ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Dec. 6: Israel lashes UN chief for Hamas ‘support,’ says his term ‘a danger to world peace’

FM pans Guterres for using rare clause to urge Security Council action on Gaza * After US pressure, security cabinet okays allowing more fuel into Strip * IDF ground op toll at 84

  • A handout picture released by the Cuban presidency press office showing the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a press conference at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 2, 2023. (Photo by Alejandro Azcuy / PRESIDENCIA CUBA / AFP)
    A handout picture released by the Cuban presidency press office showing the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a press conference at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 2, 2023. (Photo by Alejandro Azcuy / PRESIDENCIA CUBA / AFP)
  • A convoy of trucks carrying fuel and aid drive in Gaza City's Zeitoun district on November 25, 2023, on the second day of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
    A convoy of trucks carrying fuel and aid drive in Gaza City's Zeitoun district on November 25, 2023, on the second day of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
  • Troops of the 98th Division operate in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, in a handout photo released December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Troops of the 98th Division operate in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, in a handout photo released December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Members of the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah salute during the funeral of Youssef Karam Jawad, a gunman killed during cross-border clashes with Israel in the southern Lebanese village of Aita Al Shaab, on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
    Members of the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah salute during the funeral of Youssef Karam Jawad, a gunman killed during cross-border clashes with Israel in the southern Lebanese village of Aita Al Shaab, on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
  • A parking lot at the Beersheba industrial zone after it was damaged by a rocket launched by terrorists in Gaza, December 6, 2023. (Israel Police)
    A parking lot at the Beersheba industrial zone after it was damaged by a rocket launched by terrorists in Gaza, December 6, 2023. (Israel Police)
  • Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israelis put up posters of the hostages by terrorists in Gaza, at 'Hostages Square' in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2023. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    Israelis put up posters of the hostages by terrorists in Gaza, at 'Hostages Square' in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2023. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
  • Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
  • An Israeli fighter jet flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, December 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    An Israeli fighter jet flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, December 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

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

After US pressure, Israel approves increasing amount of fuel allowed into Gaza

A convoy of trucks carrying fuel and aid drive in Gaza City's Zeitoun district on November 25, 2023, on the second day of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)
A convoy of trucks carrying fuel and aid drive in Gaza City's Zeitoun district on November 25, 2023, on the second day of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

The Prime Minister’s Office announces that the security cabinet has voted to approve the war cabinet’s proposal to increase the daily amount of fuel allowed into the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the PMO does not say how by how much the delivery will grow, merely saying the additional fuel approved is “the minimal amount needed to prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of epidemics in the southern Gaza Strip.

“This minimal amount will be determined from time to time by the war cabinet, in accordance with the disease rate and humanitarian conditions in the Strip.”

The security cabinet had reportedly convened, following US pressure, with Washington demanding that the daily delivery of 60,000 liters of fuel be doubled or even tripled.

The Ynet news site says far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir voted against the motion.

Channel 12 news cites unsourced “estimates” that the war cabinet will gradually increase the daily amount from the current 60,000 liters to three times that amount, 180,000 liters, in accordance with the US demand.

FM Cohen: UN chief’s move shows he backs Hamas, his term is ‘danger to world peace’

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during a press conference at the European Office of the United Nations, Palais des Nation, in Geneva on November 14, 2023. (PIERRE ALBOUY / AFP)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during a press conference at the European Office of the United Nations, Palais des Nation, in Geneva on November 14, 2023. (PIERRE ALBOUY / AFP)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen tweets that the tenure of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “a danger to world peace,” responding to the latter’s decision to invoke a rare clause in the UN charter to urge Security Council intervention in the Israel-Hamas war.

Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN’s charter, which states that “the secretary-general may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Cohen claims that Guterres’s decision “constitutes support of the Hamas terrorist organization and an endorsement of the murder of the elderly, the abduction of babies and the rape of women.

“Anyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas.”

As UN chief uses rare clause to urge truce, Israeli envoy says he ‘reached a new moral low’

From left, Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General, and Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, browse the Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims Exhibit, January 26, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo/ File)
From left, Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General, and Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, browse the Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims Exhibit, January 26, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo/ File)

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan castigates UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling on him to resign, after Guterres invoked a rare clause and prompted the Security Council to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza and call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Guterres wrote the letter invoking Article 99 of the UN’s charter, which states that “the secretary-general may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

It is the first time the UN chief has invoked the article since taking office in 2017, and the first time any secretary-general has made use of it since 1989.

“Today, the Secretary-General has reached a new moral low,” writes Erdan in a tweet. “The Secretary-General decided to activate this rare clause only when it allows him to put pressure on Israel, which is fighting the Nazi Hamas terrorists. This is more proof of the Secretary-General’s moral distortion and his bias against Israel.

“The Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire is actually a call to keep Hamas’s reign of terror in Gaza. Instead of the Secretary-General explicitly pointing to Hamas’s responsibility for the situation and calling on the terrorist leaders to turn themselves in and return the hostages, thus ending the war, the Secretary-General chooses to continue playing into Hamas’ hands,” Erdan says.

“I again call on the Secretary-General to resign immediately — the UN needs a Secretary-General who supports the war on terror, not a Secretary-General who acts according to the script written by Hamas.”

AFP contributed to this report.

Reports: Gantz’s party members urging him to quit the government since PM in ‘campaign’

Minister Benny Gantz holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 26, 2023. (Courtesy)
Minister Benny Gantz holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Some members of war cabinet minister Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White faction within the National Unity party urged Gantz today to bolt the emergency government which the party joined after the war against Hamas began, multiple Hebrew media outlets report.

During a faction meeting today, Blue and White MKs Michael Biton and Orit Farkash-Hacohen made the demand, arguing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already in the midst of a political campaign.

However, MK Ze’ev Elkin of the party’s second faction, the right-wing New Hope, said it would be a mistake to leave.

Gantz himself rejected the demand, according to the reports, saying: “I’m not making political considerations, I do what’s good for Israel. I don’t get up and leave when it’s not good for the state, and, anyway, when you do what’s right for Israel, the nation supports you politically.”

Yad Vashem: US universities’ antisemitism responses show ‘basic ignorance of history’

The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum says it is alarmed by the US congressional testimonies of the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The memorial claims the universities had an inadequate response to campus antisemitism that has flared during the Israel-Hamas war.

In a statement, Yad Vashem accuses the presidents of “minimizing” and “contextualizing” antisemitism.

“The positions taken by the three university presidents in their testimonies highlight a basic ignorance of history, including the fact that the Holocaust did not start with ghettos or gas chambers, but with hateful antisemitic rhetoric, decrees and actions by senior academics, among other leaders of society,” the statement says.

In recent weeks, the federal US government has opened investigations into several universities, including Penn and Harvard, regarding antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.

The university presidents told a House committee yesterday that there is a fine line between protecting free speech and allowing protests, while also combating antisemitism. They pointedly refused to say that calls for the genocide of Jews breach their rules on harassment and bullying, saying, it “depends on the context.”

The academic leaders said they were taking steps to combat antisemitism on campus, including increasing security and providing additional counseling and mental health support.

Harvard president claims her controversial remarks on genocide calls were misconstrued

Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens, during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)
Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens, during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)

In an apparent attempt at damage control, the president of Harvard University, Claudine Gay, issues a statement signaling that people have allegedly misunderstood her widely-panned remarks during a US House hearing yesterday, when she said that calls on campus for genocide against Jews are not necessarily harassment.

When New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik asked directly whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” is against the codes of conduct at Harvard, Gay pointedly refused to answer affirmatively, and said: “When speech crosses into conduct, we take action.”

In her new statement, Gay claims that “there are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students.

“Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile. They have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account.”

Family of Michel Nisenbaum, Sderot resident missing since Oct. 7, is told he’s in Gaza

The family of Michel Nisenbaum, a 59-year-old resident of Sderot who has been missing since the Hamas onslaught of October 7, has been notified today by authorities that he was likely abducted to the Gaza Strip and is being held hostage.

A divorced father of two daughters, Nisenbaum has been living in Sderot for the past seven years. He is a dual Israeli-Brazilian national.

He encountered terrorists in the area of Kibbutz Mefalsim on the morning of the mass assault, and has not been heard from since. It took two months for authorities to determine what happened to him.

Michel Nisenbaum, a Sderot resident, missing since the Hamas onslaught of October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

High Court dismisses petition to convene judge selection panel, after it convened last month

The Judicial Selection Committee meets for the first time in over 18 months in Jerusalem, on November 16, 2023. (GPO)
The Judicial Selection Committee meets for the first time in over 18 months in Jerusalem, on November 16, 2023. (GPO)

The High Court of Justice has dismissed a petition demanding that Justice Minister Yariv Levin convene the Judicial Selection Committee, after the panel met last month, even though no new judges have been appointed and no new permanent chief justice has been tapped.

The committee convened on November 16,for the first time since April 2022, and set out a timetable for future hearings to fill dozens of open positions on courts around the country, including the Supreme Court.

Levin, who chairs the committee, had refused to convene the panel since taking office in January, due to his desire to change its composition, in order to give the government control over appointments.

But petitions to the High Court against his stance and the fact that so many positions on courts around the country are empty seemingly forced his hand to convene the panel.

New Oct. 7 footage shows Hamas terrorists kidnapping Gabriela and Mia Leimberg, dog Bella

Newly published footage from October 7 shows Hamas terrorists exiting Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak with hostages Gabriela Leimberg and her 17-year-old daughter Mia, after massacring residents and abducting scores of others.

Mia, we know now, was carrying her dog Bella inside a blanket. All three were released last month as part of a truce deal.

IDF: Forces breached Hamas defenses in Gaza’s north, south; job is to find, kill Sinwar

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has broken through Hamas’s defenses in northern Gaza’s Shejaiya and Jabaliya, as well as in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Strip, a development that was announced earlier by the military.

“In the last 48 hours, in Jabaliya, Shejaiya, and Khan Younis, we breached the defense lines. The terrorists are coming out from underground and fighting our forces. And our forces are winning in close-quarters combat. They have the upper hand,” he says.

Responding to a question on remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said IDF troops are surrounding Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s home, Hagari says “Sinwar’s home is the Khan Younis area” — indicating that no specific building serving as a residence for Sinwar is being encircled.

“Sinwar is not above ground, but underground. I won’t elaborate on where exactly and what we know. Our job is to get to Sinwar and kill him,” he adds.

White House raps US university heads for refusing to say calls for genocide of Jews are harassment

Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens, during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)
Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens, during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)

The White House appears to rebuke the presidents of three top American universities, who refused to explicitly say that calls for genocide of Jewish people violate campus rules on harassment and bullying during a congressional hearing yesterday.

Asked if such calls are against the codes of conduct of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, all three presidents said the answer “depends on the context.”

“We just witnessed the worst massacre suffered by the Jewish people since the Holocaust, the latest atrocities in a heartbreaking, genocidal pattern that goes back thousands of years,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates says in a statement, weighing in on the growing controversy surrounding the hearing.

“It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country,” he says.

“Any statements that advocate for the systematic murder of Jews are dangerous and revolting – and we should all stand firmly against them, on the side of human dignity and the most basic values that unite us as Americans,” Bates adds, while avoiding direct mention of the university heads.

IDF says it reached center of Khan Younis, has sent additional division into Gaza

Troops of the 98th Division operate in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, in a handout photo released December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops of the 98th Division operate in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, in a handout photo released December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says its 98th Division is leading the ground offensive against Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, during which troops have surrounded the city of Khan Younis and are beginning to operate in it.

The 98th Division is made up of paratrooper forces — both from the standing army and the reserves — as well as the Commando Brigade and an elite artillery regiment. The 98th Division’s entry into Gaza means there are now four IDF divisions operating in the Strip. The others are the 162nd, 36th, and 252nd divisions, which have been operating in the enclave for several weeks now.

The IDF says the 98th Division “launched a combined attack on the area of ​​the city of Khan Younis, against the ‘centers of gravity’ of the Hamas terror organization.”

It says that within a few hours, the troops broke through the defenses of Hamas’s Khan Younis brigade, encircled the city, and began to maneuver deeper into it.

The troops that led the offensive captured Hamas strongholds, locating weapons and intelligence materials, the IDF says.

According to the IDF, the 98th Division troops have killed “many” Hamas operatives in ground combat and airstrikes so far, and have located around 30 tunnel shafts that have been destroyed.

The IDF says Commando Brigade forces along with the Givati Brigade have reached the center of Khan Younis, and have been conducting “targeted raids in the heart of the city,” killing Hamas operatives and destroying the terror group’s infrastructure.

In one of the operations, the IDF says a weapons depot inside a mosque was struck.

The IDF says the Khan Younis brigade is “one of the two most dominant Hamas brigades,” and that the city in southern Gaza is a “center of gravity” of the terror group.

“All the leadership of the Hamas terror organization — political and military — grew up in the area of ​​the city of Khan Younis, including Yahya Sinwar, Muhammad Sinwar, and Mohammed Deif. Now the city is surrounded by the 98th Division,” the IDF adds.

Gazans say IDF dropped leaflets with Quran verse about flood carrying away ‘wrongdoers’

Residents of Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza and the latest focus of the Israeli military’s ground offensive, say the army has showered the area with leaflets quoting a verse in the Quran.

Palestinians deciding whether to flee Khan Younis as Israeli tanks draw closer say they view the quoted verse, “The flood overtook them as they were wrongdoers,” as an ominous portent.

The Israeli military does not immediate respond to a request for comment.

Journalist Aamer Tabsh in Khan Younis says he saw Israeli planes drop thousands of the fliers.

Tabsh says residents are convinced the reference to the epic flood of Noah in the Quran and the Bible “means that something much worse is coming.”

Some are linking it to Hamas’s name for its October 7 onslaught against Israel, “Al Aqsa Deluge,” or flood. Others point to recent reports that the IDF is considering flooding Hamas’s subterranean tunnel network with seawater to force out the terrorists.

Public order in Gaza likely to ‘completely break down’ soon, claims UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an interview at the United Nations headquarters ahead of the COP28 meeting in New York, November 29, 2023. (Andrea RENAULT / AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an interview at the United Nations headquarters ahead of the COP28 meeting in New York, November 29, 2023. (Andrea RENAULT / AFP)

The head of the UN warns that he expects “public order to completely break down soon, due to the desperate conditions” in Gaza, given Israeli bombardment targeting the Hamas terror group.

The humanitarian conditions during the war are “fast deteriorating into a catastrophe, with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in a letter to the president of the Security Council.

“Such an outcome must be avoided at all costs,” he says in the letter.

PM: IDF encircling Sinwar’s home; Israel pressuring for ICRC visits to hostages

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirms earlier reports that IDF forces are encircling a home in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis belonging to Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, though the premier appears to indicate that Sinwar is not currently there.

“His home isn’t his castle, and he can flee, but it’s just a matter of time until we get to him,” Netanyahu says in a video statement in Hebrew.

IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari later says in response to a question about Netanyahu’s remark that “Sinwar’s home is the Khan Younis area” — indicating that no specific building serving as a resident for Sinwar is being encircled.

The premier adds that Israel is putting pressure for the Red Cross to visit the remaining hostages being held by terrorists in Gaza. He says he has told the organization’s president today to demand that Qatar use its influence over Hamas to secure such visits and a supply of medications for them.

Israel insisted last month that Red Cross visits were part of the deal for a truce and the release of women and kids from captivity in Gaza, but at the time, Qatar and the Red Cross refused to confirm that it was included.

Today, the Red Cross’s head of strategic communications, Patricia Rey González, told Israel’s Channel 12 news in an interview that the organization has not yet received a “green light” to visit the hostages, adding that it is a top priority.

Yemen’s Houthis claim responsibility for today’s rocket launched toward Eilat

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claim responsibility for a rocket launched toward Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat earlier today.

“We fired a salvo of ballistic missiles at Israeli military targets in Umm al-Rashrash — Eilat,” the statement reads, using the name of an Arab settlement predating the city’s foundation.

Today’s rocket launch activated Israel’s aerial defense system, and at least one projectile was intercepted by the arrow air defense system, according to the IDF.

“Our forces are continuing their operations and enforcing our decision to prevent Israeli ships from passing through the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, in support of the oppressed Palestinian people,” the group adds in its statement.

Over the past weeks, the Iran-sponsored group has repeatedly fired missiles toward the Israeli port city and targeted ships going through Bab al-Mandab Strait, a strategic waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, alleging that they belonged to Israel. Some of them had ties to Israeli businessmen.

The White House said Monday that the US may establish a naval task force to escort commercial ships in the Red Sea, a day after three vessels were struck by missiles fired by Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Ultranationalist Jerusalem Old City march tomorrow to urge expelling Muslim Waqf from Temple Mount

A poster for the ‘March of the Maccabees’ by ultranationalists and Temple Mount groups, published on December 6, 2023, planned to be held the next day. (Sons of Mount Moriah)

Two right-wing ultranationalist organizations, together with numerous Temple Mount activist groups, are set to hold a march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem tomorrow night to call for the reestablishment of “Jewish control” over the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

The event, coinciding with start of the Hanukkah festival and titled “March of the Maccabees,” will proceed through the Damascus Gate and into the Muslim Quarter. It will then pass by the offices of the Jordanian Waqf which runs the Temple Mount, and will finish by the ramp to the Mughrabi Gate which is the entrance to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims, located just outside the plaza of the Western Wall, the holiest site at which Jews are currently allowed to pray.

The goals of the march, as stated on a social media flier for the event, are to honor the memories of the IDF soldiers who have fallen in combat against the Hamas terror group in the current war, “eject the Waqf from the Temple Mount,” and “restore full Jewish control in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.”

The organization behind the march is called “Sons of Mount Moriah,” a radical new Temple Mount group run by an individual by the name of David Ben Moriah.

The X account for Sons of Mount Moriah expresses praise for the late Jewish supremacist rabbi Meir Kahane and has numerous images of the Temple replacing the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, as well as images of some form of aerial strikes raining down on the Muslim shrines currently situated in the holy site.

Another participating organization is the Kahanist “The Jewish Truth” movement, whose chairman Baruch Marzel was formerly the faction secretary of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Jewish supremacist Kach party and the founder of the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party. The movement advocates for the removal of Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount, the rebuilding of the Temple there, and the forced transfer of anyone who voted for the Arab political parties in the Knesset.

The police gave approval for the march to go ahead, but have restricted it to 200 participants and also refused a request by the organizers to go up to the Temple Mount itself.

Former Jerusalem police Chief Yair Yitzhaki has told Army Radio he cannot understand why police approved the march, arguing that the route through the Muslim Quarter is “an attempt to anger and inflame the area.”

AP contributed to this report.

‘It’ll be impossible to stop you,’ IDF chief tells new conscripts of brigades fighting in Gaza

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) speaks to new conscripts at the IDF's main induction center at the Tel Hashomer base in Ramat Gan, December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) speaks to new conscripts at the IDF's main induction center at the Tel Hashomer base in Ramat Gan, December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi tells new conscripts of the Nahal and Kfir infantry brigades that they are enlisting at a time when “the meaning of protecting the country, protecting the home, is much, much greater.”

“Both brigades are now, as we speak, fighting in Gaza. Complex combat in urban built areas,” Halevi tells the conscripts.

“The Kfir Brigade entered from the eastern part of the Strip, and it is fighting toward the west. The Nahal Brigade entered from the northern part and is now fighting toward the east. These two brigades are in very dense, very challenging areas,” he says.

“Soldiers there are making decisions, fighting the enemy… protecting each other, trying to locate hostages, rescue hostages… these are truly missions of the highest moral level imaginable,” Halevi says.

“You will connect with people and this creates a very, very large joint force. Even in Gaza it cannot be stopped. A group of troops who stick together like glue — no enemy can stop this. And you will be like that, and it will be impossible to stop you,” he adds.

Several religious IDF soldiers establish ‘first Chabad House’ in Gaza Strip

IDF soldiers from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement of Judaism have transformed a house in the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun into the “first Chabad House in Gaza.”

Chabad Houses around the world provide local and traveling Jews with kosher food, a place to pray and other religious services.

A writer for a Chabad website says on X that the soldiers will light Hanukkah candles during the upcoming festival, spreading “the light of Hanukkah to tens of thousands of IDF soldiers.”

“The soldier-led initiative is obviously not a formal Chabad center and was not organized nor authorized by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement,” a Chabad official in New York clarified.

‘We’re pushing forward’: IDF Southern Command head meets troops in southern Gaza

Head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman (center), speaks to forces in the southern Gaza Strip, December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman (center), speaks to forces in the southern Gaza Strip, December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, held an assessment in the southern Gaza Strip today, the military says.

“The fight in Khan Younis is a major effort… we are pushing forward constantly toward the goals set for us here on our front,” Finkelman says to troops in a video published by the IDF.

Russia’s Putin arrives in Saudi Arabia for visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he is to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Russian state television says.

Putin earlier today visited the United Arab Emirates, making a rare trip outside the former Soviet Union as Russia seeks to bolster its influence in the Middle East.

IDF announces death of reservist Adi Shani, raising Gaza ground op toll to 84

Sgt. Maj. (res.) Adi Shani, 39, who the army said on December 6, 2023, was killed in fighting in the northern Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)
Sgt. Maj. (res.) Adi Shani, 39, who the army said on December 6, 2023, was killed in fighting in the northern Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF announces the death of a reservist killed during fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the toll of slain soldiers during the ground offensive against Hamas to 84.

He is named as Sgt. Maj. (res.) Adi Shani, 39, of the 6036th logistics unit’s patrol company, from Tzur Yitzhak.

Gallant: We’ll push Hezbollah beyond Litani River before residents of northern Israel return home

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center, second row) meets mayors and heads of councils located near the Lebanon border in the north, in Nahariya, December 6, 2023. (Mateh Asher Regional Council)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center, second row) meets mayors and heads of councils located near the Lebanon border in the north, in Nahariya, December 6, 2023. (Mateh Asher Regional Council)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets mayors and heads of councils located near the Lebanon border in the north, promising them that their communities — evacuated since frequent border skirmishes began in October in the shadow of the war against Hamas — will not be returned home until the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group is driven north of the Litani River, according to Hebrew media reports.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006, barred Hezbollah from maintaining a military presence south of the Litani, which is located some 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah has blatantly violated that resolution and regularly launches attacks on Israel from near the border.

During the tense meeting in Nahariya, Gallant says the best option for Israel is to reach a diplomatic arrangement that will cause Resolution 1701 to be enforced.

If that doesn’t succeed, Gallant tells the local leaders, Israel will “act with all the means at its disposal” to push Hezbollah back through military actions.

Some 80,000 residents of communities located up to 10 kilometers south of the Lebanon border have been evacuated and are temporarily staying in hotels and other facilities, with funding from the state. Many have voiced concern that they will be exposed to dangers once they return home, if Hezbollah isn’t pushed away from the border area.

Security cabinet to meet today after US pressure, will mull doubling fuel to Gaza — reports

The security cabinet will convene at 7:30 p.m. today, instead of in four days as originally planned, Hebrew media reports.

Some reports say the change was prompted by US pressure for concessions on aid to Gaza and related issues, with the ministers expected to discuss allowing more fuel and humanitarian assistance into the Strip, as well as allowing Palestinian laborers back into Israel for work.

Reports say Washington has demanded doubling or even tripling the daily amount of Fuel allowed into Gaza, which currently stands at 60,000 liters.

WATCH: Freed hostage Mia Leimberg, 17, says having her dog helped her endure time in Gaza

Mia Leimberg, 17, seen in footage from inside the Gaza Strip, with her dog Bella, as she is transferred to the Red Cross as part of a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, October 28, 2023. (November 28, 2023)
Mia Leimberg, 17, seen in footage from inside the Gaza Strip, with her dog Bella, as she is transferred to the Red Cross as part of a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, October 28, 2023. (November 28, 2023)

Released Gaza hostage Mia Leimberg, 17, talks for the first time about her time in captivity in a new video posted online.

“It was quite the journey for both of us,” she says in English, speaking about herself and her beloved dog, Bella, who was taken with her to Gaza — after the Hamas captors initially weren’t aware Mia had been holding her, wrapped in blanket — and was released with her on November 28.

Mia says it was tough to be taken to Gaza while holding “an extra four kilos,” but says she was lucky that the Shih Tzu, unlike most little dogs she knows, is a quiet dog.

“We gave her our leftovers so she’ll eat, and she tried to walk around the place where we were kept and we had to make sure she doesn’t start exploring too much, but overall, she was a huge help to me,” Leimberg says. “She kept me busy, she was a moral support — even though she didn’t want to be.”

She says that physically she feels fine, and that that while she’s not mentally traumatized and doesn’t have trouble sleeping, she went through a “hard experience” and it will take “quite the while to sink in.”

IDF shells launch sites in Lebanon after northern Israel towns targeted

The IDF says it is carrying out artillery strikes in southern Lebanon after several rockets were fired at northern Israel earlier.

The rocket attacks set off sirens in a number of communities near the border.

The strikes are targeting the launch sites, according to the IDF.

Gaza rocket causes damage in Beersheba parking lot; no casualties reported

A parking lot at the Beersheba industrial zone after it was damaged by a rocket launched by terrorists in Gaza, December 6, 2023. (Israel Police)
A parking lot at the Beersheba industrial zone after it was damaged by a rocket launched by terrorists in Gaza, December 6, 2023. (Israel Police)

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip during the barrage at the southern city of Beersheba a short while ago has caused damage.

The projectile slammed into a parking lot in the city’s industrial zone, causing damage to nearby vehicles.

The Fire and Rescue Services says one truck containing hydrogen peroxide was damaged.

No injuries are reported.

‘I’m made of iron’: Freed hostage Elma Avraham, 84, continues recovery after arriving in critical condition

Elma Avraham was abducted from her Kibbutz Nahal Oz home by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. She was freed on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)
Elma Avraham was abducted from her Kibbutz Nahal Oz home by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. She was freed on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba reports that freed hostage Elma Avraham’s condition is continuing to improve. This week she was transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit to its geriatric department for ongoing care, and yesterday she stood up for the first time since her release.

“I’m made of iron. I’m back with you,” she has reportedly told her family.

Released from Hamas captivity in Gaza on November 26, 84-year-old Avraham arrived by helicopter at Soroka in critical, life-threatening condition. She was initially put on a ventilator.

Her children have harshly criticized the Red Cross for failing to care for her while she was in Hamas captivity, with her daughter Tal Amano accusing the international humanitarian organization of abandoning her. Avraham, seized by terrorists from her home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7, went without her regular medications for 50 days.

Avraham’s family refused a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him during a recent visit to Soroka, according to Hebrew media reports.

Earlier today, it was reported that Hanna Katzir, who was released from Gaza on the first day of the seven-day truce last month, is in serious condition after her health deteriorated while she was held hostage in the Strip.

“My mother’s condition is serious. Her condition has deteriorated following the captivity. She had no heart problems when she was kidnapped, but now she has severe heart problems due to harsh conditions and starvation,” her daughter Carmit Palty Katzir told Army Radio this morning.

While Katzir, 78, was in captivity, her family expressed serious concern for her wellbeing as she uses a walker, takes medication, and requires constant medical attention.

Katzir was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists from her Kibbutz Nir Oz home on October 7, and her 79-year-old husband Avraham “Rami” was murdered.

IDF says Nahal Brigade forces have killed Hamas members, found weapons in northern Gaza

Troops of the Nahal Brigade are seen operating in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops of the Nahal Brigade are seen operating in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says troops of the Nahal Brigade have killed several Hamas operatives during battles in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya over the last day.

It says the Hamas gunmen were killed in close-quarters combat, tank shelling and drone strikes.

The IDF says the troops found Hamas weaponry, including sniper rifles, explosives, anti-tank missiles, rockets and tunnels, during operations in a mosque and school in Jabaliya. Near the school, a number of rocket launchers were found, it says.

While the Nahal troops fight in Jabaliya, hundreds of conscripts are being drafted to the brigade. The IDF says that they will join the forces in Gaza at the end of their training period.

Wartime budget update passes 1st Knesset vote; Gantz votes against, Barkat boycotts vote

The government’s 2023 wartime budget update clears its first of three required Knesset votes.

With 62 MKs voting in favor and 53 against, the vote is the Knesset’s most contentious since war broke out on the heels of Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz and his National Unity party members vote against the proposal, Likud MK Nir Barkat goes through with his threat and boycotts the vote, and Likud’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is also absent.

The bill proposes funneling NIS 30 billion ($8.1 billion) to wartime priorities — including NIS 17 billion ($4.6 billion) to the military and the rest to civil affairs. Only about NIS 4 billion ($1.08 billion) of the update is generated from reshuffled funds, meaning that about NIS 26 billion ($7 billion) of the budget will be financed by increasing the national debt.

At least 10 rockets fired at Beersheba area; alarms also sound in Lebanon border towns

Air raid sirens have sounded in Beersheba and nearby towns and IDF bases, as well as in the northern kibbutzes of Malkia and Shtula near the Lebanon border.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or injuries.

At least 10 rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip at Beersheba as multiple Iron Dome interceptions are observed over the city.

Pioneering TV writer and producer Norman Lear dies aged 101

In this screengrab, Caucus Co-founder Norman Lear makes a special appearance at The Caucus of Producers, Writers and Directors 38th Annual Caucus Awards Gala on March 4, 2021. (Getty Images/Getty Images for the 2021 Caucus Awards Gala/AFP)
In this screengrab, Caucus Co-founder Norman Lear makes a special appearance at The Caucus of Producers, Writers and Directors 38th Annual Caucus Awards Gala on March 4, 2021. (Getty Images/Getty Images for the 2021 Caucus Awards Gala/AFP)

US television writer and producer Norman Lear, whose trailblazing sitcoms in the 1970s and 1980s revolutionized popular entertainment in America, has died at age 101, US media says.

Lear, whose death has been confirmed to major outlets by a family spokeswoman, created boundary-breaking hit shows like “All In the Family” and “The Jeffersons.”

Thai couple freed from Gaza return home to well-wishers, worries over mounting debts

Freed Thai couple Boonthom Pankhong (center L) and Natthawaree Mulkan (center R), who were held hostage by Hamas terrorists following the October 7 assault on Israel, take part in a traditional welcoming ceremony for their safe return to Thailand, at their house in Thailand's northeastern Udon Thani province on December 6, 2023. (Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)
Freed Thai couple Boonthom Pankhong (center L) and Natthawaree Mulkan (center R), who were held hostage by Hamas terrorists following the October 7 assault on Israel, take part in a traditional welcoming ceremony for their safe return to Thailand, at their house in Thailand's northeastern Udon Thani province on December 6, 2023. (Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)

A Thai couple is welcomed home by dozens of well-wishers seeking to lift their spirits after they were held hostage for weeks by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

But the return of Boonthom Pankhong and Natthawaree Mulkan, who had worked in Israel, is overshadowed by worries they might not be able to pay off their mounting debt — unless they work abroad again.

“I get panic attacks when I hear loud noises,” Boonthom tells AFP, saying the sounds reminded him of strikes he heard while held in the Gaza Strip that left him unable to sleep.

The 45-year-old traveled to Israel to work on a farm six years ago — one of around 30,000 Thais, mostly from poor rural provinces, who were in the country during the October 7 devastating assault.

He and his partner Natthawaree worked on the same farm in southern Israel but said they were held separately after being abducted by Hamas terrorists.

“I am slowly recovering,” Natthawaree, 35, tells AFP.

Many Thais chose to work in Israel where they can earn significantly larger salaries as farm laborers, under strict fixed-term contracts. Natthawaree says she had earned about 50,000 baht ($1,400) a month — which she used to support her two children from a previous marriage back in Thailand.

Thailand’s labor ministry has promised returnees around 50,000 baht in compensation, with the government also stating they would be eligible for a low-interest loan of up to 150,000 baht.

But Natthawaree says she received less than half of what the government promised, and desperately needed more to support her family and pay off existing debts. She still owes 500,000 baht.

“I am finding a way to work abroad again,” she says, perhaps in Australia to pay off her debts. “Now we have nothing.”

Settler put in administrative detention on suspicion of posing threat to national security

An Israeli settler is put on administrative detention on the orders of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the third such order against a settler suspected of posing a threat to national or public security since the October 7 atrocities and the beginning of the war against Hamas.

The individual, named by settler activists on social media as Tal Yinon Dardick, is a farmer from an illegal outpost farm in the central West Bank, northeast of Jerusalem and close to the Kochav Hashahar settlement. He was arrested two days ago.

The order will see the man held in administrative detention for four months until April 2.

An attorney for the Honenu legal aid organization which provides legal representation to ultra-nationalist activists and criminal suspects claims the detention order was approved by Gallant due to “external pressure on the State of Israel,” and claims that the evidence against Honenu’s client was “problematic.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party, posts on X a picture of the administrative detention order signed by Gallant, adding: “Someone has got confused and forgot who is the enemy and who is the beloved.”

Violence by extremist settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank has spiked dramatically since Oct. 7, with 242 incidents of assault and harassment in over 80 towns and communities.

As a result, a thousand Palestinians have left their homes in 15 communities in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel has full security and civilian control.

Gallant issues his own statement following Ben Gvir’s post, saying, “Anyone taking the law into their own hands interferes with the security services and harms the war effort.”

Rocket sirens in Nir Oz, Magen near the Gaza border

Sirens sound in the Gaza border towns of Nir Oz and Magen, warning of incoming rocket fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF sees massive rise in female conscripts drafting to combat units since start of war with Hamas

A female IDF combat soldier inside a tank (screenshot: Channel 12, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A female IDF combat soldier inside a tank (screenshot: Channel 12, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The IDF says it has seen a massive turnout of female conscripts drafting to combat units amid the war in the Gaza Strip.

Over the last week, the IDF drafted young women to various combat units where female soldiers can currently serve.

The IDF says it has seen a draft turnout above 100%, and that 12% of women drafting to combat units requested this during the war.

It says that the Border Defense Corps’ light infantry units saw a 116% draft turnout, and the corps’ Combat Intelligence Collection units saw a 133% turnout.

The Artillery Corps saw a 132% draft turnout; the Air Force’s air defense array saw 101%; the Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue units saw 122%; and the Border Police saw 119%.

The numbers mean that more soldiers are showing up for duty than the IDF had initially planned for.

Separately, the IDF says the first two female recruits recently completed screening tests for the Air Force’s elite helicopter-borne search and rescue Unit 669, and will be drafted to the unit later this month.

The pair will then undergo one year and eight months of training, and if they complete it, they will be the first female soldiers in Unit 669.

IDF says it’s shelling Hezbollah targets in Lebanon after repeated attacks by terror group

The IDF says it has been shelling Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon with artillery and tank fire since this morning.

An IDF drone also hit a Hezbollah command room and another site belonging to the terror group, it says.

The strikes come amid repeated Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel.

A short while ago, several rockets were fired at IDF posts along the border.

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

IDF: Missile, believed to have been fired from Yemen, intercepted by Arrow defense system over Red Sea

The Israel Defense Forces says a surface-to-surface missile, believed to have been launched from Yemen, was intercepted over the Red Sea using the long-range Arrow air defense system.

The incident set off sirens in the southernmost city of Eilat, though the IDF says the missile did not enter Israeli airspace.

“The target did not cross into Israeli territory, and did not pose a threat to civilians. The alert was activated according to protocol,” the IDF says.

Kafr Qasim mayor: Arab leadership has condemned Oct. 7, it goes against our values and Islam

Screen capture from video of Kafr Qasim Mayor Adel Badir speaking to reporter about an alleged terror attack in his city, December 23, 2022. (Walla. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of Kafr Qasim Mayor Adel Badir speaking to reporter about an alleged terror attack in his city, December 23, 2022. (Walla. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Kafr Qasim Mayor Adel Badir says the leadership of the Arab community condemned the October 7 assault, and that what happened that day is undeniable.

“I didn’t have to see the film; the facts are the facts, it’s the truth,” Badir tells the Kan public broadcaster.

“The [Arab] leadership showed responsibility, and from the first day they condemned what happened. Most of the Arab mayors said so, if not all of them,” he says.

“It goes against our values and the values of Islam,” Badir says.

“When you personally know some of the murdered people it is even harder. They kidnapped people, they took children to Gaza,” he says.

Badir was speaking after he attended a screening last night of the video of the Hamas atrocities that was held by the Prime Minister’s Office for leaders of Israel’s Arab community.

“I left after five minutes following [the video of] the two boys and their father. I couldn’t bear it. As a father of six with 13 grandchildren, I couldn’t,” he says.

Arab mayors, heads of city councils, community center administrators, media figures, journalists and “thought leaders” were among those invited to the Nazareth viewing.

The film, produced by the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, shows uncensored, difficult-to-watch videos, many taken from terrorists’ bodycams during their murderous rampage in southern Israel on October 7.

Rocket sirens sound in southern city Eilat, warning of incoming fire

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat.

Residents of the area report seeing air defense activity and at least one interception.

The IDF says the cause of the alarms is under investigation.

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have fired several ballistic missiles and drones at the city in amid the ongoing war, all of which were intercepted or missed their target.

An Iran-backed group in Syria also launched drones at Eilat, hitting a school last month.

Rocket sirens in Ashkelon, Gaza border communities

Sirens sound in the coastal city of Ashkelon and a number of Gaza border communities, warning of incoming rocket fire.

It is the first time Ashkelon has been targeted in some 18 hours.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

A man was lightly wounded by shrapnel in an earlier barrage when a projectile hit a factory in a community close to the Gaza border, sparking a fire.

Man lightly wounded in rocket attack on Gaza border town

A fire sparked by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on December 6, 2023 (Courtesy)
A fire sparked by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on December 6, 2023 (Courtesy)

A man was lightly injured by shrapnel during a rocket attack on a community near the Gaza border, the Magen David Adom emergency services say.

The man aged around 60 received medical treatment for his injuries, the emergency service said.

Lives of some of those held in Gaza are in immediate danger, hostages forum tells war cabinet

People gather with yellow balloons calling for the release of Israelis abducted by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at Aniam's Artist's Village, Golan Heights on December 1, 2023 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
People gather with yellow balloons calling for the release of Israelis abducted by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at Aniam's Artist's Village, Golan Heights on December 1, 2023 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The lives of some of those held in Gaza are in immediate danger, the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum says in a letter to the war cabinet.

“We received solid intelligence that there are abductees whose condition has deteriorated and there is now immediate danger to their lives,” the letter reads. “We demand that you act urgently, with initiative and creativity, to reach a deal for the immediate release of all the hostages.”

The letter, which includes expert testimony from Prof. Hagai Levine, head of the medical team at the forum, says that at least a third of those held in Gaza have preexisting conditions that require regular medical treatment.

Without care, some of them may be in life-threatening danger, or have irreversible damage, the letter says.

Additionally, many of the abductees were injured when they were kidnapped — suffering gunshot wounds, lost limbs and shrapnel wounds — which, untreated, could lead to risk to life, complications, disabilities and suffering.

The hostages are also being tortured, physically and/or mentally, and deprived of adequate food.

A markedly tense meeting was held yesterday between a group of recently released hostages and family members of those still held in Gaza, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the other members of the war cabinet.

Smotrich asks for local elections to be delayed again amid Israel-Hamas war

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)

Religious Zionism party chief Bezalel Smotrich asks Interior Minister Moshe Arbel to again push back nationwide municipal elections, saying that many of his party’s candidates are currently serving in the military reserves and cannot run adequate campaigns.

Last week, Arbel set municipal elections for January 30 in most communities, with a later date to be set for communities evacuated from the southern and northern fronts, amid the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza and fighting with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Smotrich says that 62% of Religious Zionism’s candidates for municipal office are currently in reserve duty, affecting campaigns in the 66 municipalities in which the far-right party has fielded a candidate. The group includes nearly a quarter of the party’s candidates for mayor or local council head.

Smotrich asks Arbel to “postpone the elections to a date to be determined only at the end of the war, in order to ensure proper elections that do not discriminate against those who fight and sacrifice their lives for the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”

The original nationwide election date, October 31, was pushed back after Hamas launched its shock October 7 terror attack and triggered the ongoing war.

IDF says troops uncovered 2 tunnel shafts, 3 bomb-making labs in Jenin raid

The IDF says reservists of the Menashe Regional Brigade, Duvdevan unit, LOTAR, and Border Police operated overnight in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp, detaining 10 wanted Palestinians and locating two tunnel shafts and three bomb-making labs.

Several firearms, weapons, and other equipment were seized, it says.

The IDF says troops clashed with Palestinian gunmen in the area, returning fire at the armed suspects and those hurling explosive devices.

One soldier was lightly hurt in the clashes, according to the IDF.

The IDF says another 16 suspects were detained in other areas of the West Bank.

IDF said to have surrounded home of Hamas Gaza leader Sinwar; no indication he is there

Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, delivers a speech during a meeting with people at a hall on the sea side of Gaza City, April 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, delivers a speech during a meeting with people at a hall on the sea side of Gaza City, April 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israel Defense Forces have surrounded a home in Khan Younis belonging to Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, Al Arabiya reports.

There is no indication that Sinwar is in the building. Not only does the terror leader own multiple homes, but he is in hiding.

The Saudi-based channel says Israeli troops have surrounded the building since yesterday.

Israel has said that Sinwar is “a dead man walking.”

IDF announces tactical pause in fighting in part of Rafah for humanitarian purposes

Palestinians are seen at a temporary camp set up for those who were evacuated from their homes near the Egyptian border in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on December 5, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)
Palestinians are seen at a temporary camp set up for those who were evacuated from their homes near the Egyptian border in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on December 5, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces says that there will be a tactical pause in fighting until 2 p.m. in the Ash Shaboura area in the Rafah district for humanitarian purposes.

The IDF’s Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee says there is fighting in parts of Salah al-Din Road in Khan Younis, and it should be avoided.

However, traffic will be authorized from Khan Younis on designated routes.

IDF says troops uncovered one of the largest caches of weapons during Gaza operation

A screenshot of a video released by the IDF of weapons found in the Gaza Strip, December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
A screenshot of a video released by the IDF of weapons found in the Gaza Strip, December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says troops of the 460th Armored Brigade and the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion discovered one of the largest caches of weapons yet during operations in the northern Gaza Strip.

The cache, located near a health clinic and a school, included hundreds of RPGs, dozens of anti-tank missiles, dozens of explosives, long-range rockets, dozens of grenades, and several drones.

The IDF says some of the weapons were destroyed, while others were taken to Israel for further investigation.

“All of the terror infrastructure was found near civilian buildings in the heart of the civilian population. This is further proof of the cynical use that the Hamas terror organization makes of the residents of the Gaza Strip as a human shield,” the IDF says.

Lapid urges coalition MKs to vote against budget: ‘It’s stealing public money during wartime’

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 urges coalition members to vote against the government’s 2023 wartime budget update in its first Knesset vote today, saying that the NIS 30 billion funding reshuffle will permit sectoral looting of public coffers.

The updated budget redirects funds to the war effort, but leaves untouched about NIS 1 billion in funds previously allocated to political promises.

Finalizing the budget paves a path for those so-called coalition funds, currently frozen, to flow to ultra-Orthodox and West Bank settler priorities, among other uses.

“This is not a budget, this is an illegal order issued to MKs to steal public money during wartime [as part of] politics,” Lapid says, opening a special conference on the economy organized by his Yesh Atid party.

In comments directed to coalition members, Lapid says: “What is going on with you? How are you letting this happen? How are you doing this to our soldiers and our commanders? To families? To reservists? How do you do this to the people of Israel?”

The opposition leader calls on lawmakers “who still have a conscience and sense of responsibility to the nation to vote against this disgraceful budget” and to “stop the shame.”

Satirical show airs mocks UN Women for silence over rape of women on Oct. 7

Keshet TV’s long-running satirical show “Eretz Nehederet” (“A Wonderful Country”) has aired a skit lampooning UN Women for its prolonged silence over the rape of women in southern Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7.

The skit features the characters of two women from the international body telling an unseen individual that they believe them over the reports of sexual violence.

The unseen individual is then revealed to be a Hamas terrorist.

The conversation continues with the women trying to find a way to excuse the terrorist for his actions, while he remains proud and even offers to show them a video of it.

“Eretz Nehederet” has recently aired parodies that have skewered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is congratulated by Golda Meir for intel failures that eclipsed hers in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, US student support for Hamas, and alleged BBC bias in two different skits.

Blinken emphasizes to Wang importance of Israel-Hamas war not spreading

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, is welcomed by Yang Tao, center, Director General of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry, and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, left, as he arrives in Beijing, China, June 18, 2023. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, is welcomed by Yang Tao, center, Director General of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry, and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, left, as he arrives in Beijing, China, June 18, 2023. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)

The top diplomats from China and the United States discussed the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group in a call, Beijing and Washington say.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “reiterated the imperative of all parties working to prevent the conflict from spreading,” according to the US State Department.

Beijing says Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed in turn that, regarding the war, “the top priority is to cease fire and end the war as soon as possible.”

“Major countries must adhere to fairness and justice, uphold objectivity and impartiality, demonstrate calm and rationality, and make every effort to cool down the situation and prevent larger-scale humanitarian disasters,” Wang said, according to the foreign ministry.

He reiterated Beijing’s calls for a two-state solution to the conflict, stressing that “any arrangement involving the future of Palestine must reflect the will of the Palestinian people.”

“China is willing to work with all parties to make efforts to this end,” he said.

Rocket sirens in Gaza border community Kissufim

Sirens sound in the Gaza border community of Kissufim, warning of incoming rocket fire from the Strip.

The towns close to the border with the Gaza Strip have been largely evacuated of civilians since the Hamas terror group’s brutal massacres of October 7.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Barkat says he won’t vote for budget unless funds allocated for businesses in north, south

Economy Minister Nir Barkat at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 6, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Economy Minister Nir Barkat at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 6, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Economy Minister Nir Barkat says he will not vote for the government’s 2023 wartime budget update as it comes for its first Knesset vote today, unless his office is given NIS 250 million to prop up ailing businesses on Israel’s southern and northern fronts.

“I will not support the state budget if it does not allocate at least NIS 250 million… to save businesses in the south and north,” Barkat tells the Knesset’s Economic Committee, ahead of the expected budget vote.

“The treasury doesn’t call us back, it’s detached from events,” he continues, reaffirming his criticism that the Finance Ministry built the budget without addressing the tactical problems faced by businesses threatened by the war.

“If the businesses in the combat zones collapse and do not survive the war – this is a victory for Hamas,” Barkat continues.

War minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party has also said it would not vote for the budget, in protest over a separate issue tied to its opposition to funding about NIS 1 billion in political promises, rather than redirecting those monies to the war effort.

The budget is expected to clear its first reading today, with the coalition still holding 63 out of the Knesset’s 120 votes even without Barkat.

UNICEF condemns sexual violence against women and children on Oct. 7, with no mention of Hamas

The area of ​​the Supernova festival where hundreds of Israelis were killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 terror onslaught, October 12, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
The area of ​​the Supernova festival where hundreds of Israelis were killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 terror onslaught, October 12, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

UN children’s body UNICEF condemns the sexual violence against women and children on October 7, but makes no mention of the perpetrators, the Hamas terror group.

“The accounts of sexual violence on 7 October in Israel are horrific,” writes UNICEF chief Catherine Russell on X.

“Survivors must be heard, supported, and provided with care. Allegations must be fully investigated. We condemn gender-based violence and all forms of violence against women and girls,” Russell writes.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden castigated human rights groups, women’s organizations and the United Nations for failing to speak out about the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli women and children, despite the two leaders having stayed largely publicly quiet on the matter until now.

International human rights organizations have faced intense scrutiny from public figures and rights organizations in Israel and the state’s supporters abroad, who have urged them to acknowledge and investigate the testimonies of rape and sexual violence committed during the October 7 onslaught in which thousands of Hamas-led terrorists killed more than 1,200 people and seized some 240 hostages.

The United Nations in particular has been the target of criticism by Israeli rights groups, after nearly eight weeks went by before it issued a condemnation and committed to launching an investigation into the allegations of sexual violence.

Hanna Katzir in serious condition after health deteriorated while hostage in Gaza

Hanna Katzir (Courtesy)
Hanna Katzir (Courtesy)

Hanna Katzir, who was released from Gaza last month, is in serious condition after her health deteriorated while she was held hostage in the Strip.

“My mother’s condition is serious, her condition has deteriorated following the captivity. She had no heart problems when she was kidnapped, but now she has severe heart problems due to harsh conditions and starvation,” her daughter Carmit Palty Katzir tells Army Radio.

“Today is my mother’s birthday, we prayed to celebrate with her,” says Palty Katzir. “She came back both heartbroken and with cardiological problems.”

Katzir, 77, was released on November 24 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal, days after the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group announced her death, supposedly in an IDF attack.

She was kidnapped from her Nir Oz home on October 7, and her 79-year-old husband Avraham “Rami,” was murdered.

Their son Elad, was separately kidnapped from his home in Nir Oz, and remains hostage in Gaza.

Members of the Katzir family, Hanna and her son Elad, who were abducted when Hamas terrorists attacked Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, 2023. Hanna was released on November 24, 2023. (Courtesy)

Rocket sirens sound in Re’im, near Gaza border

Sirens sound in the Gaza border community of Re’im, warning of incoming fire from the Strip.

The rocket alerts come after an overnight lull of some 14 hours.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Security officials believe it may take a month before new truce for hostage release – report

Relatives of Israeli hostages Eli and Yossi Sharabi, Tsachi Idan and Idan Shtivi attend a ceremony and a prayer for their liberation at the synagogue in Lisbon, Dec. 5, 2023 (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Relatives of Israeli hostages Eli and Yossi Sharabi, Tsachi Idan and Idan Shtivi attend a ceremony and a prayer for their liberation at the synagogue in Lisbon, Dec. 5, 2023 (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Security officials believe it may take up to a month for enough military pressure to build on Hamas that a new window will open for a truce and the release of more hostages held in the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reports.

The unsourced report says that military operations will need to continue in both the north and the south of the enclave for this to happen.

Under a weeklong truce deal that expired on Friday, 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza: 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals and one Filipino. Earlier, four hostages were released and one was rescued, and at least three bodies have been recovered.

It is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza, including around 20 women and two young children.

IDF: ‘Fierce battles’ continue in Gaza, troops killed Hamas cell near school in northern Strip

Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on December 6, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says “fierce battles” with Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip continue, as the Air Force carries out strikes against more than 250 targets over the past day.

In a statement, it says the 7th Armored Brigade directed strikes on two rocket launchers used in the barrages on central Israel yesterday.

The IAF strikes also hit several Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, alongside infrastructure belonging to the terror groups, the military says.

The IDF says that the Kfir Brigade killed a group of Hamas operatives who were near a school in northern Gaza. Later, the soldiers found and destroyed a tunnel shaft and weapons in the area. In another school in northern Gaza, the soldiers found weapons, according to the IDF.

Security agencies said to warn against budget cuts to Arab community as could increase risk of violence

The Shin Bet and National Security Council have warned against the government making budget cuts to the Arab community as it could “intensify the risks of an outbreak of violence,” the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The report says two security agencies stated their opinion, but does not say in what context.

“It is of great importance from a security angle to reduce the damage to the budgets of the multi-year plans for the Arab community and the plan for the Bedouin community,” the agencies reportedly said.

The agencies say any cuts should be done with an eye to avoiding damage to key areas such as education, employment, welfare and social security.

According to Kan, the security officials also say that any cuts should be made only after talks with the local Arab officials.

Arab communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities.

Two highways in south closed due to weather conditions

Police say two highways are blocked in the south due to the adverse weather conditions.

Winter rains often cause dangerous flash flooding. It is unclear if the roads have flooded or if they have been shut due to concerns.

Route 90 is closed from the Arava junction to the Ein Gedi junction in both directions, and Route 31 is closed from Hatrurim intersection to the Neve Zohar intersection in both directions.

Drivers are asked to find alternative routes.

IDF says two more soldiers killed, one fighting in Gaza and the other in a car crash

This composite photo shows Sgt. First Class (res.) Yehonatan Malka (L) and Lt. Col. (res.) Yochai Gur Hershberg, who the Israel Defense Forces announced were killed on December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
This composite photo shows Sgt. First Class (res.) Yehonatan Malka (L) and Lt. Col. (res.) Yochai Gur Hershberg, who the Israel Defense Forces announced were killed on December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The army announces the deaths of another two Israeli soldiers.

They are:

Sgt. First Class (res.) Yehonatan Malka, 23, from Beersheba, a soldier in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 82nd Battalion who was killed fighting in Gaza.

Lt. Col. (res.) Yochai Gur Hershberg, 52, from Havat Philip, a commander of a unit in the 98th Division tasked with locating missing persons who was killed in a car crash.

2 Palestinians said killed during clashes with IDF in northern West Bank

Two Palestinians were killed in overnight clashes with Israeli forces in the Far’a refugee camp in the northern West Bank, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency.

Wafa reports that three other Palestinians were wounded.

New UK foreign secretary heads to Washington, with Israel-Hamas war a key focus of visit

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 5, 2023, after attending a cabinet meeting. (Ben Stansall/AFP)
Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 5, 2023, after attending a cabinet meeting. (Ben Stansall/AFP)

LONDON — British Foreign Secretary David Cameron is heading to Washington to stress the importance of the UK-US relationship in his first visit to the United States since his shock return to frontline politics.

The former prime minister will also pledge the UK’s “unwavering support for Ukraine” and will discuss the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, according to the foreign office in London.

“The UK and the US are deeply bound by a shared mission to defend the values that provide security and prosperity for us all,” Cameron says ahead of the visit.

“That is why we remain unwavering in our support of Ukraine.

“We also stand united in the Middle East, working together to ensure long-term security and stability in the region, and in responding to the challenges posed by China.”

Cameron will hold talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as Congressional figures from both the left and right.

They will discuss getting humanitarian aid to those hit by the conflict in Gaza and how the two countries can work towards bringing about a long-term two-state solution, his office says.

Cameron, who served as Conservative prime minister from 2010 to 2016, was named as Britain’s top diplomat on November 13 when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shuffled his ministerial team.

US believes Israel could wrap up major ops in southern Gaza by January — CNN

IDF tanks operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo published by the military on December 5, 2023. (IDF)
IDF tanks operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo published by the military on December 5, 2023. (IDF)

The US believes Israel could wrap up large-scale military operations in the southern Gaza Strip by January, and then shift to more targeted attacks on specific Hamas terrorists and leaders, CNN reports.

Citing multiple senior administration officials, the cable news network says the White House is concerned how the IDF’s offensive will play out in the coming weeks and has warned Israel to limit damage and civilian casualties. But a senior official quoted in the report says they aren’t comfortable using the word “receptive” to describe Israel’s response to the US advice.

A senior administration official also says Israel appears unlikely to achieve its objective of preventing Hamas from being able to carry out another attack like October 7 by the end of the year, and that Israeli forces will continue to pursue that goal as part of a “longer-term campaign” when the fighting evolves to a new phase.

“We are in a high-intensity operation in the coming weeks, then probably moving to a low-intensity mode,” an Israeli official tells CNN, confirming the expected transition.

Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel’s war cabinet that it likely doesn’t have months to fight Hamas, as domestic and international pressure mounts on US President Joe Biden’s administration to end the war.

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