Israel says it has destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels; UN rights chief says Gaza is a ‘living nightmare’

Israel says it has destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels; UN rights chief says Gaza is a ‘living nightmare’

This is CNBC’s live blog tracking developments on the Israel-Hamas war. Click here for the latest updates.

The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday that they have destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels since launching their military operation in the Gaza Strip.

It comes as the IDF is undertaking “significant military activity” in and around the embattled Gaza City, according to a spokesperson.

The military has meanwhile offered another four-hour humanitarian corridor window for civilians to safely flee Gaza City southward, warning that “time is running out to evacuate.”

Elsewhere, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that the consensus of Group of Seven ministers, who met earlier in the day in Japan, was that a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war would fulfil “key” objectives.

“Ultimately the only way to ensure that this crisis never happens again is to begin setting the conditions for durable peace and security and to frame our diplomatic efforts now with that in mind,” the U.S. top diplomat told reporters Wednesday.

Meantime, Qatar is reportedly leading talks to secure the release of 10 to 15 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a 1-2 day humanitarian pause of Israeli hostilities.

Israel carried out an aerial attack targeting military sites in southern Syria leading to some material losses, Syrian state media said on Wednesday, citing a military source.

The source quoted by state media said missiles flying over Lebanon’s Baalbek region had targeted several sites, but it did not identify them.

Israel has for years carried out attacks on what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that started in 2011.

The strikes are believed to have targeted Syrian army air defence base and a radar station in Tel Qulaib and Tel Maseeh in the Sweida province in southwestern Syria, according to two Syrian military defectors familiar with the matter.


The U.N. human rights chief said collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians and their forced evacuation, as well as atrocities committed by Palestinian armed groups on Oct. 7 and their continued holding of hostages, amount to war crimes.

Volker Türk, standing in front of Egypt’s Rafah border crossing into Gaza, told reporters Wednesday: “These are the gates to a living nightmare.”

“We have fallen off a precipice. This cannot continue,” he said later in Cairo.

Türk said international human rights and humanitarian law must be respected to help protect civilians and allow desperately needed aid to reach Gaza’s beleaguered population of some 2.3 million people.

He said the U.N. rights office received reports in recent days about an unspecified orphanage in northern Gaza with 300 children who need urgent help, but communications were down and access were impassable and unsafe, so “we cannot get to them.”

“I feel, in my innermost being, the pain, the immense suffering of every person whose loved one has been killed in a kibbutz, in a Palestinian refugee camp, hiding in a building or as they were fleeing,” Türk said. “We all must feel this shared pain — and end this nightmare.”

Associated Press

Hospitals in Gaza are nearing collapse under Israel’s wartime siege, which has cut power and deliveries of food, fuel and other necessities to the territory.

Inside the maternity department at Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, the workload has doubled because of the mass displacement from Gaza’s north. That’s according to neonatal specialist Dr. Asaad al-Nawajha, who said Wednesday his team has seen an increase in premature births as the monthlong war intensifies.

Shouq Hararah is one of those mothers. She says her delivery took place with “no proper birth procedures, no anesthesia, painkillers or anything.”

“I gave birth to twins. The boy was discharged, but the girl remains in the maternity ward,” she said.

Standing before a row of beeping incubators, al-Nawajha emphasized the war’s life-threatening consequences.

“All of our work depends on electricity; all the machines you see here rely on it,” the doctor said. “When the electricity is cut, these devices stop working, and all the babies will face certain death.”

Associated Press

A U.S. military MQ-9 drone was shot down on Wednesday by Yemen’s Houthis, two U.S. officials and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement said.

While U.S. drones have been shot down by Houthis in the past, this incident comes at a particularly tense time in the region.

Washington is on heightened alert for activity by Iran-backed groups as regional tensions soar during the Israel-Hamas war.

The U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the drone, made by General Atomics, had been brought down off the coast of Yemen. They did not say if it was taken down in international airspace.

In a statement, a Houthi military spokesperson said they shot down the drone in airspace over Yemeni territorial waters.

In 2019, U.S. drones were brought down on two separate occasions by the group in Yemen.

The Pentagon has surged thousands of troops to the region to try and contain the conflict, including two aircraft carriers. Some of those troops have been in the Red Sea aboard military vessels.

Last month, a U.S. Navy warship intercepted four cruise missiles and more than a dozen drones launched by the Houthis from Yemen headed toward Israel.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at a meeting with members of his war Cabinet: “There will be no cease-fire without the release of our hostages. Everything else is false.”

Meeting with local leaders from the West Bank, Netanyahu outlined three objectives for the IDF: stepping up counterterrorism, preventing the opening of a second front in the West Bank, and stopping a “handful of extremists” from stirring up violence.

The Biden administration has pressed Netanyahu on reports of Palestinians killed by settlers in the West Bank. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN, “Prime Minister Netanyahu does have a responsibility to rein in the extremist settlers on the West Bank who are, as President Biden put it a few days ago, pouring fuel on the fire.”

Netanyahu acknowledged that “there is a tiny handful of people that do not represent this public and that take the law into their own hands. We are not prepared to tolerate this. We are not prepared to accept this. We will take all action against them.”

NBC News

Editor’s Note: These photos were taken during a controlled tour and subsequently edited under the supervision of the Israeli military.

Israeli troops are pictured outside the Gaza Strip ahead of an operation in northern Gaza on November 8, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. 

-Daphne Lemelin | AFP | Getty Images

There are still about 10 Americans unaccounted for since fighting began between Israel and Hamas, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, adding that some are among those taken hostage.

Patel said the Rafah border crossing with Egypt remains closed, though 81 trucks carrying aid did cross into Gaza on Tuesday. He did not have a timeline for when it would be reopened.

More than 400 U.S. citizens, permanent residents and eligible family members have left Gaza via the Rafah crossing so far, Patel said.

— Chris Eudaily

Congressional staff lay down roses and carnations on the stairs by the U.S. Capitol for those who lost their lives in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war, unfurling a banner calling for a ceasefire.

-Celal Gunes| Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Palestinians gathered to inspect the rubble after a mosque in the Khan Younis refugee camp was reportedly leveled in an airstrike.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Wednesday that war crimes have been committed by both Israel and Hamas in the month-long conflict.

“The atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian armed groups on 7 October were heinous, they were war crimes — as is the continued holding of hostages,” Volker Turk said at the Rafah crossing in Egypt on the border with Gaza.

“The collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians is also a war crime, as is unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians,” he added.

— Karen Gilchrist

Qatar is leading talks to secure the release of 10 to 15 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a 1-2 day humanitarian pause of Israeli hostilities, a source briefed on the talks told the AFP Wednesday.

CNBC was unable to independently verify the report.

— Karen Gilchrist

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that the first group of 43 Ukrainian nationals had been evacuated from Gaza.

In a post on social media, Zelenskyy said the group are now in Egypt. Alongside them are 36 Moldovan citizens who Kyiv also helped to transfer, he added.

— Karen Gilchrist

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the number of civilians deaths in the Gaza Strip indicate there is something “clearly wrong” with Israel’s military operations.

“There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong,” Guterres told a Reuters NEXT news conference.

A month on from Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attacks, the Israeli military is forging ahead with its efforts to wipe out the militant group.

However, humanitarian agencies have expressed grave concern at the civilian death toll from the conflict. An estimated 10,569 people have now been killed in Gaza, 40% of them children, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry.

— Karen Gilchrist

Photos show a make-shift charity kitchen in the streets of Rafah to help feed the increasing numbers of displaced Palestinians amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

– Said Khatib | AFP | Getty Images

A view of an encampment of students who have been engaged in a sit-in on campus at White Plaza of Stanford University in Stanford, California.

The sit-in has persisted for 19 days at any given time and the students say they plan to do so until the university meets their demands, calling for it to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza. 

-Tayfun Coskun | AFP | Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday that they have destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels since launching their military operation in the Gaza Strip.

In a series of posts on social media, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari shared video footage purporting to show the destruction.

CNBC was unable to independently verify the reports.

Hamas has spent decades building what it says are more than 300 miles worth of tunnels, which the IDF euphemistically nicknames the “Gaza metro.”

— Karen Gilchrist

The images below show a Palestinian man pouring cooking oil into a car in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, amid an ongoing gas and oil shortage due to the battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas.

The Israeli prime minister has said there will be no fuel delivered to Gaza and no cease-fire with Hamas unless the more than 240 hostages seized by Palestinian militants are freed. 

-Mohammed Abed | AFP | Getty Images

Belgium’s deputy prime minister on Wednesday urged her government to adopt sanctions against Israel and investigate what she called the “inhumane” bombing of hospitals and refugee camps in Gaza.

“It is time for sanctions against Israel. The rain of bombs is inhumane,” Petra De Sutter told Nieuwsblad newspaper. “It is clear that Israel does not care about the international demands for a ceasefire,” she added.

A spokesperson for Israel’s government was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC.

De Sutter said the European Union should immediately suspend its association agreement with Israel — an economic and political deal — and impose an import ban on products from occupied Palestinian territories.

As the war runs into its second month, the United Nations and G7 countries have been increasing their calls for a humanitarian pause in the fighting, which has so far killed more than 10,000 people, according to Palestinian authorities.

— Karen Gilchrist

Italy will send a hospital ship toward the coast of Gaza to help treat victims of the ongoing conflict, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, Crosetto said that the ship is leaving Italy with 170 staff on board, including 30 people trained for medical emergencies. He added that Italy is also working to send a field hospital to the Gaza enclave.

— Karen Gilchrist

The al-Quds hospital of the Gaza Strip, which has been providing critical care to civilians amid the ongoing conflict, is facing an acute shortage of fuel and could run out of supplies on Wednesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent warned.

“Today, PRCS Al Quds hospital curtailed most operations in an attempt to ration fuel use and ensure a minimum level of services over the coming few days,” the humanitarian organization said in a post on social media.

— Karen Gilchrist

The U.N.’s humanitarian office said Wednesday that 650 trucks carrying essential aid have reached the Gaza Strip since supplies began routing through the Rafah crossing on Oct. 21.

The Rafah passageway is the only land route not controlled by Israel.

Despite the flow of truck deliveries, the U.N. warned that “people need much more. Drinking water brought in serves just 4% of Gaza’s residents. Desperately needed fuel remains banned. Bringing in vital supplies safely, repeatedly and at scale is critical.”

The U.N. has previously noted that over 500 trucks carrying aid deliveries would enter the Gaza Strip on a daily basis, prior to the conflict.

The Israel Defense Forces said a fighter jet attack killed a senior Hamas weapons developer, Mohsen Abu Zina, in a Telegram update on the military’s overnight operations.

The IDF credits Abu Zina as one of the Hamas’ “leading weapons developers,” adding he was an “expert in developing strategic weapons and rockets used by Hamas terrorists.”

CNBC could not independently verify the claim.

The Israeli military has reported killing multiple senior Hamas commanders since the start of the conflict and says that eliminating such personnel, demilitarizing the Palestinian militant group and releasing hostages are the key objectives of its campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Ruxandra Iordache

The Israeli military has offered another four-hour humanitarian corridor window for civilians to safely flee Gaza City southward, warning that “time is running out to evacuate.”

Avichay Adraee, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson for Arab media, urged Palestinian people to “take advantage of the next time to move south beyond Wadi Gaza,” while saying the military will allow free passage south through the main Salah al-Din road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time.

“The northern Gaza Strip area is considered a fierce combat zone,” he said in Google-translated comments on social media.

Fears have risen that the Israeli military plans to storm Gaza City, given the increased frequency of IDF-brokered humanitarian corridors and the Israeli armed forces encircling the site.

Ruxandra Iordache

EDITORS NOTE-Graphic Content: This post contains images depicting death from Gaza and Israel.

At least 10,569 people have been killed, with 26,475 wounded in the Gaza Strip since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks and Israel’s retaliatory strikes, according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Over 155 people have been killed, with 2,250 injured in the West Bank over that period, according to the latest figures published on Nov. 6 by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

At least 1,400 have been killed and more 7,198 have been wounded in Israel, the Israel government said on Nov. 7.

Ruxandra Iordache

The White House is attempting to juggle between multiple global crises, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Japan.

“We are determined, and we are, as we would say, running and chewing gum at the same time,” he said in response to a question on Washington’s ability to tackle developing situations in the Middle East, Ukraine and Asia-Pacific.

Blinken has finished another whirlwind tour of the Middle East in an attempt to broker diplomatic recourses to the Israel-Hamas war. This week, he was in Japan for a G7 ministerial meeting over global developments, and is heading for talks in South Korea amid concerns over rising military cooperation between Russia and North Korea.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israeli leadership has reassured the U.S. that it’s not planning a reoccupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Wednesday.

“What I’ve heard from Israeli leaders is that they have no intent to reoccupy Gaza and retake control of Gaza,” he said Wednesday, while emphasizing that the Gaza Strip cannot remain under the control of Palestinian militant group Hamas, as it “invites a repetition” of the terror attacks of Oct. 7.

“It’s also clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza. Now the reality is that there may be a need for some transition period at the end of the conflict, but it is imperative that Palestinian people be central to governance in Gaza and the West Bank as well, and again, that we don’t see a re-ocupation,” he said, amid mounting concerns that the Israeli military ground advances into the Gaza enclosure could lead to conquest or the permanent displacement of Palestinian people.

“So the only question is, is there some transition period that might be necessary? And what might be the mechanism that you can put in place for that, to make sure that there is security?”

He added that steps forward to resolve the conflict should lead to an outcome with “no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, not now, not after the war. No use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks. No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza. We must also ensure no terrorist threats can emanate from the West Bank.”

Ruxandra Iordache

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday stressed that the consensus of Group of Seven ministers, who met earlier in the day in Japan, was that a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war would fulfil “key” objectives: increasing flows of humanitarian aid, allowing the evacuation of foreign nationals and facilitating the release of hostages still held by the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip.

“Those calling for an immediate ceasefire have an obligation to explain how to address the unacceptable result it would likely bring about, with more than 200 hostages, with the capacity and stated intent to repeat Oct. 7, again and again and again,” the U.S. top diplomat told reporters Wednesday.

“Ultimately the only way to ensure that this crisis never happens again is to begin setting the conditions for durable peace and security and to frame our diplomatic efforts now with that in mind.”

He added that steps forward to resolve the conflict should lead to an outcome with “no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, not now, not after the war. No use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks. No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza. We must also ensure no terrorist threats can emanate from the West Bank.”

Ruxandra Iordache

The Israeli offensive has now transitioned to a new phase targeting the labyrinthine web of underground tunnels stretching beneath Gaza City and nearby territories in the enclave, the latest military press briefings and official statements signal.

In a Tuesday speech, Israeli Defense Minister Yaiv Gallant said that the Gaza Strip is the “biggest terrorist base ever built by human race,” as “underground, long tunnels that connect to hospitals and schools are connected by them – they have communication rooms, ammunition warehouses, places to stay and everything in order to be used as a base of terrorism to harm the citizens of the State of Israel and the soldiers of the [Israel Defense Forces].”

He stressed that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, whom he accused of orchestrating the terror attacks of Oct. 7, is now “hiding in his bunker at this time his chain of command is eroding” — and vowed that the IDF will fulfil its mission to dismantle Hamas, strip away its military capabilities and return the over two hundred hostages that remain in the hands of the Palestinian militant group.

Israel has repeatedly said the Hamas underground network spans grounds below critical civilian facilities, which are used as shields for the tunnel infrastructure. CNBC could not independently confirm these reports.

The focus shift toward Hamas’ underground network marks a new phase in Israel’s war campaign against the besieged and resource-deprived Gaza Strip, amid recent advances from the IDF ground infantry. The Israeli military has increasingly been reporting tunnel discoveries, with NBC News reporting on the site of such findings.

Ruxandra Iordache

A U.K. minister of Keir Starmer’s Labour opposition cabinet has resigned in order to “strongly advocate” for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas offensive.

In a resignation letter to Starmer shared on social media, Imran Hussain, now former shadow minister for the New Deal for Working People, writes, “It has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted.”

He adds that, “given the crisis unfolding, I wish to be a strong advocate for the humanitarian ceasefire advocated by the UN General Secretary, the UN Commission for human rights and other humanitarian bodies,” and that Hussain “cannot sufficiently, in all good conscience, do this from the frontbench given its current position.”

Hussain further notes he was “deeply troubled” by comments made by Starmer in an Oct. 11 LBC interview, whereby the Labour leader “appeared to endorse such actions by Israeli military.”

In the interview, Starmer said that Israel has the right of self-defense and to withhold its resources from the besieged Gaza Strip, while disclaiming everything should be done in accordance with international law, according to LBC.

CNBC has reached out to Starmer for comment.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israeli military has increasingly been focusing on the extensive labyrinth of underground tunnels that spans swathes of territory beneath northern Gaza. Used for both travel and shelter, the tunnels offer Hamas a strategic advantage to shield and ambush Israeli ground infantry, as well as move and store weapons and explosives.

Israel claims it has previously uncovered tunnels under civilian sites including the al-Shifa hospital — which CNBC has not been able to independently confirm.

On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari released further images and video footage, allegedly depicting the location of tunnel shafts near a Ferris wheel and university, according to a Google translation. CNBC could not verify the pictures.

Ruxandra Iordache

The Israel Defense Forces are undertaking “significant military activity” in and around the embattled Gaza City, which it calls a “center of gravity” of Palestinian militant group Hamas, according to a spokesperson.

“Tonight there’s significant military activity in the northern part of Gaza City, we’re striking a few strongholds in Shati, which is a known stronghold, and we continue to fight in Jabalia, and we’re targeting Hamas wherever they are deployed,” IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said in a TV conversation with the StandWithUS pro-Israel nonprofit organization.

“Our troops are in various locations engaging with the enemy, and I’m talking about infantry, armor, combat engineers, artillery, logistics, intelligence, that are all working together on the ground and below ground and going to the places where Hamas has been preparing itself.”

The IDF has been building positions around Gaza City and offering limited evacuation windows out of it since the weekend — stoking fears that the military is preparing to storm the site.

Ruxandra Iordache

An Israeli military spokesperson signaled it is likely that the limited windows during which Israel stops shelling Gaza City to allow humanitarian evacuations will continue.

“Without committing to it, I can anticipate that tomorrow again we will open this humanitarian corridor,” Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said in a TV interview with CNN, which was published overnight. The IDF say they have been interrupting fire to allow evacuations for limited stretches of time on multiple occasions since the weekend.

“It definitely serves the strategic aim of what we want to achieve: we want to fight Hamas and Hamas only. The civilians are not our enemy,” Conricus said.

Expectations have been mounting that the next phase of Israel’s campaign will be a ground offensive focused on taking Gaza City and the underground spiderweb of Hamas tunnels woven beneath.

International pressure has ramped up on Israel to avoid harming civilians throughout its retaliatory strikes. Israel says it is only outright targeting Hamas operatives and positions.

Ruxandra Iordache

Doctors Without Borders reported the death of Mohammed Al Ahel, a laboratory technician for the organization in Gaza, on Nov. 6, during a bombing in the Shati refugee camp. Several members of his family also died in the bombing.

The international charity said Al Ahel had worked with them for more than two years and was at his home when the area was bombed and his building collapsed.

“Our repeated calls for an immediate ceasefire have gone unanswered,” the charity said in a statement Tuesday. “But we insist that a ceasefire is the only way to prevent more senseless deaths across Gaza and allow adequate humanitarian aid into the Strip.”

Associated Press

The White House on Tuesday reiterated that President Joe Biden does not support an Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip once the war ends.

Asked about Netanyahu’s comments, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said he would leave it to Netanyahu to clarify what he means by having “indefinite” control of Gaza’s security.

“There needs to be a healthy set of conversations about what post conflict Gaza looks like and what governance looks like,” Kirby told reporters.

“What we absolutely agree with our Israeli counterparts on is what it can’t look like, and it can’t look like it looked on October 6.”

Biden previously said it would be a “mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza.

Associated Press

Nariman Tamimi, mother of detained Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, holds a painting of her daughter as she sits in their family home in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army said on Nov. 6 it had arrested the prominent 22-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi during a raid in the occupied West Bank.

— Getty Images

The White House said President Joe Biden discussed implementing temporary pauses in fighting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to create an opportunity for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

The pause in the conflict would also give people who want to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing an opportunity to do so.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House that the Biden administration plans to “keep the dialogue going.”

— Amanda Macias

Biden and Netanyahu discuss temporary pauses in fighting; Gaza City residents flee after IDF order


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