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Hamas says no hostage will leave alive unless group's demands met

Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip
Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip - SAID KHATIB / AFP

Hamas has warned that not a single hostage would leave the territory “alive” unless the group’s demands were met.

“Neither the fascist enemy and its arrogant leadership... nor its supporters... can take their prisoners alive without an exchange and negotiation and meeting the demands of the resistance,” Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, said in a televised broadcast, referring to the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

A one-week truce in the war that collapsed on December 1 saw 105 hostages held by the group freed, including 80 Israelis released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. Israel on Saturday said 137 captives remained in the Palestinian territory.

He said that the “temporary truce proved our credibility”, and said that its fighters had partially or fully destroyed 180 Israeli personnel carriers, tanks and bulldozers in 10 days since fighting resumed in Gaza.


05:02 PM GMT

That’s all for today

Thank you for following our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The key developments from the day were the following:

  • Hamas has warned that not a single hostage would leave the territory “alive” unless the group’s demands were met.

  • Israeli tanks reached the centre of Khan Younis in a major new push into the heart of the main city in the southern Gaza Strip.

  • Mediation efforts are continuing to secure a new Gaza ceasefire and free more hostages held by Hamas despite ongoing Israeli bombardment that is “narrowing the window” for a successful outcome, Qatar’s prime minister said.

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he regrets the Security Council’s failure to demand a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, condemning the divisions that have “paralysed” the world body.

  • The IDF has reported that 1593 of its soldiers have been wounded since the start of the war on Oct 7, 559 of those in Gaza.

  • France said that one of its warships in the Red Sea was targeted by two drones coming from Yemen. Both were intercepted and shot down.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Vladimir Putin and voiced displeasure with “anti-Israel positions” taken by Moscow’s envoys at the United Nations.

  • Some Hamas fighters have surrendered in the northern Gaza Strip, Israel said.

  • The impact of the conflict on Gaza’s healthcare sector has been “catastrophic”, the World Health Organization chief said on Sunday at an emergency board meeting, saying conditions were ideal for the spread of deadly diseases.


04:25 PM GMT

WHO urges immediate humanitarian aide for Gaza

The World Health Organization’s executive board on Sunday adopted a resolution by consensus for combatting the worsening health situation in the Gaza Strip.

After the UN Security Council declined to demand a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas militant group, the 34 countries on the WHO’s executive board adopted by consensus a resolution calling for the “immediate, sustained and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief” into Gaza.


04:13 PM GMT

Israeli tanks reach centre of southern Gaza's main city

Israeli tanks have reached the centre of Khan Younis in a major new push into the heart of the main city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Residents said tanks had reached the main north-south road through the middle of Khan Younis after intense combat through the night. Warplanes were pounding the area west of the assault, while thick columns of white smoke rose over the city.

Smoke rises in Khan Younis
Smoke rises in Khan Younis - IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / Reuters

“It was one of the most dreadful nights, the resistance was very strong, we could hear gunshots and explosions that didn’t stop for hours,” a father of four displaced from Gaza City and sheltering in Khan Younis told Reuters.

Israel launched the storm of Khan Younis this week after a truce collapsed, extending its ground war to Gaza’s southern half in a new, expanded phase of its two-month-old campaign to wipe out Hamas militants.

International aid organisations say this has left the enclave’s 2.3 million people with nowhere to hide.


03:54 PM GMT

In pictures

An Israeli army self-propelled artillery howitzer fires rounds
An Israeli army self-propelled artillery howitzer fires rounds - MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images
Chickens walk on top of rubble, at the site of Israeli strikes on a residential area
Chickens walk on top of rubble, at the site of Israeli strikes on a residential area - REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Israel's Chief of Staff lighting a candle in Nahal
Israel's Chief of Staff lighting a candle in Nahal - IDF

03:37 PM GMT

White House to intensify push for Ukraine and Israel aid

The White House will step up its engagement with US lawmakers trying to strike a bipartisan deal that would provide military aid for Ukraine and Israel, a Democratic senator said on Sunday.

Republicans have insisted that additional funding for Ukraine must be paired with major US border security changes but a bipartisan group of senators trying to broker a compromise have made little progress with less than a week before the US Congress leaves for a Christmas break.

“The White House is going to get more engaged this week,” said Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator.

Murphy said the current border security demands by Republicans were “unreasonable” and that they were “playing games with the security of the world” by linking the military aid to US border security measures.


03:24 PM GMT

Israel cannot recover its hostages without negotiations, says Hamas

Hamas’ armed wing said on Sunday Israel will not be able to recover any of its hostages unless it engages in talks over conditional swap deals.

Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for the al-Qassam Brigades, said in an audio speech broadcast by Al Jazeera television that Israel will not be able to recover the captives by force, citing what he described a failed operation to free one of them.

He also claimed that Hamas fighters had partially or fully destroyed 180 Israeli personnel carriers, tanks and bulldozers in 10 days since fighting resumed in Gaza, and that the “temporary truce proved our credibility”.


03:08 PM GMT

Blinken: Palestinian civilian safety imperative

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Sunday it is “imperative” that Israeli military operations in Gaza protect Palestinian civilians, adding that the fighting should be followed by a durable peace leading to a Palestinian state. 


03:01 PM GMT

Watch: Israel claims 'Hamas fighters' surrender in northern Gaza


02:54 PM GMT

Israel says 1593 soldiers wounded and 425 killed

The IDF has reported that 1593 of its soldiers have been wounded since the start of the war on Oct 7, 559 of those in Gaza.

It added that 425 soldiers have been killed.


02:44 PM GMT

France says its warships was targeted by drones from direction of Yemen

France said that one of its warships in the Red Sea was targeted by two drones coming from Yemen. Both were intercepted and shot down, according to the Associated Press.

A short statement from the Armies Ministry did not say who fired the drones at the French Navy frigate Languedoc.

France’s Armies Ministry said the drones “came straight at” the Languedoc two hours apart from the direction of Yemen. The warship destroyed them both about 110 kilometers (70 miles) off the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah on the Yemeni coast, it said.


02:38 PM GMT

Pictured: Palestinian detainees

Israeli soldiers stand by a truck packed with shirtless Palestinian detainees
Israeli soldiers stand by a truck packed with shirtless Palestinian detainees - REUTERS/Yossi Zeliger I

02:26 PM GMT

Artillery Corps now operating inside the Gaza Strip

Since the start of the war, Israel’s Artillery Corps has been operating on the border of the Gaza Strip, assisting the ground forces with fire support for operations and rescue efforts.

In recent days, soldiers from the 282nd Brigade have begun operating in the Gaza Strip, in cooperation with the 188th Brigade in the Shuja’iyya area of the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.


02:09 PM GMT

Netanyahu: Israel helped Cyprus foil Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews

Israel helped Cyprus foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews on the island, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday, saying such plots were on the rise since the Gaza war erupted.

Netanyahu’s office gave no details of the planned attack but said in the statement on behalf of the Mossad intelligence service that Israel was “troubled” by what it saw as Iranian use of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus “both for terrorism objectives and as an operational and transit area”.

The breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey, which is sharply critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza since Oct. 7.

The internationally recognised government in the south of Cyprus has close relations with Israel.


01:43 PM GMT

Netanyahu speaks to Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday and voiced displeasure with “anti-Israel positions” taken by Moscow’s envoys at the United Nations, an Israeli statement said.

Russia backed a UN Security Council resolution for a Gaza truce, which was vetoed by the United States on Friday.

Speaking to Putin, Netanyahu also voiced “robust disapproval” of Russia’s “dangerous” cooperation with Iran, the Israeli statement said

Netanyahu also expressed his appreciation of the Russian effort to release an Israeli citizen with Russian citizenship.


01:31 PM GMT

Pictured: Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting

Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting
Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting - AFP

01:22 PM GMT

North Korea condemns US veto of Gaza ceasefire call at UN

A North Korean senior official criticised the United States for blocking a UN resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, claiming the veto showed Washington’s “double standards”, North Korean state media KCNA said on Sunday.

The United States vetoed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza at the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

The ceasefire resolution at the UN failed to pass after the United States vetoed the proposal and Britain abstained.

“The United States’ abuse of its veto power to protect an ally that massacred tens of thousands of civilians is not only a manifestation of illegal and unreasonable double standards, but also the height of inhumane evil,” Kim Son Gyong, North Korea’s vice foreign minister for international organisations, said via KCNA.

Kim argued the United States was contradicting itself by condoning continued fighting in Gaza while condemning North Korea’s recent satellite launch that caused no harm to any other country.


01:10 PM GMT

Hamas fighters surrender in northern Gaza, claims Israel

Some Hamas fighters have surrendered in the northern Gaza Strip, Israel said late on Saturday.

The Israeli military did not specify how many Hamas militants had been captured, but said they had surrendered in and near Gaza city, in the Shajaiya and Jabaliya neighbourhoods.

The claims come two days after Israel said it had detained hundreds of terrorism suspects.

Videos circulated on social media and Israeli news channels this week believed to show Hamas fighters detained by Israeli forces. The men in the videos had been forced to strip to their underwear and were blindfolded. The videos could not be independently verified, and reports emerged that there were civilian Gazans among those described as Hamas fighters.


12:50 PM GMT

Iran accuses jailed Swedish EU diplomat of conspiring with Israel

Iranian authorities have accused a Swedish EU diplomat, held in a Tehran prison for more than 600 days, of conspiring with Iran’s arch-enemy Israel to harm the Islamic republic, the judiciary said Sunday, reported by AFP.

“Johan Floderus is accused of extensive measures against the security of the country, extensive intelligence cooperation with the Zionist regime and corruption on earth,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news agency said.

Corruption on earth is one of Iran’s most serious offences which carries a maximum penalty of death.

“The defendant has been active against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of gathering information for the benefit of the Zionist regime in the form of subversive projects,” Mizan quoted the prosecution as saying.

Earlier Sunday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for the immediate release of the Swedish diplomat, arguing “there are absolutely no grounds for keeping Johan Floderus in detention.”

Floderus, 33, works for the European Union diplomatic service. He was arrested on April 17, 2022, at Tehran airport as he was returning from a trip abroad, and is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.


12:33 PM GMT

Hamas attacks do not justify Israel's punishment of Palestinians, says Russia's Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday said it was not acceptable for Israel to use Hamas’ terror attack on Oct 7 as justification for the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and called for international monitoring on the ground in Gaza.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly blamed the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas on the failure of years of US diplomacy in the Middle East, while aiming to position Russia as an important player with ties to all the major actors in the region.


12:22 PM GMT

Pictured: Fighting on Dec 10

Smoke rises from Israeli artillery shelling on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel
Smoke rises from Israeli artillery shelling on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel - AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during an Israeli strik
Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during an Israeli strike - MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
Photo from the IDF of fighting in the Gaza Strip
Photo from the IDF of fighting in the Gaza Strip - IDF

12:03 PM GMT

Iran unveils drones armed with air-to-air missiles

Iran has reinforced its air defence capabilities by adding combat drones equipped with air-to-air missiles to its arsenal, state media reported on Sunday.

“Dozens of Karrar drones armed with air-to-air missiles have been added for air defence in all border areas of the country,” the official IRNA news agency said, reported by AFP.

The drones, with an operational range of up to 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), were exhibited Sunday morning during a televised ceremony organised at a military academy in Tehran.

“The enemies will now have to rethink their strategies” because the Iranian forces have “become more powerful”, IRNA quoted the commander-in-chief of Iran’s army, General Abdolrahim Mousavi, as saying.

The development of Iran’s military arsenal has sparked concern among many countries, particularly the United States and Israel, the sworn enemies of the Islamic republic.

The latter accuse Tehran of providing fleets of drones to its allies in the Middle East, notably to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, and to the Huthi rebels in Yemen.

Iran also backs the Palestinian militant group Hamas.


11:43 AM GMT

Watch: Israeli offensive continues as Netanyahu rebuffs calls to end fighting in Gaza


11:27 AM GMT

Jordan says Israel aims to expel Palestinians from Gaza

Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday Israel was implementing a systematic policy of pushing Palestinians out of Gaza by a war that has killed thousands of civilians.

In remarks at a conference in Doha, Safadi, whose country borders the West Bank and had absorbed the bulk of Palestinians after Israel’s creation in 1948, also said Israel had created an “amount of hatred “ that would “haunt the region” and “define generations to come”.


11:14 AM GMT

Israeli army says five soldiers have died

The Israeli army have said in a statement that five of its soldiers have died in the Gaza War.

Four soldiers were killed in the battle in Southern Gaza, while the fifth succumbed to his wounds after fighting on October 7, according to the Israeli army statement posted on X.


11:00 AM GMT

Two Iranians questioned over suspected plots to attack Israelis in Cyprus

Two Iranians have been detained in Cyprus for questioning over suspected planning of attacks on Israeli citizens living in Cyprus, a Cypriot newspaper reported on Sunday.

The two individuals were believed to be in the early stages of gathering intelligence on potential Israeli targets, the Kathimerini Cyprus newspaper said, without citing sources.

The paper added that the Iranians were political refugees in contact with a person linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

A senior Cyprus official declined to comment, citing policy on issues concerning national security.

Barely a 40-minute flight from Israel, Cyprus is a popular holiday and investment destination for thousands of Israelis.


10:50 AM GMT

Watch: Crowding in Rafah as displaced Palestinians flee after evacuation orders


10:40 AM GMT

Yemen rebels threaten Israel-bound Red Sea ships

Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels have threatened to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports unless food and medicine are allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip, according to Reuters.

The latest warning comes amid heightened tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding waters following a series of maritime attacks by Huthi rebels since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.

In a statement posted on social media, the Huthis said they “will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity” if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The Huthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets.

Regardless of which flag ships sail under or the nationality of their owners or operators, Israel-bound vessels “will become a legitimate target for our armed forces”, the statement said.

Hamas welcomed the rebels’ “courageous and bold” decision.

“We call on Arab and Muslim countries to use all their capabilities, based on their historical responsibilities and in the spirit of chivalry, to lift the siege of Gaza,” it added in a statement sent to AFP.

Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said his country would not accept the “naval siege”, noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked US President Joe Biden and European leaders to take measures to address the situation.


10:29 AM GMT

‘Apocalyptic’ situation in southern Gaza

Israel is continuing to push on with its punishing air and ground offensive in southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled in search of shelter.

Aid groups have described the situation as “apocalyptic” and warned it is on the brink of being overwhelmed by disease and starvation.

Hamas said on Sunday that Israel had launched a series of “very violent raids” targeting the southern city of Khan Younis and the road from there to Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

At least 17,700 people, mostly women and children, have died in two months of fighting in the narrow strip of territory, according to the latest figures from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue its “just war”, while army chief Herzi Halevi said his forces needed to “press harder” in Gaza.


10:25 AM GMT

Pictured: Damage to homes in Gaza

A Palestinian man inspects the damage at the site of Israeli strikes on houses
A Palestinian man inspects the damage at the site of Israeli strikes on houses - REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

10:13 AM GMT

Netanyahu rebuffs calls to end fighting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed on Sunday international calls to end the Gaza war, describing them as inconsistent with supporting the war-aim of eliminating Hamas.

Briefing his cabinet, Netanyahu said he had told the leaders of France, Germany and other countries: “You cannot on the one hand support the elimination of Hamas and on other pressure us to end the war, which would prevent the elimination of Hamas”.


10:00 AM GMT

Gaza health situation is 'catastrophic', says WHO chief

The impact of the conflict on Gaza’s healthcare sector has been “catastrophic”, the World Health Organization chief said on Sunday at an emergency board meeting, saying conditions were ideal for the spread of deadly diseases.

“It’s stating the obvious to say that the impact of the conflict on health is catastrophic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the 34-member board.

“In summary health needs have increased dramatically and the capacity of the health system has been reduced to one third of what it was,” he said.


09:44 AM GMT

Displaced Palestinians shelter in Rafah

Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter in Rafah
Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter in Rafah - REUTERS/Mustafa Thraya

09:31 AM GMT

Qatar says efforts to renew Israel-Hamas truce ‘continuing’

Mediation efforts are continuing to secure a new Gaza ceasefire and free more hostages held by Hamas despite ongoing Israeli bombardment that is “narrowing the window” for a successful outcome, Qatar’s prime minister said Sunday.

“Our efforts as the state of Qatar along with our partners are continuing. We are not going to give up,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Doha Forum.

He added that “the continuation of the bombardment is just narrowing this window for us.”

Qatar was a key mediator in negotiations that resulted in a seven-day truce, which saw scores of Israeli hostages exchanged for Palestinians prisoners and humanitarian aid, until it ended at the start of the month.

“We are going to continue, we are committed to have hostages released, but we are also committed to stop the war,” Qatar’s prime minister said.

However, he said, “we are not seeing the same willingness from both parties”.


09:24 AM GMT

UN chief says its credibility is ‘undermined’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Sunday said he regrets the Security Council’s failure to demand a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, condemning the divisions that have “paralysed” the world body.

Addressing Qatar’s Doha Forum, Guterres said the council was “paralysed by geostrategic divisions” that were undermining solutions to the Israel-Hamas war which started on October 7.

The body’s “authority and credibility were severely undermined” by its delayed response to the conflict, he said two days after a US veto prevented a resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire.

“I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” he told the forum.

“Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it,” he added. “I can promise, I will not give up.”

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