October 8, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Thom Poole, Joshua Berlinger, Maureen Chowdhury, Matt Meyer and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 0805 GMT (1605 HKT) October 9, 2023
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2:24 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

US Navy moves carrier strike group to eastern Mediterranean Sea with Israel at war

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

The USS Gerald R. Ford is seen anchored in the Gulf of Trieste in Italy on September 18.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is seen anchored in the Gulf of Trieste in Italy on September 18. Andrej Tarfila/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A US Navy carrier strike group is headed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as Israel prepares for a large-scale campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was sailing with the Italian Navy earlier this week, according to the ship’s social media, putting it close to Israel.

The carrier will be accompanied by guided missile destroyers and guided missile cruisers, which are two other classes of Navy warship.

The US is also taking steps to bolster its presence of fighter jets in the region, including F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 squadrons. It sent several of these aircraft to the Middle East in recent months in response to aggression from Iranian forces across the region, including in Syria and in the Gulf of Oman.

Why it matters: The strike group’s presence is intended as a deterrent to Hezbollah in Lebanon and other militant groups aligned against Israel, the officials said.

US President Joe Biden warned Saturday that “this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage.”

Remember: Hamas, like Hezbollah, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union and Israel.

Israel accuses its archenemy Iran of backing Hamas.

An official in US President Joe Biden's administration said Saturday that it's not yet clear whether Iran played a direct role in this weekend's attacks on Israel, but that there is no question Hamas is funded, equipped and armed by Iran.

1:39 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

More US assistance is on the way to Israel, Biden tells Netanyahu

From CNN's Aileen Graef

US President Joe Biden and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
US President Joe Biden and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Getty Images

Additional US assistance is on its way to Israel, US President Joe Biden told Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a call Sunday.

“President Biden updated the Prime Minister on the intensive diplomatic engagement undertaken by the United States over the last 24 hours in support of Israel," a readout of the call from the White House said. "The President also conveyed that additional assistance for the Israeli Defense Forces is now on its way to Israel with more to follow over the coming days.”

Biden once again expressed sympathy for those missing, wounded and killed, and discussed efforts to ensure no other rivals of Israel take advantage of the situation, according to the readout.

The two leaders are expected to stay in contact in the coming days.

1:43 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Turkey is ready to help stop the fighting between Israel and Hamas, president says

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a summit in New York on September 18.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a summit in New York on September 18. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country is ready to help stop the conflict between Israel and Hamas "and to reduce the tension that has escalated with the recent events."

"We are determined to continue intensifying the diplomatic efforts we have initiated to restore tranquility," Erdoğan said, speaking at a church opening ceremony in Istanbul. "We invite all actors who have a say in the region to sincerely contribute to peace," Erdoğan added.

The Turkish president said that while the country always stands "in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers; we have emphasized that any steps that would escalate tensions in the region, cause more bloodshed, and deepen the problems should be avoided."

1:07 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Israeli military says it has killed hundreds of Hamas fighters and wounded thousands

From CNN's Amir Tal and Mike Schwartz

Israeli troops have killed hundreds of Hamas fighters, wounded thousands and captured scores of others, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said Sunday.

The initial Israeli counterattack began at 3:45 a.m. local time Sunday (8:45 p.m. ET Saturday), with "tens of tons of bombs" dropped, said IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

Israeli forces destroyed around 800 targets, including launching pads used by Hamas, with 50 planes attacking 120 targets in Beit Hanoun alone and destroying all Hamas gathering points there, Hagari said. 

Sunday saw fighting in a series of Israeli communities near Gaza, including Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Kissufim and Be’eri, Hagari said.

On the coast, near the community of Zikim, a Hamas squad that tried to land was foiled, the IDF spokesperson said.

Remember: Hamas is an Islamist organization with a military wing. It controls the Gaza Strip, the enclave home to 2 million Palestinians, from which it launched Saturday's devastating attacks on Israel.

Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.

1:58 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

More than 600 people have been killed in Israel since Saturday's attack, minister says

From CNN's Casey Gannon

Rockets are fired toward Israel from Gaza on October 8.
Rockets are fired toward Israel from Gaza on October 8. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

More than 600 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas launched its surprise attack Saturday — and the death toll is expected to rise further, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer told CNN on Sunday.

“We are well north of 600 people who have been killed. There will probably be more — hundreds, several hundred more,” Dermer said.

More than 2,000 people are wounded, according to officials.

Fighting in Israel rages on Sunday, a day after Hamas fighters breached the border from Gaza in a devastating attack.

12:19 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

UN Security Council will hold a closed door emergency meeting on the Middle East Sunday

From CNN’s Richard Roth at the United Nations in New York

The United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East will be a closed door meeting starting at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, according to the UN.

Gilad Erdan, the permanent representative of Israel to the UN, is expected to brief reporters ahead of the meeting at 1:30 p.m. ET.

12:26 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Americans among hostages held in Gaza, Israeli minister says

From CNN's Casey Gannon

Americans are among the “scores” of hostages being held in Gaza, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday. 

He declined to estimate the number of Americans specifically being held.

Dermer called the attack on Israel a "savage attack," saying that women, children and elderly people are among the hostages in Gaza. 

The US is “working overtime” to verify reports of missing and dead Americans overseas after Hamas launched its unprecedented attack, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Bash earlier Sunday.

12:21 p.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Hamas says the Iranian president praised its attack in a phone call

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a news conference on September 20.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a news conference on September 20. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Hamas claimed Sunday that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi praised its surprise attack on Israel in a phone call with the group's leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Iran's state-run IRNA news on Sunday said Raisi spoke with Haniyeh in a phone call and "reviewed the situation underway in the occupied lands," but did not provide further details.

In a later statement, Raisi said his country "supports the Palestinian nation's legitimate defense," and that Israel and its backers "bear responsibility for endangering the security of the nations of the region."

Haniyeh expressed his appreciation for Iran's position, according to a statement released by Hamas.

Some context: Iran is Israel's archenemy, and the two countries have long engaged in a form of proxy war, in which Iran-backed groups fight Israeli forces.

Israel accuses Iran of backing Hamas.

An official in US President Joe Biden's administration said Saturday that it's not yet clear whether Iran played a direct role in this weekend's attacks on Israel, but that there is no question Hamas is funded, equipped and armed by Iran.

11:44 a.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Several European leaders express "unreserved support for Israel," Netanyahu says

From CNN’s Alex Hardie in London

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed support for Israel on Sunday.

Netanyahu said the European heads of state “expressed unreserved support for Israel’s right to defend itself as necessary,” according to a social media post.

The office of the Italian prime minister said on social media that Meloni “reiterated the Italian government's full solidarity for the attacks suffered and its closeness to the families of the victims, to the hostages and the injured,” adding that Italy "will work with international partners to coordinate support."

Zelensky also wrote a post about the conversation on social media.

“I spoke with Netanyahu to affirm Ukraine’s solidarity with Israel, which suffers from a brazen large-scale attack, and to express condolences for the multiple victims," the Ukrainian president wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Zelensky also noted that Israeli law enforcement and diplomats are coordinating to ensure the safety of Ukrainian citizens in Israel.