ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Dec. 11: Defense minister says Hamas northern battalions near collapse, many surrendering

Gallant says some of those turning themselves in took part in Oct. 7 attacks, telling us interesting things * Man wounded by rocket in central Israel

  • Palestinian suspects are detained by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Palestinian suspects are detained by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Illustrative: Shin Bet head Ronen Bar (R) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (L) hold an assessment with senior officers in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Illustrative: Shin Bet head Ronen Bar (R) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (L) hold an assessment with senior officers in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit and caused damage in Holon, December 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
    Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit and caused damage in Holon, December 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
  • Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
  • IDF soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023: Top L-R Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, Cpt. (res.) Eliya Yanovsky, Master Sgt. (res.) Ari Yehiel Zenilman; bottom: Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani, Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, Maj. Gal Becher, and Maj. (res.) Roman Bronshtein. (Courtesy; combo image: Times of Israel)
    IDF soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023: Top L-R Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, Cpt. (res.) Eliya Yanovsky, Master Sgt. (res.) Ari Yehiel Zenilman; bottom: Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani, Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, Maj. Gal Becher, and Maj. (res.) Roman Bronshtein. (Courtesy; combo image: Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians check a house destroyed in an Israeli strike on Rafah, Gaza Strip, Dec. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
    Palestinians check a house destroyed in an Israeli strike on Rafah, Gaza Strip, Dec. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
  • Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
    Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

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

French parliament rejects Macron’s immigration bill

The French parliament has voted down a flagship immigration bill of President Emmanuel Macron’s government, prompting his high-profile interior minister to offer to resign over the “failure.”

Macron rejected the offer from Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to step down, instead ordering him to find new ways to break the deadlock and push the legislation through.

In a stunning setback for the government, the lower-house National Assembly adopted a motion to reject the controversial immigration bill without even debating it.

Originally proposed by Macron’s centrist government with a mix of steps to expel more undocumented people and improve migrants’ integration, the text of the bill leans firmly towards enforcement after its passage through the Senate, which is controlled by the right.

Speaking at the National Assembly, Darmanin defended the bill, which further restricts the ability for migrants to bring family members into France, birthright citizenship and welfare benefits.

He urged lawmakers not to join forces to vote on the rejection motion put forward by the Greens.

Despite his pleas, the National Assembly backed the motion to reject the bill by 270 votes to 265.

IDF reservist Tzvika Lavi dies, weeks after being seriously wounded in Gaza

An IDF reservist who was seriously wounded in Gaza a few weeks ago has died of his injuries, according to media reports.

Tzvika Lavi, a resident of the settlement of Eli, was a father of three.

Authorities have not yet commented.

Dozens of IDF soldiers have been seriously wounded in the war with Hamas.

Report: No talks held on new hostage deal since truce ended

Haaretz, citing an anonymous source with knowledge on the matter, reports that there have been no talks between Israel and Hamas on a potential new hostage deal since the previous one collapsed.

Still, another source tells the paper the Qatari mediation channel is still active and the sides could yet move toward a new agreement.

Report: Netanyahu says Oslo Accords caused as many deaths as October 7 attacks

A number of Hebrew media outlets report that during today’s meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Oslo Accords caused as many deaths as Hamas’s October 7 attacks, “though over a longer period.”

The Ynet news site says Labor leader Merav Michaeli interrupted to protest the comparison, but was shut down by committee chairman Yuli Edelstein.

Harvard faculty backs university president criticized for antisemitism remarks

Harvard president Claudine Gay speaks 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 speaks during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)

Hundreds of Harvard faculty members are urging the Ivy League university to keep its president, Claudine Gay, in command, as she faces calls from some lawmakers and donors to step down over comments at a congressional hearing on antisemitism last week.

A petition signed by more than 600 faculty members asks the school’s governing body to resist political pressures “that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.”

Only months into her leadership, Gay came under intense scrutiny following the hearing in which she and two of her peers struggled to answer questions about campus antisemitism. Their academic responses provoked a backlash from Republican opponents, along with alumni and donors, who say the university leaders are failing to stand up for Jewish students on their campuses.

Liz Magill resigned as president of the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, in the wake of criticism of her handling of the hearing. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican whose questions sparked the episode, saw it as the first domino: “One down. Two to go,” she said on X, formerly Twitter.

Harvard’s highest governing body is scheduled to meet today and has not issued a public statement since the hearing. On Thursday, MIT’s governing body issued a statement declaring “full and unreserved support” for President Sally Kornbluth, whose testimony also drew scathing criticism.

US says it found images of stripped Palestinian suspects in Gaza ‘deeply disturbing’

The US State Department says it found images of stripped Palestinian suspects in Gaza in recent days “deeply disturbing” and is “seeking more information.”

At a press briefing, spokesperson Matthew Miller says the US wants more information “both about the nature of the images and of course why they’re public in the first place.”

Kerem Shalom to open for examination of Gaza aid — but no supplies will enter there

Illustrative: A fuel truck enters the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, in Rafah in the southern Palestinian enclave, following a truce, on August 8, 2022. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Illustrative: A fuel truck enters the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, in Rafah in the southern Palestinian enclave, following a truce, on August 8, 2022. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The IDF and COGAT, the military’s liaison to the Palestinians, officially announce that the Kerem Shalom Crossing will be opened tomorrow for the examination of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Until now, aid trucks entering Gaza have been examined by Israeli authorities at the more southern Nitzana Crossing between Israel and Egypt, causing delays in the entry of food, water, and medical supplies to the Strip.

Kerem Shalom will be used to examine the aid trucks in addition to Nitzana, to speed up the process.

No aid will be entering from Israel to Gaza directly. All the trucks will be examined in Israel at Kerem Shalom and Nitzana, and then make their way to Egypt’s Rafah border crossing to enter Gaza.

Biden to host Hanukkah ceremony at White House as antisemitism concerns mount

People attend the Annual National Menorah Lighting at the Ellipse of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7, 2023. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
People attend the Annual National Menorah Lighting at the Ellipse of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7, 2023. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

US President Joe Biden is hosting a White House reception this evening to mark Hanukkah, celebrating the festival of lights, as he has continued to denounce rising antisemitism in the US and abroad in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

The president, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend the event with nearly 800 guests. Invitees include Holocaust survivors, members of Congress, state and local officials, entertainers, and leaders from across the Jewish religious denominations, the White House says.

A menorah is lit nightly during the eight-day Jewish festival, which this year is being celebrated from December 7 through December 15.

The White House reception will be led by Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City. It will feature menorah lighting by Emhoff and White House staff who are descendants of Holocaust survivors.

Biden plans to talk about how Hanukkah is a timeless story of miracles, and that — even in dark times — we can find the light, the White House says.

Army in response to white phosphorus report: IDF only uses legal weaponry

In response to a report by the Washington Post earlier today, which says the IDF used white phosphorus shells during an attack in southern Lebanon, the military says, “The IDF only uses legal weaponry.”

“The main smoke shells used by the IDF do not contain white phosphorus. Similar to many Western armies, the IDF also has smoke shells that contain white phosphorus, which are legal according to international law, and the choice to use them is influenced by operational considerations and availability compared to alternatives,” the IDF says.

“These shells are intended for smokescreens, and not for an attack or ignition, and they are not legally defined as incendiary weapons,” it continues.

The IDF says that under its existing procedures, white phosphorus shells are not to be used in urban areas, “except in certain exceptional cases.”

“These restrictions are in line with international law, and are even stricter than [the latter],” the IDF says.

The Washington Post report wrongly claims Israel pledged in 2013 to stop using white phosphorus, while in fact the military said it would limit the use, largely moving to use other means to create smokescreens for troops. However, it has reserved the right to use such shells in certain, undisclosed cases that have been approved by the Supreme Court (the uses were not detailed to the public for reasons of security).

Hezbollah fires anti-tank missiles at a home in Metula

A picture taken from the Lebanese side of the border shows smoke rising on hills near the Israeli town of Metula as a result of a strike reportedly coming from Lebanon, on November 11, 2023. (Hassan FNEICH / AFP)
A picture taken from the Lebanese side of the border shows smoke rising on hills near the Israeli town of Metula as a result of a strike reportedly coming from Lebanon, on November 11, 2023. (Hassan FNEICH / AFP)

The Hezbollah terror group says it fired a number of anti-tank missiles from southern Lebanon at a home in the northern Israeli town of Metula.

In a statement, the terror group says the attack is a response to the death of the mayor of the Lebanese village of Taybeh, Hussein Ali Mansour, who was reported to have been killed in IDF shelling earlier, amid repeated cross-border Hezbollah attacks.

Hezbollah claims the home in Metula that it hit was being used by the IDF.

There are no injuries in the attack.

Metula has largely been evacuated of residents, given the Hezbollah attacks.

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

TV report claims start of effort to negotiate partial new hostage deal may be imminent

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Mossad chief David Barnea at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Mossad chief David Barnea at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Channel 12 news quotes an anonymous senior Israeli source cautiously suggesting that the beginning of an effort to negotiate a partial new deal on hostage releases may be close at hand.

“The conditions are ripe for a framework in which it is possible to start to draft new agreements, from Hamas’s and Israel’s point of view,” the source is quoted as saying.

Such a deal would be designated as “humanitarian,” the report says, explaining that the “category” of hostages that such a deal might include would cover women, the injured, the sick, and the elderly. There are believed to be 15 non-military women among the hostages, and two children — Ariel Bibas, 5, and his baby brother Kfir.

The report says Mossad chief David Barnea and the IDF’s point person Nitzan Alon have been “directed to hear what the intermediaries are proposing,” but not to initiate proposals of their own. “If the Qataris want to be heard, we will listen,” the unnamed source says.

The assessment is that no new deal is anticipated in the next week, but Israel wants to open the window to a possible deal amid the mounting IDF military pressure on Hamas, so that if Yahya Sinwar proves ready, the terms will be in place — as was the case with the weeklong truce in late November.

Reported complicating factors include Hamas’s fraying command and control hierarchies, the fact that some Hamas leaders who were in Qatar have left, that some of the Hamas operatives who conveyed proposals between Qatar and Gaza have been killed, and that the IDF’s deployment on the ground in both northern and southern Gaza hampers Hamas’s communications within the Strip.

During the week-long truce, 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity, in return for 240 women and underage Palestinian security prisoners: 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals and one Filipino. The IDF says 138 hostages are still being held by Hamas.

EU’s top diplomat: Gaza destruction may be worse, proportionally, than in WWII Germany

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell rings a bell to signify the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, November 13, 2023. (AP Photo/ Virginia Mayo)
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell rings a bell to signify the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, November 13, 2023. (AP Photo/ Virginia Mayo)

The situation in Gaza is “catastrophic, apocalyptic,” with destruction proportionally “even greater” than that which Germany experienced in World War II, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, says.

Israel’s military response to Hamas’s October 7 attacks has resulted in “an incredible number of civilian casualties,” Borrell says after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

While noting that Hamas’s bloody attacks cemented its place on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations, Borrell makes clear he sees Israel’s military operation as disproportionate in terms of civilian deaths and damage to civilian property and infrastructure.

“The human suffering constitutes an unprecedented challenge to the international community,” Borrell says. “Civilian casualties are between 60 and 70 percent of the overall deaths,” based on Gaza health ministry figures, and “85% of the population is internally displaced.”

“The destruction of buildings in Gaza… is more or less or even greater than the destruction suffered by the German cities during the Second World War,” taken proportionally, Borrell says.

Doctor: Hostages underwent ‘terrible abuse’; some have had suicidal thoughts

Members of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror groups release Israeli hostages to the Red Cross, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 28, 2023. (Flash90)
Members of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror groups release Israeli hostages to the Red Cross, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 28, 2023. (Flash90)

Hostages abducted into Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel were drugged to keep them docile in captivity and subjected to psychological and sexual abuse, a specialist says.

“I’ve never seen anything like that” in 20 years of treating trauma victims, says Renana Eitan, director of the psychiatric division of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center.

“The physical, the sexual, the mental, the psychological abuse of these hostages that came back is just terrible,” she adds. “We have to rewrite the textbook.”

The center has received 14 ex-hostages released by Hamas, some of whom reported being drugged, including with what doctors believe were benzodiazapines, a class of depressants with a sedative effect that includes drugs like Valium.

“They wanted to control the kids, and sometimes it’s difficult to control young children, adolescents. And they know that if they drug them they will be quiet,” she adds.

“One of the girls was given ketamine for a few weeks,” she continues, referring to a powerful dissociative anesthetic known for giving the recipient a sense of detachment from their environment. “It’s unbelievable to do this to a child.”

Eitan says one patient said she and others were held in total darkness for more than four days. “They became psychotic, they had hallucinations,” Eitan says.

There are also reports of self-harm among hostages in captivity, she notes, while some returnees have since professed to having suicidal thoughts.

“But this is our mission, to make sure that such things will not happen,” she added.

Gaza clips show fight over humanitarian aid entering the enclave

Videos out of Gaza show the fight over the limited humanitarian aid entering the territory.

One clip shows an armed gunman atop a truck, as civilians rush to grab supplies left in the street. Some media reports claim Hamas stole the truck.

Another video shows residents looting a truck as it moves to its destination.

IDF: 500 terrorists arrested in Gaza in past month; after criticism, new photos show suspects fully dressed

Palestinian suspects are detained by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Palestinian suspects are detained by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF and Shin Bet say forces have arrested more than 500 terror operatives in the Gaza Strip in the last month. They have been taken for questioning by the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 504 and the security agency.

According to the joint statement, more than 140 of the operatives were arrested since the ceasefire ended on December 1.

“The operatives were detained during battles in recent days by IDF troops. Some of them voluntarily surrendered and were taken by the field interrogators… for further investigation,” the IDF says.

The IDF says some of the operatives were arrested while hiding in civilian buildings, including schools and shelters for civilians.

It says that of the 500 operatives detained in the last month, some 350 of them are members of Hamas, and another 120 are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The military issues photos of suspects detained in the Strip. Unlike other recent photos to come out of Gaza, the suspects in the photos are fully clothed. Yesterday both National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari criticized the dissemination of photographs showing arrested terror suspects stripped to their underpants after they were searched for explosives, and vowed to stop the dissemination of such images.

Palestinian suspects are detained by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Heads of IDF, Shin Bet meet with troops in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (L) and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar hold an assessment with senior officers in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (L) and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar hold an assessment with senior officers in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar held an assessment in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis today, as the military presses on with the ground offensive against Hamas.

In a video published by the IDF, Halevi says: “We are deepening the achievement in the north of the Gaza Strip, in the south and beneath the ground,” referring to Hamas’s tunnel network in the Strip.

Bar says he is “happy to meet here in the streets of Khan Younis both [Shin Bet] coordinators and our troops who work with you.”

“No force can stand against this combination,” he adds.

Halevi and Bar held an assessment with the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, the commander of the 98th Division, Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, and commander of the Commando Brigade, Col. Omer Cohen.

IDF strikes Lebanese terror cell that fired rockets at Israel

The IDF says it struck a cell in southern Lebanon that had fired rockets at the Shtula area in northern Israel, as well as a launcher used to fire projectiles at the Yiftah area earlier.

One mortar was also fired at Shtula a short while ago, landing in an open area.

The IDF publishes footage of the strikes.

Gallant: War against Hamas will end when Israel obtains its goals

Defense Minister Gallant vows that the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip will end once Israel has obtained its goals, despite apparent international pressure to wrap up the operation soon.

“The war will end when its goals are achieved. I take into consideration everything the US asks and says, and take seriously, along with all the members of the cabinet, what America is doing,” Gallant says in response to a question.

“We will find a way to help the Americans help us,” he adds.

Responding to another question on a potential new hostage deal with Hamas, Gallant says: “I believe that if we increase the military pressure, there will be offers for more hostage deals, and if there are offers, we will consider them.”

Gallant: Some of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorists surrendering, telling us interesting things

Yoav Gallant in a statement to the press in Tel Aviv on December 2, 2023. (screen capture: Channel 12; used in accordance with Cause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Yoav Gallant in a statement to the press in Tel Aviv on December 2, 2023. (screen capture: Channel 12; used in accordance with Cause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Hamas’s Jabaliya and Shejaiya battalions in the northern Gaza Strip are “on the verge of being dismantled.”

“We have encircled the last strongholds of Hamas in Jabaliya and Shejaiya, the battalions that were considered invincible, that prepared for years to fight us, are on the verge of being dismantled,” Gallant says at a press conference.

He says hundreds of Hamas operatives have surrendered to Israeli troops in recent days, which he says “shows what is happening” to the terror group.

“Whoever surrenders — his life is spared,” Gallant says, adding that among those who have been arrested by the IDF are terrorists who participated in the October 7 terror attack on Israeli communities.

“They are telling us very interesting things,” he adds, apparently alluding to intelligence gleaned from those prisoners.

Gallant also threatens Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, saying his fate and that of “any other senior commander in Hamas, and the fate of the [low-ranking] terrorist is the same: surrender or die. There is no third option.”

White House says it will look into alleged Israeli use of white phosphorous in Lebanon

White House spokesperson John Kirby tells reporters Washington is “concerned” by reports of Israeli use of American-made white phosphorous shells in Lebanon, and will ask for information about the circumstances.

Kirby notes: “Obviously, any time that we provide items like white phosphorus to another military, it is with the full expectation that it will be used in keeping with those legitimate purposes and in keeping with the law of armed conflict.”

State attorney orders probe into conduct of police on killing of Yuval Castleman

Yuval Castleman is fatally shot after preventing the continuation of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem on November 30, 2023. (X screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
Yuval Castleman is fatally shot after preventing the continuation of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem on November 30, 2023. (X screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

State Attorney Amit Aisman orders the Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID) to open an examination of the conduct of the investigative team dealing with the killing of Yuval Castleman, a civilian who was shot by an off-duty reserve soldier at the scene of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem last month.

Aisman instructed the head of Israel Police Investigations and Intelligence Division, Superintendent Yigal Ben Shalom, not to conduct his own investigation, as was previously planned, until the PIID has completed its examination, the State Attorney’s Office says in a statement to the press.

An autopsy on Sunday found an M16 bullet and pieces of shrapnel in Castleman’s exhumed body, findings which were at odds with the Israel Police’s position immediately after the incident that there were no bullets left in Castleman’s body, and that such a procedure was unnecessary.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told Ben Shalom to probe the new-found evidence and the overall handling of the investigation after the autopsy’s results, but PIID’s examination will now be conducted first.

Iranian president targeted with ‘crimes against humanity’ complaint ahead of Swiss visit

A handout picture provided by Iran's presidency on October 28, 2023, shows Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during an interview with the Qatari state-owned television network Al-Jazeera, in Tehran. (Handout/ Iranian Presidency/ AFP)
A handout picture provided by Iran's presidency on October 28, 2023, shows Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during an interview with the Qatari state-owned television network Al-Jazeera, in Tehran. (Handout/ Iranian Presidency/ AFP)

Iran’s president should be arrested when he lands in Switzerland this week and charged with crimes against humanity connected to a 1988 purge of dissidents, according to a legal complaint filed today.

The complaint asks Swiss federal public prosecutor Andreas Muller to ensure the arrest and prosecution of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi “over his participation in acts of genocide, torture, extrajudicial executions and other crimes against humanity.”

Raisi is expected to come to Switzerland to participate in the United Nations Global Refugee Forum, which kicks off in Geneva on Wednesday.

The legal complaint against him was filed by three alleged victims during Iran’s crackdown on dissidents in the 1980s.

Rights groups have long campaigned for justice over alleged extrajudicial executions of thousands of mainly young people across Iranian prisons within a few months in the summer of 1988, just as the war with Iraq was ending. Those killed were mainly supporters of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (MEK or PMOI), a group banned in Iran that had backed Baghdad during the conflict.

The petitioners behind Monday’s complaint say they can personally identify Raisi as figuring on a commission that sent thousands of jailed opponents to their deaths during the crackdown.

Army says it found Hamas training site inside a mosque in northern Gaza

A Hamas training site inside a mosque in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, discovered by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
A Hamas training site inside a mosque in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, discovered by the IDF on December 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Troops of the Nahal Infantry Brigade have discovered a Hamas training site inside a mosque in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya.

Footage published by the IDF shows an officer giving a tour of the mosque, revealing on the third floor a room used by Hamas for combat simulation. A machine gun and RPG launcher are found in the room, along with a computer and a projector.

In an adjacent room, the IDF says it found equipment used to make explosive devices.

Several firearms, grenades, and military equipment were also found in the mosque.

Gantz tells Blinken Israel will need to remove Hezbollah threat in north

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv on November 3, 2023. (State Department)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv on November 3, 2023. (State Department)

War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, thanking him for the US veto on a ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council and updating him on the war in Gaza.

According to a readout from Gantz’s office, he also told Blinken Israel will need to remove the threat posed by Hezbollah along the northern border.

Palestinians strike in West Bank to protest Gaza war

Shops, schools and government offices have been shut across the West Bank and East Jerusalem today as Palestinians stage a general strike protesting Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Activists called for a strike in solidarity with the territory covering businesses, public workers and education.

Many Palestinians took part and rallies were staged in the West Bank, according to Essam Abu Baker, who coordinates Palestinian factions in Ramallah.

He describes the protest as part of a global effort to put pressure on Israel to stop the war, reporting strikes taking place in parts of Jordan and Lebanon too.

“The strike today is not only in solidarity with Gaza, but also against the USA which used its veto in the Security Council against a truce,” Abu Baker says in Ramallah, referring to the US rejection of a ceasefire resolution on Friday.

Polish parliament rejects proposed right-wing government, paving way for Tusk

Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister addresses supporters at his party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister addresses supporters at his party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Polish lawmakers vote to reject the proposed conservative government, a widely expected outcome that paves the way for the rival pro-EU alliance to form the next administration.

Following the no-confidence vote, the lower house of parliament — controlled by the pro-EU group — will select the next candidate for prime minister, who in all likelihood will be the alliance’s leader and former EU chief Donald Tusk.

Netanyahu: Palestinian Authority, like Hamas, wants to destroy us — but in stages

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Palestinian Authority wants to destroy Israel “in stages,” according leaks from the closed-door meeting published in Hebrew media outlets.

“The difference between Hamas and the PA is only that Hamas wants to destroy us here and now and the PA wants to do it in stages,” he is quoted as saying.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he does not view the PA as a viable option to rule Gaza after the war with Hamas, citing its indirect support for terror through education and the payment of stipends to terrorists and their families.

The Biden Administration, by contrast, envisages a “revitalized” PA playing a central role in post-war Gaza.

Freed hostage says in Hamas captivity, every day ‘a Russian roulette’

Sharon Aloni Cunio, 34, her husband David Cunio, 34, and their twin daughters, Yuli and Emma, 3, were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, 2023. Sharon, Yuli and Emma were released on November 27, 2023.  (Courtesy)
Sharon Aloni Cunio, 34, her husband David Cunio, 34, and their twin daughters, Yuli and Emma, 3, were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, 2023. Sharon, Yuli and Emma were released on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)

Freed hostage Sharon Alony-Cunio tells Reuters Hamas captivity was “a Russian roulette,” saying she feared she and her two young daughters could be executed any day.

“Every minute is critical. The conditions there are not good and the days go on forever,” she says. “It’s a Russian roulette. You don’t know whether tomorrow morning they’ll keep you alive or kill you, just because they want to or just because their backs are against the wall,” she says.

Cunio, 34, and twin daughters, Yuli and Emma, 3, were released on November 27 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel. The twins’ father David, 34, is still held in Gaza.

“Every day there is crying, frustration and anxiety. How long are we going to be here? Have they forgotten about us? Have they given up on us?

“My children are torn,” she says. “I am torn without my second half, the love of my life, the father of my daughters who ask me every day, where is daddy?”

She says her husband was with them until three days before their release. “I am petrified I will get bad news that he is no longer alive,” she says.

“We are not just names on a poster. We are human beings, flesh and blood. The father of my girls is there, my partner, and many other fathers, children, mothers, brothers.”

ADL finds US antisemitism hit all-time record over past two months

File: Protesters gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration, in Rome, on Oct. 28, 2023. Antisemitism is spiking across Europe after Hamas' October 7 massacre and Israel's offensive in Gaza, worrying Jews from London to Geneva and Berlin. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)
File: Protesters gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration, in Rome, on Oct. 28, 2023. Antisemitism is spiking across Europe after Hamas' October 7 massacre and Israel's offensive in Gaza, worrying Jews from London to Geneva and Berlin. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Antisemitic incidents in the US hit an unprecedented record in the two months since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the Anti-Defamation League reports.

The organization says it recorded 2,031 incidents between October 7 and December 7, the highest ever two-month number since the ADL began tracking antisemitism in the country in 1979. It also represented a 337-percent increase from the same period in 2022.

The cases in question included 40 incidents of physical violence, 749 of verbal attacks, 337 cases of vandalism and 905 rallies that featured antisemitic speech, support for terrorism or anti-Zionism, the latter being defined by the ADL as an expression of antisemitism for denying the Jewish right to self-determination.

The data also shows 250 incidents that targeted Jewish institutions including synagogues and campus Hillels and 400 incidents on campuses.

“This terrifying pattern of antisemitic attacks has been relentless since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, with no signs of diminishing,” says ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “The lid to the sewers is off, and Jewish communities all across the country are being inundated with hate. Public officials and college leaders must turn down the temperature and take clear action to show this behavior is unacceptable to prevent more violence.”

Army says soldiers thwarted Hamas attack on Gaza encampment

Reservists of the Jerusalem Brigade foiled an attempt by Hamas to attack their encampment in the Gaza Strip last week, the IDF announces.

It says forces of the Jerusalem Brigade’s 9207th Battalion received an intelligence alert of a planned attack by Hamas last Sunday night. The troops cleared their encampment and entered a state of readiness for the expected Hamas attack.

The Air Force carried out strikes in the area and the ground troops opened fire at the Hamas gunmen who came out of a tunnel, the IDF says. According to the army, amid the gun battle and strikes, an explosive device detonated inside the Hamas tunnel shaft, leading to several secondary blasts.

The IDF later destroyed the tunnel entrance used to carry out the attempted attack, as well as other tunnel infrastructure found in the area.

IDF says it struck Hezbollah compound in Lebanon in response to rockets

The IDF says it carried out an airstrike against a Hezbollah military compound in southern Lebanon in response to rocket fire on the Galilee earlier today.

Additionally, the IDF says several rockets were fired from Lebanon at army positions along the border.

There are no reports of injuries in the attacks.

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

US paper reports Israel used white phosphorus in Lebanon; use permitted in some cases

A picture taken from the Israeli side of border with Lebanon shows shells exploding over hills around the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab on December 8, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
A picture taken from the Israeli side of border with Lebanon shows shells exploding over hills around the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab on December 8, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

The Washington Post reports that Israel used white phosphorus supplied by the US in a recent strike on southern Lebanon, noting that several civilians were hurt in the incident and that Amnesty has said it should be investigated as a war crime.

The report, based on an investigation the paper conducted on the ground, says the shells containing the incendiary material were used on October 16 in the border village of Dhayra. Four homes were burned down and at least nine people were injured.

The report wrongly claims Israel pledged in 2013 to stop using white phosphorus, while in fact the military said it would limit the use, largely moving to use other means to create smokescreens for troops. However, it has reserved the right to use such shells in certain, undisclosed cases that have been approved by the Supreme Court (the uses were not detailed to the public for security concerns).

International law does not ban use of white phosphorus. However, the legality of its use, as with any munition, depends on circumstance.

Berlin finds Abbas’s 2022 Holocaust remarks incited hatred, but can’t pursue charges

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gesticulates during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on August 16, 2022. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gesticulates during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on August 16, 2022. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)

Berlin prosecutors say that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s comments on the Holocaust during a visit last year amounted to inciting racial hatred, but they won’t pursue a criminal case due to his diplomatic immunity.

Police in Berlin launched a probe “on suspicion of inciting hatred” in August 2022 on the basis of two complaints accusing Abbas of “relativizing the Holocaust” during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The Berlin prosecutor’s office says in a statement it reached the conclusion that “Abbas had committed the crime of inciting racial hatred” but enjoyed “immunity so that there is an obstacle to him being tried.”

At the press conference with Scholz, which predated the current war between Israel and Hamas by more than a year, Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians since 1947.

Scholz did not immediately challenge Abbas on his comments but, following widespread criticism, tweeted the next day that he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by the Palestinian leader.

In Israel, Abbas’s remarks drew a hail of condemnation from then prime minister Yair Lapid, who called them “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”

The Berlin prosecutor’s office stressed that while Abbas was covered by immunity, his comments were a clear violation of German law.

Lapid attacks government over ‘corrupt and political budget’

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)

Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid slams the government for including large sums of political earmarks in the 2023 budget, which is currently being amended in Knesset to cover the costs of the war with Hamas in Gaza.

“Smotrich and Netanyahu are transferring NIS 4.9 billion in coalition funds this year, 2023, and plan more billions for next year,” says Lapid at the beginning of a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid party.

Speaking earlier in the Knesset Finance Committee where the budget is being prepared, Lapid asserts that professionals in the Finance Ministry oppose the budget, describing it as “the division of spoils” among the coalition’s political parties, and “a corrupt and political budget which will take us to the void during a war after the greatest catastrophe in the history of the country.”

In the Yesh Atid faction meeting, Lapid also chastises the government for its broader policies, including activities in Jerusalem and the West Bank which he says are creating “a cycle of violence,” and for its failure to abolish what he says are extraneous ministries such as the Settlements and National Projects Ministry, the Heritage Ministry, and the Jerusalem Ministry.

“We are two months into the war and the State of Israel still has no plans for the day after the war, there is no organized diplomatic effort during the war, there is no united public diplomacy system, there is no organized economic plan to cope with the damage to the economy. There is no one who is dealing with reservist soldiers. In short: there is no government,” charges Lapid.

Rocket sirens in communities close to north, south borders

Rocket sirens sound in the Gaza border towns Sufa and Nir Yitzhak, and in the north there are alerts in Shtula.

The communities have been largely evacuated of civilians since the October 7 onslaught.

Official says pressure may rise from US over Gaza aid, but says Israel not to blame for hold-up

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid are seen near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid are seen near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)

A senior Israeli official briefing The Times of Israel acknowledges that Jerusalem may well face more pressure from the US in the future regarding the amount of humanitarian aid getting into Gaza.

Washington is pushing for aid to exceed the 200-plus trucks that were entering Gaza each day during a seven-day truce last month. The volume has lagged, with just 100 trucks entering Gaza yesterday, according to the UN.

But the slowdown is not due to Israel, which has been inspecting hundreds of trucks every day, the senior Israeli official asserts, arguing that assistance has been slowed due to Hamas efforts to steal it and block it from reaching civilians. Israel’s COGAT military liaison has also blamed the UN and Egypt for failing to keep up with the pace, adding that it has implemented tactical pauses and humanitarian corridors in order to securely deliver the aid.

International actors have rejected the charge, insisting that aid distribution is not sustainable in the midst of Israel’s ongoing bombing campaign in Gaza, which is now focused more on the south near where the aid is supposed to enter and be distributed to the over one million displaced Palestinians.

For their part, the Israeli official says the IDF’s latest assessment has not revealed a risk of an imminent epidemic in Gaza, even as the matter continues to be watched closely.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday, though, that there are “worrying signals of epidemic diseases” in Gaza amid the ongoing fighting.

Tedros told the WHO executive board that “ideal conditions” were being created for disease to spread in the enclave. “On average, there is one shower unit for every 700 people, and one toilet for every 150 people,” he said, pointing to heightened levels of bloody diarrhea, jaundice and respiratory infections.

Israeli official dismisses reports of divisions between Jerusalem and Washington over Hamas war

Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

A senior Israeli official dismisses the growing public perception of a gap between Jerusalem and Washington regarding the IDF’s prosecution of its war against Hamas in Gaza.

“There’s 100% agreement from the US on our goals for the war both in public and private,” the senior Israeli official says in a briefing with The Times of Israel.

The senior Israeli official defends the IDF’s conduct, arguing that it is operating in very specific areas, as opposed to what it did in northern Gaza. Before entering such locations, it has called on civilians to evacuate to safe zones.

Rights groups have rejected this approach, claiming civilians are still coming under fire after evacuating and that the IDF has yet to issue directives allowing civilians to return to areas from which they’ve been told to evacuate, shrinking the amount of territory that is available for the population of 2.3 million.

The senior Israeli official notes the “incredibly difficult conditions” the IDF is facing, given Hamas’s use of tunnels and hiding among civilians, making for far from regular urban combat conditions.

But the senior Israeli official insists that the US has shown understanding of this privately and that Washington’s messaging is more nuanced behind closed doors.

“We definitely feel the support at all levels,” the official says, pointing to the US veto of a “hostile” resolution at the UN Security Council over the weekend, which called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza without condemning Hamas. “The support the US has shown us is nothing short of extraordinary.”

“Minister Gallant and Secretary Austin are in constant communication, and there’s complete transparency between them,” the official says of the two defense chiefs.

The senior Israeli official says the length of the current stage of the war was “less a derivative of time than achievements on the ground. There are things we need to achieve before we can move on to the next phase.”

As for postwar planning, the senior official acknowledges that Israel is still in its early stages: “But we know that it won’t be Israel or Hamas ruling Gaza. We have no plans to reoccupy Gaza.”

“That’s a really important starting point, and we’ll have to take it from there,” the senior Israeli official says.

Woman released from Gaza: Three hostages told us they were sexually abused by their captors

Chen Goldstein-Almog was taken hostage from her Kfar Aza home on October 7, 2023 by Hamas terrorists. She was released on November 26. (Courtesy)
Chen Goldstein-Almog was taken hostage from her Kfar Aza home on October 7, 2023 by Hamas terrorists. She was released on November 26. (Courtesy)

A woman who was released from Gaza says she met three hostages who told her they had been sexually assaulted by their captors, and heard a similar story about a fourth.

“We heard three stories firsthand, and another story that was told to us,” Chen Goldstein-Almog tells the Kan public broadcaster. “Things that happened a few weeks after they arrived in Gaza. They are physically injured.”

“With the way they sexually assaulted them and desecrated their bodies, they don’t know how they will cope,” she says. “If they had been released earlier, they would have been spared. We also saw a guy who was beaten,” she says.

“Everything must be done to get them out,” Goldstein-Almog says.

There have been multiple accounts of rape and sexual assault of women and children by Hamas terrorists on October 7, and at least 10 of the Israeli civilians released by Hamas — both men and women — were sexually assaulted or abused while in captivity.

Goldstein-Almog, 48, and three of her four children, Agam, 17, Gal, 11, and Tal, 9, were released on November 26 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal. Her husband Nadav and eldest daughter Yam were murdered on October 7.

Russian deputy foreign minister speaks with Hamas, demands release of Gaza hostages

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)

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov speaks with Hamas representatives and demands the release of hostages held in Gaza.

Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency says Bogdanov spoke with deputy chairman of the Hamas politburo Mousa Abu Marzouk, secretary general of the Palestinian Democratic Union Saleh Rafat, and senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine official Maher Taher.

“During the conversations, a set of issues related to the sharp escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was discussed, with an emphasis on the emerging military and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” the Russian foreign ministry says, according to TASS.

“At the same time, the Russian side confirmed the principled position on the need for a cessation of hostilities and an immediate solution to all emerging humanitarian problems, including the release of hostages,” the statement says.

Netanyahu spoke with Putin for nearly an hour yesterday, criticizing Moscow’s alliance with Iran and expressing dissatisfaction with its stance on Israel’s war with Hamas.

Since war broke out on October 7, Russia has regularly criticized Israel, including in the UN Security Council, while at the same time hosting leaders of the Hamas terror group in a development widely seen as an extension of its increasingly friendly ties with Iran.

Three hostages holding Russian citizenship have been released by the terror group in gestures of “gratitude” from the terror group to Putin.

France, Germany, Italy push EU for new sanctions against Hamas for ‘atrocious’ Oct. 7 attacks

An Israeli man wearing a prayer shawl prays next to houses destroyed by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be'eri, Israel, Oct. 22, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli man wearing a prayer shawl prays next to houses destroyed by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be'eri, Israel, Oct. 22, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

ROME — The French, German and Italian foreign ministers are pushing for speedy adoption of new EU sanctions against Hamas for its “atrocious and indiscriminate terror attacks” against Israel on Oct. 7.

“The swift adoption of this sanctions regime will allow us to send a strong political message about the European Union’s commitment against Hamas and our solidarity with Israel,” the three ministers write in a letter to Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs.

The letter does not detail possible sanctions, but says it should enable the targeting of Hamas members, affiliated groups and supporters. The ministers said they broadly support a framework that Borrell outlined last week.

Foreign ministers of the 27-member bloc are meeting in Brussels today. The EU on Friday froze the funds and other assets in Europe of the commander general of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, and deputy commander Marwan Issa.

IDF says 582 soldiers wounded since start of Gaza ground operation

FILE - Israeli soldiers wounded in fighting in the south arrive at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, October 7, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
FILE - Israeli soldiers wounded in fighting in the south arrive at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, October 7, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The IDF updates the toll of wounded soldiers since the beginning of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip, which began in late October, to 582, in addition to 104 troops who were killed.

Among the injured soldiers are 133 seriously wounded, 218 moderately, and 231 lightly.

Since October 7, 433 soldiers have been killed and 1,645 have been wounded, including 261 seriously, 456 moderately, and 928 lightly.

According to the IDF’s data, there are currently 34 soldiers hospitalized in serious condition, 210 in moderate condition, and 149 in good condition.

Israel calls on UN to ‘do better’ at processing humanitarian supplies into Gaza: ‘The aid is there, and the people need it’

The Defense Ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs says the United Nations needs to do more to process aid into Gaza, and charges that humanitarian supplies are not reaching the Strip fast enough.

“We have expanded our capabilities to conduct inspections for the aid delivered into Gaza. Kerem Shalom is to be opened, so the number of inspections will double. But the aid keeps waiting at the entrance of Rafah,” COGAT writes on X.

“The UN must do better — the aid is there, and the people need it,” COGAT says.

In a bid to facilitate an increase in the number of aid trucks that can enter Gaza each day, last week Israel announced it would open the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Gaza for the inspection of humanitarian aid trucks before they enter Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah crossing.

IDF says Hamas gunmen opened fire on troops from Gaza school

The IDF releases footage showing airstrikes by attack helicopters and fighter jets amid clashes between the 5th Brigade’s 8111th Battalion and Hamas operatives in the Khan Younis area.

The Hamas gunmen had opened fire on the troops from a school.

Five soldiers of the 8111th Battalion were killed and another four were wounded after an explosive device was detonated near them amid the fighting.

The Hamas operatives were killed, and infrastructure in the area was destroyed, according to the IDF.

Man lightly to moderately wounded as rocket fired from Gaza hits Holon

Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit and caused damage in Holon, December 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit and caused damage in Holon, December 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip in the latest barrage at central Israel has impacted in the central city of Holon, wounding one person and causing damage, medics say.

Footage from the scene shows damage to a road and several vehicles.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it is treating a man aged 45 in good to moderate condition who was wounded by shrapnel.

IDF announces deaths of three more soldiers in Gaza, taking ground op toll to 104

The IDF announces the deaths of three more soldiers of the 5th Brigade’s 8111th Battalion, who were killed during fighting in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday, bringing the toll of slain troops in the ground offensive against Hamas to 104

They are:

Maj. (res.) Roman Bronshtein, 46, from Bat Yam.
Cpt. (res.) Eliya Yanovsky, 24, from Jerusalem.
Master Sgt. (res.) Ari Yehiel Zenilman, 32, from Jerusalem.

Earlier, the IDF announced the deaths of two other soldiers of the 8111th Battalion.

All five were killed by an explosive device in the Khan Younis area. Another four soldiers were wounded in the incident, including one in serious condition.

Rocket barrage fired at Tel Aviv, central Israel

Rocket fire from Gaza above central Israel on December 11, 2023 (Times of Israel)
Rocket fire from Gaza above central Israel on December 11, 2023 (Times of Israel)

A rocket barrage from Gaza is fired at the Tel Aviv area.

Warning sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Holon, Or Yehuda, Bat Yam and surrounding communities.

Sirens also sound in Rishon Lezion, Palmachim and Beit Dagan.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Braids on the girl hostages freed from Gaza were done by female IDF soldiers in captivity

Maayan Zin embraces her daughters, Dafna Elyakim, 15, and Ela Elyakim, 8, after they were released from Gaza captivity on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)
Maayan Zin embraces her daughters, Dafna Elyakim, 15, and Ela Elyakim, 8, after they were released from Gaza captivity on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Some of the girls released from Gaza say they were held hostage with female Israel Defense Forces soldiers, who braided their hair for them while in captivity.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, when they were freed, the girls were asked who had done their elaborate hairstyles.

“The soldiers who were with me, they combed my hair and they did the French braids for me,” one of the girls reportedly responded.

Several female soldiers are among the 138 people held hostage by terrorists in Gaza.

IDF airdrops equipment to troops for 1st time since 2006

The IDF says it has airdropped some seven tons of equipment to hundreds of troops of the 98th Division’s Commando Brigade who are operating in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza.

It says this is the first time since the 2006 Second Lebanon War that the IDF has airdropped equipment to troops.

A video published by the IDF shows a C-130J transport aircraft of the Israeli Air Force’s 103rd Squadron dropping the equipment.

Board that could determine future of Harvard president Claudine Gay to meet today

Harvard president Claudine Gay speaks 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 speaks during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)

The board that could determine the future of Harvard president Claudine Gay is scheduled to meet later today.

Gay, a professor who has led the prestigious US university since July, was asked last week in a congressional committee hearing whether calls for “genocide” against Jews would violate Harvard’s code of conduct, to which she did not respond with a direct affirmative, instead saying that it depended on the “context.”

The New York Times reports that ahead of today’s meeting of the Harvard Corporation — which was long-scheduled, but is now expected to focus on Gay — over 500 faculty members of the Ivy League school have signed a petition urging “in the strongest possible terms” to “resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.”

The newspaper says the total faculty at the university amounts to some 2,300 members.

Gay was one of three university heads — along with University of Pennsylvania’s president Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth — who came under fire for their comments during the US Congressional hearing.

Gay later apologized for her comments, and on Saturday, Magill resigned amid pressure from donors and criticism over her testimony.

Universities across the US have been accused of failing to protect Jewish and Israeli students amid rising fears of antisemitism worldwide since the deadly October 7 onslaught on Israel by Hamas terrorists and the ensuing war in Gaza.

Mother of woman killed at Nova festival says she feels abandoned: ‘What about our pain?’

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)

The mother of a 26-year-old woman killed by terrorists at the Nova music festival on October 7 says she feels abandoned.

Oriya Ricardo was one of the over 360 people murdered at the Nova rave.

“Children were murdered simply because of criminal neglect. My heart goes out to the hostages, but they forgot us,” Hannie Ricardo tells Army Radio.

“Everyone is busy with the war and I understand the pain, but what about our pain? We want someone to engage with us, to say that the sacrifice we made is not for nothing,” she says.

Last month, Ricardo said her daughter was killed by “hateful” Hamas terrorists as she tried to escape.

“My girl tried to run away and cried, but they caught up to her after 100 meters from the car and shot her,” she told the New York Post.

The devastating terror assault on October 7 occurred amid a number of intelligence failures, and the organizers of the Nova festival were not alerted that security services had been warned of a potential attack.

The festival was held only five kilometers (3 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

After surging over the border, Hamas gunmen emptied rounds of gunfire, hand grenades and mortar fire into the revelers, in the biggest civilian massacre in Israeli history. They also took hostages.

Rocket sirens sound in Nahal Oz

Sirens are sounding in Nahal Oz, near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The border communities have been largely evacuated of civilians since the devastating Hamas massacres on October 7.

Hezbollah says 100 members killed since start of Gaza war; Israel believes terror group’s toll is higher

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 Hezbollah terror group names two members killed by Israeli strikes, bringing the total toll of members of the terror group killed since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip to 100.

The tally includes Hezbollah members killed by IDF strikes in southern Lebanon, in response to repeated attacks on the border, as well as several killed in Syria.

Israeli defense officials estimate that this figure is higher, and Hezbollah is covering up the true number of fatalities among its ranks.

UN General Assembly set to vote on nonbinding draft resolution demanding Gaza ceasefire

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City, September 19, 2023. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City, September 19, 2023. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

The UN General Assembly has scheduled an emergency meeting for tomorrow to vote on a draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Assembly President Dennis Francis sends a letter to the 193 UN member states saying the meeting has been requested by the 22-member Arab Group and 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, tells The Associated Press that the draft resolution to be voted on is similar to the Security Council resolution the United States vetoed on Friday.

Mansour says that resolution was cosponsored by 103 countries and he is hoping for more cosponsors and a high vote.

There are no vetoes in the General Assembly, but unlike the Security Council its resolutions are not legally binding.

The US vetoed Friday’s resolution, which demanded a ceasefire but failed to condemn Hamas’s October 7 massacres in Israel — in which thousands of terrorists killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages — or to acknowledge Israel’s right to defend itself.

A temporary truce between Israel and Hamas ended on December 1 after it was violated by the Gaza terror group.

Man shot and killed in northern town Rameh

A man was shot and killed in the northern town Rameh, police say.

Police say in a statement that two men were shot in the incident, and that one was pronounced dead.

The second man is in serious condition and is hospitalized in Nahariya.

Police say the motive for the shooting is unclear.

Holocaust survivors to celebrate resilience at Hannukah event in shadow of Israel’s war with Hamas

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a central commemoration ceremony for the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht in the Beth Zion Synagogue in Berlin on November 9, 2023. (John MACDOUGALL / POOL / AFP)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a central commemoration ceremony for the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht in the Beth Zion Synagogue in Berlin on November 9, 2023. (John MACDOUGALL / POOL / AFP)

An organization aiding Holocaust survivors is celebrating their resilience with an online event later that will be held in the shadow of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The event, put together by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, will be attended by dignitaries as well as Hollywood stars.

In a statement ahead of the virtual gathering, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz references Hamas’s October 7 massacre of some 1,200 people in southern Israel and the kidnapping of some 240.

“Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel has affected us all deeply. Something of abyssal evil broke free that day. The perpetrators’ motive is clear: they wanted to hit Israel, the Jewish state. They wanted to murder Jews. In its repugnant brutality and abhorrence, however, the terror is also directed against humanity itself,” Scholz says.

Organizers say President Isaac Herzog is also set to participate in the event, along with German Finance Minister Christian Lindner and the US State Department Advisor on Holocaust issues Stuart Eizenstat.

Actors Billy Crystal, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rob Reiner, Debra Messing, Jason Alexander and Mayim Bialik are also set to attend the virtual event, titled the 7th annual International Holocaust Survivors Night.

Leon Weintraub, a Holocaust survivor from Sweden who was in Israel on October 7, says in a statement that the massacre transported him back to World War II.

“All at once I was again in September 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland. A terrible feeling, a shiver, a feeling of dread to be again in a war,” he says.

The Claims Conference, which represents the Jewish People in negotiations with Germany on compensation for the Holocaust, is livestreaming the event online starting 9 p.m. Monday at: Claimscon.org/SurvivorsNight2023.

Rocket sirens sound in towns near Gaza border

After a lull of some five hours, a barrage of rockets is fired from Gaza toward border towns in southern Israel.

Sirens sound in Sderot, Ibim and Nir Am.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Earlier, at least eight rockets were fired by terrorists in southern Lebanon at a town in the north.

‘Person of interest’ in custody over killing of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll

Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, in Detroit, was found dead outside her near-downtown home on October 21.  (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)
Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, in Detroit, was found dead outside her near-downtown home on October 21. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

Detroit police say a “person of interest” has been detained in the October killing of synagogue president Samantha Woll.

Police say they won’t release further details on the individual’s identity “to ensure the integrity of this ongoing investigation,” CNN reports.

Woll, 40, was president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue.

She was found dead outside her Detroit home October 21, hours after returning from a wedding, though investigators believe the attack occurred inside.

Police have previously said they do not believe the killing to have been motivated by antisemitism.

Last month, a suspect was detained and later released.

IDF says dozens of Hamas operatives killed in Gaza over past day

Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli Air Force, being directed by ground troops, killed dozens of Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip over the past day, according to the IDF.

In one incident, the IDF says troops of the Bislamach Brigade and Border Defense Corps’ 636th Combat Intelligence Collection unit identified armed Hamas operatives in Gaza City’s Shejaiya, and directed a drone strike.

The IDF releases footage showing the strike.

In another incident, it says troops of the 7th Armored Brigade identified a group of gunmen exiting a health clinic, and directed a strike on them.

Separately, the IDF says troops of the 460th Armored Brigade discovered explosive devices and weapons inside a home in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya.

The IDF says some of the weapons were hidden inside bags bearing the UNRWA logo.

It says the troops also found a truck full of long-range rockets near a school in the area.

Meanwhile, the 551st Brigade discovered a rocket launching site in Jabaliya, with some 50 launchers, some of them loaded, according to the IDF.

At least 8 rockets fired at Ma’alot-Tarshiha from Lebanon; no injuries

A barrage of at least eight rockets was fired from Lebanon at the northern city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha this morning.

Footage shows the Iron Dome air defense system intercepting several of the projectiles. The IDF says six of the rockets were successfully downed by the system.

The other two rockets apparently landed in open areas.

There are no reports of injuries in the attack.

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

Rocket sirens sounding in towns close to northern border with Lebanon

Sirens are sounding in a number of towns close to the northern border with Lebanon, warning of incoming rocket fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Hamas ‘underestimated Israel’s retaliation’ to October 7, says defense minister

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops in southern Israel, November 27, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops in southern Israel, November 27, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says that the Hamas terror group “underestimated Israel’s retaliation” to October 7.

“It’s hard to bring democracies to fight wars but once we are in one, we are much stronger because we are fighting to defend our values,” Gallant tells the UK’s Daily Mail.

Gallant also says aid raised by pro-Palestinian activists is being used by global terror.

“Hamas propaganda is influencing universities and protests, and money is being poured in which is activating terror networks around the world,” he says.

‘We’ll never forget what we’ve seen here’: EU MPs tour border town ravaged on Oct. 7

European Union Parliament member David McAllister (L), Nathalie Loiseau (R) and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza on December 10, 2023. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
European Union Parliament member David McAllister (L), Nathalie Loiseau (R) and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza on December 10, 2023. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

KIBBUTZ KFAR AZA — A delegation from the European Union parliament tours the Gaza border town of Kibbutz Kfar Aza where some of the worst atrocities on October 7 took place.

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana leads the tour for the delegation headed by Security and Defense Subcommittee chair Nathalie Loiseau from France and Foreign Affairs Committee chair David McAllister from Germany. They are joined by MPs Rasa Juknevičienė of Lithuania, Gheorghe-Vlad Nistor of Romania, Attila Ara-Kovács of Hungary and Carina Ohlsson of Sweden.

A tour for European Union Parliament members in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on December 10, 2023. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

“What we’ve seen here in Kfar Aza we will never forget,” says Loiseau in remarks to the press at the end of the tour through the burnt buildings in the border town where over 50 were murdered and at least 17 were taken hostage on October 7.

“We know that we are in the same fight,” the European lawmaker continues. “You don’t need to be an Israeli, you don’t need to be a Jew to feel that this is humanity that has been attacked.”

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana leads a tour for European Union Parliament members in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on December 10, 2023. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

“We will keep this memory deep in our minds. We will testify it to our fellow citizens back in Europe, and we will never forget that we are fighting this fight together,” Loiseau adds.

“It was important that a cross-party delegation of the European Parliament had the opportunity to witness for us to understand just how incredibly brutal these atrocities were,” McAllister added.

A tour for European Union Parliament members in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on December 10, 2023. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Ohana thanks the European delegation for making the trip to Kfar Aza “to see with their own eyes, to hear with their own ears, to witness what happened here on October 7.”

“This attack is not only on Israel, but it is on the free world. We all have to stand together — democracies have to stand together against this evil, against terrorism against those who educate their children to hate, to kill [and in] antisemitism,” he adds.

A tour for European Union Parliament members in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on December 10, 2023. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

The delegation is later taken to an IDF base in central Israel where the army’s film compilation of the October 7 atrocities is screened.

The delegation of lawmakers is one of dozens that have toured Gaza border towns over the past two months since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

Images of arrested Gazans in underwear ‘uncomfortable,’ but they were detained for a reason — official

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 senior Israeli official acknowledges that the photos of hundreds of Palestinian men being stripped to their underwear after their arrest by the IDF in Gaza might be “uncomfortable.”

However, the official briefing The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity insists that the army is only stopping those against whom it has concrete suspicions and that the stripping was necessary in order to ensure that none of them are hiding weapons or explosives.

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

“It doesn’t serve anything,” Hanegbi told the Kan public broadcaster.

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)

A number of pictures and videos that have leaked online in recent days show dozens of semi-naked Palestinian men being arrested. In some pictures, the detainees are being forced to sit or kneel on the ground in the open, sometimes blindfolded, while others show groups being marched with their hands in restraints or alleged fighters handing over weapons.

The Israeli military has confirmed arresting hundreds, claiming that Hamas members are surrendering in high numbers, as the terror group collapses under the army’s campaign to crush it.

But the military has also indicated that many of those it detained were later released, and officials have said that soldiers may be operating under a guideline of arrest first and question later.

IDF announces deaths of 4 soldiers; ground op death toll climbs to 101

From top left, clockwise: Maj. Gal Becher, Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, and Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani. Cohen, Ilani, and Perry were killed fighting in Gaza on December 10, 2023. Becher was killed in a military traffic collision in southern Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)
From top left, clockwise: Maj. Gal Becher, Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, and Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani. Cohen, Ilani, and Perry were killed fighting in Gaza on December 10, 2023. Becher was killed in a military traffic collision in southern Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF announces the deaths of four soldiers, three of whom were killed during fighting in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday, bringing the toll of slain troops in the ground offensive against Hamas to 101.

They are:

Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani, 35, of the 55th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade’s 2855th Battalion, from the West Bank settlement of Asa’el.

Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, 36, of the 5th Brigade’s 8111st Battalion, from Modiin.

Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, 42, of the 5th Brigade’s 8111st Battalion, from Kfar Saba.

Maj. Gal Becher, 34, of the 36th Division, from Oranit, was killed in a military-related traffic collision in southern Israel.

A third reservist from the 8111st Battalion was seriously wounded, the military says.

Sirens sound in southern Israeli communities amid overnight strikes in Khan Younis

A siren warning of incoming rocket fire sounded overnight in the Gaza border communities of Holit, Kerem Shalom, and Sdeh Avraham. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Israeli strikes early Monday hit the city of Khan Younis, an AFP correspondent reported, while Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad made an unverified claim that they had blown up a house where Israeli soldiers were searching for a tunnel shaft.

Netanyahu sets up secret forum to weigh post-war plans in Gaza — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set up a small, secret team of top allies and representatives from the defense establishment to discuss post-war plans for Gaza, Channel 13 reported Sunday night.

According to the report, the team is led by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and includes representatives from the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, and the Shin Bet.

Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog has also been at the meetings, according to the report, which added that the team has already met four times and is expected to meet again this week.

A senior official told Channel 13 that Israel “informed the Americans about the existence of the team, and it is important to the Biden administration that Jerusalem present a plan for the day after.”

Washington has indeed been pressing Israel on a post-war plan and, according to reports, wants Israel to soon wind down the war, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 atrocities and now into its third month.

Israel says it is committed to eliminating Hamas to defend itself and to topple its rule in Gaza.

Netanyahu has said that Israel would retain an open-ended security presence in Gaza and Israeli officials have talked of imposing a buffer zone to keep Gazans away from the Israeli border, a plan the US opposes. Israeli officials rule out any role for an unreformed Palestinian Authority, which was ousted from Gaza by Hamas in 2007 but governs semi-autonomous areas of the West Bank.

Meanwhile, top US officials have said they will not allow Israel to reoccupy Gaza or further shrink its already small territory. They have repeatedly called for the eventual return of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority and the resumption of peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Channel 13 said any conclusions reached by the Hanegbi-led team will also be presented to the security cabinet.

The report cited Hanegbi as saying during a recent meeting that there was “a high probability that the day after will have to include the cooperation of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the building of infrastructure in partnership with them to prevent a future war.”

Dermer said at the meeting, according to the report: “There needs to be a radical change in the Palestinian Authority and its education system. Without these cultural changes Israel will find itself facing a hostile population.”

An IDF spokesperson said in response to the report that it was the defense establishment “duty to look ahead,” but that any final decision will be taken at “the political level.”

AP contributed to this report.

Montana woman under arrest for driving vehicle into ‘religious group’ on sidewalk

BILLINGS, Montana — A woman has been arrested after she drove her vehicle several times at or through a religious group demonstrating on a sidewalk, hitting and injuring one man, Montana police say.

Genevienne Rancuret, 55, was pulled over by police in Billings on Saturday a few hours after the episode and taken to jail on charges of felony assault with a weapon — the vehicle — felony criminal mischief and driving under the influence, police said. It is not known if she has a lawyer representing her yet.

The 45-year-old man who was struck suffered minor injuries. Members of the group he was with, identified by police as “Israelis for Christ,” were holding signs and speaking through an amplifier at the time, a police spokesperson, Lt. Matt Lennick, said.

Lennick said he did not have enough information to comment on what the motive could be.

An update from police said the FBI was also reviewing what happened, along with local prosecutors, suggesting the federal agency was looking into whether it could be a bias-motivated crime.

The group, as named by police, does not appear to have a current online presence and no immediate information could be found.

There is, however, an Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ which is an American organization of Black Hebrew Israelites headquartered in New York. The sect has been described by the Anti-Defamation League as “extreme and antisemitic,” and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A witness told the KTVQ news channel in Montana Sunday that the demonstrators were “all wearing purple, so it was clearly a group.”

Black Hebrew Israelites have been seen at gatherings and marches in matching purple clothing.

But it was not immediately clear if that was the group targeted in Sunday’s attack.

“I just kind of saw this white Jeep fly by me and jump onto the sidewalk, straight at the group of people that were there,” the witness told KTVQ. “The first thing that I thought was they lost control and they were in a wreck.”

But then the driver tried to hit the group again, said the witness.

Last month, a woman in Indiana was arrested after she drove her car into an Indianapolis residential building used by Black Hebrew Israelites as a school, mistakenly believing it was a Jewish school.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Amid disagreement, security cabinet skips vote on allowing return of West Bank Palestinian workers

The security cabinet skipped a vote tonight on a controversial proposal to allow Palestinian laborers to enter Israel from the West Bank, which would have allowed potentially thousands of workers to return to work for the first time since October 7.

The proposal, rejected by the 15-member socioeconomic cabinet earlier tonight, was not brought for a vote in the security cabinet after a long discussion and reported disagreements.

Citing a source who attended meeting, Walla reports that Israel Defense Forces representatives, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, known by its acronym COGAT, and the Shin Bet expressed their support for the proposal while representatives of the Israel Police voiced their opposition.

The source noted that some cabinet ministers also expressed their opposition and Prime Minister Netanyahu did not bring the issue to a vote.

According to Walla, Netanyahu also removed a vote from the cabinet’s agenda on the issue of transferring tax money to the Palestinian Authority, a move that is strongly opposed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

“The fear of making decisions also accompanied this cabinet meeting,” the source told Walla.

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