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Israel-Hamas war: IDF warns of 'prolonged' conflict in 2024

Published January 1, 2024last updated January 1, 2024

The IDF has sent some of its reservists home to boost the country's economy and "gather strength" for more fighting later. In Istanbul, tens of thousands marched to show support for Gaza. DW has the latest.

Two Israeli soldiers peer through a window in Gaza
An IDF spokesman said Israel was preparing for 'prolonged fighting'Image: Israeli Army/AFP
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israel steps up its operations in central Gaza
  • Palestinian sources say close to 22,000 have been killed in Gaza since October 7
  • Tens of thousands march in support of Gaza in Istanbul
  • Israel allows some reservists to return to civilian life, makes plans for a long war
  • US helicopters sink three Houthi vessels in Red Sea off Yemen
Skip next section IDF says 18 Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire
January 1, 2024

IDF says 18 Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has confirmed that one in six Israeli soldiers killed since the start of the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip has either been killed by friendly fire due to mistaken identity, or lost their lives in deadly accidents.

The total amounts to 29 soldiers, 18 of whom were killed by friendly fire in cases of mistaken identity, the IDF said, confirming media reports. 

Those killed by friendly fire may have died due to airstrikes, tank fire as well as gunfire, the Times of Israel reported.

Two others were killed by an accidental shot and nine more by accidents, for example with ammunition or involving armored vehicles.

The Israeli newspaper cited the IDF as saying that the large number of troops in Gaza, communication issues and soldiers being exhausted contributed to the army death toll.

The IDF said 172 soldiers have been killed since Israel began its ground offensive against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza in late October. More than 900 have been injured. 

In total, the Israeli military has lost 506 soldiers since Hamas launched its attacks on Israel on October 7.

Skip next section Children's vaccines start entering Gaza
January 1, 2024

Children's vaccines start entering Gaza

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Monday that thousands of doses of vaccines against childhood diseases like polio and measles had begun entering the Gaza Strip

The deliveries, which also included vaccines against diseases like rubella and mumps, came from supplies purchased by the Palestinian Health Ministry in the occupied West Bank and supplied by the UN's children's fund, UNICEF

UNICEF said on Friday that it had delivered at least 600,000 doses to the Gaza Strip as Israel announced it would facilitate the entry of vaccines to help prevent the spread of disease. 

Israel's ground offensive has effectively stopped normal medical services in Gaza like vaccination programs. The region is estimated to be home to some 60,000 newborn babies. 

Yasser Bouzia, head of international relations at the Health Ministry in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said administering the vaccines would still be difficult because most of Gaza's population had been driven from their homes and were living in tents or other temporary lodgings.

Skip next section Israel allows some reservists to rejoin civilian life
January 1, 2024

Israel allows some reservists to rejoin civilian life

Israel's military has said it is adjusting its troop numbers as its officials prepare for a prolonged conflict in the Gaza Strip

"The objectives of the war require prolonged fighting, and we are preparing accordingly," Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said late on Sunday.

Hagari said some of the reservists would "return to their families and employment" this coming week. He said their return would buttress Israel's economy and also allow the reservists to "gather strength for the upcoming activities" in the new year. 

Two-front war may be challenging for Israel: Domitilla Sagramoso, King's College London

Hagari said the fighting would continue and the reservists would still be needed over time. The spokesman also announced plans for extended officer training. 

Hagari said the military "must plan ahead, understanding that we will be required for additional tasks and warfare throughout this year." 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Saturday that the fighting would last "many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned." 

Skip next section US sinks 3 Houthi ships after attack
January 1, 2024

US sinks 3 Houthi ships after attack

US helicopters have sunk three Houthi ships, killing 10 militants, US officials have said.

Militants sought to board the Singapore-flagged Maersk Hangzhou, according to shipping company Maersk and the US Central Command (CENTCOM).

CENTCOM said helicopters from the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely repelled the attackers alongside the Maersk ship's security team after receiving a distress call.

Maersk said it was halting transit through the Red Sea for 48 hours after the attack.

A Houthi spokesman said militants carried out the attack because the ship's crew did not heed warning calls. It confirmed that 10 Houthi naval personnel were killed after their boats were attacked by US forces.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi group has been launching attacks on ships in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait for weeks, citing its opposition to Israel's offensive in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Skip next section Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reports 156 killed in one day
January 1, 2024

Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reports 156 killed in one day

A spokesman for the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said the known count of dead in the Palestinian territory since Hamas' October 7 attacks against Israel had reached 21,978 people.

He also said on Monday that 156 people had been killed in Gaza over the last 24 hours. In that time, 246 were also wounded, the ministry said. 

Palestinian health authorities do not distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties, but the ministry said on Monday that 70% were women and children.

Israel has also sometimes disputed the figures, noting Hamas' influence over government organs in Gaza, but the UN and others have said the terrorist group has proved largely reliable in the past.

Skip next section Large march in Istanbul in support for Gaza
January 1, 2024

Large march in Istanbul in support for Gaza

Residents in Istanbul, Turkey, were asked to participate in a demonstration in support of Gaza residents after morning prayers on Monday. 

Organizers said they hoped for as many as 100,000 participants. Initial images showed large crowds in the city center, filling the Galata Bridge.

Thousands demonstrate to show solidarity with Palestinians amid the ongoing war in Gaza, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.
Various leading members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party, as well as his son and his son-in-law, attended the eventImage: Emrah Gurel/AP/picture alliance

Bilal Erdogan, the second son of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spoke at the event which was attended by an array of senior members of Erdogan's ruling party, the AKP.

Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet quoted Bilal Erdogan as calling for a continued "boycott" of Israel. 

Erdogan himself has been extremely outspoken in his criticism of Israel's response to Hamas' October 7 terror attacks, claiming it has undertaken the deliberate, indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Istanbul, January 1, 2024: large protest in solidarity with Gaza moves past a large mosque.
Monday's demonstration followed morning prayers across Turkey's most populous cityImage: Francisco Seco/AP/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section Israel intensifies strikes in central Gaza, sirens heard in Tel Aviv
January 1, 2024

Israel intensifies strikes in central Gaza, sirens heard in Tel Aviv

Israeli jets have intensified attacks on the central Gaza Strip, according to residents and medics.

Airstrikes hit Maghazi and Bureij in the center of the territory, killing 10 people in one house.

Meanwhile, rockets fired from Gaza flew over central Israel overnight, triggering sirens.

Iron Dome intercepts rockets over Ashkelon, Israel
Israel's Iron Dome defense system intercepted rockets launched from GazaImage: Amir Cohen/REUTERS

Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, leading people who had gathered on the streets to celebrate New Year's Eve to take shelter.

There were no reports of any direct hits, and Israeli media showed footage of numerous interceptions.

The armed wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said the rockets were launched in response to "massacres against civilians" in Gaza.

The militant Islamist group is designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, Germany and other governments.

Gaza: No letup in violence on the last day of the year

sdi/lo (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)