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US presses IDF to protect Palestinian civilians if war moves south

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US presses IDF to protect Palestinian civilians if war moves south



The United States insisted that Israel must do a better job of protecting Palestinian civilians should the IDF’s military campaign to oust Hamas from Gaza move into the southern area of the Strip if the war resumes this weekend.

“We do not support a move to the south, unless or until they have adequately accounted for the protection of innocent civilian life in southern Gaza,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken passed on that same message during his visit to Israel Thursday where he spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and participated in a meeting of the war cabinet.

Conditions placed on Israel

The way Israel defends itself matters,” Blinken told reporters after that meeting.

“It’s imperative that Israel acts in accordance with international humanitarian law and the laws of war, even when confuting a terror group that respects neither,” Blinken said. 

Hamas terroristscelebrate after handing over hostages, who were abducted by Hamas gunmen during the October 7 attack on Israel, to the International Red Cross, as part of a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel amid a temporary truce, in an unknown location in the Gaza Strip, Novemb (credit: Hamas Military Wing/Handout via REUTERS)

Before the IDF pushes into southern Gaza, “Israel must put in place a civilian protection plan that minimizes the loss of civilian life,” he said, adding that was understood that Hamas embeds itself in civilian centers thereby increasing the chances of human life.

The scale of the loss of human life can not be repeated in the south, Blinken said as he referenced the IDF campaign in northern Gaza. Hamas has asserted that over 14,800 Palestinians were killed as a result of violence in that war, and another 1.9 million out of Gaza’s 2.7 million population were displaced. 

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Israel must also avoid the “significant displacement of civilians,” Blinken said, adding that he also spoke expanding humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. 

“We continue to work urgently to get more aid in and to get it in faster,” he said. “It’s even more imperative as winter sets in.

The expectations of Hamas

He stressed that the US supported Israel’s right to defense, particularly given the brutal nature of Hamas’ October 7 attack that sparked the war. In that attack Hamas killed over 1,200 people and seized some 240 hostage.

There are steps that Hamas could take here as well, he said, including stopping its plans to destroy Israel and kill Jews. 

Blinken spoke as Israel welcomed home two more hostages and prepared to see the release of eight more later in the night, a move that would bring the total of Israel women and children freed to 83 since the Gaza war was put on hold on November 22.

Qatar and Egypt, which mediated the hostage deal, worked on Thursday to extend the temporary truce into Sunday morning.

Qatari and Egyptian officials worked off of the existing formula approved last week of ten live hostages for every 24 hours of a “pause” in the war. 

Thursday’s lull was agreed to only in the morning, minutes before the truce was set to expire. It has become increasingly difficult for Hamas to fulfill the terms of the deal, given that it does not have all the female and child hostages and there is speculation that some were killed in captivity.

Talks have begun on the more complex issue of a deal that would allow for the release of the male captives, including soldiers. Hamas has insisted that such a deal for soldiers would have to include a permanent ceasefire. Qatar has said it wants to negotiate an end to the war. Israel has insisted that its military campaign will resume until it’s defeated Hamas.

Blinken in Israel worked on ensuring the lull in the war was extended even as it delved into the details about what the war’s resumption could look like.

He stressed the United States’ commitment to ensuring that all the hostages were released.

“Hamas should release everyone right now,” Blinken said. 

In Washington, Kirby confirmed that the initial hostage deal had included an understanding that the International Committee of the Red Cross would be able to visit the hostages.

Kirby said it was clear Israel intended to resume its military campaign once the hostage release deals had ended.  

“As they make that decision they’ll continue to find support from the US” including in the form of assistance with military weaponry.” 

“If anyone is guessing and wondering whether Hamas has murderous intentions against the Israeli people look at what happened in Jerusalem today,” Kirby said as he referenced the terror attack in Jerusalem in which three Israeli civilians were killed.





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Jewish diaspora expresses concern as Iranian drones launch toward Israel

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Jewish diaspora expresses concern as Iranian drones launch toward Israel



Jewish diaspora organizations expressed concern for Israel and increased their own security preparedness as Iran launched drones against Israel on Saturday night.

The Jewish Federation said it was comforted by IDF statements that the situation was under control and by the statements of support by the United States of America, but was watching “Iran’s launch of an attack on Israel with extreme concern.”

“We are monitoring the situation very closely and join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Israel.”

Preparing for attacks in the diaspora

The Conference of European Rabbis said that Jewish communities in Europe were raising their level of preparedness, given the history of Iranian proxies attacking Jewish targets on the continent.

A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on October 4, 2023. (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

“We are closely monitoring the Iranian attack on Israel and its implications for the security of Jews in the diaspora,” said conference president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. ‘We are in contact with all the leaders of the Jewish communities and security officials across the continent. I call on all Jews across Europe to remain vigilant in community institutions and to act responsibly in the public sphere.” 





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Dozens of Palestinians and Jews injured in West Bank altercations

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Dozens of Palestinians and Jews injured in West Bank altercations



The IDF said on Saturday night that dozens of Jews and Palestinians had been injured in altercations in the West Bank following the terrorist murder of 14-year-old shepherd, Binyamin Achimair.

Though he was murdered on Friday, his death was only confirmed Saturday afternoon, with the subsequent violence between Jewish extremists and Palestinians being declared the largest battles in the area not involving IDF forces since February 2023.

In February 2023, dozens or more of extremist Jews burned large swaths of Palestinian property in Huwara in the West Bank, injured a number of Palestinians, and killed at least one Palestinian.

The IDF said it had significantly beefed up its forces in the area to try to maintain order, but it appeared to be on a significant delay from after multiple rounds of attempts by Jewish extremists to take revenge on nearby Palestinians villages, though these extremists did not have any specific information about who might have committed the murder.

After February 2023, the IDF apologized for failing to react fast enough to protect Palestinians and had said it would preemptively beef up to be ready for future potential reactions by Jewish extremists to the killing of Jews in the West Bank by Palestinians.

Binyamin Achimair, Missing 14-year-old boy from Samaria, Police are requesting help in searching, April 12, 2024. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

One area attacked by Jewish extremists on Saturday was the Duma village, south of Nablus.

A mix of Israeli, Arab, and US media reported that Jewish extremists also attacked over Friday and Saturday al-Mughayyir, Deir Dibwan, and Beitin, east of Ramallah and the town of Sinjil, northeast of Ramallah.

Violence from both sides

There were also reports of Palestinian counterattacks.

It was unclear which reports involved live fire, which lower grade rock-throwing style violence and how much violence was committed by each side.

Reports did say that dozens of Palestinians’ cars or structures were set on fire by extremist Jews, with some reports of Palestinian deaths.

By Shin Bet statistics, most extremist Jews, though not all, involved in violence come from a specific list of West Bank settlements or outposts.





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Israeli drone shot down by Hezbollah was worth $10 million

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Israeli drone shot down by Hezbollah was worth $10 million



An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down last Saturday by Hezbollah. The UAV was later revealed as an Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Kochav, valued at around $10 million. 

The Hermes 900 is Elbit’s largest drone and has been sold to the Israeli Air Force, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and according to foreign reports, Azerbaijan. The UAV is a relatively large and expensive drone capable of staying in the air for approximately 30 straight hours.

Hermes 900 UAV (credit: ELBIT SYSTEMS)

The IDF’s response to Hezbollah terror

Following the downing of the UAV, the IDF struck targets in Baalbek deep in Lebanon, on the border with Syria. Missiles were fired in the next morning towards the Golan Heights, and in the afternoon towards Kibbutz Manara and Moshav Margaliot.

Proceeding this, about a month and a half ago, the IDF announced that an Israeli Air Force UAV was shot down by Hezbollah in Lebanese territory. In response, the IDF struck targets of the terrorist organization in the Baalbek area in Lebanon for the first time since the Second Lebanon War. Baalbek is approximately 100 km. north of the border and is the northernmost target that the IDF has struck since the beginning of the war.





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