Israel-Hamas conflict: IDF widens offensive, orders evacuations

Israel says it has intensified its offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, as international concern grows over mounting civilian casualties

Israel has expanded its offensive in Gaza following the expiry of a seven-day truce last week. (photo: DW)
Israel has expanded its offensive in Gaza following the expiry of a seven-day truce last week. (photo: DW)


  • Israel has said it is expanding its ground offensive in 'all of the Gaza Strip'

  • The Israeli military has issued fresh evacuation orders for 20 areas of the city of Khan Younis

  • The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza has said the death toll has reached 15,889

  • Germany has urged Israel to protect civilians in Gaza

US sees 'improvement' in Israel's method of warning

The US has renewed a call for Israel to protect civilians since the expansion of its ground operation to include the entire Gaza Strip.

State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said it was "too early to make a definitive assessment" but noted a difference in Israel's tactics.

"We've seen a much more targeted request for evacuations," Miller told a daily press briefing.

Miller said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was identifying "specific neighborhoods where they plan to conduct military operations," rather than giving instructions to an entire city to leave their homes.

"So that is an improvement on what's happened before," Miller said.

Israel raises travel warnings in 80 countries

Israel changed the threat levels for travel to no less than 80 countries on Monday, 4 December.

The country's National Security Council (NSC) took the decision to raise threat levels for many in countries in Western Europe, including Britain, France and Germany from level one to level two and a recommendation to "exercise increased precaution."

Threat levels were also changed in various African states including South Africa and Eritrea which were raised to level three, with a recommendation to "reconsider non-essential travel to these countries."

The NSC said that since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, it had identified increased efforts by Iran and its proxies to harm Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.

"At the same time, there is a constant and significant rise in incitement, attempted attacks and manifestations of antisemitism in many countries," it said.

The NSC advised postponing travel to countries for which warnings had been issued, "particularly Arab and Middle Eastern countries, the North Caucasus, countries bordering Iran and several Muslim countries in Asia."

The NSC cautioned Israeli citizens traveling abroad to avoid "openly displaying your Israeli and Jewish identities."

UN says 80% of Gazan population has been internally displaced

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Monday that close to 1.9 million people across Gaza have been displaced since October 7.

That is equivalent to 80% of the population.

Of those who had been forced to leave their homes, 1.2 million people had sought shelter in just 156 UNRWA facilities.

"The average number of IDPs [internally displaced persons] in UNRWA shelters is 10,326, more than four times their capacity," the agency said in its report.

The UNRWA facilities were also not spared the violence, with 30 installations being directly hit and 55 sustaining damage. It did not say who was responsible for the strikes.

Some 111 UNRWA workers have also been killed in Gaza since the conflict broke out following Hamas' terror attacks on October 7.

The figures provided by UNRWA were valid as of December 2.

Iran is 'pulling the strings' amid fears of wider West Asia conflict, expert tells DW

Interventions and attempted attacks on Israeli and international assets by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea are a sign that Iran is trying to influence the conflict in the region indirectly, according to West Asia expert Daniel Gerlach.

"Tehran is pulling the strings," he told DW, estimating that Iran is ultimately using the Houthi regime as a useful puppet for its own ends.

Gerlach, editor-in-chief at the German West Asia magazine zenith, said that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels are weak and their involvement is more symbolic, but he added it is also a sign Iran is trying to influence the conflict.

"Iran wants to shift the conflict away from the Persian Gulf area where it's about to normalize [relations] with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states," he explained, saying that the Bab-el-Mandeb strait between Yemen and the Horn of Africa would be ideal.

Red Cross chief says suffering 'intolerable' after arriving in Gaza

The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric, arrived in Gaza on Monday.

"I have arrived in Gaza, where people’s suffering is intolerable," she wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

"I repeat our urgent call for civilians to be protected in line with the laws of war and for aid to enter unimpeded."

The ICRC has played a key role in securing the release of hostages held by Islamist militants Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and Israel among others — as well as Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

However, the organization has also faced criticism from both sides for not doing enough to help the hostages and prisoners.

Spoljaric's visit — which will see her also visit Israel — comes shortly after a weeklong truce collapsed and fighting resumed.

"The last week provided a small degree of humanitarian respite, a positive glimpse of humanity that raised hopes around the world that a path to reduced suffering could now be found," Spoljaric said in the statement.

"As a neutral actor, the ICRC stands ready to support further humanitarian agreements that reduce suffering and heartbreak."

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip on Monday said 15,899 people have been killed in the Palestinian enclave since the start of the conflict.

Erdogan says Netanyahu will be 'tried as war criminal'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would eventually be tried as a war criminal over Israel's ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Turkey, which supports a two-state solution, has heavily criticized Israel over the war with Islamist militant group Hamas.

Authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza say more than 15,500 Palestinians have been killed in the violence.

In a speech to a meeting of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee in Istanbul, Erdogan claimed that Gaza is Palestinian land and will always belong to the Palestinians.

"Beyond being a war criminal, Netanyahu, who is the butcher of Gaza right now, will be tried as the butcher of Gaza," Erdogan said.

"Those who try to skip over the deaths of all those innocent people by using the excuse of Hamas have nothing left to say to humanity," he added.

Unlike most of its Western allies, NATO member Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist group.

Second group of released Thai hostages return home

Six more Thai hostages who were released by militant Islamist group Hamas have returned to Thailand, the Thai Foreign Ministry said.

The released hostages were welcomed with hugs from their families at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport.

"I'm glad to be back," 40-year-old Owat Suriyasri said, expressing gratitude to Israel and Thailand for securing their release.

The arrivals follow the return of 17 other Thai hostages who were released last week. In total, 32 Thai laborers were taken to Gaza by Hamas on October 7. Another 39 were killed.

Nine more Thais are believed to be among the hostages still being held in Gaza.

Before the conflict, some 30,000 Thai laborers were working in the Israeli agricultural sector.

Netanyahu's corruption trial resumes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial resumed on Monday, after a hiatus prompted by the war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

The trial was put on hold following the October 7 terror attack by Hamas, which killed 1,200 people during a rampage in Israel.

Netanyahu is on trial for alleged fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases involving powerful media moguls and wealthy associates.

Netanyahu, Israel's first sitting prime minister to stand trial, denies any wrongdoing.

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Published: 05 Dec 2023, 8:33 AM