ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Live updates (closed)

Dec. 10: US national security adviser to visit Israel; Syria says IAF hits sites near Damascus

Blinken says Israel will decide timing of war’s end * Putin criticizes ‘humanitarian situation’ in Gaza in call with PM * Netanyahu: Surrender of Gazans shows loss of Hamas control

  • IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (IDF)
    IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (IDF)
  • Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
    Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (Kremlin)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (Kremlin)
  • This handout photo from the Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on December 10, 2023, shows Israeli soldiers lighting Hanukkah candles in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)
    This handout photo from the Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on December 10, 2023, shows Israeli soldiers lighting Hanukkah candles in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • A neon sign reading 'Bring them home,' referring to the Israeli hostages held by terrorists in Gaza since the October 7 Hamas onslaught, is displayed atop the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut) at HaBima Square in Tel Aviv on December 9, 2023. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
    A neon sign reading 'Bring them home,' referring to the Israeli hostages held by terrorists in Gaza since the October 7 Hamas onslaught, is displayed atop the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut) at HaBima Square in Tel Aviv on December 9, 2023. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
  • This handout photo from the Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on December 10, 2023, shows Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)
    This handout photo from the Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on December 10, 2023, shows Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

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

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to visit Israel this week, officials tell ToI

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 13, 2023. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 13, 2023. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will visit Israel at the end of the week, as Washington maintains its near-weekly shuttle diplomacy of top Biden officials in order to coordinate with Jerusalem on the latter’s war against Hamas, a US and an Israeli official tell The Times of Israel.

At the top of Sullivan’s agenda will be pushing for an increase in humanitarian aid into Gaza, which has fallen significantly since a truce between Israel and Hamas fell apart on December 1 after seven days, a US official says. Israel insists the bottleneck of aid is not its fault, and that international actors are failing to keep up in the delivery of the amount of assistance that it is approving. The UN and Egypt have said Israel’s bombing campaign is inhibiting efforts to get large amounts of aid into Gaza.

Equally important for Sullivan will be raising ongoing US concerns regarding civilian casualties in Gaza, the US official says.

The visit from US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser will come a week after Vice President Kamala Harris’s national security adviser Phil Gordon and one of his deputies, Ilan Goldenberg, held meetings in Israel and the West Bank with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The week before that, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in town for a similar round of meetings.

The Israeli official who confirmed Sullivan’s visit says Jerusalem expects a senior US delegation to be in town on a near weekly basis for the time being as the war in Gaza remains at the top of Washington’s foreign policy agenda.

Rescued hostage tells Sara Netanyahu she wants to return to IDF service

Rescued hostage Ori Megidish (right) meets with Sara Netanyahu in Kiryat Gat on December 10, 2023. (Courtesy)
Rescued hostage Ori Megidish (right) meets with Sara Netanyahu in Kiryat Gat on December 10, 2023. (Courtesy)

Ori Megidish, the IDF soldier rescued from Hamas captivity, tells Sara Netanyahu that she is eager to return to her military service.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Megidish tells the prime minister’s wife, who paid her a visit, that she is feeling excellent, and that “I won’t let anyone defeat me. Even when I was there, I wasn’t afraid of them.”

Freed hostage Bilal Ziyadne: Hamas said they were kidnapping us even though we’re Arab

Bilal Ziyadne was taken captive by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Holit on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)
Bilal Ziyadne was taken captive by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Holit on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

Bilal Ziyadne, 18, who returned a week ago after more than 50 days of Hamas captivity, describes his time as a hostage in an interview with Channel 13 news.

“I told them we were Arabs. They said to us, even though we’re Arabs, they’re kidnapping us,” he recounts of October 7, when he, his sister, older brother, and father were kidnapped. He and his sister, Aisha, were the only ones from the Bedouin family from Rahat who have been released so far.

He says the four of them were kept together, and they were brought enough food to not be hungry, “normal food.” Asked what he spoke about with his family, Bilal says “I don’t remember. We were scared.”

He says for most of the time he did not know there were other hostages outside of the four members of his family. “We didn’t think the war would take that long, it felt like such a long time, we prayed to be freed,” he says.

Bilal says that all four of them were provided with “a mattress, pillow, blanket,” unlike many freed Israeli hostages who said they slept on the bare ground and were given barely enough food to survive.

The released teen says he felt afraid of the Israeli airstrikes he would hear, but not of Hamas: “I’m scared for those who are still there… I feel and I know what they’re going through.”

Syrian state news says Israel struck sites near Damascus, causing damage

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency, citing a military source, says the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes in the Damascus area, causing damage.

It says the IAF fighter jets launched their missiles from over the Golan Heights, targeting sites near the capital.

The source claims Syrian air defenses intercepted some of the Israeli missiles.

It adds that the strikes resulted in “material losses,” without elaborating.

Netanyahu kicks off security cabinet meeting with lighting of Hanukkah candles

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lights Hanukkah candles at the start of a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lights Hanukkah candles at the start of a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Members of the security cabinet gather in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv for a meeting, which begins with the lighting of the Hanukkah candles on the fourth night of the holiday.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich recites the blessings while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lights the candles.

On the agenda for the meeting is a proposal to allow for the return of some Palestinian laborers from the West Bank to agricultural and construction work in Israel. Smotrich said he vehemently opposes it, while Netanyahu is said to favor such a move.

Syrian media reports alleged Israeli airstrike near Damascus

Syrian media report an alleged Israeli airstrike in the area of the capital Damascus.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency says air defenses are engaging “enemy targets” over Damascus.

It says blasts are heard across the city.

No further details are given on the targets, possible injuries, or damage.

Sirens near Lebanon border set off by interception of ‘suspicious aerial target,’ says IDF

Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The IDF says sirens that sounded in the northern community of Klil earlier were due to an interceptor missile being launched at a “suspicious aerial target” that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon.

No further details are given.

Additionally, the IDF says it struck a group of gunmen in southern Lebanon earlier, and that several rockets were fired at the border in the last few hours.

It adds that troops are responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the fire in southern Lebanon.

Thousands march in central Brussels against antisemitism

People gather for a march against antisemitism in central Brussels, December 10, 2023. (Simon Wohlfahrt / AFP)
People gather for a march against antisemitism in central Brussels, December 10, 2023. (Simon Wohlfahrt / AFP)

Thousands of people take to the streets of Brussels to protest antisemitism, after a surge in outbreaks across Europe during the war between Israel and Hamas.

Brussels police say around 4,000 people attended the march in the Belgian capital, with some holding placards reading: “You don’t have to be Jewish to march against antisemitism.”

“An old evil is resurfacing in Europe,” EU chief Ursula von der Leyen says during a Hanukkah candlelighting event in front of the Commission and European Council headquarters in Brussels. “Swastikas have been painted on the homes of Jews. Synagogues have been vandalized. Jewish children have been locked in their schools because the streets are not safe for them. This is horrific. And it is painful.”

“There should be no place for this hatred, especially here in Europe. And there is no justification to the rise in antisemitism. No war, no political argument, can excuse it,” she adds.

Ex-Hamas minister in interrogation video: ‘Crazy people’ led by Sinwar ‘destroyed Gaza’

Former Hamas communications minister Yousef al-Mansi is seen being interrogated by the Shin Bet, in a video published December 10, 2023. (Shin Bet)
Former Hamas communications minister Yousef al-Mansi is seen being interrogated by the Shin Bet, in a video published December 10, 2023. (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security agency publishes footage showing the interrogation of former Hamas communications minister, Yousef al-Mansi, who appears to heavily criticize the terror group.

“This is a group of crazy people that [Yahya] Sinwar leads. They destroyed the Gaza Strip. Set it back 200 years,” al-Mansi says in translated excerpts provided by the Shin Bet.

In the 14-minute video published by the agency, al-Mansi says, “People in the Gaza Strip say that Sinwar and his group destroyed us. We must get rid of them.”

“I have not seen anyone in the Gaza Strip who supports Sinwar, nobody likes Sinwar. There are people who, day and night, pray that God will free us from him,” he says.

Al-Mansi says Sinwar has “delusions of grandeur,” and that he “feels like he is above everyone else. Acts only as he thinks. He makes decisions without consulting anyone.”

The former Hamas minister says the October 7 attacks are “the opposite of Islam.”

“This is heresy, madness. What they did is unacceptable according to logic, religion or intellect. Those who are responsible for this are Sinwar and his group,” he adds, according to the excerpts.

The agency has not provided further information about when al-Mansi was arrested.

IDF spokesman: Any soldier violating morals to be punished, military did not circulate surrender photos

Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari comments on footage published on social media showing Israeli troops vandalizing Palestinian property in the Gaza Strip.

“IDF troops operate according to the IDF’s values and spirit. Troops on the battlefield are required to act with professionalism and with morals. We will not compromise on this,” Hagari says.

He says that soldiers who participate in any incidents which violate the IDF’s values will be reprimanded or punished.

On leaked footage showing IDF troops detaining Palestinian men in northern Gaza, Hagari says the photos were not distributed by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

“We tell people to undress to make sure they don’t have explosive belts on,” he says, adding that dozens of the detained men are Hamas operatives, while many others are uninvolved civilians.

IDF spokesman says troops discover ‘network of terror tunnels’ under Gaza City’s ‘Palestine Square’

IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (IDF)
IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (IDF)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has discovered a large tunnel network in Gaza City, below the so-called Palestine Square.

He says troops of the 401st Armored Brigade, the Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit, and the Air Force’s Shaldag unit recently completed the capture of the Palestine Square area.

“The Palestine Square area houses Yahya Sinwar’s office, government offices, assets of senior Hamas officials, and there is a network of terror tunnels,” Hagari says.

Hagari says that the troops, using “accurate intelligence,” located the network of “strategic tunnels” in the area, which he says connect to Shifa Hospital.

“This is the area of the main command center, where senior Hamas members were on October 7 and during the fighting, and during the fighting, they moved to other areas,” he says.

He says the troops are continuing to investigate the tunnel network in the area.

Hanegbi says circulating photos of unclothed Gazans surrendering ‘doesn’t serve anything’

Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of the National Security Council, says that there will not be further photos circulating online of Gazans surrendering to IDF troops in their underwear.

Such images have circulated online in recent days, sparking concerns about Israel’s arrest procedures.

“It doesn’t serve anything,” Hanegbi says of such images in an interview with Kan radio. “I think that you won’t be seeing images like this in the future.”

Hanegbi says that while requiring those surrendering in Gaza to strip to their underwear is necessary for security means, so “that we can see they don’t have explosive vests… and I hope that we see many such photos of people surrendering without a fight and giving up their weapons, they’ll be checked as needed, but after that will get dressed and that’s how they will be taken — they don’t need to be taken in the way we saw in the first photos.”

The army has not commented on the origin of the footage, which began finding its way online Thursday. But at least some of the photos and videos show evidence of having been taken from army positions, and some have speculated that they were intentionally leaked as part of a campaign to break the morale of Hamas’s fighters.

IDF says it has killed new commander of Hamas’s Shejaiya battalion

IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says it has killed the new commander of Hamas’s Shejaiya battalion, in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip today.

Emad Qariqa recently replaced Wissam Farhat, after the latter was killed in an Israeli airstrike on December 2.

The IDF says Qariqa previously served as the deputy commander of the Shejaiya battalion, since 2019.

Socioeconomic cabinet votes against allowing return of West Bank Palestinian laborers

The 15-member socioeconomic cabinet votes against a proposal to again allow the entry of Palestinian laborers from the West Bank into Israel — which was halted upon Hamas’s onslaught against Israel on October 7.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the socioeconomic cabinet, says in a statement that aside from Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, who abstained, all the other ministers voted unanimously against such a move.

He says the socioeconomic cabinet is recommending to the security cabinet not to approve any such move, saying, “We can and must advance alternatives that will provide a different solution to the economy.”

With most Thai laborers leaving with the start of the war, and Israel blocking Palestinian laborers from both the West Bank and Gaza, there has been a significant labor shortage in the agricultural sector.

“Money and building permits do not buy peace,” Smotrich says in a statement. “Whoever killed us when there was no money will kill us also when there is money. The security of the citizens of Israel comes first.”

According to Hebrew media reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the move to allow West Bank Palestinians with permits to return to work, but it is not clear if he has a majority of support in the cabinet.

IDF chief: There must be ‘very clear change’ to security situation along northern border

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) holds an assessment with officers in northern Israel, December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) holds an assessment with officers in northern Israel, December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says there must be a “very clear change” to the security situation on the Lebanon border, during a visit to the 91st Division in northern Israel.

“Both in the south and in the north, we need to return to a different situation, and return both security and a sense of security,” he says in a video distributed by the IDF.

“The State of Israel has never said that war is the first solution to try, but we understand that with the situation here [in the north], it should end in a very, very clear change of situation,” Halevi adds.

The remarks and tour of the north come at the same time as repeated Hezbollah rocket, missile, and drone attacks on army bases and civilians in northern Israel during the war in Gaza.

Gallant lights Hanukkah candles with families of hostages

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lights Hanukkah candles in Tel Aviv with family members of hostages, December 10, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lights Hanukkah candles in Tel Aviv with family members of hostages, December 10, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lights Hanukkah candles with the families of hostages held in Gaza at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

“I told the families after our very moving conversation that I hope the lights of Hanukkah will light up the coming days and we will get to see all of the children and parents and women and grandfathers and grandmothers coming home,” Gallant says in a statement.

“We are with you in this difficult and extremely tense time, giving you strength and working as determinedly as possible to try and bring them home soon, and alive — everyone,” he adds.

It has been 65 days since Hamas took around 240 hostages from Israel to Gaza; around 140 are believed to still be there, including about 20 bodies.

IDF releases footage of Nahal Brigade fighting Hamas inside Jabaliya

IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF releases footage of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit battling Hamas operatives in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya.

In a statement, the IDF says the forces encountered two gunmen. One was immediately killed, while the second managed to flee after being wounded. A surveillance drone then provided the troops with intelligence, which enabled them to kill the second operative as well.

The IDF says Nahal troops have killed more than 50 Hamas gunmen in the Jabaliya area in the last week.

Netanyahu: Surrender of ‘dozens’ of Hamas terrorists a sign of ‘the beginning of the end’

An apparent Hamas member with his hands up turns in an assault rifle after surrendering to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 9, 2023. (Social media: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
An apparent Hamas member with his hands up turns in an assault rifle after surrendering to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 9, 2023. (Social media: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that dozens of Hamas terrorists have surrendered to Israeli forces in recent days, which he says shows the failure of Hamas and its fight against Israel.

“In the past few days, dozens of Hamas terrorists have surrendered before our forces. They put down their weapons and turn themselves over to our brave fighters,” Netanyahu says in a video statement.

“It will take more time, the war is still in full force, but this is the beginning of the end of Hamas,” he adds. “I say to the terrorists of Hamas: It’s over. Don’t die for [Yahya] Sinwar. Surrender — now.”

Bernie Sanders: You can’t have a ‘permanent ceasefire’ with Hamas who wants ‘permanent war’

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a harsh critic of Israel, repeats his assertion that there is no possibility of having a permanent ceasefire with a group like Hamas.

“I don’t know how you can have a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, who has said before October 7 and after October 7, that they want to destroy Israel and they want a permanent war,” Sanders says in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I don’t know how you have a permanent ceasefire with an attitude like that… I think Israel has the right to defend itself and to go after Hamas, not the Palestinian people.”

Government approves NIS 18 billion five-year plan to rehabilitate Gaza border area

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with ministers and the heads of Gaza border communities, in his office, December 10, 2023. (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with ministers and the heads of Gaza border communities, in his office, December 10, 2023. (Prime Minister's Office)

The government approves a NIS 18 billion plan to rebuild, rehabilitate, and restore the Gaza border communities destroyed in Hamas’s October 7 assault on southern Israel.

The framework, known as “Tekuma,” funded from 2024-2028, will be guided by a plan that will be published within 100 days and will “enable the strengthening of the region for local authorities, communities, families, residents, and the entire State of Israel,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in a statement that “we are building and rehabilitating our communities… we are dealing not only with rebuilding of the communities, the towns, the kibbutzes, but also the goal of causing them to prosper and flourish for generations to come,” including providing assistance to evacuees are investing in education, employment, welfare, agriculture, business and other areas.

IDF soldier succumbs to wounds sustained Friday in Gaza fighting

Lt. Nethanel Menachem Eitan (IDF)
Lt. Nethanel Menachem Eitan (IDF)

The IDF announces the death of a soldier who was wounded on Friday in northern Gaza and succumbed to his wounds today, bringing the toll of slain troops in the ground offensive against Hamas to 98.

He is named as Lt. Nethanel Menachem Eitan, 22, a cadet in the Bahad 1 officers school’s Gefen Battalion, and a soldier in the Air Force’s Unit 669, from Jerusalem.

Additionally, the IDF says another five soldiers were seriously wounded during the fighting in Gaza today.

Blinken defends bypassing Congress to sell weapons to Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Nov. 30, 2023. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Nov. 30, 2023. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken defends the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition and also calls for quick congressional approval of more than $100 billion in aid for Israel, Ukraine and other national security priorities.

Blinken says the needs of Israel’s military operations in Gaza justify the rare decision to bypass Congress: “Israel is in combat right now with Hamas,” he says during television interviews on CNN and ABC. “And we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas.”

The tank ammunition and related support constitute only a small portion of military sales to Israel, Blinken says, and the rest remains subject to congressional review: “It’s very important that Congress’s voice be heard in this,” he says.

The decision to proceed with the sale of more than $106 million for tank shells came as the Biden administration’s larger aid package is caught up in a debate over US immigration policy and border security.

Hamas: Not a single hostage will leave Gaza alive unless our demands are met

Protesters gather with signs showing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since Hamas's October 7 massacre during a demonstration calling for their release at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, on December 9, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Protesters gather with signs showing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since Hamas's October 7 massacre during a demonstration calling for their release at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, on December 9, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Hamas warns that not a single hostage will leave the Gaza Strip alive unless the group’s demands are met.

“Neither the fascist enemy and its arrogant leadership… nor its supporters… can take their prisoners alive without an exchange and negotiation and meeting the demands of the resistance,” Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, says in a televised broadcast.

Thousands march against antisemitism in downtown Berlin

Thousands, including a number of prominent German politicians, take part in a rally against antisemitism on December 10, 2023 in Berlin. (MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP)
Thousands, including a number of prominent German politicians, take part in a rally against antisemitism on December 10, 2023 in Berlin. (MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP)

Several thousand people demonstrate against antisemitism in Berlin as Germany grapples with a large increase in anti-Jewish incidents following Hamas’s assault on Israel two months ago.

Police estimate that around 3,200 people gathered in the rain in the German capital, while organizers put the figure at 10,000, German news agency dpa reports. Participants in the protest, titled “Never again is now,” march to the Brandenburg Gate.

Germany’s labor minister, Hubertus Heil, says that many decent people are too quiet on the growing antisemitic sentiment in the country: “We don’t need a decent, silent majority — we need a clear and loud majority that stands up now, and not later,” he says.

The event had wide support, with the speaker of the German parliament and Berlin’s mayor among its backers.

Blinken: Israel, not US, will make decision on end of its war against Hamas

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting with human rights leaders at the State Department, December 7, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting with human rights leaders at the State Department, December 7, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tells CNN that Israel, not the US, will be the one to decide the timing of the end of its war against Hamas.

“We have these discussions with Israel, including about the duration as well as how it’s prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make,” Blinken tells CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Blinken also says that he believes Israel has the right “intent” when it comes to minimizing civilian casualties in Gaza, “but the results are not always manifesting themselves, and we see that both in terms of civilian protection and humanitarian assistance.”

His comments come amid repeated reports that the US has been warning Israel behind the scenes that it needs to wrap up operations by the end of the year.

Senior IDF officer: Hamas showing ‘signs of breaking’ after 22,000 targets in Gaza struck

IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on December 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

A senior IDF officer says that in recent days the military has identified “signs of Hamas breaking” in the Gaza Strip, as it continues its offensive against the terror group.

“The extent of the destruction and damage creates command and control problems [for Hamas]. There are areas in the Gaza Strip that Hamas no longer controls militarily,” the officer says.

“Despite the achievements, we are not close to the end of the fighting. We continue to operate with great intensity, and work to dismantle entire battalions of Hamas,” he says, adding that about half of the 24 Hamas battalion commanders have been eliminated in airstrikes and other operations.

The military estimates that some 7,000 Hamas operatives have been killed in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF in a statement says it has struck more than 22,000 targets in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war, 3,500 of them since the end of the ceasefire on December 1.

The strikes were carried out by the Air Force, Navy and ground troops.

The targets have included Hamas infrastructure, including tunnels, weapons depots, command centers, and rocket launchers, as well as terror operatives.

The IDF says it is currently battling Hamas in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, Shejaiya, and Beit Hanoun, and in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Police order probe of autopsy findings on Yuval Castleman after his body was exhumed

Security forces at the scene of a terror shooting attack at the entrance to Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Security forces at the scene of a terror shooting attack at the entrance to Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai orders the head of the Israel Police’s Investigations and Intelligence Division, Superintendent Yigal Ben Shalom, to probe the findings of a post-exhumation autopsy on Yuval Castleman, as well as the overall conduct of the investigation.

Castleman, a civilian who stopped to take out a terrorist in a Jerusalem shooting attack last month, was shot dead at the scene by a reservist IDF soldier.

According to Hebrew media reports, the autopsy carried out on Castleman after his body was exhumed found bullets inside his corpse, after police claimed there were no bullets inside his body and therefore an autopsy was not necessary and was not carried out. Castelman’s family agreed to have him exhumed.

The reservist soldier, Aviad Frija, was released to house arrest last week.

IDF publishes footage of Golani troops fighting in heart of Gaza City

IDF troops inspect a tunnel shaft in a school in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, in a handout image published on December 8, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops inspect a tunnel shaft in a school in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, in a handout image published on December 8, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF releases new footage showing troops of the Golani Infantry Brigade fighting Hamas in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood.

It says the troops have so far uncovered some 15 tunnel shafts, discovered weapons, and killed numerous Hamas operatives in the neighborhood.

In an incident several days ago, the IDF says the Golani troops encountered a group of Hamas gunmen who opened fire from a school in Shejaiya. The school complex was booby-trapped, and the IDF says the operatives tried to lure the soldiers into an ambush. The gunmen were killed following a battle, it says.

Golani’s battles in Shejaiya come as a new group of conscripts are drafting to the brigade today.

The IDF in its statement also notes the heavy battles Golani forces fought during the 2014 Gaza war in Shejaiya.

“The commanders and the [troops] of the Golani brigade returned to fight in the Shejaiya area, and are attaining significant achievements and causing damage to the capabilities of the Hamas terror organization,” it says.

IDF strikes Hezbollah targets after wave of attacks on northern Israel

Smoke rises from Israeli artillery shelling on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Smoke rises from Israeli artillery shelling on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The IDF says tanks and a fighter jet struck several more Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to repeated attacks by the terror group on the north of Israel.

It adds that separately, an attack helicopter hit an anti-tank missile squad preparing to carry out an attack near the northern community of Yiftah.

Several rockets were also fired from Lebanon at areas on the border in the last few hours. The IDF says it is responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the fire.

In another incident, the IDF says it shelled an area in southern Lebanon near the northern Israeli community of Menara, after identifying suspicious movement.

Israeli FM meets Argentinian president-elect Milei on eve of his swearing-in

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (right) meets with Argentinian president-elect Javier Milei in Buenos Aires on December 9, 2023. (Leandro Karmanchovsky/Foreign Ministry)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (right) meets with Argentinian president-elect Javier Milei in Buenos Aires on December 9, 2023. (Leandro Karmanchovsky/Foreign Ministry)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets in Buenos Aires last night with Javier Milei, who will be sworn in today as Argentina’s new president.

The pair are accompanied by relatives of hostages being held in Gaza, including members of the Bibas family, who have Argentinian citizenship.

Cohen congratulates Milei on his election, and says that Argentina-Israel ties will strengthen under his leadership.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Milei expresses his “full solidarity with the Israeli people” in light of the Hamas assault, which he “condemns sharply and clearly.” Milei says he “fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself” and is looking into declaring Hamas a terror group in Argentina.

The pair also took part in a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony along with local Argentinian Jews and family members of hostages. Milei wore a dog tag necklace given to him by the family members of the hostage which reads “Bring Them Home.”

Putin criticizes ‘catastrophic humanitarian situation’ in Gaza in call with Netanyahu

File: Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (Maxim Shemtov/Pool/AFP)
File: Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (Maxim Shemtov/Pool/AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their phone conversation that Moscow rejects terrorism, but it cannot support the “dire” situation of Gazan civilians.

According to the state-run TASS news agency, the conversation focused on “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” saying that Israel’s military response to the Hamas terror onslaught cannot lead “to such dire consequences for the civilian population,” in a statement from the Kremlin carried by the agency.

The Russian readout says that Moscow is “ready to provide all possible assistance in order to alleviate the suffering of civilians and de-escalate the conflict” and that both Russia and Israel are looking to continue to “cooperate” on both evacuating Russians from Gaza and freeing Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Iran accuses jailed Swedish EU diplomat of conspiring with Israel

An image of Swedish national Johan Floderus during a video call from Iranian prison on August 7, 2023, released by his family in September. (Courtesy)
An image of Swedish national Johan Floderus during a video call from Iranian prison on August 7, 2023, released by his family in September. (Courtesy)

Iranian authorities have accused a Swedish EU diplomat, held in a Tehran prison for more than 600 days, of conspiring with Israel to harm the Islamic Republic, the judiciary says.

“Johan Floderus is accused of extensive measures against the security of the country, extensive intelligence cooperation with the Zionist regime and corruption on earth,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news agency says.

Corruption on earth is one of Iran’s most serious offenses, which carries a maximum penalty of death.

“The defendant has been active against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of gathering information for the benefit of the Zionist regime in the form of subversive projects,” Mizan quotes the prosecution as saying.

Earlier today, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for the immediate release of the Swedish diplomat, arguing “there are absolutely no grounds for keeping Johan Floderus in detention.”

Floderus, 33, works for the European Union diplomatic service. He was arrested on April 17, 2022, at Tehran airport as he was returning from a trip abroad, and is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said yesterday that the trial had begun in Iran.

“There is no basis whatsoever for keeping Johan Floderus in detention, let alone bringing him to trial,” Billstrom said.

In call with Putin, Netanyahu criticizes Russia’s anti-Israel stance in world bodies

File: Russian President Vladimir Putin  (right) meets with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)
File: Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)

The Prime Minister’s Office says that during his phone call today with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his dissatisfaction with the anti-Israel stance on the war against Hamas that has been presented by Moscow’s officials at the UN and in other forums.

In a statement, the premier’s office says he voiced “resolute criticism of the cooperation between Russia and Iran.”

He stressed that any other country that suffered a terror attack equivalent to Hamas’s October 7 onslaught would have reacted to it with at least the same force with which Israel has reacted.

Netanyahu also expressed appreciation for the Russian efforts that prompted Hamas to release an Israeli-Russian man held hostage in Gaza, the statement says. (Two Israeli-Russian women were also released following reported pressure from Moscow, but they weren’t mentioned by Netanyahu since they were then included after the fact in the next day’s hostage exchange and Israel freed Palestinian security prisoners for them, according to the PMO.)

Netanyahu also asks Putin to pressure the Red Cross to secure visits to the remaining hostages and deliver medications to them.

Agriculture Ministry budgets NIS 7 million to help Gaza border-area farmers move crops elsewhere

The Agriculture Ministry budgets NIS 7 million ($1.9 million) to help farmers working in dangerous locations in the Gaza border area move their crops elsewhere, amid the war that has caused the surrounding towns to be evacuated.

The funds will help the workers sow their carrot seeds and plant potato tubers on land cultivated by farmers in safer areas nearby.

Citing freedom of speech, Musk restores X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

Infowars founder Alex Jones appears in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut on September 22, 2022. (Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool, File)
Infowars founder Alex Jones appears in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut on September 22, 2022. (Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool, File)

Elon Musk has restored the X account of US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones following a poll on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that came out in favor of the Infowars host who repeatedly called the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax.

It poses new uncertainty for advertisers, who have fled X over concerns about hate speech appearing alongside their ads.

Musk posted a poll yesterday asking if Jones should be reinstated, with the results showing 70% of those responding in favor. Early this morning, Musk tweeted: “The people have spoken and so it shall be.”

Jones’s posts are now visible again — the last one from 2018, when the company permanently banned him and his Infowars show for abusive behavior. That was before Musk bought the platform.

Musk, who has described himself as a free speech absolutist, says the move was about protecting those rights. In response to a user who posted that “permanent account bans are antithetical to free speech,” Musk writes: “I find it hard to disagree with this point.”

The billionaire Tesla CEO has also tweeted it’s likely that Community Notes — X’s crowdsourced fact-checking service — “will respond rapidly to any AJ post that needs correction.”

Israel confirms Iranian terror plot foiled in Cyprus with help from Mossad

Israel confirms the reports of an Iranian terror plot against Israeli and Jewish targets in Cyprus being foiled, saying local authorities were aided by the Mossad spy agency.

Accusing the Iranian regime of being behind the plot, the Prime Minister’s Office says — on behalf of the Mossad and the National Security Agency — that the cell’s arrest was enabled by intelligence information about the terrorists, their methods of operation and the intended targets.

Gazan men questioned by IDF over Hamas ties claim they were abused

Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A day after Israel confirmed it was rounding up suspected Hamas members in Gaza for interrogation, some released Palestinian men tell The Associated Press they were treated badly, providing the first alleged accounts of the conditions under which they were detained.

Osama Oula says Israeli troops pulled men out of a building in the Shejaiya area of Gaza City, ordering them to the street in their underwear. Oula claims Israeli forces bound him and others with zip ties, beat them for several days and gave them little water to drink.

Ahmad Nimr Salman shows his hands, marked and swollen, apparently from the zip ties, and alleges that older men with diabetes or high blood pressure were ignored when they asked soldiers to remove their ties.

He says the troops asked, ”‘Are you with Hamas?’ We say ‘no,’ then they would slap us or kick us.” He says his 17-year-old son Amjad is still held by the troops.

The group was released after five days and told to walk south. Ten freed detainees arrived at a hospital in Deir al-Balah yesterday after flagging down an ambulance.

The Israeli military has no immediate comment when asked about the alleged abuse. The IDF has previously said that it questions those who are arrested.

Netanyahu leaves cabinet meeting to speak to Putin, amid tensions with Russia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked out of the cabinet meeting earlier and has spoken for 50 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Netanyahu spokesperson tells The Times of Israel.

The call comes amid tension with Russia over its staunch anti-Israel stance in the war against Hamas, and after Moscow’s ambassador made scathing remarks against the Jewish state at the UN on Friday.

Playwright and author Edna Mazia, pillar of Israeli theater, dies at 74

Prominent Israeli playwright and author Edna Mazia has died at the age of 74, Hebrew media reports.

Considered a pillar of Israeli theater, she succumbed to a long battle with cancer.

Among her best known plays is “Games in the Backyard.”

Her funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Moshav Nahalal in the north.

IDF: Troops injured in Hezbollah drone attack; Air Force conducts ‘widespread’ strikes in Lebanon

Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The IDF says two soldiers have been moderately wounded and others lightly hurt by shrapnel and smoke inhalation in a Hezbollah drone attack on a base in the Western Galilee.

Two of the drones launched from Lebanon were shot down by the Iron Dome air defense system, the IDF says.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, the IDF says it carried out a “widespread” wave of airstrikes against Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to repeated attacks on the border.

It says the targets include rocket launching sites, military compounds, and other infrastructure belonging to the terror group.

In another incident, the IDF says it struck an anti-tank missile squad in southern Lebanon that had attempted to carry out an attack near the northern Israel community of Zar’it.

The IDF says it is continuing to carry out strikes on Hezbollah now.

Smoke rises from Israeli artillery shelling on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

IDF launches website with continuously updated figures of military casualties

The Israel Defense Forces has launched a new webpage where the number of fallen and wounded troops during the ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip is updated, with a breakdown of their conditions, though currently only in Hebrew.

Since October 7, the IDF says 425 soldiers have been killed, mostly during the October 7 onslaught. Another 1,593 soldiers have been wounded: 255 seriously, 446 moderately and 892 lightly.

In the ground offensive in Gaza, which was launched in late October, 97 soldiers have been killed and another 559 have been wounded. Of the soldiers injured during the ground op, 127 were seriously injured, 213 moderately and 219 lightly.

Currently, there are 40 seriously wounded soldiers, 221 moderately wounded soldiers, and 165 lightly wounded soldiers still hospitalized, according to the IDF.

Soldiers wounded in the Gaza Strip have been evacuated by the elite helicopter-borne search and rescue Unit 669.

According to the IDF, Unit 669 has carried out some 300 separate medevacs, taking around 600 soldiers to hospitals in Israel.

More air raid alerts sound in Gaza border area

More rocket sirens are heard in the Gaza border area, this time in Nahal Oz, which has been evacuated of its residents since it was targeted during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

The area is still being manned by IDF soldiers.

2 Iranians linked to Revolutionary Guard arrested in Cyprus over plan to target Israelis

Two Iranian suspects have been arrested by Cypriot authorities over an alleged plot to target Israelis in the island nation, the Reuters agency reports, citing an unsourced report by the local Kathimerini Cyprus newspaper.

The detainees are said to be political refugees who have been in contact with a person with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

They reportedly were in the early stages of obtaining intelligence on potential Israeli targets.

IDF says Artillery Corps operating inside Gaza for first time since ground op’s start

An Israeli army soldier covers his ears as a self-propelled artillery howitzer fires rounds from a position near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on November 6, 2023. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
An Israeli army soldier covers his ears as a self-propelled artillery howitzer fires rounds from a position near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on November 6, 2023. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

The IDF says that for the first time since Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza, the Artillery Corps is operating inside the Strip.

Since the war began on October 7, the Artillery Corps has fired more than 100,000 shells at targets in the Gaza Strip, from the border area. The IDF says the artillery fire has been used to aid the ground forces maneuvering in Gaza.

In the past few days, the 282nd Artillery Regiment’s 411th Battalion crossed the border with its self-propelled M-109 howitzers, to aid the 188th Armored Brigade’s offensive on Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood.

It says the troops shelled more than 20 buildings in Shejaiya, including weapons depots, booby-trapped homes and other Hamas infrastructure, as well as deploying flares and smoke shells to assist the ground forces.

Alarms sound in Gaza border towns, signaling 1st rockets from Strip after record 20-hour lull

Rocket alarms blare in the evacuated Gaza border towns of Netiv HaAsara and Yad Mordechai, indicating the first rockets that have been launched by terrorists in the Strip in some 20 hours.

The lull is the longest since the war started, excluding the weeklong temporary truce last month.

War having ‘catastrophic’ health impact on Gaza, hundreds of attacks on health care: WHO

The war between Israel and the Hamas terror group is having a “catastrophic” impact on health in the Gaza Strip, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says.

“The impact of the conflict on health is catastrophic” and health workers are doing an impossible job in unimaginable conditions, the UN health agency’s director-general tells the opening of a WHO executive board special session called to discuss the health conditions in the Palestinian enclave.

Since the Hamas onslaught of October 7 that sparked the war, he says, “WHO has verified more than 449 attacks on health care in Gaza and the West Bank, and 60 attacks on health care in Israel. Health care should never be a target.”

At cabinet meeting, Netanyahu thanks Biden for UN veto, tank ammo

At the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks US President Joe Biden for his administration’s vetoing of a UN Security Council resolution urging a ceasefire, and for its approval of an urgent shipment of some 14,000 tank shells he says is due to start arriving today.

The premier also says he told the leaders of France and Germany over the weekend that “one can’t support eliminating Hamas on the one hand, and on the other hand pressure us to end the war.”

Netanyahu says the fighting in Gaza is continuing in full force, and that “justice is on our side.”

Economy Ministry reaches deal with treasury, paving way for Barkat to back 2023 budget update

Nir Barkat, minister of economy and industry, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Nir Barkat, minister of economy and industry, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Economy and Industry Ministry announces that it has reached agreements with the treasury regarding the update to the national budget, appearing to pave the way toward Minister Nir Barkat supporting the bill to adjust the budget in the shadow of the war against Hamas.

Barkat, a member of the ruling Likud party, has thus far opposed the bill and boycotted the first of its three plenum readings due to cuts to his ministry’s budget. The legislation has also faced pushback over its inclusion of some non-war funds to fulfill previously agreed-upon demands by coalition parties.

But now, the Finance Ministry and the Economy Ministry  agreed to add NIS 240 million ($65 million) to the latter’s budget by the end of the year. Barkat welcomes the development.

Universities say start of academic year delayed by another week, to December 31

University chiefs say their academic year will start on December 31 nationwide, a week after the previously set date of December 24, which was already a delay of over two months.

In a statement, the institution heads say the decision has been made in light of the war and after consultations with the IDF, adding that “various adjustments” will be introduced, as well as “particular solutions to all those who will still be serving in the reserves.”

Footage shows heavy Israeli bombing in southern Lebanon

The Israeli Air Force is carrying out airstrikes in southern Lebanon, according to Lebanese media.

Footage posted to social media shows massive blasts in the area.

The bombing comes amid rocket and drone sirens sounding in the Western Galilee. It isn’t immediately clear whether they preceded the alarms or are a response to them.

The IDF has not yet commented on the strikes.

Rebuffing boycott calls, Eurovision organizers say Israel will participate next year

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the annual Eurovision Song Contest, has rebuffed calls from anti-Israel activists to nix Israel’s participation in next year’s competition over the war against the Hamas terror group.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for public broadcasters from all over Europe and the Middle East. It is a competition for broadcasters — not for governments — and the Israeli public broadcaster has been participating in the competition for fifty years,” the EBU says over the weekend in a response sent to the Belgian newspaper HLN.

“The EBU is a member-led organisation. The governing bodies of the EBU – led by the Board of Directors – represent the members. These authorities assessed the list of participants and decided that the Israeli public broadcaster complies with all competition rules. Together with 36 other channels, it can participate in the competition next year.”

Qatar: Efforts continuing to renew Israel-Hamas truce, release more hostages

Mediation efforts to secure a new Gaza ceasefire and release more hostages held by the Hamas terror group are continuing despite continued Israeli military operations that are “narrowing the window” for a successful outcome, Qatar’s prime minister says.

“Our efforts as the state of Qatar along with our partners are continuing. We are not going to give up,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani tells the Doha Forum, adding that “the continuation of the bombardment is just narrowing this window for us.”

Drone infiltration, rocket alarms sound in north, in first alerts nationwide in 18 hours

A suspected drone infiltration alarm is sounding in several communities in the Western Galilee.

The alerts are activated in Gornot HaGalil, Hanita, Shtula, Zarit, Goren, Ya’ara, Arab al-Aramshe, Shomera, Eilon, Idmit, and Even Menachem.

Incoming rocket alarms are also sounding in Avdon, Ya’ara, Eilon and Goren.

The IDF is investigating the cause of the alarms, which are the first in the country in 18 hours.

Polls open in Egypt’s symbolic presidential election

Polling stations open for Egyptians to cast their ballots in a presidential election the incumbent, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, is widely expected to win.

The vote in the country of nearly 106 million people will run until Tuesday, with results expected to be announced on December 18. Former army chief Sissi has been president since 2014, a year after deposing Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Running against him are just three relatively unknown candidates, all up for election for the first time.

Images from northern Gaza continue to show Palestinian men surrendering to IDF

Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Palestinian men surrender to troops in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, on December 10, 2023. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Images continue to circulate on social media of IDF troops detaining dozens of Palestinian men who apparently surrendered in the northern Gaza Strip.

The pictures posted this morning apparently come from northern Gaza’s Jabaliya.

The IDF has said it will interrogate all of those who surrender to troops for potential links to Hamas.

Among those who have been detained in recent days are Hamas operatives who have also provided intelligence to the military, according to the IDF.

IDF says it struck 250 Hamas targets over past day, including tunnels and other sites overnight

This handout photo from the Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on December 10, 2023, shows Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)
This handout photo from the Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on December 10, 2023, shows Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says it carried out strikes on some 250 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day, as troops continue to battle operatives on the ground.

The strikes overnight includes the targeting of a Hamas compound in Khan Younis and several tunnel shafts in the area.

According to the IDF, in the last few hours, ground forces raided Hamas sites in Gaza, finding and destroying what they described as many weapons and tunnel shafts, and killing gunmen who had planned to attack the troops.

Overnight, the IDF says a fighter jet directed by troops of the Givati Infantry Brigade struck a Hamas communications site next to a mosque in southern Gaza. After the strike, the Givati troops raided the site.

The IDF says the elite Egoz unit over the past day has been striking tunnel shafts in the Khan Younis area using guided munitions. The unit also identified a Hamas cell by drone and eliminated its members, according to the IDF.

In Shejaiya in the north, the IDF says troops of the 188th Armored Brigade raided a Hamas command center, locating weapons used by its operatives, including assault rifles, grenades, anti-tank missile launchers and more equipment.

Iran bans Mahsa Amini’s family from traveling to receive EU’s top human rights prize

A portrait of Mahsa Amini is held during a rally calling for regime change in Iran following the death of Amini, a young woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by Iran's notorious 'morality police,' in Washington, on October 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
A portrait of Mahsa Amini is held during a rally calling for regime change in Iran following the death of Amini, a young woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by Iran's notorious 'morality police,' in Washington, on October 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Iranian authorities have banned members of the late Mahsa Amini’s family from traveling to receive the European Union’s top human rights prize on her behalf, a civil rights monitor reports. Amini’s death while in police custody in 2022 sparked nationwide protests that rocked the Islamic Republic.

The US-based HRANA says authorities have refused to allow Amini’s father, Amjad, and two of her brothers to fly out to Strasbourg, France, to receive the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Reports say only the family’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, will be able to travel to receive the award on their behalf.

The EU award, named for Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, was created in 1988 to honor individuals or groups who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is “the highest tribute paid by the European Union to human rights work,” as per the EU Parliament website.

Mahsa Amini was granted the prize posthumously in September. The 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died after Iran’s morality police arrested her for allegedly violating the country’s strict headscarf law that forced women to cover their hair and entire body. Her death led to massive protests that quickly escalated into calls to overthrow Iran’s clerical rulers.

Yad Vashem chief: All antisemitic calls must be off-limits, not only calls for genocide

The head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial says that “even if it becomes set now that calls for genocide of Jews are prohibited in US universities, we must remember that this is a very low bar that we shouldn’t be satisfied with.”

Dani Dayan’s statement comes following the resignation of University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill, after she drew outrage by refusing to say calls for the genocide of Jews go against its rules.

“Antisemitic calls of any kind — not only for the mass murder of Jews — must be off-limits,” Dayan says on X.

Footage shows shtreimel ripped from man’s head and stolen yesterday in NYC

CCTV footage published by Boro Park Shomrim shows a motorcyclist snatching and apparently stealing a shtreimel headware yesterday from a Hasidic man in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City, in an apparent antisemitic incident.

Shomrim says the assailant is suspected of grand larceny, calling on the public to help identify them.

Report: Israeli sources say intense fighting in Gaza to go on for 2 more months

Israeli sources are estimating that the current intense fighting against the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip will go on for two more months, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

There will be no ceasefire after that period, the sources are quoted as saying, with localized operations conducted by forces that will remain in the vicinity of the Strip.

During the next two months, there will be attempts to advance more deals to release more hostages, the report says.

At some point in the next two months, Israel will allow some Gaza residents to return to their homes, Kan reports, saying this is “a US demand and also an operational necessity.”

France says naval ship in Red Sea intercepted 2 drones launched from Houthi-held port

The French Languedoc (D653), a FREMM multipurpose frigate, performs maneuvers during the "Noble Dina 23" multilateral aeronautical exercise in the Mediterranean Dea on March 27, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
The French Languedoc (D653), a FREMM multipurpose frigate, performs maneuvers during the "Noble Dina 23" multilateral aeronautical exercise in the Mediterranean Dea on March 27, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The French navy says the frigate Languedoc in the Red Sea shot down two drones Saturday night coming “straight toward it” from a Yemeni port city held by the Houthi rebels.

The statement does not say whether the French navy assesses its frigate was the target of the drones.

Ben Gvir calls on war cabinet not to let Palestinian workers back into Israel

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir rails against the prospect of again allowing Palestinians from the West Bank to enter Israel for work, as the war cabinet deliberates the matter.

“Letting workers from the Palestinian Authority who are drenched in incitement into Israel right now is a continuation of the [failed] concept [that led to October 7] and the understanding that we did not understand anything from October 7,” he writes on X, formerly Twitter.

IDF reportedly carrying out overnight strikes in Gaza’s Jabaliya, Khan Younis

Palestinian media affiliated with Hamas reports overnight Israeli strikes in Jabaliya in northern Gaza and Khan Younis in the south of the Strip, as the Israel Defense Forces continues to press its offensive against the terror group.

Report: Netanyahu told Biden Khan Younis operation to go on for 3-4 more weeks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Joe Biden in a phone call over the weekend that the IDF’s current operation in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis will go on for 3-4 more weeks, Channel 13 news reports, citing unnamed diplomatic officials.

The report says the Biden administration is believed to expect that afterward, the fighting in Gaza will become and more focused and less intense.

It adds that the officials have denied previous reports that Biden set a deadline to wrap up the fighting by the end of the year.

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