Day Fifty-Six Of Swords Of Iron

Islamic Jihad attacked Israeli cities and towns today.

Merkava tank IDF photo


Summary of the day provided by The Guardian

Israel’s military pounded the Gaza Strip on Friday after the end of a seven-day truce. Israel launched more than 200 strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday, including in the densely populated south, where many civilians have fled. Khan Younis, which was previously attacked less heavily than the north of Gaza, was almost bombed from the air immediately after the truce broke down. Israel has signaled that it is preparing to launch a ground assault into southern Gaza in a significant escalation of the war. Gaza’s health ministry said 178 civilians had been killed since the ceasefire ended.

Israel’s military has set out its plan for the “next stage of the war”: dividing Gaza into dozens of numbered “evacuation areas”, a core part of the military’s plan to gradually take control of the southern part of the strip. Under the plan, people in certain numbered districts of Gaza will be told to evacuate before bombing begins, although how much time they will get is not clear. Leaflets were dropped in parts of Khan Younis, where Israel believes Hamas’s leadership is based, warning citizens to evacuate further south to Rafah.

Humanitarian groups said the Israeli warnings would be insufficient because civilians in Gaza were running out of places to evacuate to. Palestinians risked being forced completely out of the territory, they said. Homes in Khan Younis were among the targets struck on Friday hours after the truce expired, and residents were given little, if any, time to flee.

The resumption of hostilities came as the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to brush aside US calls to pursue a more restrained military campaign. Netanyahu said his country’s forces were now “charging forward” and that the plan was for a total military victory. In a difficult meeting on Thursday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken clashed with the Israeli cabinet over its military tactics, levels of international support and plans for future governance in Gaza. Blinken insisted the level of civilian casualties had to be reduced in any resumed assault and that Israel had to share its long-term objectives for Gaza with moderate Arab states.

Israel has blocked aid from entering the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has said. It said Israeli forces told organisations operating at the border that the entry of aid trucks is prohibited “until further notice”, adding that the move “exacerbates the suffering of citizens” of Gaza. A spokesperson for the Rafah border crossing said the entrance of trucks carrying much-needed aid, fuel and cooking gas from Egypt into the Gaza Strip has stopped because of the resumption of the Israeli bombardment.

The families of hostages being held in Gaza have said they are terrified about the safety of their loved ones after the end of the ceasefire. The relatives of some of the remaining 126 Israeli hostages have said they are grappling with feeling joy for those who have been released, while being worried sick for loved ones left behind.

The UN said it deeply regretted the resumption of deadly hostilities in the Gaza Strip, calling the situation “catastrophic”. The body also said it was concerned by suggestions Israel could seek to expand its military offensive inside the Palestinian territory. The UN’s human rights chief, Volker Türk, urged efforts to be redoubled to try to bring about a ceasefire on humanitarian and human rights grounds.

[British prime minister] Rishi Sunak has described the breakdown of the truce as “deeply disappointing” and issued renewed calls for “sustained humanitarian pauses” in Gaza as he held talks with Israel’s president and the leaders of Egypt, Qatar and Jordan on the sidelines of the Cop28 summit on Friday.

Two people were killed during Israeli shelling in southern Lebanon on Friday, according to reports, as the end of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas prompted a resumption of hostilities at the border. Hezbollah said it had carried out several attacks on Israeli military positions at the border.

Turkey’s Anadolu state news agency said a reporter who worked as a cameraman in Gaza was killed by Israeli airstrikes on Friday. Montaser Al-Sawaf, a freelance cameraman, was killed along with his brother and other family members, the outlet said. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said earlier on Friday that at least 57 journalists and media workers had died since the start of the war.

Israel’s military was aware of Hamas’ plan to launch an attack on Israeli soil more than a year before the bloody 7 October terror attack, according to a New York Times report. The document was reportedly circulated widely among Israeli military and intelligence officials, who dismissed the plan as being of a scale and ambition that was beyond Hamas’s capabilities.
The Biden administration has informed Israel that Washington will impose visa bans in the next few weeks on Israeli extremist settlers engaged in violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, a senior state department official said, in the first sign that the US is prepared to publicly distance itself from some of the Israeli government’s actions

4:24 pm

Israel's military was aware of Hamas ' plan to launch an attack on Israel more than a year before Oct. 7 operation that killed 1,200 people according to the New York Times. This has been understood as a sign that top Israeli commanders either ignored or played down warnings that Hamas was plotting the attack, which triggered a war against the Islamic group that has devastated the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said it struck a Hezbollah cell in southern Lebanon, close to the northern community of Zar'it. Rockets were fired from inside Lebanon at IDF posts near Rosh Hanikra and Maragaliot, and also at the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, the IDF said. Two rockets fired at Kiryat Shmona were intercepted by the Iron Dome. The IDF responded with artillery at the source. 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant observed the Israeli Air Force’s airstrikes on Gaza today from a Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter flying over Gaza. 

The IDF revealed its plan for the next stage of fighting in Gaza now that the “Pause” in fighting for a release of hostages has ended after six days. Movement of civilians in Gaza was stipulated to be limited to a sector in the south. The IDF released a map showing the areas where Gazans should take shelter in evacuation zones. The IDF said that Gazans should head to the evacuation zones as the Israeli military unleashes the next phase of the war

The interactive map is online and shows the areas in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, calling on residents to locate the area relevant to them and to act if they are asked to evacuate from it. Hamas has been accused of using the residents of Gaza as human shields, and placing their headquarters and military operations in residential areas, mosques, schools, and hospitals.

The IDF has taken various measures to avoid harming civilians. Eg. The IDF sends messages and proclamations to the residents of Gaza instructing them to evacuate specific areas that are a target for terrorist activity and directs them to evacuate in relevant directions.

Gaza Safety Map IDF


10:14 am

Rocket sirens blared throughout central Israel, as Hamas expands the range of its fire since the collapse of the ceasefire today. Sirens were heard in Rishon LeZion, Lod, Ramla, Be’er Yaakov, Ness Ziona, Kiryat Shmona, Margaliot, Or Yehuda, Holon, Ashdod, Rehovot, and many other smaller towns.

Several Iron Dome interceptions were spotted, as Hamas claims responsibility for the rocket fire.

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

The IDF intercepted earlier today a “suspicious aerial target” that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon. 

The IDF says Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi is meeting with the military’s top brass as fighting resumes in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said this assessment comes "ahead of the start of the second phase of the war.” Israel is to expand its ground operations into the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldier Ofir Tzarfati was presumed captive after going missing following the Supernova music rave massacre by Hamas terrorists on October 7. However, on Nov. 30, his family was notified that he is dead. In a joint IDF and Shin Bet operation, Tzarfati’s body was brought back to Israel this morning for burial. A date of death is not immediately given.

Secretary of State Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday that the Biden administration will announce a series of visa bans against Israeli settlers involved in attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, according to an Israeli official. The announcement will likely only include the number of settlers being banned from the US, rather than their names, given that the US hopes that the anonymity will serve as a deterrent against those considering targeting Palestinians who won’t know whether they’ve been black-listed or not. The visa ban could be imposed next week. President Biden floated the idea in a Washington Post op-ed last month.

Before departing Israel last night, Blinken said: “We’re looking to the Israeli government to take some additional steps to really put a stop to this. And at the same time, we’re considering our own steps.”

France’s foreign ministry spokesperson said on Nov. 30 that the EU should also consider sanctioning violent Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians in the West Bank area of Judea and Samaria. 

According to The Times of Israel last month that the Netayahu government increased its activities to address settler violence, which is being perpetrated by a “nucleus” of several hundred extremists at most. Several arrests have indeed been made in recent weeks.

The White House blamed Hamas for the resumption of fighting in Gaza today, but added that the Biden administration is negotiating with Israel, Egypt and Qatar to restart the truce. “Hamas has so far failed to produce a list of hostages that would enable a further extension of the pause,” a White House National Security Council spokesman stated. The statement said that the truce allowed for the release of over 100 hostages and a surge in humanitarian aid into Gaza. Biden and his staff "will continue to remain deeply engaged as we look to free the remaining hostages and sustain and expand the international humanitarian response,” the statement adds.

The IDF says that since 7 a.m., following Hamas’s violation of the ceasefire, it has carried out airstrikes against some 200 targets across Gaza. Several of the strikes took place in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis and Rafah. Some of the strikes in northern Gaza were directed by forces of the 162nd, 36th, and 252nd divisions.

Israeli ground troops meanwhile demolished tunnel shafts, rocket launch sites, infrastructure, and structures that were booby-trapped with explosives. Also, the Israeli navy, armor, and artillery were engaged.

Kibbutz Nir Oz announces that Ronen Engel, 54, previously thought to be a hostage in Gaza following the October 7 attack, was murdered by Hamas. His family members were released from captivity on Monday: wife Karina Engel-Bart, 51, and daughters Mika, 18, and Yuval, 11. The kibbutz does not say when he is thought to have died. His body is believed held by Hamas in Gaza. It says Engel was a volunteer in Magen David Adom ambulance service. “May his memory be a blessing,” the kibbutz statement read. 

The UN children’s agency UNICEF condemned the resumption of fighting in Gaza, saying: “Today, those in power have decided that the killing of children would recommence.” Spokesman James Elder says the “dire” state of health, nutrition, water and sanitation threatens to trigger “a disaster of unparalleled magnitude for the children of Gaza. “To accept the sacrifice of the children in Gaza is humanity giving up,” he said via video-link from the Palestinian enclave.


6:00 am

The deadline for the extension of the truce between Israel and Hamas expired at 7 am Jerusalem time. Neither Hamas nor Israel have announced extending the 7-day pause in fighting.

The al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, attacked Israeli cities and towns today. The group stated on Telegram that it was responding to “crimes against our people.”

According to Gaza's Hamas-run health agency, Israeli airstrikes caused 32 fatalities today. Minutes after the pause in fighting expired, Israeli jets were dropping bombs on Gaza.

The Unicef spokesman James Elder reported that an airstrike landed about 200 feet away from the “biggest still functioning hospital in Gaza”. “This hospital simply cannot take more children with the wounds of war,” he said in a video posted on X. He showed children asleep on the floor of a hospital room. Elder is the chief of communications for Unicef. His post was accompanied with the caption: “Has humanity given up on the children of Gaza?” “I cannot overstate how the capacity has been reduced in hospitals over the last seven weeks. We cannot see more children with the wounds of war, with the burns, the shrapnel littering their body, with their broken bones. Inaction from those with influence is allowing the killing of children. This is a war on children.”

Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said that the Israeli military must “return and crush Gaza with all our might”. On X, he said, "For the sake of the children who have not yet returned, for the murdered who will no longer return, so that the horrors of 7/10 will never return, we must return and crush Gaza with all our might, destroy Hamas and return to the Strip, without compromises, without deals. at maximum power.”

Although the pause in fighting expired at 7 am local time, negotiations brokered by Qatar and Egypt with Israel and Hamas continue. Qatari and Egyptian mediators have been in contact with both sides since fighting resumed in Gaza. Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, was seen speaking to the Qatari emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai.

Israel has been dropping leaflets into parts of southern Gaza, including the city of KhanYounis, telling residents to leave. The leaflets warn that the city is now a “dangerous battle zone”. So far,  the Israeli response to the Hamas terror attack has focused largely on the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Gazans fled to the south and took shelter there. 

According to a Hamas spokesman, Israel has also been asking residents in certain neighbourhoods of Khan Younis to leave before an expected attack in the area. “The Israeli forces are dropping leaflets for people in Khan Younis asking them to evacuate to Rafah but they are also targeting Rafah,” the spokesman said.

On November 30, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli and Palestinian officials and called for the temporary truce to be extended, as well as saying any resumption of combat must protect Palestinian civilians. Blinken told reporters, "Clearly, we want to see this process continue to move forward. We want an eighth day and beyond." 

On his third trip to the Middle East since Oct. 7, Blinken said the US remained committed to supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, but that Israel must protect civilians if it started major military operations in southern Gaza. Israeli airstrikes have hit southern Gaza, including the community of Abassan east of the city of Khan Younis, the Hamas-run territory’s interior ministry said. Another strike hit a home north-west of Gaza City, it said.

In Israel, sirens blared at three kibbuitz farms near Gaza, warning of incoming rocket fire, suggesting Hamas had also resumed its attacks. 

Earlier today, Israel accused Hamas of having violated the terms of the ceasefire.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas did not agree to release further hostages, thus violating the terms of the truce, and that Israel remained committed to achieving its objectives as fighting resumed. His office stated today that Hamas did not release all women captives as agreed and also launched rockets at Israel. The office declared: "With the resumption of fighting we emphasise the Israeli government is committed to achieving the goals of the war: to free our hostages, to eliminate Hamas and to ensure that Gaza will never pose a threat to the residents of Israel."

Artillery fire in Gaza City and Israeli warplanes carrying out a series of strikes after the resumption of fighting could be heard in Gaza this morning. The Agence France-Presse also reported drones could be heard in the air over the south of the territory for the first time since the ceasefire.

The House passed a bipartisan measure on Nov. 30 that would block Iran from ever accessing the $6 billion recently transferred by the U.S. in a prisoner swap, a step Republicans pushed in response to the nation's alleged role in the deadly attacks last month by Hamas on Israel. The No Funds for Iranian Terrorism Act passed 307-119 as Republicans sought to hold the Biden administration accountable for what they call their complicity in funding Iranian-backed terrorism in the Middle East. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 412-1, with one voting “present,” on Nov. 28 to reaffirm Israel’s right to exist.

In another move in Congress, “The House of Representatives reaffirms the State of Israel’s right to exist, recognizes that denying Israel’s right to exist is a form of antisemitism, rejects calls for Israel’s destruction and the elimination of the only Jewish State and condemns the Hamas-led terrorist attack on Israel,” the resolution reads. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) cast the lone “nay,” while “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) voted “present.”

December 1, 2023

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Swords of Iron