Biden criticizes Netanyahu; U.S. votes against U.N. cease-fire resolution

‘God help us’: Displaced Gazans who fled bombardment now face health crisis in a makeshift tent city

TEL AVIV — Women, children and the elderly are among the thousands of displaced people living in a huge, makeshift tent city sprawled across the desert in southern Gaza.

Some live in unfinished concrete structures, others are sheltering under plastic sheets and tents. Laundry is done in buckets. Cooking, outside on makeshift, wood-fired metal stoves. Many walked miles to get to the camp on the outskirts of the city of Rafah, the blisters on their feet still visible from perilous journeys amid regular Israeli bombardment, the trauma etched on their faces.

Fifteen-year-old Rohifa Ramza Baker told an NBC News crew earlier this week that she wondered whether it would be better “for me to die here instead of living this black life.”

“This is our life. We are living in a tent at the Egyptian border,” she said. “May God help us. May God help us.”

Read the full story here.

In a makeshift tent city three miles from southern Gaza’s border with Egypt, thousands of displaced Gazans are running from bombs dropped on the strip by Israel. This is where the Israeli Defense Forces say they should be safe.

While they bathe in plastic buckets, dirty water could become the next “big killer” in Gaza. Dr. Ahmed Al-Farah said his hospital is overrun with some of the “most serious gastroenteritis” cases they’ve ever seen due to lack of sanitation and filthy water.

Children line the hallways of the hospital, waiting to be seen. One mother describes her son’s condition: diarrhea, stomach poisoning and flu like symptoms.

For others who have been displaced, medication is running out as they worry if they’ll have somewhere to return to once the bombs stop falling.

Israel’s army website hacked by a pro-Palestinian group

JERUSALEM — Israel’s army website was briefly hacked today by a pro-Palestinian group that warned of more attacks against Israeli forces, including further cyberattacks. The army confirmed the hack.

In a short letter that covered the main page of the Israeli army website, the group, calling itself “Anonymous Jo,” said the military’s “arrogance and injustice toward our people in Gaza will only harm you through terror, killing and war, whether by land, air or electronically.”

The letter went on to call for the “liberation of Palestine.” Little is known about Anonymous Jo, although the group or individual behind the attack indicated that they are of Jordanian origin.

“From your brothers in Jordan to our people in Gaza and Palestine,” one of the lines read. Jordan, which borders the occupied West Bank, has a large Palestinian population and the public is very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

IDF spokesperson says military is ‘creative’ in damaging Hamas tunnels

The Israeli military will use a “creative variety of ways” to destroy Hamas tunnels, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said during a briefing today after being asked directly whether the military was flooding tunnels.

“Some of these ways are tactical activity, using some kind of tool to get the terrorists out of the tunnels and some permanent destruction so that the tunnel cannot function,” Hagari said. “The more ways the better, it is wrong to give the enemy the information where and in what place.”

A U.S. official told NBC News yesterday that the Israeli military began using seawater to flood underground tunnels, where it is believed Hamas leadership is hiding. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

NBC News previously reported that Israel was considering this tactic, though critics argued it may exacerbate the current humanitarian crisis after the Palestinian Water Authority warned it could damage Gaza’s underground aquifer.

‘It’s my responsibility to take care of her,’ says Israeli of her sister, held hostage by Hamas

The only way Yarden Gonen feels she can help her sister, who is still being held hostage by Hamas, is to continue to speak up and hope that another hostage release deal will come as soon as possible.

“It’s my responsibility to take care of her, her life, her health, her well-being,” Gonen said. “And right now she’s out of my reach.”

Smashed toys and candy store fire raises questions over Israeli military’s conduct

As Israel faces increasing international pressure over its intensive assault on Gaza, videos have emerged that raise questions over the conduct of its troops on the ground.

One video, apparently taken by soldiers themselves over the past week, shows Israeli troops setting fire to items in what they say is a candy factory in the Gaza Strip. They joke that the fire represents “the second candle of Hanukkah,” which would date it Dec. 8. In another video, a soldier is seen breaking children’s toys and gifts in a store.

IDF Truck fire
Video circulated on social media and verified by NBC News shows IDF soldiers setting fire to a truck in what soldiers say is sweet factory in Gaza City on Dec. 8, 2023.via X

The incidents may prove to be a relative footnote in a campaign in which 18,000 people have been killed and another 50,000 or so wounded, according to local officials. Israel’s military would also not be the first accused of acting in mocking, callous or malicious ways while on the battlefield, with Americans and countless others documented doing similar things.

But while the videos show just a handful of the tens of thousands of IDF troops estimated in Gaza, they nevertheless dent the image that Israel is trying to present to the world: that this is a just war against Hamas by the “most moral army in the world,” to use Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words, whose troops are doing their solemn best to prevent civilian casualties.

Read the full story here.

There can be ‘no lasting peace and security’ without Palestinian state, State Department says

The U.S. will continue to make clear to Israel the need for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state despite being in disagreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a post-war future, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said today.

Miller said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will continue to make the case to Israeli officials that this is not just a moral decision, but a practical step forward. He added that “there can be no lasting peace and security in the region without meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

“We believe that is not just in the interests of the Palestinian people, but in the long-term security interests of the Israeli people,” Miller said.

Netanyahu said in a public address yesterday that he has disagreements with the U.S. on Gaza’s post-war future, saying that the Palestinian Authority cannot be allowed to take over the enclave after the fall of Hamas. Israel’s ambassador to the U.K. said in a Sky News interview that Israel does not accept the idea of a two-state solution following the war.

Biden understands the ‘irrepressible ache’ for hostage families during the holidays

President Joe Biden was grateful that the families of the Americans held hostage in Gaza gave him their time today, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing.

“But as we all prepare for the holiday season that’s already upon us, we would do well to remember that for them, there’s going to be an empty chair at the table,” Kirby said. “There’s going to be a still and a silence in the room. And there’s going to be irrepressible ache and worry and fear.”

Biden and his team understand that ache, Kirby said, and asked people to keep those families in their thoughts. The president was “moved by their stories, by the love they feel, by the hope that they still harbor.”

Netanyahu tells security forces that the world is watching to see who wins

TEL AVIV — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told security forces that they are an essential part of the war’s victory during a joint assessment with Israeli Security Agency Director Ronen Bar.

“The crushing victory over Hamas will provide many advantages, as well as considerable deterrent power and persuasive power — also regarding the rest of the world sitting up in the stands,” Netanyahu said. “They are all sitting there wanting to see who will win. It’s that simple.”

During his speech, the prime minister said that the fight is difficult but that Israel is determined to eliminate Hamas.

“I don’t think we have an alternative; I know you don’t either,” he said.

IDF says it’s identified 116 rocket launches from humanitarian corridor

The IDF says that 116 rocket launches have been identified from inside of the humanitarian corridor it’s established for the flow of aid in Gaza.

According to the IDF, the rockets were targeting Israel but at least 38 fell within Gaza’s borders. NBC News has not independently verified the IDF’s claims.

“Hamas continues to use the humanitarian zone to carry out terrorist activities, further endangering the lives of civilians in Gaza civilians and the State of Israel,” the military said.

Man charged in shooting of 3 Palestinians in Vermont held without bail

Jason Eaton, the 48-year-old man charged in the shooting of three Palestinian students, is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder.

The Chittenden County Superior Criminal Court confirmed the update to NBC News, stating that Eaton’s upcoming hearing to decide bail has been canceled. Eaton is accused of opening fire, unprovoked, on three young Palestinian men in Vermont last month over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The three men were identified as Hisham Awartani, a junior at Brown University; Kinnan Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, a student at Connecticut’s Trinity College.

Awartani’s family said earlier this month that he has been paralyzed from the midtorso downward and may not be able to walk again. His mother, Elizabeth Price, told NBC News that he suffered an incomplete spinal injury and that he was entering intensive rehab to hopefully improve his condition.

‘Absolutely no’ two-state solution following war, Israel’s ambassador tells Sky News

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s ambassador to the U.K., said during an interview with Sky News published today that the government would not accept a two-state solution following the war.

She told the British broadcaster, “absolutely no,” Israel would not accept a Palestinian state. When asked how there can be an expectation of peace without a Palestinian state, Hotovely accused Palestinians of only wanting one state.

“Why are you obsessed with a formula that never worked that created this radical people in the other side?” she said. “Why are you obsessed with that?”

Hotovely also rejected allegations that Israel was conducting indiscriminate bombing in Gaza and President Joe Biden’s suggestion yesterday during a campaign event that Israel is losing international support. She said while she respects Biden, “If there is one thing I protect, it’s IDF’s actions at the moment.”

Hamas calling on West Bank to ‘escalate the resistance’ after IDF operations in Jenin

Hamas issued a statement today calling on civilians in the occupied West Bank to “escalate the resistance” against Israel after the country’s defense forces conducted raids.

The IDF began a joint operation in Jenin, in the West Bank, that went on for more than 30 hours, resulting in hundreds of arrests. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, eight Palestinians died since yesterday as a result of the Jenin raid.

According to the IDF, the operation resulted in 30 weapons seizures and the discovery of explosives manufacturing laboratories. NBC News has not independently verified the claims.

Israeli forces have operated in the West Bank for weeks conducting arrest raids, with the Palestinian Health Ministry saying more than 270 people have been killed there since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel. The West Bank is run by the Palestinian Authority, unlike the Gaza Strip, which is overseen by Hamas.

Demonstration calling for cease-fire blocks 110 Freeway in Los Angeles

A group of protesters in opposition to the war linked arms to block Los Angeles’ busy 110 Freeway during rush hour this morning, according to NBC Los Angeles.

The demonstration was calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, the station reported, and prompted California Highway Patrol to make 75 arrests. It’s unclear if all of the arrests were of protesters.

Lanes reopened by 10:30 a.m. local time, but traffic was at a standstill, creating backups that extended to nearby streets and freeways.

Police on the 110 freeway after pro-Palestinian protesters blocked it during the morning commute Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, in Los Angeles.
Police on the 110 Freeway after protesters calling for a cease-fire blocked it during the morning commute.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Four IDF soldiers injured by shrapnel in 30-hour Jenin operation, military says

Four soldiers have been injured since the IDF began its operations in Jenin yesterday, according to a statement from the military.

The IDF says it’s been conducting a joint operation with Shin Bet and border forces in the Jenin refugee camp, which is in the West Bank. According to the military, 30 weapons were seized and hundreds of suspects have been detained for questioning.

The IDF also said it discovered “explosives manufacturing laboratories” and underground shafts. NBC News has not independently verified the IDF’s claims.

A building burns during an Israeli army operation in Jenin, West Bank, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.
A building burns during an Israeli army operation Wednesday in Jenin.Majdi Mohammed / AP

Netanyahu vows to fight ‘until the end’ and rejects calls for cease-fire

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to press ahead with Israel’s Gaza offensive “until the end,” rejecting international pressure for a cease-fire.

Netanyahu’s comments on Wednesday came at a time of rising international criticism of the heavy civilian death toll in the offensive. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden criticized what he described as “indiscriminate bombing” by Israel, and the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly called for a cease-fire in a nonbinding vote.

Netanyahu spoke to Israeli military commanders, a day after at least nine soldiers were killed in Gaza. It was one of the deadliest days for Israel of the operation.

Netanyahu said Tuesday was a “very difficult day,” but that the war will continue.

“We are continuing until the end, there is no question. I say this even given the great pain, and the international pressure. Nothing will stop us, we will continue until the end, until victory, nothing less,” Netanyahu said.

Pope Francis renews call for peace in Gaza

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis renewed his call for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza on Wednesday and for the return of hostages taken by Hamas when its militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

“May both sides involved have courage to take up the negotiations again, and I ask everyone to take on the urgent job of getting humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza. They are at the end of their rope and really need it,” he said. “Free all the hostages immediately who saw some hope in the cease-fire a few days ago, may this great suffering for the Israelis and the Palestinians end. Please no to arms and yes to peace.”

Francis has sought to maintain the Vatican’s traditional neutrality in conflicts, but he has angered Israelis in particular with his generic reference to the war degenerating into “terrorism” without explicitly condemning Hamas for its initial attack.

1,000 trucks of aid needed daily to mitigate humanitarian disaster, Gaza government office says

The “catastrophic situation” in Gaza requires 1,000 trucks of aid daily, as soon as possible, to alleviate the suffering of civilians in the Palestinian enclave, according to a statement from the Gaza media office.

There is a serious need for supplies as well as fuel “in order to try to save what can be saved from the rehabilitation and operation of hospitals and the various vital facilities,” the statement said.

The Gaza government office, which is run by Hamas, accused Israel of maintaining a policy that is “aimed at starving, choking and killing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

‘Civil order is breaking down,’ U.N. Palestinian refugee chief says after visit to Gaza

To call the scenes witnessed in Gaza inhumane is an understatement, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said today following his visit to the Palestinian enclave.

“The sight of a truck carrying humanitarian assistance now provokes chaos. People are hungry,” Lazzarini said. “They stop the truck and ask for food, and they eat it on the street.”

The remarks were made by Lazzarini at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, where he warned that “civil order is breaking down” as the humanitarian aid system collapses in Gaza. An estimated 80 percent of Palestinians in Gaza are displaced and half of the population is starving, the United Nations has estimated.

“I asked one colleague how he managed to remain composed and offer help in a shelter,” Lazzarini said. “He told me that he looks for a corner in the building to cry 10 times a day.”

Rain and cold weather increases misery for displaced Palestinians

Heavy rain and cold weather leave Palestinians in tents helpless
Ashraf Amra / Anadolu via Getty Images
Palestinians walk under the rain at a camp for displaced people in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip where most civilians have taken refuge, on Dec. 13, 2023.
Mahmud Hams / AFP via Getty Images

Muddy conditions today at tent camps today in Deir al-Balah, top, and Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

8 people killed in Jenin since IDF began operations yesterday, Palestinian Health Ministry says

The Palestinian Health Ministry said that a “young man” died today in Jenin, raising the death toll in the West Bank neighborhood where the IDF has been operating to eight.

There were no additional details regarding the death or the identity of the man involved. The IDF has been conducting a joint operation in Jenin with Shin Bet and other Israeli forces in the West Bank area for more than 30 hours, the military said.

An Israeli soldier on patrol checks a Palestinian youth on Dec. 13, 2023, following an overnight army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
An Israeli soldier on patrol checks a Palestinian youth today following an overnight army raid in Jenin.Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP – Getty Images

IDF soldiers huddle before entering Gaza

Israeli soldiers listen to their commander as they prepare to enter the Gaza Strip, at a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza border today.

The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel.
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

‘I believe in him. I believe in his power,’ Israeli hostage’s sister says of Biden

TEL AVIV — The sister of Romi Gonen, a 23-year-old woman who remains in Hamas’ captivity after she was taken hostage at the Nova music festival Oct. 7, has said she has faith President Joe Biden will help bring her sibling and the rest of the hostages home.

“I believe in him. I believe in his power,” Yarden Gonen told NBC News shortly before Biden was expected to meet at the White House with the families of Americans still held hostage by Hamas.

“I have to believe in him because I know that his heart is placed in the right way, the right place,” she said in an interview in what has come to be known as “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv, a plaza where families of those taken captive often gather.

Yarden Gonen said her family has heard about her sister's condition from hostages who have been released by Hamas.
Yarden Gonen said her family has heard about her sister’s condition from hostages who have been released by Hamas.Chantal Da Silva

Yarden Gonen said her family had heard from several hostages who have been released by Hamas that her sister was alive and staying strong amid the ordeal. However, she heard her sister had a gunshot injury that she had still not received proper medical care for.

“A few of them talked to us and told us that they saw her and that she’s alive,” she said. “We were so happy for the news because until then we were in a void.” She said she did not want to say when her sister was last seen, but hoped they would all be together soon. “We believe in her,” she said.

Qatar condemns Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian lands in east Jerusalem

Qatar today condemned the confiscation of Palestinian lands in Silwan in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities who aim to build a pneumatic train.

“It is a blatant violation of the principles and provisions of international law and the relevant UNESCO resolutions,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on X.

“It also warns against the Israeli occupation exploiting the international community’s preoccupation with developments in the Gaza Strip, to pass unilateral decisions that violate the rights of the brotherly Palestinian people,” it added.

U.S. ship shoots down Houthi UAV out of Yemen

The USS Mason shot down a Houthi Unmanned Aerial Vehicle coming out of Yemen today, a U.S. defense official told NBC News, adding that no damage or injuries were reported.

Two defense officials also said the Houthis launched two missiles which were anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from ground-based locations in Yemen.

Nine IDF ‘commanders and soldiers’ died in intense fighting in central Gaza, Israeli military says

While operating in Gaza City last week, nine Israeli “commanders and soldiers” died while “operating deep in the Shejaiyah area in Gaza City,” the Israel Defense Forces said today.

The soldiers who died were a part of the Golani Brigade, which was fighting with Hamas militants from within civilian buildings, the IDF said today in a statement on Telegram.

“During the operational activity, Golani troops engaged with terrorists who threw explosives at the soldiers and shot at them from inside a residential building in which underground terror infrastructure was also located,” the IDF said.

“During the heroic battle, commanders and soldiers fell in action while assisting and rescuing the troops in the building.”

Mourners attend the funeral of Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg at the Mt Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem on Dec. 13, 2023.
Mourners attend the funeral today of Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg of the Golani Brigade at the Mt. Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem.Maya Alleruzzo / AP

Family of killed hostage mourns her death in captivity

Eden Zecharya, 28, had traveled to a music festival in Re’im kibbutz, where she was kidnapped by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks. The IDF said yesterday it had recovered her body.

“Eden had two hunting dogs to whom she was deeply attached, having raised them with a lot of love,” the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum said in a statement yesterday. “In her last phone call, she managed to ask her father to look after her dogs and take care of them.”

“Today Eden’s family was notified that she was murdered while held captive,” it said.

180 aid trucks enter Gaza after new crossing opens, Egyptian Red Crescent says

A total of 180 humanitarian and medical aid trucks have entered Gaza, including 80 from the newly opened Kerem Shalom crossing, with the rest from the Al Ouga crossing, Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in North Sinai, told NBC News today.

Another 120 trucks remained at the new crossing yesterday awaiting inspection today, he added.

Biden to meet with eight hostage families today

President Joe Biden will meet today with families of Americans who were taken hostage by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks, a White House official told NBC News.

Eight families will participate in the meeting, which will also be attended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, the official said. They are families of eight Americans who are considered unaccounted for.

The official added that Biden has had several calls with the Israeli prime minister and the emir of Qatar on the release of all remaining hostages.

This will be Biden’s second meeting, the first one was held virtually last month.

Read the full story here.

Top U.S. official to meet with Netanyahu on Friday

National security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Israel tomorrow, the White House said in a statement today. He will meet with Netanyahu, his war Cabinet and Israeli President Isaac Herzog the following day to discuss the war in Gaza, it added.

The trip was first announced yesterday.

Delaware lawmaker heckles Kamala Harris to call for cease-fire in Gaza

A Delaware state representative interrupted Kamala Harris’ speech at a holiday party at the vice president’s home to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

In a video shared by Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton on X on Monday, Harris is seen thanking the guests when Wilson-Anton interrupts her, shouting, “Madam Vice President, I am a rep from Delaware. Did you know in Bethlehem they are not celebrating Christmas? Did you know in Bethlehem, baby Jesus is under rubble? Why won’t you call for a cease-fire?” Behind her is a black sign that reads “CEASEFIRE.”

“I appreciate you wanting to be heard but, right now, I’m speaking,” Harris replied as Wilson-Anton was escorted away.

NBC has reached out to Wilson-Anton via email but did not receive an immediate response.

U.S. imposes 4th round of sanctions on Hamas

The U.S. has imposed the fourth round of sanction on Hamas today, coordinating with the United Kingdom on designating several key officials who represent the “group’s interests abroad and managing its finances.”

“Today’s action targets key officials who perpetuate Hamas’s violent agenda by representing the group’s interests abroad and managing its finances,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller added: “We closely coordinated this action with the United Kingdom, which is concurrently targeting several key Hamas officials with sanctions.”

The 16 people sanctioned are based in Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, among other places and include official representatives of Hamas and those who aid the group.

Israel’s U.N. envoy criticized resolution, saying it does not condemn Hamas

In response to the United Nations demanding a cease-fire, Israel’s ambassador to the world body, Gilad Erdan, held up a poster at the General Assembly yesterday.

The poster appeared to list the name, address, phone number and image of Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas leader.

“The time has come to put the blame where it belongs on the shoulders of the Hamas monsters, but this resolution does not even condemn Hamas. It doesn’t even mention Hamas,” Edran said.

“If you want a real cease-fire, here is the right address. This is the phone number of Hamas office in Gaza,” he added.

Children’s vaccines are sold out, Gaza Health Ministry says

Vaccinations for children have sold out in Gaza, the Health Ministry there said today as health supplies in the besieged enclave run critically low.

Gaza Refugees in Rafah
Women and children at a makeshift camp in Rafah, southern Gaza, today.Mohammed Abed / AFP – Getty Images

“Running out of vaccinations will have catastrophic health repercussions on children’s health and the spread of diseases, especially among displaced people in overcrowded shelter centers,” it said.

At least 12 children are in intensive care at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, which has run out of food and electricity, Dr. Hossam Abu-Safia, the chief of pediatrics at the hospital, said in a statement.

Israeli military videos said to show strikes in Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank

The Israeli military released videos said to show strikes on a Hezbollah launch post in Lebanon, Syrian army positions inside Syria and a raid on Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. NBC News could not independently verify the videos.

Biden’s statements must ‘transform into actions,’ Palestine Liberation Organization says

The Palestine Liberation Organization said President Joe Biden’s remarks yesterday, in which he said Israel is losing support over its bombing of the Gaza, must “transform into actions.”

“Biden’s statements yesterday must transform into actions, starting with calling for an immediate ceasefire,” PLO leader Hussein al-Sheikh said on a post on X.

He also called for Biden to put forward “a comprehensive political plan” to end the occupation and establish an “independent Palestinian state.”

Packed hospitals, treacherous roads, harried parents: Newborns in Gaza face steeper odds of survival

The birth of their daughter should have marked the beginning of a joyful chapter for the young Palestinian couple.

Instead, the devastating war in Gaza, now in its third month, has turned childbirth and parenthood into a time of worry and fear for Salim and Israa al-Jamala.

First, they endured a perilous journey, dodging missile fire, to reach a maternity ward. And now, the couple is sheltering with their newborn in the partially tented courtyard of another hospital where they can’t care properly for their now 3-week-old daughter, her mother’s namesake.

Palestinian Child Wounded In Gaza
A Palestinian baby, wounded by an Israeli airstrike is treated at a hospital in Khan Younis. Fatima Shbair / AP

Amid the devastation, about 5,500 births are expected over the next month, out of an estimated 50,000 women in Gaza who are currently pregnant, according to the World Health Organization.

Yet the health sector is close to collapse, with two-thirds of Gaza’s 36 hospitals now out of service. The 12 remaining health facilities are only partially operational. Even in the functioning hospitals, doctors report a lack of basic medicines and the kind of equipment needed to treat newborns, including ventilators, formula milk and disinfectant.

Displaced children sleep under plastic sheets in Rafah

Young Palestinians huddle on a mattress covered with plastic at a camp for displaced people in Rafah in southern Gaza today.

Israel came under pressure on December 13 from its allies over its war in Gaza, with key backer the United States criticising its bombing in response to the October 7 attacks as "indiscriminate".
Mahmud Hams / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. official provides background on the Biden administration’s view of the U.N. vote

The Biden administration believes that as long as Hamas clings onto its bellicose ideology, any cease-fire would be temporary at best and dangerous at worst, both to Israelis and Palestinians, a U.S. official told NBC News, providing rationale behind its U.N. vote against a cease-fire in Gaza.

The draft also had multiple omissions and failed to condemn Hamas’ attack Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,200 people and alleged sexual violence, the official said, adding that the U.S. had also offered an amendment that rejects and condemns the atrocities.

While acknowledging that it matters how Israel defends itself, the official said the U.S. emphasized Israel’s right to do so, a statement absent from the draft resolution.

Eight Palestinians killed in West Bank, Palestinian ministry says

Israeli forces continued to operate in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, killing at least eight Palestinians since yesterday, the Palestinian Information Ministry said on Telegram today.

Jenin West Bank Raid
Israeli forces in Jenin today. Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP – Getty Images

The IDF also arrested 12 Palestinians and imposed a complete siege on the neighborhood, it said, adding it bombed several homes and destroyed infrastructure.

Schools were instructed to transition to distance learning in towns invaded by IDF, the ministry said. Israeli military also launched “a campaign of house raids and arrests of citizens” this morning, it added.

NBC News has not verified the claims.

Aid into Gaza has largely stopped, U.N. says

Aid into Gaza has largely stopped, according to a statement released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs yesterday.

This, in large part, is due to the “intensity of hostilities and restrictions on movement along the main roads.”

Limited aid distributions, however, are still entering the Rafah in the southernmost portion of the Gaza Strip.  

A Palestinian family home is destroyed during West Bank raid

Members of the Baajawi family walk through the remains of their home, damaged during an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank last night. Violence has escalated in the occupied territories since the war broke out, with around 270 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire and settler attacks in the West Bank since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian officials.

Violence has escalated in the occupied territories since the war broke out, with around 270 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire and settler attacks in the West Bank since October 7, according to Palestinian officials.
Marco Longari / AFP – Getty Images

Charges in Beverly Hills attack on Jewish couple could amount to life in prison

The suspect in an attack on a Jewish couple walking to a Beverly Hills, California, synagogue was charged yesterday with multiple felony counts that could add up to life in prison.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the charges at a news conference, saying rising antisemitic violence and other hate crimes will not be tolerated under his leadership.

The vow came amid a spate of violent and hateful incidents targeting Jews and people of Arab heritage against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war.

“Our nation is facing a crisis of hate crime, and these cases are symptoms of that,” Gascón said, adding that his office will “continue to aggressively prosecute these cases.”

Read the full story here.

Bodies of two hostages recovered, IDF says

The bodies of two hostages, who were taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, have been recovered, according to a statement released by the IDF.

Eden Zakaria, 27, was taken hostage from the Re’im music festival. Master Sgt. Ziv Dado, 36, meanwhile, was working in the army at the time of the attack.

“Locating the missing and bringing the hostages home is a national mission,” the statement said.

Austin will visit Israel, Bahrain and Qatar to seek maritime protection

The Pentagon announced yesterday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Israel, Bahrain and Qatar next week as the U.S. continues to press allies to commit to an international maritime task force to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea as those ships have come under increased attacks.

Austin will also meet with his defense counterparts in Tel Aviv to show continued U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself but also press the need for Israel to avoid more civilian casualties in Gaza.

Late Monday, a land-based cruise missile launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen hit a motor transport ship, causing a fire. The USS Mason, a destroyer, responded to assist the ship.

U.N. General Assembly calls for Gaza cease-fire

The U.N. General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza in New York City, late yesterday. The U.S., Israel and a handful of other countries voted against the measure.

Yasushi Kaneko / AP

Biden warns Netanyahu that Israel is losing support worldwide and its government must ‘change’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden appeared yesterday to offer his harshest criticism yet of the Israeli government since Hamas’ terrorist attack Oct. 7, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a “tough decision to make.”

“I think he has to change, and with this government, this government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move,” he said.

Biden made the remarks at an off-camera campaign reception in Washington, suggesting that Netanyahu’s government is hindering a long-term solution.

He said that far-right members of the Israeli government, like National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, don’t want a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and that changes must be made to the government.

Read the full story here.

Highlights from NBC News’ reporting relating to the war