December 7, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Sophie Tanno, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 8, 2023
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5:57 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

Israeli military strikes targets in Syria and Lebanon after detecting missile launches from those countries

From Tamar Michaelis

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it is striking targets in Syria and Lebanon after missiles were reportedly launched toward Israel from those countries on Thursday evening.

Two missiles launched from Syria landed in an open area in the town of Buq'ata in northern Israel, according to the IDF.

The IDF also said it identified "a number of launches" from Lebanon toward the areas of Shtula, Malkia and Zar'it also in the northern part of the country. The launches led to sirens sounding in Golan Heights and Zar'it.

The IDF said it is striking the sources of the launches.

Earlier on Thursday, the IDF said that Israel Air Force fighter jets struck an "operational command and control center" in Lebanon belonging to Hezbollah after launches were detected coming from the vicinity. 

3:59 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

WHO delivers supplies to 2 hospitals in southern Gaza for first time since November 29, director says 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London  

 The World Health Organization (WHO) managed to deliver supplies to two hospitals in southern Gaza that have not received any deliveries since November 29, according to the organization's director general. 

"Today WHO delivered trauma and emergency care supplies to European Gaza Hospital and Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza to cover the needs of 4500 patients," WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on social media platform X

The WHO chief highlighted the detrimental impact of the "intense fighting" in southern Gaza, saying the fighting has made it "increasingly difficult to run any health operations" there.  

"This was the first delivery mission since 29 November," Tedros added. 

Since Tuesday, the Israel Defence Forces have been engaged in "intense battles" with Hamas fighters in Khan Younis city in southern Gaza.

Video obtained by news agency Reuters on Thursday showed a slew of injured Palestinians rushing into the Nasser Hospital in the city following a barrage of Israeli strikes. 

Ghebreyesus reiterated that his organization remains "extremely concerned" about the thousands of "patients, and health and care workers" in Gaza, stressing that the only way to protect them is by immediately implementing a ceasefire. 

3:34 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

18 family members of Gaza health ministry director-general killed in Israeli airstrike, agency says

From CNN's Abeer Salman, Kareem Khadder, Hamdi Alkhshali and Jen Deaton 

An overnight Israeli airstrike killed 18 family members of Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, director-general of the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza, the ministry said Thursday.

Several of the bodies arrived at the Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza as Al-Bursh was on shift there Thursday morning, according to the health ministry.

Al-Bursh told CNN his 1-week granddaughter was among those killed. 

Video from the hospital shows Al-Bursh kneeling on the ground before bodies wrapped in sheets. At least five covered bodies can be seen in the video.

Al-Bursh uncovers the face of one of the deceased, an adult male, and touches his face, the video shows.

He said the man is his nephew, a university professor with a law degree, days shy of obtaining a doctorate in international law, who "everyone knows for his kindness." 

He said his father is the Undersecretary of the Hamas-run Ministry of Justice in Gaza.

"The Israeli occupation wants to kill hope in us. It wants to diminish our youth, children and women. It targets academics and learners, as well as children. He demolishes houses on the heads of their residents, not distinguishing between old and young," Al-Bursh said in the video.

3:32 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

More than 600 people crossed into Egypt through the Rafah crossing Thursday, officials say

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali, Ibrahim Dahman and Lina El Wardani

At least 634 people crossed into Egypt on Thursday through the Rafah border crossing, officials said, including more than 400 dual nationals.

This is a breakdown of who exited Gaza into Egypt on Thursday, according to the Rafah Crossing Authority:

  • 413 dual citizens
  • 121 Palestinian patients
  • 78 Palestinians accompanying the patients
  • 10 members of the United Nations
  • 8 from Doctors Without Borders
  • 4 Emirati nationals

It added that a total of 70 aid trucks have entered Gaza, including a load of 79,000 liters (nearly 21,000 gallons) of fuel.

3:29 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

UN aid chief: There are "promising signs" that another Israel-Gaza crossing might open for aid deliveries

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel and Niamh Kennedy

There are "promising signs" that the Kerem Shalom crossing linking Israel to Gaza may be opened for humanitarian deliveries, according to UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths.

"We're still negotiating," he said, adding that the crossing has been a "feature of discussion these many weeks."

"There are some promising signs now that that may be able to open soon," he added.

What is Kerem Shalom: Before the war that started in early October, Israel had two crossings with Gaza: Erez, which is for the movement of people, and Kerem Shalom, for goods. Both were heavily restricted and have been shut since the war began. During the brief truce between Israel and Hamas, the Kerem Shalom crossing was used to transfer Israeli hostages from Gaza to Israel.

During the two-month conflict, the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been the strip's only entry point to the outside world. Aid to Gaza has trickled through this crossing. It is the only Gazan border crossing that isn’t controlled by Israel.

Take a look at where the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings are located:

3:17 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

Israeli military has arrested and interrogated hundreds of terror suspects in Gaza, IDF spokesperson says

From Tamar Michaelis and CNN's Sugam Pokharel 

Israeli forces in recent days have arrested and questioned hundreds of suspects in Gaza allegedly involved in terror activities, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said on Thursday.  

“IDF and ISA (Israel Security Authority) troops arrested and interrogated hundreds of suspects of terrorist acts, many of them within the last day have been turning themselves over to us. We use the intelligence gathered from these interrogations during the fighting,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in his daily news briefing.  

He also said that Israeli forces are “advancing the fighting” in Hamas strongholds in the southern and northern Gaza Strip.  

“We’re at the height of persistent fighting across the entire strip," Hagari said.

On the Israel-Lebanon border: Following the death of an Israeli civilian in northern Israel from an anti-tank missile from Lebanon, Israeli fighter jets struck “a series of terror targets” of Hezbollah on Thursday — in which several operatives of the militant group were killed, he claimed.  

Israeli military is on a “high alert” in the country’s border with Lebanon and “will severely respond to any terrorists act against Israel,” Hagari said.  

3:09 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

"Our humanitarian program is no longer a functioning one" in southern Gaza, UN aid chief says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Trucks carrying aid are seen on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, waiting to cross into southern Gaza on Wednesday, December 6.
Trucks carrying aid are seen on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, waiting to cross into southern Gaza on Wednesday, December 6. AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations aid chief has said that the organization's operation in southern Gaza is unable to function properly.

"Our humanitarian program is no longer a functioning one. It is one of response to opportunity," UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths stressed Thursday. 

Trucks entering Gaza must navigate demolished roads, and if they manage to do so, they can then perhaps disseminate "some food or water" to "some people," he said.
"It's erratic. It's undependable. And frankly, it's not sustainable," he said.

Meanwhile, the pace of the Israeli military operation is a direct "repeat of the assault in northern Gaza," Griffiths said.

Since Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces has been operating in the southern city of Khan Younis, engaged in "intense battles" with Hamas fighters. Video obtained by the Reuters news agency Thursday showed a slew of injured Palestinians rushing into the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis following a barrage of Israeli strikes.

"None of us can see where this will end. None of us can see where the people crammed into that southern pocket of Gaza will go — those 2 million people," Griffiths said.

3:00 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

Who is Yayha Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza?

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and David Shortell

Sinwar attends a rally in support of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque in Gaza City on October 1, 2022.
Sinwar attends a rally in support of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque in Gaza City on October 1, 2022. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

The Israeli prime minister said Wednesday that Israeli forces had surrounded the house of Yahya Sinwar, potentially closing in on the top Hamas official in Gaza – and the man most wanted by Israeli authorities.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Sinwar was not in the house and was believed to be hiding underground in Gaza, but a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that it was “only a matter of time before we get him.”

Israel has publicly accused Sinwar of being the “mastermind” behind Hamas’ terror attack against Israel on October 7 — though experts say he is likely one of several — making him one of the key targets of its war in Gaza.

A longtime figure in the Islamist Palestinian group, Sinwar was responsible for building up Hamas’ military wing before forging important new ties with regional Arab powers as the group’s civilian and political leader.

He was elected to Hamas’ main decision-making body, the Politburo, in 2017 as the political leader of Hamas in the Gaza branch. However, he has since become the Politburo’s de facto leader, according to research by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

He has been designated a global terrorist by the US Department of State since 2015 and has been recently sanctioned by the United Kingdom and France.

Early days: Sinwar was born in 1962 in a refugee camp in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. His family was displaced from a Palestinian village during the Arab-Israeli war.

He joined Hamas in the late 1980s and became one of the founders of its feared internal intelligence apparatus, known as the Majd.

He was convicted in 1988 of playing a role in the murder of two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel, and spent more than two decades in Israeli prison.

Sinwar later said he had spent those years studying his enemy, including learning to speak Hebrew.

Back in Gaza, Sinwar has risen through the ranks and quickly became a key player within Hamas. He became known for his brutality and the violence he inflicts on anyone he suspects of betrayal or collaboration, said Harel Chorev, senior researcher at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Learn more about Sinwar and why Israel calls him a "dead man walking."

2:45 p.m. ET, December 7, 2023

Jordan's king urges ceasefire in Gaza during call with Biden on Thursday

From CNN's From Hamdi Alkhshali

King Abdullah II of Jordan called for an “immediate ceasefire” and emphasized the need to protect civilians in Gaza in a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, the Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement.

King Abdullah II also expressed deep concern that the humanitarian situation could worsen significantly if military operations persist, the statement said. The conversation also delved into ensuring the swift delivery of humanitarian and relief aid to Gaza.

The leaders discussed the importance of coordination to bring an end to the ongoing war and establish lasting peace, according to the statement.

The king also reaffirmed Jordan's rejection of any attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians within or outside Gaza, and opposed any endeavors to reoccupy parts of the strip.