Operation Iron Swords (Updated to 1 p.m., December 12, 2023)

IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)

IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)

IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)

IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)

Israeli Air Force strikes in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)

Israeli Air Force strikes in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)

Israeli Air Force strikes in the Zeitoun and Daraj neighborhoods of Gaza City (Shehab X account, December 12, 2023)

Israeli Air Force strikes in the Zeitoun and Daraj neighborhoods of Gaza City (Shehab X account, December 12, 2023)

Attacking a rocket launching position (IDF website, December 12, 2023)

Attacking a rocket launching position (IDF website, December 12, 2023)

Israeli security forces activity this morning in Jenin (Wafa, QudsN X account, December 12, 2023)

Israeli security forces activity this morning in Jenin (Wafa, QudsN X account, December 12, 2023)

March in Hebron (QudsN X account, December 11, 2023)

March in Hebron (QudsN X account, December 11, 2023)

UN Security Council delegation visits the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing (al-Masry al-Youm, December 11, 2023)

UN Security Council delegation visits the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing (al-Masry al-Youm, December 11, 2023)

Northern Arena, Israeli Casualties, Rocket Fire

Overview[1]
  • The combat arena: IDF forces continued fighting in the northern and southern Gaza Strip, exposing large quantities of weapons and weapons training facilities, most of which were situated in civilian sites, such as residences and mosques. The forces detained a large number of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist operatives. The Palestinians reported fierce combat in the southern and northern Gaza Strip.
  • According to an unofficial estimate, since October 7 approximately 1,200 Israeli civilians and security personnel have been killed, 434 of them soldiers and officers; 137 civilian and military hostages are still being held by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, 17 of them women and children; 113 hostages have been returned to Israel.
  • The issue of the hostages: Senior Hamas and terrorists continue reiterating that any further hostage exchange deal will be made after a ceasefire is announced. A “Palestinian source” reported that initial negotiations were underway regarding the possibility of continuing the hostage exchange deal.
  • The Gaza Strip: The situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating. Medical personnel reported the outbreak of disease. In the Rafah area, another Qatar-funded field hospital is under construction. Senior Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip blame the Egyptian authorities for making it difficult to leave through the Rafah Crossing and to hospitalize the wounded in Egypt.
  • The northern arena: Hezbollah continued attacking IDF posts, concentrations of fighters and civilian targets. Hezbollah claimed it had attacked Metula with guided missiles in response to the death of the mayor of the Lebanese town of Taybeh, killed by an IDF mortar shell. The IDF responded by attacking Hezbollah terrorist targets in south Lebanon.
  • Judea and Samaria: IDF security force counterterrorism activities continued, focusing on the Jenin refugee camp.
  • Yemen: The Houthis attacked a ship flying a Norwegian flag in the Bab al-Mandeb area which they claimed was carrying oil to Israel.
  • Russia: Officials in the Russian foreign ministry held talks with senior terrorists of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations, emphasizing the need to stop the fighting, solve all the humanitarian problems and release the hostages.
The Combat Arena
  • IDF activity on the ground: IDF forces continued their maneuvers on the ground in the northern and southern Gaza Strip, including locating and destroying large quantities of weapons and a factory for the production of weapons. During the past month, more than 500 terrorist operatives were detained in the Gaza Strip, about 350 belonging to Hamas and about 120 to the PIJ. Since the end of the temporary ceasefire, approximately 140 Hamas and PIJ terrorist operatives have been detained in Gaza. Some of them were caught hiding in civilian structures, including schools and UNRWA shelters (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023).
IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)    IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)
IDF forces on the ground (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023)
  • The focal points of IDF activity included:
    •  Khan Yunis: IDF fighters raided a building used by Hamas operatives and found about 250 rockets, mortars and RPGs ready for firing, as well as other weapons and military equipment (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023). The Palestinians reported that in the morning heavy exchanges of fire resumed in the Khan Yunis area, in addition to IDF artillery fire in several areas of the city (QudsN X account, December 12, 2023). A number of casualties were reported in the Khan Yunis area (Ma’an, December 12, 2023).
Palestinian illustration of the IDF's ground maneuver in the eastern Khan Yunis area and at the northern entrance to the city (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 12, 2023)
Palestinian illustration of the IDF’s ground maneuver in the eastern Khan Yunis area and at the northern entrance to the city (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 12, 2023)
    • Jabalia refugee camp: IDF fighters exposed an RPG training facility hidden inside a mosque, where a large number of weapons were found. Some of them were in bags belonging to a “civilian organization” operating in the Gaza Strip (IDF website, December 11, 2023). Several Hamas combat centers and stockpiles of weapons were found in a residential neighborhood and near a school. The forces located an apartment that belonged to a nukhba terrorist operative, containing documents and laptops with plans for the October 7, 2023 massacre. (The IDF website, December 12, 2023).
Mortars shells found by IDF forces (IDF spokesperson December 12, 2023
Mortars shells found by IDF forces (IDF spokesperson December 12, 2023)
 A laboratory for the manufacture of explosives found inside the mosque (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)  The shooting range located inside the mosque.
Right: The shooting range located inside the mosque. Left: A laboratory for the manufacture of explosives found inside the mosque (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)
    • The Shejaiya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City: The Palestinians reported the continuation of heavy exchanges of fire between the IDF forces and the “resistance” [terrorist operatives], along with Israeli Air Force strikes and IDF artillery fire (Shehab X account, December 12, 2023).
  • A correspondent for al-Araby TV reported that in the northern Gaza Strip fierce battles were taking place in Jabalia, where IDF tanks were trying, unsuccessfully, to enter the Jabalia refugee camp. He claimed Hamas military-terrorist operatives were attacking with anti-tank missiles. In eastern Gaza City, he reported, IDF tanks were encircling the Shejaiya neighborhood and there were heavy exchanges of fire. In the Khan Yunis area, IDF tanks were in the villages east of the city and at its northern entrance, and he also reported a fierce exchange of fine between Hamas [terrorist] operatives and IDF forces. (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 12, 2023).
 Right: IDF ground maneuver in the Jabaliya area. Left: IDF ground maneuver in eastern Gaza City (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 12, 2023)    Right: IDF ground maneuver in the Jabaliya area. Left: IDF ground maneuver in eastern Gaza City (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 12, 2023)
Right: IDF ground maneuver in the Jabaliya area. Left: IDF ground maneuver in eastern Gaza City (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 12, 2023)
  • Aerial activity: Israeli Air Force aircraft continued attacking throughout the Strip and in cooperation with the forces operating on the ground, and attacked a large number of rocket launching positions and launchers.
 Israeli Air Force strikes in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)
 Israeli Air Force strikes in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)
 Israeli Air Force strikes in the Zeitoun and Daraj neighborhoods of Gaza City (Shehab X account, December 12, 2023)    Israeli Air Force strikes guided by flares in the northern Gaza Strip (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 11, 2023).
Right: Israeli Air Force strikes guided by flares in the northern Gaza Strip (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 11, 2023). Left: Israeli Air Force strikes in the Zeitoun and Daraj neighborhoods of Gaza City (Shehab X account, December 12, 2023)
  • Naval activity: Israeli Navy forces attacked a terrorist squad firing at the IDF ground forces maneuvering in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesperson, December 12, 2023).
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip
  • Palestinian terrorist operatives continue firing rockets at Israel, most of them targeting the cities, towns and villages surrounding the Gaza Strip. IDF soldiers identified a launch site in the Jabalia area during a rocket attack on Sderot, and directed an aircraft which attacked and destroyed the launch site.
Attacking a rocket launching position (IDF website, December 12, 2023)
Attacking a rocket launching position (IDF website, December 12, 2023)
Reactions to the fighting
  • Senior terrorist Ali Abu Shahin, a member of the PIJ’s political bureau and the head of its media information department, claimed that now “the ground was speaking,” there was no talk of a ceasefire, and that the position of the PIJ, which he claimed was “a major factor in the resistance,” was clear, as was the position of the “resistance” [terrorist organizations]: there would be no discussion of political issues before a general ceasefire, and they would not negotiate under pressure. He denied the reports in the Israeli media and said there were currently no diplomatic contacts, and that even if there were, countries that continued investing efforts, [the terrorist organizations] would not respond before the “aggression” ended.
  • Regarding the fighting, Abu Shahin said that there was no joint operations room but there was coordination, and on the ground there was more than coordination, there was unity, and there were sites of joint combat. He claimed that after the temporary ceasefire, the “resistance” had resumed its activity at a higher level, and “its performance improved every day,” indicating that the continuation of the war did not affect their determination. Moreover, he claimed, the “resistance” had adapted itself to new conflict scenarios, since the initial elements of surprise and shock were no longer effective (Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen TV X account, December 11, 2023).
Israeli casualties
  • According to an unofficial estimate, since October 7 approximately 1,200 Israeli people have been killed. According to the IDF spokesman, 434 of them are soldiers and officers (of which 106 have been killed since the start of the ground maneuver on 27 October, 2023.) 137 civilian and military hostages are still being held by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, 17 of them women and children; 113 hostages have been returned.
The issue of the hostages
  • Senior Hamas terrorist Osama Hamdan, in response to reports in the Israeli media that Israel would be prepared to listen to proposals from mediators regarding a prisoner exchange, said Hamas’ position was clear and firm: no prisoner exchange deal could be discussed before the end of the “aggression” against the Gaza Strip. He claimed the purpose of the current leaks in the Israeli media was to deal with the internal pressures exerted by the Israeli public and the families of the hostages, adding that the Israeli government would bear the consequences of the leaks. In response to a report on Israeli TV Channel 12 that “the conditions were ripe to begin formulating new agreements,” he again stated that the only condition [for discussions] was an unconditional cessation of “aggression” against the Gaza Strip (al-Jazeera YouTube channel, December 12, 2023).
  • In response to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s statement that the fate of Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, and of every other senior terrorist commander was to surrender or die, senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Mardawi[2] claimed it was all propaganda and Israel had said the same thing in the past as well, setting goals and making promises to its public which had been broken, and the “resistance” [Palestinian terrorism] and Hamas remained. In response to Gallant’s demand that the Red Cross visit the hostages and bring a sign of life, he wondered how Israel could ask for such a thing after it [allegedly] “violated all international laws” and denied the Gazans basic needs such as water and medical care. He claimed they were practicing the principle of “an eye for an eye.” He also mentioned that the failed attempt to rescue the Israeli hostage had been in the Nuseirat refugee camp (al-Jazeera Mubasher Facebook page, December 11, 2023).
  • Senior PIJ terrorist Abu Ali Shahin, a member of its political bureau, stated the PIJ and Hamas regularly coordinated and consulted on political issues, leading to the results in the first found of fighting regarding the exchange deal for the civilian hostages. He claimed that even now Hamas’ position was no different from the position of the PIJ, Saleh al-‘Arouri had presented Hamas’ position regarding the need to stop aggression, and he [Abu Shahin] had not heard of a change (al-Jazeera Mubasher TV Facebook page, December 11, 2023).
  • A “Palestinian source” familiar with the negotiations said that the mediators had begun to make proposals and send out feelers. He claimed the last time, feelers had been sent out three weeks before the announcement of the temporary ceasefire, but this time, in his assessment, it would be quicker because there were agreements in place from the previous negotiations regarding the classification of the hostages and the division of the Palestinian prisoners into groups, so the general lines and the framework of the negotiations were already defined. “The source” said Israel had submitted a list of 50 names, including women soldiers, the wounded and elderly civilians, in addition to the remaining women and children. Israel offered to release 150 sick and elderly Palestinian prisoners in exchange, but the [terrorist] organizations rejected the offer. Referring to Hamas’ denial of the existence of negotiations, the “Palestinian source” said that the actual negotiations had not yet begun and that the current phase was one of “mutual proposals.” However, he said Hamas and the PIJ were talking seriously about the possibility of a serious and productive offer of exchange (Arab World News Agency (AWP), December 12, 2023).

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The Gaza Strip
Palestinian casualties
  • The Hamas-controlled ministry of health in Gaza reported that as of 3 p.m. December 11, 2023, the number of dead since the beginning of the war stood at more than 18,205 and the number of wounded at more than 49,645 (al-Arabi YouTube channel, December 11, 2023).
  • This morning, Dr. Marwan al-Hams, director of Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, reported the spread of smallpox in the city and of 1,500 patients with intestinal problems who went to the hospital every day because they had no food. He said the situation in the city was very difficult and there was flu and diarrhea among the evacuees (al-Jazeera, December 12, 2023).
The situation in the Gaza Strip
  • The Palestinian media reported on the ongoing erection of a tent camp in the Tel al-Sultan area of Rafah for evacuees from across the Strip. One of the evacuated residents told an interviewer that it was the third time they had been moved. He said there were no basic amenities, no toilets, no showers and not even potable water (Wafa YouTube channel, December 11, 2023).
Evacuees from around the Gaza Strip erect a tent camp in the Tel al-Sultan area in Rafah (Wafa YouTube channel, December 11, 2023)
Evacuees from around the Gaza Strip erect a tent camp in the Tel al-Sultan area in Rafah (Wafa YouTube channel, December 11, 2023)
Aid for the Gaza Strip
  • Correspondent Hassan Aslih, who reports from the Gaza Strip, published photos documenting the preparations for the establishment of a Qatari field hospital in the Rafah area. He said the al-Quds Hospital staff would manage the hospital, which would have 50 beds, an operating room and an ICU (Hassan Aslih’s Telegram channel, December 11, 2023). According to a different report, the hospital was transferred to the Palestinian Red Crescent and would be established in the Rafah area with 44 beds and six operating rooms (al-Khalij Online website, December 10, 2023).
Preparations for the establishment of a Qatari hospital in Gaza (Hassan Aslih's Telegram channel, December 11, 2023)       Preparations for the establishment of a Qatari hospital in Gaza (Hassan Aslih's Telegram channel, December 11, 2023)
Preparations for the establishment of a Qatari hospital in Gaza (Hassan Aslih’s Telegram channel, December 11, 2023)
  • The Hamas-affiliated QudsN network publicly attacked the Egyptian authorities, claiming that Egyptian police officers at the Rafah Crossing demanded a bribe of $5,000 from Palestinians who wanted to leave the Strip for Egypt. Furthermore, according to the report, Palestinians evacuated to hospitals in Egypt were treated poorly and prohibited from purchasing cell phones and connecting to the Internet (QudsN X account, December 12, 2023).

A Palestinian cartoon criticizing Egyptian President el-Sisi's complete control over the Rafah crossing, making him fully responsible for the Crossing's activity in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza (Alaa' al-Laqta's Facebook page, December 11, 2023)
A Palestinian cartoon criticizing Egyptian President el-Sisi’s complete control over the Rafah crossing, making him fully responsible for the Crossing’s activity in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza (Alaa’ al-Laqta’s Facebook page, December 11, 2023)

  • A video was released documenting armed Hamas operatives taking over a truck carrying humanitarian aid in the southern Gaza Strip. It showed Hamas terrorists throwing several packages on the road and Palestinians rushing to grab them (Palestine Eagle Telegram channel, December 12, 2023).
Hamas operatives take over a humanitarian aid truck in the southern Gaza Strip (Palestine Eagle Telegram channel, December 12, 2023)     Hamas operatives take over a humanitarian aid truck in the southern Gaza Strip (Palestine Eagle Telegram channel, December 12, 2023)
Hamas operatives take over a humanitarian aid truck in the southern Gaza Strip (Palestine Eagle Telegram channel, December 12, 2023)

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The Northern Arena
Hezbollah attacks
  • During the past day, Hezbollah continued attacking IDF positions, concentrations of forces on the northern border and civilian targets. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for seven attacks of artillery fire, missile fire including guided missiles and heavy-warhead Burkan rockets. According to Hezbollah, Metula was attacked in response to Israeli attacks on villages and towns in south Lebanon and the killing of Hussein Ali Mansour, the mayor of the town of al-Taybeh (see below) (Hezbollah combat information wing Telegram channel, December 11-12, 2023).
  • The IDF responded to Hezbollah’s attacks with artillery fire and Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon, including terrorist squads, firing positions and a Hezbollah military site (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 12, 2023).
Attacking a Hezbollah terrorist cell and position from which Israel was attacked (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)     Attacking a Hezbollah terrorist cell and position from which Israel was attacked (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)
Attacking a Hezbollah terrorist cell and position from which Israel was attacked (IDF spokesperson, December 11, 2023)
Fatalities of the events on the Israel-Lebanon border
  • According to reports, Hussein Ali Mansour, mayor of the town of al-Taybeh (about four kilometers [about 2.5 miles] west of Metula), was killed by a shell fired at his house by the IDF. At the time there were eight other people on his balcony but they were not injured (al-Nahar, December 11, 2023). He was eulogized by his son, Abbas Mansour, who called him a “martyr on the way to Palestine” (Abbas Mansour’s X account, December 11, 2023).
  Right: Hussein Ali Mansour, mayor of the town of al-Taybeh (Abbas Mansour's X account, December 11, 2023). Center: The balcony of Hussein Ali Mansour's house after the mortar shell hit (Jamal Wakim's X account, December 11, 2023). Left: And IDF shell that did not explode (Masdar Masoul's X account, December 11, 2023)
Right: Hussein Ali Mansour, mayor of the town of al-Taybeh (Abbas Mansour’s X account, December 11, 2023). Center: The balcony of Hussein Ali Mansour’s house after the mortar shell hit (Jamal Wakim’s X account, December 11, 2023). Left: And IDF shell that did not explode (Masdar Masoul’s X account, December 11, 2023)
Hamas in Lebanon
  • A Hamas delegation headed by Ahmed Abd al-Hadi, the movement’s representative in Lebanon, met in Beirut with Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, the Sunni Grand Mufti of Lebanon. Abd al-Hadi reported that he had informed the Grand Mufti of the announcement of the establishment of the Pioneers of Operation al-Aqsa Storm, stressing it was not a military framework and had nothing to do with the “resistance” against Israel in south Lebanon, but rather a popular framework whose purpose was to organize and absorb young people to “polish their personalities,” connect them to Palestine and use their abilities for the Palestinian community so that they would not be affected by negative social influences such as drugs or extremism. Abd al-Hadi added that the announcement had been given far more resonance than its true meaning, stressing that Hamas did not intend to establish anything that had anything to do with the military aspect or the activity on the ground. He claimed Hamas and the Palestinians respected Lebanon’s laws, sovereignty, security and stability.
  • Asked whether Hamas’ military-terrorist wing was attacking Israel from Lebanon, Abd al Hadi said the announcements published from time to time confirmed that they were. He added that the Islamic or Palestinian resistance was carried out within the framework of defending the Palestinians in “Palestine” and dealing with Israeli “aggression,” and that it had its circumstances, the environment in which it operated, and rules that regulated and managed it, and that this was an issue related to the Lebanese agreements. He stressed that the Pioneers of Operation al-Aqsa Storm had nothing to do with any of that, and the establishment of the popular organization did not mean they wanted to return to “Fatah-Land” or to what might now be called “Hamas-Land” (al-Nashra website, December 11, 2023).
Syria
  • Following the Syrian report that Israel had fired missiles at the Damascus area on December 10, 2023, it was reported that Israeli Air Force F-16 jets had hit a farm on the outskirts of al-Sayyida Zaynab where missile experts were working for the Center for Scientific Research, Jamraya Sector, Institute 1000. It was also reported that four Hezbollah operatives were killed in the attack. In the second sortie, a UAV attacked commanders of Unit 142, the Golan File Unit, which belongs to Hezbollah, on the outskirts of Quneitra. The source noted that the unit had 58 posts on the Syrian-Israeli border, commanded by Na’im Shi’atu and Hussein Sajed, who were killed in previous Israeli airstrikes (al-Quds al-Arabi, December 11, 2023).

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Judea and Samaria
Counterterrorism activities
  • Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, focusing on an extensive operation in the city of Jenin and its refugee camp. During the activity, there were heavy exchanges of fire between the forces and armed Palestinians, who also threw IEDs at the forces. In response, a UAV fired at a group of armed operatives (IDF spokesperson’s Telegram channel, December 12, 2023). As of now, the activity is still ongoing, and the Palestinians report that Israel continues to send forces to the area.
  • The PA ministry of health in Ramallah reported four fatalities. In addition, severe damage was reported to infrastructure in Jenin, especially roads (al-Quds, December 12, 2023).
Israeli security forces activity this morning in Jenin (Wafa, QudsN X account, December 12, 2023)
Israeli security forces activity this morning in Jenin (Wafa, QudsN X account, December 12, 2023)
  • In response to the activity in Jenin, senior Hamas terrorist Abd al-Hakim Hanini said the fierce battles in the Gaza Strip and Jenin and the heroism of the “resistance” there had proved once again that the attempts to eradicate the “resistance” were an illusion and could not be achieved. He noted the Palestinian “resistance” presented something new every day in terms of its ability to repel aggression and confront Israel, and to prepare for all scenarios. He congratulated the Palestinians in Jenin and its refugee camp for their steadfastness, and the resistance operatives, headed by fighters from Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, for their courage and heroism in repelling the aggression (Palinfo, December 12, 2023).
Solidarity with the Gaza Strip
  • Marches were held throughout Judea and Samaria in support of the Gaza Strip (Hurriya News, December 11, 2023; Wafa, December 11, 2023).
March in Hebron (QudsN X account, December 11, 2023)     March in Ramallah (Wafa, December 11, 2023).
Right: March in Ramallah (Wafa, December 11, 2023). Left: March in Hebron (QudsN X account, December 11, 2023)
Palestinian Authority (PA)
  • Mahmoud Abbas’ office condemned Israel’s continued freezing of Palestinian tax revenues, claiming it was an illegal measure constituting collective punishment of the Palestinian people. The office called on the United States to force Israel to stop these “crimes” because it was the only one capable of doing so (Wafa, December 11, 2023).
  • PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh spoke at the start of the weekly government meeting in Ramallah, addressing several issues (Wafa, December 12, 2023):
  • The war in the Gaza Strip: Israel’s emigration plan is still on the agenda, which has made the Gaza Strip unlivable now. Shtayyeh appreciated Egypt’s position opposing the immigration of residents. He expressed opposition to Israel’s military or economic solutions since they would not achieve peace. He called for sanctions against Israel for its actions in the Gaza Strip.
  • The settlers in Judea and Samaria: He called for putting them on terrorist lists, preventing them from entering European countries, and revoking the citizenship of those with dual citizenship. He demanded that the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor establish a database and names of the settlers to prosecute them.
  • Offsetting the tax revenues: He reiterated his objection to Israel’s holding of Palestinian tax revenues and not transferring them to the PA, as well as Israel’s decision to deduct the funds transferred by the PA to the Gaza Strip from the tax revenues. He said the objective of Israel’s move was to cut off Gaza from the rest of the PA.

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Iran
  • Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iranian foreign minister, spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and discussed relations between the two countries and regional issues, including developments in the Palestinian arena. Abdollahian expressed regret at the American veto in the UN Security Council regarding the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, saying it meant approving the continuation of the [alleged] “genocide” of the residents of the Gaza Strip. The two foreign ministers stressed the need to continue efforts to establish a ceasefire and send humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip (IRNA, December 11, 2023).
  • After his conversation with the Russian foreign minister, Abdollahian also spoke with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and discussed developments in the region and in the Palestinian arena. He warned that the scope of the war in the region had increased and that if Israel’s attacks in the Gaza Strip did not stop immediately, it could lead to an explosion in the region and things could get out of hand (IRNA, December 11, 2023). Abdollahian also spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and stressed the need to stop Israel’s attacks in Gaza and transfer aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip (Mehr, December 11, 2023).
Pro-Iranian militias
Iraq
  • The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for two drone attacks against the Ayn al-Assad American Army base in western Iraq and for firing rockets at al-Shadadi bases in Syria (Islamic Resistance Telegram channel, December 11, 2023).
  • Following the attack on the American embassy in Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia’ al-Sudani spoke with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, telling him that they were committed to protecting the advisers and diplomatic missions in the country and that the government and security forces would persecute anyone who carried out an attack on the diplomatic missions. Al-Sudani said the continued aggression in the Gaza Strip would have implications for the entire region and that the UN Security Council had to support the call for a ceasefire (Iraqi News Agency, December 11, 2023).
Yemen
  • The American Army Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that on December 11, 2023, at around 11 p.m., the ship Strinda was attacked in the Bab el-Mandeb area by a cruise missile launched from a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen, and the destroyer USS Mason responded to the ship’s SOS and provided assistance. The statement also noted that there were no American ships in the area at the time of the attack (CENTCOM X account, December 12, 2023). The ship, flying a Norwegian flag, reportedly sustained material damage (Reuters, December 12, 2023).
  • Yahya Saria, spokesman for the Houthi armed forces, claimed responsibility in an official statement for the attack on the Norwegian ship Strinda. He said Houthi forces had fired a cruise missile at the ship that was carrying oil, which was en route to Israel. He noted that during the past two days, they had prevented the passage of several ships, which responded to the warnings of the Yemeni naval forces. On the other hand, the crew of the Norwegian ship did not heed the warning calls (Yahya Saria’s X account, December 12, 2023).
The Arab Arena
Qatar
  • Mohammed al-Khulaifi, minister of state in the Qatari foreign ministry, said Qatar would continue to transfer funds to the Gaza Strip and support it, as it had been doing for years. He noted they were not going to change their role, helping and supporting the Palestinians, and would continue doing so systematically as they did before the war (CNN, December 11, 2023).
Jordan
  • King Abdullah II of Jordan spoke by phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and stressed the importance of an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the protection of residents. He also noted that continued settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank would escalate the conflict and that the international community had to increase the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip (Petra, December 11, 2023).
  • In a meeting with current and retired senior defense officials, King Abdullah said Jordan was a country with economic, political and military strength, and that it was their responsibility to give priority to political interests. He stressed that the solution to the Palestinian issue could not be at Jordan’s expense. He said Jordan’s position was clear and resolute and it would continue to stand by the Palestinian people and push for its political future, alongside efforts to transfer urgent humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip (Jordanian royal family website, December 11, 2023).
The International Arena
United Nations Security Council
  • According to an announcement by the Egyptian foreign ministry, a delegation of UN Security Council representatives arrived in Egypt to monitor the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip and to visit the Rafah Crossing. The statement added that the visit of the council members to Rafah was taking place at the most important time when the Security Council was unable to decide on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip (UN Information Center in Egypt X account, December 11, 2023).
  • During the visit, the delegation members visited El Arish, where they were received by the governor of North Sinai, who also gave them an overview of the situation in the region. They visited wounded Palestinians hospitalized in El Arish (al-Masry al-Youm, December 11, 2023). A Palestinian delegation headed by Ahmed al-Majdalani, minister of social development, and Mei al-Kayla, minister of health, met with the delegation members and briefed them on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the hardships in the shadow of the war (Wafa, December 11, 2023).
UN Security Council delegation visits the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing (al-Masry al-Youm, December 11, 2023)
UN Security Council delegation visits the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing (al-Masry al-Youm, December 11, 2023)
European Union
  • Abd al-Rahim al-Fara, the PA’s representative to the European Union, said that during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, no resolution calling for a permanent humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip had been adopted. He noted that Germany and several countries opposed the resolution, which prevented its unanimous adoption. According to him, the problem lies in the existing procedural system in the European Union whereby on any foreign policy issue, there must be a consensus, and when one country, regardless of its size, opposes the issue, the issue does not come up, or at least no joint statement is issued by the member states (Arab World News Agency (AWP), December 12, 2023).
  • The European Union has imposed sanctions on six individuals and five entities involved in Iran’s development and production of drones used by Russia in its war with Ukraine. The sanctions reportedly include freezing assets, banning travel to EU countries, and prohibiting the transfer of funds to or for their benefit. It was noted that the sanctions were imposed on companies manufacturing components for UAVs and on companies assisting the Qods Force in improving its aircraft program (EU website, December 11, 2023).
Russia
  • Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian deputy foreign minister, and special envoy to the Middle East spoke by phone with Saleh Rafat, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee; Maher al-Taher, senior PFLP official; and Musa Abu Marzuq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau.
  • In his talks, Bogdanov stressed the need to stop the fighting, solve all humanitarian problems, and the release of the hostages. He also said it was important for the Palestinian organizations to work to restore Palestinian unity under the PLO banner ((TASS News Agency, December 11, 2023; Russia Today website, December 11, 2023).

[1] Click https://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en to subscribe and receive the ITIC's daily updates as well as its other publications.
[2] A Hamas operative from Qalqilya, expelled to the Gaza Strip in the Gilad Shalit exchange deal.