Chanukah greetings to all who are celebrating.
The IDF death toll in the ground operation has reached 104.
IDF Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Ben Zussman who fell in battle in last week, left a letter for his family:
“I’m writing you this message on the way to the base. If you’re reading this, something must have happened to me. As you know about me, there’s probably no one happier than me right now. It’s not just that I was really happy for the realization of my dream soon. I’m happy and grateful for the privilege to protect our beautiful land and the people of Israel,” Letter quoted here
An IDF spokesman reported Saturday that rockets fired toward central Israel on Friday were launched from a humanitarian zone in Gaza posting an aerial map of the area on X in support of his statement. He also noted that “Hamas terrorists fired…four rockets from the humanitarian zone, which fell inside the Strip, endangering the lives of many Gazan civilians.Report here
An IDF battalion commander said his forces were in northern Gaza, on Nov. 24 when the truce began. “At 7 a.m. the ceasefire started, and at 7:15 a.m.(after the truce began), dozens of terrorists ran toward us, from every direction. Some of them were opening fire…between 7:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. we killed 20 terrorists.”
“They don’t really try to face us, but to sting here and there. Their method of operating is fleeing in civilian clothes, leaving behind their uniforms, their guns, anti-tank missiles, explosives, and they just run.”
” In dozens of yards of homes we found dozens of rocket launchers. We found Kalashnikovs under mattresses, inside clothes closets.” He showed two multiple rocket launchers, as well as a mortar launcher that the troops had found adjacent to homes. One of the rocket launchers still has cables running from it to the basement of one of the homes. Report here
As we look toward a row of ruined buildings an IDF commander said “Every building that received fire is one in which we located terrorists….The main challenge is that the enemy hides, and then arrives by surprise, setting traps and making use of civilian infrastructure – schools, cemeteries….There isn’t a building where there isn’t weaponry. There isn’t a school from which terrorists don’t emerge..”
Another commander said “We find ammunition boxes hidden under the beds of children, rocket launchers placed outside of kindergartens. 95% of the buildings we’ve entered contain military materiel.” Report here
IDF finds a sniper rifle & ammo hidden inside a teddy bear at a UN (UNRWA) school in Gaza (Dec 9, 2023) video. (1 minute) Video here
IDF finds one of the biggest Hamas rocket caches ever hidden by a school in Gaza (Dec 8, 2023) 42 second video.View here
70 female medical professionals fight alongside IDF forces in Gaza and this article tells the stories of 3 of them. Lt. Bar, 27, a career soldier and senior medical officer of an armoured battalion, spent sixty consecutive hours in a tank on the Gaza front, providing life-saving medical care to IDF soldiers. Staff Sgt. Ella, 24, a paramedic reservist, saved the lives of two wounded battalion commanders and two fighters. Capt. Shaked, 26, also a reserve paramedic, treated four soldiers while under fire.Article here
IDF reservists operating inside Gaza discovered a young Palestinian girl asleep inside a fortified military area on Sunday, and after determining that she was lost, cleaned her and treated wounds on her feet before transferring her to a Gazan medical team. Report here
Two months after his parents Yaniv and Yasmin Zohar and his two sisters Keshet and Tchelet were brutally murdered in their home by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Ariel Zohar marked his bar mitzvah on Thursday.
One of the guests was former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor, who immigrated to Israel with his older brother Naftali after the rest of their family was murdered by the Nazis. He told Ariel: “When my bar mitzvah came around… I, like you, was already without parents. And yet I had a good life and achieved much. And you too will achieve, and you too will have a good life, because you see how many good people love you.”Article here
The U.S. on Friday vetoed a UN resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. The U.S. argued that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas attacks. The vote was 13 to 1, with Britain abstaining… Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood called the resolution “not only unrealistic, but dangerous – it would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7.”
Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said Israel had been taking steps to keep civilians safe “despite attempts by their own leaders to deliberately sacrifice them as human shields. That’s why we published a very detailed map to help civilians evacuate; it’s why we surrendered the element of surprise by urging the evacuation of areas before moving in. We believe we are setting the highest possible standard for the minimization of civilian casualties in counterterrorism operations in urban areas.” Report here (paywall)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday that he “will not give up” on reaching a ceasefire in Gaza after the U.S. veto on Friday.
In response, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan asked on X: “Mr. Secretary-General, why don’t you care about the humanitarian catastrophe in Israel and the millions of Israelis still being attacked by missiles? Or the 300,000 Israelis displaced since the massacre? Why are you so focused only on helping terrorists survive? The meaning of a ceasefire in Gaza is that the Hamas reign of terror will continue.”
“YOU gave up on fighting terrorism! WE will not give up in our mission to eradicate Hamas and bring our hostages home.” Report here
Missiles continue to batter southern and northern communities.
Today Monday, a rocket barrage targeted central Israel and a direct hit caused severe damage to a building in Holon and injured a civilian.
9 rockets fired from Lebanon into Northern Israel and area educational activities were cancelled.
7 interceptions of rockets were made over Sderot.Report here
Tel Aviv was also targeted at 12 noon today Monday and 3 times on Friday when at lunchtime, 2 large explosions were heard throughout the city but no siren as the rockets fell in the sea. Then early afternoon, the siren sounded and very loud bangs were heard as Iron Dome intercepted more rockets. Again, early evening, another siren and more bangs.Report here
The deaths of two more civilians, previously thought to be hostages, have been confirmed. Eitan Levy’s body is held in Gaza and Dror Kaplun was identified with the help of archaeologists.Report here
Sahar Baruch, who was kidnapped and taken hostage in Gaza on October 7, was murdered while in Hamas captivity. Report here
Dr Sapir Bitton’s first shift at the Soroka Hospital , and for 38 hours, she treated the countless number of wounded on Oct 7, while at the same time her family were besieged in Kibbutz Erez.Article here
Israel estimates that 138 captives remain in Gaza.
Nurse Nili Margalit was held in Hamas captivity for nearly two months.In Gaza, she said, she was with a group of hostages most of whom were 75 or older and she became their caregiver. “Underground, with little oxygen, sporadic electricity, sometimes we would go whole days in the dark with only the most basic food of rice or pita once or twice a day.” Margalit described “horrible sanitary conditions,” which she said had led to digestive problems among the abductees, adding that “These people are living on borrowed time”. Report here
The mother of Naama Levy (19) published a heartfelt plea for her daughter’s release: “Each minute is an eternity in hell” Article here
The IDF Spokesperson released a video on Saturday showing Hamas terrorists looting bags of humanitarian aid, loading the supplies onto vehicles, assaulting civilians, and moving the stolen goods to a Hamas-affiliated location. Report here
Medical officials said that three IDF soldiers had been wounded by Hezbollah attacks on the northern border on Friday. On Sunday, two IDF soldiers were moderately wounded and four others were lightly hurt by shrapnel and smoke inhalation in a Hezbollah drone attack on a base in the Western Galilee.Report here
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said Saturday night that Hizbullah’s Radwan force could attempt a similar murderous invasion from the north, targeting Israeli civilians in communities near the border “within minutes.” He said Israel was tackling Hamas “17 years too late,” and “we can no longer accept the Radwan force sitting on the border. We can no longer accept Resolution 1701 not being implemented,” referring to a UN Security Council resolution from 2006, at the end of the Second Lebanon War, that barred any Hizbullah presence within 30 km. of the border with Israel. Some 60,000 residents of border communities have been evacuated from the north since Oct. 7, amid relentless clashes across the border between Hizbullah and Israel. Report here
Egypt has started examining whether Arab countries in North Africa and the Gulf States will agree to receive immigration quotas (from Gaza). Egypt is also interested in promoting scholarships for Gazan students in the West and Turkey, allowing them to move there with their families.
At the same time, Egypt is investing considerable efforts in trying to prevent mass migration from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt told the U.S. that the displacement of Gazans into its territory would threaten its security. Article here
The foreign ministers of Italy, France and Germany called on the European Union to impose ad hoc sanctions against Hamas and its supporters, in a joint letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. “The swift adoption of this sanctions regime will enable us to send a strong political message about the European Union’s commitment against Hamas and our solidarity with Israel,” the letter said. Report here
Israel helped Cyprus foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews on the island, according to the Israeli PM’s office. Israel is “troubled” by Iranian use of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus “both for terrorism objectives and as an operational and transit area.” Report here
The Max Planck Society went ahead with a planned visit to Israel in late November to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Minerva Foundation’s fellowship programme, which has enabled the exchange between Germany and Israel of more than 2,000 young researchers. The society’s President said “We wanted [to come in person] to tell our colleagues that they are not alone. The main message is that we see their suffering and we want to tell them that”Report here
Recognizing Israel’s right to exist is now mandatory for those who want to become German citizens in the former East German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Report here
The President of MIT Israel Alliance Talia Khan (daughter of an Afghan Muslim father and Jewish mother) addressed the (US) House Education Committee hearing on college campus antisemitism. In 3 minutes 40 seconds she described the antisemitism tolerated by MIT.(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) View here
Nitzan Sadan : An overview of Hamas’s capabilities and 5 key reasons how it continues to fire rockets at Israeli civilians despite mounting military pressure by the IDF. (Scroll past the adverts) Article written a month ago.Article here
Dan Perry: In vain will Israelis protest that the hundreds of thousands of protesters in the West seemed to care little for the probably greater loss of innocent life in the Western-led campaign to similarly uproot Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, or about the far deadlier wars in Sudan and central Africa. Or the shocking, systematic oppression of Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria. Even Russia’s criminally vicious aggression in Ukraine seemed not to animate the West’s leftist bleeding hearts. Article here
Alan Dershowitz and Andrew Stein: Israel is doing more than any military in history to try to minimize the civilian casualties that are caused by Hamas. The world – and especially the U.S. – should understand that when Hamas undertook the barbarous attack on Israel with the help, support and approval of many Gazans, they sentenced their civilian population to disastrous consequences, just as the Germans and Japanese did when they started World War II.
Israeli soldiers should not be required to sacrifice their lives and to forgo an Israeli victory to protect the citizens of Gaza from self-inflicted wounds caused by Hamas. Moreover, the greatest beneficiaries of the total defeat of Hamas would be the civilians of Gaza, even if they don’t realize it. The same was true for the civilians of Germany and Japan. Article here
Koen Metsu (Belgian MP): On my trip to Israel in November, I made myself watch a 46-minute film of the horrors of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre. I would rather not have seen it, but I felt it was my duty to do so. I will never be able to erase the images from my mind. I sincerely did not think any human could commit such atrocities. Most hideous of all, perhaps, was that throughout those 46 minutes, terrorists were shouting “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” – again and again. What God, one wonders, would condone such violence?… I am in the peace camp. I support democracy and coexistence. But anyone who disparages Israel after Oct. 7 opens the door for another Oct. 7 anywhere in the world. Article here
Noah Beck…with “just” one September 11, the U.S. launched massive wars against two countries on the other side of the planet, resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. So a crushing military response to the mass atrocities by Hamas was entirely predictable, making Hamas alone responsible for the current conflict. …. the massive amount of weaponry, food and supplies found among the perpetrators shows that Hamas intended to attack several major Israeli cities over weeks and sought to maximize its murder of Israelis, as further evidenced by the instructions on how to make a cyanide chemical weapon that were found. So there can be no doubt about Hamas’ intentions, nor any more illusions that Israel can somehow learn to live with such a neighbour, or that there is any hope for peaceful coexistence with Palestinians in or out of Gaza as long as Hamas survives.
Yet Hamas has the power to stop the current Gazan suffering almost immediately, by releasing all hostages and offering an unconditional surrender, which would prompt the Israeli military to stop its onslaught as soon as Hamas’ capitulation was verified. Article here
Robert Satloff and Dennis Ross:In the fog of war in Gaza, the only certainty is that the survival of a substantial element of Hamas would be a political and diplomatic disaster. If a battered but still operational Hamas is left in control of key parts of Gaza and is therefore able to claim victory, Hamas’ rejectionist ideology will likely gain traction among Palestinians and throughout the Middle East. This would put Arab states on the defensive, and they would hesitate to take risks to advance a reinvigorated Arab-Israeli peace process. Article here