December 3, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Heather Chen, Andrew Raine, Maureen Chowdhury and Antoinette Radford, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, December 4, 2023
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10:37 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

Israeli security chief vows to eliminate Hamas around the world

From Tamar Michaels and CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

Israel's top domestic security official Ronen Bar said Israel is determined to eliminate Hamas all around the world even if it takes years, according to a recording aired by Israel's public broadcaster Kan on Sunday.

"The cabinet set us a goal. In the words of the street, it is to eliminate Hamas. And we are determined to do it. This is our Munich. Everywhere: in Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, everywhere," Shin Bet chief said. 

Bar is the director of the Israeli Security Agency, also known as Shin Bet which is Israel’s domestic security agency, tasked with combating terrorism.

Bar's mention of Munich is a reference to Israel's targeted assassination campaign against Black September operatives and organizers, following the Palestinian terrorist group's deadly attacks against Israelis at the 1972 Olympics in the German city.

"It will take a few years, but we will be there to do it. The security responsibility is ours. Our duty is to provide both security and a sense of security," he said, adding, "Unfortunately, on October 7 we were unable to do it. I think we are on the rise. We are not waiting. We are already drawing our lessons from the events."
7:36 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

Qatari prime minister stresses need for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani attends a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on November 29.
Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani attends a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on November 29. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday and discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories, emphasizing the need for de-escalation and a ceasefire, the country’s state news agency said.

The prime minister reaffirmed Qatar's commitment, alongside its mediation partners, to ongoing efforts aimed at restoring calm to the region. Last month, Qatar brokered a deal between Israel, Hamas and Egypt, in coordination with the United States, to release foreign nationals and critically injured Palestinian civilians from Gaza to Egypt, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Smoke billows after Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, as seen from southern Israel, on December 3.
Smoke billows after Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, as seen from southern Israel, on December 3. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images 

On Sunday, the prime minister expressed concern that the continuation of bombings in the Gaza Strip after that humanitarian pause complicates mediation endeavors and worsens the humanitarian crisis.

Al-Thani conveyed Qatar's unwavering condemnation of all forms of targeting civilians, particularly women and children, emphasizing that actions such as these, including the policy of collective punishment, are unacceptable under any circumstances.

According to the statement, the prime minister underscored the urgent requirement for opening humanitarian corridors to ensure the safe passage of relief and aid to Palestinians affected by the ongoing conflict.

9:52 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

Hamas commander killed in airstrike, IDF says

From CNN's Heather Law and Tamar Michaelis

Israel has "eliminated" the commander of Hamas' Shati Battalion in an airstrike by a fighter jet on Sunday, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari in a Sunday press conference.

The commander was responsible for carrying out raids into Israeli territory in the October 7 attack, Hagari said.

"Following IDF and ISA intelligence, an IDF fighter jet struck and killed Haitham Khuwajari, the Commander of Hamas’ Shati Battalion. Under his command, Hamas terrorists carried out raids into Israeli territory on October 7th during the invasion and massacre in southern Israel," a joint statement from the IDF and the Israel Security Agency that followed the press conference read.

The statement also said Khuwajarai "was in command of Hamas' forces fighting against IDF soldiers in the Shati area."

The IDF took control of Al-Shati refugee camp located in the northern Gaza strip in mid-November. 

Israel's military says they will "continue to pursue the site and eliminate each of the commanders who command the area under their control as [the IDF] did yesterday in the Sajaya Battalion."

4:08 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

Israel is expanding its ground operations to whole of Gaza strip, IDF says

From Tamar Michaelis

Israeli military tanks maneuver near the border with Gaza on Sunday, December 3.
Israeli military tanks maneuver near the border with Gaza on Sunday, December 3. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel is expanding its ground operations to the whole of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Sunday.

"The IDF is resuming and expanding the ground operation against Hamas’ strongholds across the whole Gaza Strip," IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a news conference Sunday.

Hagari also underlined "the importance of air assistance provided by the Air Force to ground forces," saying airstrikes against terror headquarters, weapons manufacturing facilities, terror tunnels, and rocket launching sites limit the threats posed against the ground operation.

"Our policy is clear — we will forcefully strike any threat posed against our territory," he added. 

3:57 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

Israel targets Jabalya refugee camp again on Sunday

From CNN's Jennifer Z. Deaton, Hande Atay Alam and Celine Alkhaldi 

In this still from video obtained by Reuters, smoke fills the air in Jabalya, Gaza, on Sunday, December 3.
In this still from video obtained by Reuters, smoke fills the air in Jabalya, Gaza, on Sunday, December 3. (Obtained by Reuters)

Renewed strikes hit the Jabalya refugee camp on Sunday, as seen in verified videos from the scene as well as in reporting by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa. 

The CNN-obtained video shows huge plumes of smoke filling the skyline after the Sunday strike.  

A separate video released by Reuters news agency shows two tearful young boys searching frantically through the rubble for their father and brother, missing after the airstrike.

"My father's been killed," cries this boy after a strike on the Jabalya refugee camp Sunday.

Israel also targeted Jabalya on Saturday, killing prominent Palestinian scientist Sufyan Tayeh, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.  

CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Israel issued online warnings saying the military had resumed "working forcefully against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip."  IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee posted on X, "To the residents of Jabalia, Al-Shuja’iya, Al-Zaytoun, and the Old City of Gaza - in order to preserve your safety, we call on you to evacuate your homes immediately."

It is unknown if residents in Jabalya camp have internet access to see the warnings from the IDF. 

1:03 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

871 dual nationals crossed border from Gaza into Egypt this weekend, official says

From Asmaa Khalil in Rafah, Lina Wardani in Cairo and CNN's Abeer Salman in Jerusalem

More than 850 dual nationals crossed the border from Gaza into Egypt on Saturday and Sunday, through the Rafah border crossing, according to an Egyptian official at the border. 

Of the 871 who crossed into Egypt, the Palestinian dual nationals included 17 American citizens and 130 Turkish citizens.

They also included dual nationals of Egypt, South Africa, Germany, Canada, Australia and Denmark, the official told CNN. 

An additional 13 wounded Palestinians were also evacuated through the Rafah border crossing this weekend to receive medical care in Egypt, an official at the border said. 

The official added that an aid convoy also crossed into Gaza.  

The Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza said it received 100 humanitarian aid trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent on Sunday. 

The trucks passed through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into Gaza, the Palestinian Red Crescent said. The aid convoy contains food, water, relief assistance, medical supplies and medicines. 

12:36 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

IDF orders people to evacuate more areas in southern Gaza

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasová with previous reporting from Celine Alkhaldi

Displaced Palestinians arrive at a camp near Rafah, Gaza, on December 3.
Displaced Palestinians arrive at a camp near Rafah, Gaza, on December 3. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told civilians to leave large swaths of the Gaza Strip, including number of neighborhoods in southern parts of the enclave, after it resumed its military offensive there.

Earlier on Sunday, the IDF told people to evacuate several areas southeast of Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza where many have looked for shelter in recent weeks. 

The IDF told people to move further south.

“For your safety, we invite you to move to the well-known IDP shelters in the neighborhoods of Al-Fukhari, Al-Shaboura, Al-Zuhur, and Tal Al-Sultan,” the IDF said in a statement published on social media in Arabic. `

It is not clear how many people in Gaza have access to social media because electricity and internet access are unreliable due to the war. 

Later on Sunday, the IDF also instructed people to leave some areas in northern Gaza, including Jabalya, Shejaiya, Zaytoun and the Old City of Gaza. Many of the areas have been previously targeted by heavy IDF strikes. 

The IDF released a new map of Gaza on Friday, dividing the strip of land into hundreds of numbered sectors that it called “evacuation zones.”

It said it would use the map to advise people to evacuate civilian areas where it says Hamas has placed military infrastructure.

The IDF also dropped leaflets in areas of southern Gaza which included a QR code that connects to the map when scanned — if users have internet access, which is very spotty in Gaza.

CNN’s attempts to contact people in Khan Younis to ask if they had seen the map were unsuccessful on Saturday and Sunday due to the poor communication links. 

The UN estimates that up to 1.8 million people in Gaza, or nearly 80 percent of the population, are internally displaced, having already had to leave their homes.

12:33 p.m. ET, December 3, 2023

US urges greater civilian protection in Gaza as Israel launches overnight strikes. Here's the latest

From CNN Staff

A Palestinian man inspects destruction caused by air strikes on December 3, in Khan Younis, Gaza.
A Palestinian man inspects destruction caused by air strikes on December 3, in Khan Younis, Gaza. Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says fighter jets and helicopters struck targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including tunnel shafts, command centers and weapons storage facilities. 

Hamas militants were targeted and killed by an IDF drone operating on the direction of ground troops, the military said.

Meanwhile, the US has stepped up pressure on Israel to do more to protect civilians following the resumption of combat operations in Gaza.

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed at least 15,207 people and injured at least 40,652 others, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, said on Saturday. At least 70% of those killed were women and children.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed on Saturday that the country's support for Israel is “not negotiable” in remarks at a forum in California — but also emphasized that the protection of civilians in Gaza is crucial to Israel’s long-term success against Hamas.

Here's a look at more headlines from today:

Israeli soldiers killed: Israel says two more soldiers have died in their offensive in the Gaza Strip. Several others were “lightly injured” as a result of an anti-tank missile being fired toward an IDF vehicle in Beit Hillel in Northern Israel. 

UK sends flights: The United Kingdom will fly surveillance aircraft over Gaza to help Israel locate the hostages taken by Hamas in the 7 October attacks. The UK government said it has been working with other countries “to secure the release of hostages, including British nationals, who have been kidnapped."

IDF destroys tunnels: The IDF said it has destroyed about 500 Hamas tunnels in Gaza during its offensive. It also claimed it has located more than 800 tunnel shafts in the Palestinian enclave, claiming many of the tunnel shafts "were located in civilian areas" and inside civilian structures. 

Netanyahu demands investigation: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday has called for a “thorough inquiry” into the fatal shooting of Yuval Doron Castleman, the civilian who responded to Thursday’s Jerusalem shooting attack and was himself shot and killed, apparently by a soldier who also responded.

Israel peace activists reconsider position: When human rights activist Ziv Stahl was awakened to the booms of rocket fire on October 7, while staying at her sister’s home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, she did not for a moment anticipate the scale of the terrorist attack unfolding around her. Nor did she imagine the horror she would feel when she later called the police, who “basically told me no one is coming.” Read the full story here.

11:41 a.m. ET, December 3, 2023

GOP senator rejects defense secretary's argument that more civilian casualties in Gaza could worsen insurgency

From CNN’s Avery Lotz

US Sen. Lindsey Graham and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
US Sen. Lindsey Graham and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Getty Images

US Sen. Lindsey Graham rejected Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s contention that further civilian casualties in Gaza could produce even more insurgents and replace “a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.”

The Republican senator went on to characterize Austin as “naive," saying he has “lost all confidence” in him.

“Strategic defeat would be inflaming the Palestinians? They’re already inflamed. They are taught from the time they’re born to hate the Jews and to kill them," Graham claimed on CNN — calling on Austin to “Quit criticizing Israel in public.”

“Secretary Austin is telling Israel things that are impossible to achieve,” Graham said. “Secretary Austin, the reason Palestinians are dying: Gaza is so condensed, Hamas has tunnels under apartments, under schools, under hospitals.”

Graham added that he understands the theory of what retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal has called “insurgent math,” an idea that collateral civilian death in warfare can be a catalyst for creating insurgents, but argued Gaza’s population “has been radicalized for decades.”

“Do you know what they teach in the schools?” Graham questioned. "The idea that somehow we’re or Israel is radicalizing the people in Gaza is ridiculous'"

“If we were attacked like this, which we were in 9/11, if somebody called for us within two months to have a ceasefire against al-Qaeda, we would’ve laughed them out of town, we would have run them out of town,” he said, also criticizing Vice President Kamala Harris’ Saturday statement that “too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.” 

“Vice President Harris, tell Israel how to destroy Hamas in a way not to hurt innocent Palestinians, and I'll pass it along,” he said. “No Republican believes this, by the way,” he added. “No Republican is telling Israel to change your military tactics.”

Aid for Israel: Meanwhile, said he would not vote for a bill to aid Israel and Ukraine if US immigration restrictions he and his GOP colleagues have advocated for are not included in the proposed legislation.

“I think there are votes for Israel apart from the package,” he contended. “Republicans overwhelmingly support Israel — so do most Democrats. Republicans are divided on Ukraine.”