Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar kept his plan to attack Israel secret from all but two close associates and even the political leadership of the group residing outside Gaza, was kept in the dark.
According to a report in Le Figaro, Hassan Nasrallah was informed of the Hamas attack on October 7 half an hour in advance. Saleh al-Arouri a senior Hamas official who resides in Beirut was told of the pending assault and relayed the information to the Hezbollah leader who was reportedly angered that Iran had not notified him of the Hamas plan.
Le Figaro wrote in its report the Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and the head of the group's military wing Mohammed Deif were furious that Nasrallah did not use Hezbollah's full force after the attack on southern Israel and sent an angry letter to that effect. Head of Hamas's political bureau Ismail Haniyeh, even flew to Tehran to urge the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to join the war but was refused.
For the first time since the start of the war, an attack drone exploded on the Golan Heights on Wednesday evening and was located by IDF troops, having caused some damage but no injuries. Pro-Iran militia In Iraq claimed responsibility for dispatching the drone.
Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said earlier the IDF's first mission is to ensure the safe return of residents of the Galilee to their homes after being evacuated since the start of the war. "The IDF and within it the Northern Command are in a state of very high readiness. So far, the campaign here has been managed correctly and meticulously, and it must continue this way. We will not return the residents without both security and a sense of security," Halevi said on a visit to the border.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to arrive in Israel next week to discuss the war in Gaza, Axios reported on Wednesday. Blinken's visit comes amid more a more public dispute with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over plans for Gaza after the war. The secretary is also set to visit Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Hamas must agree to a prisoner swap a senior Egyptian diplomat told Saudi media on Wednesday claiming the terror group was taking Egyptian pressure on the matter seriously. "Hamas must enter a new agreement and use the cease-fire to reorganize its internal affairs and pressure Israel to end the war," he said.
At least three Hezbollah launched drones crashed at the Israel Lebanon border near the Sheba Farms on Wednesday afternoon causing no injury. In response the IDF began an attack on the terror group's targets in South Lebanon.
Earlier, some 18 rockets were fired from Lebanon in a barrage to the Western Galilee and eight of them were intercepted, according to the IDF. The IDF spokesman said that other launches were not intercepted "according to policy" and that the military attacked the sources of the fire toward the area of Rosh Hanikra. The IDF also announced overnight an Air Force fighter jet attacked a Hezbollah military site in Lebanese territory. In addition, it was reported, in the morning IDF forces attacked "additional areas in Lebanese territory."
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was no different from Adolf Hitler and likened Israel's attacks on Gaza to the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis. He also criticized Western support for Israel.
His comments provoked harsh responses in Israel. Netanyahu said Erdogan was not in a position to preach morality after he commits genocide of the Kurdish minority and has jailed a record breaking number of journalists.
The spokesman for Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp, Ramadan Sharif, said on Wednesday that the Hamas attack on October 7 was "one of the reactions to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani," but Hamas later denied this and said that the reasons for the attack were "the dangers threatening the Al-Aqsa Mosque." The Hamas statement reads: "We have repeatedly emphasized the motives and reasons for the operation – primarily the threats to the al-Aqsa Mosque. We also confirm that all Palestinian resistance actions come in response to the presence of the occupation and its ongoing aggression against our people and the holy places."
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called for an end to the war in the Gaza Strip, and said that it is necessary to "open all the crossings, double the entry of humanitarian aid, and prevent the forced displacement of the Palestinian people." Abbas claimed that the war in Gaza has so far killed more than 20,000 Palestinians, with about 60,000 injured and more than 7,000 still missing, and claimed that "this is a major crime against the Palestinian people, not only in Gaza."
King Abdullah II of Jordan will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, it was announced on Wednesday. They will discuss the latest developments in Gaza and the ways to bring about a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman told his office staff that he intends to investigate the massacre on October 7, the period leading up to it and the conduct of the government ministries in the period after the massacre, and the care given to all residents of the country. "We will examine personal responsibility for failures at all levels – political, military and civilian. Thousands of citizens were abandoned to their fate, and hundreds of thousands of residents of the conflict lines in the south and north who were evacuated from their homes became needy and were harmed by the lack of government care after the massacre. We will turn over every rock to expose the failures before, during and after the massacre," he said. He clarified that, as soon as an investigative committee is established, "jurisdictional limits will be determined in relation to the issues to be examined."
The IDF spokesman announced early Wednesday morning that Lt. Yaron Eliezer Chitiz, 23, of Ra'anana, deputy company commander in the Shaked Battalion of the Givati Brigade, was killed overnight in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip. In addition, Staff sergeant Itay Buton, 20, of Petach Tikva and Staff sergeant Efraim Yachman, 21, from Neve Daniel, both soldiers in the Shaked Battalion of Givati, were also killed overnight in the battle in the northern Gaza Strip.
After about 16 hours of silence a rocket warning siren was heard at about 8:45 a.m. in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on the border with Gaza.
In the past day, the IDF attacked about 200 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, and the cooperation between the ground forces and the Israeli Air Force resulted in the elimination of terrorist cells in the Shijaiyah area, the IDF spokesman said Wednesday morning. The troops identified terrorists passing between buildings in a Hamas combat area from which shots were fired at IDF troops. The soldiers directed an IAF aircraft to strike the terrorists and kill them. The strike led to secondary explosions, "which indicate that the area was rigged with explosives aimed at attacking the troops," according to the IDF. In addition, the ground forces identified terrorists in a building known as a weapons warehouse, directed an IAF aircraft to strike and kill the terrorists. In addition, tanks attacked a terrorist who was preparing to fire at IDF forces in the Daraj Tuffah area, and the Navy attacked suspects who posed a threat to the ground forces.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Washington Tuesday night with Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and talked about the "efforts to free the remaining hostages held by Hamas, the plan for the day after the war - including the administration and security in the Gaza Strip - and moving to another phase in the fighting aimed at targeting high value Hamas targets," according to the White House. The meeting between the two lasted about four hours.
The Egyptian proposal to end the war was presented to the political-security cabinet during the meeting held Tuesday night, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday morning, citing a source privy to the details. According to the source, the proposal was presented to the members of the expanded cabinet as part of a more extensive presentation of the efforts to obtain a renewed deal for the release of hostages.
Israeli officials emphasized to the newspaper that it is unlikely that Israel would agree to a proposal that would give Hamas a place in the Gaza Strip the day after the war as the Egyptian plan proposes. Knesset member Danny Danon of the prime minister's Likud Party was interviewed by the newspaper and emphasized that Israel is ready to discuss the first stage of the Egyptian proposal – the release of dozens of hostages in exchange for a pause in the fighting and the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons.
“The first phase is something we were willing to start a dialogue or negotiation about,” said Danon, who isn’t a member of the security cabinet. About the later stages, he said, “We are very determined to make sure that Hamas will not be part of any future agreement in Gaza.”
In addition, according to the report, a PLO delegation is expected to arrive in Cairo soon to discuss the Egyptian proposal, including the possibility of establishing a Palestinian unity government. The Wall Street Journal notes that the PLO initially rejected the proposal.
The IDF Central Command reported Wednesday that the number of terrorists killed in the West Bank since the beginning of the war exceeded the number of terrorists killed in Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. The IDF has been operating widely throughout the West Bank since the October 7 terror attack, carrying out approximately 35 divisional operations to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, and has arrested more than 2,500 wanted persons since the beginning of the war, including approximately 1,300 Hamas operatives. According to IDF data, more than 290 Palestinians - most of them terrorists - were eliminated in the extensive operations to counter terrorism, and more than 25 airstrikes were carried out.
Next to the bomb that exploded Tuesday evening near the Israeli embassy in India, a threatening letter addressed to Israel's ambassador to India Naor Gilon was discovered, according to reports from India overnight. The letter was wrapped in an Israeli flag, and it dealt with the military activity in the Gaza Strip, calling for "revenge." The letter was signed by an organization that identified itself as "Sir Allah Resistance," and Israel estimates that Iran is behind the attack.
Media in India reported that the police identified two suspects in the security footage taken in the area where the explosion occurred. According to reports, the police are analyzing the footage and trying to reconstruct the route the suspects took as part of the manhunt launched to find them.
The United Nations' special rapporteur for the human rights of internally displaced refugees, Paula Gaviria Betancur, charged that "Israel aims to permanently change the composition of the Gaza population in the face of ever-expanding evacuation orders, alongside widespread and systematic attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure" in southern Gaza, according to a statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
"Since October 7, 85% of the population of Gaza has been displaced from their homes. The only logical conclusion is that Israel's military operation in Gaza is intended to expel the majority of the civilian population," Betancur said.
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received a phone call on Tuesday from U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss the latest developments in Gaza and current joint mediation efforts for calming the situation in the besieged enclave to reach a permanent ceasefire, according to a report from the Qatari State News Agency.
Biden initiated the call, according to Reuters, trying to jump-start a new deal like the one that was closed in November between Qatar and Egypt, in which Hamas released more than 100 hostages, in exchange for a cease-fire and the release of Palestinian prisoners.
First published: 08:59, 12.27.23