Video shows aftermath of Beirut drone strike on Hamas leadership

Hezbollah says Beirut strike is a crime that will not go ‘without a response and punishment’

Hezbollah described the strike in southern Beirut that reportedly killed seven members of Hamas as a “serious attack on Lebanon” and the country’s sovereignty.

The organization said in a statement today that its fighters are in a state of readiness after what it called a “heinous crime.”

“We in Hezbollah affirm that this crime will never pass without a response and punishment,” the statement said. “Our resistance remains steadfast, loyal to its principles and commitments that it has pledged to itself.”

Both Hamas and Lebanese officials blamed Israel for the attack, but the country has not claimed responsibility. The IDF has not responded to a request for comment, and IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari declined to provide details about the matter at his briefing today.

Palestinian factions call for protest after Beirut drone strike

Multiple Palestinian factions called for protests after a senior Hamas leader and six other members were killed in a drone strike in Beirut, which Israel has been accused of conducting.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, and the IDF has not issued a public comment on the matter.

Protests erupted in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank today shortly after the strike. Video of protests recorded by Reuters included people shouting calls for revenge, according to an NBC News translation.

Children in Gaza are getting vaccinated

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian health workers are vaccinating children in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands have fled to escape the Israel-Hamas war.

UNICEF said last week it delivered at least 600,000 doses of vaccines to the besieged enclave as illness spreads rapidly. The agency estimated that more than 16,600 infants have missed one or more routine vaccinations.

Today, war-weary women rushed to a health care center in the Tel Sultan area of Rafah to get their infants vaccinated. They stood in long lines.

Iman al-Khudary, a displaced mother from Gaza City, said it took her several attempts to get her baby daughter vaccinated. She said it appears not enough vaccines had reached Gaza, and she is worried gaps in vaccinations will make her child more vulnerable to rapidly spreading disease.

Health worker Faten al-Amasssi said the recent shipment of vaccines included those against polio, pneumococcal pneumonia, measles, rubella and mumps, as well as tuberculosis. She said her health center has continued to vaccinate children throughout the war.

She said the spread of disease is mostly linked to unsanitary conditions in overcrowded shelters, rather than a lack of vaccines.

Senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri and several other people were killed in what appeared to be a drone strike in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Despite condemnation from Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel did not immediately confirm or deny responsibility.

Biden administration believes 6 Americans still held hostage in Gaza

The Biden administration believes six U.S. citizens are still being held hostage in Gaza, but it has limited knowledge of their conditions and does not know whether all are still alive, a senior administration official said.  

The administration lowered the number of Americans it has said are unaccounted-for from eight to six after the IDF confirmed the deaths of Gad and Judi Haggai, two U.S.-Israeli citizens, in recent weeks. The U.S. had previously thought they were being held in Gaza, but now, according to the White House, officials believe they were killed by Hamas on Oct. 7.  

Family members believe their bodies may have been taken into Gaza after the attack, they said in a statement last month. 

When the war started, about a dozen Americans were considered unaccounted-for, but the Biden administration was unclear about how many were alive and being held hostage. 

In the initial weeks of the war, Judith and Natalie Raanan became the first U.S. citizens to be freed from Hamas captivity. Two more Americans — Abigail Mor Edan, 4, and Liat Beinin, 49 — were freed in November in a deal in which women and children were released in exchange for imprisoned Palestinians.

Senior U.S. officials continue to push for another temporary truce and hostage deal, but there is limited optimism, because Israel and Hamas remain far apart on critical questions such as who would be eligible for release, a Biden administration official said. 

The topic will most likely be a key agenda item for Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his expected travel to the region in the coming days. Biden has said he has “no higher priority” than bringing American hostages home. 

U.S. rejects ‘inflammatory’ rhetoric about resettling Palestinians outside of Gaza

The U.S. “rejects” recent comments made by two far-right Israeli ministers who suggested that Palestinians should be displaced out of Gaza, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement today.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told Army Radio on Sunday that Arabs should leave Gaza, which would allow Israelis to “make the desert bloom,” Reuters reported. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security who was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs, wrote in an X post yesterday, “We must promote the solution to encourage the migration of Gaza resident.”

Miller said American officials have been “clear, consistent, and unequivocal” that Gaza is Palestinian land and should remain that way.

“This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible,” Miller said. “We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the Government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government. They should stop immediately.”

Shortly after Miller’s statement, Gvir wrote on X that Israel is “not another star on the American flag.”

“The United States is our best friend, but first of all we will do what is best for the State of Israel: the migration of hundreds of thousands from Gaza will allow the residents of the enclave to return home and live in security and protect the IDF soldiers,” Gvir wrote, according to an NBC News translation.

Nova music festival survivors sue Israeli agencies over alleged security failures

Dozens of survivors of the Nova music festival have filed suit against Israeli government agencies over alleged “failures and gross negligence of the IDF, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet” leading up to the Oct. 7 attack.

Attorneys representing 42 plaintiffs issued a press release saying that the government agencies failed to notify festival organizers of security concerns before authorizing licenses for the festival, which took place on Oct. 6 and 7. More than 360 people died at the festival, the release says. It alleges that senior officers had concerns about holding a large party near the Gaza border and warned that the IDF would have difficulty securing the festival due to the Simchat Torah holiday, when many soldiers were going home.

“The disaster could have been avoided at so many points in time, starting with the approval of the party through long hours of ignoring red alerts and until the evacuation that was disrupted after the outbreak of the massacre,” said attorney Anat Ginzburg.

Israelis embrace next to photos of victims of the attack on the Nova music festival displayed at the site, near kibbutz Re'im, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.
Israelis embrace next to photos of victims of the attack on the Nova music festival displayed at the site on Nov. 28, 2023. Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

Israel’s police force declined to comment, telling NBC News it addresses legal claims in the appropriate court. The IDF referred NBC News to the prime minister’s office, which did not immediately respond.

Gaza’s displaced residents fear returning to the north

Palestinians taking refuge at a camp on the edge of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip expressed deep concerns about returning to their homes in the north without a cease-fire.

Palestine Red Crescent Society says Israeli drone strikes near headquarters killed 5 people

Israeli drones struck an area of Khan Younis near the Al-Amal Hospital and Palestine Red Crescent Society headquarters, the group said today in series of posts on X.

The bombing in the southern Gaza Strip “resulted in five casualties and three injuries” among the 14,000 displaced individuals who have taken shelter at the PRCS premises and its adjacent hospital, the post said. A newborn “no older than a week” was among those killed, according to the PRCS.

The organization posted videos taken by volunteers to its social media account, which show a gaping hole in the side of the building and crews searching through the rubble for survivors. In one video, emergency crew members rush down the stairs to an ambulance, apparently transporting an injured patient, as other people also run out of the building in a panic.

NBC News could not independently verify the death toll or the details of the scenes shown in the videos.

7 Hamas members killed in Beirut strike, Hamas political leader says

Seven Hamas members were killed in the explosion earlier today in a suburb of Beirut, according to Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh. That total includes senior Hamas political leader Saleh al-Arouri.

Among the six others Haniyeh identified were two commanders of Hamas’ military wing, Samir Fendi and Azzam al-Aqra.

Lebanese and Iranian leaders, as well as Hamas, have accused Israel of carrying out the strike. But the IDF has not responded to a request for comment from NBC News, and IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari did not say during his news briefing today whether Israel was responsible.

Just 15% of Israelis polled chose Netanyahu when asked who they want as prime minister after war

The majority of Israelis would like someone other than Benjamin Netanyahu to be prime minister after the war ends, according to a new poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute.

The poll asked respondents an open question: “After the war, who would you like to be prime minister of Israel?” Just 15% listed Netanyahu.

Roughly a third of those surveyed either didn’t know who they would support, declined to answer, or said “no one.” Of the responses that did list a name, National Unity party leader Benny Gantz was the top pick, named by 23% of the participants.

At least 315 people killed while sheltering at U.N. locations in Gaza

At least 315 people have been killed sheltering at facilities run by the UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency, throughout Gaza since Oct. 7, according to a situational report.

More than 1,100 people have been injured at UNRWA facilities, the report said. The vast majority of Gaza’s population, 85%, has been displaced since the war began, and some families have had to flee more than once.

“In the past 3 months, international humanitarian law has been violated way too many times,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general, said in a post on X. “Civilian facilities including UN buildings are #NotATarget.”

Israeli Cabinet meeting postponed, official says

TEL AVIV — A meeting of the Israeli Cabinet that was scheduled for tonight has been postponed, an Israeli official confirmed to NBC News. The original plan called for the Cabinet to discuss what a post-Hamas Gaza could look like. 

The delay came after Israel was accused of a drone strike in a Beirut suburb that killed Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri. Israel has not yet commented on the explosion or whether it played a role.

According to the Israeli official, the war Cabinet will still convene tonight.

Adviser to Netanyahu says ‘whoever’ struck Beirut attacked Hamas, not ‘Lebanese state’

Mark Regev, adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that Israel has not taken responsibility for the strike near Beirut today that killed a Hamas leader.

Regev did not deny nor confirm whether Israel authorized the strike, but said it was a “surgical” hit on Hamas, rather than an attack on Lebanon.

“It is not an attack on the Lebanese state,” Regev said. “It was not an attack even on Hezbollah terrorist organization. Whoever did this, it is an attack on Hamas, that’s very clear.”

Lebanese prime minister accuses Israel of bringing Lebanon into war after Beirut strike

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati accused Israel of aiming to “bring Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations” in a statement in which he condemned a strike near Beirut that killed a senior Hamas leader.

According to Hamas, the explosion killed Saleh al-Arouri and two other members in a southern suburb of Beirut. Lebanese state news reported that six people died and several others were injured. Both blamed Israel for the strike; the IDF has not yet commented on it.

“This explosion is definitely an implication of Lebanon and a clear response to the efforts that we are making to remove the specter of the ongoing war in Gaza from Lebanon, and we call on the countries concerned to put pressure on Israel to stop its targeting,” Mikati said.

Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire at the border. However, Mikati noted the Lebanese government’s commitment to the United Nations resolution to cease hostilities between Israel and Lebanon.

“The decision to go to war is in the hands of Israel,” he said.

Hamas leader killed in drone strike in Beirut suburb

Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader, was killed in a drone strike today in a suburb of Beirut. Dr. Basem Naim, a Hamas official, confirmed the assassination to NBC News and said Israel was responsible.

Saleh Al-Arouri in Cairo
Saleh al-Arouri in Cairo in 2017. Ahmed Gamil / Getty Images file

The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lebanese state media reported that the Israeli military targeted a Hamas office in the area, killing six and injuring several others. It’s unclear whether al-Arouri was included in that death toll.

In a post on X, Danny Danon, a member of Israel’s right-wing Likud party, congratulated “the IDF, the Shin Bet, the Mossad and the security forces” for killing al-Arouri, according to an NBC News translation.

IDF and Hezbollah exchange fire

A Israel Defense Forces aircraft struck Hezbollah infrastructure in Lebanon today, the IDF said in a post on Telegram, adding it had identified two launches from the country toward northern Israel.

Sirens were sounded in northern Israel, the IDF said at 11:20 a.m. local time.

Soon after, Hezbollah said in a statement that it had struck an IDF command center in northern Israel with a combat drone and “hit its target accurately.” The group also alleged that it injured soldiers in a strike on IDF barracks, but the IDF has not reported casualties from Hezbollah attacks today.

U.S. has had ‘constructive discussions’ with Israel over post-war plans, official says

Israeli and American officials have had “constructive discussions” over the past few weeks about Israel’s plans for Gaza after it eradicates Hamas’ control over the Palestinian enclave, a U.S. official told NBC News.

The official would not comment on Israel’s internal deliberations but noted that any “day-after” scenario will be phased, with an immediate focus on stability and the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The American position is that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to be secure with equal measures of freedom and dignity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that the war is expected to last many months. Israel’s goal is still to destroy Hamas and ensure the group no longer has a foothold in Palestinian politics following its Oct. 7 attack.

Smoke billows over Khan Younis  in the southern Gaza strip during Israeli bombardment on Jan. 2, 2024.
Smoke billows over Khan Younis today in the southern Gaza strip during Israeli bombardment.AFP – Getty Images

Israeli Cabinet to discuss post-Hamas plans for Gaza

TEL AVIV — The full Israeli Cabinet is expected to meet to discuss plans for a post-Hamas Gaza, an Israeli official told NBC News. 

The government’s current plans involve local Gazan clans, rather than the Palestinian Authority, administering areas of the enclave, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Israel’s government has previously ruled out a role for the PA, which partially governs the occupied West Bank, in governing Gaza.

These clans would administer specific areas and take control of civilian needs, the official said. They would also be responsible for humanitarian aid in those areas, while preventing it from being stolen, the official added.  

The official said that Israel planned to set up a temporary security zone on Gaza’s perimeter. They added that Israel would insist on an inspection mechanism at the border between Egypt and Gaza, controlled by Israel on the Gazan side, to prevent weapons being smuggled into the enclave.

Gaza death toll passes 22,000, Health Ministry says

At least 22,185 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza Health Ministry said today, as Israel continues its military campaign in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Another 57,035 people have been injured, the Health Ministry added.

Palestinians receive bodies of deceased relatives from Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital
A relative of the Matar family mourns today as their bodies are taken from the morgue of Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Hospital for burial in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.Ashraf Amra / Anadolu via Getty Images

Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza

Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released on Jan. 2, 2024.
Israeli army via AFP – Getty Images

Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released today.

Israel vows to fight South Africa’s ‘blood libel’ genocide case

Israel will challenge at the United Nations’ highest court a case filed by South Africa accusing it of genocide against the Palestinians, a government spokesman has said.

Eylon Levy said that Israel would defend itself at the International Court of Justice, in the Dutch city of The Hague, against South Africa’s filing, which he called “an absurd blood libel” — referring to the ancient antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews use the blood of non-Jews for rituals.

South Africa, a staunch Israel critic, launched its case Friday, alleging that Israel’s actions after Oct. 7 were “genocidal in character” and asking for a court order to halt its military campaign in Gaza.

In response, Levy said South Africa was “criminally complicit,” that it has “openly aligned itself with the Hamas rapist regime,” and was “aiding and abetting that machinery of genocide.”

Risk of fatal diseases rampant in Gaza, U.N. agency warns

As hundreds of thousands people cram into already overwhelmed shelters in southern Gaza, the main United Nations agency for the Palestinian territories said today that the population is suffering from fatal diseases.

“Gazans can die very easily now because of the diseases spreading,” the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said in a post on X.

According to the agency’s estimates, more than a million people have been displaced into Rafah, a southern city that originally had a quarter of that population.

Displaced Palestinian children at a tent city in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Jan. 2, 2024.
Mohammed Talatene / dpa via Getty Images

Israel says it struck Syrian military targets in response to rockets

The IDF said this morning it struck Syrian military targets in response to yesterday’s launches.

IDF fighter jets also hit Hezbollah infrastructure in Lebanon, it said in a post on X.

“The IDF will continue to operate against any threat to Israel’s sovereignty,” said the post.  

Israel to pull some troops from Gaza in preparation for long war

TEL AVIV — Israel’s military launched new strikes against Gaza while also announcing it will begin withdrawing troops in the coming days. This comes amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran in the Red Sea. 

USS Gerald R. Ford leaves the Mediterranean Sea

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group will return to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia, the U.S. 6th Fleet said in a statement yesterday.

The ship was one of two groups deployed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, days after the Hamas attacks Oct. 7.

The strike group was “ordered to the eastern Mediterranean to contribute to our regional deterrence and defense posture,” the statement said.

It will return to its home port and prepare for any future deployments, the statement added.

Israel’s aircraft and tanks step up strikes in Gaza 

The IDF said today its forces had struck a number of militants planning to denotate explosives on its troops, as its naval, ground and aerial forces step up its assault in the Gaza Strip.

“IDF troops identified three terrorists in southern Gaza City entering a terrorist compound,” it said in a statement, adding a fighter jet then struck the location.

IDF forces also conducted a raid in the southern city of Khan Younis and located weaponry, it said, in addition to killing dozens of militants around Jabalia.

NBC News has not verified the claims.

A dog walks near Israeli battle tanks deployed at a position along the border with the Gaza Strip on Jan. 2, 2024.
A dog walks near Israeli battle tanks deployed at a position today along the border with the Gaza Strip.Jack Guez / AFP – Getty Images

Turkey detains 33 people suspected of spying for Israel’s Mossad, state media reports

Turkish authorities have detained 33 people suspected of carrying out espionage for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported today, adding that 13 others were being sought by police.

Anadolu said police had carried out simultaneous raids in 57 locations across eight provinces as part of an investigation that the counterterrorism bureau of the Istanbul prosecutor’s office had launched.

Without citing sources, it said the suspects were believed to be aiming to identify, monitor, assault and kidnap foreign nationals living in Turkey as part of “international espionage” operations.

Gazan children receive 600,000 vaccines but children’s agency warns more is needed

UNICEF, the United Nation’s children’s agency, said today it has delivered more than 600,000 vaccines doses to the Gaza Strip since the current war broke out in October, but has stressed that more is needed.

Almost 17,000 children have missed routine vaccinations in Gaza since Oct. 7, the agency said, “leaving their immunity compromised at a time of significant vulnerability.”

About 1.9 million people have been internally displaced within Gaza, according to the U.N., with severely limited access to fresh water, food and medical supplies. Before the war, child vaccination rates in Gaza had reached 99%.

“The conflict disrupted routine vaccinations and disease surveillance systems in recent weeks, increasing the risk of outbreaks of deadly but preventable diseases, such as measles and polio,” UNICEF said.

A new day begins in war-torn Gaza

The sun rises above the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

AFP – Getty Images

Catch up with NBC News’ recent coverage of the war


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