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Israel Today – Photos and Facts

The latest news and pictures from the Israel conflict.

Today – 12.4.23

Latest Israel Updates

200 Hamas Targets Struck as Cease-Fire Ends

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is officially over, and with the continuation of hostilities, around 200 Hamas-controlled targets were struck in the last push into Gaza. “Troops struck terrorist infrastructure located inside a school and found 2 tunnel shafts, including a booby-trapped one, explosives and additional weapons,” the IDF wrote on X.

Proxy Fighters and US Attacks

US officials report that forces killed five Iranian proxy fighters in a drone strike carried out in Erbil, northern Iraq. The officials say that the targets were seen preparing a suspected rocket attack for use against US forces. Fox News reports that American “forces have been attacked at least 75 times in the Middle East since October 17, amid the escalation of the Israel-Hamas war. The incidents have occurred in Iraq and Syria.”

Leading Up To Today

Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Collapses After Seven Days

The seven-day cease-fire between the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and Hamas fighters in Gaza collapsed. The Israeli military said it had killed many squads of fighters in norther Gaza, including in a gunbattle at a mosque used by Islamic Jihad militants as a command post.

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(Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The IDF said Saturday morning that in the last 24 hours it had hit 400 militant targets in a combined air, ground, and naval attack. Israel did not release a number of Hamas fighters killed, but Hamas announced that about 200 Palestinians have been killed since the truce ended.

Both sides blame each other. The truce, which began on November 24 and was originally scheduled to last four days, was extended twice. Women, children, and foreign hostages were released daily throughout the seven-day cease-fire, but the peace collapsed after mediators failed to keep up the release schedule. Israel accused Hamas of refusing to release all the women it held, and a Palestinian official claims the breakdown occurred over female Israeli soldiers. Qatar, which has played a central role in mediation so far, said negotiations are underway to renew the truce, but that Israel restarting its bombardment of Gaza has complicated matters.

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Thai hostages released by Hamas (Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cease-Fire Continues to Hold

With the ending of the official Israel-Hamas four-day cease-fire, early signs suggest that a break in hostilities will continue as long as hostage releases are forthcoming. “We hope the Occupation (Israel) abides (by the agreement) in the next two days because we are seeking a new agreement, besides women and children, whereby other categories that we have that we can swap,” Reuters reports Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya saying.

No End to War: Israeli security cabinet minister Gideon Saar told Army Radio that “Immediately upon the completion of the hostage-recovery framework, the warfighting will be renewed … We have every intention of implementing the goals of the war as it applies to toppling Hamas in Gaza.”

Hamas hands over 11 Israeli hostages to Red Cross officialsGAZA CITY, GAZA - NOVEMBER 27: Hamas hands over 11 Israeli hostages to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, Gaza on November 27, 2023. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images)

(Photo by Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Cease-Fire in Gaza as Hamas Prepares to Release Hostages

Israel and Hamas began a four-day cease-fire at 7 a.m. local time (12 a.m. EST) Friday, November 24. Over the next 96 hours, Hamas is supposed to release up to 50 Israeli hostages, including several Americans. The IDF will also release 150 Palestinian prisoners.

An Uncertain Future: As of yet, neither side has breached the agreed-upon peace. It is unclear whether the cease-fire will hold, but both sides have publicly expressed optimism. Israel offered Hamas an extra day of peace for every additional ten hostages released, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made it clear that the destruction of Hamas would resume eventually. Read More: The ceasefire begins – but how long will it last?

Israel and Hamas Reach Temporary Cease-Fire Deal for Hostages

Both Israel and Hamas have apparently agreed to a four-day cease-fire during which up to 50 hostages will be released. Hamas says it will release a dozen or so hostages per day of the halt in hostilities. According to the terms of the deal, a number of Palestinian prisoners will also be released – but none who have been accused of murder.

There will still be around 200 hostages held by Hamas even after this exchange, so why is Hamas interested in the four-day deal? Strategists suggest that Hamas wants to strengthen its position within Gaza, which it is unable to do while IDF troops are running a swift ground war. This could mean that Israel has a more challenging time rooting out the terrorists after the cease-fire.

US Intel Supports Israel’s Al-Shifa Hospital Claim

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on November 14 revealed that intelligence gathered by the US supports Israel’s claim that Hamas has been using Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital and other Palestinian hospitals as command centers and ammunition depots. Kirby added that the intelligence had been gathered independently from Israeli sources.

“I can confirm for you that we have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including Al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them, to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,” Kirby told reporters. “Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — J.I.D. — members operate a command and control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City,” he added. “They have stored weapons there, and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility.”

Fighting Continues at the Lebanese Border

As Israel continues its ground operation against Hamas in Gaza, there has been a marked escalation in hostile activity at the Lebanese-Israeli border. Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah has been trading fire with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) since the war began, but operations appear to have intensified, fueling concerns of creating a wider regional conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a harsh warning for Hezbollah on Monday, November 13:

“This is playing with fire. Fire will be answered with much stronger fire. They should not try us because we have only shown a little of our strength.”

Responding to a question this weekend about Israel’s red lines, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said: “If you hear that we have attacked Beirut, you will understand that [Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan] Nasrallah has crossed that line.”

ISRAEL-LEBANON-BORDER-TENSIONSAn Israeli artillery unit fires during a military drill in northern Israel bordering Lebanon, on Nov. 2, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/JINI via Xinhua)

(Ayal Margolin/JINI via Xinhua)

Israel Falling into Debt as War Continues

Israel has raised $7.8 billion in debt since the start of the Hamas attack, the country’s Finance Ministry said on Monday. “The financing capabilities of the State of Israel allow the government to fully and optimally finance all its needs,” the ministry’s accountant-general division said. It added that it would attempt to keep open “all channels in order to finance the government’s activities, including all the needs arising from the … war and the economic and civil aid to the home front.”

Gaza’s Main Hospital Facing ‘Desperate Situation’ Without Power

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has surrounded three hospitals in Gaza, including the largest in the area, Al-Shifa. Israel ordered the Al-Shifa director to evacuate all patients, as the IDF believes Hamas may be holding hostages below the hospital.

Palestinian Heath Minister Mai al-Kaila said Saturday that 20 of the 30 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are shutdown, and that medical staff are attending to patients who lie on the floor and undergo treatment without anesthesia. The health minister also said that 38 premature babies are now at risk due to lack of oxygen at Al-Shifa, and that one of them died this morning. Al-Kaila estimates the remaining fuel will only be enough to keep the children’s intensive care unit running until Saturday evening.

IDF Arrests 19 Wanted Palestinians in West Bank

In a joint statement Saturday, the IDF, Israel’s border police, and the Shin Bet security service said that Israeli forces have arrested 19 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, of which nine were identified as Hamas operatives.

Israel Open to Tactical Pauses

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would consider “tactical little pauses” to allow hostages to be released or for aid to come into Gaza, adding that such a move would likely hamper IDF efforts.

“As far as tactical little pauses – an hour here, an hour there – we’ve had them before. I suppose we’ll check the circumstances in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages, to leave,” Netanyahu said Monday.

“But I don’t think there’s going to be a general ceasefire.”

(Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Blinken Fails to Placate an Angry Turkey

During a visit to Turkey, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was apparently snubbed by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who chose to visit a remote part of the country rather than speak with the US top diplomat. On Sunday, November 5, protesters were dispersed with water cannons by Turkish police after a mob surrounded an air base hosting US troops in the country.

Wagner Group Backs Hezbollah

The infamous Wagner Group, a private military company from Russia, has become Vladimir Putin’s proxy in Lebanon and an open threat to Israel. The mercenary force, which has been ubiquitous in failed and conflict-ridden nations, has now directly inserted itself in what was originally a war between Israel and Hamas. Reports are that the Wagner Group is providing enhanced air defense to Hezbollah fighters as they attack Israel from the north, protecting the Iran-backed terrorist group’s assaults on Israeli towns and villages. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported a clear link between Russia, its Wagner proxy, and a direct intervention in assisting Hezbollah. Michael R. Gordon and Vivian Salama explained:

“Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary organization, plans to provide an air-defense system to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, US officials say, citing intelligence…The Russian SA-22 system they plan to send uses antiaircraft missiles and air-defense guns to intercept aircraft…

Blinken Meets with Jordan Officials to Prevent War From Spreading

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Jordan on Saturday, working to contain the war in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Blinken also visited Israel on Friday, where he appealed for a “humanitarian pause,” which is, essentially, a temporary ceasefire.

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(Photo by Palestinian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Most Americans Fear US Could be Pulled into Israel-Hamas War

A new poll reveals that most US voters fear America could be pulled into the military conflict between Israel and Hamas. According to the Quinnipiac University survey, 84% of respondents were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the US might be drawn into the war. There was a divergence between political affiliations, as Republican voters (52%) were more worried about this possibility than Democrats (30%). “American voters watching the cauldron of the Middle East reaching a furious boiling point are fearful the war, so far confined to Israel and Gaza, will metastasize to include U.S. troops,” said Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac polling analyst, in a statement.

Anti-Semitism: The same poll found that anti-Semitism is a growing concern among US voters. Roughly 75% of survey participants stated that anti-Jewish discrimination is a “very” or “somewhat” serious problem in American society. This figure is at an all-time high, according to pollsters. Related: Who’s behind the pro-Palestinian protests?

Tlaib to Biden: You Support Genocide of the Palestinian People

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) accused President Joe Biden of endorsing genocide against the Palestinian people. Posting to X (previously Twitter) on Nov. 3, Rep. Tlaib claimed the current administration “supported the genocide of the Palestinian people” because of its support for Israel in its war against Hamas. Accompanying a video highlighting pro-Palestinian marches across the US was a message for Biden: “Mr. President, the American people are not with you on this one. We will remember in 2024.”

Tlaib Beats Censure: House lawmakers voted against a resolution censuring Rep. Tlaib for her past comments about Israel following Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, including “dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.” Twenty-three Republican officials joined all Democrats in blocking the disciplinary resolution. Related: Biden at a loss as Israel war explodes Democratic unity …

Secretary of State Antony Blinken Heads to Israel and Jordan for an Update –  And to Request a “Humanitarian Pause”?

Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Israel and Jordan on Friday, November 3, to get an update on Israel’s campaign against Hamas and perhaps even ask for the “humanitarian pause” President Biden mentioned during a speech in Minnesota. He certainly has his work cut out for him. As the ground war in Gaza unfolds, the conflict grows with attacks against Israel Defense Force (IDF) and civilians by Hezbollah in the north as well as attacks on civilians and police in the West Bank by Palestinian militants. President Biden’s ad-lib, shoot-from-the-hip foreign policy turnabout from the previous stance – now suggesting a humanitarian pause, which is just another way of saying ceasefire, rather than leaving Israel to conduct its war as it sees fit – probably won’t help the conversations with Israeli officials, either.

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(Photo by Ariel Hermoni (IMoD)/Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Hundreds of Americans Set to Leave Gaza Through Rafah Border Crossing Into Egypt

Hundreds of Americans trapped in Gaza now seem ready to leave the territory on Thursday. Foreign nationals are already crossing over the Rafah border crossing into Egypt after it opened for the first time since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry released a list of 400 American nationals who are approved to cross on Thursday.

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(Photo by Loay Ayyoub/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Hamas Lines in Northern Gaza Collapsing, IDF Says

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) reports that Hamas defensive lines in northern Gaza continue to collapse as they retreat southwards to the center of the enclave. “The IDF continues to advance in the Gaza City area, conducting face-to-face battles with Hamas terrorists and deepening the fighting,” Daniel Hagari said in a press statement Thursday. “Our fighters continue to collapse the defensive lines of Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip and take control of central areas.”

UAE Plans to Treat 1,000 Gaza Children

The United Arab Emirates said Thursday it plans to treat 1,000 Palestinian children from Gaza, without saying how they would leave the Israeli-besieged enclave for the Gulf state. UAE state news agency WAM reported that President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had directed hospitals to treat 1,000 children “accompanied by their families” from Gaza, though it was not immediately clear whether said children would be allowed to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing per the deal brokered by Qatar. In any case, WAM reports that the Palestinian children would then return home after they had received medical care.

Yemen Enters the War

If things weren’t complicated enough in the Middle East, the Iran-backed Houthi terrorist rebels in Yemen have effectively declared war on Israel. On Oct. 19, the USS Carney shot down 15 drones launched from Yemen while on station in the Red Sea. On Oct. 31, the Houthis, which the Biden administration took off the US State Department list of terrorist organizations, claimed responsibility for the attack of drones and other missiles aimed at Israel.

Reuters reports, “The Houthi movement said on Tuesday they had launched three drone and missile attacks towards Israel since the start of the Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7. It vowed there would be more such attacks to come ‘to help the Palestinians to victory.'” Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that the attacks from Yemen were “intolerable” but did not say how Israel intends to deal with this new third front in the ongoing war.

Egypt Opens Rafah Border

Foreign passport holders are heading to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt as there is reportedly now a limited evacuation possibility. However, reports on the ground suggest that some foreign nationals are being refused exit.

(Photo by Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

FBI Director Wray Warns of US Attacks

Speaking at a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 31, FBI Director Christopher Wray delivered a blunt and worrying assessment that attacks on US soil were made far more likely by the Hamas-Israel war. He said that a number of international terrorist organizations have called for direct attacks on America, which he notes would encourage the threat of homegrown US violent extremists. “The actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago,” Wray said.

What he did not mention is that with hundreds of thousands of unvetted people crossing the largely open US southern border, foreign terrorist groups may already be making their way into the country. Nor did he point out that a number of Iranians and Syrians are reported to have crossed the border in recent days.

Israeli Army Advances in Gaza

As the ground assault in Gaza continues, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the troop advance may compel Hamas to release hostages: “This creates pressure. We’re committed to getting all the hostages back home. We think that this method stands a chance.”

He also pooh-poohed calls for a ceasefire, explaining that it would mean Israel is giving in to terrorists and “monsters.” He said, “That will not happen. The Bible says that there is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Hezbollah Continues to Take Hits

After joining in the assault against Israel shortly after the October 7 Hamas attack, Hezbollah – the Iranian-backed terror group – has taken heavy losses. According to Reuters, “With dozens of Hezbollah fighters killed in three weeks of border clashes with Israel, the Lebanese group is working to stem its losses as it prepares for the possibility of a drawn-out conflict, three sources familiar with its thinking said.”

The outlet explains that at least 45 Hezbollah soldiers have been killed in clashes at the Lebanon-Israel border. Sources told Reuters that the organization had made “arrangements to reduce the number of martyrs” – political speak for “we need to stop getting our people killed in drone strikes.”

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