ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Nov. 27: 11 freed hostages back in Israel after 52 days in Gaza, capping 4th day of truce

9 children and 2 mothers freed, all from Kibbutz Nir Oz * Qatar, US, Hamas announce truce extension, to free 20 more hostages * Elma Avraham fights for life

  • Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
    Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
  • Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
    Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
  • Israeli hostages released on November 27, 2023: Top L-R: Sharon Aloni Cunio and her children Emma and Yuli, siblings Sahar and Erez Calderon; bottom: Karina Engel-Bart and her children Mika and Yuval, siblings Yagil and Or Yaakov, and Eitan Yahalomi. (Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
    Israeli hostages released on November 27, 2023: Top L-R: Sharon Aloni Cunio and her children Emma and Yuli, siblings Sahar and Erez Calderon; bottom: Karina Engel-Bart and her children Mika and Yuval, siblings Yagil and Or Yaakov, and Eitan Yahalomi. (Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
  • Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
    Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
  • Tali Amano, left, speaks at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba about the condition of her mother Elma Avraham, right, who is in critical condition after being released by the Hamas terror group, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot/Courtesy)
    Tali Amano, left, speaks at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba about the condition of her mother Elma Avraham, right, who is in critical condition after being released by the Hamas terror group, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot/Courtesy)
  • US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
    US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

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

Palestinian protest icon Ahed Tamimi said on list of 50 prisoners set for release in truce extension

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, as she waits to meet with the Tunisian president in the capital Tunis on October 2, 2018. (FETHI BELAID / AFP / File)
Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, as she waits to meet with the Tunisian president in the capital Tunis on October 2, 2018. (FETHI BELAID / AFP / File)

Prominent Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is said to be on the list approved earlier of 50 female Palestinian prisoners okayed for potential early release as part of an extended truce agreement with Hamas, according to reports in the Hebrew-language media.

Tamimi was arrested just three weeks ago after posting on social media that Palestinians will “slaughter” settlers and “drink your blood.”

“Our message to the herds of settlers is that we are waiting for you in all the West Bank cities, from Hebron to Jenin,” Tamimi wrote “We will slaughter you and you will say that what Hitler did to you was a joke, we will drink your blood and eat your skulls. Come on, we’re waiting for you.”

Tamimi became an icon of the Palestinian cause after she was jailed as a teenager for slapping an Israeli soldier. She said the soldiers had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet an hour prior to the filmed encounter.

Tamimi, who was 16 at the time, admitted as part of a plea deal to the aggravated assault of an IDF soldier, incitement to violence, and disrupting soldiers on two other occasions.

She served an eight-month sentence in an Israeli prison, and after she was released, went on a victory tour, crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East.

Since Friday, Hamas has freed 50 Israelis hostages, with 11 released earlier Monday on the fourth day of the initial four-day truce with the terror group following its October 7 shock onslaught and the subsequent Israeli military campaign in the Palestinian enclave.

The truce, set to expire tomorrow, will now extend by two days, Qatar and the US confirmed earlier, and should see the release of about 10 more Israeli hostages per additional truce day.

Under the initial agreement Israel agreed to halt its military operation in Gaza for four days, and release three Palestinian security prisoners for each of the 50 hostages freed from Gaza.

As a result of parallel negotiations led by Qatar, Hamas also released 17 Thais, one Filipino and one dual Russian-Israeli national.

Secular Israelis line up to write in a Torah scroll bound for Kibbutz Be’eri

David Avraham and Michal David write in Tel Aviv, Israel on November 27, 2023 a letter in a commemorative Torah scroll earmarked for Kibbutz Be'eri. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel
David Avraham and Michal David write in Tel Aviv, Israel on November 27, 2023 a letter in a commemorative Torah scroll earmarked for Kibbutz Be'eri. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel

On their way out of Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square Monday, Michal and Eran David pause to listen to a familiar sound. It’s a piyyut, a Jewish liturgical poem, being performed live inside a white PVC tent situated at the very rear of the half-deserted square.

The couple, secular Israelis in their sixties from Rishon Lezion, follows the sound into the tent, where they see singer Erez Lev-Ari singing next to an ultra-Orthodox man holding a white quill over a scroll of parchment as people wait in line to sit next to him. The man, David Avraham from Elad, is a sofer, a scribe who is adept at copying scripture, and the visitors are queuing up to each write one letter on the parchment as Avraham guides their hand.

The scroll is part of a commemoration project that began in 2014 following the abduction and murder by Hamas terrorists of three teenaged yeshiva students near Bethlehem. The unfinished Torah scroll has tens of thousands of letters, each representing a participant in the project led by Ayelet HaShahar, a religious Jewish organization that does outreach activities aimed at facilitating a greater sense of secular-religious fraternity.

Following the murder of 1,200 Israelis in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught from Gaza, Ayelet Hashachar now plans to lend the finished Torah Scroll indefinitely to Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the worst-hit Israeli communities that day.

David’s turn to write in the scroll coincides with the release earlier today of 11 Israeli hostages from Gaza, on the fourth day of a four-day truce deal that was approved for extension by two days.

Avraham sees parallels between the Torah scroll and the People of Israel. “Just like the Torah scroll is never whole if it misses even one letter, so is the Jewish People  never whole if it misses even one person,” says Avraham.

PM receives list of Israeli hostages set for release Tuesday as truce extends by 2 days

Israel received the list of Israeli hostages set to be released tomorrow (Tuesday) by Hamas, says the Prime Minister’s Office, as part of an extended truce agreement reached earlier Monday.

The list of hostages is currently being reviewed, says the PMO, and “notices are being delivered at this time” to the families of those set to be freed after over 50 days as hostages in Gaza.

The announcement does not specify the number of hostages set for release tomorrow. Since Friday, 50 Israeli hostages have been released as part of an initial deal for a four-day lull in fighting in Gaza and the release of three Palestinian prisoners for each Israeli hostage.

As a result of parallel negotiations led by Qatar, Hamas also released 17 Thais, one Filipino and one dual Russian-Israeli national.

The deal also incentivized additional hostage releases: 10 Israeli abductees per additional day of respite in Gaza from Israel’s military campaign in the Palestinian enclave.

Israel and Hamas earlier agreed to extend the temporary truce by two days, paving the way for the release of some 20 more people held hostage by the Palestinian terror group.

The government earlier approved a list of 50 female Palestinian prisoners who are marked for potential early release as part of the truce agreement. The Prime Minister’s Office said in a brief statement that the government okayed the list “should additional Israeli hostages be released.”

News of the extension bolsters hopes for families of the approximately 175 Israelis and foreigners still held in Gaza, including Kfir Bibas, who was 9 months old when he was captured, along with his parents and 4-year-old brother from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

That day saw thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stream into southern Israel, where they slaughtered some 1,200 people and took some 240 captive.

Israel Police say emergency lines down amid unspecified ‘error’

The Israel Police says emergency lines are down amid an unspecified “temporary error” in the service.

“The police’s emergency hotline 100 is not active,” police say, adding that and emergency calls be be directed to 052-2020100.

The Magen David Adom paramedic service says callers can dial 073-2630400 for medical assistance and emergency response, “due to a malfunction in the emergency lines.”

11 Israeli civilian hostages, 9 kids and 2 moms, reunite with families in Tel Aviv Hospital

All 11 freed Israeli civilian hostages, nine children and two women, are now under the care of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, where they are reuniting with their families after 53 days of being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, the Health Ministry announces.

The hostages will be assessed and provided with medical and psychological care as needed.

In the press announcement, the ministry says: “‏We wish to remind you that these are sensitive moments for the freed hostages and their families and we wish to preserve their privacy.”

‏The ministry says it welcomes the return of the abductees and “wishes for the speedy return of all the other hostages.”

Israel okays budget change to prioritize defense goals, also unlocking funds for Haredi, settler interests

The cabinet approves a NIS 30 billion change to prioritize wartime needs in the remaining portion of Israel’s 2023 state budget amid strong objections that the plan will also send hundreds of millions of shekels to ultra-Orthodox and West Bank settler priorities.

The funds to both causes were already approved by the coalition as part of its political promises to partners, but frozen following the outbreak of the war on October 7.

The five war cabinet ministers from National Unity including party leader Benny Gantz, Chili Trooper, Gadi Eisenkot, and Gideon Sa’ar voted against the budget change and immediately left the plenum tonight.

Economy Minister Nir Barkat (Likud) had also previously threatened to vote against, and Likud minister Ofir Akunis abstained from the vote, saying that Israel’s economic strength pre-war was not guaranteed and that during an earlier committee meeting there was “broad consensus that there would be no spending on anything that is not related to the needs of the war.”

The budgetary changes were expected to overcome the six-vote opposition and now clear the 38-minister cabinet, moving to the Knesset for final approval.

Focusing on the last two months of 2023, the budget update diverts NIS 17 billion ($4.5 billion) to defense and NIS 13.5 billion ($3.64 billion) to civilian wartime needs, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said at the Knesset earlier.

In October, the cabinet froze all funds for discretionary political priorities that had not yet been transferred out of the Finance Ministry, in order to reevaluate which resources could be diverted to the war effort. The attorney general later backed the move. Of the NIS 2.5 billion ($674 million) in these so-called coalition funds still available for reallocation, Smotrich said he cut some NIS 1.6 billion ($430 million), about 70 percent, to divert to the war effort.

The remaining 30% of coalition funds, which following approval can be transferred to various ministries and offices, include at least NIS 300 million ($81 million) for ultra-Orthodox private education, which skirts supervision by the Education Ministry, and what Hebrew media has reported as hundreds of millions of shekels to support settler priorities in the West Bank.

In addition, Smotrich told The Times of Israel that the budget update includes NIS 390 million ($105 million) for beefing up security and security infrastructure in the West Bank.

A source close to Gantz said earlier that the budget being presented to the government is “a finger in the public’s eye,” according to a statement released by his National Unity party.

Freed Israeli hostages soon at Tel Aviv hospital to reunite with families

The freed hostages are arriving at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital to reunite with their families, after traveling from Kerem Shalom crossing where they underwent an initial medical evaluation following their release from Gaza.

They will undergo treatment and evaluation at the the hospital for a few days, depending on their state.

Nir Oz father whose son is a hostage is ‘thrilled’ at release of 11 kibbutz members

Jonathan Dekel-Chen pleads at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 10, 2023 with the US government to take a prominent role in the release of its citizens, including his son Sagui, who are believed to be prisoners in Hamas in Gaza. (Times of Israel/Canaan Lidor)
Jonathan Dekel-Chen pleads at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 10, 2023 with the US government to take a prominent role in the release of its citizens, including his son Sagui, who are believed to be prisoners in Hamas in Gaza. (Times of Israel/Canaan Lidor)

After more than five weeks days of unmitigated anguish, Jonathan Dekel-Chen is feeling happy again. Nine children and two mothers from his Kibbutz Nir Oz are free following their earlier release from Hamas’s captivity for 53 days.

The prize for their freedom is 33 Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel.

“I’m thrilled for these their families. It is truly wonderful. I’ve known all these kids since they were born, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” Dekel-Chen tells The Times of Israel. His son, Sagui, is presumed to be held hostage in Gaza and is not among the 11 released Monday in a truce deal that prioritized the release of children and women.

“It’s just the beginning,” says Dekel-Chen about the fourth swap in an exchange whose first phase is meant to lead to the release of 50 Israelis and 150 Palestinians. “From our kibbutz alone, we have more than 50 hostages still remaining in Hamas captivity, including my son,” says Dekel-Chen, whose kibbutz was among the worst-hit – 1 in 4 residents were murdered — on October 7.

Nir Oz’s surviving residents are staying in a hotel in Eilat. Dekel-Chen, who, like his hostage son, is a US citizen, is there now following a visit to the United States, where he had held meetings and spoke to the media about the effort to retrieve hostages.

“We’re doubling down on the determination to make sure that our government prioritizes getting all of the hostages out now, or as quickly as humanly possible,” Dekel-Chen, a professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, adds.

Israel okays list of 50 female Palestinian prisoners who may be released to extend truce

The government approved a list this evening of 50 female Palestinian prisoners who are marked for potential early release as part of an agreement to extend a temporary truce with Hamas in Gaza and secure the release of nearly 20 more Israelis held hostage by the Palestinian terror group since October 7.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a brief statement tonight that the government okayed the list “should additional Israeli hostages be released.”

The additional names brings to 350 the number of Palestinian prisoners selected for potential early release as part of the agreement. Israel has already released 140 Palestinian prisoners, mainly female and underaged males.

Since Friday, Hamas has freed 50 Israelis hostages, with 11 released earlier Monday on the fourth day of the initial four-day truce under which Israel agreed to halt its military operation in Gaza and release three Palestinian security prisoners for each of the 50 Israeli hostages. The agreement was set to expire tomorrow.

The truce will now extend by two days, Qatar and the US confirmed earlier, and should see the release of about 10 more Israeli hostages per additional truce day.

As a result of parallel negotiations led by Qatar, Hamas also released 17 Thais, one Filipino and one dual Russian-Israeli national.

Red Cross yet to see remaining hostages, despite US and Israeli claims such visits were part of truce

Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

While both Israeli and US officials have insisted that the ongoing truce deal between Israel and Hamas includes a clause requiring the Red Cross to visit the hostages who have not been freed by the fourth day of the temporary ceasefire, no such visits have been reported.

The Red Cross has repeatedly refused to confirm that it has been notified of this clause of the truce, but insists that it will visit the hostages if both parties agree that it should.

Hamas has yet to publicly confirm having agreed to such visits and has never in the past allowed the Red Cross to visit those it has abducted.

Asked whether the Red Cross has been able to visit the hostages, a spokesperson for the humanitarian agency refers The Times of Israel to earlier statements asserting that its staff would do so if both parties approve.

Hamas issues daily propaganda video purporting to show its humane treatment of hostages upon their release

Hamas's propaganda video of the terror group releasing hostages in Gaza on November 27, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
Hamas's propaganda video of the terror group releasing hostages in Gaza on November 27, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

As it has on every day of the truce thus far, Hamas issues another propaganda video purporting to show how it treats the hostages humanely, as it releases them from captivity after more than 50 days.

Today’s video also shows the free hostages waving goodbye to the Hamas fighters. Yesterday, the editor of the Hamas propaganda clip appeared to have accidentally forgotten to edit out the voice of the fighter ordering the hostages to wave, which demonstrated that the freed abductees were still under duress.

‘I wish for world peace,’ tweets Musk after Israel visit

US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

“Trite as it may sound, I wish for world peace,” tweets Elon Musk after his visit to Israel today.

Freed Israeli hostages heading to Ichilov hospital — Health Ministry

Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

The 11 freed Israeli hostages have entered Israel via the Kerem Shalom Crossing, not traveling through Egypt as was the custom on some of the previous days of the truce.

After a brief medical check-up and an opportunity for the hostages to call their families for the first time, they are being airlifted to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital where they will be treated further and be reunited with their families, the Health Ministry says.

Ichilov’s Sourasky Medical Center says it is excited and proud of the privilege to welcome the released hostages and provide them with the medical treatment they need, under the most appropriate conditions.

The compound prepared for the returnees is spacious and equipped with the most advanced facilities. Each family will be treated separately, allowing maximum privacy for the reunification of the family members who will be by their side and support them during these emotional times, the hospital says in a statement.

For its part, the Red Cross confirms that it has “now successfully facilitated the release and transfer of 11 hostages held in Gaza.”

“The ICRC was not involved in the negotiations, and its role has been to facilitate the agreement as a neutral intermediary,” it adds.

Blinken to return to Israel, West Bank this week — US official

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks an aircraft as he arrives at Yokota Air Base ahead of the G7 foreign ministers' meeting in Tokyo on November 7, 2023. (JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks an aircraft as he arrives at Yokota Air Base ahead of the G7 foreign ministers' meeting in Tokyo on November 7, 2023. (JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make a wartime visit to Israel and the West Bank later this week, a US official tells The Times of Israel.

He will land in Israel on Thursday, the official says.

It will be the second time Blinken visits Israel and the West Bank this month.

In a later readout, the State Department says Blinken on the trip, “will discuss Israel’s right to defend itself consistent with international humanitarian law, as well as continued efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages, protect civilian life during Israel’s operations in Gaza and accelerate humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.”

Blinken “will also discuss the principles he outlined in Tokyo on November 8 — tangible steps to further the creation of a future Palestinian state, and the need to prevent the conflict from widening,” the readout states.

Biden expresses horror over shooting of Palestinians in Vermont: ‘There is no place for hate in America’

Palestinian college students Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali and Kenan Abdulhamid who were shot in Burlington, Vermont, on November 25, 2023. (Husam Zomlot/X)
Palestinian college students Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali and Kenan Abdulhamid who were shot in Burlington, Vermont, on November 25, 2023. (Husam Zomlot/X)

US President Joe Biden weighs in on the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Vermont over the weekend.

“Jill and I were horrified to learn that three college students of Palestinian descent, two of whom are American citizens, were shot Saturday in Burlington, Vermont. They were simply spending Thanksgiving gathered with family and loved ones,” Biden says in a statement.

“We join Americans across the country in praying for their full recovery, and we send our deepest condolences to their families. While we are waiting for more facts, we know this: there is absolutely no place for violence or hate in America. Period. No person should worry about being shot at while going about their daily lives. And far too many Americans know a family member injured or killed as a result of gun violence. We cannot and we will not accept that,” he says.

“Earlier today, I spoke to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger to offer my support. We are grateful to the Burlington Police Department – as well as the FBI, ATF, and other law enforcement partners – for their swift work identifying and arresting a suspect. Our administration will provide any additional federal resources needed to assist in the investigation,” the president adds.

11 freed hostages have arrived in Israel after release from Hamas captivity — IDF

Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

The Israel Defense Forces says the 11 hostages released from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip are now in Israeli territory, and are being escorted by special forces and members of the Shin Bet security agency.

“After they undergo an initial medical assessment of their health, our forces will accompany them until they are reunited with their families,” the IDF says.

The IDF asks the public to “demonstrate patience and sensitivity during this time out of respect for the released hostages and their families.”

11 released Israelis include French, German and Argentinian dual nationals — Qatar

Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

French, German, and Argentinian dual nationals are among 11 Israeli hostages in a fourth group to be freed by Hamas in exchange for 33 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, Qatar says.

“The Israelis released from Gaza include three French citizens, two German citizens, and six Argentinian citizens,” Qatar foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari tweets.

He affirms that the Palestinian prisoners being released by Israel are three women and 30 minors.

These are the 9 Israeli children who remain in Gaza after the 4th day of the truce

Gali Tarshanksy was taken captive on October 7, 2023, from her home on Kibbutz Be'eri by Hamas terrorists (Courtesy)
Gali Tarshanksy was taken captive on October 7, 2023, from her home on Kibbutz Be'eri by Hamas terrorists (Courtesy)

These are the Israeli children who remain in Gaza after the fourth day of the truce.

Kfir Bibas 10-months-old

Ariel Bibas 4

Gali Tarshansky 13

Amit Shani 16

Ofir Engel 17

Maya Leimberg 17

Aisha Zaidna 17

Liam Or 18

Itay Regev 18

Qatar: 11 Israeli ‘detainees’ released in exchange for 33 Palestinian ‘civilians’

Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel via Egypt, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari confirms the implementation of the fourth day of the truce agreement, with 11 Israeli “detainees” released in exchange for 33 Palestinian “civilians.”

The Israelis released were held hostage by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists for 52 days.

The Palestinians released were prisoners convicted and on trial for security offenses.

These are the 11 Israeli hostages released on the fourth-day of the truce

Israeli hostages released on November 27, 2023: Top L-R: Sharon Aloni Cunio and her children Emma and Yuli, siblings Sahar and Erez Calderon; bottom: Karina Engel-Bart and her children Mika and Yuval, siblings Yagil and Or Yaakov, and Eitan Yahalomi. (Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)
Israeli hostages released on November 27, 2023: Top L-R: Sharon Aloni Cunio and her children Emma and Yuli, siblings Sahar and Erez Calderon; bottom: Karina Engel-Bart and her children Mika and Yuval, siblings Yagil and Or Yaakov, and Eitan Yahalomi. (Courtesy; combination image: Times of Israel)

These are the 11 Israeli hostages who were released this evening from Hamas captivity in what was the fourth day of a truce in Gaza that is slated to extend by another two days.

All of the hostages were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz during the October 7 massacre. Fathers of all five families are still being held hostage in Gaza.

From the Cunio family:
Sharon Aloni Cunio, 34
Emma Cunio, 3
Yuli Cunio, 3
(Father David Cunio remains hostage in Gaza)

From the Engel family:
Karina Engel-Bart, 51
Mika Engel, 18
Yuval Engel, 11
(Father Ronen Engel remains hostage in Gaza)

From the Calderon family:
Sahar Calderon, 16
Erez Calderon, 12
(Father Ofer Calderon remains hostage in Gaza)

From the Yaakov family:
Or Yaakov, 16
Yagil Yaakov, 13
(Father Yair Yaakov and his partner Meirav Tal remain hostage in Gaza)

From the Yahalomi family:
Eitan Yahalomi, 12
(Father Ohad Yahalomi remains hostage in Gaza)

PM lobbying Likud MKs, saying only he can prevent a Palestinian state in Gaza, West Bank – report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/ Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly met with at least 10 backbenchers in his Likud party over the past week in an effort to ensure their continued support, as the ruling party drops further and further in the polls since the war.

“I am the only one who will prevent a Palestinian state in Gaza and [the West Bank] after the war,” the Kan public broadcaster quotes Netanyahu as having told the lawmakers.

The stance clashes directly with the policy of the Biden administration, which has sought to revive talk of a two-state solution in order to maintain the support of the Arab world, as he continues to offer full-throttled backing of Israel.

Netanyahu reportedly also told the Likud lawmakers that the Biden administration did not want Israel to launch a ground incursion in Gaza and did not want the IDF to enter Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital where a Hamas command center is located underneath. Netanyahu reportedly boasted about having gone against the US wishes in both of those cases.

Two US officials speaking with The Times of Israel made no such indication that the US opposed Israel’s operations in Gaza, as Netanyahu suggested. Rather, Washington pushed for the IDF to ensure the protection of civilians, the officials said, noting that they principally support expanding the ground operation into southern Gaza, so long as civilians are accounted for.

“I have known [US President Joe] Biden for more than 40 years, and know how to speak to the American public,” Kan quotes Netanyahu as having told the Likud backbenchers in individual meetings.

According to an August Pew Research Center poll, 42% of Americans said they have no confidence in Netanyahu, 32% said they have confidence in him and 26% of Americans said they had not heard of the Israeli premier. Views of Netanyahu varied by political ideology, with Republicans more likely to have confidence in him than Democrats. (49% vs. 17%)

One of Netanyahu’s sit-downs was with Likud MK David Bitan, who urged the prime minister to avoid bombastic declarations that have come back to haunt him. Netanyahu had initially declared that Israel would not allow any fuel into Gaza before walking that pledge back earlier this month.

Kan reports that Netanyahu made clear to the fellow faction members that he does not plan to go anywhere after the war.

IDF confirms that Hamas handed over 11 Israeli hostages to Red Cross in Gaza

Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
Hostages released by Hamas on the fourth day of the ceasefire with Israel are transferred to the Red Cross inside Gaza ahead of their return to Israel, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

The Israel Defense Forces confirms that Hamas has handed over 11 Israeli hostages to the Red Cross.

“According to the information provided by the Red Cross, 11 Israeli hostages are on their way to Israeli territory,” the IDF says.

Biden welcomes 2-day extension of Israel-Hamas truce, as Jerusalem still mum on deal

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on November 26, 2023. (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP)
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on November 26, 2023. (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP)

US President Joe Biden issues a statement welcoming the two-day extension of the truce between Israel and Hamas.

Qatar announced the truce two hours ago, and Hamas confirmed the agreement shortly thereafter. Only Israel has yet to offer a confirmation of its own, while the IDF’s spokesperson said moments ago that the deal is not yet final.

For his part, Biden says, “I have remained deeply engaged over the last few days to ensure that this deal—brokered and sustained through extensive US mediation and diplomacy—can continue to deliver results.”

While the fourth group of hostages has not yet been released, Biden says, “Thus far, more than 50 hostages have now been released and returned to their families. Those released include young children, mothers, and grandmothers.”

Biden again highlights the plight of Avigail Idan, a 4-year-old Israeli-American who was released yesterday. Her parents were murdered in front of her on October 7, before Idan was taken hostage.

“I spoke with Abigail’s family following her release, and we are working closely with our Israeli partners to ensure she gets the care and support she needs as she begins to recover from this unspeakable trauma,” Biden says.

Avigail Idan is reunited with her aunt Liron and uncle Zuli at the Schneider children’s hospital on November 27, 2023. (Schneider Children’s Medical Center).

“The humanitarian pause has also enabled a significant surge in additional humanitarian assistance to the innocent civilians who are suffering across the Gaza strip,” the president notes.

He highlights that no country has donated more in humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians than the US.

“We are taking full advantage of the pause in fighting to increase the amount of humanitarian aid moving into Gaza and we will continue our efforts to build a future of peace and dignity for the Palestinian people,” Biden adds, thanking the leaders of Israel, Qatar and Egypt for the cooperation and pledging to continue fighting until all hostages in Gaza are released.

The emphasis on the US efforts to provide relief to the Palestinians comes during growing frustration from the far-left wing of his party over Biden’s support for Israel throughout the war.

Netanyahu: We’re continuing with plan regarding hostages per the truce agreement

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a cabinet meeting on November 27, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a cabinet meeting on November 27, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

In comments to the press at the top of a cabinet meeting to approve a highly controversial wartime budget, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighs in on the ongoing truce.

“Regarding the hostages — we are continuing with the plan as agreed upon, and we are also continuing with the central goal we’ve stated: to secure the release of the hostages, to eliminate Hamas and to ensure this threat will not repeat itself in Gaza,” Netanyahu says.

He does not comment on announcements by Qatar, the US, and Hamas that the sides have agreed to a two-day truce extension.

Israeli officials have said they would agree to an additional day of truce for every 10 hostages released by Hamas.

IDF: Fourth hostage release ‘underway’; extension of truce not yet final

International Red Cross workers wait outside Ofer Prison in the West Bank ahead of the release of Palestinian security prisoners on the fourth day of the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)
International Red Cross workers wait outside Ofer Prison in the West Bank ahead of the release of Palestinian security prisoners on the fourth day of the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says that the fourth release of hostages is “underway.”

He did not specify what stage tonight’s hostage transfer has reached, and did not confirm that the hostages are in the hands of the Red Cross.

He also says that an extension to the temporary ceasefire with Hamas is not final.

“We are managing a deal through mediators around the clock. Nothing is final until it actually happens,” he says. “Things are progressing, tonight as well, but patience is required.”

Hagari slams Hamas for its propaganda videos showing the release of the hostages in recent days. “Dozens of videos of terrorists waving will not hide the brutality of Hamas,” he says.

He also says that the responsibility for the Bibas family, who were taken hostage by Hamas, but handed to another terror group, lies with Hamas.

Switching to English, Hagari speaks of 84-year-old Elma Avraham, who was released from Hamas captivity in critical condition.

“Last night, Elma Avraham was released from Hamas captivity. She was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Elma is 84 years old, she is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother,” Hagari says.

IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari gives a statement to the media in Tel Aviv on October 16, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“During the Hamas massacre of October 7th, Elma was taken hostage by savage terrorists. She was dragged into Gaza on the back of a motorbike. She was in Hamas captivity for 51 days and nights. She was kept in a harsh condition, denied life-saving medication, she was not visited by the Red Cross,” he says.

“When she was released from captivity she was in a critical condition. Elma is a reminder of our critical mission. Now she is home [in Israel] and being taken care of. But who is taking care of the other hostages in Gaza,” he says.

“Over 150 of our hostages, men, women, children, babies, who is taking care of them? Who is holding a 10-month-old baby, Kfir Bibas?” Hagari asks. “I’ll tell you, ruthless terrorists are holding him hostage in Gaza.”

“We call on international organizations, especially the Red Cross to use every tool at their disposal to gain access to our hostages, to make sure they are receiving the medical care they need,” he says.

“Our hostages are not lost, and we won’t sit around and hope they are found. We will rescue our hostages at all costs, it is our duty, our moral responsibility as the Israel Defense Forces. It’s why we fight, and why we must keep on fighting until all our hostages are home,” Hagari adds.

Hamas says it has received list of Palestinian prisoners Israel releasing tonight

Palestinians wave Hamas flags in the West Bank city of Nablus as they celebrate the release of Palestinian security prisoners. as part of a deal between Israel and Hamas for the return of Israeli hostages, November 24, 2023. (AP Photo/ Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians wave Hamas flags in the West Bank city of Nablus as they celebrate the release of Palestinian security prisoners. as part of a deal between Israel and Hamas for the return of Israeli hostages, November 24, 2023. (AP Photo/ Majdi Mohammed)

Hamas announces that it has received the list of Palestinian prisoners being released tonight.

The list includes three women and as many as 30 men aged 19 and under.

Nine of the prisoners are residents of East Jerusalem, and the remaining ones are believed to be from the West Bank.

Israel: 4 fuel tankers, 200 aid trucks enter Gaza through Rafah for 4th straight day

Aid trucks prepare to enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing on November 27, 2023. (Screen capture/ COGAT)
Aid trucks prepare to enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing on November 27, 2023. (Screen capture/ COGAT)

Israel’s COGAT military liaison to the Palestinians announces that four fuel tankers were transferred into Gaza today, in line with the truce agreement.

In addition, 200 trucks containing food, water, shelter equipment, and medical supplies are making their way into the enclave, COGAT says.

Cabinet approves extension of Amir Yaron’s tenure as Bank of Israel governor for 2nd 5-year term

Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron speaks at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) conference in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. (Oded Karni)
Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron speaks at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) conference in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. (Oded Karni)

The cabinet voted to extend Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron’s tenure for a second five-year term.

It was initially reported that Yaron, who has been critical of the effect that the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul had on Israel’s economy, would leave at the end of 2023.

However, that decision changed shortly after the outbreak of Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas, in light of the need for economic stability.

Report: Hamas slated to release six Thai hostages tonight in addition to 11 Israeli abductees

A Red Cross convoy carrying Israeli hostages heads to Egypt from the Gaza Strip at the Rafah border crossing on November 26, 2023. (AP Photo/ Hatem Ali)
A Red Cross convoy carrying Israeli hostages heads to Egypt from the Gaza Strip at the Rafah border crossing on November 26, 2023. (AP Photo/ Hatem Ali)

Hamas has agreed to release another six of the Thai citizens it is holding hostage in Gaza, in addition to the 11 Israeli hostages being freed tonight, Egyptian media reports.

Sinwar reportedly visited group of hostages being held in Gaza tunnel

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's leader in Gaza, gestures on stage during a rally in Gaza City, on May 24, 2021. (Mahmud Hams/ AFP/ File)
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's leader in Gaza, gestures on stage during a rally in Gaza City, on May 24, 2021. (Mahmud Hams/ AFP/ File)

Hamas terror chief Yahya Sinwar reportedly visited several of the Israeli hostages who were being held in an underground tunnel in Gaza.

One of the hostages released over the weekend says Sinwar spoke to them in Hebrew without an accent, telling them that they were safe with Hamas and did not need to fear, Channel 12 reports, adding that the story has been confirmed by the Israeli security establishment.

IDF: Hamas took Bibas family hostage on Oct. 7, transferred them to another faction

The Bibas family, father Yarden, mother Shiri, baby Kfir and four-year-old Ariel were taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz (Courtesy)
The Bibas family, father Yarden, mother Shiri, baby Kfir and four-year-old Ariel were taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz (Courtesy)

The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee indicates to Sky News that the Bibas family — father Yarden, mother Shiri, 10-month-old baby Kfir and 4-year-old Ariel — will not be released today from Hamas captivity.

Adraee explains that the family was taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 massacre, and was then transferred to another Palestinian terror faction in Gaza. They are currently being held in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

The Bibas family confirms that their loved ones will not be released today.

Adraee tweets, “Children and babies under the age of one who have not seen the light of day for more than fifty days are being held captive by Hamas, [who] treats some of them like loot and in some places has transferred them to other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.”

20 Israeli women and children to be freed during two-day truce extension – White House

US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 8, 2023. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 8, 2023. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirms that another 20 Israeli women and children will be released during the two-day extension of the ongoing truce between Israel and Hamas.

The deal was structured in a way where Israel would agree to extend the truce by an additional day for every 10 hostages released by Hamas.

Kirby says that there was a hold-up with today’s release because Hamas initially sought to release several children without their mothers, who are also being held in Gaza.

He adds he does not know if the 11 hostages being released today include the remaining two female US citizens being held in Gaza. There are six other male hostages who are US citizens and one male US Green Card holder.

Kirby adds that the US “would… hope to see the pause extended further, but reiterates that this will depend on Hamas releasing additional hostages.

Kirby notes that for the third day in a row, 200 aid trucks entered Gaza yesterday, meeting a key clause of the truce. This brings the total number of aid trucks that have entered Gaza since the Rafah Crossing was opened on October 21 to over 2,000.

Meeting troops, Gallant says IDF will be stronger when it returns to fighting after truce

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 when Israel returns to fighting Hamas in Gaza, its “strength will be greater, and it will take place throughout the entire Strip,” according to remarks provided by his office.

Speaking to troops of the Givati Infantry Brigade and of the Armored Corps, Gallant says: “You now have a few days, we will return to fighting, we will use the same amount of power and more.”

“Remember that while you are organizing and resting and investigating, the enemy is also doing the same,” he says.

“You will meet something that is a little more ready. Therefore, [Hamas] will meet first the bombs of the Air Force, and after that the shells of the tanks and the artillery and the scoops of the D9 [bulldozers], and finally also gunfire of the infantry troops,” Gallant says.

“We will fight in the entire Strip,” he adds.

Hostage’s father shares plight with handful of listeners at Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square

Dani Miran speaks to visitors at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, on November 27, 2023. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)
Dani Miran speaks to visitors at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, on November 27, 2023. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

In a poorly lit tent in Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square, Dani Miran tells a handful of people about his son, Omri, whom Hamas terrorists abducted from Kibbutz Nahal Oz and are believed to be holding hostage in Gaza.

The square, which on Saturday night saw a crowd of about 100,000 people demonstrating for the release of the 200 hostages still in captivity, is nearly deserted on Monday evening.

Slightly chilly weather of 17 °C (63°F) has kept the crowds away, even though a fourth group of hostages — 11 this time — are expected to be released. Multiple foreign media reporters send their dispatches from the dark square.

“It’s cold and the weather’s bad. I’m grateful for anyone who does come and blame no one for not coming. The past few days have been emotionally draining on everyone, I recognize that,” Miran, 78, tells The Times of Israel when asked about the low turnout.

Miran is spending days and nights to raise awareness of his son’s plight.

The deal is for women and children, so Miran is not expecting to see his son, who is 46, tonight.

“At this point, I only want information. Is he alive? Is he wounded? Is he sleeping in a bed? On the floor? We’re in the dark,” he says of himself, his daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters, who survived the onslaught on Nahal Oz.

When other hostages were released, “I was happy for them. Then, later, in bed… those same questions came back, as they do every night,” Dani Miran says.

Sheba hospital says it has discharged 9 of the hostages it was treating since their release

Sharon Avigdori greets her son, Omer, in the early hours of November 26, 2023, after she was released from 50 days of Hamas captivity. (Haim Zach/ GPO)
Sharon Avigdori greets her son, Omer, in the early hours of November 26, 2023, after she was released from 50 days of Hamas captivity. (Haim Zach/ GPO)

Sheba Medical Center reports that freed hostages Noga Weiss, 18, and her mother Shiri Weiss, 53, were discharged from Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital this evening.

Also discharged are five members of the Haran-Avigdori-Shoham family: Noam Avigdori, 12, and her mother Sharon Avigdori, 52, Shoshan Haran and her daughter Adi Shoham, along with Shoham’s son Naveh, 8, and daughter Yahel, 3.

In addition, 9-year-old Emily Hand, who was held in Gaza without a family member, has gone home from the hospital.

All were abducted by Hamas from Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7.

Israel reportedly pulls support for Saudi bid to host Expo 2030 amid Riyadh’s criticism over war

Saudi Foreign Affairs minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrives at the Bureau International des Exposition (BIE) to discuss Riyadh's bid to host Expo 2030 World Expo in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, on June 20, 2023. (JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)
Saudi Foreign Affairs minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrives at the Bureau International des Exposition (BIE) to discuss Riyadh's bid to host Expo 2030 World Expo in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, on June 20, 2023. (JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

Israel has decided to withdraw its support for Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the Expo 2030 world fair amid Riyadh’s harsh criticism of Jerusalem over the war in Gaza, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Israel had indicated it would back Saudi Arabia over the past year as US-brokered talks aimed at a normalization agreement between the two countries intensified.

But Riyadh has joined the Arab world in fiercely criticizing the IDF operation in Gaza, calling on the international community to impose an arms embargo against the Jewish state.

US officials speaking to The Times of Israel earlier this month insisted that a normalization agreement between the two countries remains possible after the war, but they acknowledged that the Palestinian component of the deal will likely expand significantly against the backdrop of the war.

Instead of backing Saudi Arabia, Israel has decided to support Italy’s bid to host Expo 2030 in Rome, Kan reports.

White House official confirms two-day Gaza truce extension

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A White House official confirms the two-day truce extension announced moments ago by Qatar and Hamas.

Israel has yet to formally confirm the extension, which would allow for the release of 20 more hostages from Gaza.

Herzog to Musk: X is full of antisemitism and you can play ‘huge role’ in fighting problem

Elon Musk (left) meets with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on November 27, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Elon Musk (left) meets with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on November 27, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog tells Elon Musk, owner of X (formerly Twitter) that the social media site he runs is full of antisemitism and that he has “a huge role” in fighting the problem.

In a meeting at the President’s Residence, Herzog says the scenes Musk witnessed during a tour of Kfar Aza this morning and in a video of footage of the atrocities Hamas committed on October 7 demonstrated how hatred can lead to murder.

“Unfortunately, we are inundated by antisemitism, which is Jew hate, and Jew hate impacts the entire notion of behavior of human beings in so many places around the world. And you have a huge role to play, and I think we need to fight it together, because under the platforms you lead, unfortunately, there is a harboring of a lot of old hate which is Jew hate, which is antisemitism,” Herzog tells Musk.

“You’ve seen how evil can supersede everything, you’ve seen this morning what hate can bring about, you’ve seen how… thought turns into evil turns into hate and into bloodshed.”

Musk says in response that he has had an “emotionally difficult day” seeing the places where people were murdered and “watch[ing] the video where the murderers are rejoicing in the deaths.”

“These people have been fed propaganda since they were children. It’s remarkable what humans are capable of if they are fed falsehood since they are children. They can think that murdering innocent people is a good thing. That’s how much propaganda can affect people’s minds,” Musk adds.

The Israeli readout does not include any comments from Musk on Herzog’s concerns regarding X.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not raise concerns over antisemitism on X when he spoke with Musk earlier in a Live Chat on the platform.

Musk has faced accusations of tolerating antisemitic content on X. Organizations such as the ADL, with whom Musk has clashed, note a huge spike in antisemitic messages on the platform since the beginning of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

Musk himself sparked outcry this month when he endorsed an antisemitic post on X that accused Jews of driving hatred against white people.

Qatar announces agreement to extend truce an additional two days

IDF soldiers work on armored military vehicles along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, November 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
IDF soldiers work on armored military vehicles along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, November 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Qatar has successfully negotiated an agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the four-day truce between them by an additional two days, Doha’s foreign ministry spokesperson tweets.

This means at least ten more Israeli hostages will be released on Tuesday and another ten will be released on Wednesday, with 30 Palestinian prisoners to be freed by Israel on each day as well.

There is no immediate Israeli confirmation of the truce extension but Hamas issues its own statement confirming it, crediting the Qatari and Egyptian mediation efforts.

Knesset passes law giving job security to war evacuees, family members of hostages

Israelis, including the families of Gaza hostages, attend the ‘50 Days of Hell’ rally in support of the hostages held by Hamas, outside the 'Hostages Square' near the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, November 25, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)
Israelis, including the families of Gaza hostages, attend the ‘50 Days of Hell’ rally in support of the hostages held by Hamas, outside the 'Hostages Square' near the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, November 25, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

The Knesset passes a law to give more job security to war evacuees and the family members of hostages.

The new law, cleared by 14 MKs with no opposition, prohibits firing employees who were unable to do their job because they were evacuated from a community near the Gaza or Lebanese border, or if they are a family member of someone missing or held hostage in Gaza.

The law also provides employment protection to hostages and the missing themselves as well as to parents of children under 14, if the child’s second parent is serving in the military.

Six Israelis and two foreign nationals are still classified as missing, according to an Israeli official who briefed reporters over the weekend.

The law is a temporary order in place for three months, and extendable up to a year.

9-year-old Emily Hand released from hospital two days after being freed from captivity

Emily Hand (right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Emily Hand (right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Sheba Medical Center announces that 9-year-old Emily Hand, who was freed two days ago from Hamas captivity, has been released from the medical center’s children’s wing.

The hospital says its staff will continue to track Emily and all the freed captives, and awaits the return of the remaining hostages still in Gaza.

Israel notifies family of hostages slated for release today as deal appears back on track

An International Red Cross vehicle carrying Israeli Russian hostage Ron Krivoy released by Hamas drives towards the Rafah border point with Egypt ahead of a transfer to Israel on November 26, 2023. - The Israeli army said in a statement on November 26, 2023 that 13 released hostages were back on Israeli territory, and another four were on their way via the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. (Photo by Mohammed ABED / AFP)
An International Red Cross vehicle carrying Israeli Russian hostage Ron Krivoy released by Hamas drives towards the Rafah border point with Egypt ahead of a transfer to Israel on November 26, 2023. - The Israeli army said in a statement on November 26, 2023 that 13 released hostages were back on Israeli territory, and another four were on their way via the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. (Photo by Mohammed ABED / AFP)

The Prime Minister’s Office announces that Israeli authorities have notified the families of the hostages slated to be released in the coming hours, as the deal appears to be back on track following an earlier dispute.

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel earlier that Hamas was trying to separate mothers from their children in today’s release, which Jerusalem appears to have succeeded in blocking.

Hebrew media reports that 11 Israeli hostages will be released shortly — nine children and two women, who are the mothers of some of the children.

There has not been an official Israeli statement confirming these numbers.

Hebrew media adds that the hostages being released are from Kibbutz Nir Oz, the community that was hardest hit during the October 7 massacre.

Children’s hospital head says freed hostages in good physical health but face long recovery

People cheer as a vehicle carrying hostages released by Hamas drives towards an army base in Ofakim, southern Israel, on November 26, 2023, after they were released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
People cheer as a vehicle carrying hostages released by Hamas drives towards an army base in Ofakim, southern Israel, on November 26, 2023, after they were released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Prof. Itai Pessach, head of the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center reports that the overall physical health of the 13 freed hostages being treated there is good. All of them have undergone extensive physical and mental health evaluations and some have required medical treatment.

Pessach reports that the freed hostages — children and their mothers and grandmothers — have been cared for by top experts in various medical fields and psychosocial support. Some of the them are ready to be discharged, while others have chosen to stay longer at Sheba and take their time to readjust.

“Seeing the hostages reunited with their families and the fact that they are recovering physically gives a sense of optimism, but given their difficult, complex stories of captivity, they will have a long way to go until they are [fully] healed,” Pessach says.

Pessach says the hospital hopes all the hostages held in Gaza will be released as soon as possible, and that it is ready to receive them.

Smotrich defends boost in funds for settlers, saying they’re used for security against ‘Nazi’ Palestinians

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem on August 9, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem on August 9, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tells The Times of Israel that the budget update being sent for cabinet approval today includes NIS 390 million for beefing up security and security infrastructure in the West Bank.

“In the budget that’s being approved today, there is no funding for new construction in Judea and Samaria,” Smotrich says, using the biblical term for the West Bank. Rather, “there is funding for security needs,” among them checkpoints and civilian security squads and the weapons and equipment those teams would need.

“There are 2 million Nazis in Judea and Samaria, who hate us exactly as do the Nazis of Hamas-ISIS in Gaza,” he said, citing a Palestinian poll that indicated stronger support for Hamas’s October 7 terror attack in the West Bank than in Gaza. Hamas, which controls Gaza, killed 1,200 people in Israel and took some 240 into captivity in Gaza Strip on that day, triggering the ongoing war.

Earlier on Monday, the European Union’s de facto foreign minister accused Israel of advancing a budget with fresh funds for West Bank building.

“I’m appalled to learn that in the middle of a war, the Israeli gov is poised to commit new funds to build more illegal settlements,” Josep Borrell wrote on X.

Avigail Idan’s family releases photos of reunion with orphaned 4-year-old hostage after her release

Avigail Idan reunites for the first time with her aunt Liron and her grandmother Shlomit after her release from Hamas captivity on November 26, 2023, at the Hatzerim Air Base. (Courtesy)
Avigail Idan reunites for the first time with her aunt Liron and her grandmother Shlomit after her release from Hamas captivity on November 26, 2023, at the Hatzerim Air Base. (Courtesy)

Avigail Idan’s family has approved the release of the following photos showing the four-year-old reunited with her aunt, uncle and grandparents for the first time following her return yesterday from Hamas captivity.

Her mother and father were murdered in front of her on October 7 before she was taken hostage into Gaza by Hamas terrorists.

Her grandfather tells Hebrew media that one of the first things Avigail asked for upon her release were pretzels and grape juice.

Avigail Idan is reunited with her aunt Liron and uncle Zuli at Schneider Children’s Hospital on November 27, 2023. In the photos: the first hours of Avigail in the department, together with her family: her aunt Liron, uncle Zuli, grandparents Shlomit and Eitan (Schneider Hospital)
Avigail Idan is reunited with her aunt Liron and uncle Zuli at Schneider Children’s Hospital on November 27, 2023. In the photos: the first hours of Avigail in the department, together with her family: her aunt Liron, uncle Zuli, grandparents Shlomit and Eitan (Schneider Hospital)
Avigail Idan is reunited with her aunt Liron, her uncle Zuli and grandparents Shlomit and Eitan at Schneider children’s hospital on November 27, 2023. (Schneider Hospital)

Bank of Israel lowers growth outlook for 2023 and 2024 amid ‘high level’ of uncertainty due to war

Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron speaks at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) conference in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. (Oded Karni)
Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron speaks at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) conference in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. (Oded Karni)

The Bank of Israel lowers its growth outlook for this year and next year amid “high level” of uncertainty about the duration and economic fallout of the war with the Hamas terror group.

Assuming that the war will be concentrated mainly on the southern front, the central bank now expects the economy to grow by 2 percent in each of 2023 and 2024. That is down from its previous forecast in October of growth of 2.3% in 2023 and of 2.8% in 2024, when the central bank cut its previous projections of 3% growth for this year and next year.

“The revised forecast was built under the assumption that the war’s direct impact on the economy will continue into 2024 although with declining intensity—as opposed to the assumption in the October forecast that the direct impact will be concentrated in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone,” the central bank says in a statement.

The central bank decides to hold the benchmark interest rate at 4.75 percent, in line with forecasts by the majority of economists. The central bank’s monetary policy decision to keep borrowing costs unchanged for a fourth time since July comes as Israel is 52 days into its war with Hamas.

To bring down rising inflation, the Bank of Israel steadily hiked interest rates from a record low of 0.1% in April 2022 to 4.75% in July this year. The high interest burden already began to take a toll on households and mortgage holders even before the outbreak of the war.

Roni Krivoi’s siblings meet with Russian official, thanking Moscow for securing brother’s release

Relatives of released Israeli-Russian hostage Roni Krivoi meet in Russia with Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (Channel 12 screenshot, November 27, 2023; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Relatives of released Israeli-Russian hostage Roni Krivoi meet in Russia with Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (Channel 12 screenshot, November 27, 2023; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The brother and sister of Roni Krivoi, who was released yesterday by Hamas, meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to thank him for helping with Roni’s release.

Bogdanov says Krivoi was released as a gesture to Russia by Hamas following the Kremlin’s request soon after the October 7 atrocities that the terror group work to release as many as eight hostages with Russian citizenship, and says he hopes more will be released going forward.

Representatives of three other Israeli-Russian families whose family members are among the hostages being held captive by Hamas in Gaza flew out to Moscow yesterday together with Krivoi’s two siblings to seek the Kremlin’s assistance in having their relatives released, Channel 12 reported.

Krivoi’s brother and sister, Igor and Yulia, were unaware that their brother was being released until they arrived in Moscow and were told after they landed.

The representatives of the three other families have remained in Moscow to seek the Kremlin’s assistance in releasing their relatives.

“We are grateful for all the work of the Russian Federation. For continuing it and helping to return all the other hostages. We see the results,” says Igor Krivoi, during his meeting with Bogdanov today, according to a press release put out by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“Let’s hope so,” Bogdanov replies, and says that nothing had been given to Hamas in return for Krivoi’s release.

Egypt: We’re near a deal between Israel and Hamas for today’s releases and to extend truce by two more days

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gestures during a meeting with the French armies minister at the Ittihadia presidential Palace in Cairo on November 15, 2023. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gestures during a meeting with the French armies minister at the Ittihadia presidential Palace in Cairo on November 15, 2023. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

A top aid to Egyptian President Diaa Rashwan announces that Cairo and Doha are very close to securing a two-day extension to the ongoing truce between Israel and Hamas.

The truce extension would see 10 Israeli hostages and 30 Palestinian prisoners released both tomorrow and Wednesday, Diaa Rashwan says, adding that 11 Israeli hostages will also be released later today.

Smotrich dismisses Gantz criticism over discretionary spending, saying it’s not time to fight ‘over 1% of budget’

File: Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich arrives to a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 27, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
File: Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich arrives to a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 27, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says that the budget he updated for the war will be advanced by the cabinet today, despite criticism over its continued funding of political promises during wartime.

“It’s possible to love them or not love them, but this debate is not connected to the war,” Smotrich says, in comments specifically tied to budget transfers benefiting ultra-Orthodox educational institutions.

Turning to war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, who said his party’s five minister would vote against the budget today, Smotrich says it’s time to unite and that it’s not worth fighting over “one percent of the budget.”

“Benny, it’s not a secret that we represent two different ways of thinking in Israeli society…but today” there is a need to work together, Smotrich says.

Economy minister threatens to vote against Smotrich’s controversial budget, but it still has votes to pass

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)

Economy Minister Nir Barkat is threatening to vote against the updated 2023 budget when it comes to the cabinet later today, a source in his office tells The Times of Israel.

The 38-member cabinet is still predicted to have enough votes to advance the budget for Knesset certification, even without Barkat and five votes from National Unity, which said it would not support it.

Barkat has previously railed against Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s wartime economy plan, saying the Smotrich’s solutions do not help businesses.

Report: Israel still ‘cautiously optimistic’ fourth group of hostages will be released later today

People gather with signs for a demonstration calling upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to take action for the release of hostages abducted by Palestinian terrorists on October 7 and currently held in the Gaza Strip, outside the ICRC offices in Tel Aviv on November 9, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
People gather with signs for a demonstration calling upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to take action for the release of hostages abducted by Palestinian terrorists on October 7 and currently held in the Gaza Strip, outside the ICRC offices in Tel Aviv on November 9, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Amid an apparent delay in the release of the fourth group of hostages due to what Israel says is Hamas’s effort to violate the deal by releasing children without their mothers, an Israeli official tells the Walla news site that he is “cautiously optimistic” the crisis will be solved.

4th hostage release held up, as Hamas seeking to again separate mothers from children — official

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

One of the main issues dragging out talks over the release of the fourth batch of Israeli hostages later today is that the list of names Hamas said it plans to release would separate several children from their mothers, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

Israel says the truce with Hamas bars the terror group from separating mothers from their children — something that it has already done once earlier in the temporary ceasefire.

In joint live chat on X, Elon Musk agrees with Netanyahu that Hamas must be destroyed

US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Elon Musk says during a live chat on X (formerly Twitter) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there is “no choice” other than to destroy the Hamas terror group in order to bring about a better future for Gaza, and agrees with Netanyahu that the terror organization has genocidal intentions toward the Jewish people.

US billionaire Musk, the owner of X and head of SpaceX, says though that he would like to help rebuild Gaza after the current war, and asserts that rehabilitating the territory is an important step to preventing future war.

“If you want security, peace and a better life for Gazans, then you need to destroy Hamas. You first have to get rid of the poisonous regime as was done in Germany and Japan,” says Netanyahu, to which Musk responds: “There’s no choice.”

Musk also remarks that civilian casualties are “unavoidable” and that Israel is trying to avoid them in its war against Hamas.

“You need to pair firmness and taking out the terrorists and those intent on murder, and at the same time help those that remain, which is what happened in Germany and Japan,” he adds.

“Usually the victor punishes the loser,” he continues, and points to the rehabilitation of Germany and Japan by the allies after World War II as examples of how reconstruction efforts after a major war and a clear-cut victory helped secure peace for a long period of time.

‘Don’t let that happen:’ Lapid urges ministers to oppose budget changes

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid asks the government to reconsider the decision to approve the updated 2023 budget today, in light of political promises that remain embedded within the framework.

“I appeal to all government ministers, to all coalition members — you are signatories to these funds… You have the power to stop it… You can’t do this to the citizens of Israel,” Lapid says, speaking at the outset of his Yesh Atid party’s faction meeting at the Knesset.

He calls the decision to fund political priorities “more proof that the State of Israel is fighting for its life [in the war against Hamas] with an army of heroes but with the wrong government and the wrong prime minister.”

Later today, the cabinet is expected to approve changes to the remaining 2023 budget, in order to direct about NIS 30 billion toward wartime priorities.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich did not cut several politically motivated funding guarantees, which were approved with the state budget in May as part of a discretionary package of so-called coalition funds.

An October cabinet decision froze not-yet-transferred coalition funds, including a controversial NIS 300 million promise for ultra-Orthodox private schools.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is paving the way for hundreds of millions of shekels to flow to settler priorities in the West Bank.

Only the National Unity party’s five cabinet ministers are committed to voting against the budget, and it is expected to clear the cabinet and move on toward the Knesset for final approval.

By approving the budgetary changes without axing the discretionary items, Lapid says, the premier and Smotrich are “currently transferring NIS 1.5 billion of coalition funds for 2023, and another NIS 5 billion for 2024.”

Oct. 7 clip shows gas station workers hide from terrorists who stormed, looted store

Surveillance camera footage from the October 7 onslaught on southern Israel shows at least a dozen Hamas terrorists converging on a gas station at the Magen junction near the Gaza border.

The clip, published by the South First Responders group on Telegram, shows two employees at the gas station — reported to be a Jewish man and a Bedouin — spotting the gunmen approaching.

The men are seen fleeing through the gas station store’s back entrance, as the Hamas terrorists storm the store and open fire.

According to reports, the pair hid in a freezer for several hours, before being rescued.

The terrorists, meanwhile, are seen looting the gas station’s store, before escaping to continue their brutal attacks.

As time of scheduled hostage release nears, Israel says negotiations over list still ongoing

With the fate of today’s fourth Gaza hostage release still unknown, less than an hour before it is meant to happen, the Prime Minister’s Office says negotiations regarding the list of abductees to be freed today are still ongoing.

“We are aware of the tension experienced by the families, and we will add information when this becomes possible,” the statement says. “We request avoiding spreading rumors and unreliable information.”

Israel has widely been reported to take issue with the list of hostages to be freed today, the fourth and final group out of 50 Hamas has promised to let go during a four-day truce. The truce can be extended by a day for each 10 additional hostages released.

Lapid hosts relative of Gaza hostage who urges keeping issue on top of public agenda

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid cedes time at his Yesh Atid opposition party’s weekly Knesset press conference to a family member of one of the roughly 180 hostages still in Gaza, who pleads to keep hostage releases at the top of the government’s wartime agenda.

“We have to remember that we have to continue speaking about the hostages until the last one of them has returned home,” including soldiers, Udi Goren says.

“Don’t let this subject go, even for a minute, because time is a critical element here,” he adds.

Liberman urges stronger response to Hezbollah, Houthis: ‘We can’t be a punching bag’

Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman of the opposition says the government needs to do more to respond to provocations from Iran-backed terror groups in Lebanon and Yemen.

“Everything that’s going on in the north is unacceptable,” says Liberman, adding that Israel must push Hezbollah back over the Lebanon’s Litani River, established by the UN as a southern border line for the terror group.

“The State of Israel can’t be a punching bag, and everything that is going on with the Houthis is insufferable. And the government of Israel has decided to ignore this event,” Liberman says, a day after the Yemeni group attempted to hijack another Israel-linked ship in the Red Sea.

Israel, the US and — according to reports — Saudi Arabia have shot down Houthi-launched missiles since the October 7 start of Israel’s war with fellow Iran-backed terror group, Hamas.

Listen: Netanyahu and Elon Musk do a live broadcast on X

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Elon Musk, who is visiting Israel, have just finished a live broadcast on X. You can listen to it here:

Daughter of critically ill freed hostage tears into Red Cross: ‘She was medically neglected’

Elma Avraham (Courtesy)
Elma Avraham (Courtesy)

The daughter of elderly Gaza hostage Elma Avraham, who is in critical condition after being released by terrorists yesterday as part of the ongoing hostage deal, holds an impassioned press conference tearing into the Red Cross for failing to take care of her mother.

Speaking from Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, where the 84-year-old is hospitalized in life-threatening condition, Tali Amano describes the appalling condition in which Hamas returned Avraham, after failing to provide her with her daily medications for over 50 days.

“My mother didn’t deserve to return like this,” she says. “My mother was medically neglected. The Red Cross refused to bring her her medications. She arrived with a heart rate of 40 bpm and a body temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, on the verge of losing consciousness and injured all over.

“She was abandoned twice — once on October 7, and a second time by all the organizations that should have saved her,” Amano charges.

Tal Amano, daughter of released hostage Elma Avraham, speaks to the media on November 27, 2023 (Walla screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

“I hope they haven’t managed to defeat her,” she says, in an expression of hope that she’ll recover.

IDF showcases elite Shaldag unit’s operations on Oct. 7, and later in Gaza

The IDF releases footage showing the operations of the Air Force’s elite Shaldag unit in the Gaza Strip amid the war.

According to the IDF, the unit led the raid into Shifa Hospital, finding weaponry and uncovering a Hamas tunnel network.

It also was one of the first units to respond to the October 7 onslaught, battling Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be’eri and other areas.

Palestinian Authority top diplomat urges extension of Israel-Hamas truce

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court, May 22, 2018. (Mike Corder/AP)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court, May 22, 2018. (Mike Corder/AP)

Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riad al-Malki says the pause in fighting that is set to expire tonight in the Israel-Hamas war must be extended to avoid more deaths in Gaza.

“We have work so that this truce continues… so that Israel does not continue attacking,” al-Malki says at a meeting of delegations from members of the European Union and countries from nNh Africa and the Middle East in Barcelona, Spain.

“The truce went into effect with 15,000 deaths. If we see the war resume, then the number of deaths will double because the concentration of the population is now twicefold,” he says, citing unverified numbers claimed by Hamas that do not distinguish between civilians and terrorists, and include civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.

“The population of Gaza has concentrated in the south of Gaza,” he says, speaking in Spanish, referring to the Israel-ordered evacuation of northern Gaza aimed at minimizing civilian casualties. “So any attack that before killed one child will now kill two. That is why it is important to extend this truce.”

Al-Malki is one of 42 representatives of different countries and territories attending the Union for the Mediterranean meeting, which is focused on the war that has raged since the Hamas massacres in Israel on October 7.

The pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas continued yesterday with a third day of releases of Gaza hostages and Palestinian prisoners accused or convicted of terrorism. It is scheduled for four days and what comes after today remains uncertain.

NATO chief calls for extension of pause in Gaza fighting

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg calls for a halt in the fighting in Gaza to be prolonged to allow for more aid and the release of hostages held by terrorists in the Strip.

“I call for an extension of the pause. This would allow for much needed relief to the people of Gaza and the release of more hostages,” Stoltenberg tells journalists.

In questioning, Hamas members detail abducting Thais on Oct. 7, taking them to Shifa

The Shin Bet security agency reveals the interrogation of two Hamas terrorists who abducted foreign workers from Israel on October 7 and took them by ambulance to Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

In the video, Adham Hawwas and Ismail Hawwas detail how they entered Israel during the onslaught and took hostage Thai nationals and a Nepali from Kibbutz Alumim’s farms.

The Shin Bet video also shows surveillance camera footage of the abduction and the moment the hostages were brought to Shifa.

“I crossed the fence through a breach that made it possible to pass on foot. After that, I got on a white Magnum Jeep and we drove to the settlement gate which was closed. We climbed over the gate and entered the area with the farmers’ rooms,” Adham tells a Shin Bet interrogator.

The Hamas member says that two other operatives abducted foreign workers from the area, and he later took one more hostage.

“We put the hostages in the ambulance, where [another operative] asked one of them: ‘What is your name?’ But he did not understand. The second hostage hinted to him: ‘Thailand.’ Then we realized that they both have the same citizenship and most likely they are laborers. They told us to go with the ambulance to Shifa Hospital,” Adham says.

“The first hostage at Shifa was walking on his feet. The second hostage was carried on a stretcher. They put the second one in the room, where there was one from al-Qassam outside and two from al-Qassam inside,” Ismail says, referring to Hamas’s military wing.

“I heard only one word from the wounded hostage: ‘Thailand. Thailand.’ And he was silent,” Ismail says.

The IDF and Shin Bet have detained hundreds of Hamas members during the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, many of whom participated in the October 7 attacks.

Top Haredi MK slams extension of central bank governor’s term, saying he ‘hurt the weak’

Knesset Finance Committee chair MK Moshe Gafni seen during a committee meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on September 26, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Knesset Finance Committee chair MK Moshe Gafni seen during a committee meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on September 26, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni lambasts the government’s decision to extend Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron’s tenure for a second term, calling it a “bad decision.”

Gafni, who chairs the Knesset Finance Committee, harshly criticizes Yaron’s tenure for “hurting the weak,” being “characterized by continuous interest rate hikes,” and putting a “terrible” burden on the public.

“He is not a good governor; he is a bad governor. The government is making a bad decision,” Gafni says. “The banks’ earnings are skyrocketing, and where does the money of the banks come from? From the young couples who take out mortgages. And I will do what is necessary to act on this matter.”

Gafni’s attack comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich last week agreed to extend Yaron’s tenure, which ends on December 23, for another five-year term, following months of speculation.

Leading economists, including former senior Bank of Israel and Finance Ministry officials, as well as financial market participants, who consider Yaron as a stabilizing figure, have in recent weeks been pressing the government to extend his term — even more so in view of the challenging war period.

Brodutch family reunites at hospital after mother, 3 kids freed by Hamas

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

Schneider Children’s Medical Center releases moving photos from the reunification of the Brodutch family after over 50 days.

Mother Hagar Brodutch, 40, was released yesterday by terrorists in Gaza along with her three children Ofri, 10, Yuval, 9 and Oriya, 4, as part of a hostage deal with Hamas.

The hospital releases images showing their initial meeting with the family father, Avichai.

The photo are published with the family’s permission.

The reunification of the Brodutch family, with father Avichai holding his 4-year-old son Oriya who was held by terrorists in Gaza for 51 days, November 27, 2023. (Spokesperson’s Office, Schneider Children’s Medical Center)
The reunification of the Brodutch family, with father Avichai embracing his wife Hagar and their children who were held by terrorists in Gaza for 51 days, November 27, 2023. (Spokesperson’s Office, Schneider Children’s Medical Center)
The reunification of the Brodutch family, with father Avichai hugging his 9-year-old son Yuval who was held by terrorists in Gaza for 51 days, November 27, 2023. (Spokesperson’s Office, Schneider Children’s Medical Center)

Netanyahu meets Elon Musk for tour of Israeli kibbutz devastated on October 7

US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts controversial US billionaire Elon Musk on a tour of an Israeli kibbutz ravaged during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The tour of Kfar Aza shows Musk the horrors of the Hamas attack, which saw terrorists storm the community and 20 or so others, butchering and burning entire families and kidnapping scores of civilians to Gaza.

Musk hears briefings from a local council leader and from a representative of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit about the massacres in the kibbutz.

He is taken to the home of the community’s security chief Ofir Libstein, who was killed in a gunfight with the terrorists.

Musk also hears the story of Israeli-American toddler Avigail Idan, 4, who was kidnapped to Gaza and was released yesterday as part of a hostage deal.

Arab Israeli gets 17 years in prison over part in 2021 Acre mob assault

File: Mor Ganashvili, who was seriously injured during a lynching in Acre last year, arrives for a court hearing of one of his attackers at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, May 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: Mor Ganashvili, who was seriously injured during a lynching in Acre last year, arrives for a court hearing of one of his attackers at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, May 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Arab Israeli man is sentenced to 17 years behind bars for his role in the mob assault of a Jewish resident of Acre during the May 2021 riots that left the victim, Mor Ganashvili, with life-threatening and permanent injuries.

Qusay Abbas, 21 — who in July was convicted of attempted murder with a terror motive, in the most serious verdict yet among the nine individuals that are suspected of involvement in the attack — also gets a year of suspended sentence and is ordered to pay his victim NIS 180,000 ($48,000).

Ganashvili was beaten with iron bars and other blunt instruments that rendered him unconscious and left him with two brain hemorrhages and internal bleeding, among numerous other injuries.

According to Ynet, judges in the Haifa District Court wrote that “this incident is nothing short of a lynching, in which a group of rioters that included the defendant severely beat up Mor solely due to his being Jewish.”

Ganashvili, holding a large Israel flag, expresses satisfaction with the sentence, “which conveys the message that Jewish blood isn’t cheap.”

The riots in Acre were part of a series of violent inter-communal disturbances, particularly in mixed Jewish-Arab cities, that took place in the days following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May 2021.

BBC editor doesn’t regret misreporting on Gaza hospital blast, despite admitting he was wrong

BBC international editor Jeremy Bowen (screenshot used in accordsance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
BBC international editor Jeremy Bowen (screenshot used in accordsance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

BBC international editor Jeremy Bowen has said he doesn’t regret anything about his report last month that promoted disinformation regarding Gaza’s Al Ahli hospital blast. Hamas immediately blamed the blast, without evidence, on Israel, and it was in turn blamed on Israel by many media outlets, before overwhelming evidence emerged that a misfired Palestinian rocket was responsible.

“No, I don’t regret one thing in my reporting, because I think I was measured throughout, I didn’t race to judgement,” claims Bowen in a clip released yesterday from an interview he gave Saturday to the BBC’s own “Behind the Stories” program.

When the interviewer points out that Bowen falsely reported that the hospital building had been flattened, he says: “Oh yeah, well I got that wrong.”

He goes on to explain that “I was looking at the pictures, and what I could see was a square that appeared to be flaming on all sides, and there was a sort of a void in the middle, and I think it was a picture taken from a drone, and so, you know… we had to put together what we see. And I thought, well, that looks like the whole building’s gone, and that was my conclusion from looking at the pictures and I was wrong on that.

“But, I don’t feel particularly bad about that,” he adds.

“The missile hit the hospital not long after dark. You can hear the impact. The explosion destroyed Al-Ahli Hospital. It was already damaged from a smaller attack at the weekend. The building was flattened,” Bowen reported within hours of the first reports of the October 17 blast.

The BBC issued a correction, later amended with an apology, for aspects of its coverage of the incident.

‘I’m happy I got my life back,’ says IDF soldier rescued from Gaza in first public message

Soldier Ori Megidish, who was rescued last month by Israeli troops from Gaza after being abducted by terrorists on October 7, releases her first public message since being rescued, hoping all hostages will return and saying she’s “happy I got my life back.”

In a TikTok video alongside a long bloopers section, she says: “Hi, I’m Ori Megidish. I returned home almost a month ago, and first of all I’m happy to see all the moving videos of the hostages who are returning to their families, and I hope and wish that all the families still waiting for hostages will unite [with them] and also experience moments like I did.

“I hope everyone comes back, and they will come back, God willing. I’m okay, and I’m at home with my family, and I’m having fun, and I’m happy I got my life back.”

Hospital says freed hostage Elma Avraham, 84, still in critical condition

Elma Avraham (Courtesy)
Elma Avraham (Courtesy)

Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba reports that 84-year-old former hostage Elma Avraham’s condition continues to be critical.

Avraham was freed last night and flown by helicopter directly from Gaza because of her medical situation.

She is hospitalized in the intensive care unit and her life is still in danger.

Aunt says released hostage escaped Gaza captors, hid for 4 days before being recaptured

Russian-Israeli Roni Krivoi is seen inside the International Red Cross vehicle at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt ahead of his transfer to Israel on November 26, 2023. (Screenshot)
Russian-Israeli Roni Krivoi is seen inside the International Red Cross vehicle at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt ahead of his transfer to Israel on November 26, 2023. (Screenshot)

Elena Magid, the aunt of Israeli-Russian hostage Roni Krivoi who was set free yesterday by Hamas as a gesture to Russian President Vladimir Putin, reveals that Krivoi managed to escape his captors and hide in Gaza for four days before being recaptured.

Magid tells Kan radio that Krivoi told her he had initially been held in a building that ended up collapsing as a result of IDF airstrikes, and that he managed to make it out and flee.

“He managed to escape and hid alone for several days. In the end, the Gazans captured him and returned him to the terrorists’ hands,” she says.

Israel has flagged concerns with list of hostages up for release today — reports

Israel has taken issue with the list it has received of hostages who are set for release later today, according to Hebrew media outlets and the Reuters news agency.

Reuters cites an unnamed official briefed on the matter as saying Jerusalem has raised concerns over the names on the list, and that the Hamas terror group has similarly claimed that a list of Palestinian security prisoners Israel intends to release is problematic.

The agency says Qatari mediators are trying to resolve the matters to avoid delays in today’s exchange.

Smotrich presents budget changes, argues they’re mostly geared toward war efforts

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says that the 2023 budget changes he is bringing for government discussion today are mostly oriented toward the ongoing war effort, amid criticism for not fully cutting funding to fulfill political promises from the plan.

The budget, he says, reorients NIS 17 billion ($4.5 billion) toward defense and an additional NIS 13.5 billion ($3.6 billion) for civilian war needs.

Among the emergency measures, Smotrich says the budget amendment puts NIS 3.5 billion ($930 million) toward funding hotel stays for the over 100,000 Israelis evacuated from their border communities in the south and north.

NIS 2 billion ($530 million) will flow to the National Security Ministry to establish and arm community defense teams, as well as to arm the police. American officials have expressed concern that the National Security Ministry is also arming West Bank settlers who have harassed Palestinians, and have reportedly frozen shipment of some rifle orders to Israel.

In early November, a White House spokesperson said that Israel promised the US to not arm West Bank community defense teams with US-sourced weapons.

Regarding criticism that Smotrich has not fully cut funding for pre-war political promises to coalition parties, which were approved in May but reevaluated by an October cabinet decision, Smotrich says that today’s discussion does not need to reapprove the 30% of political allocations that he has not decided to change.

In October, the cabinet decided to freeze all coalition funds that had not been transferred out of the treasury, so that they could be redirected to the war effort. Among them are a controversial NIS 300 million ($80 million) earmark for Haredi private schools, and hundreds of millions of shekels for West Bank settlers.

Smotrich has not cut these items and they are not currently in the plan to funnel money to the war effort.

Government set to discuss budget changes, as Gantz keeps slamming non-war expenses

Left: Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset on November 20, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90); Right: Minister Benny Gantz attends a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Left: Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset on November 20, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90); Right: Minister Benny Gantz attends a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The government is set to discuss upcoming changes to the 2023 end-of-year budget, even over continued objections from war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, who demands that all political priorities not tied to wartime necessities be cut from the plan.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says he cut discretionary coalition funds by 70% out of the pool of money that was allocated for 2023 but has not yet been moved out of the treasury. Gantz says this amounts to about NIS 1 billion ($266 million), a fraction of the some NIS 30 billion ($8 billion) that Israel is expected to need to close out the year.

A source close to Gantz says that the budget being presented to the government today is “a finger in the public’s eye,” according to a statement released by Gantz’s National Unity party.

The budget is not yet public. The source says it bumps funding for yeshivas by NIS 500 million ($133 million), allocates NIS 400 million ($107 million) to the National Missions Ministry — “whose purpose is unclear” and is run by Smotrich’s party — and triples the agreed-upon increase to private ultra-Orthodox school salaries.

Reports based on leaked budget clauses say that Smotrich will continue to fund a controversial NIS 300 million bump to private ultra-Orthodox schools, as well as sending hundreds of millions of shekels to West Bank settler priorities.

Gantz supports “proper education” and budgeting security for West Bank communities, but “this is not what is being presented to the government today,” the source writes.

Smotrich, in a long Facebook post, says that critics are “recycling the same false campaign” as was used against the original budget, passed in May.

Last night, Gantz sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that his party’s five cabinet ministers would vote against the budget changes.

“We will oppose disbursing coalition funds or any additional budget that is not connected to the war effort or advancing economic growth,” he wrote.

Israel says it got list of hostages to be freed, is holding ‘discussions’ about it

The Prime Minister’s Office says “discussions” are ongoing regarding a list of Gaza hostages to be released today that was received overnight and is being “evaluated.”

“Additional information will be issued when possible,” the PMO says on behalf of Gal Hirsch, the government coordinator for hostages.

It isn’t immediately clear what the discussions are about and whether Israel has a problem with the list, which reportedly includes 11 abductees. This completes the list of 50 hostages to be released in the four-day truce, which can yet be extended if Hamas releases additional hostages.

Report: US police arrest suspect in shooting of 3 Palestinians in Vermont

US police in Burlington have arrested a suspect in the shooting yesterday of three Palestinian men near the University of Vermont, CNN reports.

Jason J. Eaton, 48, was nabbed yesterday afternoon at the site of the attack and is set to be arraigned in court today, the report says, citing a statement by the Burlington Police Department.

Authorities have said the shooting is being treated as a suspected hate crime.

Israel said to receive list of final 11 hostages set to go free today

People cheer as a vehicle carrying hostages released by Hamas drives towards an army base in Ofakim, southern Israel, on November 26, 2023, after they were released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
People cheer as a vehicle carrying hostages released by Hamas drives towards an army base in Ofakim, southern Israel, on November 26, 2023, after they were released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Israel has received the list of final 11 hostages set to be released today after 52 days in the clutches of terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Hebrew media outlets report.

The reports say the families haven’t yet been notified whether their loved ones are on the list.

Hamas has freed 39 abductees in the first three days of a temporary ceasefire deal, according to which 50 will be let go in four days in return for 150 Palestinian security prisoners. The deal can be extended by a day for every 10 additional hostages set free.

Hamas has expressed a desire to extend the truce, and the sides are reportedly negotiating such an extension.

Freed hostage Elma Avraham, 84, still fighting for her life

Elma Avraham (Courtesy)
Elma Avraham (Courtesy)

Prof. Moti Klein, the head of the trauma unit at Soroka Hospital, says Elma Avraham, 84, remains “unstable” and fighting for her life after she was released from Gazan captivity in serious condition.

“Another day and we would not be talking like this,” he tells Channel 12 news.

Avraham, who was evacuated directly from Gaza to Soroka by helicopter, is unconscious and on a respirator, Klein says. He says she arrived at the hospital Sunday in a state of partial consciousness.

While he cannot say for sure, Klein suspects that her condition is a result of not having proper medication in Gaza.

US says tanker attackers captured, missiles fired from Yemen

The US military’s Central Command says its forces, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason, responded to the seizure of the Central Park tanker and demanded that armed assailants release the ship after it sent out a distress call Sunday.

“Subsequently, five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” Central Command says. “The Mason pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender.”

The Central Command does not identify the men, but says a missile launch from Houthi-controlled Yemen followed early Monday morning.

“The missiles landed in the Gulf of Aden approximately ten nautical miles from the ships,” the statement says. “The USS Mason … was concluding its response to the M/V Central Park distress call at the time of the missile launches. There was no damage or reported injuries from either vessel during this incident.”

The ship is linked to Zodiac Maritime, which is controlled by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

Report: Talks taking place to extend truce by 4 days, free elderly men

Talks are underway to possibly extend a truce between Israel and Hamas and expand the list of eligible hostages who could be released in coming days, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the report, citing people familiar with the negotiations, Egypt and Qatar are mediating talks that could see the deal extended by up to another four days. Hamas already agreed to release 50 hostages in exchange for 150 prisoners and a halt in fighting for four days, a deal that expires on Tuesday.

According to Egyptian officials quoted by the paper, elderly men could be released along with women and children, followed by the remains of the deceased. Hamas has refused to consider releasing non-elderly Israeli men, the WSJ reports, though many of those captured were civilians.

Hamas has not yet produced a list of hostages it would be willing to release, the paper reports, citing Qataris and Egyptians.

Israel yet to get list of last 11 hostages slated to be released

Israel has yet to receive a list of which 11 hostages are set to be freed Monday, Hebrew language news outlets report.

Hamas agreed to free a total of 50 women and children kidnapped in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians in Israeli prison, unless the deal is extended.

Israeli-linked maritime firm says crew, ship safe after attack near Yemen

In an undated photo released by Zodiac Maritime, the tanker Central Park is seen. Attackers seized the tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden, Yemen, on November 26, 2023, authorities said. (Zodiac Maritime via AP)
In an undated photo released by Zodiac Maritime, the tanker Central Park is seen. Attackers seized the tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden, Yemen, on November 26, 2023, authorities said. (Zodiac Maritime via AP)

Zodiac Maritime says the Central Park vessel carrying phosphoric acid and its crew of 22 sailors from Bulgaria, Georgia, India, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam were “unharmed,” after the ship was attacked off the coast of Yemen Sunday.

“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” the company, part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group, says early Monday. It offers no details on how the attackers left the vessel, nor identified them.

The Pentagon tells The Associated Press that the vessel is “currently safe” without elaborating on what happened to the attackers.

American forces aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason responded to the distress call from the Central Park, two US defense officials say on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the incident.

Jewish groups joins calls for hate crime probe into Vermont shooting of Palestinians

Jewish groups are joining growing calls denouncing the shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont and urging the attack be investigated as a possible hate crime.

Police are searching for the shooting suspect after the attack, which occurred at about 6:25 p.m. Saturday, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said.

“At a time of rising incidents of identity-based hate all too often targeting the Muslim & Jewish communities in increasingly violent ways, we join in the call to law enforcement to investigate this as a possible hate crime,” the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League says on X.

The American Jewish Committee says via X it is “horrified” by the attack and urges “law enforcement to investigate this act as a possible hate crime.”

The Vermont-New Hampshire chapter of Jewish Voice For Peace, which has urged an end to the Israel-Hamas war, releases a statement saying it is “appalled by the shooting.”

“We are in solidarity with the students, their families and all those affected by this clear act of hate,” the organization says. “We are in solidarity with all Palestinian people in occupied Palestine, around the world, and here in Vermont — and we are committed to creating a Vermont that is safe and welcoming for all.”

 

Thailand confirms three hostages freed from Gaza

Thai nationals freed from Gazan captivity hug at a hospital in Israel in a photo released by the Thai government on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)
Thai nationals freed from Gazan captivity hug at a hospital in Israel in a photo released by the Thai government on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)

Thailand’s Foreign Ministry confirms that three nationals held captive in Gaza have been released.

Pictures show the group being checked out at an Israeli hospital

“The group is now at the designated medical center where the Royal Thai Embassy officials are on hand to contact their families,” the Thai Foreign Ministry says in a statement. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warmly congratulates the recently released hostages and their families and thanks all parties involved in the efforts towards this latest release.”

It says efforts are ongoing to free another 15 Thais held in Gaza, while 17 nationals already released are set to soon return to Thailand.

Hospital says kids, mothers released from Gaza ‘stable’

Gal and Tal Almog-Goldstein play with toys at the IDF Hatzerim airbase following their release from Gaza on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)
Gal and Tal Almog-Goldstein play with toys at the IDF Hatzerim airbase following their release from Gaza on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Families are being reunited and freed hostages are being checked out by medical staff after 17 people, including nine children, were released from Gaza earlier in the evening.

The head of Schnieder Children’s Hospital says nine children and two mothers were brought to the facility in Petah Tikva. “The physical condition of the nine children and two mothers is stable,” says Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev. She says they will also undergo psychological assessments.

Among the freed hostages at Schnieder are four members of the Almog-Goldstein family: mother Chen and young children Gal, 9, and Tal, 11, as well as daughter Agam, 17. Their father, Nadav, and their older sister, Yam, were killed during Hamas’s October 7 assault on southern Israel.

“The Almog-Goldstein family is again among us in Israel,” the kids’ aunt Inbar Goldstein tells Channel 12 news. “They are okay, in good condition and they are smiling. They know about the enormous tragedy that befell their family on that same black Shabbat. Now they will take time for a deep breath, to truly smile, and to start to pick up the pieces and continue the campaign until all the hostages are returned healthy and whole.”

 

Israeli-linked tanker attacked near Yemen freed by American sailors

US officials tell Reuters that an Israeli-linked tanker seized by Yemeni rebels has been freed by a US warship and is now safe, the news agency reports.

One US official says the USS Mason responded to the ship’s distress call and freed the tanker.

They do not say who the USZ believes is behind the attack, which has not been claimed.

A US defense official earlier said that it appeared “an unknown number of unidentified armed individuals” seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

“US and coalition forces are in the vicinity and we are closely monitoring the situation,” the official said.

Private intelligence firm Ambrey said before that it appeared that “US naval forces are engaged in the situation and have asked vessels to stay clear of the area.”

 

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