SAZF news update as at 08:00 –  14 December 2023

Ten Heroes fell in battle yesterday. A building fight, an ambush, a booby trapped tunnel explosion.  “Yesterday’s difficult incident in Shujaiya neighbourhood where fighters fell and others were injured during the incidents with terrorists and the explosion of a trapped building.  The incident happened yesterday afternoon when a brigade combat team went out to search buildings in the Shujaiya Kasbah in a crowded area. From one of the houses, fire was opened on the fighters and an explosive device was set off. The force returned fire, and during the capture of new positions the force split into two and was cut off. Some of the fighters entered a booby trapped building where an explosive device was activated that caused deaths. Later, another charge was activated on another force that came to rescue the victims.”

Colonel Yitzhak Ben Basat, 44 years old, from Sheda Ya’akov, commander of the Golani Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Sergeant Eran Aloni, 19 years old, from Ofakim, a fighter in the 51st Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, 35 years old, Malmog, commander of the 13th Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Major Roei Meldasi, 23 years old, from Afula, a company commander in the 13th Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Major Moshe Avram Bar-On, 23 years old, from Ra’anana, a company commander in the 51st Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Sergeant Achia Daskal, 19 years old, from Haifa, a fighter in the 51st Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Captain Liel Hayo, 22 years old, from Shoham, a platoon commander in the 51st Battalion, Golani Brigade, was killed last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Major Ben Shelly, 26 years old, Makdaron, commander of a platoon of fighters in the Special Rescue Tactical Unit (669), was killed last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Major Rom Hecht, 20 years old, from Givatayim, a fighter in the Special Rescue Tactical Unit (669), fell last night in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Sergeant Oriya Yaakov, 19 years old, from Ashkelon, a fighter in Battalion 614, the School of Combat Engineering, was killed yesterday in a battle in the north of the Gaza Strip.

May their memories be eternally blessed. Thank you and your families for the ultimate sacrifice.

Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates: “We are stopping humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and from now on the US and Israel will take responsibility for the Gaza Strip.”  They also added in the statement that they will not take any part in the reconstruction of Gaza the day after.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to convene with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the Kirya in Tel Aviv. Sullivan, an esteemed guest of National Security Council Director and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, is expected to engage in discussions not only with Netanyahu but also with other key figures. Among them are President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister Benny Gantz, and the members of the War Cabinet, signifying a crucial diplomatic exchange between Israel and the United States.

Recent reports originating from Qatar reveal that Hamas politburo figures currently residing there have been instructed to evacuate to Algeria, citing concerns about their safety, as authorities could no longer guarantee their protection. Adding more granularity to the situation, three high-ranking officials abruptly vacated their offices in Doha, leaving the country accompanied by their drivers and advisors. Notably, they took the precaution of completely disconnecting their phones. The specific destination—whether it’s Beirut, Algiers, or Tehran—remains unconfirmed. Considering these developments, Osama Hamdan, based in Beirut, emerges as the most senior publicly visible Hamas official. Today, he addressed the ongoing prisoner exchange negotiations, asserting that no further talks will take place until a permanent ceasefire is established. The broader implications of these events suggest a significant disruption, with no apparent connection to either the political or military leadership in Gaza. Consequently, recent discussions about a ceasefire, initiated by the Israelis, appear unrealistic until contact is reestablished.

CIA Director Bill Burns is set to meet today with the families of American hostages held in Gaza. This marks his inaugural meeting with them and holds significant importance, given Burns’ influential role in hostage negotiations.

IDF spokesperson: “On 18.10.23, the IDF designated a humanitarian zone for civilians in the Gaza Strip. Since it’s opening and until today, 116 rockets have been fired from the humanitarian zone toward the State of Israel. 38 of these rockets fell inside of the Gaza Strip. Hamas continues to use the humanitarian zone to carry out terrorist activities, further endangering the lives of civilians in Gaza civilians and the State of Israel.”

Three attacks by Israeli warplanes in Nakura in southern Lebanon, along with artillery fire towards the area.  Heavy bombing across southern Lebanon, the Lebanese News Agency reports on Air Force strikes in the areas of Hamool and Bona in the Naqura area, in the villages of al-Bustan, Ma’afin, and artillery strikes in Beita al-Sha’ab, Marun al-Ras and around the village of Eitarun.

A rocket, appears to be destroyed so the rocket body without warhead, fell through the roof of a grocery store in Ashdod – hitting the endcap of one of the grocery aisles.  Fortunately, the shoppers had run to the shelter during the alarm and there were no injuries.

The government is rapidly promoting a law that will postpone the release from reserve duty of those whose reserve-service period ends this December. The exemption age for soldiers in essential positions is proposed to be raised to 41, for officers to 46 and for those in special positions to 50.

Lt. Col. Oz, Nahal’s 931st Brigade: “We entered about 500 houses in Jabaliya. In 90% of them we found weapons, inside wardrobes, in the kitchen, in UNWRA sacks and under babies’ beds. There were grenades, weapons, guns, rifles, RPGs and many other weapons.  We arrived at the mosque, which apparently looked innocent. When we broke the door on the third floor, we were surprised to discover an advanced combat space there: they built a training facility there, like we train in the bases, they managed to build it in the mosque! We killed more than ten terrorists there.”

Rear Admiral Hagari’s speech made last night:

“After Hamas violated the humanitarian pause on December 1st, we entered a new phase in our war against Hamas. This week alone, IDF forces encountered and exposed even more evidence of Hamas’s deplorable exploitation of Gazan civilians as shields. In Shejaiya, Khan Yunis, Rimal, and Jabalya, our troops found large weapons depots and tunnels in multiple schools – there was even a sniper rifle hidden inside a teddy bear. We found an RPG training facility inside a mosque in Jabalya. To name only a few. The fact of the matter is – Hamas has spent the last 16 years embedding itself inside and under civilian areas in Gaza. This is the logic of Hamas’s inhumane strategy. By attacking from behind civilians – Hamas seeks to hinder the IDF’s efforts to distinguish between civilians and terrorists. However, the complexity of the battlefield will not deter us from our efforts to do so. As a military committed to international law and a moral code of conduct, we are devoting vast resources to minimizing harm to the civilians that Hamas has forced into the role of human shields. Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza. It’s hard to remain indifferent to the loss of innocent lives – Israeli or Palestinian. But while Hamas sees every innocent death as a strategy; we see every innocent death as a tragedy. 

Here are only some of the measures that we’re taking to prevent them:

First: We are encouraging Gazan civilians to temporarily move out of the line of fire. We published a website with maps and instructions to guide Gazans in specific neighbourhoods to safer areas. Now, we understand that not everyone in Gaza may have access to the internet, so we are also communicating by dropping fliers, with instructions in Arabic. We also have IDF officers communicating in Arabic – in the media, online, on the radio and on the ground. This is in addition to tens of thousands of individual phone calls – to people in Gaza. Our warnings to civilians in Gaza — to move away from the danger Hamas puts them in — Ultimately means that the IDF is announcing — in advance — its areas of operations. This is almost unheard of in military warfare. 

Second: We are continuously refining our operations to minimise harm to uninvolved civilians. Throughout the war, we’ve adapted our operations, and we even hold fire if necessary — to enable Gazans – to safely move through the humanitarian corridors we opened. 

Third: We continuously assess and verify that our strikes are directed at military targets and choose specific munitions for certain Hamas targets to avoid unnecessary damage. 

While we take extensive measures to minimize civilian casualties, Hamas makes every effort to maximize them. That is the enemy we face. That is our reality. This is who we will defeat. Hamas tactics – as despicable as they are – will not stop us from upholding our values. Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza. But – actions speak louder than words. Which is why yesterday, we also opened the Kerem Shalom terminal for inspection – to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

This joins our existing efforts, which have already seen over 4,000 trucks of aid – carrying 70,000 tonnes of food, water, medicine, medical gear and shelters entering Gaza since the start of this war. On October 7th Hamas exposed its genocidal goals to the world. Hamas has announced – publicly and repeatedly — that it intends to carry out more October the 7th massacres. 

The IDF will not let them. It is our duty to defend the people of Israel – and bring our hostages home. We will continue fulfilling this mission – while taking all feasible measures to protect civilian lives.”