Biden says Israel should 'not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful'

U.S. National Security Advisor meets members of war cabinet urging for Israel to 'lower intensity' in Gaza offensive; says if diplomatic efforts to remove risk from Hezbollah on the north fail, U.S. would back Israel if it opts to attack the Iran-backed group

Lior Ben Ari, Moran Azulay, Sharon Kidon, Yoav Zitun, Reuters |Updated:

Attack on a terrorist in GAza by a combat helicopter
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he wants Israel to be focused on how to save civilian lives. He said the IDF should “not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful.” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on a visit to Israel, discussed the need for the military to transition from high-intensity to "lower-intensity" in the fighting in Gaza.
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White House spokesperson John Kirby said Sullivan raised the matter in his meetings with Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but said the move should be "in the near future, but I don't want to put a time stamp on it."
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו וחברי הקבינט לניהול המלחמה במפגש עם היועץ לביטחון לאומי של ארה"ב ג'ייק סאליבן, בקריה בתל אביב
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו וחברי הקבינט לניהול המלחמה במפגש עם היועץ לביטחון לאומי של ארה"ב ג'ייק סאליבן, בקריה בתל אביב
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: GPO)
The prime minister said Israel would continue its war against Hamas until the mission to eradicate the terror group and free all the hostages is complete.
Sullivan who met with the members of the war cabinet said that there were diplomatic efforts underway to reach an agreement that would remove the risk of Hezbollah from the northern border adding that if those efforts fail and Israel would chose to attack Hezbollah, the U.S. would back that decision.
Netanyahu met with Marijana Spoljaric President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and gave her medications needed by some of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza for the past 69 days. "I am sure you can find a way to deliver these," he told her.
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 שר החוץ אלי כהן, שר הבריאות אוריאל בוסו, נציגי משפחות החטופים ונשיאת הצלב האדום מיריאנה ספולאריץ'
 שר החוץ אלי כהן, שר הבריאות אוריאל בוסו, נציגי משפחות החטופים ונשיאת הצלב האדום מיריאנה ספולאריץ'
President of the ICRC Marijana Spoljaric and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
Earlier Families of hostages met Spoljaric to demand the organization visit the Israeli captives held by Hamas in Gaza. They informed her of the medical concerns of the captives and the medications that they require. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Health Minister Uriel Menachem Buso were also present. Spoljaric said in a post on X that a visit to the hostages must be granted adding "I reiterate: hostages must be released - immediately."
Cohen said after the meeting that every day the hostages are not visited by the ICRC is a failure of the organization and demanded immediate action.
"The ICRC should concentrate on the greatest humanitarian disaster perpetrated by a the Hamas terror group on Gaza rather than focusing on Israel, a nation that is committed to international law and acts accordingly," Cohen said in a statement adding
Families of hostages are scheduled to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres later on Thursday. this would be the first time the UN chief will meet families of hostages since the Hamas massacre and the abduction of Israelis to Gaza 69 days ago. He had been heavily criticized by Israel for condemning the Israeli military offensive and and by the families for failing to take action to bring about hostages' release.
German prosecutors said on Thursday that Four members of Hamas were detained on suspicion of planning attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe. Three of the suspects were detained in Berlin and another was detained in the Netherlands, according to the prosecutors.
The announcement came hours after Danish police said they detained three people were detained in Denmark and one in the Netherlands, on suspicion that they had prepared to carry out a terrorism attack.
The Mossad said the target of the suspected terrorists in Denmark was an Israeli. "Following an accelerated and comprehensive intelligence investigation, security and law enforcement agencies in Denmark arrested seven terrorists acting on behalf of the Hamas terrorist organization, and thwarted an attack, the goal of which was to kill innocent civilians on European soil," the spy agency said in a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office.
The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said on Thursday that a cargo ship sailing in Bab al-Mandab Strait off Yemen, reported a missile hitting the water close to it. It also said it had been instructed to sail to Yemen by a group claiming to be from Yemen's navy. The Hong Kong-flagged, Marshall Islands-owned vessel were not harmed in the incident, the British maritime security company Ambrey, said.
Following rocket warning sirens in northern Israeli communities on Thursday afternoon, there are reports of rocket strikes in the Upper Galilee and a main road was closed to traffic.
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תיעוד: צה"ל תוקף מטרות טרור חיזבאללה בשטח לבנון
תיעוד: צה"ל תוקף מטרות טרור חיזבאללה בשטח לבנון
IDF strikes terror targets in Lebanon
(Photo: IDF)
Earlier on Thursday, at least one rocket was launched from Lebanon toward Shomera in northern Israel. In response, IDF fighter jets struck terrorist infrastructure and military compounds belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon.
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תיעוד: לוחמי צה"ל ושב"כ עוצרים פעילי טרור שיוצאים מבית החולים ברצועת עזה
תיעוד: לוחמי צה"ל ושב"כ עוצרים פעילי טרור שיוצאים מבית החולים ברצועת עזה
Palestinian terror operatives surrender outside Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
During IDF activity in the area of Gaza's Kamal Adwan Hospital, over 70 terrorist operatives came out of the hospital with weapons in hand and surrendered. The terrorists were transferred to field interrogators from Unit 504 in the Intelligence Directorate and ISA coordinators for further questioning, according to the IDF.
Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk suggested that the terrorist organization could recognize Israel in order to end the dispute between the Palestinian factions. In an interview with the American news site Al-Monitor in its office in Doha, Abu Marzook said that "You should follow the official stance. The official stance is that the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) has recognized the state of Israel."
At the same time, Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli addressed the issue of "the day after" the Gaza war, saying that the Palestinian Authority lost its grip on the Gaza Strip. "This is a fictitious authority, we didn't pay with the blood of our best sons for them to get control," he said. In an interview with Ynet Live, Chikli noted: "We must go back to the drawing board and say that the option of the Palestinian Authority, which trains terrorists to kill Jews, does not exist. For example, Rafah can be under Egyptian control and Khan Younis under Emirati control. We have to think outside the box." Minister Chikli also stated that he does not rule out Jewish settlement in the Strip, "in certain parts that make sense."
The Israel Defense Forces early Thursday morning announced the death of another soldier in Gaza. Master Sgt. (res.) Elisha Loewenstern, 38, from Harish, of the 179th Reserve Armored Brigade’s 8104th Battalion, died the previous night in battle in the southern Gaza Strip. Loewenstern was killed as a result of an anti-tank missile that hit his tank. In the same battle, another soldier from the battalion was seriously injured.
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רס"ר (במיל') אלישע לוינשטרן ז"ל
רס"ר (במיל') אלישע לוינשטרן ז"ל
Master Sgt. (res.) Elisha Loewenstern
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The announcement brings to 116 the number of IDF soldiers killed since the ground operation started in Gaza.
Over the last day, IDF infantry soldiers engaged and eliminated terrorists during close-quarters combat in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the IDF. In one incident, Armored Corps troops fired at and killed Hamas operatives who were spotted observing the soldiers. IDF troops also conducted searches in a central operating site for Hamas’ Shejaiya Battalion located inside a school compound. During the searches, the troops located firing positions used to carry out attacks on IDF troops. The troops completed the mission of targeting the terrorists and then dismantled military infrastructure found in the compound.
In addition, special forces conducted targeted raids on a number of locations in the area of Khan Younis where they located weapons, grenades and Kalashnikov rifles, the IDF said. The forces destroyed two tunnel shafts, a rocket launching pit and a weapons storage facility.
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תיעוד מהזיהוי של גדוד האיסוף 414 ותקיפת המחבל על ידי מסוק קרב
תיעוד מהזיהוי של גדוד האיסוף 414 ותקיפת המחבל על ידי מסוק קרב
IDF forces operating in Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

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תיעוד מהזיהוי של גדוד האיסוף 414 ותקיפת המחבל על ידי מסוק קרב
תיעוד מהזיהוי של גדוד האיסוף 414 ותקיפת המחבל על ידי מסוק קרב
Aftermath of attack on Gaza terrorist by IAF
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
During operational activity to dismantle terrorist infrastructure in Jabaliya, IDF troops seized weapons, and engaged and killed a number of terrorists.
IDF combat intelligence troops also identified a Hamas sniper firing from a building toward IDF troops. The troops directed the Israeli Air Force to conduct a precise strike against the sniper inside the building, according to the IDF.
Iran's Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned that a proposed U.S.-backed multinational task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea would face "extraordinary problems," official Iranian media reported on Thursday. Ashtiani's comments came after the United States said last week it was in talks with other countries to set up a task force following a spate of attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen on ships in the Red Sea. "If they make such an irrational move, they will be faced with extraordinary problems," Ashtiani told the official Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) in comments it published on Thursday. "Nobody can make a move in a region where we have predominance," he said, referring to the Red Sea. Ashtiani did not specify what measures Iran was prepared to take in response to the setting up of a U.S.-backed Red Sea task force.
Ahead of his visit to Israel on Thursday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met in Riyadh with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the White House acknowledged, after reports citing unnamed U.S. officials. The two men discussed increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, in the ongoing efforts to create new conditions for sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in deepening the integration of cooperation between the countries in the fields of security, trade, space exploration and advanced technologies.
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תקיפות חיל האוויר בעזה
תקיפות חיל האוויר בעזה
Israeli Air Force strikes in Gaza
(Photo: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP )
According to a new estimate by U.S. intelligence, nearly half of the 29,000 bombs the Israeli Air Force has dropped on the Gaza Strip since October 7 were "dummy bombs" and not guided, increasing the risk to civilians because they are inaccurate, CNN reported. The IDF declined to comment to the network about the type of ammunition it uses and said "we devote enormous resources to minimizing harm to civilians whom Hamas uses as a human shield. Our war is against Hamas, not against the residents of Gaza."
Egyptian sources told the Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Cairo received messages from the Israeli government asking to open new negotiations to reach another hostage-for-prisoner exchange agreement, which includes a humanitarian cease-fire. According to the sources, on Sunday the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, spoke with Abbas Kamel, the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, and informed him that Israel is open to the possibility of re-entering negotiations.
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שר הביטחון יואב גלנט עם מזכיר ההגנה האמריקני לויד אוסטין
שר הביטחון יואב גלנט עם מזכיר ההגנה האמריקני לויד אוסטין
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
(Photo: Chad McNeeley/Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs/Handout via REUTERS)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a call with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant early Thursday morning emphasized his continued support for Israel's efforts to ensure that Hamas cannot repeat the October 7 terrorist attack, and received updates on Israel's operations in Gaza, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Austin reiterated the need for Israel to protect civilians during military operations and increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and also condemned Hezbollah's actions in Lebanon that threaten Israeli communities and called for a reduction of tensions in the region.
An Israeli drone late on Wednesday attacked a group of terrorists who were planting explosives and endangering IDF forces in the West Bank city of Jenin during arrest operations. Palestinians report several terrorists killed and wounded. It was the second time in a day that an aircraft has conducted an aerial attack.
During the operation, IDF forces arrested about 20 wanted individuals and detained over 560. In addition, around 10 underground tunnels were located, half of which have already been destroyed. A significant amount of weapons was seized.
First published: 08:52, 12.14.23
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