December 4, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Antoinette Radford, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Chris Lau, CNN

Updated 1:51 a.m. ET, December 5, 2023
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11:13 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

Tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians arrive in Rafah, mostly settling in streets, UN body says

From CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury

Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis, sit outside makeshift shelters at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4.
Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis, sit outside makeshift shelters at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians have arrived in Gaza's southernmost governorate of Rafah over the past two days, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement early Tuesday (local time). 

"Given that shelters in Rafah city have exceeded their capacity by far, most newly arriving IDPs [internally displaced persons] have settled in the streets and in empty spaces across the city, where they erected tents and makeshift shelters," the statement read. 

The movement comes after the Israeli military said on Sunday it was expanding its ground operations to the whole of the Gaza Strip. 

Out of about 1.8 million displaced people across Gaza, almost one million are sheltering in the 99 facilities run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the south, including in Khan Younis and Rafah, OCHA said as it warned of the spread of diseases in shelters. 

"Due to the overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions at UNRWA shelters in the south, there have been significant increases in some communicable diseases and conditions such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, skin infections and hygiene-related conditions like lice," the statement added. 

Earlier on Monday, OCHA also said it had received reports of hepatitis outbreaks in refugee shelters in the strip. 

Some context: The UNRWA previously said almost 1.9 million people, more than 80% of the enclave's total population, have been displaced since the beginning of the war.

9:46 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

Only 100 humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza on Monday, UN says

From CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury, Tamar Michaelis, Lauren Kent

Only 100 trucks carrying humanitarian aid and 69,000 liters of fuel went into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement early Tuesday local time. 

"This is well below the daily average of 170 trucks and 110,000 litres of fuel that had entered during the humanitarian pause implemented between 24 and 30 November," the statement read. 

OCHA added that aid distribution in Khan Younis "largely stopped" due to intense fighting, while limited aid distribution of mainly flour and water took place in Rafah. 

Earlier on Monday, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said 180 aid trucks went into Gaza, claiming the volume of aid was similar to the amount Gaza received during the seven-day truce.

The trucks — carrying food, water, medical equipment and other supplies — were sent "at the request of the US Administration and in coordination with Egypt," a spokesperson for COGAT said in a separate statement.

"All the equipment was inspected at the Nitsana Crossing before being cleared for entry into the Gaza Strip," the statement said, referring to the location where Israel verifies the goods being transported before they can enter Gaza.

The volume of aid is similar to the amounts Gaza was receiving during the now-expired truce that lasted seven days.

COGAT also said two diesel fuel tankers were sent from Egypt to humanitarian aid agencies operating in Gaza.

"The admission of fuels, which are designated for the operation of vital infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, was coordinated and supervised by Israel," it said.

CNN has reached out to The Palestine Red Crescent Society to ask about the receipt of the aid trucks in Gaza.

This post has been updated with the OCHA statement from early Tuesday.

8:58 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

“More hellish scenario” to unfold if more aid doesn’t enter Gaza, UN warns

From CNN’s Richard Roth

Vehicles transporting humanitarian aid wait in the Bureij camp in central Gaza on November 30.
Vehicles transporting humanitarian aid wait in the Bureij camp in central Gaza on November 30. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Getty Images/FILE

A “more hellish scenario is about to unfold” if more aid is not allowed to enter Gaza, UN humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings said in a statement on Monday.

The current amount of aid is insufficient and the conditions required to deliver aid to Gaza do not exist, according to Hastings, the Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“If possible, an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold, one in which humanitarian operations may not be able to respond,” Hastings said. 

The use of only the Rafah crossing to bring trucks of aid does not work, the UN said, despite the efforts of its agencies, the Egyptian and Palestine Red Crescent Society, and other partners. 

The international body added Gaza’s health system is “on its knees” with a lack of clean drinking water, no proper sanitation and poor nutrition for people, and shelters with no capacity.

The situation amounts to a “textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster,” Hastings said. “Humanitarian operations cannot be kept on a drip feed of fuel,” she said, adding that fuel is required for hospitals, clean drinking water, sanitation, social services and UN operations, among others.  

The UN said fuel must be allowed to enter Gaza in a “manner which ensures Israel’s security.”  

Hastings said the UN and NGOs alone can’t support the population of Gaza, stressing that commercial and public sectors must be allowed to bring supplies into Gaza.  

The UN said it stands ready to work with all parties to “expand the number of UN-managed safe shelters and to deliver assistance where it is needed.”

Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Monday that 180 international humanitarian aid trucks were sent to the Rafah crossing "at the request of the US Administration and in coordination with Egypt."

1:51 a.m. ET, December 5, 2023

Israeli official: Ratio of 2 civilians killed for every Hamas member "tremendously positive" in circumstances

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey

A ratio of two Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza for every Hamas militant is a “tremendously positive” given the challenges of urban combat, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces told CNN on Monday.

The French news agency, Agence-France-Presse, citing a briefing for foreign media by senior Israeli military officials, reported on Monday that the Israeli military believes that about two civilians have been killed in Gaza for every Hamas militant.

 Asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett about that report, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said: “I can confirm the report.”

“And I can say that if that is true, and I think that our numbers will be corroborated – if you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shields, and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive, and perhaps unique in the world.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told journalists during a news conference on Saturday that the military has killed “thousands of terrorists.” The Israeli military has not officially published any estimates of those killed.

AFP reported that the unnamed Israeli military official, when asked to confirm reports that around 5,000 Hamas militants had been killed, replied: “The numbers are more or less right.”

The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza says that 15,899 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli attacks since October 7. It does not distinguish between civilians and militants.

A top US State Department official told Congress last month that while it was difficult to assess casualty figures while the conflict was ongoing, she believed that the true death toll could be even higher than what is being publicly discussed.

“It is very difficult for any of us to assess what the rate of casualties are,” said Barbara Leaf, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. “We think they’re very high, frankly. And it could be that they’re even higher than are being cited. We’ll know only after the guns fall silent.”

 

8:45 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

Map showing unsafe areas of Gaza isn't perfect, but it's "the best thing that we can do," IDF says

From CNN's Mick Krever

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told CNN Monday that the system it has implemented in recent days to designate unsafe areas of Gaza is not perfect, but it is “the best thing that we can do” as civilians continue to look for shelters amid Israel's expanded ground operations into the south.

The IDF on Friday distributed leaflets in Gaza with a QR-code, which linked to an online map that divided the Gaza Strip into thousands of parcels. Since then, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman has posted maps on his X account warning Gazans to leave large swaths of the territory.

But electricity and internet supply have been extremely intermittent in Gaza. 

“We’re trying to reach out to Palestinians,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, IDF spokesperson, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday. “We’re trying to inform them ahead of time where fighting is going to be in order for them to be able to take precautions and move from where there is going to be fighting. I don’t know how else we can square that circle of defeating Hamas where Hamas is and minimizing civilian casualties.”

Electricity and internet supply have been extremely intermittent in Gaza. Netblocks, the London-based internet monitoring firm, reported a near-total internet blackout in Gaza on Monday. 

CNN’s attempts this weekend to contact people in Khan Younis to ask if they had seen the map were unsuccessful, due to the poor communication links. 

Some context: Israel expanded its ground operations to all of Gaza, with ground forces now operating in the southern part of the enclave. A recent evacuation order to move civilians from Khan Younis into Rafah in southern Gaza "created panic, fear and anxiety," with a United Nations agency warning that 1.9 million people, more than 80% of the enclave's total population, have been displaced since the beginning of the war.

10:28 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

At least 63 journalists killed during Israel-Hamas conflict since October 7, CPJ says

From CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury 

Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian journalist Muhammad Abu Hatab, who was killed in an Israeli strike, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on November 3, 2023.
Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian journalist Muhammad Abu Hatab, who was killed in an Israeli strike, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on November 3, 2023. Mohammed Salem/Reuters

At least 63 journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza, Israel and Lebanon during the latest Israel-Hamas conflict since October 7, according to a statement by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday. 

The death toll includes 56 Palestinian, four Israeli and three Lebanese journalists, CPJ said. 

"Journalists in Gaza face particularly high risks as they try to cover the conflict during the Israeli ground assault, including devastating Israeli airstrikes, disrupted communications, supply shortages and extensive power outages," the statement added. 

The journalist advocacy group said the conflict has led to the deadliest month for journalists since it started tracking in 1992. 

"CPJ is investigating all reports of journalists and media workers killed, injured, or missing in the war," the group said.

6:04 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

Heavy Israeli strikes creates "very serious" situation around northern Gaza hospital, journalist says

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder and Kareem El Damanhoury  

The Israeli military is heavily bombarding the vicinity of Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, causing damage, a journalist at the hospital said.

Anas Al-Sharif said in a voice message Monday night that the situation was "very serious."

“There is damage inside the [Kamal Adwan] hospital due to the heavy fall of shrapnel on the hospital building and on the displaced people in the hospital’s yard,” Al-Sharif said as explosions were heard in the background. 

He added that he could hear airstrikes and artillery fire and that anyone moving near the hospital was being shot at. 

In a statement Monday, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza accused the Israeli military of targeting Kamal Adwan Hospital. 

CNN cannot independently verify those claims. 

CNN reached out to the Israeli military for comment and did not immediately hear back. The Israeli military has maintained that it is targeting Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. 

6:05 p.m. ET, December 4, 2023

Video shows Israeli military detonating explosives outside building that housed justice ministry in Gaza

From Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem and Mick Krever in Tel Aviv

Videos posted on social media Monday show the Israeli military detonating explosives and destroying a large building in central Gaza that houses the justice ministry and courthouses.

Multiple angles show a large number of explosives detonating simultaneously and flattening the building in Al-Zahra. It is not clear when the detonation happened. 

In one of the videos, a Hebrew-speaking voice can be heard over the radio.

“In memory of those who were murdered, and the victims of the terrible slaughter,” the man says. “We will not forget. We will not forgive. Am Yisrael Chai!” — meaning, ‘The people of Israel live.

Then the man starts a countdown, after which the explosives detonate, and the building collapses.

Al-Zahra, south of Gaza City, has come under heavy bombardment by the Israeli military. Large numbers of residential buildings have been leveled, videos have shown. It had historically been an upscale suburb.

CNN reached out to the IDF about why it destroyed the building but did not receive a response.