Netanyahu adviser travels to Washington as prime minister defies calls for cease-fire

‘We need more humanitarian aid’ in Gaza, says chef José Andrés

Chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, joins “Meet the Press NOW” to explain his visit to Gaza, where his organization provided more than 12 million meals to those in need.

He describes the aid as a “drop of water in an ocean of need” in Gaza.

Video appears to show boys and men stripped in Gaza stadium

An edited video, circulated on social media over the Christmas weekend, appeared to show the Israeli military detaining Palestinians in a stadium in Gaza.

The video was edited and set to music when it was posted to YouTube on Christmas Eve, but NBC News is unable to verify when it was shot. Clips in the video show dozens of Palestinian boys and men, including what seemed to be two young children in one frame, stripped to their underwear in Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City.

Israeli forces detain suspects at  Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza.
Israeli forces detain suspects at Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza.Yossi Gamazoo via YouTube

Social media users reacted to the video across platforms, with one user on X calling it “deeply disturbing footage,” while another person commented on Instagram that it was “abhorrent.”

The IDF did not comment on the video specifically but confirmed it does detain people for questioning. The military added that it “is often necessary” for detainees to forfeit their clothing to be searched.

In a message to NBC News, the man who posted the video confirmed he recorded it but said he was not able to immediately speak when he was asked to provide further context.

U.S. shot down 12 drones and 5 missiles in southern Red Sea, military says

The U.S. military shot down 12 one-way attack drones over the Red Sea, an area where ships have been under a steady stream of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels as the group attempts to disrupt trade in what it described as solidarity with Gaza.

According to U.S Central Command, assets from the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group shot down the drones as well as three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack cruise missiles. The attacks occurred over a 10-hour period today and there were no reported injuries.

Militants launch rockets against U.S. forces in Syria, officials confirm

Militants launched a series of rockets against U.S. and allied forces at the Al-Shaddadah base in Syria, according to two U.S. defense officials.

No casualties were reported, and the base’s infrastructure was not damaged, the officials said.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed militant groups, claimed responsibility. In a statement, the militants said the rockets were in response to the “American occupation” in the region and Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Gaza under blackout again, telecom company says

Gaza has lost communication services once again, according to a new statement today from telecommunications company Paltel.

“Gaza is blacked out again,” the company said.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on X that it has lost all contact with its teams in Gaza due to the internet and phone blackouts, adding to the ongoing challenges it’s faced on the ground.

“Furthermore, the VHF radio communication network, the sole means of communication during this blackout, sustained damage from artillery shelling that targeted the upper floors of the PRCS headquarters in #KhanYounis early this morning,” the PRCS said.

IDF expands fighting to refugee camps in central Gaza

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that the military is expanding operations in southern Gaza and in an area the IDF has called the “central camps.”

“We are operating in Khan Yunis with new methods and with a different force composition in the face of the challenge, and the same in the central camps,” Hagari said. “We will continue to adapt the operation, the method and the composition of the forces according to the operational need.”

The IDF clarified to NBC News that the “central camps” refers to central Gaza, where the Nuseirat, Al-Bureij, Deir al-Balah and al-Maghazi refugee camps are located. This area was hit over the weekend, including an attack on al-Maghazi that left at least 70 people dead on Christmas Eve.

The news also comes after 17 IDF soldiers were killed over the weekend and a visit yesterday from Netanyahu to troops in the northern area of Gaza. Netanyahu assured the troops that their safety was a priority while urging them not to stop the fight against Hamas.

Mourners collect the bodies of loved ones killed in an airstrike on Dec. 26, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza.
Mourners collect the bodies today of loved ones killed in an airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza. Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Israel has asked the U.S. for Iron Dome interceptors, artillery ammo and other weapons

Israel’s government has asked the U.S. to send various weapons as it ramps up its war against Hamas in Gaza, according to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The list includes U.S.-manufactured interceptors for the Iron Dome air defense system as well as precision-guided munitions, 155 mm artillery ammunition and tank rounds, and rifles for the country’s national police.

The U.S. has already provided the requested military assistance save for the rifles. The two most recent transfers, issued via emergency authority that waived congressional notification, included tank rounds and artillery rounds, according to the committee. The export licenses for the rifles has not been approved, pending interagency review.

The weapons and munitions, under U.S. law, must be used in accordance with the laws of armed conflict. No additional conditions have been applied to the weapons.

In both north and south Gaza, there’s nowhere safe as people wait to die, WHO worker says

A World Health Organization employee shared scenes from his recent visit to Gaza as medical teams have been pushed beyond capacity with trauma patients and health care systems falling apart.

Sean Casey, emergency medical teams coordinator, was in Rafah, where thousands took shelter after being told to evacuate the north of the Palestinian enclave. But Casey noted that “there’s nowhere actually safe in Gaza.”

“They’re in plastic shelters, plastic sheeting shelters right outside the door,” Casey said. “And last night, we heard fighting almost all night long with reports coming in during the day today of many, many injuries presenting to the hospitals here in the south.”

In northern Gaza, Casey said there were patients laying on pews in a church on hospital grounds “waiting to die” without access to proper treatment.

“We still need to do more to try to move these patients, but the options are becoming more and more limited as health facilities become less accessible, as health workers themselves are displaced,” he said.

Palestinians bury the bodies of Gazans returned by Israel

Image: Gazans Bury 80 Bodies Of Palestinians Returned By Israel
Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

The bodies of 80 Palestinians killed in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war were buried in a mass grave today in Rafah, after the Israeli army returned them earlier in the evening at the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

At least 20 injured by U.S. strikes on militant base, senior Iraqi official tells NBC News

BAGHDAD — At least 20 militants were injured by U.S. airstrikes which targeted the headquarters of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a senior security official in the country told NBC News today.

Smoke rose at the site after it was bombed in the early hours of the morning, the official who was not authorized to speak publicly said.

They added that several other Iran-backed militias had been targeted from the air. They did not say how many casualties there were.

The strikes came after U.S. service members were injured by a drone attack on their base.

U.N. is ‘gravely concerned’ about latest Israeli push in Gaza

The United Nations is “gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces.”

“We restate our warning that all attacks must strictly adhere to the principles of int’l humanitarian law,” the U.N. said in a statement posted on X.

This sentiment was shared by U.N. Agency for Palestine Refugees Commissioner Phillipe Lazzarini, who posted a video of Palestinian evacuees with the caption, “Scenes of forced displacement are constant and repeated.”

He reiterated his call for a “humanitarian cease-fire.” These calls come just days after the United Nations passed a new aid resolution for Gaza, but came short of calling for an immediate truce.

Egypt draws up plan to end the Israel-Hamas war

Egypt has drawn up a proposal to end the fighting in Gaza and created a framework on how to move forward after the battle ends.

Former NBC News correspondent Martin Fletcher explains what this Egyptian peace plan entails, calling it “a ray of light.”

Netanyahu adviser meeting with Blinken, Sullivan

Dermer, one of Netanyahu’s closest advisers, is meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan this afternoon, according to NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.

An Israeli official tells NBC News that there are three main topics for Dermer’s meetings today: Israeli-U.S. collaboration, the current state of progress in the war and what comes the day after Hamas is defeated.

A person familiar with the talks tells NBC News that Dermer’s meetings with Sullivan and Blinken are “part of the close dialogue that Israel has had with the United States since the war started.” It’s a continuation of a pattern of “close talks” about the status of the war, which has included visits to Israel by U.S. officials, this person said.

The visit to Washington by Dermer, Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, comes after Netanyahu vowed yesterday to keep fighting until Hamas is destroyed, defying global calls for a cease-fire.

Phone and internet service down in Gaza, leading service provider says

All fixed telecommunications and internet services have stopped in the Gaza Strip, the enclave’s largest service provider said today on X.

Services had been interrupted “due to the continued aggression,” Paltel said, adding that its “‎technical crews are working to restore services despite the dangerous field conditions.”

 A smoke plume erupts over Khan Younis, Gaza, during Israeli bombardment on Dec. 26, 2023.
A smoke plume erupts over Khan Younis, Gaza, during Israeli bombardment today.Said Khatib / AFP – Getty Images

Six arrested in Christmas Day protests in NYC

Six people were arrested in New York on Christmas night, four of them at Grand Central and two in Union Square, a police spokesperson said today.

“Four people were given desk appearance; two for graffiti and two for disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

One person was given a criminal court summons while another was being held for a court appearance this morning.

The arrests came after hundreds of people gathered in midtown Manhattan to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, some of them carrying flags and signs reading, “All I want for Christmas is a ceasefire now!”

Protesters demonstrate in support of Palestinians at Rockefeller Center in New York on Dec. 25, 2023.
Protesters demonstrate in support of Palestinians at Rockefeller Center in New York yesterday.Charly Triballeau / AFP – Getty Images

U.S. launches retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq after drone attack

U.S. airstrikes hit sites in Iraq where militants have been targeting American troops, a spokesperson for the National Security Council said late last night.

President Joe Biden authorized the retaliatory strikes after a Christmas day drone attack left three service members wounded.

Explosion reported near Israeli Embassy in New Delhi

An explosion was heard near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi today, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“There were no casualties as a result of the explosion and all the envoys and embassy workers are safe,” the statement said. It added that an investigation was underway.

The cause of the explosion in India’s capital remains unclear.

NBC News has reached out to Delhi Police for comment.

People fleeing central Gaza head south

Following an Israeli evacuation order for central Gaza, people load up their belongings and head to the southern city of Rafah today.

Mohammed Abed / AFP – Getty Images
Mohammed Abed / AFP – Getty Images

Syrian army downs drones aimed at towns and military posts, state media reports 

The Syrian armed forces shot down eight drones aimed at towns and military positions in countryside near Aleppo and Idlib, state media said today citing the Defense Ministry.

The armed forces prevented the drones, which the ministry said belonged to “terrorists,” from reaching their targets, state media reported. 

WHO ‘extremely concerned’ about the strain on Gaza hospital

Scores of injured people had arrived at Al-Aqsa Hospital in northern Gaza after strikes on the center of the enclave, the director general of the World Health Organization said in a post on X yesterday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a WHO team visited the hospital and found it was overwhelmed with patients, many of whom “will not survive the wait.”

“One child had lost their whole family in the strike on the camp. A nurse at the hospital suffered the same loss, with his entire family killed,” he said.

Ghebreyesus described the case of a 9-year-old boy, Ahmed, who had been hit in the head by shrapnel and debris from an explosion, saying: “Doctors told us that his injuries were so serious he would not survive.”

Israeli defense minister hints at retaliatory actions taken in Iraq, Yemen, Iran

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hinted today that his country had retaliated in Iraq, Yemen and Iran for attacks carried out against it as the war in the Gaza Strip widens to other areas of the region.

“We are in a multifront war and are coming under attack from seven theaters: Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Judea and Samaria (West Bank), Iraq, Yemen and Iran. We have already responded and taken action in six of these theatres,” he told lawmakers.

Anger and anguish dominate Christmas in Jesus’ birthplace

Set amid rubble and barbed wire, a striking Nativity scene was placed in Bethlehem’s central Manger Square, not far from a giant tree that in Christmas season is typically surrounded by revelers and pilgrims visiting the holy site.

Today, the mood was somber and streets are deserted as less than 60 miles away, the war between Israel and Hamas rages in Gaza.

Gaza death toll rises to almost 21,000, Health Ministry says

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 20,915, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement today.

Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra said that 241 people had been killed in the last 24 hours and 382 people had been injured.

Since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel, Al-Qudra said that almost 55,000 people have been injured.

An injured Palestinian child is treated at Nasser Medical Hospital on Dec. 26, 2023 in Khan Younis, Gaza.
An injured Palestinian child is treated at Nasser Medical Hospital today in Khan Younis, Gaza. Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Gaza humanitarian pause is the ‘bare minimum’ requirement, UNRWA says

A humanitarian pause in Gaza is the “bare minimum that needs to happen,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said on X today.

“We’ve never, ever imagined we would host 1.4 million people in our facilities,” the post quoted Communications Director Juliette Touma as saying.

“The volume, the velocity, the levels of destruction are just unprecedented,” she added.

At least 55 people arrested in the occupied West Bank, prisoner advocacy groups say

At least 55 people have been arrested in the occupied West Bank since yesterday evening, a pair of prisoner advocacy groups said in a joint statement today.

Three women and two journalists were among those detained, according to the Commission for the Affairs of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners and the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

The statement which accused Israeli forces of “abuse in cities, towns, and camps,” added that the arrests were concentrated in Bethlehem and Hebron.

Arrests in the West Bank have soared since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. The groups say that 4,785 people have been arrested since then.

Mourners attend the funeral procession of two men killed in an Israeli army incursion in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, on Dec. 26, 2023.
Mourners attend the funeral procession today of two men killed in an Israeli army incursion in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.Hazem Bader / AFP – Getty Images

Explosions reportedly heard in skies over Egypt’s Dahab city

Explosions were heard over the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Dahab today, Egypt’s Al Qahera News TV reported today.

“A flying object was downed approximately 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the shores of Dahab,” Al Qahera said, citing witnesses.

Several launches from Lebanon identified, Israeli military says

The Israel Defense Forces said today it had identified a number of launches from Lebanon hurling toward northern Israel, including a surface-to-air missile that was launched toward an Israeli aircraft in the area.

“The aircraft was not damaged by the missile and successfully completed its mission,” it said in a statement, adding that it had responded by striking targets in Lebanon.

The IDF also said its jet struck infrastructure in Lebanon belonging to the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group which targeted infrastructure belonging to it.

Netanyahu tells Israeli soldiers to remain steadfast during visit to Gaza

TEL AVIV — Netanyahu told soldiers during a visit to Gaza yesterday to remain steadfast as Israel would stay the course in the war against Hamas militants “to the end.”

Netanyahu, under pressure over the fate of hostages taken by militants in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, asserted Israel’s need to eliminate Hamas.

The Gaza Health Ministry said dozens of people were killed at the al-Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza. The IDF has said it’s reviewing reports of “an incident” there.

After visiting soldiers, Netanyahu told a special session of Israel’s parliament he was inspired by what fighters on the ground told him — to keep fighting until the last Hamas militant is no longer a threat.

“We are not stopping, and we will not stop until we are victorious,” he told the Knesset.

Palestinian paramedic comforts his children after their home is destroyed

Ahmed Matar, a paramedic with the Palestine Red Crescent Society, comforted his children after they survived the destruction of their home in central Gaza.

“You want to become a paramedic like me, to save people, right?” Matar asked his son in a video posted by the group today.

He hugged one of his daughters as she cried, asking him, “Where will we live?”

Matar’s family home “collapsed entirely over their heads,” the Palestine Red Crescent Society said, while his parents were killed in the shelling of a neighboring house.

Biden orders strike on Iran-affiliated terrorist group in Iraq 

U.S. airstrikes targeted an Iran-affiliated terrorist group and its affiliates, believed to be responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, U.S. Central Command said in a statement tonight.

The group, Kataib Hezbollah, and affiliated groups attacked coalition forces this morning at Erbil Air Base in Iraq, injuring three U.S. service members, one critically, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a separate statement.

The counterattack was conducted at the direction of President Joe Biden, and targeted three facilities used by the groups in Iraq, Austin said.

“Early assessments indicate that these U.S. airstrikes destroyed the targeted facilities and likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants,” Central Command said in its statement. “There are no indications that any civilian lives were affected.”

A one-way attack drone was used in the offensive on U.S. personnel, and Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups claimed credit, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been high amid skirmishes along Israel’s northern border, where the IDF has been trading fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

“The President and I will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests,” Austin said in his statement. “There is no higher priority. While we do not seek to escalate conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities.

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