ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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PM's office: Government committed to original goals of war

Israel, terror groups renew combat in Gaza: ‘Hamas violated the ceasefire’

Hamas fires rockets, fails to provide list of hostages to be freed, prompting IDF to launch airstrikes, warn Khan Younis residents to evacuate; talks said ongoing; 137 held hostage

Smoke rising from buildings after being hit by apparent Israeli strikes in Gaza, on December 1, 2023. (John MacDougall / AFP)
Smoke rising from buildings after being hit by apparent Israeli strikes in Gaza, on December 1, 2023. (John MacDougall / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces resumed its military offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday after a week-long truce as the Hamas terror group broke the ceasefire, firing rockets into Israel and failing to provide a list of hostages it intended to release by 7 a.m.

In response, the IDF said it was renewing combat seven days after fighting ceased, during which time 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza, including 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals, and 1 Filipino, in exchange for 210 Palestinian prisoners, all of them women or minors. Israel also allowed an influx of humanitarian aid into the Strip.

Still held hostage by Gaza terror groups when the truce collapsed were 137 people — 115 men, 20 women and two children — government spokesperson Eylon Levy said. Ten of the hostages are 75 and older. The vast majority of the hostages, 126, are Israeli. Eleven are foreign nationals, including eight from Thailand.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that Hamas “violated the framework, did not meet its obligation to release all hostage women, and fired rockets at Israel.”

“Amid the return to combat, we stress the government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war — releasing our hostages, eliminating Hamas, and ensuring that Gaza can never again threaten the people of Israel.”

The IDF did not immediately restart major ground operations, however — for what were believed to be both logistical reasons and in order to allow some time for the possibility of the truce being restored.

Despite the resumed fighting, CNN and BBC reported that efforts were continuing to try to restore a temporary ceasefire.

An unnamed Palestinian source told the BBC that talks were ongoing through mediators. while AFP’s Qatari office also cited an unidentified source who said the same.

Palestinians inspect the destruction following an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 1, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The IDF said several rockets were fired from Gaza just before 7 a.m., setting off sirens in the southern community of Holit, following several launches at around 6 a.m.

One of the rockets was intercepted, around half an hour before the ceasefire was due to expire.

Rockets continued to be fired throughout the morning at Gaza border communities and the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.

A member of the Israeli security forces checks a destroyed vehicle after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in a kibbutz near the border with the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave on December 1, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

A source close to Hamas told AFP that the terrorist group’s armed wing had received “the order to resume combat” and to “defend the Gaza Strip,” with heavy fighting reported in parts of Gaza City.

The IDF said its fighter jets began carrying out a wave of airstrikes against Hamas targets. Loud, continuous explosions were heard coming from the Gaza Strip, and black smoke billowed from the territory.

Hamas said the airstrikes hit southern Gaza, including the community of Abassan east of the town of Khan Younis. Another strike reportedly hit a home northwest of Gaza City.

Photos on social media claimed to show a recent strike.

The Palestinian Shehab media outlet, which is closely affiliated with Hamas, reported that gunfire and explosions were heard in northern Gaza.

The Hamas-run health ministry said three people were killed in Israeli air raids in Rafah, in the Strip’s south, but those claims were not independently verified.

In light of the resumption of fighting, the Home Front Command instructed that schools in much of central and southern Israel would open only if students could reach sheltered spaces in time in the event of rocket attacks.

Schools in the Gaza periphery remain closed.

On Thursday, US top diplomat Antony Blinken, meeting Israeli and Palestinian officials, called for the pause in hostilities to be extended and warned any resumption of combat must protect Palestinian civilians.

While expressing hope at the time that the ceasefire could be extended, Blinken said that if Israel resumed the war and moved against southern Gaza to pursue Hamas, it must do so in “compliance with international humanitarian law” and must have “a clear plan in place” to protect civilians. He said Israeli leaders understood that ”the massive levels of civilian life and displacement scale we saw in the north must not be repeated in the south.”

In an apparent effort to address those concerns, the IDF published a map splitting the Gaza Strip into hundreds of small zones, which it said it would use to notify Palestinian civilians of active combat zones.

A new interactive Gaza map issued by the IDF splits the Strip into hundreds of zones. The IDF said December 1, 2023, that it will be used to notify Palestinian civilians of active combat zones (screenshot)

It asked Palestinians to pay attention to their area’s number and follow the IDF’s future updates.

It is believed that the military may use this map to call on Palestinians from specific areas to evacuate when the IDF’s ground offensive expands to the Strip’s south, instead of demanding mass evacuations as it did in the northern part of Gaza.

Other world leaders and aid groups had also sought an extended pause.

Most of Gaza’s population is now crammed into the south with no exit, raising questions over how an Israeli offensive there can avoid heavy civilian casualties.

After the renewal of operations, Palestinians reported that the IDF dropped flyers in Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold in southern Gaza, calling on residents to move south to Rafah, warning the area is dangerous.

The military took control of most of Gaza City in the north of the Strip before the ceasefire took effect on November 24. Hamas released some hostages in stage-managed ceremonies watched by large crowds in parts of Gaza City over the past week, including in areas where the IDF have previously said it had gained control, in an apparent show of strength.

War erupted on October 7, after Hamas’s devastating onslaught in which 3,000 terrorists infiltrated southern Israeli communities, massacring 1,200 people — mostly civilians murdered in their homes and at a music festival — and taking some 240 hostages.

Israel responded with an air and ground offensive aimed at eliminating Hamas. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said that more than 15,000 people have been killed since October 7, most of them civilians. The numbers cannot be verified, do not differentiate between civilians and Hamas operatives, and include those killed by the terrorists’ own failed rocket launches.

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