January 21, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Heather Chen, Andrew Raine, Amarachi Orie and Antoinette Radford, CNN

Updated 2:01 p.m. ET, January 22, 2024
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2:01 p.m. ET, January 22, 2024

EU sanctions Hamas-linked financier following CNN probe

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Nima Elbagir

The European Union has sanctioned Abdelbasit Hamza, a Sudanese financier with strong ties to Hamas who was at the center of an investigation carried out by CNN with Israeli investigative platform Shomrim and the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) into the militant group’s funding.

The investigation exposed the wide range of business interests Hamza had managed to maintain in Europe, despite being placed under US sanctions in the wake of the October 7 attacks.

Hamza, who has previously denied any involvement in Hamas funding, is believed to have a network of global assets previously estimated by Sudanese anti-corruption officials to be over $2 billion.

In a press release Friday, the Council of the EU said it was putting into effect a newly approved sanctions regime which would allow it to “target those who support, materially or financially Hamas.”

“For the first time, the EU will also be able to target persons or entities providing support to those facilitating or enabling violent action by Hamas and the PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad); in other words, the sponsors of those who sponsor the two terrorist organizations,” the bloc said.

Hamza was one of six individuals, including senior Hamas financier Rida Ali Khamis and senior Hamas operative Musa Dudin, sanctioned on Friday. All six will be subjected to an asset freeze and a travel ban to the EU, according to the EU release.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said the sanctioning of individuals such as Hamza shows that the bloc is “ready to take decisive steps to react to the brutality shown by terrorists on October 7.”
2:13 p.m. ET, January 21, 2024

UK defense minister says comments from Netanyahu rejecting Palestinian state are "disappointing"

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

UK Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps speaks to the media in London on January 21.
UK Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps speaks to the media in London on January 21. Maja Smiejkowska/PA/Getty Images

UK Secretary of State for Defense Grant Shapps has called comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting the prospect of a Palestinian state "disappointing," reiterating the UK's commitment toward a two-state solution. 

Netanyahu sparked controversy during a news conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday when he appeared to reject the idea of creating a Palestinian state in adherence with a two-state solution. 

“In any future arrangement… Israel needs security control of all territory west of Jordan. This clashes with the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty. What can you do?” he said.

On Saturday, Netanyahu's office said the prime minister "reiterated his policy" on this during a private phone call with US President Joe Biden.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky News on Sunday, Shapps said it was "disappointing to hear that from the Israeli Prime Minister." 

"There isn't another option. The whole world has agreed that a two-state solution is the best way forward. The British government absolutely backs that as a solution," Shapps stressed. 

Shapps said a Palestinian state "needs to be sovereign on the Palestinian side" and to also "provide security guarantees on the Israeli side." 

The defence minister pointed out that there "isn't another obvious way out" out of the conflict in Gaza. 

On Saturday, UK shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said "Biden is right" in calling for a two-state solution, and described Netanyahu's comments as "unacceptable," adding: “Of course, the Palestinian people deserve a state."

2:15 p.m. ET, January 21, 2024

Father of Palestinian American teen shot dead in West Bank blames US support of Israel for death

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem and Rob Iddiols

The father of a Palestinian American teenager shot dead in the occupied West Bank has blamed the United States for his son’s death, citing long-standing US military support.

Hafiz Abdel Jabbar said his son Tawfic Abdel Jabbar – who was born and raised in Gretna, Louisiana, near New Orleans, but had been living with his father in the West Bank since May 2023 – was driving to have a picnic on their family farm with his friends, about 10 miles north of Ramallah, near the town of Al-Mazra'a ash-Sharqiya, on Friday.

He said an eyewitness told him that when they got there, settlers and then IDF soldiers "stopped and started shooting at them," and his son was fatally struck twice, in the head and chest, and found dead in the car.

A Palestinian state media report earlier said the teen was transported in critical condition to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he later died.

Since Israel is “supported by the US government,” Abdel Jabbar, a dual-national US citizen, told CNN Saturday, “he was killed by our own bullets. My son was killed by our own government.”

Police said the shooting would be investigated.   

More than 360 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and settlers in the West Bank since October 7, the Palestinian Ministry of Health says.

2:16 p.m. ET, January 21, 2024

Death toll in Gaza surpasses 25,000, Hamas-run Ministry of Health says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Ibrahim Dahman 

Palestinians mourn relatives who were killed in an Israeli strike in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on January 5.
Palestinians mourn relatives who were killed in an Israeli strike in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on January 5. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Getty Images

More than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health said Sunday.

The latest Palestinian toll includes 178 people killed and 293 injured in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 25,105 killed and 62,681 injured across the strip during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

CNN cannot independently verify these numbers due to the challenges of reporting from the war zone.

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that military activities in the Gaza Strip were continuing, with “dozens of terrorists eliminated and large quantities of weapons located.”

According to an operational update, IDF snipers in cooperation with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) “eliminated a number of terrorists” in Khan Younis in the south of Gaza while troops also “eliminated 15 terrorists” in Daraj Tuffah in the northern part of the territory.

In an update Sunday morning, the IDF said one additional soldier had been killed in combat, bringing Israel's military death toll to 195 since Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza began.

7:38 a.m. ET, January 21, 2024

Netanyahu rejects calls for Palestinian sovereignty after talks with Biden on post-war Gaza

From CNN’s Abeer Salman and Mitchell McCluskey

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, on January 7.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, on January 7. Ronen Zvulun/Pool/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday his desire for security control over all territory west of Jordan is contrary to the existence of a Palestinian state.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan - and this is contrary to a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said in a post on X.

He did not provide any other details in his one-line post, which came a day after he had a phone call with US President Joe Biden which included discussions on the matter. 

Netanyahu’s post echoes a statement he made on Thursday where he said Israel "must control security of all the land which is west of the Jordan River." 

In a separate post, Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also reasserted his rejection of a Palestinian state. “I do deny a Palestinian state. Always!” Ben Gvir said on X.

Some background: It remains unclear what post-war Gaza will look like, but Netanyahu is under competing pressures from the international community to allow a viable Palestinian state and domestically to guarantee Israel's security in the wake of the October 7 attacks.

Following their call, Biden told reporters he believed Netanyahu could ultimately be convinced of a two-state solution. 

“There are a number of types of two-state solutions,” he said.

“There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that are still – don’t have their own military; a number of states that have limitations, and so I think there’s ways in which this can work,” Biden added.

4:37 a.m. ET, January 21, 2024

Palestinians are documenting the war on social media. Their followers see them as family

 From CNN's Harmeet Kaur

Motaz Azaiza, a 24-year-old photojournalist who has been documenting the war on social media, now has millions of Instagram followers.
Motaz Azaiza, a 24-year-old photojournalist who has been documenting the war on social media, now has millions of Instagram followers. CNN

Early on Christmas Day in the central Gazan city of Deir al-Balah, Motaz Azaiza shared a terrifying update on X.

A quadcopter was flying low above the door of his house, he said, and he feared he was about to be targeted in an Israeli airstrike. As a highly visible Palestinian online who had received threats before, Azaiza believed he had reason to be afraid.

Hundreds of people flooded the replies with concern for the 24-year-old Palestinian photojournalist, who has been documenting Israel’s military assault on Gaza on social media since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.

I’m so scared for Motaz,” the replies read.
I hope Motaz is okay.”
Pray for Motaz.

Noor, a medical student in California who asked to go by her first name for safety reasons, was one of the people worrying. For months, she’s been following Azaiza’s dispatches from Gaza, broadcast to his millions of followers: images of his once vibrant neighborhood transformed into a gray wasteland, raw glimpses of carnage in the ashes, and reflections on his own feelings of rage and exhaustion.

Noor refers to Azaiza with the familiarity of his first name. She gets notifications on her phone each time he posts, and worries when too much time passes.

“For so many of us, it almost feels like he’s a brother. He’s a friend, and we’re seeing him suffer in real time,” she told CNN.

Read more.

2:57 a.m. ET, January 21, 2024

UN Secretary General calls opposition to a two-state solution "unacceptable"

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres delivers his speech during the closing session of the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Kampala, Uganda, on January 20.
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres delivers his speech during the closing session of the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Kampala, Uganda, on January 20. Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called opposition to a two-state solution “unacceptable” on Sunday.

“The refusal to accept the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians and the denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people are unacceptable,” he said in a post on X.

Guterres added that “the right of the Palestinian people to build their own state must be recognized by all.”

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his desire for security control over all territory west of Jordan is contrary to the existence of a Palestinian state.

In a separate post, Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also reasserted his rejection of a Palestinian state. 

“I do deny a Palestinian state. Always!” Ben Gvir said on X.

2:49 p.m. ET, January 21, 2024

It's morning in Gaza. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Iran's president has vowed to retaliate after five Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members who were serving on a military advisory mission in Syria were killed in an airstrike on a residential building in Damascus, according to the IRGC. Both Iran and Syria said Israel launched the strike. The Israel Defense Forces has declined to comment on the allegations, telling CNN, "We do not comment on foreign reports."

The reported strike comes as fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East continue to grow.

Here's what else you should know:

  • Developments around the region:
  • Iraq: US personnel were injured in a ballistic missile attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq on Saturday, two US officials said. The attack resulted in minor injuries, the officials said, though it was not immediately clear how many personnel had been injured. US Central Command confirmed the attack Saturday evening and said in a statement that “a number” of US personnel are being evaluated for traumatic brain injuries. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an Iran-backed militia group, claimed responsibility for the missile attack. As of Thursday, US and coalition forces have come under attack more than 143 times in Iraq and Syria since October 7, 2023, as Iranian-backed Shia militias have launched repeated drone and rocket attacks.
  • Red Sea area: US forces on Saturday struck and destroyed a Houthi anti-ship missile aimed into the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, US Central Command said, as efforts continue to degrade the Iran-backed group’s capabilities. The US and its partners have sought to deter Houthi attacks on shipping and merchant vessels in the Red Sea, including intercepting missiles and drones aimed toward commercial ships.
  • Lebanon: Two people were killed after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday hit a vehicle in Lebanon in the town of al-Bazouriya near the border, the Lebanese state-run National News Agency reported. A separate drone strike hit a house in Marwahin, Lebanon, that had previously been targeted by Israel, according to NNA.
  • International discussions: Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Saturday the Israeli prime minister told US President Joe Biden in a phone call on Friday that Israel must retain security control over Gaza following the war against Hamas. It comes following CNN reporting that Netanyahu told Biden he was not foreclosing the possibility of a future Palestinian state in any form. Netanyahu on Thursday appeared to reject the idea of creating a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom's shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said Saturday that a future Labour government would support a Palestinian state and a two-state solution with Israel. And the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said Friday that Israel created and "funded" Hamas in order to weaken the Palestinian Authority led by the Fatah party. 
  • Destroyed cemeteries and hospital: The Israeli military desecrated at least 16 cemeteries in its ground offensive in Gaza, a CNN investigation has found, leaving gravestones ruined and bodies unearthed. Also, the Jordanian military has accused Israeli forces of deliberately targeting its field hospital in Gaza on Wednesday, saying Israeli tanks fired on the hospital where personnel were sheltering.
  • IDF says troops found tunnel: The Israel Defense Forces said troops uncovered a tunnel in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis where Hamas allegedly held hostages.
  • Rising death toll: The number of people killed in Israeli attacks since October 7, 2023, has risen to 24,927, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which collects data from some Hamas-run institutions in Gaza. About 70% of those killed are women and children, the ministry said. It also estimates that more than 8,000 people are missing, believed to be buried under rubble.
  • Protests in Italy: At least 10 police officers were injured during clashes with protesters at a jewelry fair in the Italian city of Vicenza on Saturday, according to CNN affiliate Sky Tg24. According to Sky Tg24, the protesters were demonstrating against the presence of Israeli exhibitors at the VicenzaOro, a gold and jewelry show. Italy's public national broadcaster RAI also reported that police fired water cannons at the protesters, who attempted to block the exhibition's entrance and carried placards bearing slogans such as "Stop global war" and "Free Palestine."

12:16 a.m. ET, January 21, 2024

US personnel injured in ballistic missile attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, US officials say

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Hamdi Alkhshali

A 2019 file photo of Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq.
A 2019 file photo of Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. Nasser Nasser/AP/File

US personnel were injured in a ballistic missile attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to two US officials. US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that multiple ballistic missiles and rockets targeted the base and, while most were intercepted, some did make impact.

The attack resulted in minor injuries, the two officials said, though it was not immediately clear how many personnel had been injured. In a statement, CENTCOM said some personnel "are undergoing evaluation for traumatic brain injuries."

Attacks since October 7: The Saturday attack appears to be the second time ballistic missiles have been used to target US and coalition forces in Iraq since October 7, 2023, when Iran-backed Shia militias began launching attacks on coalition bases after the beginning of the war in Gaza. The US and coalition forces have come under attack more than 140 times in Iraq and Syria since then, as Iranian-backed Shia militias have launched repeated drone and rockets. The use of more powerful ballistic missiles — far rarer than rockets or one-way attack drones — comes at a time of increased tension in the region as the war passes 100 days.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an Iran-backed militia group, claimed responsibility for the missile attack. The group emphasized in a statement Saturday its commitment to resisting American "occupation forces" in the region and cited the attack as a response to what they referred to as the "Zionist entity’s massacres" against the Palestinian people in Gaza. US forces in Iraq and Syria operate as part of the coalition to defeat ISIS. 

In a statement, the United Nations secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq warned that the region is at a “critical juncture” stemming from the war in Gaza that risks drawing Iraq further into the conflict.

“Despite the Government’s efforts to prevent the escalation of tensions, continued attacks - originating from within and outside of Iraq’s borders - stand to undo the hard-won stability of the country and the achievements it has made in recent years,” the statement said.

On Monday, northern Iraq was the target of ballistic missile strikes by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for having what the organization said was a spy base for Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad. The US condemned the strikes as “reckless” and imprecise.

Learn more about this attack and others in the region.