Day Fifty-Four Of Swords Of Iron

US and Israeli intelligence chiefs meet in Qatar to discuss extending current truce in Gaza.

Female Israeli troops IDF photo

12:30 pm

An estimated 12 hostages held by Hamas hostages were freed  today: the final day of an extended truce agreement with Israel – with at least one American included. This is the sixth wave of hostages released. They will receive medical screenings before being transferred to Israeli hospitals. They were freed in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, including 15 women and 15 teenagers, who had been incarcerated for terrorism and/or murder.


12:22 pm

Today, 4 containers carrying diesel and 4 containers carrying cooking gas were sent from Egypt to the UN’s humanitarian aid orgs in  Gaza through the Rafah crossing. 
The fuel and cooking gas are designated for the operation of vital humanitarian infrastructure Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration would like to see a new extension of the cease-fire agreement in Israel’s war with Hamas after the current one expires to secure the release of additional hostages held by the militant group and to ramp up humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza. In preparation for a third visit to the Middle East since the war began on Oct. 7, Blinken said that in addition to discussing short-term logistical and operational planning, the Biden administration believes it is imperative to discuss ideas about the future governance of Gaza if Israel achieves its stated goal of eradicating Hamas.

“The IDF will rescue our hostages, dismantle Hamas, and do it while minimizing the harm to civilians,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, IDF International Spokesperson

12:13 pm

Hamas claims that the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, has been killed along with his four-year-old brother and their mother due to an Israeli bombardment. The IDF is checking the claim by al-Qassam brigades. The claim has not been independently verified. The Bibas family stated: "Our family has learned of Hamas’ latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials. We thank the people of Israel for their warm support, but kindly request privacy during this difficult time. Thank you very much."

Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al-Maliki, said  at the UN that the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas was “not a war” but rather a “carnage that no one can justify”. “It must be brought to an end,” al-Maliki said. He added, “Over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel. Over 10,000 of them are women and children. They have been killed by Israel. They did not lose their life; it was taken away. No one is safe in Gaza, not the children, not the doctors, not the humanitarian personnel, not the journalists, not the UN staff. They were killed at an unprecedented pace in modern history.” He said, “We are at a historic crossroad.”

Al-Maliki told the UN Security Council the “truce must become a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire”, adding that the “massacres cannot be allowed to resume”. He said: “Our people are faced with an existential threat. Make no mistake about it. With all the talk about the destruction of Israel, it is Palestine that is facing a plan to destroy it, implemented in broad daylight.”

At a UN Security Council meeting chaired by China's foreign minister, UN secretary-general, António Guterres said that Gaza is in the midst of an “epic humanitarian catastrophe”. Guterres said “we must not look away” from the deteriorating humanitarian crisis that has engulfed Gaza. He added: "Intense negotiations are taking place to prolong the truce * which we strongly welcome – but we believe we need a true humanitarian ceasefire.”

Guterres said the level of international aid to Gaza “remains completely inadequate to meet the huge needs”.

12:10 pm

The senior CIA official who posted a pro-Palestinian image on Facebook in the wake of Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel is associate deputy director for analysis Amy McFadden, the agency confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon.

8:45 am

Prominent Palestinian Ahed Tamimi is on the list of 30 prisoners, all women and minors, to be released from Israeli jails today. She was arrested some three weeks ago after posting on social media that Palestinians will “slaughter” Jewish settlers and “drink your blood.” She wrote: “Our message to the herds of settlers is that we are waiting for you in all the West Bank cities, from Hebron to Jenin,...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.”

At age 16, Tamimi was jailed for slapping an Israeli soldier and served eight months in prison. After her release, she went on a victory tour of Europe and the Middle East.

So far,Hamas has released a total of 61 Israeli hostages and 20 foreign hostages during the five days of the temporary truce. The original deal stipulated that the pause in fighting could be extended up to a total of 10 days, including the first four — if Hamas releases at least 10 additional hostages each day, with Israel freeing more Palestinian inmates at a ratio of three prisoners for each hostage. So far, Israel has freed 180 female and underage Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons for security offenses, and is expected to release 30 more today, including Tamimi.

Rachel Goldberg, whose son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, was abducted by Hamas at the Supernova desert rave on October 7, shared details at a press conference about her son’s abduction. Her husband, Jon Polin, went to the field shelter for the first time this week, to see where Hersh and his friend, Aner Shapira, attempted to hide along with 27 others. “Twenty-nine young people were smashed into this space,” says Goldberg, describing the “tiny concrete room.” Goldberg said the terrorists first threw hand grenades, then an RPG, and machine gun fire to kill as many people as possible in the shelter, says Goldberg. Shapira was killed by one of the grenades, after tossing back some seven of them.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin’s arm was blown off from the elbow down, said Goldberg. This was confirmed in a video sent to Hersh’s parents by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. She said she believes hostages are more valuable to Hamas if alive and that injured hostages were hospitalized. “We know there are very capable physicians and surgeons in Gaza,” says Goldberg. “What has been explained to us is that although the injury looks horrible, it’s not a complicated surgery,” and would only involve the surgeon amputating above the jagged part of the arm. “And then he would need antibiotics, which of course begs the question if that happened or is still happening,” says Goldberg.

Goldberg said the Red Cross is “doing a wonderful job being an Uber service” for the released hostages, but hopes the ICRC will see the hostages in captivity. The first groups of hostages being released, she said, was “the first moment of respite and a sliver of light, a tiny, hopeful moment when we see these people being returned to their loved ones.” She knows the hostages' family members. “I know these mothers,” she said:. “Obviously, I would love to see Hersh be one of those released. But he’s not a woman and he’s not a child...e’s my child, of course.”

Ayelet Katzir of the Family’s Tent group of activists who lost family members during the massacres was released by police following hours of detention at an anti-government protest outside the Knesset. She and several dozen protesters, who demand the government resignation due to failures leading to the massacre, were detained and questioned. Labor MK Naama Lazimi drove to the police station to protest Katzir’s arrest, describing it as “an embarrassing and outrageous arrest.” The police said one woman was arrested for blocking the access road to the Knesset and ramming her sign into an MK’s car, Ynet reported.

Israeli PM Netanyahu will meet with the leaders of devastated communities close to Gaza, but two kibbutzim -- Be’eri and Nir Oz -- refuse to send representatives. Kibbutz Be’eri says it is not boycotting the meeting per se, but rather than attending it calls on the premier to visit the kibbutz. “Should the prime minister wish to come to Kibbutz Be’eri, meet with the kibbutz management and the members of the kibbutz, see the atrocities committed on October 7 and have a conversation about the plans for the rehabilitation of Be’eri, we will always be happy to host him by prior arrangement and without a communications team,” the kibbutz says in a statement. “We suggest that the prime minister meet with the residents of the kibbutz, with everyone. With the children, parents, families who survived the terrible massacre of October 7,” says Osnat Peri, the secretary of Kibbutz Nir Oz. “Not only the representatives of the communities need answers, but all of us. Not only me, but all of us deserve to know why a quarter of our kibbutz was kidnapped or murdered,” she says.

At least one of the Arab Israeli women who were added to the list of prisoners to be released strongly objects and says that neither she nor her family nor her attorney were informed that she was being put on the list. The unidentified woman had been indicted for expressing support and identifying with a terror organization, following comments she made on social media following October 7, but has yet to be tried and denies her comments violated the anti-terrorism laws leveled against her. “Due to the opposition of my client to being included on the list, and due to the heavy concern of severe harm to her as a result of being released under such circumstances when she is still entitled to the presumption of innocence, I request that you clarify what the legal significance is of my client being included in this decision and what the implications are on the legal process which is pending against her,” an attorney from the Adalah legal aid organization writes in a letter to State Attorney Amit Aisman and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

Twenty-five Arab-Israeli citizens were added to the list of prisoners who may be released under the terms of the deal with Hamas earlier this week, according to the Times of Israel,16 of whom were women who have been charged but not tried on counts of expressing support for terrorism in social media posts.

Thirty-one children held by Gazan terrorists have been released as part of a temporary ceasefire deal with Hamas, but after 54 days, 9 still remain in the Strip.

These are the children who have been held hostage by the terror group since October 7:

Kfir Bibas, 10 months, and Ariel Bibas, 4, Gali Tarshansky, 13, Amit Shani, 16, Ofir Engel, 18, Bilal Ziyadne, 18, and Aisha Ziyadne, 17, Liam Or, 18, Itay Regev, 18.

A top CIA official posted a pro-Palestine image on Facebook two weeks after Hamas attacked Israel, the Financial Times reported. 

The associate deputy director for analysis made an image of a man waving a Palestinian flag her Facebook cover photo on October 21, which the newspaper said comes amid reports of some dissent over the war between Israel and Hamas among members of the Biden administration.

FT says it is not naming the official, after the CIA said there was concern for her safety.

“The officer is a career analyst with extensive background in all aspects of the Middle East and this post [of the Palestinian flag] was not intended to express a position on the conflict,” a person familiar with the situation tells the newspaper.

The individual adds that the senior official in question has in the past made public statements against antisemitism.

The Guardian posted the following summary at 6 am Jerusalem time:

Hamas and Israel are expected to release more hostages and prisoners on Wednesday, the last day of the prolonged six-day truce. Israeli media have reported that Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has received a list with the names of the Israeli hostages that Hamas intends to release.

Egyptian media, quoting government sources, have reported that a preliminary understanding has been reached to extend the truce for two more days, under the same conditions that are currently being observed. Israel has said the truce could be extended further, provided Hamas continues to free at least 10 Israeli hostages a day.

US and Israeli spy chiefs have flown to Qatar for talks on how to extend the current truce in Gaza in exchange for the release of more hostages by Hamas. The discussions of the CIA director, William Burns, and the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, with the Qatari leadership are expected to focus on persuading Hamas to begin releasing the men among the remaining hostages.

Negotiations over a possible second extension of the pause in fighting in Gaza and the release of hostages being held by Hamas now include men and soldiers, according to a report. Israel would not agree to any discussion on a new hostage deal before the current one is fully implemented and all women and children who are held hostage are released, the report said.

The latest exchange of hostages in Gaza for Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails took place on Tuesday night. 12 hostages, including 10 Israelis and two Thai nationals, are now in Israel. The 30 Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons on Tuesday include 15 children and 15 women. In a statement, the Israel Prison Service said the 30 Palestinians were released from Ofer prison, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, and from a detention centre in Jerusalem.

There were reports that the West Bank city of Jenin had been raided by Israeli troops. Al Jazeera says that armed clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters have taken place, with at least eight people injured. Christos Christou, the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, said that the Israeli army “conducted an incursion on Jenin refugee camp.”

There were reports of some fighting in Gaza, depite the extension of the truce. Israel said a number of soldiers were lightly injured in Gaza after “three explosive devices were detonated adjacent to IDF troops in two different locations”. In a Telegram message on Tuesday, the IDF said: “In one of the locations, terrorists also opened fire at the troops, who responded with fire.” Hamas accused Israel of a “blatant breach of the ceasefire” in the northern Gaza Strip but said it was “still committed to the ceasefire so long as the enemy is committed to it”.
The UN’s aid chief, Martin Griffiths, will travel to Jordan on Wednesday for talks on the possibility of opening a second crossing, the Kerem Shalom crossing, to allow for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Israel. Since the temporary truce between Hamas and Israel came into force last week, about 200 trucks carrying aid have entered Gaza on a daily basis, but the amount is nowhere enough to need the needs of its population.

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) has said Israeli forces are preventing a fuel truck from entering the north of Gaza. The truck, which was passing through a checkpoint which separates the north of the strip from the south, was carrying fuel to support the work of seven PRCS ambulances operational in northern Gaza, it said on Tuesday. In a later post, it said Israeli forces prevented its emergency medical team from transferring a wounded patient to the hospital in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

The population of Gaza, especially women and children, are at “high risk of famine” if humanitarian food supplies do not continue past the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned. In an update on Tuesday, the WFP said it had delivered food to 121,161 people in Gaza since the truce began on Friday. “Six days is simply not enough to provide all the assistance needed,” it said.

There is a risk that more people could die from diseases than from bombings in Gaza if the territory’s health system is not put back on its feet quickly, a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson said on Tuesday. “Eventually we will see more people dying from disease than from bombardment if we are not able to put back together this health system,” the WHO’s Margaret Harris said.

November 29, 2023

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Swords of Iron