Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the war cabinet that was overseeing the ongoing military operations in Gaza. This move comes as the premier seeks to solidify his control over the decision-making processes concerning the operations against Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah along the Lebanese border. The dissolution effectively rebuffs the demands of his far-right allies, who were vying for seats in the cabinet.

The war cabinet was initially established as part of an emergency coalition agreement with moderate politician Benny Gantz and his National Unity party. This coalition was formed to coordinate attacks on Gaza following Hamas’s surprise attack on 7 October. However, with Gantz resigning a week ago, Netanyahu claimed the war cabinet was no longer needed.

Anonymous Israeli officials have confirmed the disbanding of the war cabinet amid growing discontent over the conduct of the war and escalating calls for daily protests by anti-government groups. Gantz’s departure, along with Gadi Eisenkot, one of the three observers in the war cabinet, has shifted the power dynamics within the coalition.

Netanyahu will now consult with a smaller group of ministers, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, who were part of the dissolved war cabinet. Decision-making authority will revert to the broader security cabinet, though the political implications of this shift are considerable.

This decision is seen as a direct snub to Netanyahu’s far-right allies, particularly Itamar Ben-Gvir, who had been seeking a seat in the war cabinet. Reports indicate that Netanyahu plans to make critical decisions with his close advisers, excluding Ben-Gvir, before presenting them to the security cabinet.

Despite military disagreements, Netanyahu has expressed confidence in his decisions, emphasising the importance of civilian oversight over the military. His approval ratings have improved since Gantz’s departure, a move that has conversely seen a decline in Gantz’s polling numbers.

The dissolution of the war cabinet follows pressure from the Biden administration to maintain a more moderate coalition. The small war cabinet had been a point of friction, especially regarding sensitive issues like the hostages in Gaza. the war cabinet functioned effectively since the October attack, though speculation from Yedioth Ahronoth suggests that Netanyahu might expand the cabinet to include support that provides him with greater political cover for the conflict.

Far-right former Israeli lawmaker Moshe Feiglin, who quoted Adolf Hitler while discussing Gaza, is set to speak at an Australian Jewish Association event this week. Feiglin, known for his extremist views, has called for the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza, drawing sharp criticism.

In the past 24 hours, five more Palestinian children have been killed in a series of Israeli attacks on central and southern Gaza, adding to the mounting civilian death toll. The Israeli military has issued warnings that cross-border fire from Hezbollah into Israel could escalate into a broader conflict, potentially devastating Lebanon and the region.

At least 60 cases have been documented where families lost at least 25 members each in Israeli strikes. Some attacks have wiped out four generations of the same family. Notable losses include 19 members of Al Jazeera broadcast engineer Mohamed Abu Al-Qumsan’s family in one strike on the Jabalia refugee camp. The extended Abu Al-Qumsan family lost 80 members, while the Mughrabi family lost over 70 members in a single airstrike in December. The Abu Naja family lost 50 members in October, including two pregnant women. The Doghmush clan has lost over 100 members in several weeks of strikes.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported that Israeli bombings have destroyed over half of Gaza’s buildings, displacing nearly all residents.

In its military offensive in Gaza, launched on 7 October, Israel has so far killed at least 37,337 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, and injured 85,299.