Israel suffers losses in Gaza and Lebanon border area amid fighting on multiple fronts 

IDF soldiers operating in Gaza on December 6. (IDF)  

Hezbollah attacks in northern Israel killed an Israeli civilian on Thursday, December 7. Additionally, the son of the former IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot, was killed in action with the IDF in Gaza. The IDF has now lost 416 soldiers since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, two months ago. The IDF continued to battle in the heart of Khan Yunis on Thursday. Hamas fired rockets at Sderot and several border communities near Gaza.  

Israel Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, met his U.K. counterpart, Grant Shapps, on Thursday. Gallant has held several similar meetings with counterparts and officials from Israel’s partners over the last month. For instance, he hosted his Italian counterpart, Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto, at the end of November and spoke with his French counterpart, Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, in November. In the last month, he also met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, to coordinate Israel’s close relationships with these key countries.  

Shapps met Gallant on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Hannukah and Gallant invited him to participate in a candle lighting when the holiday began at sunset. IDF Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, joined Gallant in briefing the Secretary and the British Chief of Defense Forces, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin. They discussed Israel’s operations. “We [Israel and Britain] share common values and common goals, and unfortunately also common threats, and we appreciate very much your visit and your position,” Gallant said.  

Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel escalated on December 7. Hezbollah renewed attacks on Israel when the pause in fighting ended in Gaza on December 1. However, those attacks increased on Thursday. They began in the morning and continued around noon and then in the afternoon. The attacks targeted the community of Margaliot, the Bedouin community of Arab al-Aramshe, and an anti-tank missile killed an Israeli civilian in the Mattat, a small community less than a mile from Lebanon. The IDF said that “fighter jets struck a series of Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanese territory. Among the targets struck were terrorist infrastructure, launch posts, military posts, and military sites belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization.” The IDF also responded with helicopters, tank fire, and artillery to launches from Lebanon. The tensions occurred as Israel and the U.S. both looked for ways to get Hezbollah to withdraw north of the border, reports said this week.  

Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, visited northern Israel amid the tensions. “I also suggest that our enemies pay attention to this spirit because if Hezbollah decides to open an all-out war, then with its own hands, it will turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, which are not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Yunis,” he said, according to a statement from his office. Israel’s leadership has made similar comments in the past two months. The tensions in the north come as Israel continues to train reserve units that have been stationed in northern Israel. Earlier this week, the Alexandroni brigade and 8th armored brigade, both made up of reservists, trained in the Golan. I was at the training, and the units illustrated how they combine infantry, engineers, and tanks to take objectives in rapid land maneuvers. This is preparation for any further escalation.  

In Gaza, the IDF continued to operate on two fronts: in southern Gaza’s Khan Yunis and the neighborhoods of Jabalya and Shujaiya adjacent to Gaza City. In Khan Yunis, the IDF said it struck dozens of “terror targets,” and in Jabalya, the IDF continued to hammer Hamas’ Jabalya battalion. “A number of terrorists were killed as part of the activity,” the IDF said.  

The IDF detailed the continued operations of various units in northern Gaza on December 7. It noted that the 36th Division and infantry from the Golani and Kfir brigades eliminated terrorists and found RPG launchers. The 188th Armored Brigade and combat engineers also destroyed seven tunnels. These units are southeast of Gaza City.  

In southern Gaza, the IDF accused Hamas of launching rockets from within a humanitarian zone. The IDF has encouraged civilians in Gaza to move south and relocate toward designated safe zones. “Yesterday [December 6], at 15:59, Hamas terrorists launched 12 rockets toward Israeli civilians in the city of Beer-Sheva in southern Israel. The rockets were launched from near tents of evacuated Gazan civilians in Rafah in southern Gaza and from next to United Nations facilities,” the Israeli army said. It also provided footage of a “Hamas terrorist cell operating and firing anti-tank missiles from civilian areas in the Gaza Strip.” 

Israeli forces also continued to target Hamas commanders and key elements of the group’s command and control. The Israel Air Force targeted Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a senior terrorist operative from Hamas’ military intelligence unit, the IDF said on Thursday. The attack took place several days ago but was only revealed on December 7. “Rantisi had been responsible for field intelligence in the Gaza Strip and participated in the planning of the October 7 massacre.” The Hamas member shares the same name as Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, a co-founder of Hamas who was killed in 2004 in an Israeli strike. The IDF did not say if they were related. The IDF also said it eliminated Ahmed Ayush, a member of the Hamas’ Qarara Battalion observation unit. The IDF said it struck him at a command center, which was a “significant strategic hub for Hamas to direct combat activities, supporting attacks on IDF soldiers.” 

In addition, Israeli authorities said on Thursday that Mohammed Al-Atrash, an Israeli Bedouin from the village of Sawa and a father of 13, is being held hostage in Gaza. He was declared missing after October 7, and he is now confirmed to be in Gaza, bringing the total number of hostages to 138. 

The U.S. also resumed drone flights over Gaza, according to a statement from the Pentagon, reported by Reuters. 

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 

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