Israel-Hamas War – Week 8 Commencing November 26, 2023

We present here a diary of reported news from Israel and elsewhere about the Israel-Hamas war of 2023, known in Israel as Swords of Iron. Our sources include the IDF Spokesman, Israeli Kan TV/radio service, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on Twitter/X (@IsraeliPM) and other sources considered reliable…

Saturday December 2, 2023:

  • War situation: The IDF ground campaign continues. The Air force has dropped leaflets and made other announcements in Arabic to the residents of Khan Younis in the South of Gaza where to move to for their safety. Skirmishes continue on the Israel-Lebanon border. Aan air raid was reported in Damascus on facilities of pro Iranian militants (Kan radio).
  • Died in captivity: The IDF has now determined that 6 Israeli hostages (rather than 4) have died in captivity in Gaza. This is based on the accounts of returning hostages and Hamas propaganda films shown to relatives (Kan radio).
  • Post war: Israel wants to see a Gaza border buffer zone (Jerusalem Post and others).
  • John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson: “The United States will support Israel militarily whenever Jerusalem decides to resume its offensive in Gaza. We continue to believe that Israel has a right and responsibility to go after Hamas. They have said very clearly that when these pauses are over, they intend to go back at it. As they make that decision, they’ll continue to find support from the United States in terms of the tools and capabilities, the weapons systems that they need as well as the advice and the perspectives that we can offer in terms of urban warfare. We have been very consistent and clear with our Israeli counterparts that we do not support a move to the south unless or until they have adequately accounted for the protection of innocent human life, civilian life in southern Gaza, with the understanding that there’s a whole heck of a lot more innocent civilians in southern Gaza than there were a week or two ago… What we’re urging Israel to do is to make sure there’s appropriate accounting for that and additional safety measures in place,” (Times of Israel) Comment: The Israeli Air Force has dropped many leaflets in Arabic with maps informing Gaza residents where to go for their safety.
  • UN Women finally make a statement: “We unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October. We are alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during those attacks” (UN Women, X/Twitter). Comment: Widely reported in Israel, considered weak and 8 weeks’ late.
  • Iran comments: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian: Hamas Is in a Good Place; Haniyeh Reassured Me that So Far, They Have Only Used 10-12% of Their Capabilities, Forces, and Weapons (Israeli Foreign Ministry re-tweeting MEMRI post).
  • Data: 137 Israeli hostages are thought to remain in Gaza.
  • First failure investigation: A Kan Israeli TV News documentary reported on an investigation by parents of soldiers at the Nachal Oz IDF base on October 7. It emerges that 24 out of 26 female lookout soldiers without weapons died or were captured. There were clear warnings over a long period right up to October 7 massacre. IDF commanders dismissed it all as beyond the capabilities of Hamas. The documentary included October 7 phone film clips as evidence. Comment: This means the Israeli government cannot do a white-wash after the war. Not only were warnings ignored, back up layers of security weren’t there. The questions now are: (1) Who knew about the warnings? (2) Who should have known? People running a business take an interest in their employees. The same must apply in a government and an army.
  • Under UNWRA crates: Israeli troops uncovered dozens of rockets and around 30 grad long range missiles hidden under crates belonging to the United Nations in the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF reported Saturday afternoon (Ynet).
  • Data: On Day 56, 136 Israeli hostages remain in Hamas captivity in Gaza, including 17 women and children, 113 Israeli hostages were released (meaning Israel released 339 Palestinian terrorists)
  • Egypt: US Vice President Kamala Harris met today with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt in Dubai. The Vice President made clear that Hamas cannot control Gaza, which is untenable for Israel’s security, the well-being of the Palestinian people, and regional security (White House website).
  • Qatar: US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke today with Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar. They discussed the importance of planning for the day after the fighting ends in Gaza. Comment: Did they discuss this?:
  • Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on TV this evening the IDF has resumed the war in full force after Hamas broke the ceasefire yesterday morning. He checked this personally from an Apache helicopter. He noted that 110 hostages and terabytes of data passed to Israel. Hamas will suffer for breaking its promises.
  • PM Netanyahu later gave a press conference on TV tonight mainly about the suffering of the hostages and their relatives. Netanyahu admitted there are differences of opinion with the US. but gave no details. Netanyahu also admitted he did not know what Gallant said at his separate press conference earlier in the evening. This led Kan commentators and others to wonder whether there is a split in the war cabinet….(Kan TV News).
  • Jerusalem: It emerged that one of the three deaths in Jerusalem on Thursday Nov 30 was caused unintentionally by shooting by an armed Israeli, not a terrorist.
  • Qatar: “Statement: Qatar expresses its deep regret at the resumption of the Israeli aggression against Gaza following the end of the humanitarian pause” (Qatar Foreign Ministry X/Twitter). Comment: Honest broker??

Friday December 1, 2023

  • War resumes: At 05.44am Hamas rockets started attacking Israel. Hamas had until 7am to provide another 10 names of Israeli hostages for release to prolong the ceasefire for another day but didn’t. At 7.06am the IDF announced it is resuming the war and did so (Kan).
  • Statement by the Prime Minister’s Office: The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization has violated the outline. It has not met its obligation to release all of the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens (X/Twitter)
  • To minimize civilian casualties: the IDF dropped leaflets showing a map of Gaza divided into hundreds of districts and giving instructions in Arabic to the population where to go for their safety. For a copy of the map see:
  • Died in captivity: Four Israeli hostages were reported today to have died in captivity in Gaza
  • Yemen: Loud explosions were heard yesterday (Nov 30) coming from a Houthi arms warehouse caused by an Israeli air strike according to Saudi media reports (quoted by Kan News and the Jerusalem Post). The Houthis apparently denied this, saying that detonation of old munitions which set dry trees on fire.
  • Current situation: Hamas is known to hold at over 10 Israeli women and children as hostages and could have extended the ceasefire by releasing them if Hamas wanted, according to Kan TV. Ceasefire talks continue behind the scenes. It seems Hamas wanted to keep the Israeli women and children as a psychological “playing card”. Instead, Hamas apparently wanted to move straight on to male hostages and try to get Israel to release terrorists convicted of serious crimes (Kan TV). The Israeli government and people do not accept this, hence the ceasefire collapsed.
  • The Hague International Criminal Court prosecutor visited the Southern Israeli kibbutzim at the invitation of relatives of Israeli hostages. He is reportedly checking whether Hamas committed genocide. If so, this would be problematic for Israel which does not recognize the ICC or its claims against Israel.
  • Saudi Arabia: “The Reason Behind Saudi Arabia’s Non-Intervention With Hamas Despite the numerous inquiries we often receive, it’s crucial to clarify that as Saudi citizens and Sunni Muslims, we have limited influence over organizations such as HAMAS. Moreover, our scope to directly negotiate or influence their strategies or tactics is, in reality, non-existent (@Haytham_MG, X/Twitter post on IDF X/Twitter account).

Thursday November 30, 2023

  • Ceasefire (Pause): 7am in Israel, at the last minute the IDF announced the ceasefire will continue while negotiations continue. Hamas offered to release 7 women and children, Israel said it wants back over 20. So, Hamas came up with a better list….Hamas released 8 hostages and counted two yesterday as counting towards the 10 needed under the ceasefire agreement for today.
  • Creative accounting: Hamas offered 8 hostages today plus adding to the count 2 Russian-Israelis already released yesterday as a gesture to Putin to reach 10….Israel accepted this for today. Tomorrow (Dec 1) it remains to be seen whether Hamas can “find” 10 hostages, or whether the war may resume at 7am.
  • Biden commented: Sixteen more people are going home after being held hostage by Hamas. Among them is Liat Beinin, an American. (X/Twitter (Nov 30))(It remains to be seen whether 16 is the correct number),
  • Jerusalem: Three Israelis were shot dead at a main bus stop in Jerusalem by East Jerusalem Hamas terrorists who were neutralized by off duty soldiers. Others were injured (Kan News and others). Prime Minister Netanyahu directed that the homes of the two terrorists who perpetrated today’s attack in Jerusalem be sealed and demolished, that extensive arrests be carried out among those who supported and dispatched them (Israeli PM Office X/Twitter).
  • Spain: Spain’s PM, Pedro Sanchez, accused Israel of breaking international law due to the number of Gaza casualties. This was apparently without mentioning that Gaza casualty numbers include many Hamas terrorists who fought the IDF and human shields. Israel recalled its diplomats in Spain and summoned the Spanish ambassador to receive a diplomatic protest (Kan and others).
  • What UNWRA personnel do: “One of the hostages, recently released from Gaza, revealed on Wednesday that he was held for nearly 50 days in an attic by a teacher from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East The story was publicized on X by Channel 13 journalist Almog Boker. The hostage also said that the teacher who held him captive was a father of 10 children. He had barely been provided food or medical attention, and was locked away by the teacher, he said.” (Jerusalem Post/Channel 13).
  • Tekuma Region: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting last night, at the Sdot Negev Regional Council building, with council heads from communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, under its new name, the “Tekuma Region” (Israeli PM Office X/Twitter)
  • President Herzog in UAE: “As part of Israel’s ongoing efforts to see the release and return home of the hostages, I held an important meeting with the President of the United Arab Emirates, HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed. I thank him for the warm welcome here in Dubai as part of the UN Climate Conference. During my short visit, I will hold a series of diplomatic meetings and also participate in the COP28 climate conference. In my meetings with world leaders I intend to raise the firm demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. In addition, I will detail and emphasize efforts to provide more and more humanitarian aid to the civilians of Gaza (Israeli President’s Office X/Twitter). Israel has diplomatic relations with UAE.
  • Blinken: US Secretary of State visited Israel today for the 4th time since the Israel-Hamas war started. He met the Israeli PM, Cabinet and Army Chief of Staff and heard about the next stage of the war. He reportedly asked Israeli to minimize civilian hostages, if so, it seems the war is set to continue.
  • Guterres: After nearly 8 weeks, the UN Secretary General has finally acknowledged” “There are numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on 7 October that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. Gender-based violence must be condemned. Anytime. Anywhere.” (X/Twitter). Israeli Ambassador to the UN announced he will provide proof that Hamas committed sexual crimes at the UN next week and invited Guterres to attend (Times of Israel).

Wednesday November 29, 2023

  • Ceasefire: The ceasefire still seems to be holding, a sixth tranche of hostages – 10 Israelis and 2 dual Russian-Israelis today – were released today (Kan and others).
  • PM Netanyahu 6.30pm Nov 29, 2023: “in recent days I have heard a question: After completing this stage of the return of our hostages, will Israel go back to the fighting? My answer is an unequivocal yes.” (X/Twitter).
  • War minister Benny Gantz televised press conference: We must keep fighting. We are ready and the fighting will spread to all of Gaza. We voted against the coalition monies (to the Haredim) in yesterday’s budget amendment which does not contribute to the war effort, but we continue to “hold the stretcher” (Israeli army slang, Gantz is continuing with the war effort).
  • Ron Krivoi: The Russian-Israeli released yesterday (Nov 28) by Hamas escaped from a building that collapsed after bombing by the Israeli Air Force and tried to head back to Israel, but was rounded up by Gazans and handed back to Hamas (Ron’s sister in Israeli radio interview)
  • Red Cross visits?? “On Tuesday, November 28, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Mirjana Spoljaric Egger….National Security Advisor Sullivan reiterated the call for the immediate release of all hostages, and highlighted the imperative need for the ICRC to have access to and provide medical assistance to those hostages still being detained” (White House website).
  • Whose side is UNWRA on? “It is a day to affirm our support for the full rights and national aspirations of Palestinians….Remarks by @UNLazzarini on occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” (UNWRA X/Twitter)
  • West Bank: Two terrorists were eliminated in an IDF operation in Jenin on the West Bank
  • Haggling over possible ceasefire extension: Hamas says it has no more women and children, Israel replied it has 21 women and 4 children. Hamas wants to go straight on to negotiating the release of males of army age, reservist age, and over reservist age (presumably in return for most dangeous terrorists Israel wants to keep). The US wants to see more aid and less impact on Gaza civilians… (Kan News)
  • Ceasefire extension?? talks are continuing in Qatar between the heads of intelligence services of the US, Egypt, Qatar and Israel. Hamas has reportedly “found” another 20 or do women meaning another two days of ceasefire. After that there are male hostages and IDF soldiers for whom Hamas may want an “everyone for everyone” deal and longer term ceasefire (Hudnah) which is an Arab concept for buying time while preparing for a future war. Not what Israelis want, nor Biden apparently. The expectation in Israel is for another 2 day extension to bring back the women hostages (Kan and others).
  • The elephant in the room: IDF soldiers generally shouldn’t allow themselves to be taken captive, should they?
  • Treatment: some of the returning hostages say they were treated well, some weren’t. Many lost weight. Some lacked their medicines and received no medical or dental treatment, some lacked their glasses. Some were spat on, some were told Israel doesn’t want them back, some couldn’t shower and needed permission to go to the toilet. Many still don’t want to open up (Kan & Galei Tsahal).
  • Arabs refuse release: Israel Army radio interviewed the Israeli Arab lawyer of two female Israeli Arabs who don’t want to be released although listed for release by Hamas. They were recently arrested for alleged incitement posts and await trial. Their lawyer explained that even they object to Hamas (Galei Tsahal).

Tuesday November 28, 2023

  • Ceasefire: The ceasefire still seems to be holding, a fifth tranche of hostages . 10 more Israeli hostages (and a pet dog) and two non-Israeli hostages were released today (Nov 28)(Kan TV News)
  • Ceasefire breach: “Over the last hour, 3 explosive devices were detonated adjacent to IDF troops in 2 different locations in northern Gaza, violating the framework of the operational pause. In one of the locations, terrorists also opened fire at the troops, who responded with fire. A number of soldiers were lightly injured during the incidents. IDF troops were located in positions as per the framework of the operational pause.” (IDF X/Twitter)
  • Treatment: Elma Avraham, aged 84, who was released by Hamas in a critical condition 2 days ago appears to be responding to Israeli hospital treatment.
  • Name of the game: survival of the leaders on each side. Qatar has said it hopes the ceasefire will be permanent meaning Sinwar and the rest of Hamas survive in power.
  • As for PM Netanyahu, Likud Science Minister Ofir Akunis, who sits on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said on Kan Reshet Bet, that a state commission of inquiry will investigate the Oct 7 failure, but only after the war. Commentators speculated that Netanyahu will say only he can lead, as he approved the ground campaign and entry into Shifa hospital despite international pressure not to do so.
  • Budget: yesterday the Israeli cabinet approved a supplementary 2023 budget of NIS 30bn of which around NIS 5bn will go to Yeshivot and other Haredi educational activities, despite objections from Benny Gantz and others (Kan, Galei Tsahal).
  • Reaction: Israelis and commentators on the Army radio (Galei Tsahal) are furious. The NIS 5bn would be better spent on body armor and other needed equipment for the IDF. Some said the Finance Ministry could have at least waited until 2024. Finance Minister Smotrich reportedly explained there is plenty of money and he had merely “opened the tap”. But commentators pointed out the money in the tap comes from taxes paid by working people…..
  • Germany: President Isaac Herzog met today with President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier who visited Israel.
  • Impossible Offer: A new proposal reported from a summit in Qatar proposes: (1) Release of all the hostages including IDF soldiers – perhaps around 160, (2) Release of all terrorists, including those with blood on their hands (i.e. including murderers) – perhaps around 6,000, (3) Long term ceasefire (Kan TV News). Comment: It seems highly unlikely that the Israeli people would let the Israeli government agree to any such proposal. What happened on October 7 was to awful to let Hamas get away with it. Hamas would need to surrender unconditionally as Japan and Germany did in 1945, and the PLO did in 1982 in Beirut.
  • IDF Spokesman at televised press conference: Negotiations are proceeding, but pay no attention to foreign reports. The lack of Red Cross visits to hostages still held is wrong. Today IDF soldiers were attacked and had to be repulsed with shooting.
  • Hamas still hold 8 children as hostages, with ages ranging from 10 months to 18, including one Bedouin Arab child….

Monday November 27, 2023

  • The ceasefire/pause: still seems to be holding but there were difficulties with the release of a fourth tranche of hostages.
  • The fourth tranche: today’s release of hostages was in danger all day after Israel objected to some of the proposed names because it seems mothers may be split from children. Apparently Hamas capitulated as the extension cannot proceed if no fourth tranche is let out. Currently Israeli sources are saying two mothers should be released today and the ceasefire may be extended one day at a time. This is because Hamas claims it needs to look for the hostages (Kan).
  • Hamas and the hostages: one reason why Israelis don’t believe that Hamas need to look for hostages is that released hostages say they were held together in large underground halls. They were fed well on pita and hummus before the IDF ground campaign began, after that they were given mainly tin food. Most knew about the war and the situation in Israel as they were allowed to listen to the radio (Kan).
  • US intervention: A US Navy warship rescued a hijacked Israeli owned ship, the Zodiac off Yemen. The crew were released safe from a sealed room.
  • North Gaza: Yesterday’s hostages were televised being released from Sadjaye in North Gaza by Hamas in shiny white Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks. The IDF is supposed to be in North Gaza. Israelis are talking about this. In reality, both sides are employing guerrilla tactics – appear, do something, disappear.
  • Aid: 200 trucks entered Gaza earlier today, 42 of which were loaded with shelter equipment. As part of this aid, some 3,600 tons of tents, blankets and mattresses have been transferred to Gaza ahead of the winter. Over 2,000 trucks have entered Gaza since the start of the war, transferring water, food and medical equipment (IDF X/Twitter).
  • Netanyahu and Biden: PM Netanyahu says he told President Biden yesterday evening (Nov 26) “that at the end of the outline [pause?], we will go to realizing our goals with full force: Eliminating Hamas, ensuring that Gaza will not go back to being what it was and – of course – releasing all of our hostages.” (Israel PM on X/Twitter)
  • Dogs: Specially trained dogs play an essential role in the IDF’s operational activities inside Gaza, assisting in locating explosive materials. Approximately 50 booby-trapped explosive devices and dozens of weapons stockpiles were located by Oketz (K-9) Unit fighters and dogs prior to the operational pause. Sadly, four dogs that fought alongside the troops were killed in combat while defending the soldiers in Gaza. They will be buried in the unit’s cemetery (IDF X/Twitter).
  • Updated list of Israel’s fallen:
  • The US Federal Government has reportedly issued trademark rights to a lawyer in Fairlawns for the phrase “From the river to the sea palestine will be free”. This gives legal rights to stop Amazon and others using this trademark without permission (Hillel Fuld Instagram post)
  • Hamas leader Sinwar met hostages in the tunnels and spoke with them in Hebrew (he learnt Hebrew in Israeli prison).
  • The IDF tactical intelligence unit doesn’t do weekends or festivals. That included October 7 which was Shabbat and Simchat Torah. (Kan news).
  • PM Netanyahu is going nowhere and expects to retain his job after the war (Kan news).
  • The ceasefire/pause is to be extended 2 days in return for the release of 20 hostages (Kan, Haaretz).

Sunday November 26, 2023

  • Third tranche of hostages: 6.25pm in Israel, Hamas has handed over the third tranche of 13 Israeli hostages and three Thailanders. A Russian-Israeli dual national was also released earlier in the day. All are now in Israel. At least one is in a serious condition. Also 39 Palestinian terrorists were released from Israeli jails (IDF X/Twitter & Kan News).
  • Ceasefire/Truce: Seems to be holding today (Nov 26).
  • Tomorrow? Tomorrow Monday Nov 27 the fourth tranche of hostages are due to be released. Israel has reportedly said it remains interested in extending the ceasefire/pause every additional day 10 or more hostages are released. At this stage, we don’t know if that will happen after tomorrow or if the war will be resumed by the IDF.
  • Irish PM in hot water: Irish PM Leon Varadkar commented on yesterday about an Irish-Israeli hostage released yesterday (25.11.23): “This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief.  Our prayers have been answered.”
  • Israel angered by Irish PM: To Israelis this was too neutral, wrong and and insulting to Emily. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen tweeted on X a reply to Leon Varadkar: “Mr. Prime Minister, It seems you have lost your moral compass and need a reality check! Emily Hand was not “lost”, she was kidnapped by a terror organization worse than ISIS that murdered her stepmother. Emily and more than 30 other Israeli children were taken hostage by Hamas, and you @LeoVaradkar are trying to legitimize and normalize terror. Shame on you!” In addition, Israel has summoned the Irish ambassador to Israel to protest Leon Varadkar’s remarks (Kan, Jerusalem Post, X/Twitter).
  • Biden today on TV (Nov 26): We will not stop working until every hostage is back. Hamas unleashed this war. Critically needed aid is going in, hostages are coming out. My goal is for the ceasefire to continue beyond tomorrow. Nothing is taken for granted. Abigail and others (Abigail Edan, 4 year old US-Israeli national) can begin their long path to recovery. Thank G-d she’s home. We are looking for a way to ensure Hamas is no longer in control of Gaza. I didn’t want to do this press conference until I knew they (third batch of hostages) were out (of Gaza, after yesterday’s delay).
  • Biden yesterday (Nov 25): Yesterday the second tranche of hostages was delayed several hours. The White House explained on its website how US President Biden intervened: “President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani of Qatar on implementation of the hostage deal and humanitarian pause in Gaza.  The leaders discussed hurdles to implementation of the deal and mechanisms for resolving those hurdles as soon as possible.  They agreed to remain in close contact to ensure the deal is fully implemented according to its terms.”
  • Damascus airport: was reportedly attacked and closed today according to foreign reports.
  • London: Around 60,000 British Jews and others held a mass demonstration protesting against antisemitism in the UK which has increased since the Israel-Hamas war broke out. Among the participants was UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, ex PM Boris Johnson, security minister Tom Tugenhadt, immigration minister Robert Jenrick and Labour’s shadow science minister Peter Kyle. English Defense League founder Tommy Robinson – who was asked not to attend by organizers – was arrested by British police. This followed many pro-Palestinian protests across Britain since October 7 (BBC and others).
  • “You have no precept as great as redeeming captives.” (Maimonides)(Quote by Israeli PM’s Office on X/Twitter)