Israel-Gaza live updates: Hamas still has significant presence in Gaza, White House says

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(NEW YORK) — The temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel ended on Dec. 1, and Israel has resumed its bombardment of Gaza.

The end of the cease-fire came after Hamas freed over 100 of the more than 200 people its militants took hostage during the Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel. In exchange, Israel released more than 200 Palestinians from Israeli prisons.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jan 03, 3:21 PM EST
‘Hamas still has a significant force posture inside Gaza,’ White House says

The White House was pressed on Wednesday about how close Israel may be to its stated goal of eradicating Hamas, as the death count in Gaza surpasses 22,000.

Notably, White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby declined to give specific stats on damage done to Hamas but said, “Hamas still has a significant force posture inside Gaza.”

“We have estimates. I’m loath to put the numbers out there now because they are just estimates but Hamas still has a significant force posture inside Gaza,” he said in response to a question about how many more Hamas fighters are left.

He added that Israel has said they’ve been successful “against a range of leadership” and have “without question” had an effect on “Hamas’ ability to command and control itself, to resource itself, and quite frankly to lead their troops.”

But he wouldn’t give specifics on how many members of Hamas have been killed or any measures of progress that Israel has made.

“I’ve been trying real hard not to give them a report card here and I think that is a wise thing for us to do, is to refrain from analyzing and armchair-quarterbacking their military operations,” Kirby said.

Still, on multiple occasions, he was asked if Israel can still eradicate Hamas, which has been the country’s stated goal.

“It can be done militarily. Are you going to eliminate the ideology? No. And are you likely going to erase the group from existence? Probably not. But can you eliminate the threat that Hamas poses to the Israeli people? Absolutely,” Kirby said.

Jan 03, 1:38 PM EST
Hezbollah leader warns of response for killing of top Hamas official

The head of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassam Nasrallah, said in a speech Wednesday that the killing of deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri was a “serious and heinous crime that will not remain without response and punishment.”

“Whoever thinks about war with us will regret it and it will be costly,” al-Arouri said in Arabic.

Nasrallah said they did receive messages that the assassination of al-Arouri was “not targeting Lebanon and the southern suburbs.”

The speech Wednesday was the first time the leader of the Lebanese group has spoken since Nov. 3. It followed the death Tuesday of al-Arouri in a bombing.

Israel has not claimed responsibility, but Hamas and Hezbollah have pointed the blame.

ABC News’ Ghazi Balkiz and Ellie Kaufman

Jan 03, 1:01 PM EST
Israel says it dismantled tunnels under Al-Shifa Hospital

The Israeli army said in a release Wednesday it had destroyed Hamas’ tunnels underneath the Al-Shifa Hospital without causing damage to the hospital complex.

Israel said the tunnels under the hospital spanned over 250 meters and “led to a number of significant terrorist centers and was used for carrying out terrorist operations.” It added that humanitarian operations continued at the hospital.

Hamas, as well as doctors at the hospital, has denied that terrorists were operating from the hospital complex.

ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Jan 02, 3:42 PM EST
US denounces Israeli officials’ remarks on emigration from Gaza

The U.S. State Department is denouncing recent comments from Israel’s far right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich calling for the emigration of Palestinians from Gaza, calling the officials’ statements “inflammatory and irresponsible.”

“The United States rejects recent statements from Israeli Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza,” State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. “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.”

ABC News’ Shannon K. Crawford

Jan 02, 2:11 PM EST
Top Hamas leader killed in Beirut strike, official says

A top Hamas leader and at least five others were killed in a strike in Beirut on Tuesday, a Hamas official said.

The leader, identified by the official as Saleh Arouri, was second in command in Hamas and the head of Hamas in the West Bank.

Lebanese Security Services said six people were killed in the strike, which Hamas blamed on Israel.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson declined to comment on the incident, but told ABC News that Israel “is on high alert and prepared for any scenario.”

“I want to be clear we are focused on the fight against Hamas,” the spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, added.

Jan 02, 12:38 PM EST
Top Hamas leader killed in Beirut strike, official says

A top Hamas leader and at least five others were killed in a strike in Beirut on Tuesday, a Hamas official said.

The leader, identified by the official as Saleh Arouri, was second in command in Hamas and the head of Hamas in the West Bank.

Lebanese Security Services said six people were killed in the strike, which Hamas blamed on Israel.

ABC News did not immediately receive a response from Israeli officials on the incident.

The head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said Tuesday the militant group has sent its conditions for a truce to Egypt and Qatar.

In a statement, Haniyeh said the position “is based on a comprehensive cessation of aggression against our people.”

Jan 02, 11:53 AM EST
Maersk halts all transit through Red Sea

Maersk, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, has decided to pause all transit through the Red Sea “until further notice,” the company said Tuesday morning.

The company made the announcement in the wake of an attack on its vessel Maersk Hangzhou by small boats carrying Houthi militants on Sunday.

U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire and sank three of the four small boats, killing the crews, U.S. officials said. The fourth boat fled the area.

Sunday’s incident was the second time in 24 hours that the Hangzhou had issued a distress call, U.S. Navy officials said.

Houthi leaders have said they will not stop the Red Sea attacks until Israel ceases its assault in Gaza.

Jan 02, 10:46 AM EST
What we know about the conflict

The Israel-Hamas war is nearing the three-month mark.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 22,185 people have been killed and over 57,000 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and the Government Media Office.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

There has also been a surge in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have killed at least 297 people in the territory since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Jan 01, 8:31 PM EST
What we know about the conflict

The Israel-Hamas war is nearing the three-month mark.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 21,978 people have been killed and 57,697 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and the Government Media Office.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

There has also been a surge in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have killed at least 297 people in the territory since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Jan 01, 1:30 PM EST
Some Israeli communities near Gaza can return soon: Defense minister

Some communities in southern Israel near the Gaza border will be able to return soon, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant said Monday.

“In accordance with the recommendations given by the IDF and the defense establishment, we will soon be able to return [displaced] communities home, in areas within a range of four to seven kilometers north of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant said during an operational situation assessment held in Kibbutz Dorot.

Gallant said the “gradual return” will start with communities within seven kilometers, before moving on to the remaining communities.

Earlier Monday, Gallant toured the kibbutz and discussed the security measures required for the return of its residents.

Jan 01, 10:29 AM EST
Israel to move some troops out of Gaza, IDF announces

The IDF announced Monday it is adjusting deployment plans for forces in Gaza and the reserve system.

Some reservists will return to their families and employment, while others will return to scheduled training. The IDF says this is expected “to significantly alleviate economic burdens and enable them to gather strength for upcoming activities in the next year, as the fighting will persist, and their services will still be needed.”

“These adaptations aim to ensure effective planning and preparation for the continuation of operations in 2024” in anticipation of further warfare into the year, according to the IDF statement.

Dec 31, 4:47 PM EST
IDF says it expects war to last all of 2024

The war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group is expected to last all of 2024, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a statement that the Israeli military is making adjustments to its deployment of troops in the Gaza Strip as it anticipates the war lasting for the entirety of 2024.

“We are adjusting the fighting methods to each area in Gaza, as well as the necessary forces to carry out the mission in the best way possible,” Hagari said. “Each area has different characteristics and different operational needs.”

Hagari added that as 2024 begins, “The goal of the war requires lengthy fighting, and we are prepared accordingly.”

The Israeli military, according to Hagari, will be carrying out “smart” management of its forces in Gaza, allowing reservists to return home to help boost the economy, and allowing standing army troops to train to become commanders.

“It will result in considerable relief for the economy, and will allow them to gain strength for operations next year, and the fighting will continue and we will need them,” Hagari said.

He said the adjustments are necessary for the IDF to endure the long road ahead.

“The IDF needs to plan ahead, out of the understanding that we will be needed for additional missions and continued fighting during the entire coming year,” Hagari said.

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