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Interim Israel Update 18.12.23




Five deaths of IDF soldiers on Sunday raised the death toll in Israel’s ground operation to 127, a reminder of the tough opposition faced by troops attempting to topple the Hamas terror group, as Israel continues to reel from the accidental killing of three escaped hostages misidentified as terrorists. Report here



THE IDF on Sunday revealed the largest-ever Hamas attack tunnel discovered by them close to the Erez border crossing with Israel. The tunnel goes down to a depth of 50 metres (165 feet) underground in some areas and is wide enough for vehicles to pass through. Report here



A barrage of 6 rockets targeted Jerusalem on Friday. IDF interceptions protected Jewish, Islamic and Christian holy sites.  Report here




The IDF published on Friday footage of an attempted Hamas ambush in Jabaliya, where children’s dolls and backpacks connected to speakers played sounds of crying in an attempt to attract soldiers into an ambush by terrorists hiding in an underground tunnel shaft. Report here



IDF international spokesman Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus said “it’s evident that Hamas has absolutely no regard for Palestinian civilians. “We see them looting UNRWA warehouses. We see them taking over humanitarian trucks and convoys. We see them stealing fuel. We see them stealing food and medicine that is intended through the generous aid of the U.S. and the help of Egypt and many other parts of the international community.”
“We’ve been saying all along that Hamas abuses the civilian population….Hamas is violating everything that is supposed to be holy, and any of the basic tenets of humanity. They are committing crimes against humanity on a daily basis.” Article here



IDF forces found weapons concealed in incubators inside a Gaza medical centre, highlighting the use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes by Palestinian terrorist groups. A large-scale operation at the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabaliya, which had been utilized by Hamas as a command and control centre, was recently completed by the IDF. 90 Hamas terrorists, some of whom had participated in the Oct 7 massacre,  were arrested by Israeli forces on Saturday.Reports hereand here



Suitcases with funds amounting to over NIS 5 million (about $1.3 million) were found in the home of a senior Hamas member the IDF said on Monday.Report here



The IDF refuted on Sunday a claim that it had targeted a Catholic parish church in the Gaza Strip.Report here







Videos on social media Sunday showed Hamas gunmen stealing trucks delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza from the United Arab Emirates. Masked and armed men can be seen sitting on top of the humanitarian supplies.Report here



As part of the hostage release agreement, Israel committed to transfer 200 truckloads per day of food and humanitarian aid from Egypt for the civilian population in Gaza. The Rafah crossing has the capacity for only 100 trucks a day, with Israeli security screening taking place at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
In order to abide by the agreement, the Israeli Cabinet approved a temporary measure of unloading the trucks on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing.PMO announcement here







The IDF reported Saturday that a reservist soldier was killed in a drone attack near Margaliot close to the Lebanon border.  Two other soldiers sustained minor and serious injuries respectively in the attack.Report here




Of the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel’s north by Hizbullah in recent months, one in five fell short and struck inside Lebanese territory, the IDF spokesperson’s unit said Thursday. In one barrage of rockets fired by Hizbullah last week, eight rockets landed inside Lebanon. Report here






The spillover of the Gaza conflict to the Red Sea, with the Houthis joining the war against Israel, has developed into a strategic regional threat…Egypt is the main party affected by the war waged by the Houthis against Israel. The Suez Canal, which in 2022-2023 brought Egypt $9.5 billion, could now lose most of its revenues. The Saudis are not very keen on joining the American coalition out of a concern that Saudi Arabia would again become a target of the Houthis after the two reached a cease-fire agreement in April 2022. (paywall)Report here



Shipping giant Maersk announced that it will stop transporting goods through the Suez Canal following attacks by the Houthis in Yemen, and was quickly followed by two other large shipping companies. Reportedly, about 99% of goods reach Israel by sea, and around 40% of the cargo arriving in Israel passes through the Suez Canal. The consequence of stopping ship traffic in the Red Sea is to circumnavigate Africa, leading to an extension of shipping times by approximately two weeks to a month…. This roughly translates to an additional cost of $400,0000-$1 million per ship. Report here



US Navy forces shot down 14 drones over the Red Sea Saturday while a British destroyer brought down another suspected attack drone. Report here






Ben Ozeri is one of a number of volunteers dedicated to rescuing the pets caught up in the brutal October 7 terrorist attacks and reuniting them with any surviving owners. One of the most heart-warming moments of his work so far was finding and reuniting their dog Simba with his owners Romi Sussi, 6, and Lia Sussi, 3. Both their parents were murdered by Hamas terrorists. Report here







An Israeli woman was injured in a shooting attack near Ateret on Monday morning as terrorists fired at Israeli vehicles. The car was hit with at least 10 bullets fired by terrorists in another vehicle. The injured woman’s husband was driving and she was in the back seat with her six-week-old baby. Report here



An IDF reservist was stabbed on Sunday at a gas station near the Rantis checkpoint. The Palestinian attacker, who identified with Hamas, was arrested. He had a permit to work in the Israeli community of Shilo. Report here






Haifa Jewish and Arab volunteers have travelled to Baqa al-Ghabiya to aid Arab Israeli farmers suffering from a wartime labour shortage. Report here



Volunteers from Kfar Kassem, an Israeli Arab city, joined forces with the IDF’s Home Front Command and local security forces to simulate emergency responses to such mass casualty incidents.Report here







German airline group Lufthansa plans to resume flights to Tel Aviv from January 8.  Austrian Airlines and SWISS will also restart their service.Report here






Four ancient but well-preserved Roman swords found at Ein Gedi have been named the “Number-One Find for 2023” of National Geographic Magazine.Report here







Col. Richard Kemp: Why has such devastation (inside Gaza) been necessary? You will have a better idea when I tell you that in almost every alleyway and something like every other house in Shijaiyah the IDF have found explosives, weapons and booby-traps, not to mention terror tunnel entrances. I entered one partly destroyed house and saw boxes of Iranian-supplied hand grenades that had been stored in a child’s bedroom…The standards of professionalism and battle discipline of these young conscripts are remarkable, especially when you consider that most are straight out of high school, as well as the older reservists who dropped what they were doing in their offices and factories, grabbing rifles and uniforms to answer the call of duty. Full article here




Lorne Gunter: So long as Hamas remains in charge in Gaza, so long as it even just remains a functioning organization, there can be no lasting peace. That means any talk of negotiating a ceasefire in Gaza under present conditions is naive in the extreme.
Of course, it’s disturbing to see images day after day of displaced Palestinians living in rubble. But those seeking peace that will last for more than a few months must accept that Israel’s current military campaign to root out the remnants of Hamas must continue.
Anyone who has seen the footage of Hamas’ butchers euphorically and triumphantly celebrating their shootings, beheadings, maimings, immolations and rapes of innocent Israelis on Oct. 7 can be left with no doubt Israel is up against a heinous evil in Hamas.
At the end of the Second World War, did the Allies agree to ceasefires with Germany or Japan and leave the Nazis and the emperor in charge before firebombings killed tens of thousands in Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo, just because the thought of so many civilian deaths upset their modern sensibilities? Full article here




Richard Miron: Kibbutz Kfar Aza, once home to 800 people, is now a crime scene…Kibbutz resident Ilanit Suissa said, “My heart is not just broken because of the holocaust that took place here, but also because my whole agenda and ideology has broken down.”
“I really believed in peace, I was one of the people who fought for it” as a writer and filmmaker. All that changed on Oct. 7.
For her, it is not just Hamas that stands guilty. She also blames ordinary Palestinians – “I can’t imagine I will ever speak to someone from Gaza. Unfortunately, I feel every one of them had a part of what happened.”
Men from Gaza used to come to the kibbutz to work. Evidence suggests some took the opportunity to gather information for Hamas, from the layout of homes to entry codes for the kindergartens. Full article here



Paul Nuki: The Erez tunnel network at Gaza’s northern tip is four km. in length,the biggest discovered since the war started, according to the IDF. The tunnel runs 50 metres deep in places and is believed to have been designed for the wider invasion of Israel.
As we move further underground, temperature and humidity rise quickly, and you can see why Hamas is desperate for fuel to power its oxygen generators and ventilation pumps. Even just 50 or 60 metres in, the air is dank and sickly.Article here (paywall)



Amb. Dror Eydar: The pressure on the IDF because of collateral damage to the civilian population is reflected in the softening of preparatory bombardments before ground forces go in. Our soldiers find themselves in great danger because we avoid certain actions before the infantry forces enter the fray.
We see how Hamas exploited humanitarian gestures to improve their positions. Most of the food that entered Gaza was forcefully taken by the terrorists and did not reach the population. Most of the fuel reached Hamas and helped ventilate their terror tunnels and provide electricity to the metalworking machines that produce more weapons to be used against us…The Palestinians have fired tens of thousands of rockets at Israel that could have killed thousands of people. The fact that we managed to block them does not change the goal of those who fired them: murder of Jewish people in their homeland.Full article here



Letty Cottin Pogrebin: You’d think it a no-brainer for decent people, regardless of their political views, to instantly and unequivocally condemn the unspeakable atrocities carried out by Hamas on Oct 7. If no one else, certainly the feminist community should have been quick to denounce the men who perpetrated such horrific acts against hundreds of Israeli women and girls. But to their everlasting shame, many of my feminist “sisters” have turned a blind eye, even as unimpeachable evidence, including survivors’ testimony and footage from Hamas body cams, has mounted… Gloria Steinem and I, both co-founders of Ms. magazine, pressed its current editors for in-depth coverage of the fate of women and girls on the ground in Israel. Ms. ran a piece on “Combating Terrorism and Misogyny Together” without even a passing mention of the events of Oct. 7. Can you imagine Ms. ignoring hundreds of Black or other women of colour who’d been similarly victimized and massacred in one day? How did the blood of Jewish women become meaningless?
Full article here




Ari Heistein/Nathaniel Rabkin: Humanitarian aid allows militant groups in the Middle East to evade responsibility for civil affairs while pursuing their agenda of mayhem. The terrorist groups actually rely on aid streams to fund and equip their members.
Humanitarian aid has become a lifeline for these groups, enabling their deadly attacks. Turning foreign aid into a source of revenue enables militant groups to deepen their hold on the territories in which they operate and increase their capacity for terrorism and aggression. Full article here