October 9, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Ed Upright, Joshua Berlinger, Aditi Sangal, Dakin Andone, Maureen Chowdhury, Leinz Vales, Elise Hammond, Steve Almasy and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 10, 2023
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11:35 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

IDF is committed to "making sure Hamas doesn't have any military capabilities" by war's end, spokesperson says

From CNN’s Heather Law

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are committed to ensuring Hamas "doesn't have any military capabilities" by the end of the war, Lt Col. Jonathan Conricus, IDF international spokesperson, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday. 

There have been attempts by Hamas militants to breach the southern border for suicide missions to kill civilians and soldiers, Conricus said, as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies.

And in response, the IDF has saturated the southern border with troops and continued conducting air strikes while working to rebuild their defense systems, Conricus said. 

"The issue here is that we have been tasked with mitigating or making sure that Hamas doesn't have any military capabilities at the end of the war. And that will be achieved," Conricus explained. 
"What happens on the way and how we implement that task will be seen. But at this stage, we continue to strike from the air. And there are plans to, of course, expand that. And the troops, the reserves, and the regular units that are amassing along the southern border are readying for their tasks," he said.

 

11:23 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

Israeli airstrike kills 2 journalists in Gaza, Hamas-controlled media office says

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman, Kareem Khadder and Abeer Salman

Two local journalists were killed and another injured in an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in the western part of the Gaza Strip, according to a statement by the Hamas-controlled Government Media Office.      

Journalists Saed Al-Taweel and Mohammed Sabah were killed in the airstrike while they were covering the evacuation of a threatened building. Another journalist who was with them, Hisham Al-Nawajha, was injured and is currently receiving treatment, according to a written statement sent to CNN by Salama Marouf, the head of the media office.   

The office said both Al-Taweel and Sabah were clearly identifiable as press members. They were wearing safety gear and distinctive journalist markings, which the office said should have been easily discernible to the aircraft.

"Hours earlier, we had cautioned about the occupation's aggressive intentions towards journalists and media entities, especially after several media headquarters were alerted to evacuate. This appears to be an attempt to muffle the truths they report," the statement said.

The Israel Defense Forces told CNN it was looking into the report and added: “We will let you know when we have information regarding this matter.”

A video viewed by CNN shows Sabah's body on a stretcher, clad in a blue bulletproof vest labeled "press" and surrounded by other journalists.

11:12 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

"I cannot describe the pain I feel": Family searches for information on missing woman

Eran Litman and Yahali Ricardo speak with CNN's Abby Phillip about their missing family member on Monday, October 9, 2023.
Eran Litman and Yahali Ricardo speak with CNN's Abby Phillip about their missing family member on Monday, October 9, 2023. CNN

Eran Litman said that his daughter was trying to escape the attack by Hamas militants in Israel on Saturday morning — but that was the last time he heard from her. Now, her family is searching for any information about what happened to her as hundreds of Israelis have been killed and thousands of others wounded in the attack.

The spelling of Litman's daughter's name was not immediately available.

Litman said she was in contact with him while she was trying to escape the fighting in a car. Soon, she told him she was hearing gunshots.

She was with her brother who later died in her arms, Litman said.

“She sent me a picture ... He was dead. She was holding him,” Litman said. “It was very difficult to watch it and to see it.”

He told her to run and hide just before they lost connection, but that was the last time they heard from her. Litman said the family does not know if she is hurt, hiding or was killed.

After communication was cut off, Yahali Ricardo has been searching for her sister.

���I just need to hold her. I really need to see her,” Ricardo said.

Ricardo said she has called several hospitals and went to a place where bodies were being transported to see if she could identify her sister.

"When I arrived there there were eight more trucks filled with bodies and I asked them, let me search for her because I am calling and asking people where is my sister and nobody can give me answers,” she said.

Ricardo said she feels helpless trying to get information about what happened, but she won’t give up.

“There is nobody that I can talk to because everywhere I go they block me. Literally blocking me to go inside, literally stopping me to search for my own sister,” she said.

Ricardo described her as someone who was “very bright, very smart.”

"I cannot describe the pain I feel because I don't even want to connect to my own emotions because I know that I will fall apart. It's like a part of my own body is missing," Ricardo said.
10:55 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

More than 137,000 people are taking cover at UN shelters in Gaza, UN Relief Works Agency says

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman

Palestinians fleeing Israeli air strikes take refuge in a school run by the United Nations in Gaza City on October 8, 2023.
Palestinians fleeing Israeli air strikes take refuge in a school run by the United Nations in Gaza City on October 8, 2023. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said late Monday its emergency shelters in Gaza are at 90% capacity with more than 137,000 people taking cover from Israeli strikes.

The agency said 83 UNRWA schools have been turned into shelters.

It said that one UN school housing displaced families was "directly hit," without giving further details. It's unknown how many people were in the shelter at the time of the attack.

UNRWA also said they had been forced to close all 14 food distribution centers, writing in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that "as a result half a million people have stopped receiving vital food aid."

Israel has launched retaliatory strikes in Gaza after Hamas' surprise attack over the weekend, with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday ordering a “complete siege” of Gaza.

More than 680 Palestinians have died and more than 3,700 were injured, according to Gaza's health ministry. 

Some context: The Gaza Strip has been almost completely cut off from the rest of the world for nearly 17 years.

Governed by Hamas since 2007, the enclave is under strict siege by Egypt and Israel, which also maintains an air and naval blockade. It has been described by Human Rights Watch as the “world’s largest open-air prison.”

Gazans have seen Israeli strikes ravage the strip on several occasions since Israeli forces withdrew from the territory in 2005. Fighting regularly takes place between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

10:05 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

Militants threw grenades into bomb shelters and shot into passing cars near festival site, new videos show 

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy 

Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of violence.

Dash camera videos obtained by CNN appear to show what happened when Hamas militants arrived near the site of a music festival where more than 260 people were killed over the weekend.

At about 7:39 a.m. local time on Saturday, according to the car's dash camera, an unknown driver was traveling northward on a highway just outside of Re'im, Israel, near the Nova Festival grounds. An armed man standing in the street starts shooting at the car.

The video, which has no audio, shows the car as it continues to slowly move up the road and bullets are fired into the vehicle. Its windshield shows some of the strikes. 

The video shows at least 10 more fighters open fire on the vehicle until it finally stops, crashing into another car. It's not known what happened to the people inside. 

A second video — another dash camera from a parked car just up the road — shows more militants near a bus stop and bomb shelter. Militants surrounded a bomb shelter and were screaming at a shirtless man standing outside it. This incident happened at 7:56 a.m. local time, according to the video.

It's unclear what is being said, but the man squats on the ground and they begin kicking him. It's also not known what happened to the man.

The video then shows a militant throwing a grenade into the bomb shelter. Another man runs out, trying to escape the explosion. 

He runs out of frame, but the militants immediately fix their guns on him and begin firing. His fate is also unknown.

CNN visited that bomb shelter today. Its interior was covered in blood. 

9:47 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

Canadian who died during Hamas attack acted as shield, survivors tell parents

From CNN's Amanda Jackson and David Williams

Alexandre Look was enjoying the outdoor music festival near the Gaza border Saturday when Hamas militants began killing scores of people.

Look’s parents, Raquel Ohnona Look and Alain Haim Look, told CNN news partner CBC that they were on the phone with the 33-year-old as he tried to escape the gunfire. Look and other festival-goers sought shelter in a bunker without a door, his parents said.

"And then I heard him tell his friends, 'They're coming back. There's a lot of them.' And then all I heard was a lot of gunshots, lots of rounds and then we heard nothing," Raquel Ohnona Look told CBC.

CBC reported that one woman who survived the attack messaged the parents to say she saw the son’s body and another said he prevented others from being killed. 

"He was our shield. I swear to you, he was our shield. If it wasn't for him, all 30 of us in there would be dead," a woman in the video, which was reviewed by CBC, told the parents.

CNN news partner CTV reported that Global Affairs Canada was aware of reports that one Canadian had died and two were missing. CNN reached out to the department, which handles Canada's diplomatic and consular relations, and has not heard back.

 “Like a true warrior, he left as a hero wanting to protect the people he was with. Alex was a force of nature, endowed with a unique charisma and unparalleled generosity,” his father, Alain Haim Look, posted on Facebook on Saturday. “The world will never be the same without you. Goodbye my son, I love you and watch over us from above.”

 Quebec Premier François Legault on Monday sent his condolences to the family.

 “My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Quebecer Alexandre Look who lost his life in one of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel,” Legault posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I am saddened by the dramatic circumstances of his death, he who was only 33 years old.”

Israeli officials have said at least 260 bodies were discovered after the massacre at the music festival.

9:59 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

At least 1 Russian killed and 9 are missing in Israel, ambassador says

From CNN’s Mariya Knight in Atlanta

At least one Russian citizen was killed in the conflict in Israel, Russia's ambassador confirmed in an interview with state-run Channel One television station. 

“It is with great condolences that I make public for the first time the information that, unfortunately, the death of one Russian citizen has been confirmed. The young man, most likely, was permanently residing there, has citizenship of both Russia and Israel. For us, he is a citizen of the Russian Federation, first of all,” said Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov.

Viktorov said the Russian side is establishing all the circumstances of the incident and is trying to contact the relatives of the deceased in order to provide them with assistance if necessary. 

Following the weekend attack by Hamas, the relatives of nine Russian citizens had appealed to the embassy after reportedly losing contact.

Viktorov also confirmed that “four of these nine Russian citizens are on the Israeli list of missing persons.”

"We are trying to establish contact with the Israeli authorities about their whereabouts and keep in touch with their relatives," he added. 

Russia is exploring the possibility of evacuating Russians from the Gaza Strip and hasn't ruled out the possibility of organizing evacuation flights from Israel to Russia or to a third country, Viktorov said.

10:37 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

Palestinian-Americans stuck in Gaza feel trapped, abandoned by US Embassy

From CNN’s Yahya Abou-Ghazala

Lightning strikes over Gaza City following an Israeli bombardment on October 9, 2023.
Lightning strikes over Gaza City following an Israeli bombardment on October 9, 2023. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

As bombs rained down on Gaza on Monday, Palestinian-Americans visiting or living there said they were desperately trying to find ways out of the region but have received little or no support from US Embassy officials even though they are US citizens. 

Meanwhile, they said they were told by the US Embassy that the routes out of the Gaza Strip had been narrowed down to one: A passage through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which reportedly had been halted for a period of time Monday because of bombing activity. 

new security alert from the US Embassy on Monday read, in part, “U.S. citizens in Gaza who wish to leave and can do so safely are advised to check the status of the Rafah Crossing into Egypt.”

A bus carrying Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as they head to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage on June 21, 2022.
A bus carrying Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as they head to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage on June 21, 2022. Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Said Shaath, 64, of Fresno, California, who is working in the humanitarian sector in Gaza, said US Embassy officials told one of his cousins to make his way to the Egypt border crossing, if he could do so safely. 

"I don’t know what 'safely' means? We are living in Rimal, it’s very risky to drive all the way to south Rafah terminal,” he said. “This is not secure because along the way there is a chance that you will be targeted," given the constant barrage of Israeli airstrikes. Under normal circumstances, the drive from Rimal to the Rafah crossing can take up to an hour.

A CNN reporter on the phone with Shaath could hear loud explosions from the bombardment throughout the discussions.

"My house is shaking. I swear to God the pillars in my house are cracking," Shaath said. 

Lena Beseiso, 57, of Salt Lake City, Utah, described the terror of being trapped: "It hurts, you jump out of your skin thinking this is the last breath."

Beseiso – who had not been to Gaza in 12 years – traveled there in late March to visit and spend time with her husband, daughters, niece, and grandson. She too is frustrated by the lack of options given by the US government after repeatedly calling the US Embassy emergency lines to seek help evacuating.

"When we finally got somebody on the phone, we were pleading. [My daughters] were practically crying saying they needed their assistance," she said. A woman on the line said she couldn't help them, Beseiso added.

"She just kept saying, 'Sorry, we were not notified to help you, we were not given any information to assist you,'" Beseiso said. "She kept on telling the girls this emergency line is for Israel."

CNN calls to the US Embassy in Jerusalem Monday evening were directed to the branch office in Tel Aviv. A person who answered there told CNN they were advised not to comment beyond what was published on the Embassy website. 

In response to a CNN query, a State Department spokesperson said, “We continue to closely monitor the dynamic security situation,” and referred U.S. citizens to their website, travel.state.gov, for assistance.

Abdulla Okal, 34, is watching the drama unfold from his family’s home in New Jersey. His wife, Haneen, and their three young children – ages 8, 2 and 2 months – are stuck in Gaza. All of them are US citizens. 

"I don’t know what to do, to be honest," Okal told CNN. "This is the first time my wife and my kids are far from me, and it’s war, it’s a real war." 

Okal said his wife called the US Embassy on Saturday, and they gave her a link to fill out an application form and told her to wait for a callback. She called again Monday after not hearing back, Okal said, and was told that they wouldn’t be able to help her soon but that they would keep her posted.

She hasn’t heard anything else, her husband said.

Okal is desperate and says the thought of his family traveling to the last remaining crossing in Rafah is scary: "It's really dangerous, you’re going from the north all the way to the south... the routes are bombed, there are huge holes, the cars can’t even drive on it." 

The State Department has long warned Americans against travel to Gaza "due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict." 

10:03 p.m. ET, October 9, 2023

US top general speaks to Israeli counterpart for first time in discussions to "bolster regional deterrence"

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

From left, U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. CQ Brown and Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.
From left, U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. CQ Brown and Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi. AP/Reuters

The top US general spoke to his Israeli counterpart for the first time, the Pentagon said, as Israel broadens its campaign against Hamas in Gaza.  

Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. CQ Brown expressed his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack and discussed the situation on the ground with Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, according to a readout of the call.

The two also discussed bolstering the US military posture in the region to establish regional deterrence and committed to remaining in close contact.

"The two military leaders discussed the security situation on the ground, as well as steps to strengthen the U.S. military posture in the region and bolster regional deterrence efforts," the readout said.

This is the first time the two top generals had spoken since Brown was confirmed as Chair of the Joint Chiefs in September.

The call comes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yaov Gallant, on Sunday and Saturday.