Day Fifty-Five Of Swords Of Iron

Saudi Arabia says it will 'not work with anyone' who encourages Gazans to leave their lands.

IDF in Gaza

8:00 pm

The Guardian's Summary of November 30:

Israel’s military confirmed on Thursday that a truce with Hamas would continue, allowing further hostage and prisoner releases and the possibility of more a durable pause in hostilities. There were frantic diplomatic efforts through the night to prolong the six-day halt to fighting in Gaza, which had been due to end at 7am local time (5am GMT) on Thursday. Both sides have stressed they have the will and capabilities to continue the conflict.

Talks are continuing about extending the pause, which is due to end early Friday. Hamas is willing to further extend the truce, a source close to Hamas has said. The White House has said it is “working on it literally by the hour” to try to extend the temporary ceasefire.

Eight Israeli hostages held in Gaza were released on Thursday. Hamas freed six of the hostages hours after releasing two Israeli women. All were handed over to the Red Cross in Gaza and were being brought to Israel to be taken to hospitals and be reunited with their families, the Israeli military said. Among them is Mia Schem, a French-Israeli woman who was abducted from the Supernova music festival in Israel and shown in the first Hamas video of a hostage speaking from captivity.

Under the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas – which was extended on Thursday for another day – Hamas must release 10 Israeli hostages each day in exchange for the release of 30 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. The Qatari foreign ministry said today’s overall tally has been reached, because two Russian-Israeli dual-nationals released on Wednesday have been included in Thursday’s count. The prominent Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was among 30 prisoners freed by Israel early on Thursday. Eight Palestinian women and 22 children are slated for release later today.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has stepped up calls for Israel to comply with international law and spare civilians as it wages its war against Hamas in Gaza. On his third trip to the Middle East since 7 October, Blinken said the US remains committed to supporting Israel’s right to self defence, but that Israel must protect civilians if it starts major military operations in southern Gaza.

Three people were killed and 13 injured after two brothers from East Jerusalem shot at people waiting at a bus stop on a main road towards the western edge of the city in the rush hour, local police and medics reported. Hamas’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack.

An Israeli military assault into the south of Gaza may lead to 1 million refugees, the head of the UN’s Palestine relief agency UNRWA has warned. After a second overnight visit to Gaza, Philippe Lazzarini urged Israel to think through the consequences of an offensive in the south if the temporary truce in the fighting is not extended.

Seventeen Thai hostages freed by Hamas over recent days have landed back in Bangkok, where relatives had gathered at the airport to welcome them home. The latest releases bring the total number of Thai nationals freed to 23, with nine still being held.

7:24 pm

Hamas’s Oct. 7 slaughter was “just a rehearsal,” said Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar threatened in Gaza today. This was his first public statement since the terrorist organization massacred more than a thousand people in Israel. “The leaders of the occupation [Israel] should know, Oct. 7 was just a rehearsal,” stated Sinwar, according to the Maariv newspaper.

A Thai foreign worker who was released from Hamas captivity in recent days has testified that Israeli hostages with whom he was held were beaten by their captors, including with electric cables. The unidentified Thai national told the IDF about his experiences while in captivity and said that the Israelis were treated extremely harshly, even more so than the foreign nationals they were held with.

According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, 2,005 soldiers have been injured since Oct. 7, the first such figures have been released since the war began. The IDF said that of the 2,005 wounded, 287 are still hospitalized, either from injuries sustained while defending southern communities or during the ground war inside Gaza.

The death toll in the shooting attack in Jerusalem earlier today rose to four as an Israeli man seriously hurt during the attack died of his wounds. Two other victims were a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. The fourth victim was not identified. He opened fire at the terrorists but was shot by a pair of soldiers who apparently mistook him for a terrorist. 

Three young men beat up three Jews, including a 15-year-old boy, in separate attack during a 40-minute spree of hate crimes in a Brooklyn neighborhood, police said. The attacks began at 3:25 p.m. on Nov. 25 when a 40-year-old man walking home from a Midwood synagogue was confronted by the youthful attacker. The assailants punched the victim multiple times before riding off on a scooter

5:00 pm

The IDF confirmed that six Israeli hostages have been handed over by Hamas to the Red Cross. "According to the information provided by the Red Cross, six Israeli abductees were transferred to them and are on their way to Israel." Earlier today, the IDF said two Israeli hostages were released from captivity in Gaza. Arab Israeli sisters, Aisha Ziyadne, 17, and Bilal Ziyadne, 18, were among the Israeli hostages released tonight. They were abducted from the kibbutz Holit together with their older brother, Hamza, and their father, Yousef. Hamza and Yousef remain in Gaz. Since the day of the assault, the extended Ziyadne family has held a permanent vigil outside the house of Yousef, the Times of Israel reported.

Ilana Gritzewsky, one of the two Mexican hostages held in Gaza, has been released. In a social media post, Mexico’s foreign minister, Alicia Bárcena,thanked the Qatari government for its “invaluable mediation”, adding that Mexico continues to work for the release of its other citizen, Orion Hernandez.

The eight Israeli hostages released from Hamas captivity tonight: Siblings Bilal and Aisha Ziyadne, Ilana Gritzewsky, Nili Margalit, Shani Goren, Amit Soussana, Sapir Cohen, and Mia Schem.

Thirty Palestinians to be released in exchange for 10 hostages in Gaza, said Qatar spokesman, in exchange of 10 hostages in Gaza. In a social media post, he said two Russian citizens released on Nove. 29 were counted on today’s list.

Israeli president asked the UAE to use 'political weight' to help free hostages held by Hamas. While meeting with the United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Herzog underlined “the necessity to act in any way possible to free the Israeli hostages held captive by the murderous terrorist organisation Hamas,” his office said. The meeting took place alongside UN climate talks at Cop28, in Dubai. The Israeli president’s media office stated: "The President appealed to his friend Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to employ his full political weight to promote and speed up the return home of the hostages." 

Secretary of State Blinken said Israel "has an obligation” and is capable of “neutralizing the threat posed by Hamas, while minimizing harm to innocent men, women and children.” Blinken said Israeli PM Netanyahu and his war cabinet “agreed with the need for this approach”. Blinken said the “massive loss of civilian life” and displacement of people seen in northern Gaza must not be repeated in the the south. “Intent matters, but so does the result,” he says

Blinken said Netanyahu “made clear that Israel intends to resume its military operations against Hamas”. Blinken said Israel “has the right to do everything it can to ensure” that the Hamas attacks are never repeated. “Hamas cannot remain in control of Gaza,” he said. He added “the way Israel defends itself matters”, adding that it is “imperative” that Israel behaves “in accordance with international law and the laws of war”. To Netanyahu and senior senior Israel officials  he “made clear that before Israel resumed major military operations, it must put in place humanitarian civilian protection plans that minimise further casualties of innocent Palestinians”.

Blinken goes on to say: "That means taking more effective steps to protect the lives of civilians, including by clearly and precisely designating areas and places in southern and central Gaza, where they can be safe and out of the line of fire. It means avoiding further significant displacement of civilians inside of Gaza. It means avoiding damage to critical infrastructure, like hospitals, like power stations, like water facilities, and it means giving civilians who have been displaced to southern Gaza the choice to return to the north, as soon as conditions permit. All of this can be done in a manner that still enables Israel to achieve its objectives.”

Earlier, Blinken said that the focus of his visit is to extend the pause in fighting to enable more hostages to be freed out of Gaza. “We will not stop working until we get every hostage back home with their families and loved ones,” he said. He said the US has helped “significantly” increase the level of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. He said the number of trucks carrying food, water, medicine and fuel getting into Gaza have more than doubled in the past week. But it is not enough to meet the needs of the people of Gaza, he said, particularly the elderly, pregnant women, people with disabilities.

The White House condemned a deadly gun attack at a bus stop in west Jerusalem today, which claimed the lives of three Israelis, including a 24-year-old pregnant woman. Hamas has claimed responsibility. White House spokesman John Kirby said the attack was “stark reminder” of the enemy that Israel was facing. Kirby said the attack “technically” didn’t violate the terms of the ongoing truce between Israel and Hamas, which only covers Gaza, AP reported. He said: "If anybody’s guessing and wondering whether Hamas still has murderous intentions against the Israeli people, just look at what happened in Jerusalem today." He hopes the brief truce, already extended seven times, will be extended again: "We’re working on it literally by the hour to see if we can get this seventh day turned into an eighth and ninth and 10th and beyond."

Next week, US senators will receive a classified briefing from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as the White House pushes lawmakers to pass a $106 billion supplementary aid package including money for Israel and Gaza. The meeting on December 5 will also feature Secretary of State Blinken, Director of national intelligence, Avril Haines; and the deputy administrator of the US agency for international development, Isobel Coleman. The bill has been opposed in the House of Representatves, which approved a standalone bill for Israel aid, but the exclusion of money to support Ukraine in its war against Russia is a sticking point in the Senate.

The Republican Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he and the president “are in the same place” on the measure linking aid to both conflicts.

For its part, Hamas says it needs “a thousand trucks” of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza every day, as well as 1 million liters of fuel daily, according to Haaretz, citing the “Hamas publicity office”. The IDF recently found caches of food and other humanitarian supplies from the UN secreted by Hamas in its tunnel network. Hamas said that these are the minimum quantities needed to restore essential facilities in the Gaza strip to functionality, including hospitals, flour mills, pumping stations, the desalination plant and bakeries. Hamas claimed “thousands of bodies” are under the rubble in Gaza after weeks of Israeli air strikes and missile attacks, which cannot be retrieved without proper equipment and fuel.

Israeli and US officials have discussed expelling thousands of lower-level Hamas fighters from the Gaza Strip as a possible way to shorten the war, according to a report. The idea, reported by the Wall Street Journal, is similar to the US-brokered deal that allowed the deportation of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) members, including the leader Yasser Arafat, from Lebanon to Tunisia. According to The Guardian, one proposal, developed the Israeli military’s thinktank, would start with the creation of “Hamas-free safe zones” that would be ruled by a new Gaza authority backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the report said. A senior Israeli official told the paper it was not clear that Hamas would accept the option to leave Gaza if it was offered. They added that there was no “practical discussion” of exiling Hamas fighters, but that the option may become available if there was no other choice.

Democratic party leaders in California and pro-Israel Jewish groups in the Bay Area condemned expressions of support for Hamas and conspiracy theories questioning the Oct. 7  attacks aired at a heated Oakland city council debate on Nov. 27. Rep. Adam Schiff said it was shocking to hear people “downplay, deny or even seek to justify” the “horrific attacks, rapes, killings and kidnappings” carried out by Hamas. California Gov Gavin Newsom posted on social media that Hamas was a terrorist organization that “must be called out for what they are: evil”.

The Democratic leaders were responding to video clips of comments made by members of the public at an Oakland city council debate on a ceasefire resolution calling for an immediate end to the Israel-Hamas war. The remarks, some of which portrayed Hamas as justified “armed resistance”, were lambasted as a “disgrace” by the pro-Israel group Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).

The Guardian reported: "In an indication of the political foment that the Israel-Hamas conflict is spawning in cities across the US, there was equally strong pushback to the video clips from pro-Palestinian groups in the Bay Area. They claimed that the remarks had been highly edited to misrepresent people’s positions as part of a malicious propaganda campaign designed to discourage calls for a ceasefire."

The international criminal court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan visited Israel “at the request and invitation of survivors and the families of victims of the 7 October attacks,” the court said. He will also visit Ramallah to meet senior Palestinian officials, the ICC said in a social media post on Thursday, adding: "The visit, while not investigative in nature, represents an important opportunity to express sympathy for all victims and engage in dialogue."

9:58 am

Israel and Hamas agreed to extend a temporary truce by another day just minutes before it was set to expire, said Qatar, which has been mediating between the two sides. The truce was set to expire this morning.

9:35 am

According to the IDF, troops arrested 23 suspects during overnight raids throughout the West Bank, including 10 Hamas operatives. The IDF also seized military materiel, Hamas flags, and 250,000 Israeli shekels. So far, some 2,100 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank amid the ongoing war in Gaza, 1,100 of whom are Hamas members.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen is summoning Spain's ambassador to Israel to receive a reprimand over a statement made by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez who recently said he has “serious doubt” Israel is complying with international humanitarian law during its campaign against Hamas. “Israel is acting and will continue to act in accordance with international law and we will continue with the war until the release of the hostages and elimination of Hamas in Gaza,” Cohen stated. Sanchez stated “The footage we are seeing and the growing numbers of children dying, I have serious doubt [Israel] is complying with international humanitarian law,” according to a translation by Reuters. “What we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable.” Israel has accused Sanchez of supporting terrorism, even after Sanchez just days earlier toured an Israeli kibbutz attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7 and saw footage of the atrocities committed that day.

Cohen said that Hamas bears responsibility for the situation in Gaza due to the terror group’s perpetration of the October 7 massacres. “It is the terror organization Hamas that carries out war crimes and crimes against humanity, Israeli citizens and the citizens of Gaza,” Cohen adds. Israeli PM Netanyahu had ordered Cohen to call the Spanish ambassador on the carpet. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met Netanyahu today, emphasized the need to protect civilians in southern Gaza, where many have fled, according to the State Department. Blinken “stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, who added that he “urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm.” Reuters reported that the US is pushing Israel to limit its operations in southern Gaza, and designate safe areas for civilians. Israeli PM Netanyahu, for his part, noted that the meeting came shortly after three Israelis were murdered in a Hamas terror attack in Jerusalem: “This is the same Hamas. It’s the same Hamas that committed the terrible massacre on October 7, the same Hamas that is trying to murder us everywhere. I told him we have sworn, and I have sworn, to destroy Hamas. Nothing will stop us,” he says, reiterating that the war in Gaza will continue until Israel frees all its hostages, vanquishes Hamas and guarantees that no similar threat will ever be posed again from Gaza."

Israeli police foiled an attempt to smuggle 137 guns into Israel from Jordan in the biggest-ever such bust on the Jordanian border. Israel's Magen anti-smuggling unit had been following a weapons smuggling ring involved in many attempts to bring guns into Israel from Jordan. Last week, a Magen unit in the southern town of Tzofar warned of an attempt by the ring to bring weapons over the border. Troops identified a vehicle approaching the border from the Israeli side and chased after it. Four suspects from the Bedouin communities in their 20s and 30s were arrested, including the ringleader. Police seized 137 weapons, including 120 handguns and 17 M-16 assault rifles, as well as dozens of weapon parts and some 250 magazines, with an estimated value of $1.6 million. The Times of Israel reported: "Weapons smuggling is a constant challenge for Israel, along its long, porous eastern border with Jordan, and in the West Bank. Officials believe most guns are being used for underworld crime, and have vowed to crack down as part of an effort to end years of bloodshed in the Arab community."

The head of the the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Muhammed Barakeh, filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against the police, demanding it cease implementing a blanket ban on anti-war demonstrations in Arab-majority towns. The petition claims that police have refused to allow anti-war demonstrations in a public square in Nazareth, and follows last week's rejection of request for an anti-war protest permit. 

An anti-war protest was ultimately authorized in Tel Aviv two weeks ago after another petition to the High Court pressured the police to issue it with a permit. “The harm to freedom of expression and protest… contravenes not only police regulations but those of the attorney general regarding public demonstrations,” says the Adalah advocacy group after filing the petition. The decisions by the police, the State Attorney’s Office and the High Court “have created a space for blanket racist policies which block freedom of protest only in Arab towns,” said Dr. Souhad Bishara of Adalah. “Unfortunately, the State Attorney’s Office and the attorney general are not fulfilling their roles as gatekeepers [on respecting human rights] and the High Court has sufficed itself until now with general statements without effectively intervening to protect the fundamental right to freedom of expression of Arab citizens, which we are demanding right now,” says Bishara.

Russia’s supreme court bans the “international LGBT movement,” claiming the organization is an extremist group, without stating whether specific individuals or organizations in Russia will be impacted by the ruling. A judge ruled to recognize "the international LGBT public movement and its subdivisions as an extremist organization and ban its activities on the territory of Russia.”

Pope Francis reportedly had a tense phone call with Israeli President Isaac Herzog last month. A senior Israeli official reportedly told the Washington Post that the pontiff appeared to categorize Israel’s military operations against the Hamas terror group in Gaza as “terrorism.” The Washington Post reported that he told Herzog that it is “forbidden to respond to terror with terror.” Herzog protested the pope's characterization of Israel self-defense. The Washington Post reported that Israel believed the call went so badly that it did not make the conversation public. The Vatican confirmed that the call transpired, and Herzog’s office refused to comment. Last week, Pope Francis said publicly: "We have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism.” Jewish groups urged Francis to clarify those remarks and whether he was saying Israel was engaged in terrorism.

9:31 am

A car ramming attack at Beka'ot Checkpoint in Judea/Samara has left at least 2 Israeli soldiers wounded, according to initial reports. The terrorist was reportedly killed at the scene.

9:30 am

The IDF provided an updated list of newly used weapons and equipment, including the Dagger aiming system, Negev 7 machine-gun, Arrow defense system, Iron Sting mortar, Eitan APC, Typhoon Mk-30c turret, and more. “The assimilation of the additional weapons and equipment has tremendous significance these days, as it helps the efficiency and security of the forces in the field, and leads us to successful and precise maneuvering in the dense Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in its press release.

Negev machine gun wikimedia commons

9:20 am

Three Israelis were murdered and six other people were wounded on the morning of Nov. 30 in a terror shooting on Weizman Boulevard at the entrance to Jerusalem. The deceased were identified as 24-year-old Livia Dickman, from Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood; Hanna Ifergan, a school principal in Beit Shemesh in her 60s; and Rabbinical Court Judge Elimelech Wasserman, 73. The assailants were identified as brothers Murad Namr, 38, and Ibrahim Namr, 30, from eastern Jerusalem. According to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), they belonged to Hamas and had previously been jailed for terror-related activity.  The Namr brothers opened fire on people waiting at a bus stop with an automatic rifle and a pistol. Both were killed subsequently killed by armed civilians at the scene.

9:10 am

Among the 30 criminals released by Israel in exchange for hostages held by Hamas on the night of Nov. 29 was Ahed Tamimi, a 22-year-old Muslim woman who had been imprisoned by Israel. Deemed by the media as an "activist", Tamimi was sentenced at the age of 16 to eight months in prison for slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier in 2017 after her 15-year-old cousin was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during a protest. The incident was filmed, propelling the then-16-year-old to worldwide fame and eventual tours of the Middle East and Europe. A Palestinian nationalist and leftist, Tamimi was re-arrested in November this year for alleged incitement on social media in the aftermath of the October 7 attack by Hamas, which killed 1,200 Israelis and triggered the new war in Gaza. Tamimi was detained over an Instagram post, which her family denies she made. 

The overnight releases, which came after a sixth batch of hostages were freed from Gaza, bring the number of Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel under a truce deal to 210. Hamas and other militants in Gaza have released 70 Israelis under the deal, along with nearly 30 hostages of other nationalities outside the truce framework.

The following summary was provided by The Guardian at 1 am Jerusalem time:

Sixteen hostages were released today, including 12 Israelis and 4 Thais. Among the Israeli hostages released today were Elena Trupanov and Irena Tati, two dual Israeli-Russian citizens who were released earlier this evening.

The Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons in exchange include 16 minors and 14 women, the Qatari foreign ministry said.

A Hamas source said on Wednesday that the group was not satisfied with Israel’s proposals for another truce extension, Agence France-Presse reports. Speaking to AFP ahead of the expiration of the current truce which will be at 7am local time on Thursday, the source said: “What is being proposed in the discussions to extend the truce is not the best.”

The Palestine Red Cross Society delivered 21 trucks of aid into Gaza and northern areas on Wednesday. “PRCS is committed to delivering the largest number possible of humanitarian aid to north Gaza, which had not received any aid prior to the humanitarian pause agreement,” the group said.

Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, has said Israeli forces are ready to resume fighting “immediately.” Posting to social media on Wednesday, Gallant wrote: “We are making every attempt to return all the abductees and to fully exploit the current move to return all the abducted women and children in Gaza. IDF forces in the air, on land and at sea are ready to resume fighting immediately.”

Two boys, one eight years old and the other 15, where shot and killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, the Palestinian health ministry said. In a statement reported by Agence France-Presse, the health ministry said: “Adam al-Ghul, eight years old, and Bassem Abu el-Wafa, 15 years old, were killed by bullets from the occupier [Israel].”
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Nentanyahu, has spoken with representatives of the Bibas family after reports from Hamas that three of its members were killed, including 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, Haaretz reports. According to Haaretz, Netanyahu told the family representatives that the matter was being investigated by Israel’s security forces.

The US is hopeful that the truce in Gaza between Israel and Hamas can be extended, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters on Wednesday, Reuters reports. “We’re hopeful the truce can be extended,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding: “This is all in the hands of Hamas. The Israelis have said if they continue to release 10 hostages a day, they will extend by a day. So it truly is in their hands. But I do think there is a potential for that and we are actively working to extend the deal.”

Three Qatari armed forces aircraft carrying 108 tons of aid for Palestinians in Gaza have arrived in El Erish, Egypt, Qatar’s news agency announced on Wednesday. The three planes, which carried basic food supplies and shelter equipment, brings the total number of Qatari planes sent to Gaza to 30, carrying 1,018 tons of aid.

Speaking at the UN security council on Wednesday, Palestine’s foreign minister, Riad al-Maliki, said 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.

Jordan will host an international conference on Thursday that will be attended by the main UN bodies, as well as regional and international relief agencies to coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza, Reuters reports. The UN aid head, Martin Griffiths, as well as key UN bodies and NGOs involved in increasing the entry of aid into Gaza, are expected to attend the conference, along with representatives from western and Arab countries.

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said on Wednesday that Gaza is in the midst of an “epic humanitarian catastrophe.” Addressing a UN security council meeting chaired by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, Guterres said “we must not look away” from the deteriorating humanitarian crisis that has engulfed Gaza.

Speaking at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that Saudi Arabia is “not going to work with anyone” who seeks to encourage Palestinians to leave their land.

“The Palestinians do not want to leave their land and we are not going to encourage them or force them to leave their land and we are not going to work with anyone who has that agenda. The Palestinians have a right to their land and they have a right to live in safety and security and dignity on their land. That is what we will push for and that is what we will work towards,” said bin Farhan.


November 30, 2023

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Swords of Iron