Regional tensions continue to flare as the two-day truce extension is set to expire early Thursday.
Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
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Live updates (all times EDT):
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023
7:55 pm: Democrats split on conditioning Israel aid ahead of war’s next phase
A growing number of Senate Democrats are voicing concern over how Israel is using US military aid to fight Hamas, underscoring a divide within the party over how the United States should respond to Israel’s deadly bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Since Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks killed some 1,200 people in Israel, the White House has rushed military aid to its closest ally in the Middle East, including offensive munitions and replacement interceptors for its Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. Elizabeth Hagedorn reports.
5:30 pm: Blinken arrives in Israel
Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel Wednesday on his fourth visit to the country since Oct. 7. He is expected to meet with Israeli leaders and participate in a meeting of the war cabinet.
At his meetings, Blinken is set to discuss extending the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas and expanding humanitarian aid to Gaza. After Israel, he will travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden welcomed the release of Israeli-American hostage Liat Atzili from Gaza, saying she was now safe and will soon be united with her children.
4:16 pm: 10 Israeli, 4 Thai hostages freed from Gaza, 31 Palestinian prisoners released
Ten Israelis and four Thai nationals kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7 and held hostage in the Gaza Strip were freed and handed over to Red Cross agents, the Israeli military said Wednesday night, adding that they would soon arrive on Israeli soil. Meanwhile, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry announced that 16 Palestinian minors and 14 women held in Israeli prisons were being released Wednesday night as part of the temporary Israel-Hamas truce negotiated by Qatar.
Earlier in the evening, two Israeli-Russian women were liberated from captivity in what Hamas called a "gesture" to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
3:00 pm: Two Palestinian children killed in Israeli raid in Jenin
Two Palestinian children were killed by the Israeli military in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority said, as violence continues to wreak havoc in the occupied Palestinian territory, leaving more than 240 killed since the Gaza war. Adam Lucente reports.
2:30 pm: Meet Israeli activist Maoz Inon, who lost parents in Hamas attack and now calls for peace
Moaz Inon has emerged as a champion for peace between Israelis and the Palestinians in the aftermath of the Hamas attack that killed his own parents on Oct. 7. Rina Bassist reports.
12:15 pm: 2 Israeli-Russian hostages released by Hamas
Israeli Russian Yelena Trupanov, 50, and her mother, Irena Tati, 73, were both released by Hamas and handed over to Red Cross agents in what the group called a “gesture” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. They should soon be transported to the Rafah crossing point in Egypt, and from there to Israel. Yelena and Irena were both kidnapped Oct. 7 from their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Yelena’s husband, Vitaly, was killed during the attack. Her son, Sasha, and his girlfriend, Sapir Cohen, are still hostages in Gaza. Ten Israeli women and children are expected to be released this evening in the framework of the Qatar-mediated Israel-Hamas deal.
12:00 pm: 12 Israeli hostages handed over to Red Cross, Israeli public broadcaster says
Another 12 Israeli hostages held in Gaza, including five children and seven women, were handed over from Hamas to Red Cross personnel, reports Israel’s public broadcaster Kan. According to the report, the hostages were handed over in the south of the Gaza Strip, east of the city of Khan Yunis. The hostages will now be transferred to Egypt's Rafah crossing point, where Israeli security officials await them.
Two of the women are reportedly Israelis with Russian citizenship who were not released as part of the Qatar-mediated deal between Israel and Hamas, but as a gesture by Hamas to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
11:30 am: Israel investigates Hamas claim that kidnapped Bibas family dead
Israel is investigating claims made by Hamas on Wednesday that members of the Bibas family — including 10-month-old Kfir, 4-year-old Ariel and their mother Shiri — who were abducted from their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7, were killed in an Israeli airstrike. Kfir is the youngest hostage being held in the Gaza Strip. His father Yarden was also abducted by Hamas, but no information has emerged on his situation.
“Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip,” said Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying the premier spoke with relatives of the Bibas family and informed them that the issue is being investigated by Israeli security agencies.
10:35 am: French envoy in Lebanon amid Israel-Hezbollah tension
French presidential envoy for Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian began a visit to Beirut on Wednesday as part of France’s efforts to fill the presidential void, now in its second year, and amid growing concerns of a second front erupting with Israel on Lebanon’s southern border.
Le Drian’s tour in Beirut coincides with heightened tensions in the south of the country, where Iran-backed Hezbollah has been engaged in heavy cross-border fire with Israeli forces since the Hamas-Israel war erupted Oct. 7, despite a lull since a temporary truce began in Gaza last Friday. Beatrice Farhat reports.
6:00 am: Erdogan slams Netanyahu as 'butcher of Gaza'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the butcher of Gaza,” adding in an address to members of his ruling party at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara that the Israeli premier has "committed one of the greatest atrocities of the last century in Gaza." Al-Monitor’s Ezgi Akin reports from Istanbul.
3:40 am: Israeli army fires at Lebanese military patrol in south Lebanon
Israeli soldiers stationed at al-Abad military site in northern Israel opened fire toward a military vehicle belonging to the Lebanese army in the town of Houla in south Lebanon, the official WAFA news agency reported. The Lebanese army was patrolling near a UNIFIL-controlled site. No injuries were reported. The Israel-Lebanon border had been the scene of intense cross-border fire between Israeli forces and Iran-backed Hezbollah since the Israel-Hamas war erupted Oct. 7 before a pause in the fighting was announced last Friday.
3:20 am: Hamas says willing to extend cease-fire by 4 days
A source close to Hamas told news agency AFP the organization is willing to extend the current temporary truce by an additional four days. No comment has yet been made on the Israeli side. The initial four-day truce has already been extended by two days. Hamas is expected to release 10 Israeli hostages Wednesday evening in exchange for the release of 30 Palestinians from Israeli jails. Senior Hamas official Mousa Abou Marzouk said the organization will also release Russian hostages out of appreciation for the positions espoused by President Vladimir Putin, reports Ynet.
2:00 am: Israeli navy strikes Gaza coast amid truce
Israeli warships shelled the coast of Khan Yunis, Al-Shati and Sheikh Radwan in the Gaza Strip, according to the official WAFA news agency. Several homes were hit but no casualties were reported. The attacks coincide with the sixth and last day of a truce between Hamas and Israel, during which hostages and Palestinian prisoners were released. Hamas is reportedly willing to extend the truce by an additional four days.
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