Syria says air defenses responded to 'act of Israeli aggression'

Syrian opposition media reports 2 waves of attacks in Damascus area; Egyptian mediators say Israel, Hamas open for cease-fire and hostage release; IDF names soldier killed in action in northern Gaza Strip

Yoav Zitun, Einav Halabi, Lior Ben Ari, Yuval Karni, Reuters, Elisha Ben Kimon|Updated:
Syrian air defenses “responded to an act of Israeli aggression” and intercepted "enemy targets" in the vicinity of Damascus, state media reported Sunday night. The reports did not go into more detail on the incident.
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Syrian opposition media reported that the attack occurred in the town of al-Dimas west of Damascus and Sayyidah Zaynab south of the capital.
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תקיפה מוצבים ומטות השייכים לחיזבאללה הלבנוני בדמשק
תקיפה מוצבים ומטות השייכים לחיזבאללה הלבנוני בדמשק
Archival: strikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon
Two Egyptian security sources said on Sunday that Israel and Hamas are both open to a renewed cease-fire and hostage release, although disagreements remain on how it would be implemented.
Hamas is insisting on setting the list of hostages to be released unilaterally, and demanding that Israeli forces withdraw behind pre-determined lines, the sources told Reuters.
While Israel agreed on Hamas setting the list, the sources said it had asked for a timeline and to see the list in order to set the time and duration of the cease-fire. Israel refuses to withdraw, the sources added.
However, Khalil al-Hayya, the deputy leader of Hamas in Gaza, said earlier that no agreement to free Israeli hostages would be possible before the war ends. "The resistance rejects the aggression of the enemy, which must be stopped - and then we can discuss prisoner exchanges and saving our people," he told Al Jazeera in an interview. "The issue of prisoner exchanges is closed until the cessation of the war."
The IDF reported Sunday evening that Staff Sergeant Boris Dunavetski, 21, a soldier of the 401st Brigade’s 46th Armored Battalion, was killed in action in the northern Gaza Strip.
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סמ"ר בוריס דונבצקי ז"ל
סמ"ר בוריס דונבצקי ז"ל
Staff Sergeant Boris Dunavetski
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
An IDF reserves soldier, 49, was moderately wounded in a stabbing terror attack at a gas station near the Rantis checkpoint in the northern West Bank. First responders provided on-site treatment to the victim, who was stabbed in the back, and transported him to Sheba Medical Center.
The assailant fled the scene and several shots were fired at him. He was apprehended after an hour-long manhunt.
IDF reservist moderately wounded in terror stabbing attack in northern West Bank
Meanwhile, nine rockets were fired from Lebanon toward northern Israel’s Upper Galilee region Sunday afternoon. Several rockets fell in open areas. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for ten attacks directed at Israeli territory since Sunday morning.
Israeli aircraft and tanks attacked a terrorist cell that attempted to launch anti-tank missiles toward Israeli territory near the border town of Livne. Additionally, several launches were detected toward various areas along the border, and the IDF struck the sources of the fire.
IDF strike on terrorist cell near Lebanon border
(Video: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Meanwhile, Palestinian news agency Shehab reported that a fire broke out in a house in the southern Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras as a result of an IDF strike.
The Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza opened for the first time for aid trucks since the outbreak of the war on Saturday, a spokesperson from the prime minister's office said. The crossing had been closed to aid trucks since the Oct. 7 onslaught by Hamas terrorists on Israeli southern communities. Israel agreed to reopen the crossing to aid trucks last week.
In the wake of threats to seamen and attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the shipping company OOCL (Orient Overseas Container Line)announced that "due to operational problems," it will immediately stop transporting cargo to and from Israel until further notice.
Still, Egypt's Suez Canal Authority chief said in a statement on Sunday that the authority is "closely following the consequences of current tensions in the Red Sea on the traffic in the canal," and according to Chairman Osama Rabea maritime traffic in the canal is normal. Since Nov. 19, 55 ships have rerouted via the Cape of Good Hope, while 2,128 have crossed the canal in the same period, the statement added.
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כוחות  צה"ל  בפטישה על משרדו של מח״ט חאן יונס ובתי נופש של בכירי חמאס
כוחות  צה"ל  בפטישה על משרדו של מח״ט חאן יונס ובתי נופש של בכירי חמאס
IDF soldiers operating in Khan Younis
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The 7th Brigade is operating in Khan Younis, where it struck the Hamas' Khan Yunis Brigade Commander's office and terrorist infrastructure. The forces gained operational control over the area, including the Bani Suheila Square in the heart of Khan Younis.
In the past week, the 7th Brigade forces eliminated numerous terrorists, located approximately 30 tunnel shafts, and destroyed numerous anti-tank and lookout posts in the area. They also confiscated grenades and anti-tank missiles, and found intelligence materials including phones, computers and Hamas guidebooks.
According to Palestinian reports, the son of Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab was killed Sunday morning in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, in an airstrike on the home of the senior member of the terrorist organization.
Damage in Jabaliya caused by an Israeli Air Force attack
The French foreign ministry said one of its workers had died as a result of injuries sustained from an Israeli attack in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The man was seeking refuge in the house of one of his colleagues from the French consulate alongside two other colleagues and a number of their family members, the ministry statement issued late on Saturday said.
"The house was hit by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday evening, which seriously hurt our agent and killed about 10 others," it said, adding he had later died of his injuries. The statement said France condemned the bombing of a residential building. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military when approached for a response. Israel says it seeks to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, according to international law, though critics and even its closest ally, the U.S., say it needs to do more.
The IDF struck about 200 targets in the last day, according to the IDF spokesman. In addition, "paratroopers raided an operational apartment in the Shijaiyah neighborhood, and found weapons, explosives, stun guns and grenades." In addition, a tunnel shaft was found that was more than 15 meters long. The fighters of the brigade directed an air force aircraft to attack it.
In another activity, "the assembly identified seven armed terrorists in Khan Younis and a manned aircraft remotely eliminated them," the IDF spokesman added. "In addition, reserve fighters from the 646th Brigade raided a building near a school where machines for the production of rocket parts were located, and three tunnel shafts were located near it. The Commando Brigade also identified seven armed Hamas operatives in the Khan Younis area, and directed airstrikes at them.
The Auditorium, the performance and cultural hall in Kibbutz Sasa in the Upper Galilee, was hit by an anti-aircraft missile on Sunday morning. There were no casualties and a lot of damage was caused at the site. In addition, Hezbollah fired barrages of anti-tank missiles at a number of IDF checkpoints and posts along the Lebanese border.
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"האודיטוריום" - אולם המופעים והתרבות בקיבוץ סאסא
"האודיטוריום" - אולם המופעים והתרבות בקיבוץ סאסא
Damage to The Auditorium on Kibbutz Sasa in the Upper Galilee
(Photo: Kibbutz Sasa)
In response, IDF forces attacked Hezbollah terrorism infrastructures in Lebanese territory late Sunday morning in response to the launches from Lebanese territory toward the village of Arab al-Aramsha and Kibbutz Sasa in the Upper Galilee, according to the IDF spokesman. IDF forces attacked the sources of the rocket fire with artillery. It was also reported that some of the launches did not cross into Israeli territory.
Two soldiers were killed on Saturday in Gaza. Master Sgt. (res.) Joseph Avner Doran, 26, from Jerusalem, was killed in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip. Sgt. Maj. (res.) Shalev Zaltsman, 24, from Ramat Yishai, fell Saturday in a battle in the southern Gaza Strip.
In addition, four soldiers were seriously injured in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. In the battle in the northern Gaza Strip, a reserve fighter was seriously injured, and in the battle in the southern Gaza Strip, an officer and three reserve fighters were seriously injured.
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רס"ל במיל' שלו זלצמן,  רס"ר (מיל') יוסף אבנר דורן ז"ל
רס"ל במיל' שלו זלצמן,  רס"ר (מיל') יוסף אבנר דורן ז"ל
Master Sgt. (res.) Joseph Avner Doran and Sgt. Maj. (res.) Shalev Zaltsman
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Hezbollah's TV channel Al-Manar reported Sunday morning that Israel is attacking the towns of Taybeh and Lida in southern Lebanon.
IDF Spokesman in Arabic Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee addressed the residents of the Gaza Strip, especially in the Khan Younis area, and called on them to evacuate the fighting areas as soon as possible. According to him, the IDF is working strongly against Hamas and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, the fighting and the military progress in the Khan Younis area do not allow movement on the Salah al-Din axis in some sections, where battles are taking place. The IDF will "allow movement through a western axis."
The IDF spokesman also added that from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. there will be a "tactical pause" in the al-Adri district in Rafah, for humanitarian operations.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Saturday night accused an IDF sniper of shooting dead a mother and her daughter in a church in Gaza. The Catholic Patriarch in Jerusalem is responsible on behalf of the Pope for the Catholic churches in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus.
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כנסיה כנסיית המשפחה הקדושה ב עזה ארכיון 2020
כנסיה כנסיית המשפחה הקדושה ב עזה ארכיון 2020
Holy Family Church complex in Gaza in a photo from 2020
(Photo: AHMUD HAMS / AFP)
In a published message, the Catholic Patriarch in Jerusalem, which is responsible on behalf of the Pope for the Catholic churches in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus, claimed that the two women were shot when they went to the monastery in the Holy Family Church complex in Gaza, and that "one of them was killed while trying to carry the other to safety."
Another seven were injured in the incident according to the announcement, which said that most of the Christian families in Gaza had already evacuated to that church compound at the beginning of the war. "No warning was given, there was no announcement. "They were shot in cold blood inside the compound, where there are no soldiers," the church said.
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לחימת כוחות צה"ל ברצועת עזה
לחימת כוחות צה"ל ברצועת עזה
IDF troops operate inside the Gaza Strip
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The World Health Organization (WHO) said late Saturday that it participated in a joint United Nations mission to deliver health supplies and assess the situation at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The team delivered medicines and surgical supplies, orthopedic surgery equipment, and anesthesia materials and drugs to the hospital which was "currently minimally functional," the WHO said.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock published a joint article in Britain's Sunday Times, in which they responded to the criticism that European and international sources are hurling at them due to the refusal by London and Berlin refusal to support calls for an immediate cease-fire.
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דייוויד קמרון אנלינה ברבוק
דייוויד קמרון אנלינה ברבוק
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock
(Photos: Reuters, Getty Images)
"Our goal cannot simply be to end the fighting today. The cease-fire should be kept for days, years, generations. Therefore, we support a cease-fire, but only if it is stable," they wrote.
Hamas issued a statement reiterating that it opposes opening negotiations on releasing Israeli hostages it holds in Gaza. The statement said that "Hamas confirms its position that there will be no negotiation regarding any prisoner exchange deal unless there is a complete halt to aggression against the Gaza Strip and adherence to the conditions of the resistance." Hamas passed the position on to all the mediators.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening said that Israel will maintain its policy of exerting maximum military pressure on Hamas in order to secure the return of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and achieve a decisive victory over the terrorist group.
"Military pressure is necessary both for the return of the hostages and for achieving victory. Only military pressure will lead to the release of all our captives. Without it, we have nothing," he said during a joint televised press conference alongside Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz.
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בנימין נתניהו, יואב גלנט ובני גנץ
בנימין נתניהו, יואב גלנט ובני גנץ
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz
(Photo: Noam Revkin-Fenton)
Netanyahu also addressed the fatal shooting of three Israeli hostages who were mistaken for terrorists on Friday by Israeli forces engaged in intensive combat in the Hamas stronghold of Shijaiyah.
Speaking after him, Defense Minister Gallant said that the accidental killing of the hostages was "one of the most tragic and difficult events" he remembers, adding that after the IDF completed a preliminary investigation, its findings were passed to commanders to study, convey to soldiers and implement promptly.
First published: 10:24, 12.17.23
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