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Israel-Hamas war: IDF seeks to 'press harder' in Gaza

Published December 9, 2023last updated December 10, 2023

The Israeli military said there were signs Hamas was "falling apart" in Gaza, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the war. Meanwhile, Yemen's Houthis threatened Israel-bound Red Sea ships. DW has more.

An Israeli helicopter flights near the Israel-Gaza border amid military operations against Hamas
Israel struck areas of the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and artillery on SaturdayImage: Athit Perawongmetha/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Netanyahu thanks US for UN cease-fire veto
  • Houthis vow to attack ships unless aid let into Gaza 
  • Biden authorizes 'emergency' sale of tank shells to Israel 
  • Turkey's Erdogan labels UNSC "Israel protection council"
Skip next section EU states seek summit debate on Gaza and cease-fire call
December 10, 2023

EU states seek summit debate on Gaza and cease-fire call

Four European Union nations have called on the bloc's leaders to debate the situation in Gaza next week, a letter to the chair of EU summits showed.

The letter from the prime ministers of Spain, Ireland, Belgium and Malta stressed the seriousness of the conflict in Gaza and said it could escalate throughout the region.

Addressed to European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs EU summits, it calls for a lasting humanitarian cease-fire that would end the conflict.

The letter demands that EU leaders also back stronger measures to protect Gaza civilians.

This month's EU leaders' summit takes place on December 14-15.

The four countries also called for an international peace conference on Gaza as soon as possible to discuss the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Skip next section Israelis call for release of hostages captured by Hamas
December 9, 2023

Israelis call for release of hostages captured by Hamas

Relatives and supporters of hostages kidnapped by Hamas rally for their release, in Tel Aviv, Israel on December 9, 2023
Hundreds of people gathered in Tel Aviv to restate their call for Hamas to release hostages held in GazaImage: Clodagh Kilcoyne/REUTERS

Relatives of Israelis still being held captive by the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza gathered in central Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to call for their release.

Hundreds of people took part in the ceremony at the place that has come to be known as Hostages Square, following regular demonstrations there calling for their release.

Hamas and other groups are still holding nearly 140 people who were captured during the October 7 terror attack on Israel.

Some of the Israeli hostages were released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a one-week truce that ended on December 1.

Some in the crowd held placards bearing messages like, "They trust us to get them out of hell," and, "Bring them home now."

Tel Aviv protesters call Netanyahu to resign: Aya Ibrahim reports

Demonstrator Yoav Zalmanovitz told the AFP news agency that the government "did not care" about the hostages and that ministers just "want revenge."

Zalmanovitz's 85-year-old father, Arye, was taken alive to Gaza and "murdered" there weeks later, Yoav said.

Ruby Chen, the father of 19-year-old hostage Itai Chen, said from the podium: "We are asking the Israeli Cabinet, the war Cabinet, to explain what exactly is on the negotiating table."

"We demand to be part of the negotiation process," added Chen, whose son is a soldier and was taken while on duty. 

Skip next section Germany's Scholz speaks to Netanyahu amid south Gaza offensive
December 9, 2023

Germany's Scholz speaks to Netanyahu amid south Gaza offensive

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, according to an online statement released by the chancellor's office.

Netanyahu spoke of the current Israeli ground operations against Hamas in the south of Gaza.

"The chancellor and the Israeli prime minister discussed the necessary efforts to protect civilians as much as possible and to substantially improve the humanitarian situation of people in Gaza," the statement added.

Scholz emphasized that more humanitarian aid must reach people in Gaza.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in the West Bank and acts of violence by Israeli settlers.    

Skip next section Yemen's Houthis threaten attacks on Israel-bound Red Sea vessels
December 9, 2023

Yemen's Houthis threaten attacks on Israel-bound Red Sea vessels

The Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen have threatened to attack vessels bound for Israel in the Red Sea, unless enough food and humanitarian supplies are let into Gaza. The Gaza Strip is currently under a blockade from both Israel and Egypt, with only limited aid being allowed inside.

"If Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces," Houthi military spokesman Yehya Saree said.       

What's behind recent Houthi attacks in the Red Sea?

The Houthis have recently launched attacks on Israeli ships in the Red Sea. This new declaration means that the Houthis will consider Israel-bound ships a target regardless of which flag they fly under or the citizenship of their owners and operators. 

Skip next section Netanyahu: Israel will continue our 'just war' against Hamas
December 9, 2023

Netanyahu: Israel will continue our 'just war' against Hamas

In a video statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the US for its veto on the Gaza cease-fire resolution in the UN Security Council. 

"I very much appreciate the correct stance the US took at the United Nations Security Council," Netanyahu said. "Therefore, Israel will continue our just war to eliminate Hamas and achieve the rest of the war's goals."  

Israel launched its current military operation against Hamas in Gaza after the militant-Islamist group carried out terror attacks on Israel on October 7.    

Netanyahu said "other countries must also understand that they cannot support the elimination of Hamas on one side, and on the other to call for the end of the war, which will prevent the elimination of Hamas." 

Skip next section Biden approves 'emergency' sale of ammunition to Israel
December 9, 2023

Biden approves 'emergency' sale of ammunition to Israel

US President Joe Biden's administration has used an emergency authority to authorize the sale of nearly 14,000 tank shells to Israel, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

The move means the $106.5 million (€98.9 million) sale can proceed without congressional review

The State Department on Friday used an Arms Export Control Act emergency declaration for the tank rounds that will allow the immediate delivery, the Pentagon said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken provided detailed justification to lawmakers that the move is in US national security interests, according to the statement.

The shells are part of a bigger sale, worth $500 million, that the Biden administration is asking the US Congress to approve.

Rights advocates expressed concern over the sale, saying it doesn't align with Washington's effort to press Israel to minimize civilian casualties.

Skip next section Israel warns Khan Younis residents to leave city center
December 9, 2023

Israel warns Khan Younis residents to leave city center

Israel's military issued fresh warnings on Saturday to residents to move out of the center of Gaza's main southern city Khan Younis.

It comes as Israel continued military operations across the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces Arabic-language spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, posted a map on X, formerly Twitter, highlighting six numbered blocks of Khan Younis that residents were told to evacuate "urgently." 

Speaking at a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City army chief Herzi Halevi, meanwhile, said Israel needs to "press harder."

"Every day, we're seeing more and more terrorists killed, more and more terrorists wounded, and in recent days we're seeing terrorists surrendering — this is a sign their network's falling apart, a sign we need to press harder," he was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

Israel continues to strike northern, southern Gaza

Skip next section 17,700 Palestinians killed since 7 October — Hamas-run health ministry
December 9, 2023

17,700 Palestinians killed since 7 October — Hamas-run health ministry

The Gaza Health Ministry, which Hamas controls, said Saturday at least 17,700 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the start of Israel’s military offensive.

Although there is a debate over the breakdown between civilian and combatant deaths, UN agencies and other international institutions believe that the overall death toll is broadly accurate.

The ministry also said at least 48,780 people were wounded in the fighting. 

Skip next section Israel continues its offensive in Gaza
December 9, 2023

Israel continues its offensive in Gaza

Israel continued to strike targets in Gaza on Saturday after the United States blocked an extraordinary United Nations bid for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

According to the latest figures from the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 17,700 people have died in the the fighting since the start of the war. 

DW's Rebecca Ritters has more from Jerusalem:

US veto of UN cease-fire resolution draws massive criticism

Skip next section Israeli hostage killed in Gaza Strip
December 9, 2023

Israeli hostage killed in Gaza Strip

An Israeli man who was abducted during Hamas' October 7 terrorist attack has died while being held hostage in the Gaza Strip, according a statement released on Saturday.

"It is with deep sorrow and a broken heart that we announce the murder of Sahar Baruch, 25, who was kidnapped from his home by Hamas terrorists on October 7," Kibbutz Be'eri, where Baruch lived, and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum Headquarters announced in a joint statement.

The statement did not mention the cause of  Baruch's death.

Hamas released a video on Friday purportedly showing the aftermath of a failed Israeli rescue operation on Thursday. 

The Palestinian militant group, deemed a terrorist organization by the US, EU and Israel, among others, claimed a hostage died during the operation. 

The Israeli Defense Forces said on Friday two Israeli soldiers were seriously injured during a rescue operation on Thursday but said no hostages have been freed. 

Skip next section Israeli opposition leader accuses UN's Guterres of 'antisemitism'
December 9, 2023

Israeli opposition leader accuses UN's Guterres of 'antisemitism'

Israeli centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid said Saturday that "antisemitism" is the only "rational explanation" for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' decision to call for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

Guterres used Article 99 of the UN Charter to force the Security Council to debate a resolution calling for a halt to the fighting. The United States, however, blocked the resolution.

"The UN Secretary General hasn't invoked Article 99 for decades," Lapid's series of social media posts began. "Not when half a million were killed in Syria, over 4 million killed in Congo, 450,000 where butchered in Darfur or when tens of thousands were killed and millions have fled Ukraine."

"Only when Israel defends itself after our children were murdered by brutal terrorists and our people were taken hostage, does the UN Secretary General suddenly decide to invoke Article 99 to help Hamas," Lapid wrote.

"How do we know its [sic] antisemitism? Because there is no other rational explanation."

Skip next section Turkey's Erdogan calls for Security Council reform
December 9, 2023

Turkey's Erdogan calls for Security Council reform

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called for a reform of the UN Security Council following the United States' veto of a cease-fire proposal for Gaza that had support from all other council members except the UK, which abstained.

"The United Nations Security Council demand for a cease-fire is rejected only by a US veto. Is this justice?" Erdogan said at a human rights conference in Istanbul, dubbing the world body the "Israel Protection Council."

Erdogan was speaking a day before the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948.

Skip next section Abbas says cease-fire veto makes US complicit in war crimes
December 9, 2023

Abbas says cease-fire veto makes US complicit in war crimes

The president of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he considers the US complicit in what he termed war crimes against Palestinians for its Friday veto of a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

"The president has described the American position as aggressive and immoral, a flagrant violation of all humanitarian principles and values, and holds the United States responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and elderly people in the Gaza Strip," a statement released by the presidency said.

In wielding its veto, the US argued that such a cease-fire would allow the militant, Islamist Hamas to maintain its control over Gaza and to carry out further terror attacks like that of October 7, in which some 1,200 Israelis died, mostly civilians.

Thirteen of the 15 members of the world body voted in favor of the resolution submitted by the UAE, while the UK abstained.

US vetoes UN resolution calling for Gaza cease-fire

Skip next section Israel continues Gaza bombardment
December 9, 2023

Israel continues Gaza bombardment

Israeli warplanes bombed parts of the Gaza Strip overnight into Saturday, also hitting areas in the south where Palestinians who had been forced to flee previous bombardments had taken refuge.

There were also airstrikes and shelling reported by residents in Gaza City and other northern parts of Gaza, as Israeli forces continued to press their offensive against the militant Islamist Hamas following a deadly October 7 raid in which some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed.

Six people were killed in an Israeli strike on the southern city of Khan Younis, while five others died in a separate attack in Rafah, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said on Saturday. The ministry does not differentiate between militants and civilians in the figures it provides.

Israeli forces had previously told Palestinians to evacuate to Rafah — the site of the main border crossing out of Gaza since the war began — to escape Israel's bombardment and ground offensive. 

The latest strikes come a day after the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Israeli forces push deeper into southern Gaza

Skip next section Israel strikes Hezbollah targets in Lebanon
December 9, 2023

Israel strikes Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes against several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Friday night, the military said on Saturday.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) posted on X, formerly Twitter, that its fighter jets had struck Hezbollah targets across its northern border.

Additionally, the IDF stated that in response to projectiles fired from Lebanon, they shelled the areas where these projectiles originated.

Hezbollah, a Shiite group with massive backing from Iran, is designated — in part or in full — as a terrorist organization by the EU, US and Israel among others.

It has expressed its support for Hamas against Israel, although the two groups have diverging interests, with Hezbollah more focused on its role in Lebanon and Syria.

Hamas, like Hezbollah, is supported by Iran and is designated a terrorist organization by the US, EU and Israel, among others.

Israel and the US have warned Hezbollah not to get involved in Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza. The US has sent naval forces to the eastern Mediterranean as a deterrent while Israel has threatened to do to Beirut what it has done to Gaza.

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