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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Israel strikes Gaza cities at 2-month mark

Published December 7, 2023last updated December 8, 2023

Fierce fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants continues in the south of Gaza. The UN has said more than 80% of the enclave's population has been displaced since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Palestinians carry a woman on a stretcher away from the rubble of a building hit by an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed Israel to do more to protect civilians in GazaImage: Mohammed Dahman/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • UN aid chief sees 'promising signs'  Israel will open Kerem Shalom crossing for humanitarian aid.
  • Netanyahu warns Beirut to be turned "into Gaza and Khan Younis" if Hezbollah provokes war with Israel
  • Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry says 17,177 Palestinians killed since the start of the war
  • Reuters, AFP probes conclude Israeli fire killed journalist in Lebanon

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest developments in the war between Israel and Hamas, please click here.

Skip next section UAE asks UN Security Council to vote on Gaza cease-fire
December 8, 2023

UAE asks UN Security Council to vote on Gaza cease-fire

The United Arab Emirates has asked for the UN Security Council to vote on a draft resolution that calls for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning.

In order to be adopted, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, France or Britain

However, The US has said it does not support any further action by the Security Council at this time.

The renewed calls for a ceasefire were made after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday toinvoke Article 99 of the UN Charter and formally warn the Security Council of a global threat from the war. 

Palestinians line up for flour at an UN distibution centre
A previous draft bill calling for a ceasefire was denied in NovemberImage: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu/picture alliance

Guterres, who has repeatedly called for a humanitarian cease-fire, will brief the council on Friday ahead of the vote. The US and Israel oppose a cease-fire as they say it would only benefit Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist group in the US and the EU. 

Skip next section Israel agrees to open Kerem Shalom crossing — US official
December 8, 2023

Israel agrees to open Kerem Shalom crossing — US official

Israel has agreed to open the Kerem Shalom border crossing for the screening and inspection of the humanitarian aid delivered into Gaza vis the Rafah crossing, a United States official says.

Washington has been discussing the possibility of opening of the Kerem Shalom border for weeks in order to speed up the inspection process of the aid trucks. No time frame was given on when the crossing would open.

The UN aid chief Martin Griffiths had earlier told reporters that while negotiations had been ongoing, there were promising signs on the reopening.

The checkpoint was responsible for 60% of goods getting into the besieged Palestinian territory before October 7 and the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Aid is currently being allowed into Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt but it was designed for pedestrians, not trucks.

"It would be the first miracle we've seen for some weeks, but would also be a huge boost to the logistical process and logistical base of a humanitarian operation," Griffiths said about the possible opening of Kerem Shalom.

Skip next section US says many targets remain for Israel in southern Gaza
December 7, 2023

US says many targets remain for Israel in southern Gaza

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said many security targets for Israel remain in Gaza's south.

"We believe there are many legitimate military targets that remain in the south, including, as Israel has said, perhaps much, if not most, of the Hamas leadership," he told the Aspen Security Forum.

He said if the war ended now Hamas, which the United States and several other countries designate a terrorist organization, would continue to pose a threat to Israel.

But he added Israel should be more precise where there will be fighting and share it with Gazans. 

Separately, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israel's strategic affairs minister that Israel needs to do more to protect civilians in its offensive in southern Gaza.

Blinken's office said in a call he told Ron Dermer "civilian casualties remain too high and that Israel must step up its efforts to reduce them."

Skip next section Civilians flee heavy fighting in Khan Younis
December 7, 2023

Civilians flee heavy fighting in Khan Younis

The United Nations has said 1.87 million people, more than 80% of Gaza's population, have been driven from their homes since the start of the war. On Thursday, the Israeli military said it had pierced the defensive lines of Palestinian militants around the main southern city of Khan Younis. The fighting forced many people to flee even further south to Rafa. Watch this: 

Gaza: Civilians flee fighting in Khan Younis

Skip next section Israeli police block far-right march through Jerusalem
December 7, 2023

Israeli police block far-right march through Jerusalem

Police officers detain an Israeli far-right protester, as demonstrators march toward Jerusalem’s Old City
According to a leaflet published in advance, the demonstration would have passed through a Muslim neighborhoodImage: Ronen Zvulun/REUTERS

Israeli police stopped a demonstration by far-right protesters through Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday evening.

The protesters demanded a "restoration of full Jewish control in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount" and were supposed to march through the Muslim Quarter and the Old City to the Western Wall.

Israeli media reported that police stopped the march as some protesters violated the terms of the agreement with the police not to have inflammatory signs or chants.

Earlier, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Israel's approval of the demonstration, denouncing it as a "provocative march."

The Temple Mount, known as Haram al-Sharif in Arabic, with the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is the third holiest site in Islam. 

It is also sacred to Jews because two ancient temples once stood there.

Skip next section Germany's Scholz calls threats to Jewish community 'sad and frightening'
December 7, 2023

Germany's Scholz calls threats to Jewish community 'sad and frightening'

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday called for solidarity with Germany's Jewish community at the start of Hanukkah, Judaism's festival of lights.

"Hanukkah stands for hope and confidence. Both are especially needed these days," the German chancellor said as he lit the first candle of Hanukkah on a huge menorah in Berlin.

"The Hamas terror attack on Israel has shaken us all deeply," Scholz said. "Each and every one of us must clearly oppose this terror."

Germany has seen a massive rise in antisemitic crimes, recording 994 antisemitic incidents from October 7 to November 9.

That is 29 per day, a 320% rise on last year's daily average, according to the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism.

"We are protecting the Jewish communities here in Germany. The fact that this is necessary after the terrorist attacks by Hamas and the reactions to them is both sad and frightening," Scholz said.

"We do not accept it when Jewish fellow citizens have to be afraid to live their religion, their culture and their everyday lives openly, when they exercise their fundamental right to be visible — a right that all people in our society have, without distinction," he added.

Skip next section Son of Israeli minister and former IDF chief killed in Gaza
December 7, 2023

Son of Israeli minister and former IDF chief killed in Gaza

The son of Israeli Cabinet minister and former military chief Gadi Eizenkot has been killed while fighting in Gaza.

The Israeli military said 25-year-old Gal Meir Eisenkot was killed in combat in the northern Gaza Strip without providing precise details. The Times of Israel newspaper quoted the Israel Defense Forces as saying 89 soldiers have been killed in the Israeli ground offensive.

Gadi Eizenkot is a member of Benny Gantz's National Unity Party.

"Together with all of Israel I send my support to Gadi and to his entire family, and a big hug. We are all committed to keep fighting for the sacred cause for which Gal died," Gantz said.

Both joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government shortly after Hamas' terror attack on Israel on October 7.

In a condolence message, Netanyahu said he was heartbroken.

Skip next section Terrorism expert: 'Israel's mission to destroy Hamas makes no sense militarily'
December 7, 2023

Terrorism expert: 'Israel's mission to destroy Hamas makes no sense militarily'

The current fighting in southern Gaza has been described as the most intense of the war so far, and Israel, according to terrorism expert Justin Crump, the head of the UK-based strategic risk consultancy Sibylline, has been using "very similar tactics" against Hamas in southern Gaza as it used in the north.

Crump told DW the strategy was also similar to what was used by the US and UK during the 2003 invasion of Iraq — moving into urban areas from different directions, securing territory and using it to track down what Israel regards as high-value targets.

"This is about seizing key bits of ground inside the city," Crump said. "Then having areas you can operate safely from and striking out, and that's all related to Israel's desire to go after particular target areas where they think Hamas are in Khan Younis."

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that over 17,000 Palestinians have died since the beginning of the Israeli military operation. Israel began its military attacks on Gaza after Hamas terror attacks in southern Israel in October killed over 1,200 people.

But Israel's stated goal of destroying Hamas, which Israel, Germany, the United States and several other countries designate a terrorist organization, "makes no sense militarily," Crump said.

"The military can do the best job they can. They could eliminate the leadership. They can destroy missile launching facilities. But they won't eliminate the idea of Hamas," he said. "Some Gazans are turning against Hamas and did before the events of two months ago. Other people in Gaza, of course, sympathize with Hamas. They will resent Israel for these actions, of course, and it's going to fuel the cycle as it always has done unless there is a very big change at the end of this.

"A military mission alone will not solve this problem," Crump said regarding Gaza and the security situation for Israel. "It needs something more comprehensive, and it needs support for the people of Gaza once this [war] is finished and the rebuilding."

Israel-Hamas War

Skip next section 'Promising signs' Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to open — UN
December 7, 2023

'Promising signs' Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to open — UN

It looks like Israel might open the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza to inspect aid trucks for the first time since the outbreak of the war, the UN aid chief said Thursday.

"We're still negotiating, and with some promising signs at the moment," Martin Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.

Earlier, Israel's Office for Coordination in the Palestinian territories, known as Cogat, said it would open the facility for the inspection of humanitarian aid trucks.

Colonel Elad Goren from Cogat did not give a date for the opening and said that while aid would be inspected at the border, the trucks would not be allowed to enter there.

The aid, however, would still enter Gaza through Egypt via the Rafah crossing.

Before Hamas' terror attack across the border on October 7, Kerem Shalom was the main crossing for cargo into Gaza.

It has been closed since then.

"It would be the first miracle we've seen for some weeks, but would also be a huge boost to the logistical process and logistical base of a humanitarian operation," Griffiths said about the possible opening of Kerem Shalom.

Skip next section Hezbollah's actions could turn Beirut 'into Gaza' — Netanyahu says
December 7, 2023

Hezbollah's actions could turn Beirut 'into Gaza' — Netanyahu says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Beirut would be turned  "into Gaza and Khan Younis" if Hezbollah started a war with Israel.

"If Hezbollah chooses to start an all-out war, then it will, by its own hand, turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Younis," Netanyahu said to Israeli troops deployed along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Hezbollah militants and the IDF have been exchanging fire since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Also on Thursday, a missile fired from Lebanese territory killed a civilian in northern Israel, according to the Israeli military.

"Additional launches from Lebanon toward Israel were also identified," the military said, adding its "helicopters, tanks and artillery are striking the sources."

Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite political party and militant group in Lebanon. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several Sunni Arab countries, while the EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

Skip next section Destroying Hamas 'very long-term endeavor,' counterextremism expert says
December 7, 2023

Destroying Hamas 'very long-term endeavor,' counterextremism expert says

Israel's stated mission to destroy the Palestinian, militant-Islamist group Hamas is "a very long-term endeavor," Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at the Counter Extremism Project, told DW.

Schindler said such an endeavor "will require more than just military operations and international cooperation, but also social-economic development in the Palestinian territories."

Speaking about the timeframe of destroying Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization in several countries, Schindler expected Israel's ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip to last for another month or two "at the scale we're seeing right now" before mounting international pressure leads Israel to scale back its operations.

Afterward, he said, "really long-term work on eradicating Hamas' ideology" should begin. He added that this cannot be done by Israel alone and would require international cooperation.

Schindler spoke about the Israeli military's targeting Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar, who is believed to be based in the southern Khan Younis city.

Schindler described Sinwar as a "hardliner" within Hamas and a key leader. He said Sinwar was responsible for setting up Hamas' "terrorist infrastructure" and advocated taking hostages to exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

"He is the one who really strongly argued… for Hamas' ability not only to conduct smaller-scale terror attacks in Israel but what we have seen on October 7," Schindler said. "So he really is the brains behind all of this."

Skip next section Gaza death toll rises to 17,177, Health Ministry says
December 7, 2023

Gaza death toll rises to 17,177, Health Ministry says

The number of people killed in Gaza since Israel began attacking the strip in response to the deadly Hamas October 7 attacks has risen to 17,177, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The ongoing Israeli military bombardment and ground offensive have injured 46,000, the ministry said, adding that  350 people were killed and 1,900 injured in the past 24 hours.

Intense fighting was particularly reported in the southern Khan Younis city, Gaza's second-largest city, on Wednesday. The Israeli army said it has completely encircled the city and was targeting Hamas fighters. Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by Israel, Germany, the US and other countries. 

Skip next section Jordan airdrops emergency aid into southern Gaza
December 7, 2023

Jordan airdrops emergency aid into southern Gaza

Members of the Jordanian Armed Forces wear oxygen masks as they prepare to airdrop medical aid on December 6, 2023.
It is the first time Jordan has airdropped medical supplies to Khan YounisImage: Jehad Shelbak/REUTERS

The Jordanian air force has airdropped urgent aid into the Gaza Strip, the armed forces announced in a statement.

The emergency delivery included medical supplies to help sustain a makeshift Jordanian hospital in Khan Younis.

The city, the largest in southern Gaza, has been the epicenter of Israeli troops' operations in the Palestinian territory this week.

The Jordanian military stressed it would continue to provide Gaza residents with "all types of aid and support."

It said this was the fourth time it had airdropped medical and relief supplies to the enclave. The previous three deliveries went to a field hospital in northern Gaza.

The airdrop came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of an impending "humanitarian catastrophe." Since the war began two months ago, deliveries of food, water and other vital aid to Gaza have been heavily restricted.

Skip next section Israelis remember October 7 terror attack victims
December 7, 2023

Israelis remember October 7 terror attack victims

Two months on from the Hamas terror attacks, Israelis are remembering the 1,200 people who were killed in the carnage.

Thursday also marks the start of Hanukkah, the first Jewish festival since the October 7 attack in which the militant group stormed Israeli communities and a music festival. 

Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, also took more than 220 hostages that day back into the Gaza Strip.

Organizers of the music festival in southern Israel, where at least 364 people died, have recreated the scene of the massacre as an exhibition in Tel Aviv for the world to see.

Israelis remember victims of Hamas terror attack 2 months on

Israel has been heavily bombarding Gaza since the attack, and in late October, it expanded its operation to a ground offensive. More than 16,000 Palestinians have thus far been killed in the territory, according to the Hamas-run health authorities there.

A weeklong truce in late November saw the release of dozens of hostages, with Israel saying it believes 138 remain in Gaza.

Israel has resumed its military operations since the expiry of the truce on Friday, shifting the focus of its ground offensive to southern Gaza. It says it is seeking to destroy Hamas, which Israel accuses of breaking the truce. 

Skip next section Reuters, AFP probes conclude Israeli fire killed journalist in Lebanon
December 7, 2023

Reuters, AFP probes conclude Israeli fire killed journalist in Lebanon

The Reuters and AFP news agencies have concluded in separate investigations that an attack on a group of journalists in southern Lebanon on October 13 was conducted by Israeli forces.

Rights organizations have said the strikes should be investigated as a war crime.

The attack killed Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah and injured six others, including two from the French AFP news agency, one of whom later had a leg amputated.

Journalists from the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera broadcaster were also among the group. They were hit by two strikes in quick succession while filming cross-border shelling.

Both Reuters and AFP reported in their investigations that the attack was conducted by a tank shell, which they concluded belonged to the Israeli army. AFP said the tank shell is only used by the Israeli military in this border region.

Reuters said it presented the Israel Defense Forces with its findings suggesting that the tank rounds were fired from within Israel, asking whether Israeli troops were aware they were firing at journalists.

"We don't target journalists," Reuters quoted IDF international spokesperson Richard Hecht as saying. He did not provide further comment.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in separate statements that the two strikes appeared to be a "deliberate attack on civilians" and should be probed as a war crime.

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