As Israel deepens its campaign in the southern Gaza Strip with "the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation,” its Arrow defense system reportedly intercepted a missile and the US Navy reported shooting down another drone from Yemen’s Houthis.
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, Dec. 6, 2023
5:00 pm: Israeli cabinet approves expanded fuel delivery to Gaza Strip
Israel’s security cabinet approved a “minimal” increase in fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night, read a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding that the decision had been made to "prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of diseases in the Gaza Strip." The extent of the increase, it read, will be determined and updated by Israel's war cabinet based on the sanitary and humanitarian situations in the Gaza Strip. Haaretz reported that far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir voted against the decision.
4:00 pm: UN chief invokes Article 99 over humanitarian 'catastrophe' in Gaza
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter on Wednesday, a rare move that enjoined members of the Security Council to address what he described as a “severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system” in Gaza.
In a letter to current UN Security Council President Jose Javier De la Gasca Lopez Dominguez, Guterres wrote, “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.”
Article 99 allows the UN secretary-general to bring the attention of the security council to “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Guterres added that the UN is “preparing options for monitoring the implementation” of Security Council Resolution 2712, which states that all parties must adhere to international law in the conflict, as well as called for extended pauses and the release of hostages.
“I urge the members of the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. I reiterate my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” Guterres wrote.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, slammed Guterres’ move as “more proof of the Secretary-General’s moral distortion and his bias against Israel.”
“The Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire is actually a call to keep Hamas’ reign of terror in Gaza,” Erdan posted on X, renewing his call for Guterres to resign.
2:30 pm: US Justice Department investigates deaths of Americans killed, kidnapped by Hamas
The US Department of Justice is investigating the murder and kidnapping of Americans during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel under a war crimes law that is also now being used to charge four Russian soldiers with torturing an American during Russia’s war in Ukraine, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday.
“Hamas murdered more than 30 Americans and kidnapped more,” Garland said. “We are investigating those heinous crimes and we will hold those people accountable.”
12:52 pm: US Navy sends two replacement destroyers to eastern Mediterranean
The US Navy this week dispatched two destroyers to the eastern Mediterranean on rotation “as part of deterrence efforts in the region,” a defense official speaking not for attribution told Al-Monitor.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Delbert D. Black and USS The Sullivans left port in Florida on Dec. 1 and 3, respectively, and are expected to relieve the destroyers USS Thomas Hudner and USS Mason, which are currently off the Middle East, a defense official told Al-Monitor.
The rotation comes as the Pentagon seeks to sustain a significant buildup of US military forces in the region to dissuade Iran-backed groups from exploiting the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
The Pentagon is seeking allied assistance to bolster security in Middle Eastern waterways following attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
12:10 pm: Pentagon confirms US warship shot down another Houthi drone in Red Sea
A US Navy destroyer shot down another Houthi drone in the southern Red Sea on Wednesday morning, two Pentagon officials confirmed to Al-Monitor.
The USS Mason shot down a drone around 10:20 a.m. local time, one of the officials said, adding that there was no damage to the US ship or its crew. A second defense official said it was unclear whether the Mason was the target of the drone.
The latest downing comes just three days after Houthis launched a ballistic missile attack on three commercial cargo vessels, prompting the United States to call on allies to redouble coalition efforts to secure shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
6:38 am: Arrow defense system intercepts missile heading for Eilat
Israel’s Arrow long-range missile defense system intercepted a surface-to-surface missile aimed at Israel’s southern city of Eilat, said military spokesperson Daniel Hagari. "The interception took place in the Red Sea, and the missile didn't enter Israel's territory or pose a threat to Israeli civilians," he stated.
5:45 am: Iraqi militias claim more strikes on US forces
The Islamic Resistance of Iraq said it had hit the Harir air base, which hosts US forces in northern Iraq, in a drone attack. Earlier, the umbrella group of Iran-linked militias said it had hit US forces at the Ain al-Asad base with a drone. US forces in Iraq and Syria have been the target of at least 78 such attacks since Oct. 17. The Islamic Resistance of Iraq says the strikes are in response to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.
4:40 am: Israeli military uncovers largest ammunition cache so far in Gaza
The Israeli military discovered one of the largest caches of weapons yet during its operations in northern Gaza, said Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari. “All of the terror infrastructure was found near civilian buildings in the heart of the civilian population. This is further proof of the cynical use that the Hamas terror organization makes of the residents of the Gaza Strip as a human shield,” said Hagari. The cache, located near a health clinic and a school, was said to include explosives, anti-tank missiles, long-range rockets and grenades. Some of the ordnance was disposed of on site and some sent for further investigation.
4:00 am: Turkey’s Erdogan warns Israel of 'heavy price' for chasing Hamas in Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered a strong warning to Israel following Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar’s comments about chasing down Hamas leaders in Turkey, saying it will pay a “heavy price” if it does so.
“They will pay a very, very heavy price for this,” he said. “If they dare to take such a step against Turkey, they will pay the price in a way that [they] will not be able to get back on their feet again. Those who attempt such a thing should remember that the consequences can be extremely serious.” Ezgi Akin reports.
2:22 am: Dozens killed across Gaza in ongoing Israeli bombardment
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed as Israel ramps up its bombardment of various areas across the Gaza Strip, WAFA, the Palestinian news agency, reported. The Israeli military has intensified its attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp, which it claims houses a Hamas command center. According to WAFA, the army dropped white phosphorus munitions in the center of the camp and bombed a school where people were sheltering, killing dozens, including women and children. Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli army said its forces had raided a Hamas general security headquarters in Jabalia and seized weapons and intelligence. Heavy strikes were also reported in Gaza City and Khan Yunis in the south. According to unofficial data cited by WAFA, about 16,250 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.
1:30 am: Iran-linked group claims drone attack against Iraqi base housing US troops
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iraqi armed factions with close ties to Iran, claimed to have hit the Ain al-Assad air base, housing US forces in Iraq’s western Anbar province. In a statement on its Telegram channel, the group said the attack was in response to the US support for Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip. US military positions in Syria and Iraq have come under a series of attacks by Iran-backed groups since the Hamas-Israel war erupted. On Sunday, US Central Command said five militants who were preparing to launch a drone attack near Kirkuk had been killed.
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