Israel Hamas War – Week 12 Commencing December 24, 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…

Friday December 29, 2023

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing clashes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border. Hamas is still firing missiles into Israel from time to time.
  • Drones: The IDF has apparently found the cheapest and most effective option for exploring the underground labyrinths—which are a potential death trap for soldiers—is a small quadcopter drone. But not Chinese made ones as they can be located with the right software. And not ones using GPS, instead they make their own network, each gives the next further range underground. Multiple drones—sometimes called a swarm—can also be directed by one operator. Using a virtual-reality headset with picture-in-picture feeds, the operator can use one drone to break into a building through a window or a door, and land a second one at the entrance for additional surveillance. Meanwhile, a third can search the building for the target. Three is the magic number. (Wall Street Journal).
  • IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi: “There are no magic solutions or shortcuts in the fundamental dismantling of a terrorist organization, except persistent and determined fighting… We will also get to the Hamas leadership, whether it takes a week or months”.(Dec 26, 2023,
  • Naftali Bennet, ex PM: “It turns out that Iran’s tyrants are softer than one might expect. They gleefully send others to die for them. But when they’re hit at home, suddenly they become timid (Naftali Bennet in Wall Street Journal).
  • GENOCIDE ALLEGATION by South Africa: South Africa launched a case on Friday Dec 29 at the United Nations’ top court accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and asking the court to order Israel to halt its attacks. Israel swiftly rejected the filing “with disgust.” South Africa’s submission to the International Court of Justice alleges that “acts and omissions by Israel … are genocidal in character” as they are committed with the intent “to destroy Palestinians in Gaza” as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group. (PBS and others).
  • COMMENT: The Genocide Convention Article II defines “genocide” as follows: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
  • IN THIS CASE: The intent of Israel is none of the above, Israel’s intent is to release the hostages and remove Hamas from power in order to prevent Hamas repeating the October 7 massacre and rape atrocities. Also, Hamas is a terror group NOT a “national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. The October 7 massacre and atrocities were genocide by Hamas. Using human shields is also genocide. Hamas has refused to surrender or end the war.
  • MOREOVER: Article VI of the Genocide Convention says: “Persons charged with genocide…shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction. Israel seems unlikely to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice due to bias.

Thursday December 28, 2023

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing clashes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border. Hamas is still firing missiles into Israel from time to time.
  • Hamas leader Sinwar is thought to be hiding under Khan Younis with Israeli hostages as human shields (Kan).
  • Not indiscriminate: IDF Brigadier General Omer Tischler, in a video statement, rejected claims that Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip have been indiscriminate. “Since the October 7 massacre, the Israeli Air Force has been conducting a precise, focused and process-based campaign….“Our planning principles include: 1. Striking targets based on intel, and military necessity for close air support. 2. Evacuation efforts: They enable us to strike and maneuver in areas with minimal civilian presence. 3. Selecting the right munitions to minimize collateral damage… 4. Real-time monitoring: During a strike, we monitor the target area. If it does not comply with our Standard Operating Procedures, we abort” (IDF, Jerusalem Post).
  • Legal: The “reasonableness test” of judicial review may soon be reinstated according to a leaked draft Supreme Court appeal judgement. This would overturn a basic law amendment passed earlier this year by the Knesset. This means the Supreme Court may again be allowed to strike down unreasonable government decisions. Before the war, this issue split Israelis down the middle, and encouraged Hamas to launch their October 7 massacre. The Justice Minister asked the Supreme Court to reconsider. The judicial reform is postponed. The Supreme Court replied it is checking the source of the leak and justice should not be interfered with. Comment: In the US (and elsewhere) the Supreme Court can strike down unconstitutional acts. Israel lacks a full constitution, it only has an incomplete patchwork of basic laws. Israel needs a full written constitution, let’s hope we get a good one after the war.
  • The IDF apologized for an air force attack on a building in Maghazi, Gaza which caused collateral damage on other buildings and let to dozens of civilian deaths. “The type of munition did not match the nature of the attack”. (IDF spokesman on televised press conference).
  • No action: The IDF announced yesterday it will not take action against the soldiers who mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza on December 15 who were waving a white flag, screamed “help” in Hebrew, and were bare from the waist up. This was due to complexity and fear it was a booby trap (IDF Spokesman)..
  • Conscientious objector: An Israeli 18-year-old was tried and sentenced to 30 days in military jail for refusal to enlist in the IDF, citing the Israel-Hamas war and occupation for his conscientious objection (Jerusalem Post). Comment: Many Israeli employers are reluctant to employ someone who did not serve in the IDF (other than Olim) in case he is a trouble maker.
  • Iraq: Pro-Iranian militia in Iraq launched long range missiles at Israel which were intercepted over the Golan Heights (Kan).
  • Whodunnit: Iran changed its mind and said it took no part in the October 7 massacre and it was not revenge for the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani by the US in 2020. Comment: It is interesting Iran tried to take some of the “credit” for October 7 and had to back down as Hamas said it was responsible.
  • Le Figaro of France report: The report, largely based on sources with ties to various terror groups, including one said to be close to Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, describes Hamas’s exhaustive preparations for the attacks and expected reprisal, from appointing dummy commanders to take the brunt of Israel’s response, to sending members on secret training missions, all while keeping the timing of the assault and other details from all but a handful of people, a decision that may have wound up leaving the group partly isolated.

Wednesday December 27, 2023

  • Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing skirmishes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border. An Israeli drone strike killed six Palestinians during an overnight raid near Tulkarem in the northern West Bank early Wednesday morning, Palestinian Authority health officials said (Times of Israel and others).
  • Whodunnit and why? Iran says the October 7 massacre was a response to the 2020 assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, according to Al Jazeera citing an IRGC statement. Hamas rejected Iran’s statement, saying: “Hamas denies the validity of the remarks given by the spokesperson of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. We have repeatedly confirmed the motives and reasons for the operation of the Flood of al-Aqsa, and foremost are the dangers that threaten al-Aqsa Mosque (Jerusalem Post, Kan and others).
  • Gantz spoke ominously about Lebanon: “The hourglass for a diplomatic arrangement is running out, the IDF will move to distance Hezbollah from the border if Lebanon and the world don’t act…”
  • Gantz on Israel’s judicial reform disagreement: “it was clear to all of us that the rift among us is fuel for our enemies.”
  • Abramovich: Ex-Chelsea football club owner, Russian Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich and Zaka filed a lawsuit against Bank Mizrahi, alleging that the bank unlawfully blocked a donation of NIS 8 million to Zaka (a rescue and recovery charity that works with the IDF). The bank pointed to sanctions imposed on Abramovich by the EU and the UK because of the Ukraine war. Abramovich is an Israeli citizen (Jerusalem Post).
  • US to UN: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan welcomed the appointment of Sigrid Kaag as UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza. The United States is the largest financial supporter of the humanitarian assistance efforts to support Palestinian civilians who are caught in the middle of the conflict between Israel and Hamas (White House website). Comment: So the US can influence the UN financially…..
  • Erdogan of Turkey compared Netanyahu to Hitler: “What Netanyahu is doing is no less than what Hitler did. Hitler was not as rich as [Netanyahu] is,” (Times of Israel and others). Netanyahu replied: “Erdogan, who is committing genocide against the Kurds and who holds the world record for imprisoning journalists who oppose his regime, is the last person who can preach morality to us” (PM’s Office on X/Twitter).

Tuesday December 26, 2023

Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing skirmishes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border.

How Gaza profited: “Suddenly we discovered that Gaza, which is inhabited by 2 million people… has 36 hospitals. There are Arab countries with 30 million citizens and do not have this number of hospitals.” 𝐀𝐫𝐚𝐛 𝐛𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐫 @𝐡𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐣𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐗: For more, visit:

Back on the road: What do you do when your IDF tank breaks down in the midst of the fighting in Gaza? You call the IDF roadside recovery team. They will tow the tank to a safer place and repair 90% on the spot. Turnaround takes up to 12 hours. In the 1973 Yom Kippur war, every tank needed fixing 3-4 times. Today’s IDF recovery team consist of conscripts and reservists. The main problem is when the reservists get to visit their homes they are very muddy. (Kan radio interview)

Netanyahu on Peace: PM Netanyahu penned an article in the Dec 25 Wall Street Journal on “Our Three Prerequisites for Peace”. In brief, the three prerequisites are: First, Hamas, a key Iranian proxy, must be destroyed. Hamas’s leaders have vowed to repeat the Oct. 7 massacre “again and again.” Second, Gaza must be demilitarized. This will require establishing a temporary security zone on the perimeter of Gaza and an inspection mechanism on the border between Gaza and Egypt. Third, Gaza will have to be deradicalized. Schools must teach children to cherish life rather than death, and imams must cease to preach for the murder of Jews. Successful deradicalization took place in Germany and Japan after the Allied victory in World War II. Then Gaza can be rebuilt and the prospects of a broader peace in the Middle East will become a reality. according to Netanyahu.

Comment: See our take on this subject:

Fungus menace: One IDF soldier has died and around 10 more are suffering from a fungicidal infection thought to be caused by poor sewage conditions in Gaza, perhaps because of the tunnels. The IDF is checking urgently with international experts what treatment to apply (Kan).

Hezbollah: Shot anti-tank missiles at a St. Mary’s Greek-Orthodox Church of Iqrit in Northern Israel. Nine Israeli soldiers and one civilian were injured (Kan and others).

Fuel: The IDF is monitoring fuel imports into Gaza and how the tunnels are supplied oil, hinting that humanitarian supplies under international pressure are being diverted to the Hamas tunnels (IDF Spokesman). There were also TV pictures of Gazans complaining about food supplies being stolen day and night, but blaming no one.

Monday December 25, 2023

Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing skirmishes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border.

The IDF instructed the residents of Central Gaza and Khan Younis to evacuate

Expulsion: Israel is considering the possibility of expelling Hamas leaders in return for a ceasefire in Gaza, KAN News reported on Sunday evening, citing an Israeli security source. “The expulsion of Hamas’s leadership is not contradictory to Israel’s war goals,” the source was cited as saying (Kan, Jerusalem Post).

Netanyahu’s Christmas Greeting: To our Christian friends around the world, Merry Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be a time of good will to all men & peace on Earth. Well, we don’t have peace on Earth, not in our part anyway & we certainly don’t see good will to all men. (X/Twitter).

President Isaac Herzog’s Christmas Greeting: President Herzog sends Christmas greetings to Christian communities in Israel and all over the world (X/Twitter).

UN: Israeli Foreign Minister wrote on X/Twitter: I instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to extend the visa of one of the organization’s employees in Israel, and to deny the visa request of another employee. The conduct of the UN since October 7th is a disgrace to the organization and the international community”.

Red Sea: Maersk said in a statement “We have received confirmation that the previously announced multi-national security initiative Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG) has now been set up and deployed to allow maritime commerce to pass through the Red Sea-Gulf of Aden and once again return to using the Suez Canal as a gateway between Asia and Europe. ”The company said it was working on plans for the first vessels to make the journey “and for this to happen as soon as operationally possible.” (Canadian Press and others).

Indian Ocean: Iran dismissed US claims that Iran fired on a ship 200 miles off India last week as baseless (Kan and others).

Sinai: Egypt rushed more troops and artillery to the Gaza border to keep Gazans out of Egypt (Kan).
School’s out: The Israeli university academic year will open shortly, even though many students have been called up to the IDF reserves, allowances will be made for this (Kan).

Data (08.10, Dec 25): Killed since October 7: Citizens 874, IDF 489. Hostages: 129 in captivity, back in Israel 121, killed 32 (Kan).

War economics: Israeli opposition leader and ex-Finance Minister Yair Lapid presented a plan to assist IDF reservists at the expense of “coalition funds” (for Haredi education) (Kan).

IDF reservists back from Gaza reportedly protested at the Knesset Finance Committee at delays in paying government war compensation driving their businesses bankrupt while they serve at the front (Kan).

No deal: Hamas and Islamic Jihad turned down an Egyptian proposal to relinquish power in Gaza in return for a permanent ceasefire. (Reuters, Kan).

Eye for an eye? Iranian IRGC commander Seyed Razi Mousavi, listed as liaison officer to the Syrian army, was allegedly eliminated by Israel, according to an Iranian announcement (cited by Kan). Could this be related to an attack last week on a cargo ship said to have Israeli links 200 miles off India?

Knesset debate – Netanyahu: Netanyahu mentioned in a speech in the Knesset that he visited the IDF Golani brigade in Gaza and asked what they most needed. Netanyahu said the reply was “Time, more time”, the Gaza campaign must go on. There erupted shouts of “Now! Now! from relatives of hostages in the visitors’ gallery, who want their relatives back now (Knesset debate broadcast on several media)..

Red Cross: Netanyahu said in the Knesset he recently (Dec 14) met the Red Cross President, Mirjana Spoljaric, but she refused to even take a box of medicines for the hostages to hand over to a Hamas representative at the Rafah crossing point (Knesset debate broadcast).

The moral: Opposition leader Yair Lapid said in the Knesset it was never clearer who is good and who is bad. The Opposition will back any hostage release deal that may emerge (Knesset debate broadcast).

Red Cross reaction: A Red Cross spokesperson was heard replying to Netanyahu today: “We don’t have access to the hostages”. Comment: Misleading reply by the Red Cross – Netanyahu asked the Red Cross president to take the box of medicines (she refused) and to hand them to a Hamas representative at the Rafah crossing point from Egypt to Gaza (she refused).

Sunday Dec 24, 2023:

Situation: The ground campaign against Hamas continues in Gaza, growing skirmishes with Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border.

Heavy casualties: 14 IDF soldiers were killed in action over the Friday-Saturday weekend. This brings total IDF who died so far in the ground campaign to 156.

Too nice: Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat said the IDF is being too nice. Comment: the implication apparently being the US is holding back the IDF including the air force. Barkat is a moderate who comes from a high tech business background.

Christmas wishes: Sara Netanyahu, wife of PM Netanyahu, wrote to the Pope today (Christmas Eve), asking for his assistance in the efforts to release the hostages who are being held by Hamas in Gaza, and for the Red Cross to visit them (Israeli PM Office, X/Twitter).

Children: IDF troops located a Hamas weapons compound in Gaza – including explosive belts adapted for children….(IDF X/Twitter).

President Isaac Herzog: Victory will come because of the Israeli spirit…including Arabs living side by side with Jews and prospering together in Israel. (Televised speech).