October 20, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

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9:31 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Gaza's Al-Quds Hospital received 3 evacuation orders on Friday, Palestinian Red Crescent says

From CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury  

The Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza received three evacuation orders on Friday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Earlier on Friday, the hospital's administration said the Israeli army had contacted them, demanding the immediate evacuation of the hospital in preparation for a nighttime airstrike.

The Israel Defense Forces called the Palestinian Red Crescent three times between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time on Friday, its director general, Marwan Jilani, told CNN on Friday.

"It was the same threat, it was 'evacuate immediately,'" Jilani said.

Jilani said the hospital had received evacuation orders in the past, but emphasized the ones on Friday seemed "really serious."

Al-Quds Hospital currently houses more than 400 patients and approximately 12,000 displaced civilians who have sought refuge there as a safe haven, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

9:52 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

US freed hostage is in a good state, father says

From CNN's Emma Tucker and Andy Rose

Uri Raanan, the father of Natalie Raanan, one of the American hostages released Friday by Hamas, speaks during a press conference on Friday, October 20.
Uri Raanan, the father of Natalie Raanan, one of the American hostages released Friday by Hamas, speaks during a press conference on Friday, October 20. CNN

Uri Raanan, the father of Natalie Raanan, one of the American hostages released Friday by Hamas, told reporters Friday evening during a news conference he spoke with his daughter earlier in the day and said she was in a good state.

"I spoke with my daughter earlier today. She sounds very good, she looks very good. She was very happy. And she's waiting to come home," Uri Raanan said while speaking outside his house near Chicago.

He said his daughter's mother has a "little scratch on her hand," but said she didn't otherwise report any injuries.

"Hopefully, I’m going to see them next week," Uri Raanan said, noting his daughter's birthday is Tuesday.

"We're going to celebrate her birthday in my home," Raanan said.

Raanan said he first found out about their release when he started receiving photos from Israeli television stations. The Israel Defense Forces called him, saying they were going to meet his daughter and her mother and would call him back, he said.

After the IDF met the mother and daughter, Raanan was called and he was able to speak with his daughter over the phone, he said.

"She told me ... she was very good," he said, adding that when he first sees her "I'm going to hug her and kiss her and it's going to be the best day of my life."

Raanan said he "did not sleep at night" during the days of uncertainty while his daughter and Judith Tai Raanan were being held hostage.

Raanan spoke by phone to both Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and US President Joe Biden Friday following the release.

“I thanked him for his concern, for his help with the release of them. He was very, very nice,” Raanan said.

His current wife, Paola, said they are eager to have her back home.

“I love Natalie so much,” she said. “I have faith in the world. I have faith in peace.”

Asked if he had any advice for other families waiting for news about the loved ones who are still held hostage, Raanan responded: “I say pray and hope for good.”

9:35 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Over half a million sheltering in Gaza UN shelters are in "increasingly dire conditions," organization says

From CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury

About 1.4 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and more than 544,000 are sheltering in 147 UN-designated emergency shelters that are in "increasingly dire conditions," according to a statement Saturday by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The number of the displaced constitutes more than 60% of Gaza’s population of about 2 million people. 

OCHA stressed that the electricity blackout and ban on fuel imports into the strip have “devastating consequences” on the health care system and access to clean water. 

“Increasing water consumption from unsafe sources elevates the threat of infectious disease outbreaks,” OCHA said. 

In a statement earlier on Friday, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also warned of the dire conditions in the strip and said that 16 of UNRWA’s staff have lost their lives over the last 12 days.  

US President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House Friday that trucks carrying much-needed humanitarian aid should enter Gaza “within the next 24-48 hours.” 

CNN's Donald Judd contributed reporting to this post.

8:52 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Brother of released American hostage says she may return home to US early next week

From CNN's Andy Rose

Natalie Raanan, one of the American hostages released Friday by Hamas
Natalie Raanan, one of the American hostages released Friday by Hamas Obtained by CNN

The brother of Natalie Raanan, one of the American hostages released Friday by Hamas, says she is likely to return to the US within the next few days.

“We have heard tentatively that she might be coming back to Chicago sometime early next week,” Ben Raanan told CNN on Friday.

Natalie Raanan and her mother, Judith Tai Raanan, are currently in the care of the Israel Defense Forces, according to the IDF.

Their freedom came so suddenly, Ben Raanan said, he heard about it through the media.

“This all moved so quickly, I was getting texts from reporters I met with saying this happened,” Ben Raanan said. “I believe it's because the government didn't want to call us before it had been confirmed.”

Ben Raanan, Natalie's brother, appeared on CNN on Friday, October 20.
Ben Raanan, Natalie's brother, appeared on CNN on Friday, October 20. CNN

Raanan said his joy at the release is tempered by the continued suffering of so many in the conflict, including the families of 10 Americans who remain unaccounted for.

“There are families all over in Gaza and in Israel that are experiencing a loss that I can't even imagine,” Raanan said.

8:14 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Netanyahu says Israel will continue working to return all hostages

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Tamar Michaelis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country will continue working to return all hostages following the release of two American hostages who were held by Hamas Friday.

“Two of our hostages are home. We will not ease the effort to bring back all abductees and those missing. Simultaneously, we keep fighting until a victory is reached,” Netanyahu said in a statement posted to social media on Friday.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari announced Friday that the two released American hostages, Judith and Natalie Rannan, are now in the care of the IDF.

8:45 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Biden says call with released American hostages "went well"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday, October 20.
Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday, October 20. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

As he boarded Air Force One Friday evening, US President Joe Biden said his call with the two American hostages who were freed "went well."

In statement earlier Friday, the White said Biden "completed a call with the two Americans released today after being taken hostage by Hamas during the horrific terrorist assault against Israel. He relayed that they will have the full support of the U.S. government as they recover from this terrible ordeal."

Biden was also asked by a reporter whether Israel should delay a ground invasion until more hostages can get out of Gaza and could be heard responding, "Yes."

The White House clarified his response shortly after, saying he hadn't heard the full question. “The president was far away. He didn't hear the full question. The question sounded like ‘Would you like to see more hostages released?’ He wasn't commenting on anything else," the White House said, according to the pool reporter.

7:25 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

Israeli airstrikes kill at least 15 in Gaza, Ministry of Interior says

From CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury

Israeli airstrikes on north and central Gaza have killed at least 10 people Friday night into Saturday, the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior in Gaza said in a statement early Saturday local time. 

In southern Gaza, at least another five people — four children and a woman — were killed, the ministry said in a later statement, claiming the airstrikes are "targeting" residential homes across the strip.

CNN cannot independently verify those claims. CNN has reached out to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for comment.

7:23 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

US and its allies call for Israel to set out clear goals if and when a ground invasion of Gaza is launched

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Katie Bo Lillis and Oren Liebermann

The US and its allies have been urging Israel to be strategic and clear about its goals if and when it launches a ground invasion of Gaza, warning against a prolonged occupation and placing a particular emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties, US and Western officials told CNN.

In private discussions with their Israeli counterparts, Western defense officials have not tried to dissuade Israel from moving into Gaza with ground forces, the sources said.

But they have emphasized that Israel should have clear objectives when it comes to degrading Hamas and seeking to avoid a long-term occupation of the Gaza Strip.

“Our advice to them isn’t ‘Don’t do it,’ because we completely respect their right to go after Hamas and that means going after them wherever they are,” a NATO defense minister told CNN. “So it’s not ‘Don’t do it,’ but it is ‘Think about what happens and have a strategy, not just a tactical maneuver.’ We expect Israel to act within international humanitarian law, but we understand that they’re dealing with an enemy here.”

US President Joe Biden expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with “60 Minutes” last week.

While he said that “taking out the extremists is a necessary requirement” for Israel, “Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.”

And on Wednesday, while in Tel Aviv, Biden warned in public remarks that wartime leadership “requires clarity about the objectives and an honest assessment about whether the path you’re on will achieve those objectives.”

An Israeli official confirmed that these discussions with the US and other allies are taking place.

A separate senior Israeli official said Friday that “Israel is well aware of the humanitarian issues and is taking steps to address it in cooperation with the US government. It’s Hamas who has turned the 2 million people of Gaza into a human shield.”

Read more.

6:38 p.m. ET, October 20, 2023

US "very much involved" in release of Americans held hostage, White House official says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby appears on CNN on Friday, October 20. 
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby appears on CNN on Friday, October 20.  CNN

The US was “very much involved” in securing the Friday release of two Americans held hostage for 14 days by Hamas, said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

“We were very much involved at various levels in helping secure their release,” the White House official told CNN on Friday, offering credit to Israel and Qatar, which played "key roles," he said.

Kirby declined to discuss the motivations and details behind Hamas’ willingness to release Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan.

“We know that there's still some Americans being held hostage, and we want to get them back to their families, too," Kirby said. "So I hope you can understand that we're not really going to be able to talk much about motivations and the details here. We're just glad that they're safe and sound and hopefully home soon."

He said the US is not “interfering” in Israel’s military operations, but did reiterate that the issue of hostages was “front and center on the president’s mind when he met with the Prime Minister (Netanyahu) and he had the chance to meet with some of the families.”

On the humanitarian corridor at Rafah crossing, Kirby said it will be open “very, very soon.”

US President Joe Biden is confident the humanitarian assistance would flow into Gaza "in the coming hours, if not a couple of days," Kirby added.

The road leading to the crossing has suffered damage, preventing the trucks from being able to "traverse that road safely and efficiently," he said, adding, "...the Egyptians are working on repairs to that road."

Kirby also defended the administration’s efforts to protect innocent people in Gaza, saying that collateral damage has been a key concern of the Biden administration. 

“We're going to do everything we can to not only get the gate open and get that stuff in but put in place a sustainable method for it to keep going," Kirby said, adding Biden "has been laser-focused on this from very, very early on."