ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Dec. 3: Shin Bet chief says Israel to take out Hamas leaders ‘in Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar’

IDF begins ground op in southern Gaza * Gallant meets freed hostage, vows to bring her son home * Missiles fired at Israel from Gaza, Lebanon * 2 more IDF soldiers killed in battle

  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) shakes hands with freed Hamas hostage Yelena Trufanov, December 3, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) shakes hands with freed Hamas hostage Yelena Trufanov, December 3, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
  • Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
  • This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli tanks on December 3, 2023 (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
    This picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli tanks on December 3, 2023 (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
  • A picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023, shows smoke billowing over the Palestinian enclave during Israeli strikes (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023, shows smoke billowing over the Palestinian enclave during Israeli strikes (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • A man in the rubble of a building in the aftermath of an overnight Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
    A man in the rubble of a building in the aftermath of an overnight Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
  • IDF Staff Sgt. Aschalwu Sama (left) and Sgt. First Class (res.) Or Brandes. (IDF)
    IDF Staff Sgt. Aschalwu Sama (left) and Sgt. First Class (res.) Or Brandes. (IDF)
  • A military drone flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP/Leo Correa)
    A military drone flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP/Leo Correa)
  • Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
  • File: The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/US Navy via AP)
    File: The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/US Navy via AP)

The Times of Israel is liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

US military official confirms ‘self-defense strike’ in Iraq in which 5 said killed

Illustrative: US Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with the Iraqi army, south of Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2017. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)
Illustrative: US Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with the Iraqi army, south of Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2017. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

A “self-defense strike” was carried out in northern Iraq against a drone launch site, a US military official says, after an air strike killed five pro-Iranian paramilitary operatives there.

“A self-defense strike was carried out on a drone staging site,” the official says on condition of anonymity. It took place “in the vicinity of Kirkuk” and targeted “an imminent threat,” he adds.

New UK foreign secretary heading for DC, with Israel-Hamas war on agenda

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron leaves at the end of a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on November 22, 2023. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron leaves at the end of a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on November 22, 2023. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron, a former prime minister brought back into government last month, will visit Washington this week, his office says.

The trip will be a chance to “reaffirm the strength of the UK’s relationship with its closest strategic ally,” the foreign office says.

At the center of Cameron’s discussion will be “support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and work to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East,” it adds.

Cameron was in Israel last month for a brief visit and has also traveled to Ukraine since he returned to government.

Netanyahu holds phone briefing with war cabinet, security chiefs

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with advisers in the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, December 3, 2023. (Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with advisers in the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, December 3, 2023. (Courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding a telephone assessment with advisers, his office says.

According to the PMO, Netanyahu is liasing with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Ministers Benny Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot and Ron Dermer, MK Aryeh Deri, IDF chief Herzi Halevi, Mossad chief David Barnea, National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi and other top officials.

At London interfaith vigil, Archbishop of Canterbury decries antisemitism, Islamophobia

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses the 'Building Bridges, Together for Humanity' vigil in central London on December 3, 2023. (HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses the 'Building Bridges, Together for Humanity' vigil in central London on December 3, 2023. (HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks out against antisemitism and Islamophobia at a vigil in London featuring bereaved Israelis and Palestinians and calling for unity against hate.

Welby tells the crowd it is time to “clean away antisemitism and Islamophobia,” both of which have been on the rise in Britain since the war sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented attack.

“We will not let antisemitism, Islamophobia have a role in our streets, our schools, our towns,” Welby adds.

Imam Monawar Hussain says “we stand united against all those who seek to sow hatred and division.”

IDF publishes footage of airstrike which killed Hamas commander

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The Israel Defense Forces releases footage of an airstrike in the Gaza Strip today, killing the commander of Hamas’s Shati battalion.

The IDF says Haitham Hawajri was responsible for sending Hamas terrorists into Israel during the October 7 massacre, and he led the fighting against troops in Gaza City’s Shati camp during the ground offensive.

According to the IDF, Hawajri, and his battalion, were responsible for securing Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, where the terror group is believed to have a base of operations underneath.

“As part of his role, Hawajri was responsible for a lot of terror activity against the citizens of the State of Israel,” the IDF adds in a statement.

Asked about Hamas rape, US congresswoman criticizes Israel, calls for ‘balance’ in outrage

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington speaks during a news conference, May 24, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington speaks during a news conference, May 24, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Asked about global silence on Hamas sexual violence against Israeli women, US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal responds by discussing Israeli actions in Gaza, and says that outrage must be “balanced.”

In an appearance on CNN, Jayapal is asked by anchor Dana Bash about the lack of response to the growing evidence of such allegations. The progressive member of Congress says she has “condemned what Hamas has done… but I think we have to remember” that Israel must “comply with international humanitarian law… morally we cannot say that one war crime deserves another.”

Bash pushes back, saying her question was about Hamas rape and sexual assault, “and you turned it back to Israel.”

“I think that rape is horrific, sexual assault is horrific, I think it happens in war situations,” replies Jayapal. “However I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians, 15,000 Palestinians have been killed.”

Air strike in Iraq kills five members of pro-Iran paramilitary group, say security sources

An air strike kills at least five members of a pro-Iran paramilitary group in Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province, two Iraqi security sources tell AFP.

The raid targets a site used by an armed group affiliated with Hashed al-Shaabi, a coalition of former paramilitary forces integrated into the Iraqi regular military, a senior security official in Kirkuk says without saying who had launched the attack.

It came a day after the government in Baghdad warned the United States against “attacks” on Iraqi territory.

IDF said to amend Gaza war plans in light of US demands for much-reduced civilian deaths

Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

In the wake of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit on Thursday, when the secretary told Israel it had to ensure much-reduced civilian casualties in its ongoing assault on Hamas in Gaza, the IDF “updated” and “made amendments” to its plans for expanding operations into the southern Gaza Strip, an Israeli diplomatic official is quoted telling Channel 12 news.

Blinken specified that Israel must designate multiple safe zones in southern and central Gaza for civilians to avoid the fighting, avoid the targeting of “life-critical infrastructure” such as hospitals, power stations and water treatment plants, and minimize the displacement of Gazans, among other demands.

“We did not ignore the American points, and this will become clear in the coming few days,” the official was quoted saying in the TV report, which comes as the IDF is gearing up for ground operations in Khan Younis and elsewhere in Gaza following the collapse on Friday of a week-long truce.

The TV report said Israel has also decided to keep humanitarian aid entering Gaza at the same levels as during the truce. It said senior Israeli officials are considering significantly increasing humanitarian aid — including food, medicines, fuel and gas — in light of the US concerns.

The report quotes the Israeli official saying that Blinken and US President Joe Biden, in his most recent phone conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, presented the demands as “a kind of condition: In order to receive continued American support for the achievement of the war goals, Israel must prove that all its plans take the civilian population into consideration, that it reduces to a minimum the evacuation of civilians from their homes, and that it works to provide more and more safe areas for non-combatants.”

IDF spokesman says ground troops are operating in ‘all areas of the Gaza Strip’

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout image published on December 3, 2023. (IDF)
IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout image published on December 3, 2023. (IDF)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military is expanding the ground offensive to “all areas of the Gaza Strip.”

He says that wherever Hamas operates, the IDF will reach.

Hagari also reveals that the commander of Hamas’s Shati battalion was killed in an airstrike in the Strip today. He says the Hamas commander “led the fighting in the Shati area, and under his command the plans to raid Israel during the October 7 massacre was carried out.”

“We are tracking around the clock to locate the senior Hamas leadership in the Strip. The goal is to eliminate each and every one of them,” Hagari says in response to a question.

Shin Bet chief in recording: We will get to Hamas chiefs ‘in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Qatar’

Shin Bet head Ronen Bar (L) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi are seen at the Shin Bet special operations command room, October 27, 2023. (Shin Bet)
Shin Bet head Ronen Bar (L) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi are seen at the Shin Bet special operations command room, October 27, 2023. (Shin Bet)

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar in recordings revealed tonight on the Kan public broadcaster says that the intelligence agency

“The cabinet set a goal for us, to take out Hamas. And we are determined to do it, this is our Munich,” he can be heard saying in the recordings, appearing to reference the Israeli operation to assassinate the terrorists responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympic attacks, which went on for a number of years.

“In every location, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Qatar, everyone,” he continues. “It will take a few years, but we will be there in order to do it.”

Bar admits that the intelligence agency failed in its mission ahead of the Hamas October 7 onslaught, but the Shin Bet “is now on an upward trend,” and already learning the lessons of the failures of that day and putting them into operation.

The Shin Bet chief says the threats against Israel over the past year “are unprecedented,” many of which are not known to the public.

TV report claims Hamas produced Oct. 7-style infiltration plan in 2016; IDF got it in 2018

Palestinians celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis, October 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)
Palestinians celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis, October 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)

Hamas prepared an operational plan in 2016 for a mass infiltration of southern Israel, including attacks on towns and kibbutzim and mass abductions, Channel 12 news reports.

The plan was obtained by the IDF’s Military Intelligence branch in March 2018, the report says.

The October 2016 plan provided for the destruction of the IDF’s Gaza Brigade’s base at Re’im, the invasion of the border town of Sderot and of several Gaza-envelope kibbutzim, and the abduction of large numbers of people — all of which it carried out on October 7, the unsourced report says.

The plan, which specified that the invasion would be carried out in autumn, also reportedly featured several elements that were not implemented in the terror group’s devastating onslaught eight weeks ago, including retaining captured territory for an undefined period and activating “sleeper cells” in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel at the time was working on an underground barrier intended to prevent Hamas tunneling into Israel, the TV report notes, while Hamas was already working on plans for a mass attack through the border fence.

In the almost two months since 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst through the border, slaughtered 1,200 people and took some 240 hostages, multiple reports have indicated that Israel’s security hierarchies had considerable intel and other material pointing to a major Hamas attack, and that an array of warnings from surveillance soldiers, intelligence officers and others were ignored and derided, while the military top brass assessed that Hamas was deterred and not seeking hostilities against Israel.

Ex-Mossad chief Cohen: IDF ground op in south Gaza ‘will be much more complicated’

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen at the Jerusalem Post Conference on October 12, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen at the Jerusalem Post Conference on October 12, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen says that the IDF ground operation in south Gaza will be trickier considering the extremely dense population of civilians, especially due to those who fled fighting in north Gaza.

“The evaucation of civilians in south Gaza will be much more complicated,” Cohen says in an interview with Channel 12 news. “This doesn’t give us much room to play.”

He says such a reality “makes it harder for us,” noting also international pressure and US concern on the protection of civilians.

Cohen says it is “difficult to say how long things will take” until the end of the war. “The war will end when Hamas won’t fire at us at all… and when it has no more military capabilities.”

He says that he is “convinced… that there was one thing that convinced Hamas to talk to us, which is the massive IDF air and ground operation,” and therefore he believes the return to fighting is the “right thing” to return the rest of the hostages, “and we will not give up until the very last hostage is in our hands.”

Cohen adds that Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar “sees what he has already lost,” saying that Israel “must get to him… this man should not exist.”

He also says that Israel “does not want to take full control of Gaza after the war,” but that there may be some security presence, he says that Palestinian leadership and Arab nations may also play a role in ruling the Strip in the future, but that the Palestinian Authority cannot do so alone.

Barkat confirms he will not vote for wartime budget update in Knesset this week

Economy Minister Nir Barkat (center) speaks at a meeting of the Knesset Economy Committee, October 25, 2023. (Courtesy)
Economy Minister Nir Barkat (center) speaks at a meeting of the Knesset Economy Committee, October 25, 2023. (Courtesy)

Economy Minister Nir Barkat will not vote for the government’s wartime budget update when it comes to the Knesset floor on Wednesday, Barkat’s office confirms.

Barkat has publicly railed against the budget as being insufficient to answer wartime economic needs, and a source close to the economy minister says that the budget, as presented, “will lead to economic collapse.”

Communication has seemingly broke down between Barkat and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the two have not spoken since meeting last week to discuss Barkat’s reservations about the budget, and Barkat did not attend their Likud faction meeting today, his office says.

Barkat also did not vote for the budget when it was brought for cabinet approval last week.

Benny Gantz’s National Unity party also opposed the budget update, but cited its discomfort with permitting politically promised funds to flow to non-war effort needs as its concern.

Without Barkat and Gantz, the budget can still have 63 votes to pass, more than the 61 required to guarantee its approval.

Rocket fired at Israel from Syria lands in open area, IDF returns fire

Israeli military tanks take up a position during a drill in the Golan Heights on November 9, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Israeli military tanks take up a position during a drill in the Golan Heights on November 9, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says one rocket was fired from Syria at northern Israel a short while ago.

The rocket fire set off sirens in the southern Golan Heights community of Keshet.

According to the IDF, the rocket landed in an open area, causing no injuries,

It says troops are responding with artillery shelling at the source of the fire in Syria.

IDF: Reservist who shot dead civilian at terror attack site being ‘questioned under caution’

Police and rescue workers at the scene of a terror shooting attack in Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)
Police and rescue workers at the scene of a terror shooting attack in Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

The Israel Defense Forces says a soldier who is suspected of killing Yuval Castleman, a civilian who was shot after stopping a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem last week, is being investigated under caution and his weapon has been taken away.

“The IDF expresses sorrow for the death of the late Yuval Doron Castleman who acted with courage and heroism, and engaged and eliminated terrorists in the attack in Jerusalem,” the IDF says in a statement.

“A soldier in reserve service who is suspected of having carried out the shooting that caused the death of the late Yuval underwent an initial interrogation on the day of the incident. The soldier was not in [his] unit over the weekend, and arrived today for questioning under caution by the Military Police’s Investigatory Unit,” the IDF says.

The IDF says another soldier who was involved in the incident, had opened fire, and was injured, is also being questioned under caution.

“The soldiers’ weapons were taken and are being transferred for inspection,” the IDF adds.

IDF chief: Ground op in south Gaza has begun, will be as ‘powerful’ as operations in north

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops at the Gaza Division in southern Israel, December 3, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops at the Gaza Division in southern Israel, December 3, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi confirms the military is beginning to operate in southern Gaza, as ground operations continue in the northern part of the Strip.

Speaking to troops at the Gaza Division in southern Israel, Halevi says “yesterday, today, we killed [Hamas] battalion commanders, company commanders and many operatives. And yesterday morning we started the same move in the south of the Gaza Strip.”

“It will be no less powerful than [the operations in northern Gaza], it will have no less results,” Halevi says. “The Hamas commanders will meet the IDF everywhere.”

“We have the capabilities to do it in the most thorough way, and just as we did it with strength and thoroughly in the north of the Gaza Strip, we are also doing it now in the south of the Gaza Strip, and we also continue to deepen the achievements in the north of the Gaza Strip,” he adds.

Unverified footage circulated online over the past day has shown Israeli tanks in southern Gaza, north of Khan Younis. Hamas has also claimed to have clashed with troops in the area.

Gallant meets released hostage Yelena Trufanov, vows to try and bring her son home

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) shakes hands with freed Hamas hostage Yelena Trufanov, December 3, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) shakes hands with freed Hamas hostage Yelena Trufanov, December 3, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with the family members of hostages held in Gaza — including Yelena Trufanov, who was freed last week, and whose son Sasha is still held captive.

“When the military activity advances, the pressure on Hamas rises and so does the chance of returning more hostages,” Gallant tells the group.

The minister says that “in the name of the entire security services, I am telling you that we are doing everything we can with full commitment” to bring the remaining hostages home.

“In every military action, the consideration of the hostages is taken into account,” he adds.

Husband of freed hostage: She thought for 51 days that I had been killed

The reunification of the Brodutch family, with father Avichai meeting his wife Hagar and their children Ofri, 10, Yuval, 9 and Oriya, 4, after the latter four were held by terrorists in Gaza for 51 days, November 27, 2023. (Spokesperson's Office, Schneider Children's Medical Center)
The reunification of the Brodutch family, with father Avichai meeting his wife Hagar and their children Ofri, 10, Yuval, 9 and Oriya, 4, after the latter four were held by terrorists in Gaza for 51 days, November 27, 2023. (Spokesperson's Office, Schneider Children's Medical Center)

Avichai Brodutch, whose wife Hagar and three children Ofri, 10, Yuval, 9, and Oriya, 4, returned from Hamas captivity last week, says his wife thought the entire time they were held hostage that he was dead.

“I left the house that morning and she didn’t know where I was… she didn’t hear anything,” he says during an interview on Channel 12 news. “But she heard what was going on in the kibbutz,” and thought I had been killed.

Brodutch says that Hagar “didn’t call me before getting on the helicopter [to meet him at the hospital] because she said she couldn’t even reconcile the fact that I was alive.”

Reuniting with his family was “joy that I can’t even describe… after time passed I understood that I’m one of the lucky ones and there are so many still there.”

Brodutch declines to provide many details of their time held hostage by the terror group, saying: “I think it’s her story to tell and not mine, when they are ready to tell their story they will.”

He says that “the kids are ok, there was a ‘high’ and it seemed like everything was perfect,” but that it will take them a while to fully heal from the psychological wounds of what they experienced.

Father of Palestinian-American boy slain near Chicago files wrongful death lawsuit

This undated photo provided on October 16, 2023, by the Chicago chapter of the Council On American Islamic Relations, shows Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Muslim boy alleged killed by his landlord over the 2023 Gaza war. (CAIR-Chicago via AP)
This undated photo provided on October 16, 2023, by the Chicago chapter of the Council On American Islamic Relations, shows Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Muslim boy alleged killed by his landlord over the 2023 Gaza war. (CAIR-Chicago via AP)

The father of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy fatally stabbed in what authorities allege was a hate crime has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Oday Al-Fayoume filed the lawsuit last month against the suburban Chicago landlord charged in the attack that left his child dead and the boy’s mother seriously wounded. The attack — which has renewed fears of anti-Islamic discrimination in the Chicago area’s large Palestinian community — has drawn condemnation from the White House.

Authorities allege Joseph Czuba, 71, targeted Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother Hanaan Shahin, on Oct. 14 because of their Muslim faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas. Czuba pleaded not guilty in October to hate crime and murder charges.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed Nov. 21 in Will County names Czuba, his wife, Mary Czuba, both of Plainfield, and their property management company, Discerning Property Management.

Joseph Czuba allegedly told his wife to inform Shahin he wanted the family gone from the apartment where they’d lived for two years. He also allegedly said he was afraid Shahin’s “Palestinian friends were going to harm them,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Mary Czuba and the management company “were indifferent and failed to recognize a threat and prevent serious bodily harm” to their tenants. A hearing is set for March 11.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels take credit for attacking ships in Red Sea

File: The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/US Navy via AP)
File: The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/US Navy via AP)

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels say they have attacked two ships off the Yemeni coast, adding the “Israeli” vessels were targeted over the war in Gaza.

In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis say they carried out an “operation against two Israeli ships in the Bab al-Mandab Strait,” a strategic waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, targeting the first with a “missile and the second ship with a drone.”

There was no immediation confirmation that there was any Israeli connection to the two ships. The Pentagon said earlier that a US Navy ship and a number of commercial ships had been attacked.

The Houthis have attacked others ships in recent weeks, some with ties to Israeli businessmen.

Italy refuses German request to return ancient Roman statue bought by Hitler

Italy’s culture minister is refusing a request by the German State Antiquities Collection in Munich to return an ancient Roman statue that embodied Hitler’s Aryan aesthetic, calling it a national treasure.

The Discobolus Palombara is a 2nd-century Roman copy of a long-lost Greek bronze original. Hitler had bought the Roman copy from its private Italian owner in 1938 under pressure from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and against the wishes of the education minister and cultural officials. The statue, unearthed at a Roman villa in 1781, was returned to Italy in 1948 as part of works illegally obtained by the Nazis.

The dispute arose when the director of the National Roman Museum requested the statue’s 17th-century marble base be returned from the Antikensammlungen state antiquities collection. The German museum instead asked for the return of the Discobolus Palombara, saying it had been illegally transported to Italy in 1948, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Friday.

Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, expresses doubts that the German culture minister, Claudia Roth, was aware of the Bavarian request.

“I made a joke — they’ll have to step over my dead body,” the minister tells Italian Rai state TV on Saturday evening. In his comments, he slams the German request for its return as “inadmissible.”

“This work was obtained fraudulently by the Nazis, and it’s part of our national heritage,” Sangiuliano tells Rai. He expressed hope that the base would be returned.

Lapid slams distribution of political funds during wartime, calls on MKs to vote against

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks during a Yesh Atid faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks during a Yesh Atid faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid argues that Israel should not be paving a path towards distributing political funding promises during wartime, as part of a Knesset debate preceding a vote related to Israel’s updated wartime budget.

“You can’t vote for billions of coalition funds during a war,” Lapid says from the Knesset rostrum. “I call on all coalition members who still have a piece of conscience in their heart to vote against this budget.”

The NIS 30 billion ($8 billion) being redirected from the current budget does not include coalition funds, but rather enables releasing over a billion shekels in frozen funds, by finalizing budgetary changes for the end of 2023.

The budget refresh does not address the 2024 budget, or the billions of shekels in coalition funds passed as part of it.

Slated to come up for its first of three Knesset votes on Wednesday, the budget is expected to pass, even without support from the wartime coalition’s National Unity party.

Pentagon: US warship and several commercial ships under attack in Red Sea

This photo released by the Houthi Media Center shows a Houthi forces helicopter approaching the cargo ship Galaxy Leader on Nov. 19, 2023 in the Red Sea. (Houthi Media Center via AP)
This photo released by the Houthi Media Center shows a Houthi forces helicopter approaching the cargo ship Galaxy Leader on Nov. 19, 2023 in the Red Sea. (Houthi Media Center via AP)

An American warship and multiple commercial ships have come under attack in the Red Sea, the Pentagon says, potentially marking a major escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Mideast linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

“We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available,” the Pentagon says.

The British military earlier said there had been a suspected drone attack and explosions in the Red Sea, without elaborating.

The Pentagon did not identify where it believed the fire came from.

However, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been launching a series of attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, as well as launching drones and missiles targeting Israel as it wages war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

White House: Israel is ‘making an effort’ to protect civilians in Gaza

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, on November 30, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, on November 30, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

A senior White House official says he believes Israel is “making an effort” to minimize civilian deaths in Gaza.

Speaking on the US Sunday talk shows, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also insists that US intelligence was unaware of any secret, advanced Hamas blueprint for its brutal October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the conflict.

“We believe they have been receptive to our messages here of trying to minimalize civilian casualties,” Kirby says, including by publishing online a map of places where Gazans could go to find safety. “There’s not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that… to telegraph their punches in that way. So they are making an effort.”

Netanyahu: Now we’re speaking with the enemy about freeing hostages — ‘through fire’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a Likud party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on December 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a Likud party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on December 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells members of his Likud party that Israel’s efforts to free further hostages from Gaza are being made through its military campaign in the Strip.

“We are continuing now to speak with our enemy about continuing to free hostages — speaking with fire,” he says.

The prime minister says that the war cabinet is acting “quickly but not recklessly” in its decisions about fighting, and says that the focus remains on both the southern and northern fronts.

Netanyahu also tells Likud ministers and lawmakers “be careful with your words, in particular during a time of war,” and avoid getting into personal arguments, including criticizing security forces.

Grandfather of 3-year-old twins freed from Gaza: They took one away from her mother for 10 days

Twins Yuli and Emma Cunio, 3, seen being released, in propaganda footage issued by the Hamas terror group that abducted them, on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)
Twins Yuli and Emma Cunio, 3, seen being released, in propaganda footage issued by the Hamas terror group that abducted them, on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)

Ramos Aloni, whose two daughters and three granddaughters were released from Hamas captivity last week, says that for a 10-day period the terrorists took one of the 3-year-old twins away from her mother.

His daughter Daniel Aloni and 5-year-old granddaughter Emilia Aloni were freed last week, and a few days later his other daughter Sharon Aloni Cunio and 3-year-olds Yuli and Emma were also released, but their father David and several members of his family are still held hostage.

“They took [Yuli] out of their hands and they didn’t know what was going on, if she was alive,” Ramos tells Channel 12 news. “Sharon told me that they were moved to a new place, and suddenly she heard the crying of a baby and she said to her husband David, that’s Yuli crying,” and they were finally reunited. “Telling you this gives me goosebumps.”

Ramos says his children told him that during the 50-plus days they were held hostage, “they were only allowed to sit or stand, they weren’t allowed to walk around and they all had to speak in a whisper.”

Ramos says that Sharon and David were kept together until three days before she was freed from Gaza.

He recounts that in recent days they told Emilia that “‘we’re going to meet aunt Sharon,’ and she thinks for a second, and says ‘are we going via the tunnels?'”

In a message to his son-in-law David, Ramos says: “You’re not alone, none of you, and Sharon is waiting for you, and Emma and Yuli are waiting for you.”

IDF says it has carried out 10,000 airstrikes in Gaza since start of ground operation

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The Israel Defense Forces says it has marked 10,000 airstrikes carried out in the Gaza Strip that were directed by ground forces.

These airstrikes have been led by the Israeli Air Force’s so-called cooperation unit — also known as Cooperation Unit 5620 — which coordinates operations between the IAF and ground forces during maneuvers.

“From the beginning of the fighting until today, around 10,000 airstrikes were carried out at the direction of the forces on the ground, in short periods. The forces ‘closed circles’ and thwarted terror cells, terror infrastructure, operational apartments, tunnel shafts, weapons warehouses and more,” the IDF says in a statement.

Speaking during an assessment today at the IAF’s headquarters, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says that “a large part of our security in the maneuver is the very, very close and high-quality cooperation [of the ground forces] with the Air Force.”

“It made the maneuver much more effective,” Halevi adds.

Smotrich engages in shouting match with opposition MKs, accuses them of hating Haredim

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich shouts from the podium in the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich shouts from the podium in the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich taunts opposition lawmakers, accusing them of trashing his wartime budget update because of prejudice against the ultra-Orthodox.

“I’m proud of my economic policy,” says Smotrich, and “I am sad for you because of a few pennies here for the Haredim,” he says, waving his hands, that “you won’t vote” for the budget, which includes previously pledged funds for Haredi education.

“You can’t get over a little bit of cynical hate for Haredim?” he continues. “You’re not embarrassed?”

Opposition MKs engage in a screaming match with Smotrich from the Knesset benches.

“You’re conducting politics on the backs of the evacuees,” yells Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav-Herzano, implying that the budget is taking money that could have been used to support internally displaced people and giving it to political interests.

“Be embarrassed,” echoes Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen, from the Knesset podium, in comments directed toward Smotrich.

“What fight do I have with the Haredim?” Cohen says, adding “why do we need this today?” in the middle of the war.

“It’s permitted for us to argue with you and say that in the middle of a war, we don’t need coalition funds,” Cohen adds.

Smotrich leaves the plenum in the middle of Cohen’s remarks.

IDF says it is striking Hezbollah sites in Lebanon after missile attack

Smoke rises during an exchange of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah on the border between Israel and Lebanon, December 3, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Smoke rises during an exchange of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah on the border between Israel and Lebanon, December 3, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The IDF says fighter jets struck several Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to the attacks on the border today, including an anti-tank guided missile attack that left several soldiers wounded.

The IDF says rockets were also fired from Lebanon at northern Israel, setting off sirens in the northern community of Zar’it.

It says troops are responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the fire.

Amid opposition, Smotrich says he plans to introduce budget update in Knesset tomorrow

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a Religious Zionism party faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 27, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a Religious Zionism party faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 27, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tells the Knesset plenum that he plans to bring his wartime budget update for the first of its three Knesset votes on Wednesday.

“Our goal is to put it on the Knesset table tomorrow in order to vote on it on Wednesday,” Smotrich says, adding that the plan is subject to change.

Today, the Knesset is slated to vote on a bill that will decrease the deficit and limit expenses, as part of the budget update process.

Shouts erupt across the plenum, as opposition lawmakers heckle the finance minister, who accused them of engaging in “populism” against his funding decisions.

The cabinet approved the NIS 30 billion change to the last six weeks of 2023’s budget, redirecting funds toward fighting the ongoing war against Hamas and supporting the home front.

Finalizing the wartime budget update is also expected to release hundreds of millions of shekels of frozen coalition funds, held up until Israel finishes redirecting 2023 funds toward the war effort.

Hospital says it is treating 12 wounded by Hezbollah attack along northern border

IDF troops deploy on a road in Moshav Beit Hillel near the Lebanon border after anti-tank fire from Lebanon into northern Israel on December 3, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)
IDF troops deploy on a road in Moshav Beit Hillel near the Lebanon border after anti-tank fire from Lebanon into northern Israel on December 3, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

The Ziv Medical Center in Safed says it has admitted 12 people who were wounded as a result of a Hezbollah anti-tank guided missile attack earlier near the northern community of Beit Hillel.

The hospital says 11 men and one woman, between the ages of 20 and 65, are all lightly hurt as a result of shrapnel and the missile’s blast.

The IDF had said only four soldiers were lightly hurt in the attack, and it was not clear if the other victims were soldiers or civilians.

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border communities

Security forces inspect a synagogue after it was hit following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, December 3, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Security forces inspect a synagogue after it was hit following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, December 3, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Rocket sirens sound in the Gaza border communities of Ein Hashlosha and Nirim.

Earlier, sirens sounded in the nearby kibbutzim of Nir Yitzhak and Sufa.

Two rockets earlier today slammed into the mostly evacuated city of Sderot, causing heavy damage to a synagogue but no injuries.

IDF mum amid reports ground troops operating in southern Gaza

Palestinians flee Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip after the IDF called on people to leave certain areas in the city, December 3, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Palestinians flee Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip after the IDF called on people to leave certain areas in the city, December 3, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Over the past day, there have been unconfirmed reports of IDF ground forces operating in the southern Gaza Strip.

Footage posted to social media has purported to show Israeli tanks on the Salah a-Din road, Gaza’s main north-south highway, between Deir al Balah and Khan Younis.

The footage comes as both the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups claim to have clashed with IDF soldiers in areas northeast of Khan Younis today.

The IDF has not yet confirmed it is operating on the ground in southern Gaza.

Hen Avigdori, after first Shabbat with freed wife and daughter: ‘Our joy is partial’

Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam are reunited with husband and father Hen Avigdori and their son Omer Avigdori after Sharon and Noam were released by Hamas from captivity in Gaza on Saturday, November 25, 2023. (Courtesy Avigdori family)
Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam are reunited with husband and father Hen Avigdori and their son Omer Avigdori after Sharon and Noam were released by Hamas from captivity in Gaza on Saturday, November 25, 2023. (Courtesy Avigdori family)

Hen Avigdori, whose wife Sharon and daughter Noam were released from Hamas captivity last week after more than seven weeks, says he was overjoyed to spend a first Shabbat with his reunited family, but his heart is with the remaining hostages.

“We all got together at my parents’ house, all the cousins and grandkids… it was very moving, very emotional… very loud, very happy,” he tells Channel 12 news.

But “amidst the joy… we recognize that our joy is partial, it’s just ours,” he says. “Everyone must come home, every hostage must return.”

Avigdori says Sharon and Noam “are OK physically and emotionally,” but he refuses to publicly share any details of what they experienced.

He promises to also fulfill the vow he made while Noam was held hostage in Gaza: “She will get a dog.”

ICC prosecutor promises to ‘further intensify’ investigation of war crimes in Israel, Gaza

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, addresses a UN Security Council meeting on July 13, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, addresses a UN Security Council meeting on July 13, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court vows to step up efforts to investigate alleged war crimes, as he wraps up a visit to Israel and the West Bank.

Karim Khan stresses his visit is “not investigative in nature,” but says he was able to speak to victims on both sides of the conflict. “My office will further intensify its efforts to advance its investigations in relation to this situation.”

“Credible allegations of crimes during the current conflict should be the subject of timely, independent examination and investigation,” he adds.

But ICC teams have not been able to enter Gaza or investigate in Israel, which is not an ICC member.

Khan says he witnessed “calculated cruelty” at the sites attacked by Hamas. Those attacks “represent some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes which the ICC was established to address.” He adds also that “the manner in which Israel responds to these attacks is subject to clear legal parameters that govern armed conflict.”

Rocket sirens blare in northern town Zar’it near Lebanon border

Rocket sirens sound in the northern town of Zar’it, close to the border with Lebanon.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Earlier today, a number of soldiers were lightly wounded when an anti-tank missile was fired toward their vehicle close to Beit Hillel, also on the northern border.

Sirens in Ashkelon and Gaza border towns as barrage of rockets fired from Strip

Sirens sound in the coastal city of Ashkelon and a number of communities near Gaza as a barrage of rockets is fired from the Strip.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Netanyahu speaks to father of Yuval Castleman, about whose killing he said ‘that’s life’

Yuval Castleman (courtesy)
Yuval Castleman (courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the father of Yuval Castleman, about whose killing he said “that’s life,” and describes him as a “hero” for saving multiple lives during a terror attack before he was shot by a soldier.

“Yuval Castleman is a hero of Israel. Yuval saved many lives in an act of supreme heroism, but unfortunately a terrible tragedy happened there – the man who saved them was himself killed. This matter must be thoroughly investigated,” the premier says in a statement.

“Today I spoke with Moshe, Yuval’s father. The salt of the earth, a Zionist family, a wonderful family. I and the entire nation mourn with them over the death of a hero of Israel,” Netanyahu says.

Castleman shot the perpetrators of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem on Friday, before he himself was shot by an Israel Defense Forces soldier.

Graphic video from the scene showed Castleman throw away his gun, fall on his knees and raise his hands in the air while shouting “Don’t shoot” as the soldiers approached him. He was then shot again by one of them.

Castleman’s family has called his death an “execution.”

Pope laments ‘painful’ end of truce, calls for release of hostages and improvement to Gazans’ lives

Pope Francis is seen on a giant screen at St. Peter's square in The Vatican as he delivers the Angelus prayer on December 3, 2023 (Tiziana FABI / AFP)
Pope Francis is seen on a giant screen at St. Peter's square in The Vatican as he delivers the Angelus prayer on December 3, 2023 (Tiziana FABI / AFP)

An ailing Pope Francis addresses the war between Israel and Hamas.

“Dear brothers and sisters, good day. Also today, I won’t be able to read everything. I’m getting better, but the voice still isn’t strong enough to read everything,” Francis says, before passing the microphone to a priest to read prepared remarks.

“It’s painful that the truce has been broken,” Francis says in the remarks read by the priest. ”That means death, destruction and misery.”

He calls for the release of the remaining hostages who were kidnapped from Israel in the Hamas Oct. 7 onslaught.

“Many hostages have been freed but so many others are still in Gaza,” he says.

The pope also laments the lack of basic necessities of life in Gaza amid the subsequent war triggered by the terror group’s attack.

“There is so much suffering in Gaza,” he says.

Last week saw a pause in fighting as well as the release of some of the hostages held by terrorists in Gaza. The truce ended on Friday when Hamas violated the terms by firing rockets toward Israel and failing to hand over a list of names of hostages to be released under the terms of the agreement.

The comments come days after the Washington Post reported that Pope Francis held a tense phone call with President Isaac Herzog last month in which he appeared to categorize Israel’s military operations against the Hamas terror group in Gaza as “terrorism,” citing an unnamed senior Israeli official familiar with the call.

IDF says a number of soldiers lightly wounded in anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon; Hezbollah claims responsibility

The Israel Defense Forces says a number of soldiers are lightly wounded by shrapnel following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon at an army vehicle near the northern community of Beit Hillel.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Several rockets also fired at the Mount Dov area on the border, though some fell short in Lebanon, according to the IDF.

The IDF says it is shelling the sources of fire with artillery.

Anti-tank missile said to hit near northern border community Beit Hillel

An anti-tank guided missile fired from Lebanon hit an area near the northern community of Beit Hillel, according to initial reports cited by Hebrew-language media.

At the same time, rockets were fired at army positions along the border, setting off sirens in two communities.

There is no immediate information on casualties in the attacks.

2 rockets fired from Gaza hit Sderot, causing damage but no injuries

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have impacted in the southern city of Sderot, causing damage, according to the municipality.

There are no reports of injuries.

Several other rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome over the city.

Gantz swipes at Netanyahu: Civilian’s killing by IDF soldier shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘that’s life’

War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz swipes at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the latter described the killing by an IDF soldier of Yuval Castleman, a civilian who shot the perpetrators of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem, as “that’s life.”

“The case of Yuval [Castleman] the hero, is not ‘that’s life,’ but a warning sign that requires learning lessons that will save lives in the future,” Gantz writes on X.

The National Unity leader calls for “a comprehensive investigation” to evaluate on-the-ground and policy failures contributing to Castleman’s death.

“Alongside the mandatory investigation of the tragic case by relevant IDF and police forces, a comprehensive investigation is required into the circumstances that led to it, [as well as into] procedures and adherence to weapons doctrine,” Gantz, a former defense minister, writes on X.

Graphic video from the scene showed Castleman throw away his gun, fall on his knees and raise his hands in the air while shouting “Don’t shoot” as the soldiers approached him. He was then shot again by one of them.

Castleman’s family has called his death an “execution.”

“This is our commitment to Yuval [Castleman], his family and Israeli society as a whole,” Gantz continues, adding that: “The scene of an attack is almost always complex and I am sure that the soldier who shot Yuval did so by mistake, a mistake that cost a heavy price.”

Rocket warnings sound in towns near northern, southern borders

Sirens sound in a number of communities close to the northern and southern border, warning of incoming rocket fire from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Alerts are heard in Dafna and Kibbutz Dan in the north, and in Sufa, Sderot, Ibim and Nir Am in the south.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF says over 800 tunnel shafts uncovered in Gaza since start of ground offensive

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have discovered more than 800 tunnel shafts in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the ground offensive which began in late October.

It says that around 500 of them have already been destroyed, either by setting off large amounts of explosives inside, or by sealing them.

According to the IDF, many of the tunnels connect between Hamas “strategic assets.”

The IDF says it has also destroyed many kilometers’ worth of tunnels, in addition to the shafts.

“The shafts were located in civilian areas, and many of them were located near or inside educational institutions, kindergartens, mosques, and playgrounds,” the IDF says.

In some of the tunnels, IDF troops found Hamas weaponry.

“These findings are further proof of the cynical use that the Hamas terror organization makes of the civilian population as a human shield, and as a cover for its terror activity,” the IDF adds.

Denmark orders military to protect Jewish, Israeli sites amid rising antisemitism, terror threat

The Danish government has ordered the military to assist police protecting Jewish and Israeli sites, Bloomberg reports.

Denmark’s Defense Ministry says troops will help protect a number of sites, including the Israeli embassy and the synagogue in Copenhagen.

“The terrorist threat against Denmark is serious,” says Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsenm, according to the news outlet. “And the conflict in the Middle East has led to a completely unacceptable rise in antisemitism and more uncertainty among Jews in Denmark.”

IDF’s Arabic spokesman threatens Hamas’s Shejaiya battalion

A military drone flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP/Leo Correa)
A military drone flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP/Leo Correa)

The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, threatens Hamas’s Shejaiya battalion in a post on X.

“This is a final notice. You are all targets,” Adraee says, attaching a picture of the commanders of the Shejaiya battalion, which operates in the Gaza City neighborhood of the same name.

He says the IDF will work to destroy Hamas’s infrastructure in the neighborhood.

“You have two options: Surrender and lay down your weapons, or face a fate similar to that faced by Wissam Farhat,” Adraee says, referring to the Shejaiya battalion commander who was killed in an Israeli airstrike yesterday.

UK military: ‘Potential explosion’ on key shipping route near Yemen amid drone activity

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A “potential explosion” has struck a key shipping route off the coast of Yemen, the British military says.

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations issues a brief warning to shippers that the incident happened in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which separates East Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.

The UKMTO said drone activity also has been reported in the area.

The Bab el-Mandeb links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. That area has seen a series of attacks in recent weeks attributed to Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who have also launched missiles and drones toward Israel over its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

Taibe man charged over terror activities with West Bank cell

A 19-year-old man from Taibe was arrested and charged with a number of serious security and terror offenses, police and the Shin Bet say in a joint statement.

The statement says Mahmoud Rafik Abd al-Rahim Massarwa was charged today for a series of serious security offenses, including aiding the enemy in war, membership in a terrorist organization, training for terror purposes, using a weapon for terrorism, aggravated sabotage as an act of terror, and using a firearm.

Security officials say that the suspect received Israeli citizenship under family unification rights, and took advantage of his freedom of movement in order to carry out terror activities with a cell in the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm in the West Bank.

The suspect’s terror activities came to light during an investigation into an arson attack on a store in Taibe that was looted and torched after the owner made a donation of some 50 kids’ bicycles to families evacuated from communities close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

Rocket sirens sound in Sderot, communities close to the Gaza border

Sirens sound in the Gaza border towns Sderot, Kissufim, Ibim and Nir Am, warning of incoming rocket fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Communities close to the border with the Strip have been largely evacuated of civilians since October 7.

Shin Bet says it arrested suspects who opened fire at vehicles in West Bank last month

The Shin Bet security agency says the military has arrested a group of Palestinian suspects who allegedly attacked Israeli vehicles on the Route 5 highway in the West Bank two weeks ago.

According to the Shin Bet, on November 19, the terrorists placed improvised spike strips on the highway, near the town of Zawiya, and opened fire at Israeli cars.

Several vehicles were damaged by the spikes and the gunfire, according to the Shin Bet.

“Immediately after the attack, forces worked to locate the terrorists, and arrested suspects involved in the attack based on intelligence information from the Shin Bet, and transferred them for further interrogation,” the agency says.

Another member of the cell was detained yesterday by IDF forces, and a weapon used in the attack was seized, the Shin Bet says.

Sirens sound in Magen, near Gaza border

Sirens sound in the Gaza border town Magen, warning of incoming rocket fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Communities close to the border with the Strip have been largely evacuated of civilians since October 7.

IDF says rocket fired from Syria toward Israel; military responded with artillery

Earlier this morning, a rocket was fired from Syria at northern Israel, the IDF says.

The projectile landed in an open area, causing no injuries. No sirens sounded in towns.

The IDF says it shelled the source of fire with artillery.

Separately an anti-tank guided missile was fired from Lebanon at an open area near the northern community of Yiftah, causing no injuries, according to the IDF.

The IDF says it shelled a number of areas in southern Lebanon with artillery.

Rocket sirens sound in Kissufim

Sirens sound in the Gaza border town Kissufim, warning of incoming rocket fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Communities close to the border with the Strip have been largely evacuated of civilians since October 7.

Man shot and killed in Nazareth

A man was shot and killed in the northern city of Nazareth, police say.

The man was critically wounded and later pronounced dead in a hospital.

In a statement, police say the man was killed in an apparent dispute between criminals.

The killing came amid a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years and has risen this year to unprecedented heights.

IDF says tunnels, terror command centers and munitions warehouses hit in overnight Gaza strikes

Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says that the Air Force carried out overnight strikes, hitting Hamas tunnels, command centers, munitions warehouses, and other sites connected to Gaza terror groups.

In addition, a group of Hamas operatives were “eliminated” by a drone, directed by troops of the 7th Armored Brigade, the IDF says.

The military also says the Navy shelled targets connected to Hamas, including military infrastructure, vessels associated with the terror group’s naval forces, and weapons depots.

IDF tells residents of a number of Khan Younis neighborhoods to leave for safe zones

Residents of the Qatari-funded Hamad Town residential complex in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip carry some of their belongings as they flee their homes after an Israeli strike, on December 2, 2023 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Residents of the Qatari-funded Hamad Town residential complex in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip carry some of their belongings as they flee their homes after an Israeli strike, on December 2, 2023 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The Israeli military is continuing to use an evacuation map for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, for them to avoid active combat zones.

The IDF’s Arabic-language Spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, says on X that Palestinians in a number of zones in Khan Younis should move to specified safe areas.

The map splits the Gaza Strip into hundreds of small zones, and the military has called on Palestinians to pay attention to their area’s number, and follow the IDF’s future updates.

IDF has established Gaza ‘deconfliction mechanism’ per US request — Israeli official

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip before a ceasefire enters effect, in handout photos released for publication on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip before a ceasefire enters effect, in handout photos released for publication on November 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel has established a deconfliction mechanism to prevent human rights workers and civilians in Gaza from being caught in the crossfire of the IDF’s fighting targeting Hamas.

“We are working very closely with [US] Ambassador [David] Satterfield and his team, as well as the UN. We have a deconfliction mechanism that we established,” an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

Satterfield, who serves as the Biden administration’s envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, said earlier this month that Israel had responded to a US request to create a “deconfliction mechanism” to better ensure that humanitarian workers are protected amid ongoing IDF strikes in Gaza.

“We realized and we impressed upon Israel that more had to be done. There needed to be a single coordinated, functional deconfliction mechanism. It happens in other areas of conflict and it needs to happen now,” David Satterfield said in a November 17 webinar hosted by the Al-Monitor news site.

Explaining the idea of the deconfliction mechanism, a US official told The Times of Israel earlier this month that an IDF officer will be tasked with coordinating between humanitarian organizations and troops on the ground so that the latter do not target areas where aid workers are operating.

Deconfliction efforts to date had not been streamlined, leading to several instances where aid workers and civilians were unnecessarily harmed, a US official said last week.

“We learned lessons from our northern Gaza operations and we are implementing them,” says the Israeli official. “Civilians will be able to receive humanitarian and medical treatment in no-strike zones and shelters.”

“In addition to the Jordanian field hospital that is already operating in Gaza, we are facilitating the construction of several more field hospitals,” the official adds.

After not allowing any fuel into Gaza on Friday, Israel facilitates delivery of 138,000 liters on Saturday

A truck carrying fuel which crossed into Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A truck carrying fuel which crossed into Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Israel facilitated the entry of 138,000 liters of fuel into Gaza on Saturday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says.

This is the largest amount of fuel allowed into Gaza in one day since the start of the war, according to OCHA figures.

Israel didn’t allow any fuel into Gaza on Friday — the first day since the truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed.

The US has told Israel it wanted delivery of aid to continue at the same level reached during the truce, when 200 trucks entered each day.

Just dozens of aid trucks entered Gaza on Friday.

OCHA says aid trucks carrying food, medicine, medical supplies, bottled water, blankets, tents and hygiene products entered from Egypt into Gaza on Saturday, but does not specify how many trucks.

The Palestinian Red Crescent says at least 50 trucks entered Gaza.

“Israel will continue allowing for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the Palestinian civilian population, including trucks with food, water, medicine, fuel, etc.,” an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

Post-war buffer zone envisioned by Israel won’t include troops on Gaza side of border — official

IDF troops operate in northern Gaza in this handout photo released on November 23, 2023. (IDF)
IDF troops operate in northern Gaza in this handout photo released on November 23, 2023. (IDF)

An Israeli official confirms plans for the IDF to establish a security buffer zone inside Gaza after the war but clarifies it will not include Israeli troops on the Palestinian side of the border.

“There are discussions in Israel about how we want to see Gaza when the war is over, given the October 7 attack,” an Israeli official explains in a briefing to The Times of Israel.

“The defense establishment is talking about some kind of security buffer on the Gaza side of the border so that Hamas cannot gather military capabilities close to the border and surprise Israel again,” the official continues.

“It is a security measure, not a political one. We do not intend to remain on the Gaza side of the border,” the official adds.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly shared his plan for a buffer zone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when the latter was in town on Thursday.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday that Washington opposes the idea.

“We don’t support any reduction of the geographic limits of Gaza… Gaza must remain Palestinian land, and cannot be reduced,” Kirby said during a press briefing.

IDF announces deaths of 2 more soldiers killed fighting in Gaza

This picture distributed by the Israel Defense Forces on December 3, 2023, shows soldiers in the Gaza Strip amid the war against Hamas (Israel Defense Forces)
This picture distributed by the Israel Defense Forces on December 3, 2023, shows soldiers in the Gaza Strip amid the war against Hamas (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces announces the deaths of another two troops killed fighting against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

They are:

Staff Sgt. Aschalwu Sama, 20, from Petah Tikva, an infantry soldier in the Nahal Brigade’s 932nd Battalion. Sama was wounded on November 14 and died yesterday of his wounds.

Sgt. First Class (res.) Or Brandes, 25, from Shoham, a soldier in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 82nd Battalion. He was killed fighting yesterday in central Gaza.

UK to carry out surveillance flights over Gaza and Israel to help locate hostages

The United Kingdom will carry out surveillance flights over the Gaza Strip and Israel as part of efforts to locate hostages taken by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups on October 7, Sky News reports.

The British Defense Ministry tells the network that the surveillance aircraft “will be unarmed, do not have a combat role, and will be tasked solely to locate hostages.”

“Only information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue,” the ministry is quoted as saying.

IDF says rocket warning sirens in Ashkelon, Gaza border towns were false alarm

The Israel Defense Forces says the rocket warning sirens activated in Ashkelon and towns near the Gaza Strip were a false alarm.

Rocket warning sirens sound in Ashkelon, Gaza border towns

Rocket warning alerts are activated in numerous communities throughout southern Israel, including the coastal city of Ashkelon, Sderot and other towns near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces carrying out overnight strikes across Gaza — Palestinian reports

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, December 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, December 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Israeli forces are carrying out extensive air and artillery strikes throughout the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian media reports.

Among the areas being targeted are the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, the pro-Hamas Shehab news outlet says.

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