Israel-Hamas war updates: IDF strikes ambulances near Gaza hospital, saying Hamas used them; Netanyahu rejects cease-fire before hostage release

Israel-Hamas war updates: IDF strikes ambulances near Gaza hospital, saying Hamas used them; Netanyahu rejects cease-fire before hostage release

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

The Israeli Defense Forces on Friday attacked a group of ambulances parked near the Al-Shifa hospital, claiming they were used by Hamas to carry operatives and weapons. A Palestinian humanitarian group said the ambulances were returning from the Rafah border after transporting injured individuals.

Earlier in the day, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah praised Palestinian militants and other forces in the region attacking Israeli and U.S. interests in the wake of a Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

In a widely anticipated televised speech, Nasrallah called the offensive by Hamas militants, which killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and took more than 240 hostages “glorious,” according to an Al Jazeera translation.

He added that the operation was carried out without the knowledge of other parties in what he called the “resistance axis.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning after the White House called for a “humanitarian pause” in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The top U.S. envoy also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to discuss efforts to secure the release of hostages from Hamas and accelerate humanitarian aid to Gaza.

It comes as clashes between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas continue. The IDF described a “lengthy battle” Thursday night during which it said that “terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at them and activated a number of IEDs.”

The human cost of the conflict continues to rise, with the death toll in Gaza now above 9,000, according to a Thursday update from the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

Israel in an update Sunday said that over 1,400 people had been killed — the majority in the Hamas terror attack of Oct. 7.

Israel on Friday deported thousands of Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip back to the besieged territory, Palestinian authorities said, capping what many described as harrowing weeks trapped in legal limbo since their detention when the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

Some workers, streaming by foot through an Israeli crossing that had been sealed shut since Hamas unleashed its brutal attack on southern Israel Oct. 7, told of violent mistreatment by Israeli authorities in detention centers. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

“We sacrificed and they treated us like livestock over there,” one of the workers, Wael al-Sajda, said from the border, pointing to his ankle fitted with an identification bracelet.

Al-Sajda was among the roughly 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza allowed to work in menial jobs in Israel. The permits have been coveted in Gaza, which has an unemployment rate approaching 50%. Israel began issuing the permits in recent years, a measure it thought helped stabilize Gaza and moderate Hamas, despite a broader blockade aimed at weakening the Islamic militant group.

Late Thursday, Israel announced it was revoking the workers’ permits and would deport them.

 — Associated Press

The humanitarian group Palestine Red Crescent Society said it received 47 humanitarian aid trucks Friday from the Egyptian Red Crescent across the Rafah border crossing.

The trucks delivered water, blankets, medical supplies, food, tents and mattresses. The group said that it has so far received 421 trucks, but noted fuel is still not allowed into Gaza.

— Christine Wang

Egypt received and treated 17 injured Palestinians, out of the 28 who were expected to arrive, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Health told NBC News.

In its summary of the third day of entry for injured and foreign nationals, the ministry said 11 of the expected, injured Palestinians did not arrive due to unspecified “events in Gaza.”

Egypt said it conducted medical exams on 448 foreign nationals received, including 96 children who received vaccines.

— Christine Wang, NBC News 

The Pentagon immediately restricted travel to Israel for senior Defense officials until further notice, according to a memo obtained by NBC News from a department official.

The document also discouraged members of Congress and their staffs from visits to Israel that would require Pentagon support.

The memo noted that these restrictions do not affect United States Central Command operations nor the travel of the president, vice president, secretary of Defense, deputy secretary of Defense, chairman of the joint chiefs, vice chair of the joint chiefs, service secretaries or service chiefs.

— Christine Wang, NBC News

Women, children and newborns have been disproportionately affected by the conflict in the Gaza Strip, both as casualties and in reduced access to health care, U.N. agencies warned.

As of Friday, at least 2,300 women and 3,700 children have been killed in the territory accounting for 67% of all casualties while thousands more have been injured, the statement said, citing health ministry data.

The joint statement was issued by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and  the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The agencies warned that bombardments have further reduced health-care access in Gaza and could lead to more deaths. They estimated that over half of the population in Gaza is now sheltering at UNRWA facilities with limited water and food supplies.

“An immediate humanitarian pause is needed to alleviate the suffering and prevent a desperate situation from becoming catastrophic,” the agencies said.

— Christine Wang

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Jordan to continue his latest diplomatic mission to increase humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza and prevent Palestinian civilian casualties as Israel intensifies its war against Hamas.

Blinken, whose call for Israel to temporarily pause some military operations to allow assistance in and foreign nationals out appeared to be rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after they met in Tel Aviv earlier Friday, will meet Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the foreign ministers of Jordan and perhaps other Arab nations on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel and told Israel’s envoy not to return to Amman at least until conditions in Gaza have improved, further complicating Blinken’s efforts.

In addition to aid distribution, allowing foreigners out of Gaza and securing the release of hostages held by Hamas, Blinken is looking to persuade Jordan and other Arab states to begin thinking about the future of Gaza — if and when Israel succeeds at eradicating Hamas.

Associated Press

Getty Images

Editor’s note: The following post contains a photograph with graphic content.

Honduras recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations Friday as it condemned what it called “genocide and other serious violations of international law” in the Israel-Hamas war.

The Central American country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that President Xiomara Castro had decided to immediately recall the ambassador in light of “the serious humanitarian situation the civilian Palestinian population is suffering in the Gaza Strip.”

The Foreign Affairs Ministry added in a statement that “Honduras energetically condemns the genocide and serious violations of international humanitarian law that the civilian Palestinian population is suffering in the Gaza Strip.”

Castro, a leftist who took office in January 2022 as the first female president in Honduras, has sought to align with other leftist governments in the hemisphere like Venezuela and Cuba, but without completely alienating the United States.

Associated Press

“Maya! Maya! Water! Water!” is now the refrain from people on Gaza streets, the Gaza director for the UNRWA, the United Nation’s agency for Palestinian refugees, said Friday.

Thomas White said “having traveled the length and breadth of Gaza in the last few weeks, it is a scene of death and destruction.” No place is safe now, he said, and people fear for their lives, their futures, and that they will not be able to feed their families.

UNRWA is supporting about 89 bakeries across Gaza aiming to get bread to 1.7 million people, White said in a video briefing to diplomats from the U.N.’s 193 member nations. The average person in Gaza is living on two pieces of Arabic bread made from flour the U.N. had stockpiled in the territory, he said.

But “now people are beyond looking for bread. It’s looking for water,” he said.

U.N. deputy Middle East coordinator Lynn Hastings, who is also the humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said only one of three water supply lines from Israel is operational and “many people are relying on brackish or saline ground water, if at all.”

“People are braving airstrikes to line up outside bakeries to obtain bread, a number of which have already been closed down due to lack of fuel,” she said.

Associated Press

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, said that at least 135 health workers have been killed and 58 healthcare facilities have been damaged in Gaza since the start of the war.

The agency added that at least 16 hospitals and another 51 primary healthcare centers have been shut down due to a lack of fuel.

— Amanda Macias

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said that so far more than 70 of its employees have been killed since the start of the conflict on Oct. 7.

The organization said the death toll stands at 72 and another 23 have been injured.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said that it estimates nearly 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals have been killed in Israel.

— Amanda Macias

The White House said that President Joe Biden remains optimistic about the release of American and foreign nationals held hostage by Hamas.

“We’re going to continue to be optimistic, we’re going to continue to make this a priority. We want to get the Americans and others who are being held hostage,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One.

“We want to get them home to their families,” she added.

— Amanda Macias

An Israeli air strike on an ambulance being used to evacuate the wounded from besieged northern Gaza killed 15 people and injured 60 others on Friday, the Hamas-controlled enclave’s health ministry said.

Israel’s military said it had identified and hit an ambulance “being used by a Hamas terrorist cell.” It said Hamas fighters were killed in the strike, and accused the group of transferring militants and weapons in ambulances.

Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq said allegations its fighters were present were “baseless.” Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said the ambulance was part of a convoy that Israel targeted near Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital.

Qidra said Israel had targeted the convoy of ambulances in more than one location, including at al-Shifa Hospital gate and at Ansar Square a kilometer (0.6 miles) away.

In a statement on the incident, Israel’s military gave no evidence to support its assertion that the ambulance was linked to Hamas but said it intended to release additional information.

“We emphasize that this area is a battle zone. Civilians in the area are repeatedly called upon to evacuate southwards for their own safety,” the military said.

Reuters was unable to independently verify either side’s account.

Video shared on social media, which Reuters has verified, showed people lying in blood next to an ambulance with flashing lights on a city street as people rushed to help.

Another video showed three ambulances standing in a line, with about a dozen people lying either motionless or barely moving next to them. Blood was pooled nearby.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a social media post he was “utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients,” adding that patients, health workers and medical facilities must be protected.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pictured onboard a plane as he departs Israel from Tel Aviv en route to Jordan, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. The top U.S. envoy met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President President Isaac Herzog after the White House called for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza.

— Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that at least 100 U.S. citizens and their family members left Gaza Thursday through the Rafah border crossing, NBC News reported.

She added that the number was likely higher because some may not have worked with the embassy.

“We know additional U.S. citizens and family members departed Gaza yesterday who did not seek assistance from our embassy,” Jean-Pierre said, “but we continue to be focused on getting as many Americans out as quickly as possible and we expect more Americans to depart over the next several days.”

Riya Bhattacharjee

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society, a humanitarian group, posted a graphic video on X showing what it says was an Israeli attack on a group of ambulances that were parked near the Al-Shifa hospital.

The Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, wrote on the Telegram messaging platform that one of its aircraft “struck an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell.

NBC News has not independently verified the IDF claim of Hamas using the ambulance or the death toll in the strike.

The IDF said that the ambulances were “in close proximity to their [Hamas] position in the battle zone” and added that a “number of Hamas terrorist operatives were killed in the strike.”

The IDF said it would release more information but added that it had intelligence that the ambulances were being used to “transfer terror operatives and weapons.”

— Amanda Macias

The Pentagon said the U.S. is conducting unarmed drone flights over Gaza in order to aid efforts to recover hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the U.S. is also “providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partners as they work on their hostage recovery efforts.”

“These UAV flights began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel,” Ryder added.

— Amanda Macias

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to discuss efforts to secure the release of Israeli and foreign national hostages from Hamas.

“Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel’s right to defend itself consistent with international humanitarian law,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller wrote in a statement following the meeting.

The two also discussed accelerating the pace of humanitarian assistance in to Gaza for distribution to civilians.

— Amanda Macias

Royal Caribbean Group said it would remove cruises to Israel from its 2024 itineraries because of “uncertainty in the area.”

Some of the company’s cruise ships are traveling to Greece instead of Israel, while other boats are canceling stops altogether. Royal Caribbean said in a statement that all guests would be notified of the changes.

Some of the itinerary modifications are for as late as October 2024.

It’s the second major U.S. cruise operator to change its plans amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings earlier this week said it would cancel its stops in Israel this year and into 2024.

— Michele Luhn

The IDF is now a week into its “second phase” of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s forces are supplementing heavy aerial bombardment of the besieged territory with what’s been described as a ground incursion, the details of which have been kept closely guarded.

A ground offensive is necessary to achieve Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, the IDF says. A prolonged invasion, however — should it become that — will be bloody and costly not only for those living in Gaza but for the Israeli military as well, military veterans and analysts say.

Urban counter-insurgency, as the U.S. military learned in Iraq, brings deadly challenges to troops that do not apply in an aerial campaign.

“In urban combat, you take higher casualties. That’s just a historical fact,” Jim Webb, a former U.S. Marine infantryman who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CNBC.

He explaining that the defending fighters — in this case Hamas — will have almost every advantage, as they are more proficient in guerilla warfare, know the territory, can carry out urban ambushes, and have access to an extensive network of underground tunnels undetectable from above ground.

“I do not envy the task the IDF may be asked to undertake,” Webb said. 

Read the full report here.

— Natasha Turak

The Hamas attack against Israel of Oct. 7 was an “entirely Palestinian operation” and “has no relation to any regional issue,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told crowds of supporters in a speech Friday.

Nasrallah stressed that the attack by the Gaza-based militant group, which killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel, was “kept secret” from the rest of the “resistance axis,” in what appeared to be an effort to distance Hezbollah and Lebanon from Hamas actions. The Oct. 7 terror offensive has triggered a devastating retaliation from Israel.

“We had no knowledge, honestly speaking” about the Hamas attack before it took place, Nasrallah reiterated again in his speech, according to an Al Jazeera translation.

The Hezbollah leader also said that “Iran does not exercise any kind of control over resistance movements in the region.” Iran is the main financial and military backer of both Hamas and Hezbollah, and repeatedly stresses its aim to resist and defeat Israel and the U.S. The Iranian government has previously claimed it had no prior knowledge of the Oct. 7 attack.

Nasrallah nonetheless heaped praise on Hamas for what it called its “glorious act of jihad” — an Arabic word that can also refer to “holy war” — against Israel and said that “the victory of Gaza is in the national patriotic interest of Lebanon.” He also warned Israel not to attack Lebanon, and said that “further escalation on the Lebanese front is a realistic probability.”

Analysts reacting to the speech described it as more moderate and restrained than many had expected, as it refrained from calling on Hezbollah’s fighters and supporters to escalate the fight against Israel. Hezbollah has masses of well-armed ranks in southern Lebanon along Israel’s northern border, and has exchanged shelling and rocket fire with the Israel Defense Forces in the weeks since Oct. 7.

— Natasha Turak

EDITORS NOTE-Graphic Content: This post shows images of wounded Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Search and rescue operations continue after an Israeli attack on the Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip.

-Getty Images

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday said that he had spoken to Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen and expressed “EU solidarity and commitment to Israel’s security.”

In a post on social media, Borrell also said that he had reiterated the EU’s support for Israel in freeing hostages, as well as calling for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting to ensure safe delivery of aid to the people of the Gaza Strip.

— Karen Gilchrist

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said that he will not agree to any temporary cease-fire with Hamas until the more than 240 hostages seized by the Palestinian militant group during its Oct. 7 attack are released, Reuters reported .

“Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire that does not include the return of our hostages,” he said during a televised address.

A Hamas official previously said that a cease-fire would be required before captives can be returned.

— Karen Gilchrist

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah praised Palestinian militants and other forces in the region attacking Israeli and U.S. interests in the wake of a Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

In a widely anticipated televised speech, he called the offensive by Hamas militants, which killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and took more than 240 hostages “glorious,” according to an Al Jazeera translation. He further said the attack was an entirely Palestinian operation, planned and carried out with no knowledge of other parties in what he called the “resistance axis.”

He also praised allies in Yemeni and Iraqi militant groups for attacking U.S. bases in the region and said that the decision of Islamic resistance groups in Iraq to target U.S. bases was “wise.”

The comments were part of the influential Hezbollah leader’s first speech since the war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7. Based in Lebanon and funded primarily by Iran, Hezbollah is the Middle East’s most powerful paramilitary group and regularly calls for the destruction of Israel.

— Natasha Turak

Thirteen U.S. senators have called for a temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Gaza amid the dramatically worsening humanitarian situation. The senators, all part of the Democratic party, said that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, but stressed the need to protect civilian life.

“As Senators, we have been closely monitoring the war in Gaza and believe that much more must be done to protect civilian life,” the lawmakers said in the statement from the office of Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

The statement included three aims that the senators want achieved during the proposed short-term cessation in fighting:

International aid organizations, including the World Health Organization and the U.N., have been pleading for a humanitarian cease-fire, as they describe catastrophic human suffering in the besieged Gaza Strip, where local health authorities say more than 9,000 people have been killed and hospitals and schools have been bombed, among other infrastructure.

Israel maintains it is targeting Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza and carried out the Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel that killed more than 1,400 people.

— Natasha Turak

“Some progress” has been made in getting fuel into Gaza, the United Nations aid chief said Friday, adding that confirmation of a deal for such supplies could come by the end of the day, according to Reuters.

“I heard just this morning as I came in, there has been some progress on allowing some more fuel in through these negotiations,” Martin Griffiths told a meeting at the U.N. headquarters in New York. “I hope to see that confirmed during today.”

The global body, alongside Israel, Egypt and the U.S., have been in ongoing talks to get fuel into Gaza for the first time since hostilities began on 0ct. 7.

Aid agencies have said that the lack of critical fuel supplies have made their efforts to assist civilians in the besieged enclave nearly impossible. Israel, for its part, claims that Hamas is rerouting fuel supplies toward its war efforts.

Griffiths also reiterated calls for “humanitarian pauses” to the fighting between Israel and Hamas to enable aid deliveries into Gaza.

— Karen Gilchrist

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the need to safeguard civilians throughout the Israel-Hamas conflict, following a Friday meeting with Israeli leadership.

Speaking in a press briefing alongside Israeli President Isaac Herzog, he said: “It is very important that, when it comes to the protection of civilians, who are caught in a crossfire of Hamas’ making, that everything be done to protect them, and to bring assistance to those who so desperately need it.”

He stressed that Washington is “here, as we’ve been, as we’ll remain, in solidarity with Israel” and stressed that the White House stands “strongly for the proposition that Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself and to do everything possible to ensure that this Oct. 7 can never happen again.”

The U.S. has firmly backed Israel, which is carrying out retaliatory hostilities in the Gaza Strip following the terror attacks of Palestinian militant group Hamas. Human rights groups have decried the harm to civilians in the embattled and besieged Gaza enclosure, as Israeli airstrikes have bombarded the enclave, and hit a refugee camp. U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this week called for a humanitarian pause to the conflict.

Israel insists it only targets Hamas positions.

“Israel has been making phone calls and distributing pamphlets giving forewarning to civilians in the Gaza Strip to evacuate before striking, which it believes to be in accordance with international law,” Herzog said Friday.

Ruxandra Iordache

Palestinian workers, who were stuck in Israel since the Oct. 7 attacks, react after crossing back into the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing with Israel in the south of the Palestinian enclave on Nov. 3, 2023. 

Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once more called for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, saying crimes against humanity have been taking place in the Gaza Strip.

Under the U.N.’s definition, crimes against humanity are one of four types of offences that can be investigated by the International Criminal Court, which is governed by the Rome Statute treaty. Israel is a signatory but has yet to ratify the Rome Statute, meaning it does not give the ICC purview to judge crimes on its territory.

Erdogan accused Israel of a disproportionate response in its bombardment and blockade of the Gaza Strip since the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7.

“There is no concept that can excuse what we have witnessed since October 7 or explain this brutality. Crimes against humanity have been committed in Gaza for exactly 28 days,” he said, according to Google-translated comments reported by Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

Israel has said its campaign in the Gaza Strip is focused on demilitarizing Hamas and that it is exercising its right to self-defense.

The Turkish leader said that Ankara’s priority is the “rapid” establishment of a humanitarian cease-fire and that it is “also working on new mechanisms that will guarantee the security of everyone.”

Turkey has so far sent 10 planes carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. Typically, such aircraft land in Egypt, and the assistance is then transported by truck to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing.

Ruxandra Iordache

At least 9,227 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the Oct. 7 start of the Israel-Hamas war, with 32,000 injured and 2,060 missing, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Around 16 hospitals have been put out of service, a spokesperson for the ministry said Thursday. The outages follow extensive fuel and electricity shortages and heavy bombardment in the Gaza Strip.

Over 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, with 5,431 injured since the early-October start of the conflict, according to the latest figures from the Israeli prime minister’s office. The Israeli Defense Forces most recently said 335 of its soldiers have been killed in hostilities.

 CNBC could not independently verify either set of figures.

Ruxandra Iordache

The Israel Defense Forces remain at a “high level of readiness, both defensive and offensive, with a high level of vigilance” over hostilities on the northern border with Lebanon, according to officially translated remarks from spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

The IDF and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have been exchanging fire since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas. Hezbollah claims to be acting out of solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, Hezbollah and Yemeni militants Houthi are supported by Iran, which Israel says has orchestrated multiple attacks against it in recent weeks.

“Iran continues to carry out subversive, negative activities and pushes its proxies – in its name – with Iranian weaponry which it sends them, exactly like in Ukraine, Yemen and Iraq against American troops, that’s what they’re trying to do against the State of Israel. They are trying to distract us from our war in Gaza,” Hagari said Friday.

Iran has celebrated the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7, but repeatedly denied involvement.

Ruxandra Iordache

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office on Friday estimated that a total of $1.2 billion in funding was needed to meet the needs of the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to Reuters.

The office said this funding would serve 2.7 million people — which OCHA believes to be the entire population of the Gaza Strip enclave — and 500,00 people in the occupied West Bank.

On Oct. 12, OCHA launched an emergency appeal for $294 million to support the needs of 1.26 million people in the two regions.

Deprived of supplies from Israel and under siege from its military, the civilians of the Gaza Strip, many of whom have been internally displaced to the south of the territory, have received some assistance by way of humanitarian aid packages trucked in through the Rafah crossing bordering Egypt. Human rights groups warn this inflow represents just a “trickle” of what the Palestinian people need.

Ruxandra Iordache

The Israel Defense Forces has released an audio recording of an alleged conversation with a “source in the Gaza healthcare system” who says that Hamas is holding over half a million liters of fuel under the al-Shifa hospital.

CNBC could not authenticate that the audio recording is legitimate. The quality of the sound is also distorted.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of possessing and withholding critical fuel reserves in the blockaded and heavily bombarded Gaza Strip, which has been cut off from Israel’s own fuel, food, water and electricity supplies since the early days of the conflict.

The IDF claims that militant group Hamas is rerouting fuel reserves toward its war efforts, rather than allowing them to be used for the treatment of civilians.

The Gaza health ministry and human rights groups, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, have meanwhile repeatedly called for further deliveries of fuel so that medical facilities in the Palestinian territories can continue to power their machines and provide care.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently in a private meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv, the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a social media update Friday morning.

The two will also meet with members of the Israeli war cabinet.

Blinken, U.S. President Joe Biden and a spate of other top-level White House officials have visited Israel to reassure Netanyahu’s administration of Washington’s solidarity and coordinate efforts against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The top U.S. envoy is widely expected to ask for a pause in the fighting in the Gaza Strip and measures to protect the civilian population in the enclosure.

Ruxandra Iordache

The IDF in a statement said that one of its brigades “clashed with a number of terror squads inside the Gaza Strip” on Thursday night.

It described a “lengthy battle” during which it said that “terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at them and activated a number of IEDs.”

“The forces on the ground directed aircraft and artillery airstrikes. The terrorists were killed and the danger to the troops was removed,” the statement read.

IDF ground troops are expanding into Gaza, intensifying their operations in the densely urban Gaza City, which is said to be a Hamas stronghold.

Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007, the same year Israel imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the territory of now 2.3 million people. The IDF says ground operations are necessary to eliminate Hamas, which carried out the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed more than 1,300 people.

Israel’s heavy retaliatory airstrike campaign and recently launched ground offensive has killed more than 9,000 people in Gaza, Palestinian health authorities said Thursday.

— Natasha Turak

The Israeli Defense Forces announced the names of four soldiers killed in fighting in Gaza on Thursday, the Times of Israel reported. An additional two soldiers were severely wounded, the IDF said.

That brings the death toll of Israeli soldiers since the start of its ground operations against Hamas to 23.

Israeli troops are expanding their combat operations in Gaza City, a heavily urban environment in the northern part of the Gaza Strip described by the IDF as a Hamas stronghold. Fighting there is expected to be difficult, with urban combat known for its high risks to invading forces.

— Natasha Turak

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Israel “helpless and confused” and accused it of lying to its people, in a post on social media.

“The Zionist entity is lying to you, and it is also lying when it expressed concern about its prisoners with the Palestinians,” Khamenei wrote in Hebrew, according to a Google translation.

“But she also destroys them with the shelling she does. The occupying entity is helpless and confused now, and without American support will be silenced within days,” he added.

Iran — a top adversary of Israel — is the primary financial and military backer of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the Gaza Strip.

Hamas launched the terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,300 people and is currently holding more than 240 hostages.

— Natasha Turak

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel Friday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials in the country. The visit was a part of Blinken’s second trip to the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out on Oct. 7.

With Blinken is U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew, who was only confirmed to the position on Tuesday. Lew, 68, served as treasury secretary in the Obama administration.

Blinken told press before his departure Thursday said he would speak with Israeli leaders about “the ongoing campaign against the Hamas terrorist organization” and “steps that need to be taken to protect civilians.” 

He said he would also discuss the hostages taken captive by Hamas, the flow of humanitarian aid, the passage of civilians from Gaza and preventing a broader regional conflict.

— Natasha Turak

Bahrain said on Thursday that the Gulf state’s ambassador to Israel had returned home and the Israeli ambassador in Manama had left the kingdom “a while ago,” confirming an earlier statement by parliament linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in its war with Hamas which has killed thousands of people has angered Arab states who are concerned with sharply rising civilian casualties and Israel’s blockade of the densely populated coastal enclave.

The government statement did not confirm that economic ties had been severed, as the parliament had earlier stated, but said that flights between the two countries had been suspended for several weeks.

The statement did not clarify whether that meant the Israeli ambassador had been expelled.

Israel had earlier said it received no word of any such actions, saying its relations with Bahrain were “stable.”

In its statement, the parliament — a consultative body with no powers in the area of foreign policy — said the moves “confirmed Bahrain’s historic position in support of the Palestinian cause.”

“The Council of Representatives affirms that the Israeli ambassador in the kingdom of Bahrain has left Bahrain and the kingdom of Bahrain has decided on the return of the Bahrain ambassador to Israel,” the parliament said in a statement.

“The cessation of economic relations was also decided,” it said, without making clear who had made the decision.

Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “We would like to clarify that no notification or decision has been received from the government of Bahrain and the government of Israel to return the countries’ ambassadors. Relations between Israel and Bahrain are stable.”

Any suspension of diplomatic and economic ties, if confirmed, would mark a significant setback for Israel.

— Reuters

The Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bill that would provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel as it wages war against Hamas, but Democrats say it’s dead on arrival in the Senate and President Joe Biden has vowed to veto the measure.

The Republican proposal would also rescind funds for the IRS in the same amount, from funding approved in last year’s climate, health and tax law.

Democrats said the IRS cuts amounted to a a poison pill, as the money was intended to amp up enforcement and catch tax cheats. A new Congressional Budget Office report says that the overall measure would add nearly $27 billion to the deficit.

President Biden and Senate Democrats are backing a broader approach, pushing for $106 billion for both Israel and Ukraine aid, humanitarian aid for Gaza, as well as funding for U.S. border operations in one package.

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NBC News

Israeli troops fought with Hamas militants and encircled Gaza City on Thursday, the military said, as the Palestinian death toll rose above 9,000. U.S. and Arab leaders raised pressure on Israel to ease its siege of Gaza and at least briefly halt its attacks in order to aid civilians.

The Israeli military’s chief of staff, Herzi Halevy, said his forces were encircling Gaza City from several directions and “fighting in a built-up, dense, complex area.”

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari said Israeli forces were in “face to face” battles with militants, calling in airstrikes and shelling when needed. He said they were inflicting heavy losses on Hamas fighters and destroying their infrastructure with engineering equipment.

Nearly four weeks after Hamas’ deadly rampage in Israel sparked the war, U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken was heading to the region for talks Friday in Israel and Jordan following President Joe Biden’s suggestion for a humanitarian “pause” in the fighting. The aim would be to let in aid for Palestinians and let out more foreign nationals and wounded. Around 800 people left over the past two days.

Israel did not immediately respond to Biden’s suggestion. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has previously ruled out a cease-fire, said Thursday: “We are advancing … Nothing will stop us.” He vowed to destroy Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.

Associated Press

White House calls for ‘humanitarian pauses’; Gaza Strip situation is ‘desperate,’ UN agency says


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