Day Sixty-Three Of Swords Of Iron

President Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu that 'much more assistance was urgently required' in Gaza.

IDF soldier aiming rifle in Gaza IDF photo

4:54 am

US deputy ambassador to the UN security council, Robert Wood, criticized other diplomats for introducing a “flawed” resolution that did not include condemnation of Hamas: "All of our recommendations were ignored. And the result of this rushed process was an imbalanced resolution that was divorced from reality It would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way. We still cannot comprehend why the resolution’s authors declined to include language condemning Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on Israel, an attack that killed over 1,200 people, women, children, the elderly, people from a range of nationalities burned alive, gunned down subjected to obscene sexual violence. We are very disappointed that for the victims of these heinous acts, the resolution’s authors offered not their condolences or condemnation of their murders. It’s unfathomable. Nor is there condemnation of the sexual violence unleashed by Hamas on October 7."

The US blamed Hamas’s refusal to keep to an agreement to release young women hostages, and a failure of the United Nations to condemn the terrorist’s attacks on Israel, for its decision to veto the UN security council resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire. Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the UN Security Council a ceasfire would “plant to seeds for the next war”: "Even as we have supported the right of another member state to defend its people against heinous atrocities and acts of terrorism, the US at the highest levels has undertaken intensive diplomacy to save lives, and lay a foundation for durable peace. American diplomacy open the way for the first trucks that flowed into Gaza. With aid in partnership with Qatar and Egypt, it helped reunite more than 100 hostages with their loved ones and dramatically expanded aid to civilians in Gaza during a seven-day long humanitarian pause.

"Hamas however, has a different set of goals. Its refusal to release young women hostages led to a breakdown in the pause and resumption of the fighting. This council’s failure to condemn Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks, including its acts of sexual violence and other unthinkable evils, is a serious moral failure.

"It underscores the fundamental disconnect between the discussions that we have been having in this chamber and the realities on the ground. An undeniable part of that reality is that if Israel unilaterally laid down its weapons today as some member states have called for, Hamas would continue to hold hostages.

"Hamas continues to pose a threat to Israel and remain in charge of Gaza. That is not a threat that any one of our governments would allow to continue to remain on our own borders.

"For that reason, while the US strongly supports a durable peace, in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire. This would only plant the seeds for the next war."

The Biden administration asked Congress to approve the sale of 45,000 shells for Israel’s Merkava tanks to be used in its offensive in Gaza. The sale is worth more than $500 million and is being reviewed by the Senate foreign relations and House of Representatives foreign affairs committees, it said. The US state department is pushing Congress to quickly approve the transaction, a former state department spokesperson, Josh Paul, told Reuters. He said: "This went to committees earlier this week and they are supposed to have 20 days to review Israel cases. State (Department) is pushing them to clear now."

The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has accused the UN security council of being “complicit in the ongoing slaughter” in Gaza over its “inaction” amid the humanitarian crisis in the territory. The MSF statement reads: "To date, the inaction of the United Nations Security Council and vetoes from member states, particularly the United States, make them complicit in the ongoing slaughter; this inaction has given licence to the mass killing of men, women and children."

It said repeated assurances from both the US and Israel that the war is being waged on combatants alone “runs counter to what we see on the ground”. “On the contrary, this is a total war that doesn’t spare civilians,” it added. The statement continues:

Today, the United Nations Security Council must demand an immediate and sustained ceasefire, and lift the siege. This responsibility falls to each member – history will judge the delay in ending this slaughter; basic humanity demands action."

4:35 pm

Summary provided by The Guardian newspaper:

The UN security council is expected to vote on a resolution to back an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The vote in New York was delayed after the US and the UK made clear they would not drop their objections. Both countries have a veto. The vote comes after the UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, invoked a rarely exercised power this week to warn the security council of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

The UN is at “breaking point” in Gaza, its most senior official has warned, as his colleagues described the “untenable” humanitarian catastrophe in the territory. Urging the UN to back a security council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, António Guterres said: “The eyes of the world and the eyes of history are watching.” Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the main UN agency in Gaza, said it was “the darkest hour” in the organisation’s history.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it is concerned by images of semi-naked Palestinian men being paraded by the Israeli military in Gaza. While Israeli media initially suggested that the images, apparently filmed by at least one Israeli soldier, showed the surrender of Hamas fighters, several of the men pictured were identified as civilians, including a journalist.

The European Commission has announced it will provide €125m (£107.2m) in humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people in 2024. The funds will go toward supporting humanitarian organisations working in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank, the commission said in a statement on Friday.

Tributes poured in for the Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer on Friday after friends said he was killed in a strike on Gaza. Alareer was one of the leaders of a young generation of writers in Gaza who chose to write in English to tell their stories, with friends describing his defiance in the face of the Israeli army’s assault on the Gaza Strip. Alareer was a professor of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught Shakespeare among other subjects.

More journalists have been killed during Israel’s war with Hamas than in any other conflict in more than 30 years, a leading organisation representing journalists worldwide said. In its annual count of media worker deaths, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said 94 journalists had been killed so far this year and almost 400 others had been imprisoned.

Hamas said on Friday that Israel had bombed Gaza’s medieval Omari mosque, causing widespread destruction to the building and calling it a “heinous, barbaric crime”. Photographs carried by Hamas-run media in Gaza that Reuters could not immediately verify showed massive damage to the mosque, with fallen walls and roofs and a huge crack at the bottom of the stone minaret.

Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed remarks by the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister that Hamas could serve as a junior partner in governing Gaza after the war. The authority’s prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said in an interview that the PA is working with US officials on a plan to run Gaza after the current conflict ends. “The Palestinian Authority is not the solution,” the Israeli prime minister responded.


4:33 pm

Democrat Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown on Dec. 5 reinstated Zainab Chaudry to his state's hate crime task force who posted numerous antisemitic social media posts, including a claim that the babies murdered in the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas attack were "fake." Chaudry, who also serves as the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) Maryland office, was suspended from the Maryland Commission on Hate Crimes Response and Prevention on Nov. 21. "Upon further review, it was determined that the law establishing the Commission directs the Attorney General to appoint members to a 4-year fixed term but does not provide the Attorney General the authority to remove a Commissioner before the expiration of their term nor the authority to suspend a Commissioner during their term of service," Brown wrote in a press release.

3:18 pm

More than twice as many Democrats (50%) as Republicans (21%) say that the Israeli government bears “a lot” of responsibility for the war against the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, according to a new poll released by the Pew Research Center. Many more respondents said Hamas is to blame “a lot” (65%) and “a little” (9%) for the war than said the Israeli government is to blame “a lot” (35%) and “a little” (24%). Smaller numbers said the Palestinian people are to blame “a lot” (20%) and “a little” (29%), and that the Israeli people are responsible “a lot” (13%) and “a little” (28%).

3:15 PM

"We've got to speak up and be the voice for women who can't be the voice for themselves. That's what this resolution is about. And this is a bipartisan resolution," said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) regarding her forthcoming resolution condemning Hamas' use of sexual violence.

3:02 pm

More and more Americans are wearing the keffiyeh, the distinctive patterned scarf closely linked with Middle Eastern terrorists. According The Arab American News, sales of the distinctive garments have spiked since Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7. “It was like a light switch. All of a sudden, we had hundreds of people on the website simultaneously and buying whatever they could,” said Azar Aghayev, the U.S. distributor for Hirbawi, which opened in 1961 and is the only manufacturer of keffiyehs left in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

2: 30 pm

A Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, said, "If Christ were to be born today, he would be born under the rubble and Israeli bombing." Rev. Munther Isaac continued, saying, "This is a powerful message we send to the world celebrating the holidays." According to Arab American news, he said, "Bethlehem is sad and broken." Various Christian churches have cancelled outward signs of celebrating the Christmas season throughout Israel, including Gaza and the West Bank. Gaza has a miniscule Christian population, which adheres to various denominations. 

Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, criticized President Biden and called on him to take a more active role in the conflict between Palestinians and Israel. "We would like him to go and say 'What can I do in order to solve this problem?' So we will not have this issue again," he said in a broadcast of NewsNation. "Unless Biden turns into Jesus Christ and brings some Palestinians back from the dead, we're not supporting him," Siblani told Axios. Siblani said, "I'm not willing to repudiate Hamas over what they did on October 7 because the history doesn't start on October 7...It actually goes back to 1948. The suffering of the Palestinians has been going on for 75 years, and no one did anything about it. And Hamas is the product of the suffering. I cannot conndemn Hamas for what they have done. I have to condemn those people who drove the Palestinians to the point of no return." Siblani is a Muslim immigrant from Lebanon and a naturalized US citizen. His bilingual newspaper is based in Dearborn, Michigan, which also has the largest mosque in North America. Siblani is the co-founder of the Arab American Political Action Committee and a long-time supporter of the Democratic party.

"I'm telling Arab Americans not to vote for the top two candidates. Vote down-ballot, but don't vote for Biden, and especially not for Trump," Siblani said. 'Biden lost our vote, and you're going to see Michigan and Georgia Change." In Michigan, Biden won in 2020 by about 154,000 votes. Michigan's Arab American population is approximately 278,000. Biden won Georgia by 11,800 votes; Arab Americans constitute 57,000 there.

Hamas tunnel entrance near Shatti hospital observation post IDF photo
2:24 pm

On May 25, the White House announced that its new national strategy to counter antisemitism would include the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) among 24 organizations in a "whole-of-society call to action.” As of  the afternoon of Dec. 7, CAIR no longer appeared on the White House page for that effort. On Dec. 7, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told reporters that the White House condemns “shocking, antisemitic statements” of CAIR’s executive director “in the strongest terms.” On Nov. 24, CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad spoke at the American Muslims for Palestine convention in Chicago, saying: “The people of Gaza have the right to self-defense...Israel, as an occupying power, does not have that right to self-defense.”

2:12 pm

Hamas representatives met with the Secretary-General of the ruling African National Congress party in South Africa, Fikile Mbalula, in Johannesburg on Dec. 6. The Hamas delegation was headed by Dr. Bassem Naim, a member of the group’s political bureau in Gaza. Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organization representatives were also present. The Hamas delegation also met the head of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Solly Mapaila, in Johannesburg. Naim said they “appreciated the role played by South Africa in supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people to obtain their rights.”

IDF troops inspect tunnel entrance near Gaza school IDF photo

2:09 pm

The Palestinian Authority’s wants Hamas to join a P.A.-led governing body as a junior partner,  according to Bloomberg News which quoted P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh as saying today. “Hamas before Oct. 7 is one thing, and after is another.… What is needed really is a situation in which Palestinian unity should be allowed to function on very clear bonds and agenda,” Shtayyeh told the outlet.

1:50 pm

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the Israeli military is seeing more Hamas terrorists surrendering during the fighting in Gaza. “Our troops are operating in the heart of Hamas’s ‘centers of gravity’ in south and northern Gaza simultaneously, in Jabaliya, Shejaiya, and in the Khan Younis area,” he said. “We are engaged in fierce battles with Hamas terrorists, who hide underground. We are killing many terrorists, and seeing more and more terrorists surrendering in battle, and turning themselves into our forces,” Hagari said. In the last 48 hours, he said, the IDF has arrested more than 200 suspects in Gaza. “Dozens of them have been handed over for interrogation by the Military Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 504 and Shin Bet in Israel, including Hamas commanders and Nukhba operatives,” Hagari said.

Hagari said two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded during an operation to rescue hostages in Gaza overnight. “The troops raided a Hamas site, killed terrorists who took part in the abduction and holding of the hostages,” he said. The operation failed and no hostages were rescued. “We will continue to act in a number of ways, operationally and with intelligence, with the Shin Bet, to return all the hostages home, and to obtain information on them,” he added.

Hamas called on the UN Security Council to end the "brutal war" even while it continues to fight Israeli forces in the war Hamas started on Oct. 7. “We call on the Security Council, the international community and all countries around the world to end this brutal war and save the Gaza Strip before it is too late,” the Hamas media office said as the Security Council prepared to vote on a draft resolution calling for a ceasefire.

The IDF released video of the elite LOTAR Unit battling Hamas operatives in a school in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood. According to the IDF, troops of the 188th Armored Brigade’s 74th Battalion, along with the LOTAR soldiers, encountered a Hamas cell while searching the school. “The terrorists tried to draw the forces into an ambush, with gunfire and explosives, and were eliminated by the troops of the LOTAR Unit and tank fire of the 74th Battalion,” the IDF said. The IDF troops later found a tunnel shaft in one of the classrooms. The tunnel, used by the Hamas operatives, led to a nearby mosque.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he sees “signs that indicate [Hamas] is beginning to break in Gaza.” He made remarks during a Hanukkah candle lighting with troops of the Border Defense Corps’ Caracal Battalion — a mixed-gender light infantry unit — and Armored Corps on the Gaza Border. “It is impossible to ignore the strong, prominent, and successful female presence [in the war]. Women have not really fought in the IDF since 1948, this is the first time this has happened, after 75 years, in massive fighting,” he says to the troops. “The results are very impressive.” He added: “I see the signs that indicate [Hamas] is beginning to break in Gaza. You all play a key role in this matter.”

Harvard president Claudine Gay apologized for saying "context" matters when just whether urging the genocide of Jews constitutes a violation of campus policy. In an interview with The Crimson student newspaper,Gay tried to clarify her response to a Congressional committee this week when asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate Harvard’s code of conduct. At the Dec. 5 Capitol Hill hearing, Gay said it depended on the context, adding that when “speech crosses into conduct, that violates our policies.” Similarly, the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, who joined Gay in testifying before the Republican-led House Education and Workforce Committee, also received backlash for comments that echoed Gay's. Wealthy donors and some members of Congress in both parties have called for their resignations.

Gay said she is sorry, saying she “got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures.” “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged,” Gay said.

1:39 pm

The parents of an Israeli woman held held hostage by Hamas were reprimanded by the Red Cross after they asked the Red Cross to transfer prescription medication to their daugther. The Red Cross representatives told them they needed to "think about the Palestinian side. It's hard for the Palestinians, they're being bombed." The Red Cross did not agree to transfer the medication to the Israeli hostage. On Twitter, Marina Medved quoted the mother of Doron Steinbrecher: "We left there as we entered: without new information, without something new, and with disappointment." Steinbrecher is a veterinarian nurse and has been held captive for 63 days now without access to her prescription medication.

Rabbi David Wolpe of the Anti-Defamation League and senior advisor to Maimonides Fund, announced on Dec. 7 that is stepping down from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard University. This came after mounting frustration over Harvard University President Claudine Gay's response to a Congressional committee in which she said “context” would be needed to determine if calls for genocide violated the school’s code of conduct. “As of today I have resigned from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard,” Wolpe tweeted. “Without rehashing all of the obvious reasons that have been endlessly adumbrated online, and with great respect for the members of the committee, the short explanation is that both events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped,” he wrote.

A  rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy compund in Baghdad caused minor damage but no casualties this morning, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. The attack is the first on the embassy located in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Iraq's capital to be confirmed since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. The Green Zone houses Iraqi government buildings and embassies on the west bank of the Tigris River.

The leader of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) compared Israel to Nazi Germany in a recent speech. CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said on Dec. 1 at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City that “for 75 years, every single day for the Palestinian people had been October 7.”

Authorities in Bat Yam, a town in Israel, announced today that Eitan Levy, a resident of the city who was among the 240 people kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7, has been murdered by Hamas. The 53-year-old Levy was a taxi driver who was driving a client from central Israel Kibbutz Be'eri in the south when the attack occurred and he was abducted. He had been classified as abducted until this morning.

The parliament of Australia has passed a new law making it illegal to promote iconography associated with the Third Reich. The bill, called the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment, received unanimous support on Dec. 6.

12:49 am

Mufid Fawaz Alkhader, who officials say fired the shotgun twice outside a synagogue in Albany NY on  Dec 7, has been federally charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, FBI spokesperson Sarah Ruane said in a statement, while praising the “swift coordination” between federal, state and local law enforcement. Alkhader, 28, is a U.S. citizen who was born in Iraq and lives in Schenectady, which is near Albany.

The IDF said today that it carried out strikes on more than 450 targets in Gaza over the past day, as ground operations continued. These included military compounds, observation posts, and weapons depots. Troops of the 7th Armored Brigade directed several IAF unmanned aircraft to strike Hamas terrorists in the Khan Younis area. According to the IDF, the series of strikes lasted some two hours, and “numerous” Hamas operatives were killed. In addition, Israel's navy has been carrying out strikes in Gaza, using guided munitions and other artillery munitions. The navy hit Hamas naval forces in central and southern Gaza.

Also, the Combat Engineering Corps’ 749th Reserve Battalion destroyed buildings containing Hamas infrastructure at Gaza City’s Al-Azhar University. On the university campus, troops found a tunnel entrance leading to a children's school around a kilometer away. The forces found explosive devices, parts of rockets, launchers, and other equipment in the area. “The findings show that the Hamas terror organization used the university building for the purpose of fighting against our forces,” the IDF said.

Video and photos circulated on social media on Dec. 7 that showed Palestinians rounded up by troops in Gaza after apparently surrendering. Suspected of involvement with Hamas and other terror groups, the men were seen stripped down to their underwear, blindfolded, and with their hands tied behind their backs, being held by Israeli troops in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya area. IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari confirmed that evening that the men had surrendered. Palestinian men said to have surrendered to the IDF in the Jabaliya area of northern Gaza on December 7, 2023. “Jabaliya and Shejaiya are ‘centers of gravity’… for terrorists, and we are fighting them. They are hiding underground and come out, and we fight them,” he said. “Whoever is left in those areas, they come out from tunnel shafts, and some from buildings, and we investigate who is linked to Hamas, and who isn’t. We arrest them all and interrogate them.”

According to the IDF, most Gazan civilians departed the north of the enclave weeks ago after Israel warned them to head south in advance of its ground offensive in the north. In the past week, it has expanded its operations to Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where Hamas’s leadership is suspected to be hiding. The fighting has pushed Gazans south, turning Rafah near the Egyptian border into a vast camp for many of the 1.9 million displaced by the conflict — 80 percent of Gaza’s population. But airstrikes have hit Rafah too, including eight overnight. AFP journalists saw around 20 corpses in white body bags, including a child, at its Nasser hospital, while men gathered nearby to pray. There are reports that Egypt is bolstering its border with Gaza, while it continues to refuse entry to most Gazans.

Israel says it is making an effort to avoid harm to civilians while fighting a terror group embedded within the civilian population. It has long accused Gaza-based terror groups of using Palestinians in the Strip as human shields, operating from sites including schools and hospitals which are supposed to be protected. On Dec. 7, Israel published footage it said showed rockets fired at Israel on Dec. 6 that were launched from within humanitarian zones set up in southern Gaza to allow civilians a haven. Two separate rocket attacks including a large barrage aimed at the Negev metropolis Beersheba were fired from the vicinity of areas that are supposed to be free of hostilities, putting civilians at risk.

Two hundred aid trucks entered Gaza each day during the truce, but since it expired Dec. 1, the number of trucks hasn’t ever been more than half that figure, and on Dec. 7 it fell to 69 trucks.  Israel will open the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Gaza for the inspection of humanitarian aid trucks in the coming days for the first time since the outbreak of the war, a senior Israeli official said on Dec. 7. Israel currently inspects the trucks at the smaller Nitzana crossing between Israel and Egypt before they are sent to Rafah. While Israel will use the Kerem Shalom facilities to inspect the trucks, they will still need to enter Gaza through Rafah.

On Dec. 6, Israel approved a “minimal” increase in fuel supplies to Gaza to prevent a humanitarian crisis, amid mounting pressure from Washington to ramp up aid to Gaza and to take further steps to avoid mass civilian casualties. Israel has restricted fuel shipments into Gaza since the outbreak of the war over concerns that the crucial resource will fall into the hands of Hamas for military purposes. Humanitarian officials say the fuel shortages have crippled the health care system and hindered deliveries of basic humanitarian supplies.

Israeli media cited unsourced “estimates” that the war cabinet will gradually increase the daily amount from the current 60,000 liters to three times that amount, 180,000 liters, in accordance with the US demand.

8:38 am

Taher Herzallah, associate director of outreach and community organizing for  American Muslims for Palestine, called Jews and Christian Zionists "the enemy." "Anybody who has a relationship with...or identifies themself as a Jewish person or as a Christian Zionist...they are enemy number one." He has been identified by journalist Asra Nomani as the man who accosted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene inside the Capitol, screaming at her: "Let Gaza live! Murderers go home!...End the genocide!"

8;20 am

“We are reaching a point of no return in Gaza, where the blatant disregard for international humanitarian law scars our collective conscience,” the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA, warned. UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini called for more funding and added: "States must find the political will to end this tragedy. Failing to act now and stop the carnage will forever stain our credibility as representatives of the international community, and fuel endless cycles of violence that will eventually engulf us all."

UNRWA claims 133 of its workers have been killed since Oct. 7, while “129 incidents impacting UNRWA premises have been reported since the beginning of the war, with some premises hit multiple times”. It adds that “34 UNRWA installations were directly hit and 57 installations sustained collateral damage. UNRWA has also received reports of the military use of its facilities on at least five occasions”. According to the agency, as many as 1.9 million people (85% of Gaza's population), have been displaced – many of them multiple times.

Almost 1.2 miliion internally displaced persons (IDPs) were sheltering in 151 UNRWA installations across all five governorates of Gaza, including in the North and Gaza City. More than 1 million IDPs were sheltering in 94 facilities in the Middle, Khan Younis and Rafah areas.

Postings on social media suggest that some men employed by UNRWA and the UN have been captured in IDF sweeps of Gaza.

Sanctions against Israeli settlers accused of attacking people and property in the West Bank will be discussed by EU foreign ministers at a summit in Brussels on Dec. 11. The Biden administration is already working on a list of names, including extremists known to the authorities in Israel and of those who disseminate, to be barred entry to the US. Similar moves in the EU would require agreement of all members of the Schengen area, which encompasses most of European in a visa union, and diplomats say work has just begun.

Secretary of State Blinken said this week the US would be “implementing a new visa restriction policy targeting individuals believed to have been involved in undermining peace, security, or stability in the West Bank, including through committing acts of violence or taking other actions that unduly restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities. Immediate family members of such persons also may be subject to these restrictions.” The EU cannot do likewise because the Schengen region offers visa-free travel between Israel and the bloc. However, the EU may use the US black list.

Convicted Israel settlers involved in violence in the West Bank or other Palestinian territories should be subject to travel restrictions, said Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo. He said: "The position of Belgium has been for a few weeks already that we want to block the access of violent convicted settlers to our territory." De Croo said US Secretary of State Blinken has the same position: “We have reached out to our American colleagues” and said they must explore how it could be operated in practice. We are at the extremely delicate moment and respect for human rights, respect for human life, stopping the killing innocent civilians, should be a priority for everyone."

The EU will also discuss a humanitarian ceasefire, which the 27 member states could not agree on when they last met in October. “For us, for Belgium, a humanitarian ceasefire is a priority that could lead to a ceasefire and the relaunch of the negotiations [on the two state solution],” the Belgian minister of foreign affairs, Hadja Lahbib, said at a press conference today.

The IDF said it has destroyed buildings used by Hamas at the Al-Azhar university in the Rimal neighbourhood of the Gaza Strip.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari Rr Adm Daniel Hagari said on X: “IDF soldiers from the 749th Reserve Engineering Battalion of the Bislah Brigade combat team yesterday destroyed buildings, including terrorist infrastructures that were used for Hamas military activity at Al-Azhar University in the Rimal neighbourhood of the Gaza Strip.”

He posted images on X of what the IDF claims to have found at the site: Twitter. 

According to The Guardian, concern is growing in Israel ovver the fate of the remaining 130+ hostages held by Hamas. Guardian contributor Yossi Melman suggested: "Every Palestinian prisoner for every Israeli hostage: that should be Netanyahu’s next move."

Germany's foreign office declared that peace in the Middle East will not be possible as long as Hamas can continue its attacks from the Gaza Strip. A spokesperson said: “we advocate for further ceasefires”, adding that Israel should avoid civilian suffering in the southern Gaza Strip and was bound to abide by humanitarian law.

Hamas claimed that an Israeli soldier who was being held hostage was killed in a clash between the terrorists and Israeli special forces conducting a rescue. Al-Qassam Brigades claims its fighters discovered the rescue operation and confronted the unit; leading to the death and injury of several of the Israeli forces. The number was not specified. The soldier was identified by the terrorists as 25-year-old Sa’ar Baruch. The IDF has not responded to The Guardian with comment.

7:00 am

The Guardian newspaper prepared the following summary of the day's events:


The UN security council is to meet Friday under acute pressure from the secretary general, António Guterres, and will vote on urging an immediate ceasefire after weeks of war. In a letter to the council on Wednesday, Guterres took the extraordinary step of invoking the UN charter’s article 99, which states that the secretary general may bring to the attention of the council “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”. After Guterres sent his urgent letter, the United Arab Emirates prepared a draft resolution that will be put to a vote on Friday, according to the delegation from Ecuador, which chairs the council this month and decides on scheduling issues, Agence France-Presse reports. The latest version of this document was seen Thursday by AFP and calls the humanitarian situation in Gaza “catastrophic” and “demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said there is a “gap” between Israel’s “intent to protect civilians” in Gaza and what has been happening on the ground. Blinken, speaking at a news conference in Washington after a meeting with the UK’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, said: “It remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection.”

Reuters is reporting that Israel has agreed, at the request of the US, to open the Kerem Shalom border crossing for only the screening and inspection of the humanitarian aid delivered into Gaza via the Rafah crossing, a senior US official said on Thursday. There has been no time frame given for when the crossing might open.

The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, has said there is no longer a functioning humanitarian operation in southern Gaza, saying instead that the aid that is reaching civilians in the territory is “erratic”, “undependable” and “not sustainable”. Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva on Thursday, Griffiths said the pace of the military assault in southern Gaza “is a repeat” of the assault in northern Gaza, and warned that there was nowhere safe for civilians in the southern part of the besieged territory.

The Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer was killed in an Israeli strike, his friends said overnight on Thursday. “My heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family a few minutes ago,” wrote his friend, the Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha, on Facebook.

Israel’s military has continued its heavy bombardment amid intense fighting in Gaza as its war with Hamas hit the two-month mark. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they had struck about 250 targets in Gaza over a 24-hour period, ending on Thursday morning. At the northern end of the Gaza Strip, there was heavy fighting in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

At least 350 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the course of 24 hours, the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry said in its latest update on Thursday. The cumulative total is 17,177 Palestinian deaths and 46,000 injured since the war began on 7 October, according to the ministry’s tally. About 20 people were killed in airstrikes that hit two homes in the residential part of Rafah in southern Gaza, according to witnesses. Rafah, a town on the southern border with Egypt, is where the IDF has told people to relocate to avoid areas likely to be bombed.

Israeli forces have given contradictory recommendations to Gaza civilians on where to seek refuge and humanitarian relief. Those who have fled to an IDF-declared “humanitarian zone” at al-Mawasi in the south-west corner of the Gaza Strip have depicted a desperate scene with no shelter and barely any food. The IDF, meanwhile, has not ruled out bombing the area.

Joe Biden spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu in a call on Thursday in which the US president “stressed that much more assistance was urgently required” across Gaza, the White House said. Biden “emphasised the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities” during his call with the Israeli prime minister, a readout of the call said.

The White House has said Israel and Hamas were not close to another deal on a new humanitarian pause. Discussions are happening “literally every day” on a possible new agreement, the White House’s national security council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. The Pentagon said the US military has resumed its flights of surveillance drones over Gaza to aid the search for hostages taken by Hamas.


December 8, 2023

Topic tags:
Swords of Iron Antisemitism