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Biden heads to Israel as blast at Gaza hospital kills hundreds, escalating tensions across the region

Hundreds killed in explosion at Gaza hospital 06:13

The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people were killed Tuesday when an airstrike hit a hospital compound in the center of Gaza City. But Israeli officials deny targeting the hospital and say they believe the blast was caused by a rocket from Hamas or Islamic Jihad that fell short and struck the site.

The blast sparked protests in many Arab nations and the West Bank.

News of the deadly explosion came just hours before President Biden departed for Israel for a visit Wednesday to deliver a message of support to a key U.S. ally following Hamas' terror rampage in southern Israel. Mr. Biden had also planned to meet with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority on a stop in Jordan, but that meeting was canceled in the wake of the hospital tragedy.

Ahead of the president's visit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and Israel had "agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multinational organizations to reach civilians in Gaza," the small, densely populated Palestinian territory that has been run by Hamas for almost two decades. 

Relentless Israeli airstrikes and a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed by Israel in the wake of Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, have driven roughly half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents from their homes and created a humanitarian crisis as food, fuel and water all run desperately short.

Palestinian officials say Israel's bombardment of Gaza has killed about 3,000 people and wounded around 12,500 others, a majority of them women and children. In Israel, officials say Hamas' terror attack and ongoing rocket attacks have killed some 1,400 people and wounded 3,500 others. Hamas is said to be holding almost 200 hostages.

Thirteen U.S. nationals remain unaccounted for after the Hamas raids in Israel and 31 U.S. citizens have been confirmed killed. As many as 600 U.S. nationals are thought to be among the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in Gaza.  

Our coverage of latest developments continues here. Catch up on earlier reporting below.


Situation in Gaza "spiraling out of control": WHO chief

The situation in the Gaza Strip is "spiraling out of control," the head of the U.N. health agency warned on Wednesday, following a blast at a hospital that killed hundreds of people.

"The situation in #Gaza is spiralling out of control," the head of the World Health Organization, (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "We need violence on all sides to stop."

"Every second we wait to get medical aid in, we lose lives," he added. "We need immediate access to start delivering life-saving supplies."


Israeli military renews call for residents of northern Gaza to evacuate south

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Wednesday again urged residents of the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City to evacuate south, toward the area of Al-Mawasi, some 17 miles down the coast, where it said "humanitarian aid" would be available.

In a social media post, the military said, "The IDF calls on #GazaCity residents to evacuate south for their protection."

The IDF has been telling the residents to move south as it pounds northern and central Gaza with airstrikes ahead of its widely anticipated ground invasion.

But humanitarian conditions have dramatically worsened since Israel cut the flow of food, water, fuel and medicine into Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack.

The IDF didn't provide information on how the promised aid would get into Gaza.

By Brian Dakss

U.S. letting non-essential embassy staff leave Lebanon

The United States authorized non-essential personnel and their families to leave the U.S. Embassy near Beirut on Tuesday, citing the unpredictable security situation in Lebanon due to the Israel-Hamas war.

The State Department also raised its travel advisory for Lebanon from level three, issued in July, to the highest available level four, as it told Americans to avoid the country.

"Do not travel to Lebanon due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah or other armed militant factions," the State Department said in a statement Tuesday.

After a blast ripped through a Gaza hospital on Tuesday, killing hundreds, Hezbollah called for a "day of rage." Israel and Palestinians have traded blame for the blast, though neither's claim could be independently verified.

Following Hezbollah's call, hundreds of demonstrators scuffled Tuesday night with Lebanese security forces outside the U.S. embassy in the Beirut suburb of Awkar. Protesters hurled stones and set a building on fire, according to AFP correspondents.

Since October 7, clashes along the Israeli-Lebanese border have left at least 18 people dead on the Lebanese side -- mostly fighters, but also a Reuters journalist and two civilians. At least three people have been killed on the Israeli side.

France has also urged its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, while several Western airlines have suspended flights. Britain, Canada, Spain, Germany and Australia have also issued travel warnings. 


31 Americans killed in Israel-Hamas conflict, White House says

At least 31 Americans have been killed in the fighting between Israel and Hamas militants, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday night.

"The President felt strongly it was important to continue to stand in solidarity with Israel and the Israeli people in their hour of need following the appalling terrorist attacks last week that killed more than 1,300 people and at least 31 Americans," Jean-Pierre said shortly before President Biden left for his visit to Israel.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said 13 Americans remained unaccounted for. Kirby said Mr. Biden was planning on meeting with family members of people who have been taken hostage by Hamas, but could not say if those families would be Americans or Israelis.

By Jordan Freiman

Palestinian U.N. ambassador says Israeli military is lying about hospital explosion

Palestinian United Nations Ambassador Riyad Mansour, standing with envoys from the U.N.'s Arab Group, said that the group was united in outrage at the explosion that killed hundreds earlier Tuesday at a hospital in Gaza. 

"We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms and we hold Israel responsible for this massacre," Mansour said. "We as an Arab group demand immediately a ceasefire because a continuation of the war - it means killing more Palestinians every moment."

When asked about the Israeli military's claim that the explosion was due to a failed rocket launched toward Israel by the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Mansour called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a liar."

Mansour claimed an Israeli spokesperson tweeted that Israel had launched the strike that hit the hospital in an attempt to target a Hamas base, before deleting the tweet. "Now they change the story to try to blame the Palestinians. It is a lie," he said.

He claimed he would make a copy of the tweet available to reporters.

Palestinian UN ambassador: The current displacement in Gaza could "potentially a second Nakba"
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, speaks to press at the United Nations headquarters in New York on October 13, 2023. Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images
By S. Dev

State Dept. issues Do Not Travel advisory for Lebanon

The U.S. State Dept. on Tuesday raised its travel advisory for Lebanon to Do Not Travel. 

"Do Not travel to Lebanon due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hizballah or other armed militant factions," the State Dept. said. "Reconsider travel to Lebanon due to terrorism, civil unrest, armed conflict, crime, kidnapping, and Embassy Beirut's limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens."

The State Dept. also said it authorized the "voluntary, temporary departure" of family members of U.S. government employees who are at the U.S. embassy in Beirut along with "some non-emergency personnel."

Clashes between Israel, Hezbollah spark fears of wider war 02:19
By Jordan Freiman

U.N. Secretary-General condemns hospital strike; Security Council calls emergency meeting for Wednesday

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "horrified" and "strongly condemns" the strike on a hospital that killed hundreds in Gaza on Tuesday. 

Guterres stressed that hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law.

The U.N. chief's statement was issued after the U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting for Wednesday morning to address the hospital attack and consider a measure calling for a humanitarian pause in the conflict.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said, "Words fail me. Tonight, hundreds of people were killed – horrifically – in a massive strike at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, including patients, healthcare workers and families that had been seeking refuge in and around the hospital. Once again the most vulnerable. This is totally unacceptable."

Türk called hospitals "sacrosanct" and said "they must be protected at all cost."

Türk also said that at least six people were killed in Gaza Tuesday afternoon when a U.N.-run school in Al-Maghazi refugee camp was hit by a strike. "The school had been serving as a shelter for some 4,000 seeking refuge," Türk said.

Israel Palestinians
Damage from the Israeli bombardment is seen at the UN school in Maghazi refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. Hatem Moussa / AP
By Pamela Falk

Pentagon says U.S. Marine unit is in Red Sea to support Israel

The Pentagon announced Tuesday evening that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit would be in the region to support Israel if needed. 

Two ships — the USS Bataan and the USS Carter Hall — that were already in the Middle East are now positioned in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said. The ships have about 2,000 Marines onboard, and they are ready to transit the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel if ordered. 

The third ship in that task force, the USS Mesa Verde, was already in the Mediterranean Sea and is headed east. 

The announcement came a little more than a week after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he had ordered the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group into the eastern Mediterranean. That group includes the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, which is the largest warship in the world, in addition to several guided-missile cruisers and destroyers. 

The USS Gerald R. Ford was in the western Mediterranean when it received orders to deploy. Depending on its precise location, it could have to travel more than a thousand miles.

The American aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is seen from the air anchored in Italy in the Gulf of Trieste. Photo by Andrej Tarfila/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The American aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is seen from the air anchored in Italy in the Gulf of Trieste. Photo by Andrej Tarfila/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
By S. Dev

Jordan confirms it called off summit with Biden

Jordan's foreign minister confirmed that a summit with President Biden, King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Sisi of Egypt and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has been canceled. President Biden was scheduled to travel to Jordan for the summit after his stop in Israel, where he is currently headed.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that the United States will not be able to make the decision to stop the war. He called the situation in Gaza a breach of international law and the Geneva Conventions. 

The summit was called off after consultations with Egyptian and Palestinian leadership, Safadi said.

Biden, Arab leaders call off meeting in Jordan 05:39

The summit will be held when it is clearer it will achieve the desired objective of stopping the war, Safadi said, adding that the U.S. was understanding of Jordan's position.

By S. Dev

Biden "outraged and deeply saddened" by hospital explosion in Gaza

President Biden released a statement about the deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza City, and said the U.S. is working to gather information about what happened. 

"I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted," he said. 

"Immediately upon hearing this news, I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and have directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened. The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy."

The president is currently on his way to Israel for a visit there Wednesday.

President Joe Biden boards Air Force One on October 17, 2023, at Joint Base Andrews to make his way to the Middle East following the events in Israel and Gaza. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One on October 17, 2023, at Joint Base Andrews to make his way to the Middle East following the events in Israel and Gaza. Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Paula Cohen

France's Macron calls for humanitarian access in Gaza "without delay"

French President Emmanuel Macron said that humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip "must be opened back without delay." Israel has cut off the flow of supplies to the Palestinian territory, and hospitals are facing dire shortages as they try to treat patients.

"Nothing can justify striking a hospital. Nothing can justify targeting civilians," Macron posted on X, referring to the explosion Tuesday that reportedly killed hundreds of people at a hospital in Gaza. 

"France condemns the attack on the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, which made so many Palestinian victims. Our thoughts are with them. All the light must be shed on the circumstances," Macron wrote.

By S. Dev

Israel says "it is clear" IDF did not strike Gaza hospital

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that following an additional review and cross-examination of their operational and intelligence systems, "it is clear that the IDF did not strike the hospital in Gaza." 

The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people were killed Tuesday by an airstrike that hit a hospital compound in the center of Gaza City. The ministry blamed the attack on Israel. 

Neither side's claims have been independently verified.

Wounded Palestinians sit in al-Shifa hospital on October 17, 2023, in Gaza City after arriving from al-Ahli hospital following an explosion there. Photo by Abed Khaled/AP.
Wounded Palestinians sit in al-Shifa hospital on October 17, 2023, in Gaza City after arriving from al-Ahli hospital following an explosion there. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says an Israeli airstrike caused the explosion that killed hundreds at al-Ahli, but the Israeli military says it was a misfired Palestinian rocket. Abed Khaled / AP

"I can confirm that an analysis of the IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the al-Ahli al-Mamdani hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit," IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement.

Approximately 450 rockets launched from Gaza toward Israel since the beginning of the war have fallen within Gaza, the IDF claims.

"Intelligence from few sources that we have in our hands indicates that the Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza," Hagari said. "I repeat, this is the responsibility of Islamic Jihad that killed innocents in the hospital in Gaza."

By S. Dev

Arab leaders cancel summit; Biden departs for Israel as planned

President Biden boarded Air Force One on Tuesday evening and will travel to Israel as planned, John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told CBS News. 

The update came as Arab leaders canceled their meeting with Mr. Biden in Jordan, which had been scheduled to follow his stop in Israel, a senior administration official confirmed. The cancellation was a "mutual" decision, the official said. 

"After consulting with King Abdullah II of Jordan and in light of the days of mourning announced by President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, President Biden will postpone his travel to Jordan and the planned meeting with these two leaders and President Sisi of Egypt," a White House official said in a statement. "The President sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. He looks forward to consulting in person with these leaders soon, and agreed to remain regularly and directly engaged with each of them over the coming days."

By S. Dev

Israel requests $10 billion in emergency military aid from U.S.

Israel has asked the U.S. for $10 billion in emergency military aid, sources familiar with the request confirm to CBS News.

President Biden is considering a full-year supplemental request for around $100 billion, which would cover defense assistance for Israel and Ukraine, border security funding, and aid to countries in the Indo-Pacific including Taiwan.

In 2022, the Biden administration requested $3.3 billion in foreign military financing for Israel and $500 million in missile defense aid, according to a Congressional Research Service report. 

In 2016, Israel and the U.S. signed their third 10-year understanding that $38 billion in military aid would be distributed over the decade, the report noted. The U.S. has said aid to Israel is based on shared strategic goals in the Middle East, commitment to democratic values and historical ties dating to the creation of Israel in 1948. 

Debate over U.S. aid to Israel in recent years has focused on issues regarding Israel's treatment of Palestinians, but Congress continues its "ironclad" U.S. commitment to Israel's security, the report said. 

By Cara Tabachnick

Israel says militant group's rocket caused Gaza hospital blast

The Israeli military says the blast that hit a hospital compound in Gaza City, reportedly killing hundreds, was the result of a Gaza militant group's rocket aimed at Israel. 

The Israel Defense Forces tweeted that an "enemy rocket barrage was carried out towards Israel, which passed in the vicinity of the hospital, when it was hit."

"According to intelligence information, from several sources we have, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is responsible," the IDF said.

Reports: Hospital struck by rocket in Gaza, at least 500 killed 27:12

Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told BBC News, "All indications are that this was not Israeli orders, but this was rather a Hamas rocket that fell short."

"We know that at the time of this tragedy in Gaza, there was a barrage, a huge barrage against targets in central Israel," Regev said.

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said hundreds of people were killed and that there were thousands of displaced people in and around the al-Ahli al-Mamdani Christian hospital. It blamed the attack on an Israeli airstrike.

Neither side's claims have been independently verified.

By Cara Tabachnick

Gaza Health Ministry says hundreds killed as airstrike hits hospital compound in Gaza City

The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 500 people were killed Tuesday by an airstrike that hit a hospital compound in the center of Gaza City. Its claims have not yet been independently verified. There are thousands of displaced people in and around the al-Ahli al-Mamdani Christian hospital, said the health agency, which is controlled by Hamas. 

The Israeli military initially said it did not have details yet on the reported Gaza hospital bombing. The Associated Press reports that Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, "We will get the details and update the public. I don't know to say whether it was an Israeli airstrike."

Wounded people after attack on Gaza Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital
Injured people are being taken to Al-Shifa Hospital following an Israeli airstrike that Gaza officials say hit Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, on Oct. 17, 2023. Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images

The head of the World Health Organization tweeted: "@WHO strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital in north Gaza. Early reports indicate hundreds of deaths and injuries. We call for the immediate protection of civilians and health care, and for the evacuation orders to be reversed."

About 3,000 people have been killed in Gaza and around 12,500 wounded, a majority of them women and children, since Israel began its counterattacks, Palestinian officials said earlier Tuesday.

–Marwan al-Goul contributed reporting.

By Cara Tabachnick

German chancellor says "responsibility for the Holocaust" obliges his country to support Israel

During his visit to Israel Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke out about his country's special moral obligation to support the Jewish state. 

"German history that stems from responsibility for the Holocaust obliges us to maintain the existence and security of Israel," Scholz said during his public remarks. He added that support for Israel is "a cross-party matter."

Scholz said he discussed "the possibility of improved humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Associated Press reported. 

"We want to protect civilians and prevent civilian victims," Scholz said.  

Israel Poised To Invade Gaza As Worries Of Regional Escalation Grow
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz leaves embassy in Tel Aviv after meeting with family members of hostages kidnapped by Hamas. Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

He also warned Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group it backs against escalating the fighting.

By Cara Tabachnick

New York woman shares details of surviving music festival attack

Natalie Sanandaji decided to go from a wedding to dance and celebrate at a music festival while she was in Israel, She ended up in the middle of a Hamas attack that killed more than 260 people.

The rockets came flying overhead at dawn, and security told the revelers to pack up their things and head to their cars — but then told attendees to run.

"Hearing the gunfire, you can't even tell what direction it's coming from," Sanandaji, who lives in Great Neck on Long Island, told CBS New York. "Thinking that you're running to safety, and then you see dozens of young kids running in your direction and realize that they're running from terrorists." 

She managed to evade the attackers, and was ultimately picked up by an Israeli and driven to town.

New York resident Natalie Sanandaji details how she survived the Hamas terrorist attacks at a music festival that killed 260 people.  CBS New York

"They were kids running in every direction, trying to hide behind trees and ditches. But most of them ended up dying," she said. 

Read the full story on CBS New York.

-Carolyn Gusoff and Allison Elyse Gualtieri


Retired U.S. general on the "extraordinarily complex terrain" of Gaza fighting

Retired Gen. Joseph L. Votel, former commander of U.S. Central Command, joined CBS News to discuss what kind of warfare Israeli forces can expect if and when they launch the widely expected ground invasion of Gaza to hunt down Hamas militants.

Votel said Hamas has been preparing for the fight for nearly 10 years and would seek to "inflict as much damage as they can" on Israeli forces that enter Gaza.

"I think what's important for people to appreciate is, this is a three-dimensional fight. It's not only being fought on the surface and in buildings but it's sub-surface as well. They [Hamas] have some nearly 300 miles of tunnels that have been constructed," he said. "So it's extraordinarily complex terrain."

Watch more of his interview in the video below:

Retired general on what to expect from an Israeli invasion of Gaza 07:41
By Paula Cohen

U.N. agency says at least 6 killed as Israeli strike hits Gaza school used as a shelter

The United Nations relief and works agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, said Tuesday that an Israeli airstrike had killed six people at a school run by the agency and being used as a shelter in the Gaza Strip.

"At least six people were killed this afternoon when an UNRWA school was hit in al-Maghazi refugee camp," in the central Gaza Strip, the U.N. agency said in a statement posted on its website. 

UNRWA said "dozens were injured" in the strike, including an unspecified number of its staff, and added that "the numbers are likely to be higher."

"This is outrageous, and it again shows a flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians," UNRWA said. "No place is safe in Gaza anymore, not even UNRWA facilities."

"At least 4,000 people have taken refuge in this UNRWA school turned shelter. They had and still have nowhere else to go..

Israel has long accused Hamas militants of hiding weapons and coordination centers in or near schools, mosques and residential buildings — including facilities run by UNRWA.

By Tucker Reals

Palestinian officials say about 3,000 killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

The Health Ministry in the West Bank, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority is based, said Tuesday that the death toll in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip after more than 10 days of Israeli airstrikes had risen to about 3,000 people, with more than 12,500 others wounded.

The Health Ministry in Gaza, which had been providing its own casualty counts regularly since Israel started retaliating with airstrikes almost immediately following Hamas' brutal terror attack on Oct. 7, did not provide any updates on Tuesday.

By Tucker Reals

Hezbollah says 4 of its fighters killed "performing jihad" in Lebanon, near Israeli border

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement said Tuesday that four of its fighters had been killed in southern Lebanon, bringing to nine the number of the Iran-backed group's members killed in intensifying border skirmishes with Israel.

In statements, Hezbollah said four of its fighters had been killed "performing jihad," just hours after Israel said it killed four militants who attempted to infiltrate the border from Lebanon, as war rages between Israel and Hezbollah ally Hamas in Gaza.

The U.S. and other nations have warned Iran and its Hezbollah partners not to get embroiled in the war between Israel and the other major Palestinian faction, the Gaza Strip-based Hamas.

Reporting from CBS News and AFP.


Hamas hostage's mom tells CBS News she can "see the pain" on daughter's face in Hamas video

The mother of a French-Israeli woman among the scores of people being held hostage by Hamas after the Palestinian group's terror attack on Israel, and who is seen in a harrowing new propaganda video released by the group, has told CBS News she wants media outlets to broadcast the video of her daughter because she's hopeful it indicates Hamas' willingness to negotiate her release. 

The disturbing video shared Monday by Hamas' on its Telegram messaging app channel shows 21-year-old French-Israeli national Mia Shem lying on a bed with her right arm appearing to be injured and treated by somebody out of the camera's view. 

French-Israeli national Mia Shem is seen in a screengrab from a Hamas propaganda video posted online Oct. 16, 2023, in which she pleads to be released by the Palestinian militant group. 

Shem appears somewhat distressed as she speaks directly to the camera, saying she's been taken to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and pleading to be returned to her family.  

"It's very hard to see my daughter, I see the pain, I see that she's in physical pain," Keren Shem, Mia's mother, told CBS News on Tuesday. "I see that she's very emotional and very, very scared."    

Mother of French-Israeli hostage appeals for Hamas to return their daughter 02:37

With reporting from Emmet Lyons.

By Holly Williams

U.S. NSC spokesman says "significant progress," but no aid "flowing right now" into Gaza

U.S. officials believe "significant progress" has been made on a "framework" to get humanitarian assistance into the decimated Gaza Strip, but "there's nothing flowing right now" into the Palestinian territory, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told "CBS Mornings" on Tuesday. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met for seven hours Monday with Israel's wartime cabinet "to try to work on a framework to get that humanitarian assistance in, and we believe we made some progress on that score," Kirby said. 

"Hopefully soon, there will be some humanitarian assistance — food, water, medicine — getting into the folks that live in Gaza, as well as trying to make some arrangements for folks who want to get out," he said.

John Kirby on humanitarian assistance to Gaza: "Nothing flowing right now" 03:44

Thousands of civilians, many with foreign passports including dual U.S. nationals, have massed around southern Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt in recent days as the U.S. works to secure an agreement between Israel, which is bombing the area, and Egypt, which controls the gates, for a humanitarian opening of the border point.

Israel has not allowed any relief supplies, food, fuel or electricity into the Gaza Strip since Hamas launched its attack on Oct. 7. 

By Sarah Lynch-Baldwin and Tucker Reals


Iran leader warns of escalation, accuses Israel of "killing a hundred times more civilians" than Hamas

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that if Israel continues killing Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip as it retaliates against the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers for their terror attack on the Jewish state, "no one will be able to stop Muslims and resistance forces."

"The Muslims and the resistance forces will become impatient, [and] no one would be able to stop them," Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian academics Tuesday, according to the Iranian leader's website. 

He dismissed the widespread atrocities Hamas militants stand accused of committing against Israeli civilians as they rampaged across southern Israel on Oct. 7, saying: "Let's suppose that there were civilians - how many were killed? This occupation's regime is killing a hundred times more civilians; women, children, the elderly and youth…The occupying government of the Zionist regime must be put on trial today."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting in Tehran
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with a group of Iranian academics in Tehran, Oct.17, 2023. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA via REUTERS

The U.S. and other nations have warned Iran, which is the most important backer of Hamas and its fellow Palestinian faction Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, not to get directly involved in war between Hamas and Israel.

Reporting by Khaled Wassef and Tucker Reals.


Jordan's king confirms he'll host summit with Biden, Egyptian and Palestinian leaders

Jordan's King Abdullah II will host a four-way summit in Amman Wednesday with President Biden, straight after the U.S. leader visits Israel, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan's royal court confirmed the plan for the summit, which it said would see the leaders "discuss dangerous developments in Gaza," the impacts on the wider region and "ensuring provision of aid" in the Gaza Strip.

By Tucker Reals

CBS News witnesses aftermath of deadly Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza

CBS News cameras arrived just moments after an Israeli airstrike hit a residential part of southern Gaza, near the border with Egypt. Our video shows children among those being pulled from the rubble of the strike in the southern half of the Gaza Strip, to which Israel's military told Palestinian civilians to evacuate as it ramped up operations in northern Gaza.

The strike on southern Gaza's Rafah City all but obliterated a residential area. Our CBS News team witnessed the immediate aftermath, and producer Marwan al-Ghoul said he personally "saw dozens of killed people and dozens of injuries."

Deadly aftermath of Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza witnessed by CBS News crew 07:13

He said there weren't enough ambulances or rescue workers to transport the victims, and people at the scene were struggling with their bare hands to find and rescue people from underneath the rubble. 

The images reflect the scale of suffering being inflicted on Palestinian civilians as Israel retaliates for the bloody attack by the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers.  

Israel's military confirmed on Tuesday that it had carried out airstrikes on southern Gaza, including on Rafah.

Reporting by Imtiaz Tyab and Tucker Reals


France's Macron says "intense talks" underway to free hostages held by Hamas

Intense talks are on to free hostages held by Hamas after its attack on Israel, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday, after the mother of a French-Israeli captive begged world leaders to intervene.

"I want to be very cautious here... so as not to endanger the intense talks we are currently conducting," Macron told reporters in the Albanian capital Tirana. "But they are progressing and we are following these talks hour by hour." 


German leader visits Israel, warns "Hezbollah and Iran not to intervene in the conflict"

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Israel Tuesday to show his country's solidarity, after warning Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group it backs against interfering in the raging Irsael-Hamas war. Scholz is the first foreign head of government to visit Israel since the Hamas terrorist attack, and he said it was important to him "to express solidarity with Israel in a very practical way through my visit."

"Once again, I explicitly warn Hezbollah and Iran not to intervene in the conflict," Scholz said Tuesday in Berlin after a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II. "Together with our allies, we as the German government are doing everything in our power to ensure that this conflict does not escalate further."

A deputy leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard military force was quoted by state media, meanwhile, as saying Tuesday that "another shockwave is on the way if Israel does not end atrocities in Gaza."

Hezbollah has said it's ready to join its fellow Palestinian faction Hamas in the fight against Israel if called upon to do so. 

U.S. aircraft carrier is show of support for Israel in war against Hamas 04:05

The U.S. military is deploying forces to bolster its presence in the eastern Mediterranean amid the soaring regional tension, and has also warned Iran and Hezbollah not to join the war. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said having two U.S. carrier strike groups in the region will be meant to "deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas' attack on Israel."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in Israel twice since the attack, and President Biden was expected to arrive Wednesday.

Tucker Reals contributed reporting.

By Anna Noryskiewicz

Hamas official says hostages will be treated "in accordance with international and humanitarian law"

The head of the Hamas group's political diaspora office in Doha, Qatar, has said that one of the U.S.-designated terror organization's "motives and goals" as it seized scores of hostages during its attack on Israel was to gain leverage for a prisoner swap with the Jewish state to free "6,000 prisoners jailed in Israeli prisons."

Israel has said Hamas militants kidnapped 199 people as they raided southern Israel in their Oct. 7 attack, including Israeli troops and civilians of all ages. American families have told CBS News they believe their loved ones are among the captives, and the U.S. government says 13 Americans are among those missing in Israel.

Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas' diaspora office in Doha, told pan-Arab news channel Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Palestinian faction would handle its military and civilian hostages differently.

"There are certain calculations for the military [prisoners] and other calculations for the civilians and the people from other nationalities," Mishaal said. "The leadership of Hamas will deal with them in accordance with international and humanitarian laws, and in accordance with its ethics."

Families plea for Israeli government to bring hostages home; troops gear up for Gaza offensive 02:47

No Israeli official has acknowledged any dialogue for a prisoner exchange with Hamas ahead of Israel's expected ground invasion of Gaza, where the hostages are believed to be held by Hamas, but the Palestinian group appeared keen to push the possibility. 

Hamas "has enough [Israeli] prisoners to exchange them for our prisoners in the occupation's prisons," Mishaal said.

He denied Hamas militants had carried out any of the myriad atrocities against Israeli civilians committed during the Oct. 7 siege, blaming other, unidentified "people from Gaza and other factions" whom he claimed stormed in after Hamas militants broke down border fences and took captives of their own. 

Mishaal said Hamas leaders were "attempting to assess their numbers [captives in Gaza], but with the heavy bombardment, it is difficult."

By Tucker Reals and Khaled Wassef


Israel confirms ongoing airstrikes on southern Gaza Strip

Israel's military said Tuesday morning that it "continues to launch attacks on the Gaza Strip," with fighter jets striking at least four locations in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory, "targeting command headquarters of military activists and hiding apartments for Hamas activists."

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Avichay Adraee said in a tweet, accompanied by a video clip showing a building destroyed in an airstrike, that Israeli warplanes had struck four areas, two of them near Gaza City and two in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, to which Israel has urged all civilians to evacuate ahead of its expected ground invasion.

Adraee confirmed strikes on northern Rafah, close to the only Gaza border crossing that hasn't been completely sealed by Israeli forces. Thousands of civilians, including many foreign and dual nationals, have massed over the last week near the Rafah crossing into Egypt, hoping to cross over. Egypt controls the crossing but accuses Israel of preventing movement through it with its continued airstrikes. Humanitarian aid, desperately needed in Gaza, has also been unable to pass through the border since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Palestinian man carries a wounded girl at the site of Israeli strikes in Khan Younis
A Palestinian man carries a wounded girl at the site of Israeli strikes in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 14, 2023. STRINGER/REUTERS

Officials in Hamas-run Gaza say dozens of people have been killed and wounded, including many civilians, in the strikes around Rafah and in nearby Khan Younis in recent days. 

By Tucker Reals

Jordan's king: Taking in Palestinian refugees a "red line" for Jordan and Egypt

King Abdullah II of Jordan said after a meeting with German Chancellor OIaf Scholz in Berlin that neither Jordan nor Egypt would be willing to take in any Palestinian refugees.

The Jordanian king told reporters on Tuesday that, "This is a red line ... no refugees to Jordan and also no refugees to Egypt."

"This is a situation that has to be handled within Gaza and the West Bank," he said. "And you don't have to carry this out on the shoulders of others."

Abdullah also said everything needs to be done to prevent a further escalation of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The whole region is on the brink," Abdullah said. "This new cycle of violence is leading us towards the abyss."

Scholz, who was to travel to Israel later in the day, stressed that Israel has every right to defend itself and can count on Germany's support.

By The Associated Press

Israel foils infiltration attempt from Lebanon, Israeli military says

Israeli troops killed four militants attempting to infiltrate from Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Tuesday, as tensions run high along the border between the two countries.

"A short while ago, IDF observation troops spotted a terrorist squad attempting to infiltrate the security fence with Lebanon and plant an explosive device," the army said in a statement. "Four terrorists were killed."


Dozens reported dead in Israeli airstrikes in southern Gaza

Israel was conducting heavy airstrikes early Tuesday in and near the southern towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, where Israel had ordered civilians to seek refuge, local officials reported. Gaza's interior ministry said at least 49 Palestinians were killed, according to the Reuters news service.

Thousands of people trying to get out of Gaza are in Rafah, the site of the territory's only border crossing to Egypt.

International mediators have been seeking an agreement to let aid in and refugees with foreign passports out.

By Brian Dakss

CENTCOM chief arrives in Israel for unannounced visit

U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla has touhced down in Tel Aviv, the Pentagon says, for "high level meetings with Israel's military leadership." The Defense Department hadn't announced the visit beforehand.

Kurilla will seek "a clear understanding" of Israel's defense needs, discuss U.S. efforts to avoid expansion of the conflict and "reiterate the Department of Defense's ironclad support for Israel," the Pentagon added. 

"I'm here to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself, and am particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict," General Kurilla said.

By Brian Dakss

500,000 Israelis displaced in Israel, military says

Around 500,000 Israelis have been evacuated and displaced in the 10 days since Hamas unleashed the bloodiest attack in the country's history, the Israeli military said Tuesday.

"There are about half a million internally displaced Israelis at the time," Jonathan Conricus, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said in an online briefing, adding that all communities around the Gaza Strip as well as more than 20 communities in the north had been evacuated.

Donations are sorted at a community center in Beit Shemesh, Israel, on October 16, 2023, that is providing clothes, sanitary items and toys for those families who have been forced to flee the southern areas. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.
Donations are sorted at a community center on October 16, 2023, in Beit Shemesh, Israel, that is providing clothes, sanitary items, and toys for those families who have been forced to flee the southern areas. LEON NEAL / Getty Images

U.N. Security Council rejects Russian resolution on Israel-Hamas war

The United Nations Security Council voted Monday evening on one of two resolutions, proposed by Russia and Brazil, about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. 

The Russian draft was dead on arrival, while councilmembers decided to postpone the vote on the Brazil-drafted resolution until Tuesday.  

Every nation around the 15-nation Security Council, along with both the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors, said they wanted a consensus document, but an agreement was in short order.  

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called the Russian resolution "outrageous" for failing to mention Hamas. "It is hypocritical and it is indefensible," Thomas-Greenfield said.  

Russia's Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia lashed out: "Today, the entire world waited with bated breath for the Security Council to take steps in order to put an end to the bloodletting."

Before the vote, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, urged councilmembers to vote against both resolutions.

He said the conflict could end "should Hamas put down their arms  —tomorrow—, return our hostages and turn themselves in. This war can end without one more shot being fired." 

"Why are you not calling on Hamas to do this? Why isn't this part of the resolutions?" Erdan added.

Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan And Pop Star Noa Kirel Meet With Families Of Hostages Kidnapped By Hamas
Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, speaks at a meeting with families of hostages kidnapped by Hamas at the United Nations on Oct. 13 in New York City.  NOAM GALAI / Getty Images
By Pamela Falk

Blinken announces Biden visit to Israel

President Biden will travel to Israel Wednesday to show support for a key U.S. ally that is still reeling from the series of surprise attacks by Hamas that left roughly 1,400 Israelis dead earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced early Tuesday morning in Israel, Monday evening in the U.S.

His visit comes "at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world," Blinken said.

"First, the president will reaffirm the United States' solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security," Blinken said. "Second, President Biden will underscore our crystal-clear message to any actor, state or non-state, who would try to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel: Don't. To that end, he's deployed two aircraft carrier groups and other military assets to the region."

Biden to visit Israel Wednesday, Blinken announces 01:51

"Third, the president will continue to coordinate closely with our Israeli partners to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas, including men, women, small children, Holocaust survivors, and American citizens," Blinken added.

Mr. Biden was invited to visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. News of the trip also comes amid a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel has sealed the border of the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip since the attack and is widely expected to soon launch a ground offensive.

"Today, and at our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multinational organizations to reach civilians in Gaza," Blinken said.

From Israel, the president will head to Jordan to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. 

Read the full story here.

By Kathryn Watson

Israel suspends military exports to Colombia over president's criticism

Israel has suspended security exports to Colombia in an escalating diplomatic spat over online messages by Colombia's president comparing Israel's siege of Gaza to the actions of Nazi Germany.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has doubled down on his criticism of Israel and suggested that his country may need to suspend diplomatic relations, while his foreign minister has suggested Israel's ambassador should leave the country.

In a statement published Sunday, Israel's foreign ministry said that Petro's recent statements on X, previously known as Twitter, "inflame antisemitism" and "threaten the safety of the Jewish community in Colombia." The Israeli government said it called Colombia's ambassador to a meeting in which she was informed that defense cooperation between the countries would be suspended.

Colombia currently has diplomatic relations with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and over the past two decades it has been one of Israel's closes partners in Latin America.

The South American nation uses Israeli-built war planes and machine guns to fight drug cartels and rebel groups and both countries also signed a free trade agreement in 2020.

But the two nations have been less aligned since Petro took office last year as Colombia's first leftist president.

Key Speakers At The 78th Session Of The United Nations General Assembly
Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By The Associated Press

Pentagon puts 2,000 support troops on standby for potential deployment

The Pentagon is putting about 2,000 support troops on standby for a potential deployment to the region to support Israel, according to U.S. officials. These troops would be from medical, intelligence, logistics and communications units —not combat troops. 

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Pentagon was issuing prepare-to-deploy orders. 

 —David Martin and Eleanor Watson


Rain could be delaying Israel's ground offensive in Gaza

As humanitarian and diplomatic efforts intensify ahead of Israel's possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, some have started to wonder what could be holding back the operation.

CBS News foreign correspondent Imitaz Tyab reports from Jerusalem that, despite the Israeli military's readiness to go in, the weather might be playing a factor.

"The weather has turned, it's been a bit rainy, and I think the Israeli military is taking no chances and wants to ensure they have the perfect conditions before they launch that air, land and sea invasion of the Gaza Strip," Tyab reported.

Israel Daily Life
Heavy rainfall flooded the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 14, 2023. LEON NEAL / Getty Images

Diplomatic activity in the region seeking to reduce civilian casualties and avert a large-scale humanitarian crisis is also playing a role in the delay, Tyab reported. 

And of course, the military challenge ahead for Israel is formidable. "Israel has a huge military, it is one of the most powerful militaries in the world, but that's not to say that this is going to be easy for them," Tyab said. 

Blinken, others working to prevent worse Gaza crisis if Israel ground offensive begins 07:35
By Elias Lopez

U.S. delivers munitions shipments to Israel

The Defense Department delivered four shipments of munitions on C-17s to Israel over the weekend, a U.S. official said Monday. 

The U.S. is providing precision-guided munitions and small arms ammunition, and working on Israel's request for more interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome air defense system. Defense officials have said they expect continuous deliveries of support to fulfill Israel's requests. 

The U.S. has not set any preconditions on how Israel uses the U.S.-supplied weapons and equipment. 

"We've not placed any conditions on the provision of this equipment," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week. "This is a professional military led by professional leadership, and we would hope and expect that they would do the right things in the prosecution of their campaign."

Militant groups in Gaza have escalated their rocket attacks in the aftermath of Hamas's terror attack and Israel's counteroffensive. Most rockets have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome. 

Watch the video to learn more about the missile defense system.

Breaking down Israel's Iron Dome: What is it? Does it work? 08:26
By Eleanor Watson

Americans arrive in U.S. from Israel after days of travel challenges

Hundreds of Americans have returned to the United States from Israel in recent days.

Many U.S. citizens were traveling in Israel when the Hamas terror attack happened. Leaving became difficult for many as dozens of major airlines suspended or canceled flights out of the country.

Some U.S. citizens and their family members boarded charter flights from Tel Aviv arranged by federal and even state officials, while others booked commercial trips that brought them home.

Read more here

By Emily Mae Czachor

Royal Caribbean confirms cruise ship is helping evacuate Americans

Some Americans being evacuated from Israel may get to leave by sea — on a cruise ship, even.

"Royal Caribbean Group is actively supporting the U.S. Department of State in the assisted departure of American citizens," a company spokesman said.

The Rhapsody of the Seas will help Americans get out of Israel, Royal Caribbean Group confirmed Monday to CBS News. The ship can accommodate more than 2,400 passengers.

"As you know, the ship had been sailing in the region and then canceled its sailings when the conflict emerged last weekend," the company said in a letter to employees obtained by CBS News. "Now, with enhanced safety precautions in place, our ship is providing free passage, including accommodation and food, for Americans in the region wishing to leave and find safer ground."

The U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a security alert Sunday that said a ship would depart from Haifa for Cyprus for U.S. nationals and their immediate family members. The trip to Limassol Port is expected to take approximately 10-12 hours, according to the embassy.

-Kathryn Krupnik and Arden Farhi contributed reporting.

By Allison Elyse Gualtieri

Second U.S. carrier strike group expected to need at least 2 weeks to arrive in eastern Mediterranean

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group are expected to need at least two weeks to make it to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to U.S. officials.

The Eisenhower had been scheduled for a deployment to Europe, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Saturday that the group would head toward the Middle East instead.

There, it will join the USS Gerald R. Ford and its strike group to "deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas' attack on Israel," Austin said.

The Ford carrier strike group, which includes the carrier, a cruiser, and four destroyers, arrived in the region last week.

Defense officials said these ships can provide intelligence support, maritime support and long-range strike capabilities. The group could be requested to defend Israel against incoming ballistic missiles if any other actors join the conflict.

-Eleanor Watson and David Martin


Biden and Harris briefed by national security team on Israel-Hamas war

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received a briefing Monday morning from top intelligence and national security officials on the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas militant group, a White House official said.

The briefing was led by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and CIA Director Bill Burns, the official said. White House chief of staff Jeff Zients also joined.

The White House cited the president's participation in national security meetings in announcing earlier Monday that a planned trip to Colorado had been postponed. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, meanwhile, was back in Israel Monday for the second time in a week — part of a frantic regional diplomacy blitz to show support for Israel, try to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, and in a bid to prevent the war spreading outside of Israel and Gaza.

By Melissa Quinn

U.N. aid agency says "no looting" after initial suggestion Hamas militants may have stolen fuel, medical supplies

The United Nations' humanitarian relief and works agency that operates in the Gaza Strip and other areas with significant Palestinian refugee populations, UNRWA, said Monday in a series of tweets that it had received reports that a group of Hamas militants "purporting to be from the Ministry of Health" had "removed fuel and medical equipment from the Agency's compound in Gaza City."

UNRWA noted in its tweets that it had been unable to verify the reports as its "staff were compelled to evacuate" from their headquarters in Gaza City "on a few hours' notice" Friday, as Israel warned all civilians to flee the northern half of the Palestinian territory that Hamas has ruled since 2007. 

The U.N. agency noted in its tweets that it "had no access to the compound and no additional details about the removal of the assets," adding that fuel and other materials stored at its facilities in Gaza were "kept for strictly humanitarian purposes — any other use is strongly condemned."

That initial series of tweets was quickly deleted, and UNRWA later posted an "urgent clarification" to "confirm that no looting has taken place in any of its warehouses in the Gaza Strip."

It described images circulating on social media, to which its original tweets referred, as showing "a movement of basic medical supplies from the UNRWA warehouse to health partners."

By Tucker Reals

Officials in Hamas-run Gaza say death toll from Israeli strikes over 2,800

The Hamas-run administration in the Gaza Strip said Monday that at least 254 Palestinians were killed in the narrow strip of land over the preceding 24 hours, bringing the death toll to at least 2,808 from Israel's airstrikes since Oct. 7.  

The government said 562 more people were wounded over the previous day, bringing the total number of injured amid Israel's retaliatory strikes for Hamas' terror attack to 10,850. 

The statement from the Gaza Government Press Office said more than 60% of those killed in the Palestinian territory were women and children.

By Tucker Reals

Israeli defense chief tells Blinken "price will be high, but we are going to win" war with Hamas

Israel's Minister of Defense told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday that the Jewish state's military effort to destroy the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip, "will be a long war."

"The price will be high, but we are going to win," Israeli defense chief Yoav Gallant told Blinken in Tel Aviv. 

He said Israel would fulfill its commitment to eradicate Hamas — which both Israel and the U.S. have long designated a terrorist group — "for the Jewish people and for the values that both countries believe in."

Israel Palestinians US
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant make brief statements to the media at The Kirya, Israel's Ministry of Defense, Oct. 16, 2023, in Tel Aviv. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The Biden administration, along with Israel's other major Western allies, has given Israel its full-throated backing to respond to the bloody terror attack Hamas launched on Israel on Oct. 7, with President Biden himself telling 60 Minutes over the weekend that the Jewish state can and should "go after Hamas" in Gaza. 

The White House has also repeatedly stressed that Israel must adhere to international law and conventions calling for all steps possible to be taken to protect innocent civilian lives.

By Tucker Reals

Former U.S. commander and CIA chief says Israel must have "a vision" for post-war Gaza

With Israel poised for a possible ground invasion of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in response to this month's brutal terror attack, retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, a former CIA director, said there needs to be a vision for the densely-populated Palestinian territory post-conflict.

Petraeus told CBS News' "Mornings" on Monday that post war planning needs to be addressed as Israel moves forward on its "very challenging mission" to destroy the Hamas militant group.

"There needs to be a vision for that. I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu would be well advised to not only say what they're going to try to do to Hamas, but realistically… also talk about the future of Gaza and a future, even a vision for the Palestinian people post-conflict," Petraeus said.

Petraeus: There needs to be a post-conflict vision in Israel-Hamas war 07:13

"It's just really, really hard. I mean, they don't want to reoccupy, but if you don't reoccupy, Hamas will reconstitute, and they know that. And so you're going to go to enormous loss, casualties, the Israelis, civilians, of course, Hamas fighters, terrorists, and then you're just going to leave? So, I am sure they are searching for that answer," Petraeus said.

By Analisa Novak

U.S. unable to put personnel on Egypt side of Rafah crossing from Gaza amid "acute security threats"

As U.S. citizens in Gaza wait for the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to open, a senior State Department official told reporters Monday that Egypt had warned of "acute security threats there that prevent" the U.S. from positioning personnel on the Egyptian side of the gate to help any American nationals who do make it through.

The Egyptian-run crossing on the long, narrow Gaza Strip's southern border with Egypt is the only border entry and exit point from Gaza not controlled and completely sealed by Israeli authorities. 

"The Egyptians have told us there are acute security threats there that prevent it," the official said, adding that the U.S. had a team "as close to the border as conditions permit," in Ismailia, an Egyptian city more than 100 miles from Rafah.

Palestinians with dual citizenship gather outside Rafah border crossing with Egypt
Palestinians with dual citizenship gather outside Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the hope of getting permission to leave Gaza, amid the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 16, 2023. IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS

A State Department spokesperson said Saturday that the U.S. was working to "secure the safe exit" of an estimated 500-600 Americans from Gaza, and the State Department told U.S. nationals that "they may wish to move closer to the Rafah border crossing" if they considered it safe to do so, since there may be "very little notice" of the crossing opening up. 

By Melissa Quinn

U.N. ushers fuel tankers from Gaza as hospitals face dire shortages

Oil tankers bearing United Nations flags departed the Gaza Strip on Monday.

The trucks were led near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt by a U.N. escort vehicle as people stood in line on the Palestinian side in hopes of crossing.

According to the Reuters news agency, the convoy then appeared to head toward the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel.

Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the U.N.'s Palestinian refugee agency, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that the trucks were in Gaza before Hamas' terror attack on Oct. 7.

"We were able to pick them up today," Touma said. 

UN-flagged fuel trucks move towards border crossing in Gaza
UN-flagged fuel trucks move towards the border crossing, amid the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 16, 2023. IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS

She also said no U.N. assistance has entered the Hamas-controlled territory since Oct. 7.

"No supplies have come into Gaza since the 7th of October, nothing, no fuel, no food, no water, no other types of assistance," Touma said.

Hospitals in Gaza are expected to run out of generator fuel soon, endangering the lives of thousands of patients, according to the U.N.

Gaza's sole power plant shut down for lack of fuel after Israel completely sealed off the 25-mile-long territory following the Hamas attack.

Reporting from CBS News and The Associated Press.


U.N. Security Council to meet with expected votes on Israel-Hamas cease-fire proposals

The United Nations Security Council was to meet Monday at 6 p.m. Eastern, the Brazilian President of the Security Council told CBS News, at the request of Brazil and Russia, to discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Unlike the past two Security Council meetings, this one will be open, and it's expected to include votes on a Russian draft and a separate proposal from Brazil, both of which call for different versions of a cease-fire in the war. Neither proposal is likely to gain U.S. support because of that call. President Biden, while urging Israel to protect civilian life, has backed Israel's right to "go after Hamas" in the Gaza Strip.

The U.N. will also hear a briefing Monday from a spokesperson for global body's relief agency in Gaza, UNRWA. The head of that agency warned over the weekend of an "unprecedented human catastrophe" in the Palestinian territory.

"Gaza is being strangled and it seems the war right now has lost its humanity," Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of UNRWA, told journalists.  

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan told CBS News on Monday that Israel would not be "fooled" by the U.N. "this time," and would carry on with its plans to launch a land, sea and air assault to destroy Hamas in Gaza.

By Pamela Falk

Putin aide says Russian leader calling Mideast leaders to push for Israel-Hamas cease-fire

Russian President Vladimir Putin was closely monitoring the escalation of the Israel-Hamas war, his assistant for international affairs Yuri Ushakov said Monday, noting that Putin had spoken recently with the leaders of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

He was expected to hold calls Monday with the leaders of Egypt, the Palestinian authority and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ushakov added.

Putin's aide stressed that Russia had already made clear its position on the latest war to erupt in the Middle East, calling for a cease-fire and talks to determine a lasting peace.

With reporting from CBS News' Svetlana Berdnikova in Moscow.

By Tucker Reals

Biden cancels trip to Colorado to stay in D.C. for national security meetings

A White House official said President Biden's scheduled trip to Pueblo, Colorado, on Monday had been postponed and would be rescheduled so Mr. Biden could remain in Washington to participate in national security meetings. 

No additional information was shared by the White House regarding the delay.

Mr. Biden had been set to visit the Colorado district represented by Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert to tour CS Wind, the largest maker of wind turbine towers in the world, and tout his economic agenda. The visit was part of Mr. Biden's multi-week, nationwide tour highlighting his administration's investment in various sectors.

By Melissa Quinn

Palestinians waiting at still-closed Rafah crossing giving up and heading back into Gaza

Palestinian civilians, some of whom have waited for days around the Rafah border crossing in hope of escaping into Egypt to flee Israel's airstrikes and looming ground offensive, have given up and started heading back north into the Palestinian territory, CBS News' Marwan al-Ghoul reported Monday.

Israel started issuing urgent calls last week for roughly half of Gaza's 2.3 million people to evacuate the northern half of the narrow coastal enclave into the south, warning that anyone who failed to heed the warning would face possible death.

Palestinians, some with foreign passports hoping to cross into Egypt and others waiting for aid, wait at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 16, 2023. MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty

The United Nations and many regional governments have condemned the concept of such a mass-exodus through an active warzone as an impossibility and called on Israel to adhere to international law requiring military forces to avoid civilian casualties.

Israel has continued bombing areas near Rafah in the Gaza Strip as it prepares for its ground invasion, and Hamas rockets are launched daily at Israel.

By Tucker Reals

Young Israel soldiers say they're ready to fight Hamas in Gaza, and they "want to finish it."

Israel's military is poised and ready for what it's warned will be an air, sea and ground invasion of the densely-populated Gaza Strip. The objective, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear, is to destroy the Hamas group that has ruled the Palestinian territory since 2007.

Israel soldiers among the thousands who've massed with heavy weapons all along the Jewish state's fortified border with Gaza told CBS News on Monday that they were not only prepared, but eager to begin the dangerous job of battling Hamas inside the Palestinian enclave. 

"We are ready, and we want to finish it," said one soldier, "because they cut our friends' heads, and they killed too many people here in Israel."

Israel Declares War Following Large-Scale Hamas Attacks
An Israeli soldier guards the broken fence that Hamas militants crashed through to enter the Kfar Aza kibbutz days earlier, near the border of Gaza, Oct. 15, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty

Not one of the troops who spoke to CBS News was over the age of 20.

A Hamas propaganda video shows how the militants intend to greet the Israeli army — using a huge tunnel network the group's constructed over decades to smuggle in weapons, but also to launch attacks.

Already, this has been the deadliest war for Israel since 1973, when it was attacked by its neighbors Egypt and Syria, and a land invasion of Gaza will inevitably take a heavy death toll on both sides.

By Tucker Reals

German leader expected to visit Israel amid efforts to "ensure that these innocent" hostages freed

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is reportedly planning to visit Israel this week to emphasize Germany's solidarity with the Jewish state in the wake of Hamas' terror attack. 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was in the Middle East, meanwhile, and has met with her Egyptian counterpart and Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Egypt.

On a German talk show Sunday night, Baerbock appealed to Hamas again to release all of the hostages the group is holding. Eight German nationals are currently believed to be among the nearly 200 hostages held in Gaza.

The German government is doing "everything to ensure that these innocent people are released."

Germany, like the U.S. and other nations, has been evacuating citizens from Israel. Lufthansa flew 800 Germans out of the country on Saturday and Sunday. Germany's military has also flown around 160 people from Israel back to Germany. 

By Anna Noryskiewicz

U.N. aid chief condemns Hamas kidnapping, calls on Israel to respect "humanitarian rules of war"

United Nations humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths was to travel to the Middle East, the U.N. said Monday, to assist in negotiations aimed at getting desperately needed relief materials into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

In a statement issued ahead of his Tuesday arrival, Griffiths condemned Hamas' "unacceptable, illegal act" of seizing hostages in Israel and said they "have to be let out straight away."

But he added that Israel's "response to that egregious act" must adhere to the "humanitarian rules of war," and he said Israel "cannot ask people to move out of harm's way without assisting them to do it, to go to places of their choice where they want to be safe and with the humanitarian aid that they need to make that journey safely."

"Right now," Griffiths said, "the movement that has happened has not had those provisions and it must have it; hospitals are running out of fuel, are running out of supplies up in the north. People can't move without help."

Griffiths also said his office was "in deep discussions" with Israeli, Egyptian and others officials, "hugely helped by" U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's diplomacy blitz around the region, and that he was "hoping to hear some good news this morning about getting aid through Rafah."

Part of the Southern District of Israel, political map, with the Gaza Strip
A map shows southern Israel, the Gaza Strip and surrounding countries, including the location of the Rafah border crossing from Gaza into Egypt's Sinai peninsula. Getty/iStockphoto

Blinken has been negotiating to get the Rafah crossing from southern Gaza into Egypt opened for at least several hours to enable foreign nationals, including Americans, to flee the Palestinian territory and aid to get in. The State Department has urged U.S. citizens trapped in Gaza to move to the Rafah crossing if they can do so safely, in hope that an opening will be agreed between Israel and Egypt, which, like Hamas, has accused Israel of bombing the area.

Israel and the U.S. accuse Hamas of preventing people from reaching the border crossing and preventing it being opened safely.  

By Tucker Reals

Blinken returns to Israel to meet Netanyahu with Gaza invasion expected

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken returned to Israel Monday to hold meetings with Prime Ministery Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials after a week of rampant shuttle diplomacy across the Middle East. 

Blinken has met a number of leaders in Israel's neighboring nations amid concern that the widely-expected Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, and its ongoing bombardment of of the Palestinian territory in response to the Hamas group's terror attack on Israel, could see the war spill over Israel's borders or draw other regional powers into the fight. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Tel Aviv
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv, Oct. 16, 2023, from Jordan. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS

The Biden administration has warned Hamas' backers in Iran, and Iran's other closely-allied group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon just across Israel's northern border, not to enter the war.

The White House has also been negotiating urgently to secure an escape route for as many as 600 U.S. nationals among the roughly 2 million people trapped in Gaza, and to locate and ensure the safety of 13 Americans who went missing amid Hamas' brutal attack. Israel says Hamas and allied militant groups are holding 199 hostages in Gaza.

By Tucker Reals

China says Israel's retaliation in Gaza "beyond the scope of self-defense"

China's special Middle East envoy will travel to the region this week in the hope of pushing through a cease-fire, Chinese state television said Monday.

Envoy Zhai Jun called the prospect of a widening Israel-Hamas conflict "deeply worrying," as Israel prepared for a widely expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian militant faction, which has been designated a terror group by the U.S. for decades, has controlled Gaza since 2007.

Over the weekend, China's foreign minister accused Israel of going "beyond the scope of self-defense" with its retaliatory airstrikes and blockade of Gaza.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Iranian counterpart that China supports the "just cause of the Palestinian people in safeguarding their national rights."

By Shuai Zhang

Israel says 199 hostages held by Hamas, other militants

Israel's military on Monday raised the number of hostages it said were being held in the Gaza Strip to 199, but didn't say whether that included foreigners. The U.S. State Department has said 13 Americans remain unaccounted for after Hamas' brutal attack on Israel, and American families have told CBS News they believe their loved ones are being held by the Palestinian militants. 

"We have updated the families of 199 hostages," Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari told journalists Monday. Previously the IDF had said 155 people were being held hostage by Hamas.

Hamas spokesperson addresses hostage situation in Gaza 02:02
By Brian Dakss

Israel, Hamas deny reports of temporary cease-fire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and Hamas both denied reports Monday of a temporary cease-fire in Gaza to enable humanitarian aid to come in and foreigners to leave at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

"There is currently no cease-fire and humanitarian aid in Gaza in return for removing foreigners," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

Reuters cited Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq as saying there was no truth to reports about the opening of the Rafah border crossing or temporary cease-fire.

By Brian Dakss

Israel orders evacuation of area near Lebanon border

The Israeli military has ordered people living in 28 communities near the Lebanese border to evacuate.

The order Monday comes amid increasing cross-border fire between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

The military order affects communities within 1.2 miles of the border.

Hezbollah has said the increased strikes were a warning and did not mean Hezbollah has decided to enter the war. 

The Israeli army said Monday it was evacuating residents living along its northern frontier with Lebanon amid rising tensions there 10 days into its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

According to Agence France-Presse, the army said in a statement that evacuees would be put up in "state-funded guesthouses."

By The Associated Press

Biden agrees Hamas should be eliminated, says Israeli occupation of Gaza would be "big mistake"

In an interview with "60 Minutes," President Biden said he agrees that Hamas needs to be eliminated.

"Yes, I do," Mr. Biden told "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley. "But there needs to be a Palestinian authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state." 

Given last weekend's terrorist attacks, the president acknowledged a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians is not possible at the moment.

"Not now. Not now. Not now, but— but I think Israel understands that a significant portion of Palestinian people do not share the views of Hamas and Hezbollah," he said.

President Joe Biden: The 2023 60 Minutes Interview 13:33

Asked if he would support an Israeli occupation of Gaza, Mr. Biden said, "I think it'd be a big mistake. Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don't represent all the Palestinian people."

Read more from President Biden's interview here.


Gaza humanitarian crisis deepens

More than a million people have fled their homes in the besieged Gaza Strip in the past week, ahead of expected Israel invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas' leadership after its deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The enclave's food and water supplies are dwindling, and its hospitals are warning that they are on the verge of collapse.

Israeli officials have given no timetable for a ground incursion that aid groups warn could hasten a humanitarian crisis in the coastal Gaza enclave.

About 500,000 people, nearly one quarter of Gaza's population, were taking refuge in United Nations schools and other facilities across the territory, where water supplies were dwindling, said Juliette Touma, spokesperson for the U.N.'s Palestinian refugee agency. "Gaza is running dry," she said. The agency says an estimated 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza in a single week.

With the situation in Gaza growing increasingly desperate, the U.S. named David Satterfield, the former U.S. ambassador to Turkey experienced in Mideast diplomacy, to be special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that Satterfield will focus on getting humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

Hospitals in Gaza are expected to run out of generator fuel within two days, endangering the lives of thousands of patients, according to the U.N. Gaza's sole power plant shut down for lack of fuel after Israel completely sealed off the 25-mile long territory following the Hamas attack.

The World Health Organization expressed concern to The Associated Press about limited water and sanitation in the territory, particularly at hospitals where patients' lives can be lost due to infection and disease outbreaks. The WHO said four hospitals in northern Gaza are no longer functioning as a result of damage and 21 hospitals are under an Israeli evacuation order.

By The Associated Press
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