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HomeUSThe bodies of two soldiers and a hostage have been recovered by...

The bodies of two soldiers and a hostage have been recovered by Israel.

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Israel Defense Forces
In an attempt to ambush our troops, Hamas terrorists connected dolls to speakers playing crying sounds and set them up in an area rigged with explosives.

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that its soldiers have recovered the bodies of two soldiers and one civilian hostage who was taken in the Hamas attack on October 7.

Fighting in Gaza between Israeli forces and Hamas raged on Friday as the United States pressed Israel on its overall war strategy. Also, a Dutch court ruled that the Netherlands can continue to deliver fighter jet parts to Israel.

Human rights groups had sought to stop the delivery of the parts used in F-35 jets, arguing that the parts were being used in ways that violated international law in Israel’s war against Hamas.

Washington says Israel’s efforts to crush Hamas — a U.S. and EU-designated terrorist group — must not lead to a long-term Israeli occupation of the territory. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Friday after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, that the United States believes it neither makes sense nor is right for Israel to reoccupy Gaza over the long term.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza continued Friday in the face of growing international calls for restraint. The Israeli military said Friday troops had destroyed a Hamas command and control hub in Gaza’s Sheijaia district and conducted a “targeted raid” on militant infrastructure in Khan Younis.

The U.N. Humanitarian Office (OCHA) said Friday tens of thousands of homeless Gazans who have crammed into Rafah since December 3 are struggling in extremely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, raising concerns of the spread of disease.

Israeli defense chief Yoav Gallant told Sullivan on Thursday that it will take several months for Israeli forces to defeat the Hamas militants.

Gallant said Hamas has been building its “infrastructure under the ground and above the ground” in Gaza for more than a decade and that to destroy the Islamist group “will require a long period. It will last more than several months.”

“But we will win, and we will destroy them,” Gallant said.

There was no immediate U.S. comment on Sullivan’s talks with Gallant.

With the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza now in its third month, Gallant’s office said the two officials also discussed the need to return Israelis to their homes near the border with Lebanon to the north after tens of thousands of people were displaced due to fighting with Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Israeli forces carried out more airstrikes Thursday in the Gaza Strip ahead of Sullivan’s visit.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Sullivan would use talks Thursday and Friday to discuss “efforts to be more surgical and more precise” in the military operations, and to avoid the spiraling number of Palestinian civilian deaths.

“That is an aim of ours, and the Israelis say it is an aim of theirs, but it’s the results that count,” Kirby said.

Sullivan also planned to discuss U.S. calls for Israel to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. That would expand current flows of aid that go only through the Rafah crossing. Israel this week began inspections of aid cargo at Kerem Shalom, but those shipments still must go to Rafah.

Sullivan stopped first in Saudi Arabia, where the White House said Thursday he talked with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about “efforts to create new conditions for an enduring and sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and work to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Civilian casualties

While reiterating U.S. support for Israel and its military response to the deadly Hamas attack against Israel two months ago, U.S. President Joe Biden and other officials have expressed concern about the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza Health Ministry says more than 18,600 people have been killed during Israel’s offensive, about 70% of them women and children, after fighters from Hamas, a U.S.- and EU-designated terror group, killed 1,200 people and took about 240 people hostage in their surprise October 7 attack.

“Our support for Israel is not diminished,” Kirby said, “but we have had concerns, and we have expressed those concerns about the prosecution of this military campaign, even while acknowledging that it’s Hamas that started this, and it’s Hamas that is continuing it.”

Israel has defended its tactics, saying it takes steps to minimize civilian casualties, such as ordering people to evacuate areas where it plans to carry out military operations.

Israel’s military has also blamed Hamas for intentionally operating in populated areas.

“As a military committed to international law and a moral code of conduct, we are devoting vast resources to minimizing harm to the civilians that Hamas has forced into the role of human shields,” Major Keren Hajioff said during an Israel Defense Forces briefing. “Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza.”

The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency says nearly 1.9 million people, about 85% of Gaza’s population, have been forced from their homes, with more than 1.1 million currently registered at the agency’s shelters in central and southern Gaza. The agency said the average shelter is nine times over its intended capacity.

The war and Israeli evacuation orders have pushed Palestinians farther south, and as the fighting moves south from the original operations in Gaza City, the ability for humanitarian workers to reach areas to the north has largely ceased.

OCHA said it is only carrying out “limited aid distributions” in the Rafah governorate.

After returning from a trip to Gaza on Thursday, World Food Program (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau told reporters at the United Nations in New York that the situation among civilians is “increasingly desperate and chaotic.”

“The grim reality is also that nine out of 10 people are not eating enough, or not eating every day, and don’t know where their next meal is going to come from,” he said, adding that no WFP food assistance has reached the north of Gaza since fighting resumed after the cease-fire ended December 1.

VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell contributed to this report. Some information is from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.


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