent it they have gone so far as to create Hamas themselves," Borrell said during a speech at the University of Valladolid in Spain.

"Hamas has been financed by the Israeli government to try to weaken the Palestinian Authority of Fatah," the EU foreign policy head said. 

EU's Borrell accuses Israel of funding Hamas


Hamas was founded in the 1980s and has been opposed to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the multi-party confederation of which Fatah is the dominant faction, since its inception. There have been claims by various critics that the Israeli government helped finance Hamas in its early days to build up a counterweight to the PLO — though all actors in question deny Israel played any role in establishing the organization.

Unlike the PLO, Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Fatah is considered a more moderate political option for Palestinians than Hamas. It currently rules the West Bank, while Hamas is in power in Gaza following a war between the two factions in 2007. The European Union, as well as the United States, Germany and several other countries, classify Hamas as a terrorist organization

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently reiterated his opposition to the two-state solution, which calls for the creation of a Palestinian state that is separate from Israel.

During his speech, Borrell warned of "a spiral of hate" happening in the region.

"If we do not intervene strongly, the spiral of hate and violence will continue from generation to generation, from funeral to funeral, as the seeds of hatred that are being sown in Gaza today flourish," Borrell said.

Gaza genocide case: We expect court to find suspicion

lo,mk/dj (AFP, AP)