Senior IDF office killed in fighting
The IDF has announced the death of a senior officer during fighting in Gaza.
Lt. Col. Salman Habaka, 33, was killed fighting Hamas terrorists in the northern part of Gaza, the military said. Three others were injured.
Habaka was the commander of the 188th Armored Brigade’s 53rd Battalion, from Yanuh-Jat, and is the most senior Israeli officer killed in the conflict so far.
The Jerusalem Post reported that he was killed on Wednesday night as he led his armoured unit while covering for Golani soldiers.
The IDF said he was killed on the spot.
Habaka first arrived in southern Israel in response to Hamas’s terror attack on October 7, and was among the first to engage the gunmen. According to the Jerusalem Post, he killed dozens of terrorists in the fighting.
His death brings the number of Israeli soldiers killed during the ground offensive to 18 – and 333 since the start of the war, The Times Of Israel reported.
Netanyahu: ‘We’re at the height of battle’
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his troops are at ‘the height of battle’ after pushing into Gaza City.
In a video released on his official X (Twitter) account, he spoke to the camera standing in the middle of several IDF troops, many holding rifles.
‘We’re at the height of the battle. We’ve had impressive successes and have passed the outskirts of Gaza City. We are advancing,’ Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office, seen by Reuters. It gave no further details.
On X, he said: ‘Today with our fighters in the field. We have very impressive successes, we are already more than the outskirts of Gaza City.
‘We are making progress. Nothing will stop us. We will move forward. We will advance and win.’
Hezbollah says it has attacked Israeli army command position with explosive drones
Lebanon’s Hezbollah has said it has used two drones packed with explosives to attack an Israeli army command position in the disputed Shebaa Farms area at the Lebanese-Israeli border today.
It is the first time Hezbollah has declared carrying out an attack against Israeli forces using such drones, and comes a few days after the Iran-backed group said for the first time it had used a surface-to-air missile against an Israeli drone.
In a statement, Hezbollah said the drones filled with ‘a large quantity of explosives’ had attacked the headquarters of the Israeli battalion in the Shebaa Farms area, and they had hit their targets.
Israel has held the Shebaa Farms, a 15-square-mile area of land, since the 1967 Middle East war. Both Syria and Lebanon claim the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese.
UN experts again call for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza: Palestinian people at ‘grave risk of genocide’
United Nations experts called have again called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, saying the Palestinian people there were at ‘grave risk of genocide.’
‘We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,’ the experts, including several UN special rapporteurs, said in a statement. ‘We demand a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure that aid reaches those who need it the most.’
Hamas officials today said an Israeli air strike slammed into another refugee camp, ‘massacring’ at least 15 people with dozens more trapped under the rubble.
The large explosion ripped through clusters of homes in the densely packed Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza , leaving a deep, debris-littered crater in its wake.
The withering aerial bombardment comes as the IDF said its ground troops have broken through Hamas’s front lines of defence, with soldiers and tanks closing in on Gaza City from all sides.
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Breaking: Hamas-run health ministry: 27 killed in Israeli strikes near UN school
The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza is saying at least 27 people have been killed in an Israeli strike near a UN school in the Jabalia refugee camp.
‘The bodies of 27 martyrs were recovered and a large number of wounded,’ said ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra in a toll AFP news agency said it was unable to independently verify.
AFP footage from the incident showed several casualties as crowds of people rushed to rescue the injured.
The same camp was hit twice – once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday – with Gaza officials saying 195 people were killed in the two strikes.
Breaking: Israeli air force using ‘less than half’ its capacity in war
The Israeli air force is bringing less than half of its capabilities to bear in the Gaza war, military chief Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi said in a televised statement on Thursday.
The remarks appeared designed to signal readiness to escalate attacks on Hamas, and against the Palestinian faction’s allies in Lebanon and elsewhere, if Israel deems that necessary.
Breaking: Israeli air strike ‘hits residential building in refugee camp’: Gaza’s Civil Defense
An Israeli airstrike has hit a residential building in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, killing at least 15 people, Gaza’s Civil Defense spokesperson said.
The Associated Press reports that Mahmoud Bassal – speaking to Qatar’s Al Jazeera television – said it has been difficult for civil defense vehicles and first responders to arrive to clear the rubble.
Residents said dozens of people were trapped under the rubble.
The strike created a large crater and severely damaged the buildings around it. A survivor speaking to the television network compared it to an earthquake.
Bassal said Gaza Civil Defense paramedics and first-responders are struggling because of crippled infrastructure and fuel shortages.
He said they have relied on donations of fuel by individual Palestinians from their personal supplies to run ambulances and other vehicles.
Israel has banned the transport of fuel into Gaza.
A Hamas leader has issued a chilling warning that the terror group’s October 7 massacre will happen ‘again and again’ until Israel is ‘annihilated’ – vowing that the terrorists will pay any price to achieve their aims.
Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister for Hamas, cynically told a broadcaster that the terrorists ‘did not want to harm civilians’ during their bloody rampage through southern Israel, which saw more than 1,400 Israelis murdered in cold blood.
He said the terror group had only done so due to ‘complications on the ground’ – a grim throwaway reference to the Nova festival massacre which saw scores of innocent young people gunned down, mutilated and kidnapped.
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Sunak and UN Chief ‘agree on the importance of scaling up aid deliveries’
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed on the need to scale up delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the prime minister’s office has said.
‘The leaders … discussed the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza and agreed on the importance of urgently scaling up the delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid,’ a Downing Street spokesperson said.
‘The Prime Minister and the Secretary-General agreed on the need to reinvigorate international efforts to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict and progress work towards a two-state solution.’
The two leaders met as they attended talks on the final day of the inaugural AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in England.
Top Hamas officials says terror group is not responsible for defending Gaza civilians
A top Hamas official has claimed the terror group is not responsible for defending the millions of people living in Gaza.
In an interview with Russia Today (the state-controlled Russian news network) Moussa Abu Marzouk was asked why Hamas had dug extensive tunnel networks under Gaza, but had never built shelters for civilians.
‘We built the tunnels because we have no other way of protecting ourselves from being killed in airstrikes. We are fighting from inside the tunnels,’ he said, according to a segment shared by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
‘Seventy-five percent of the population of Gaza are refugees, and it is the UN’s responsibility to protect them,’ Marzouk – who is based in Qatar – added.
Hamas has ruled over Gaza since 2007 when it took control of the territory, and controls organisations such as Gaza’s health ministry.
Israel accuses Hamas of spending millions of dollars on weapons which it uses to launch attacks across the border, instead of spending it on civilians.
IDF releases footage of fighter jet intercepting missiles launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis rebels
The IDF has released video footage showing an F-35I fighter jet intercepting a cruise missile launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis rebels.
In one black and white clip, a missile travelling above land at speed is targeted by the fighter jet, before exploding into a ball of flames.
A second clip showed another interception of a surface-to-air missile.
IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari shared the video, saying ‘the [defence] systems followed the trajectory of the cruise missile and launched fighter jets from the “Adir” formation, which successfully intercepted it.’
UNRWA: Staff finding it extremely challenging to operate
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has described the situation in Gaza as ‘desperate’.
Juliette Touma, the group’s communications director, told CNN its Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini had visited the territory for a couple of hours today.
UNRWA said 70 of its staff have now been killed in the enclave, and that 690,000 internally displaced people are sheltering in 149 of its installations.
US and Saudi Arabia hold talks over humanitarian situation in Gaza
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza with Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, the US State Department has said.
‘The secretary affirmed the importance of addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza, preventing further spread of the conflict, and reinforcing regional stability and security, including in Yemen,’ in Wednesday’s meeting, the department said.
‘He also emphasized the importance of working toward sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians, a shared priority of both the United States and Saudi Arabia.’
Efforts underway to secure release of more British citizens from Gaza: PA
Efforts are underway to secure the release of more British citizens from Gaza after two UK aid workers were among hundreds of foreign nationals able to flee through the Rafah crossing, Press Association reports
Over the last two days, dozens of seriously injured Palestinians have also been allowed to leave the strip, which is home to more than two million people, for the first time since the war with Israel began nearly a month ago.
There are hopes more UK nationals could make it out and into Egypt on Thursday, PA said, after around 200 registered in Gaza with the Foreign Office.
The department provided the Israeli and Egyptian authorities with a list of British nationals and their dependents, prioritising by medical vulnerability.
The total is thought to be in the low hundreds.
MAP: Israeli troop movements in Gaza
Three Palestinians and one Israeli killed in West Bank, reports say
Three Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, and an Israeli was killed in a Palestinian shooting attack, according to first responders.
Violence has surged across the West Bank for months and intensified further since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Two Palestinians, Ayham al-Shafei, 14 and Yazan Shiha, 24, were killed and two others wounded when Israeli troops opened fire during a raid in El-Bireh, the Palestinian health ministry said.
A 19-year-old Palestinian, Qusai Quran, was killed by Israeli forces during a raid on Qalqilya in the northern West Bank, according to the ministry.
The Israeli army did not immediately comment on the incidents.
Elsewhere, an Israeli was killed after his car came under fire near the settlement of Einav, said Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency response organisation.
Israeli officials have not identified the fatality.
Breaking: Israel requests hospital ships for wounded Palestinians
Israel has asked foreign countries to send hospital ships for the proposed treatment of wounded Palestinians allowed to leave the war-torn Gaza Strip to neighbouring Egypt, the Israeli ambassador to Germany has said.
Interviewed on Israel’s Kan radio, Ron Prosor said such a request had been made of Germany and other countries.
He described a scenario outlined by Kan, whereby wounded Gazans would board such ships in Egypt’s Al Arish port, as accurate.
‘Hamas chose this war’: Israeli general confirms IDF forces have pushed deep into Gaza
Brigadier General Itzik Cohen, leading the IDF’s 162nd Division, says IDF forces are currently located deep in Gaza, having breached their first line of defence.
Gen. Cohen, addressing reporters near the Gaza Strip, said: ‘Hamas chose this war, we did not choose this war.’
He said, his division ‘received an important task, to go and decisively finish Hamas.’
He added that since then ‘we have destroyed much of Hamas’s abilities, attacked its strategic facilities, all of its array of explosives, its underground tunnels and other facilities we completely destroyed.’
But he warned this is a ‘long task,’ and that this is ‘a war for the existence of the State of Israel — and we will win.’
Reporting by Nick Craven, MailOnline’s reporter in Israel
WATCH: Hamas releases clip appearing to show fighters emerging from tunnels
Gazan mothers stuck in Israel want to get home
While much of the focus is on people trying to flee Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah crossing, some Gazan citizens are trying to get back in.
As Hamas terrorists were attacking southern Israel on October 7, sick children from Gaza were being treated in Israeli hospitals.
However, the civilian Erez Crossing facility – found in the north of Gaza – was destroyed in the initial onslaught. The region has since been turned into a battleground, with Israeli military hardware rolling into the enclave.
Now, the Gazan children and their mothers who were in Israel for the treatment have found themselves trapped in Ashdod – on the outside of Gaza looking in as Israeli bombs fall on their home, The Times of Israel reports.
The publications says the mothers are tired and angry, want the fighting to end, and are hoping their families and homes haven’t been lost in the strikes.
Diplomatic efforts push for humanitarian pause in Gaza fighting
As Israel’s ground troops advance toward Gaza City, diplomatic efforts are intensifying for at least a brief pause in the fighting.
- US President Joe Biden has suggested a humanitarian ‘pause’ to help get the hostages out of Gaza – and for aid to get in.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected back in the region on Friday.
- The White House has refused to call for a ceasefire but has signalled that the Israelis should consider humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to receive aid and for foreign nationals trapped on the strip to leave Gaza.
- Arab countries, including those allied with the US and at peace with Israel, have expressed mounting unease with the war.
- The UN and several aid groups have also caused for a ceasefire.
Breaking: Gaza death toll passes 9,000: Gaza health officials
The total death toll in Gaza has risen to 9,061 people and 32,000 others injured, the official spokesperson for the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said.
The dead include 3,760 children and 2,326 women, the spokesperson said
IDF releases video of ‘Hamas terrorist’ detailing October 7 attack
The IDF released a video yesterday purportedly showing a captured Hamas terrorist giving details of the October 7 attack.
In the video, the man talks about entering a house in Israel through a window where they heard the sounds of young children crying in a safe room.
‘We shot at the safe room,’ he says, ‘until we didn’t hear noise anymore.’
Russia accuses Israel of being ‘anti-Russian’ over recommendation that its citizens leave North Caucasus over Dagestan airport attack
Russia has accused Israel of being ‘anti-Russian’ after the Jewish state recommended that its citizens leave Russia’s North Caucasus region after a violent anti-Israeli protest in Dagestan on Sunday.
In a briefing with reporters, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova today that an Israeli warning against travel in the mostly Muslim regions of the North Caucasus bore ‘no relation to reality’.
Dozens were arrested after hundreds of protesters formed an angry mom and stormed Makhachkala airport in Dagestan on Sunday, looking for Jewish passengers on board a plane arriving from Tel Aviv.
Zakharova said that Russia’s traditionally strong relations with Israel were ‘resilient’.
Russia has repeatedly criticised Israel’s military actions around the Gaza Strip, restated its long-standing support for a Palestinian state, while also hosting a Hamas delegation in Moscow.
Video has been released showing Yemen’s Houthis rebels fireing ballistic missiles and long-range rockets at Israel.
The Houthi movement, which like Hamas is supported by Iran, said late on Wednesday it had launched a large batch of drones at several targets in Israel.
The group will ‘continue carrying out military operations in support of Palestinians, until the Israeli aggression in Gaza stops,’ Houthi military spokesman has said.
British doctor with 16 family members trapped in Gaza expresses disappointment over lack of UK passport holders on Rafah crossing list
A British doctor with 16 family members trapped in Gaza has expressed his disappointment over the fact that no UK citizens appear to be on the latest list of foreign passport holders that are being allowed to escape the territory.
Dr Ahmad Abou-Foul told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that his family in the enclave includes a four-month old baby.
He said they are in a ‘horrific’ situation, crammed into a one-room basement, as they wait for the opportunity to flee the under-siege territory.
‘There was another list just published a few hours ago; the majority are Americans, many South Americans and Europeans but still no British nationals included in that list, which is very surprising,’ the surgeon told the BBC.
‘I hope that they come to the British nationals at some point. But the Foreign Office is not providing us with any assurances that they already discussed with the Egyptians and the Egyptians are aware of our presence and that they will prioritise us anytime soon,’ he added.
Britain’s Foreign Office has said it has agreed a list of Britons that want to leave the territory with officials in Egypt and Israel, according to The Guardian.
Bodies of Lebanese shepherds ‘shot by Israeli forces’ found near border
The bodies of two Lebanese shepherds were found in an area near the border today, the Lebanese state National News Agency (NNA) reported.
The NNA said they had been shot at by Israeli forces.
A spokesperson for the Israeli army said it was looking into the report.
The NNA, which gave no source for its report, said they had been tending to their flock near the Wazzani river when they were shot at.
Lebanese security sources told Reuters the shepherds from the Lebanese border village of Wazzani were aged 20 and 21.
New group of Gaza dual nationals depart for Egypt: Palestinian official
A group of dual nationals left Gaza for Egypt on Thursday through Rafah, a border official said, a day after the crossing point reopened for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians.
Wael Abu Mohsen, spokesman for the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, said in a statement that ‘100 travellers of foreign nationalities’ had crossed into Egypt on Thursday morning, escaping the bombarded Palestinian territory.
A total of 400 foreign passport holders as well as 60 wounded patients were due to cross by the day’s end, Abu Mohsen said.
Israel ‘s ground troops have broken through Hamas ‘s front lines of defence, the IDF has said, as the country’s forces continue their advance towards Gaza City.
An Israeli commander said the soldiers are now ‘at the gates’ of the city that before the war was home to around 1.1 million, many of whom have fled south.
Sightings of Israeli forces inside Gaza, as well as the limited information released by both the IDF and Hamas on where fighting has taken place, all point to the Jewish state’s military commanders working to surround the city.
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IN PICTURES: Palestinians search for survivors as Israeli airstrikes leave trail of destruction in Gaza
Germany to ban Hamas activities
Germany will from Wednesday ban the activities of Hamas, already a designated terrorist organisation in the country, as well as pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, the interior minister has announced.
‘With Hamas, I have today completely banned the activities of a terrorist organisation whose aim is to destroy the state of Israel,’ Nancy Faeser said in a statement.
Samidoun’s German wing will also be disbanded, it added.
Faeser said the international network works under the guise of a solidarity group for prisoners to spread anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda.
Israeli forces have attacked 12,000 targets in Gaza Strip since October 7: IDF
Breaking: Israel claims Hamas terrorists fired at a vehicle and soldiers are now in ‘pursuit’ of the gunmen
Israeli Defence Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said today Israeli soldiers came under fire near the Einav settlement in the West Bank.
He said Hamas terrorists fired at a vehicle, causing it to overturn.
‘IDF forces have started a pursuit of the terrorists and are blocking roads in the area,’ Hagari said.
UN says it has ‘serious’ concerns that Israel is committing ‘war crimes’
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a post on social media site X, said the agency had ‘serious concerns’ that Israel’s ‘disproportionate attacks… could amount to war crimes’.
Gaza’s Hamas-run media office said on Thursday that at least 195 Palestinians were killed in the two Israeli attacks on Jabalia, with 120 missing. At least 777 people were wounded, it said in a statement.
Palestinians on Wednesday sifted through rubble in a desperate hunt for trapped victims. ‘It is a massacre,’ said one witness.
WATCH: Israeli troops push deeper into Gaza amid ground assault
IDF claims to have ‘eliminated’ head of Hamas’s anti-tank missile unit
The IDF claimed last night to have ‘eliminated’ Muhammad A’sar, the Head of Hamas’ Anti-Tank Missile Unit in Gaza, amid intese fighting in the territory.
More desperate families set to leave Gaza through Rafah border crossing today
The Rafah border into Egypt is set to reopen today so more foreign citizens could flee the relentless Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.
At least 320 foreign citizens on an initial list of 500, as well as dozens of severely injured Gazans, crossed into Egypt on Wednesday under a deal between Israel, Egypt and Hamas.
Passport holders from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the United Kingdom and the United States were evacuated.
The border crossing is set to reopen today with a diplomatic source saying some 7,500 foreign passport holders would leave Gaza over about two weeks.
Hamas claims IDF strike in congested district killed 195 people as witnesses say ‘it’s a massacre’
Israel says its forces have broken through Hamas front lines of defence
Israeli forces have broken through Hamas’ front lines of defence in northern Gaza, Israel’s military spokesperson said this morning.
An Israeli commander said the soldiers are now ‘at the gates of Gaza City’.
Pressing an offensive against Hamas terrorists, Israel has bombed Gaza by land, sea and air in its campaign to wipe out the Iran-backed Islamist group after its cross-border rampage into southern Israel on October 7.
- Gaza death toll passes 9,000: Gaza health officials
- UN says it has ‘serious’ concerns that Israel is committing ‘war crimes’
- WATCH: Israeli troops push deeper into Gaza amid ground assault
- More desperate families set to leave Gaza through Rafah border crossing today
- Hamas claims IDF strike in congested district killed 195 people as witnesses say ‘it’s a massacre’
- Israel says its forces have broken through Hamas front lines of defence