Iran threatens Israel over killing of senior Revolutionary Guard officer, vows revenge - 'Tel Aviv should count down'

IDF troops find slain hostage's car at Gaza's Indonesian hospital; Netanyahu in WSJ op-ed: 'Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarized, and Palestinian society must be deradicalized'

IDF responds to Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel
Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, threatened Israel hours after the assassination of Sayyed Reza Mousavi, a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps based in Syria. "Tel Aviv should count down," he warned.
Hezbollah also reacted to Reza Mousavi's assassination calling it a "blatant attack that crosses the line." Hezbollah called Mousavi "one of the best brothers who worked to support Hezbollah in Lebanon for decades." The terrorist organization also said in a statement that he "was dedicated to serving the resistance and its fighters and is a brother in arms. We send our condolences to Ali Khamenei, to the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, to his family and to the Iranian people."
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IDF forces raided the Indonesian hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, and found a variety of materials linking it to Hamas activities. Among other things, a white Toyota pickup truck, like the ones used by the Hamas terrorists on October 7, was found inside the hospital's interior compound, in which weapons were found. Also found was a Toyota Corolla with a yellow license plate that belonged to the family of Samer Talalka, who was kidnapped to the Gaza Strip on October 7 and later killed by IDF soldiers. Blood stains belonging to another hostage were found in the vehicle.
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תיעודים ממרחב בית החולים האינדונזי ברצועת עזה ופעילות שייטת 13
תיעודים ממרחב בית החולים האינדונזי ברצועת עזה ופעילות שייטת 13
Samer Talalka, the Gaza hostage killed by IDF troops and his family's car found at Gaza's Indonesian Hospital
(Photos: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal published on Monday that Israel has "three prerequisites for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in Gaza." Later, Netanyahu stated the demands: "Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarized, and Palestinian society must be deradicalized." Netanyahu added that "the expectation that the Palestinian Authority will rule over Gaza is a dream."
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke by phone with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi on Monday evening about the situation in the Gaza Strip. As part of the conversation, the ministers discussed the need to bring sufficient humanitarian aid to the Strip.
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הנשיא הרצוג ביקרו גדודי מילואים בעוטף עזה
הנשיא הרצוג ביקרו גדודי מילואים בעוטף עזה
Isaac Herzog signs rocket to be launched into Gaza
(Photo: Haim Zach, GPO)
President Isaac Herzog visited reserve battalions serving around the Gaza border and said "we can argue but one needs to know how to argue and we can't go back to October 6." Herzog addressed his comments to the families of the reservists, saying "people have been here for over two months. This will end and you'll all go back home safe and sound."
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a security assessment in the Northern Command and also referred to the day before the Hamas massacre. "We won't allow the situation to revert to October 6 reality. We are striking Hezbollah very harshly. The Air Force is freely flying over Lebanon and we will increase those efforts. One thing is clear: to return the northern residents, we need either consensual action or a new reality which we will achieve with military action."
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שר הביטחון יואב גלנט, קיים היום הערכת מצב בפיקוד הצפון
שר הביטחון יואב גלנט, קיים היום הערכת מצב בפיקוד הצפון
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a security assessment in the Northern Command
(Photo: Elad Malka)
Iran announced Monday that Sayyed Reza Mousavi, a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in an attack in Syria near Damascus attributed to Israel.
Reza Mousavi was one of the "senior advisers" to the IRGC in Syria and used to accompany the commander of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated in January 20, as well as his successors.
The Revolutionary Guards confirmed his death, and threatened that "Israel will pay the price for the crime of assassinating one of our veteran military advisers in Syria." Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi echoed this, adding that Mousavi's assassination is "another sign of Israel's frustration."
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 רזא מוסאווי
 רזא מוסאווי
Sayyed Reza Mousavi, a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in an attack in Syria near Damascus
Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs later stated that "Tehran reserves the right to respond to this crime at the appropriate time and place." The ministry added that: "We condemn this terrorism and see it as another sign of Israel's character. The assassination is a continuation of Israel's crimes, which violates all international laws."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday afternoon that the Gaza war was far from over and dismissed what he cast as false media speculation that his government might call a halt to fighting against the Palestinian enclave's Hamas terror organization. "We are not stopping. We are continuing to fight, and we will be intensifying the fighting in the coming days, and the fighting will take long and it is not close to concluding," he told lawmakers from his Likud party, according to a statement.
Later, a special meeting regarding the hostages was held in the Knesset plenum in the presence of Netanyahu, government ministers and Knesset members. Some family members who came to the session held signs reading "What if it was your father or son?" and "80 days - every minute is hell." At the beginning of the meeting, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana said that: "We cannot imagine what you are going through. You are not alone."
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מליאת הכנסת
מליאת הכנסת
Family members of the hostages at the Knesset
(Photo: Amit Shabi)
Netanyahu said that Israel would not succeed in freeing the remaining hostages held in Gaza without military pressure. "We wouldn't have succeeded up until now to release more than 100 hostages without military pressure. And we won't succeed at releasing all the hostages without military pressure."
Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles toward empty houses in the Israeli border communities of Beit Hillel and Kibbutz Misgav Am in the Upper Galilee region.
The IDF said that the missiles landed in open areas in the Misgav Am region, and in both cases, there were no casualties. In response, the IDF targeted border observation posts in southern Lebanon.
Israeli warplanes strike Hezbollah targets in Lebanon
(Video: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Earlier, the army said that Israeli warplanes struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including "military compounds and terrorist and operational infrastructure", overnight and in the morning hours.
The IDF reported Monday morning that one of its soldiers and a reservist had been killed in action in the northern Gaza Strip.
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רס"ר (במיל') ניתאי מייזלס וסמל רני תמיר נפלו בקרבות בצפון הרצועה
רס"ר (במיל') ניתאי מייזלס וסמל רני תמיר נפלו בקרבות בצפון הרצועה
Sergeant Rani Tamir and Master Sergeant (res.) Nitai Meisels
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
They are Sergeant Rani Tamir, 20, a soldier of the 50th Battalion of the 933rd Nahal Brigade, from Ganei Am and Master Sergeant (res.) Nitai Meisels, 30, a 14th Armored Brigade soldier, from Rehovot. According to the army, Meisels was killed by an anti-tank missile while Tamir was killed in a clash with terrorists.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit reported Monday that a Hamas commander in the Khan Younis area was eliminated in an Air Force airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip. Several terrorists were also eliminated in the area while trying to fire rockets at the troops.
Israeli strikes that began hours before midnight persisted into Christmas Day on Monday. Local residents and Palestinian media said Israel stepped up air and ground shelling against al-Bureij in central Gaza.
At least 70 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting Maghazi in central Gaza, health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra said, adding that many were women and children.
The Israeli army said it was reviewing the report of a Maghazi incident and was committed to minimizing harm to civilians. Hamas denies the Israeli charge that it operates in densely populated areas or uses civilians as human shields.
The Upper Galilee Regional Council and the Kiryat Shmona Municipality announced that many roads in the area were closed starting from 6am. Among others, the northern entrances to the city were blocked, and gates to many communities in the Upper Galilee region were shut. It was reported that the routes and entrances to the communities were closed "until further notice" due to concerns of anti-tank fire from Lebanon.
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לוחמים חות'ים צועדים בצנעא עם דגלי פלסטין
לוחמים חות'ים צועדים בצנעא עם דגלי פלסטין
Houthi gunmen marching with Palestinian flag in Sana'a, Yemen
(Photo: EPA)
A Houthi official said on Monday that any country that joins the U.S.-led international maritime coalition to protect Red Sea trade will become a target from the Yemeni rebels.
"Any alliance of this kind is essentially a pact to protect Israeli ships, supporting Israel and encouraging it to continue its crimes in Gaza," Daifallah al-Shami, the Houthi information minister told Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
"Even if the entire world united forces to deter us, it would not work. As the coalition's circle widens, so will our targets."
According to the report, there is a wide trust gap between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and neither Riyadh nor the United Arab Emirates are enthusiastic about joining the new military alliance.
First published: 07:26, 12.25.23
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