October 19, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Eric Levenson, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Tori B. Powell and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 9:43 a.m. ET, October 20, 2023
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12:02 a.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Our live coverage of the conflict in Israel and Gaza has moved here.

10:51 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Here's how Biden appealed to Americans for Israel and Ukraine funding during a primetime address

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden directly appealed to Americans Thursday evening for US support for the wars in Israel and Ukraine during a primetime address from the Oval Office.

Here are key lines from his speech:

  • An "inflection point in history": Biden has often cast this moment in history as an “inflection point” — a battle between the world’s democracies and autocracies. On Thursday, he argued that “this is one of those moments,” making a direct appeal to the American people as he sought to build support for US funding for wars abroad that could face a challenging path in Congress, where the House of Representatives remains unable to pass legislation in its second week without a speaker.
  • War comparisons: Biden compared the events this month in Israel to nearly 20 months of war in Ukraine. He accused both Hamas and Russian President Vladimir Putin of wanting to "completely annihilate a neighboring democracy," but noted that they "represent different threats."
  • Call for support: The president said that support for both wars in Israel and Ukraine is "vital for America’s national security.” And he warned, more broadly, that US adversaries and competitors “are watching.” He announced he would be submitting an “urgent budget request” for supplemental funding for Israel and Ukraine, among other national security priorities, to Congress on Friday. 
  • A firm stance against hate: Biden spoke out against Islamophobia and antisemitism, both of which have intensified in recent days, offering comfort and condemnation. Biden acknowledged the fear from Jewish families “worried about being targeted in school, wearing symbols of their faith walking down the street, or going out about their daily life.” And he empathized with Muslim-Americans who are “outraged … saying to yourself, ‘here we go again, with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11.'” He offered a message of recognition to those impacted: “To all of you hurting, those of you hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong. I want to say this to you: you're all American.”
  • Israel trip reflection: Biden reflected on his recent trip to Israel, where he met with Israeli officials and reaffirmed support for the country. He said that while there, he "saw people who are strong, determined, resilient and also angry, in shock and in deep, deep pain."
  • Hostage promise: The president also renewed his promise of getting American hostages home to America, saying that "there is no higher priority for me than the safety of Americans held hostage."
  • Two-state solution: He reiterated support for a two-state solution, saying “Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity, and peace.”
  • Hamas clarification: Biden sought to draw a clear distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people. He said the militant group "does not represent the Palestinian people" and accused it of using Palestinians "as human shields." He said he is "heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life" and added that the US "remains committed to the Palestinian people's right to dignity and to self-determination."
10:11 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Biden spoke with the father of Palestinian-American boy murdered in Illinois

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Oday Al-Fayoume looks at a photo of his son Wadea Al-Fayoume during a vigil at Prairie Activity and Recreation center in Plainfield, on October 17.
Oday Al-Fayoume looks at a photo of his son Wadea Al-Fayoume during a vigil at Prairie Activity and Recreation center in Plainfield, on October 17. Nam Y. Huh/AP

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden spoke Thursday evening with the father and uncle of Wadea Al-Fayoume, the Palestinian-American boy stabbed to death in Illinois on Saturday.

The Bidens “expressed their deepest condolences to the Al-Fayoume family as they mourn; their prayers that Wadea’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, makes a full recovery; and their commitment to keep speaking out against anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate and violence,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden invoked the Al-Fayoume family as he warned against a rising tide of antisemitism and Islamophobia Thursday in an Oval Office address.

“Just last week, a mother was brutally stabbed. A little boy — here in the United States — a little boy who just turned six years old was murdered in their home outside of Chicago. His name was Wadea, Wadea. A proud American, a proud Palestinian-American family,” Biden said.

He continued, “We can't stand by and stand silent where this happens. We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must, also without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.”

10:00 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Gaza's main hospital will only have electricity for 24 more hours at most, MSF says

From CNN’s Sahar Akbarzai and Jo Shelley

Ambulances are seen at the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on October 15.
Ambulances are seen at the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on October 15. Dawood Nemer/AFP/Getty Images

Gaza’s main medical facility, the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, only has enough fuel to run its generators for 24 hours, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Thursday.    

"Without electricity many patients will die," said Guillemette Thomas, MSF's medical coordinator for Palestine, based in Jerusalem.  

Thousands of people have been injured in Gaza since October 7 as a result of Israeli airstrikes following Hamas’ terror attacks. 

"I believe that these people are in serious danger of dying in the next few hours, because it’s becoming impossible to get medical attention,” Thomas said.   

Thomas warned that patients in intensive care, neonatology and those on respiratory support machines are at particular risk. 

“Patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer, and pregnant women are also at risk due to a general shortage of medicines,” Thomas explained. 

Al Shifa hospital — where MSF has provided care for burns patients for years — is one of the few places in Gaza with electricity remaining, and it is currently also treating victims from the hospital blast at Al Alhi Baptist hospital on Tuesday.     

Thousands of Palestinians are also sheltering at Al-Shifa hospital as people went there looking for a safe haven from the constant bombing, Thomas said.   

MSF said it is vital for hospitals to be running again and that regular ceasefires must be guaranteed for fuel and medicine to be brought into hospitals.

9:31 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Greek Orthodox church in Gaza hit in an airstrike, church officials say

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

The St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church was hit in an Israeli airstrike on Thursday nigh, according to its owners and Hamas. 

The church's campus in Gaza City is owned by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which said in a statement they "remain committed to fulfilling its religious and moral duty in providing assistance, support, and refuge to those in need, amidst continuous Israeli demands to evacuate these institutions of civilians and the pressures exerted on the churches in this regard."

"Targeting churches and their institutions, along with the shelters they provide to protect innocent citizens, especially children and women who have lost their homes due to Israeli airstrikes on residential areas over the past thirteen days, constitutes a war crime that cannot be ignored," the Patriarchate's statement read.

An Israeli airstrike caused one of the buildings belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church in central Gaza City to collapse, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior and National Security said in a statement on Thursday, adding that many people who were taking shelter in the building were injured.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday acknowledged that "a wall of a church in the area was damaged" as a result of the IDF strike.

"Earlier today, IDF fighter jets struck the command and control center belonging to a Hamas terrorist involved in the launching of rockets and mortars toward Israel," IDF told CNN in a statement.

"The command and control center was used to carry out attacks against Israel and contained terrorist infrastructure belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization," the statement continued.

"We are aware of reports on casualties. The incident is under review," the statement read.

"Hamas intentionally embeds its assets in civilian areas and uses the residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields," the IDF said.

9:13 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Increased military activity along Israel-Gaza border, CNN reports

From CNN's Nic Robertson

Several illumination flares were seen floating down in the distance while red tracer rounds can be seen accompanied by the sound of heavy machine gun fire. 
Several illumination flares were seen floating down in the distance while red tracer rounds can be seen accompanied by the sound of heavy machine gun fire.  CNN

Early Friday morning, CNN's Nic Robertson witnessed increased military activity along Israel's border with Gaza.

Several illumination flares are seen floating down in the distance, while red tracer rounds can be seen accompanied by the sound of heavy machine gun fire.  

In the video, Robertson recalled hearing heavy machine gun fire, and distant explosions.

CNN is unable to provide further detail on the type of military activity seen along the border.

When asked for comment on the military activity, Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus told Burnett, "The reserves are ready, equipped, mission-oriented, and standing by for the next stage of our operations. But at this time, of course, we will not advertise when, where, and how we will advance or do or enhance our military activities."

Israeli politicians have given Israel's military the "green light" to enter Gaza, officials told Robertson on Thursday, and it is now up to the military to decide when to go in.

8:58 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

2 additional American citizens identified as among those kidnapped and taken to Gaza 

From CNN’s Paula Newton 

Two additional American citizens, Judih Weinstein Haggai, 70, and her husband, Gadi Haggai, 72, are being counted by Israeli officials as being kidnapped, their daughter told CNN.  

Iris Haggai-Liniado says her parents were on their morning walk about a mile and a half from their home in Nir Oz, a kibbutz just a few miles from the Gaza border when they heard an extraordinary number of rockets flying overhead. 

The couple hit the dirt and tried to call for help as rockets blasted in from Gaza and gunfire could be heard in the distance. That was the last moment Iris heard from her parents.

The Haggai family says Israeli military officials and police finally spoke to them earlier this week and confirmed signals from her parents’ mobile phones were last pinpointed in Gaza.

After hours of frantically calling her parents and trying to get information from others in the community of Nir Oz, Iris said she and her family finally heard from a local paramedic who was trying to get help to them. 

“He said that my mom called him at 7:04 a.m., she said that they were both shot by terrorists on a motorcycle, that my Dad is shot really bad, and she thinks he might be dead and that she needs medical assistance,” said Haggai-Liniado, in an interview with CNN Thursday from her home in Singapore. 

“It’s just chaos basically, I don’t think anyone really knows how to handle this,” she said, adding the scope of the tragedy and the horrific atrocities committed in her Kibbutz of Nir Oz are hard to fathom.  

Haggai-Liniado says her parents are an amazing couple who were committed to peace throughout their lives. 

Haggai-Liniado said her mother was born in New York but grew up in Toronto before moving to Israel in her 20s where she met and married Gadi. The family has not been in touch with the Canadian government, she said, but remains in near-daily contact with US officials, including the FBI, which is providing them some comfort. They participated in a virtual call with US President Joe Biden last week, she added.

“It is nice to know that your parents are recognized somewhere because at this time we didn't hear from the Israeli government for days,” said Haggai-Liniado.

8:46 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Russian death toll in Israel rises to 19  

From CNN's Mariya Knight in Atlanta

The number of Russians killed in Israel following the Hamas surprise attack on October 7 has increased to 19, Marina Ryazanova, the press secretary of the Russian Embassy in Israel, told state media TASS on Thursday. 

Ryazanova also told TASS that at least two Russians are being held hostage by Hamas militants in Gaza.

8:31 p.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Biden says the world cannot give up on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict

The world cannot give up on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, US President Joe Biden said in an address from the White House Thursday evening.

"As hard as it is, we cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution," Biden said. "Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace."