February 11, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Heather Chen, Andrew Raine and Antoinette Radford, CNN

Updated 12:23 a.m. ET, February 12, 2024
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1:07 p.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Israel's military says it will never "deliberately target journalists" following death of Palestine TV journalist

From CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi

Responding to an inquiry from CNN on the killing of Palestine TV journalist Nafez Abdul Jawad, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it “takes all operationally feasible measures to mitigate harm civilians including journalists. The IDF has never, and will never, deliberately target journalists.”

Eyewitness and journalist Mohammad Al-Sawalhi told CNN on Thursday that Abdul Jawad was killed after an Israeli missile struck the Deir El-Balah house he was staying in. At least 14 people were killed, including 5 children, when the residential buildings were targeted, eyewitness, and journalist Tareq Al Hilou, who received information from health officials in Rafah, told CNN.

The IDF said it is not aware of any strikes at these coordinates.

It said it will continue to counter threats and “remaining in an active combat zone has inherent risks”, given the ongoing exchanges of fire.

Some context: As of January 8, at least 79 journalists have been killed in Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Monday. The deaths include 72 Palestinians, four Israelis, and three Lebanese, according to CPJ's data.

12:59 p.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Netanyahu doesn’t “know exactly” what Biden’s over the top comment meant, he says

From CNN's Abel Alvarado in Atlanta

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on December 10.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on December 10. Ronen Zvulun/Pool/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has addressed President Joe Biden’s comments on Israel’s response in Gaza as being “over the top." 

“I appreciate Biden’s support for Israel since the beginning of the war, I don’t know exactly what he meant by that,” Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News aired Sunday.

Netanyahu went on to say Israel has “responded in a way that goes after the terrorist and tries to minimize the civilian population.”

ABC's Jonathan Karl then reminded Netanyahu of the death toll reported by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza that now tops 28,000. 

“I’d be cautious with the Hamas statistics, and I can tell you that according to warfare experts (…) we brought down the civilian to terrorist casualty ratio down below 1 to 1 which is considerably less than in any other theatre of similar warfare," Netanyahu said.

On Thursday, President Biden offered one of his sharpest rebukes to date on Israel’s military conduct in Gaza, saying the operation to go after Hamas had been “over the top.”

Echoing some of his other comments to ABC, in a separate interview with Fox News on Sunday, Netanyahu said those who say the military can’t go into the southern Gaza city of Rafah essentially want Israel to lose. The Israeli prime minister claimed there is “plenty of room” for Gaza’s civilians to evacuate to ahead of a ground assault on Rafah.

CNN's Lauren Izso contributed to this report.

11:42 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Joe Biden will speak with Benjamin Netanyahu about hostages in Gaza on Sunday

From CNN’s Camila DeChalus and Priscilla Alvarez

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

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will talk on Sunday, according to a spokesman for the National Security Council.

A source familiar with the expected call says the focus will be on the hostages still held in Gaza. 

Over the last several months, United States has attempted to put more pressure on the Israeli government to support a “humanitarian pause.” But those efforts have so far yielded little success.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu called Hamas’ recent proposals for a ceasefire and hostage deal in Gaza “delusional.”

“There is not a commitment – there has to be a negotiation, it’s a process, and at the moment, from what I see from Hamas, it’s not happening," he said.

The phone call comes a few days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials earlier this week that the civilian toll in Gaza “remains too high” as violence continues to escalate in the region.

“Nearly 2 million people have been displaced from their homes. Hundreds of thousands are experiencing acute hunger. Most have lost someone that they love. And day after day, more people are killed,” Blinken said at a news conference held earlier this week after meeting with top Israeli officials.

11:24 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Here's the latest on the Israel-Hamas war

From CNN staff

Displaced Palestinians shelter in Rafah, Gaza, on February 10.
Displaced Palestinians shelter in Rafah, Gaza, on February 10. Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Ahead of a looming ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed off mounting criticism of plans to enter the city, saying telling Israel not to enter the southern Gazan city was like telling the country to lose the war.

Netanyahu directed his military to prepare to evacuate an estimated 1.3 million people in the city — many of whom were already displaced from other parts of the enclave and say they have nowhere to go.

On Saturday, an Israeli official told CNN that Netanyahu wants the Rafah operation completed by the start of Ramadan on March 10.

But Netanyahu's plans have come under heavy criticism: such a ground offensive would mean the end of hostage negotiations, Hamas-run television channel Al-Aqsa quoted a source as saying Sunday.

Here's what to know today:

  • International condemnation: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UK are among the growing list of countries to express concern over Israel's plans. Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry warned of "very serious repercussions of storming and targeting" the city while the United Arab Emirates warned Israel's plan “threatens to cause the loss of more innocent life and exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.” Key facilitator of negotiations between Israel and Hamas, Qatar also condemned the plans.
  • Aid organizations sound the alarm: An average of 95 aid trucks per day entered Gaza between October 10 and February 1, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, down from 500 commercial and aid trucks a day before the war, when Palestinians weren’t facing mass displacement and starvation. Some 2 million Gazans are dependent on UN aid now.
  • Elsewhere: In northern Gaza, residents describe "total destruction" left by Israeli military operations, with some families resorting to drinking toilet water to survive. Even with the focus on the south, fighting has continued sporadically in the north.
9:46 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Why only a trickle of aid is getting into Gaza

From CNN's Nadeen Ebrahim

Volunteers load food and supplies onto trucks in an aid convoy for Gaza on October 16, in North Sinai, Egypt.
Volunteers load food and supplies onto trucks in an aid convoy for Gaza on October 16, in North Sinai, Egypt.  Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images

Lengthy inspections, rejected humanitarian aid and Israeli bombs raining down. Those are some of the hurdles to relief reaching the 2.2 million Palestinians in war-torn Gaza.

The United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Martin Griffiths, has described the process as “in all practical terms, impossible.

Gaza was placed under a complete Israeli siege on October 9, when Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he would halt the supply of electricity, food, water and fuel to the enclave after Hamas attacked his country, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages. Israel has since begun allowing some aid to enter.

Getting any form of relief into Gaza is a long and arduous process, aid workers and the UN say.

An average of 95 aid trucks per day entered Gaza between October 10 and February 1, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, down from 500 commercial and aid trucks a day before the war, when Palestinians weren’t facing mass displacement and starvation. Some 2 million Gazans are dependent on UN aid now.

Relief operations are expected to be further hampered after the United States and other top donors suspend funding for UNRWA, the main agency responsible for aid distribution in Gaza. The donors pulled their funding over allegations by Israel that some of its staff were involved in the Hamas attacks.

Read more on why aid is slow to get into Gaza.

8:16 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Hamas says Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would destroy hostage negotiations

From CNN's Abeer Salman and Simon Cullen

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza, on February 9.
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza, on February 9. Fatima Shbair/AP

An Israeli ground offensive in the city of Rafah would mean the end of hostage negotiations, Hamas-run television channel Al-Aqsa reported Sunday, quoting a leadership source in Hamas. 

According to Al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas leadership source said that an assault on Rafah would mean the “destruction” of negotiations that have been ongoing for weeks.

“Netanyahu is trying to evade the obligations of the exchange deal by committing a genocide and a new humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah,” Al-Aqsa quoted the Hamas source as saying.

In a statement on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it had directed the military to plan for the “evacuation of the population” from Rafah in anticipation of a ground assault on the southern Gaza city.

In an interview with ABC releasing Sunday, Netanyahu called Rafah the “last bastion” of Hamas and said Israel was “working out a detailed plan” to secure “safe passage” for civilians but offered few details. 

More than one million people live in Rafah, which is the last major area of Gaza the Israeli military is yet to enter.

5:16 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Qatar condemns Israel’s plan to launch offensive in Rafah

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau

Palestinians carry belongings at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, Gaza, on February 9.
Palestinians carry belongings at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, Gaza, on February 9. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Qatar on Sunday condemned “in the strongest terms” Israel’s plans for a ground offensive in the city of Rafah, urging the UN’s Security Council to “prevent” Israel from committing what it described as “genocide." 

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of “a humanitarian catastrophe in the city that has become a last refuge for hundreds of thousands of displaced people inside the besieged Strip,” in a statement on its website. 

The Gulf nation called on the Security Council “to take urgent action to prevent the Israeli occupation forces from invading Rafah and committing genocide, and to provide full protection to civilians under international law and international humanitarian law,” the statement read. 

The ministry said it “affirms Qatar’s categorical rejection of attempts to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from Gaza Strip.”

Qatar has been a key player in talks between Israel and Hamas, mediating a potential truce agreement between the two sides involving the release of hostages. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed the country’s military to plan for the evacuation of the more than 1 million people living in Rafah, his office said in a statement on Friday, ahead of an anticipated ground assault on the southern Gaza city.

5:06 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

Telling Israel not to enter Rafah is like telling us to lose the war, Prime Minister Netanyahu says

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference on October 28.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference on October 28. Abir Sultan/Pool/AP

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that the Israeli military would soon launch an operation into Rafah and pledged to provide safe passage to civilians, but offered few details.

"Victory is within reach. We're going to do it. We're going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we're going to do it," Netanyahu told ABC News' Jonathan Karl in an interview releasing Sunday.

"We're going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave," he said.

When asked where Palestinians are expected to go, Netanyahu said "we're working out a detailed plan."

"Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying: ‘lose the war, keep Hamas there’," Netanyahu added.

The prime minister has directed his military to prepare to evacuate an estimated 1.3 million people in the city. Many have already been displaced from other parts of the enclave and say they have nowhere to go.

The US has warned carrying out such an operation without thorough planning "would be a disaster" while the United Nations, other aid organizations, and several other countries have expressed concern over the impact on civilians. 

12:24 a.m. ET, February 11, 2024

It's morning in the Middle East. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

An elderly woman sits at the entrance of a damaged house and Palestinians look at the damaged area after Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on February 9.
An elderly woman sits at the entrance of a damaged house and Palestinians look at the damaged area after Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on February 9. Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu/Getty Images

Ahead of a looming ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed his military to prepare to evacuate an estimated 1.3 million people in the city — many of whom were already displaced from other parts of the enclave and say they have nowhere to go.

On Saturday, an Israeli official told CNN that Netanyahu wants the Rafah operation completed by the start of Ramadan on March 10.

The United Nations said it was "extremely worried" about Israel's plan, while Human Rights Watch said a mass evacuation would have "catastrophic consequences."

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry warned Saturday of "very serious repercussions of storming and targeting" Rafah, and the United Arab Emirates also issued a stern warning about Israel's plan, which it said “threatens to cause the loss of more innocent life and exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.”

Here are other headlines you should know:

  • More from Rafah: Israeli military aircraft killed three Hamas members in the southern city Saturday, including two senior military operatives, the IDF claimed in a statement. Meanwhile, Palestinian police said at least five officers were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, and hospital officials said a strike in the city killed at least 12 civilians. It is unknown if Israel’s reports on the Hamas operatives’ deaths are linked to those coming from Palestinian police and hospital officials.
  • Humanitarian crisis: Israeli operations in northern Gaza left “total destruction,” according to residents in the Tal El Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, with some saying they have had to drink from toilets due to a lack of water.
  • More cross-border strikes: Israeli fighter jets struck three Hezbollah military command centers in southern Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces said Saturday. The military's aircraft and artillery also struck additional Hezbollah locations across the Lebanese-Israeli border.
  • There was also diplomatic news in Lebanon: Iran's foreign minister was in the country to meet with Hezbollah's leader and discuss the powerful paramilitary group's ongoing clashes with Israeli forces. Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called for a political resolution to the war in Gaza. He also said that Iran and the US have exchanged messages in recent weeks, as US clashes with Tehran's proxy groups have threatened to expand the conflict in the Mideast. CNN has reached out to the US State Department for comment.
  • Israel protests: Eleven people were arrested as protesters marched through central Tel Aviv on Saturday night, according to Israeli police. The demonstrators packed the street as they called for the removal of Netanyahu, new elections and the release of hostages, videos provided by the protest organizers show.