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Interim Israel Update 25.12.23




More IDF soldiers have fallen in battle over the weekend bringing the death toll of Israel’s ground offensive to 156. Report here



The IDF recovered the remains of five hostages murdered by Hamas, three soldiers and two civilians.They were found in a Hamas tunnel network which has since been destroyed.Report here



Hamas tactics have included deception, surprise, and ambush. In recent days, IDF soldiers have been hearing recordings of weeping and people speaking Hebrew, intended to lure them into a deadly trap. Hamas fighters dart from building to building in civilian clothes.       Ron Ben-Yishai, a veteran national security commentator entered Gaza recently with the IDF and described a children’s room: “The bombs were hanging in sandbags on the walls to explode at the head level of the soldiers. With the crying of children and all these gimmicks, the goal is to lure the IDF forces into traps.”(paywall) Report here



New Israeli technology is being used in the war. The Iron Sting precision mortar is being used by the IDF for the first time in combat. Troops in the field can direct it using a laser and a GPS.
A new rifle sight using SmartShooter’s Smash technology “weighs less than standard sights, identifies the enemy within seconds, can lock on targets, and quadruples our forces’ chances of hitting their target,” said the IDF. The Smash technology helps the fighter with a rifle lock onto small moving drones.
The Spike FireFly operates like a drone, taking off and hovering. Then the munition, which is part of the drone, can slam into a target. Report here



Israeli soldiers found a large cache of weapons used by Hamas in a building where civilians were sheltering in the northern part of the enclave, including “explosive belts adapted for children,” dozens of mortars, hundreds of grenades, and intelligence documents. The discovery was made in a building, located near a school, a mosque, and a health clinic. Report here




The IDF Southern Command is working on a plan to address the Philadelphi Corridor along the Gaza-Egypt border in order to prevent the rearmament of Hamas terrorists. An IDF special forces officer explained, “The scope of the captured munitions since the beginning of the war is unprecedented. The volume of munitions and anti-tank missiles used against us is on a scale reminiscent of the warfare of global Jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq.”
The numbers show that Hamas smuggled weapons and ammunition through tunnels beneath the Philadelphi Corridor or crossed through an Egyptian-controlled checkpoint. Report here






Yaffa Adar, 85, spent her 49 days in Hamas captivity in Gaza humming the songs of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. Her humming was part of Adar’s method of survival and kept her going through the long, frightening days of captivity. Her story reached the famous tenor who wrote to Yaffa.

Letter quoted in video here View here


And in  Article here






An army of volunteer physical therapists is treating aching IDF soldiers on the front. Realising that exhausted troops need more than food and supply deliveries, Tasha Cohen launched Chayal’s Angels which has treated over 2,000 and counting. Article here







Anila Ali, a Muslim-American of Pakistani heritage who works to promote the rights of women in conflict zones, heads the American Muslim & Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC). She said:”I won’t accept women’s rights activists standing on the sidelines when it happens to Israel…. You can’t choose victims and decide that you only support the rights of women who aren’t Israelis.”
She is angry at Hamas and terrorist organizations that “stole Islam from us, took our religion and use it to create terror and to divide us. They caused Islamophobia.”…. To Palestinian mothers, she says, “If you say that you’re oppressed, what are you doing to get out of it? Think about how you’ll educate your children. Give your children balls to play with and not bombs. Allah granted precious life to live, you need to stop sanctifying death….Killing can’t serve as a model for children anymore….We need to educate them to accept their neighbours. Article here






Around 200,000 Israelis from communities in the Gaza periphery and those close to the Lebanese border have been evacuated from their homes for nearly 3 months.

After spending over 10 weeks at Eilat hotels, Kibbutz Re’im’s 435 members were welcomed temporarily into 142 longer-term apartments in two newly constructed towers in Tel Aviv, having overcome reluctance at the idea of moving to an urban location that is generally anathema to their rural lifestyle. Report here



The populations of at least eight of the evacuated locales in the Gaza border area are to remain in hotels until the government deems it safe for them to return to their homes, which since Oct 7 have come under frequent rocket fire from Gaza.

Some populations, like those of Be’eri and Kfar Aza, which are staying in hotels in the Dead Sea area and near Tel Aviv, respectively, will have to wait longer to return, until the state repairs extensive damage sustained to buildings in both kibbutzim. Report here







Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Thursday that the UN has been failing to keep up with the amount of aid Israel is inspecting, and it is to blame for any limitations on aid entering Gaza, now that Israel has opened up the Kerem Shalom crossing to ease the bottleneck. He said “Today it is possible to provide three times the amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza if the UN – instead of complaining all day – would do its job. Report here






On Friday Hezbollah fired 20 rockets from Lebanon at Israeli communities close to the northern border.

The IDF  later announced that a soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded by one of the rockets that hit a military position near Shtula. Report here




After barrages of rockets from Lebanon targeted multiple communities in northern Israel,   the IDF carried out “wide-scale” strikes against Hizbullah targets Sunday. Report here



More than 1,000 Hizbullah attacks have taken place since Oct. 7 as the terrorist group maintains a controlled second front to aid Hamas. Israeli forces have killed more than 100 Hizbullah fighters. Seven IDF soldiers and four Israeli civilians have been killed…  UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought the 2006 war in Lebanon to an end, pledged to keep Hizbullah north of the Litani River. But Hizbullah is deployed today all the way south to the border. (paywall) Article here



86 houses in Kibbutz Manara, close to the border with Lebanon have been damaged (some completely destroyed)  by rocket and missile fire from the Hezbollah. The community manager said “The kibbutz has been hit a number of times and the damage is serious…We want to return home and we are waiting for deterrence to be restored to the northern border.”

Report here






Iran’s paramilitary forces are providing real-time intelligence and weaponry, including drones and missiles, to Yemen’s Houthis to target ships in the Red Sea, Western and regional security officials said.

(paywall) Report here



U.S. Central Command said the Navy destroyer USS Laboon shot down four unmanned aerial vehicles Saturday in the Red Sea that originated from Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen.  After shooting down the drones, the Laboon responded to distress calls after two commercial vessels came under attack on Saturday, the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi terrorists since Oct. 17.   Report here



Greece will join a US-led naval coalition to protect the Red Sea global shipping lane from Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The task force announced by the last week initially included Britain, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain. Report here







The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella for multiple pro-Iran militias, announced on X that they had launched a drone attack on Eilat in Israel.
The Jordanian Defence Ministry announced that it had shot down the drone after it had crossed into Jordanian airspace. Report here






The Israel Police said Thursday they had thwarted an attempt to smuggle thousands of weapons parts from Turkey to the West Bank through Ashdod port.
A cargo destined for Nablus contained an industrial weaving machine weighing several tons and measuring 10 meters in length.  Concealed within the machine were thousands of components for automatic firearms and submachine guns, alongside counterfeit coin moulds for 10 shekel coins. Report here



Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, large multi-story banners supporting Hamas have been displayed prominently in public places in 15 cities across Turkey.Report here










Samer Sinijlawi: With other young Fatah leaders, I met Mahmoud Abbas in his office in Ramallah. He was in his 50s; we were in our 20s. “You are tomorrow’s leaders,” he would tell us. Today, Abbas is in his late 80s, we are in our 50s, and that tomorrow never came. Abbas’ leadership as president of the Palestinian Authority has failed to deliver democracy to his people, failed to keep them safe, failed to manage a viable economy, and failed to ensure they can live a dignified life…Allegations of corruption are widespread.
A new government for the Palestinians must find a way to join hands with Israel in bringing down the curtain on one of the most complex conflicts of the modern era. President Abbas must leave the political scene and be allowed to live his remaining days in dignity. (paywall) article here



Joseph Epstein: The P.A. has proven too ideologically extreme and inept to govern the West Bank, much less Gaza. It spreads the same radical, revolutionary ideology as Hamas and is unpopular among Palestinians due to its crippling level of corruption. A recent poll found just 17% of Palestinians are satisfied with the rule of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and 63% believe the PA is a burden on the Palestinian people. Abbas’ sons, Tareq and Yasser, own a business empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
PA-run schools, summer camps and children’s TV programmes promote antisemitism and indoctrinate Palestinian children against Israel, encouraging martyrdom.
After Oct. 7, eight PA-run schools celebrated with speeches, statements, and arts and crafts displays. Jibril Rajoub, the Fatah Central Committee chairman, called on all Palestinians to join Hamas in battle against Israel and even threatened another Oct. 7 in the West Bank. Article here




Adele Raemer:

I live in Kibbutz Nirim, less than two km. from the border with Gaza. People from my community have always held our hands out in peace to the residents on the other side of the border. I have participated in a number of projects and interactions with Palestinians, to try to build bridges.

On Oct. 7, many of those bridges collapsed…

I had believed, when the Qatari suitcases of dollars were allowed into Gaza, that all our lives would be safer…clearly the money was invested in building an underground terror network instead of helping Gazans. I had faith in the belief that if we allow thousands of Gazans into our country for work, they would be able to feed their families and live better lives. We now understand that it was many of those people whom we were hiring who were busy at the same time betraying us, mapping out our communities, including names of residents and where they lived, in order to weaponize that knowledge on Oct. 7.

The trust we put in them enabled the slaughter of over 1,200 people and the kidnapping of over 240, many of whom were and are my friends. It is also what has caused those of us who live on Nirim and the other border communities to be refugees in our own country. Can any of us ever trust any of the Gazans on the other side as not being Hamas collaborators, or not betraying my safety because Hamas terrorists have forced them to, by threatening them or their family by putting a gun to their head?

I fear that the bridges so many of us strived to work towards have been blown to smithereens. In their place are the dark shadows of doubt and suspicion of our neighbours, and for that, I have Hamas and what they did to us on Oct. 7 to blame, as well as misguided citizens and countries of the world who embolden and support these terrorists. Article here