Central Gaza refugee camps pummeled as Israeli military expands into 'new battle zone'

Islamic Resistance in Iraq says it targeted base with U.S. troops

In a statement today, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq said it targeted a base near the Erbil Airport where American troops were stationed.

The group said that the attack was in resistance to “American occupation” in Iraq and Israel’s military operations in Gaza. It’s unclear whether any U.S. troops were injured in the strike.

News of the attack comes after the U.S. conducted retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq over prior targeting of U.S. troops in the country.

We will fight to the end with our most advanced technology, Netanyahu says

Israel will fight to the end with most advanced technology, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement yesterday, vowing that the country will continue the war and intensify the fighting in southern Gaza.

“We have soldiers on the ground, sometimes underground, and we have eyes in the sky,” Netanyahu said to the Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence Unit.

“We say to the Hamas terrorists: We see you and we will reach you,” he said.

Palestinians mourn loved ones at Gaza hospital

A child cries as people mourn at Nasser Hospital today in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

A child cries as people mourn loved ones at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Dec. 27, 2023.
AFP – Getty Images
A man mourns loved ones at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Dec. 27, 2023.
AFP – Getty Images

France ‘gravely concerned’ over Israel intensifying campaign in Gaza

France reiterated a call for a cease-fire as the country’s leadership said it is “gravely concerned” that Israel has announced an intensification in fighting in Gaza, according to a statement from the French foreign ministry today.

“The framework of international law requires clear principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and precaution, everywhere and at all times, in order to spare civilians,” the statement said. “Israel must take practical measures to protect the lives of Gaza’s civilians.”

The last several days have been marked by bloody battles and bombardments that have brought large civilian casualties as well as many IDF soldier deaths. Yesterday, Israel announced it was expanding its operations in south and central Gaza, where many Palestinians either live in refugee camps or have been displaced after fleeing the north.

Israeli soldiers patrol along the Israel-Gaza border on Dec. 27, 2023.
Israeli soldiers patrol along the Israel-Gaza border today.Jack Guez / AFP – Getty Images

Yemen’s Houthis say they are ‘ready to inflict the harshest blows’ in defense of Palestinians

After weeks of mounting attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, Yemen’s Houthi rebels doubled down on its rhetoric in a statement issued today by the group’s military media.

“We are ready to inflict the harshest blows on the enemies if their crimes and siege of the Palestinian people continue or if they think about harming the security and sovereignty of Yemen,” said Houthi Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Al-Atefi.

The group also said that its solidarity in support of Palestinians is a “religious and moral position.”

The statement follows ongoing defensive action in the Red Sea by the U.S. Navy, which has been shooting down Houthi attack drones and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

UNRWA refutes Israeli claims of Hamas collaboration

UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, has refuted claims made by IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that some “UNRWA workers [are] controlled by Hamas” and that “Hamas is stealing the humanitarian supplies” intended for internally displaced Palestinians.

“UNRWA delivers its aid directly to people in need in the Gaza Strip,” the agency said in a statement to NBC News, adding: “Every year, UNRWA shares a list of all its staff with the host governments in the region. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, UNRWA also shares that list with the Government of Israel as the occupying power. UNRWA has never received any response or objection from the Government of Israel on the content of that list.”

Conricus also told “Meet the Press” that the IDF had “obtained voice recordings” of Palestinians “saying that UNRWA is collaborating with Hamas and that Hamas is stealing the humanitarian supplies.”

Conricus did not provide the voice recordings for independent review.

Gaza’s entire population of 2.2 million people is at “imminent risk of famine” according to the United Nations. Israel has blamed humanitarian agencies on the ground, which it says is not distributing supplies quickly enough.

Humanitarian agencies say not enough aid is coming in, and that distribution has been made more difficult amid ongoing bombardment and shortages, and frequent power and connectivity blackouts.

Israel completes ‘raid’ in Lebanon, IDF says

The Israeli air force conducted a “raid” on Lebanese territory today, according to a new statement from the IDF.

According to the IDF, fighter jets targeted military sites and other infrastructure “belonging to the Hezbollah.” Three enemy aircraft were also spotted crossing over the border and crashed, it said.

“Also, during the last hours, several rocket shells were launched, which penetrated the borders from the territory of Lebanon towards various areas in the north of the country, where they landed in an open are,” the statement said.

“We are now at a fork in the road: either Hezbollah backs off from the Israeli border in line with U.N.,” Israeli government spokesperson, Eylon Levy, said in a briefing today, “or we will push it away ourselves.”

U.N. concerned about Israel’s central Gaza push

United Nations officials warned today that there was “no safe place” for Gazans as Israel extended evacuation orders to areas in the central part of the strip.

“Scenes of forced displacement are constant and repeated now,” Philippe Lazzarini, director-general of UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on X. He added that lives in Gaza were being “turned upside down overnight.”

“We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces, which has claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives since Christmas,” the U.N. said in a separate statement on X. “We restate our warning that all attacks must strictly adhere to the principles of int’l humanitarian law.” 

The IDF has called the refugee camps of central Gaza “a new battle zone.”

Netanyahu hits back at Erdoğan over comparison to Hitler


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comparison of him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Erdoğan is “the last person who can preach morality to us,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding that the president “commits genocide” against the Kurds and cited Turkey’s record of imprisoning journalists.

Netanyahu went on to repeat his claim that “The IDF is the most moral army in the world,” and that it is fighting Hamas, a terrorist organization Erdoğan “praises.”

The leader of the opposition in Israel, Yair Lapid, also said in a statement on X that he “strongly strongly condemn Erdogan’s words and the shameful comparison to the Holocaust and Hitler.”

Explosions heard and missiles sighted in the Red Sea

Explosions were heard and missiles sighted near a vessel sailing through the Red Sea yesterday, the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations said.

The agency said it received a report of the incident 60 nautical miles from the port of Al Hudaydah in western Yemen, adding that the vessel and its crew were safe.

Houthi rebels in Yemen have escalated attacks on commercial vessels with ties to Israel sailing to and from the Suez Canal on the Red Sea, citing retaliation for the war in Gaza as the reason for the attacks.

Gaza communications gradually being restored, telecom company says

The Gaza telecommunications company, Paltel, said today that communication services are gradually being restored in central and southern Gaza after a blackout that began yesterday.

Phone and internet connectivity has gone down in Gaza more than half a dozen times since the start of the war, according to NetBlocks, which tracks global internet access. Such blackouts hamper aid delivery, rescue efforts and communications with the outside world.

Turkey’s Erdoğan compares Netanyahu to Hitler

MERSIN, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hilter, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported today.

“We watched Israel’s Nazi camps in the stadiums, right?” Erdoğan said in a speech at an award ceremony, referring to videos of half-naked men being rounded up in Gaza.

“Is there anything different in Netanyahu’s actions compared to Hitler’s?” he added.

He also suggested that the United States was complicit in the deaths of more than 21,000 people in Gaza.

Netanayhu, he said, was receiving “all sorts of support” from Americans, he said. “And with all this support, what did they do to more than 20,000 Gazans? They killed them.”

It is not the first time that Erdoğan has compared Israel to Nazi countries. In 2018, he described Israel as the “most fascist” country in the world. He also refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization.

Israel forces arrest 12 people in occupied West Bank, advocacy groups say

Israeli forces have arrested at least 12 people in the occupied West Bank in the past 24 hours, two prisoner advocacy groups said today in a joint statement today.

“During the arrest campaigns, the Israeli forces continued to carry out extensive break-ins and harassment, and assaults against the detainees and their families,” according to the Commission for the Affairs of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners and the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

The statement added that around 4,800 people had been arrested in the West Bank after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

NBC News has reached out to the Israeli security agency, Shin Bet, for comment.

Palestinians inspect the remains of overturned vehicles in the aftermath of an Israeli raid in the Nur Shams camp for Palestinian refugees, near the northern city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank on Dec. 27, 2023.
Palestinians inspect the remains of overturned vehicles today in the aftermath of an Israeli raid in the Nur Shams camp for Palestinian refugees, near the northern city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank.Zain Jaafar / AFP – Getty Images

Youths killed in Israeli strike on West Bank, Palestinian Health Ministry says

At least six youths were killed by an Israeli strike on the Nour Shams refugee camp, the Palestinian Health Ministry said today. Residents said they were not fighters.

Israel and Hezbollah trade fire over Lebanese border

Israeli forces traded fire with the Hezbollah militant group across the border with Lebanon today.

Hezbollah said in a post on Telegram that it targeted a new Israeli command position. In a later post, it said “guided missiles” achieved “direct hits” on a tent belonging to a special force of the Israeli army.

The Israel Defense Forces said on its own Telegram channel that it “intercepted a number of the launches.” Overnight, it said a fighter jet struck a Hezbollah military site in Lebanon.

NBC News could not independently verify either claim.

Smoke billows in the southern Lebanese village of Marwahin following Israeli bombardment on Dec. 27, 2023.
Smoke billows in the southern Lebanese village of Marwahin following Israeli bombardment Wednesday.Jalaa Marey / AFP – Getty Images

Gaza death toll tops 21,100, Health Ministry spokesperson says

The death toll in Gaza since Oct. 7, has risen to 21,110, a spokesperson for the Gazan Health Ministry said today in a statement on Telegram.

Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra said 195 people had been killed in the past 24 hours and 395 people had been injured.

More than 55,000 people have been injured in Gaza since Israel began a military assault following the Hamas attack, he said.

Destroyed buildings in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza, on Dec. 26, 2023.
Destroyed buildings Tuesday in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza.AFP – Getty Images

NBC News tours what IDF says is largest Hamas tunnel yet discovered

NORTHERN GAZA — As Israel says it’s almost dismantled Hamas’ battalions in the northern Gaza Strip, NBC News today got a firsthand look at what the IDF says is the largest tunnel discovered so far.

It only takes about 10 minutes to walk from the destroyed Erez crossing on the Israel-Gaza border, which was breached by Hamas terrorists Oct. 7, to the tunnel’s entrance roughly a quarter-mile away.

Israeli soldiers stand at the entrance of what the military says is the largest tunnel yet discovered in Gaza near the Erez crossing in the north of the enclave.
Israeli soldiers stand at the entrance of what the military says is the largest tunnel yet discovered in Gaza near the Erez crossing in the north of the enclave.Josh Lederman / NBC News

As Israeli tanks occasionally rolled past, a vast wasteland of mangled steel, concrete blocks and dusty mounds of sand could be seen along the way. Workers on cherry-pickers repair the concrete border barrier damaged during the Hamas incursion.

Not far in the distance, gunshots and artillery explosions were heard, as well as the buzz of Israeli drones overhead. No Palestinians were seen during the roughly two-hour visit.

NBC News and a handful of other foreign journalists were invited by the IDF to tour the tunnel, which Israel first disclosed earlier in December.

Roughly 10 feet high and reinforced with concrete, the tunnel also has shafts in the floor that extend vertically down below to what the IDF says is a sprawling network of offshoots and other levels. Although Israel’s military believes it has cleared any Hamas presence from the tunnel, troops with weapons drawn stand guard part way inside just in case. 

The tunnel enters the ground at a diagonal angle, which enabled Hamas to drive vehicles into it, the IDF says. NBC News can’t independently verify how the tunnel was used or how recently. 

Maj. Doron Spielman, an IDF spokesman, said Israel had known about the tunnel’s entrance, but not that it extended so close to Israeli territory.

“These are the big questions Israel’s going to ask when this war is over,” he said in an interview outside the entrance.

Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Khan Younis

Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023.
Mohammed Dahman / AP
Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip
Mohammed Dahman / AP
Mohammed Dahman / AP

Hamas is stealing food from UNRWA facilities, IDF spokesperson says

A spokesperson for the Israeli military told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” yesterday that it had obtained voice recordings of Palestinians saying that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency “is collaborating with Hamas and that Hamas is stealing the humanitarian supplies.”

Lt. Col Jonathan Conricus did not provide any evidence to back up this claim.

But he said that “hundreds of trucks” were entering Gaza “every day with food, water, medical supplies and shelter.”

“Hamas goes into UNRWA facilities and takes food paid for by U.S. taxpayers’ dollars amongst others intended for humanitarian purposes,” he added. “Hamas takes and brings to its fighters underground in the tunnels instead of the civilians who needed it.”

NBC News has reached out to UNRWA for comment.

The U.N. said recently that more than half-a-million people in Gaza are facing starvation.

Explosion near embassy possibly a ‘terrorist attack,’ Israel says

It is possible that an explosion near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi was a “terrorist attack,” the Israeli National Security Council said in a statement on its website.

The embassy also issued an advisory to Israelis living in India and New Delhi, in particular, to avoid crowded places and to also avoid displaying any Israeli symbols.

No injuries were reported after the blast and NBC News has reached out to police in the city for comment.

Netanyahu asks Xi and Putin for help freeing hostages

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin for their help in freeing hostages still being held by Hamas.

Addressing a special Knesset session Monday on the estimated 129 remaining hostages, Netanyahu said he had summoned Cai Run, the Chinese ambassador to Israel, and asked Xi to personally intervene to secure the release of Noa Argamani, who was kidnapped from a music festival Oct. 7.

Though Argamani is not a Chinese national, her mother, who has advanced cancer, is from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

“I told the ambassador that I was asking him to please tell Xi Jinping, outside of protocol, outside the rules, which I know very well, that this is the daughter of a Chinese mother and that I am asking for his personal intervention,” Netanyahu said, adding that the ambassador said he had conveyed the request to Xi.

Netanyahu said he had also asked Putin for his assistance in freeing several hostages, including Andrey Kozlov, Alex Lobanov and Alexander Trupanob, and that Putin said he would “try to act in this regard.” Netanyahu, whose government has been criticized by hostages’ families, said he was sharing that information to show he was “making every effort” to bring the hostages home.

Netanyahu adviser discussed key points regarding Gaza war, White House officials say


A meeting yesterday between U.S. officials and Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer covered several issues related to the war in Gaza, a White House official said.

Dermer met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The issues discussed, according to the White House official, were:

  • The transition to a different phase of the war to maximize focus on high-value Hamas targets.

  • Practical steps to improve the humanitarian situation and minimize harm to civilians.
  • Efforts to bring home the remaining hostages.
  • Planning for the day after the end of the war, including governance and security in Gaza, a political horizon for the Palestinian people and continued work on normalization and integration.

Palestinian residents of West Bank village say they’re being driven out by Jewish settlers

In the village of At-Tuwani in the West Bank, residents say Jewish settlers have become far more aggressive in their long campaign to drive Palestinians from this land since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks.

NBC News’ Richard Engel visited the area and reports on the high tensions among the two groups.

Meta accused of censoring social media support for Palestinians

Human Rights Watch has accused Meta of stifling pro-Palestinian content on its Instagram and Facebook platforms in what it described as a “pattern of undue removal and suppression,” in a 51-page report.

“Human Rights Watch found that the problem stems from flawed Meta policies and their inconsistent and erroneous implementation, overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals,” the group said today on Instagram.

The organization said it reviewed 1,050 cases of online censorship from more than 60 countries and found that in many cases Meta “misapplied” policies about dangerous organizations, violent and graphic content, violence and incitement, hate speech, and nudity and sexual activity. In at least 300 cases, Human Rights Watch said, users were unable to appeal suspensions or content removals because of a “malfunction” of the appeal system.

A spokesperson for Meta said in a statement that the report “ignores the realities” of enforcing policies during a “fast-moving, highly polarized and intense conflict.” The statement also said it was misleading to describe 1,000 examples out the high volume of content posted about the conflict as proof of censorship.

“We readily acknowledge we make errors that can be frustrating for people, but the implication that we deliberately and systemically suppress a particular voice is false,” the statement said.

Catch up on NBC News’ latest coverage of the war


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