October 24, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Tara Subramaniam, Adrienne Vogt, Eric Levenson, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 8:45 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023
59 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:45 a.m. ET, October 25, 2023

Gaza hospital blast caused after rocket broke apart in midair, US intelligence officials say

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

A view of the surroundings of Al Ahli hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, on October 18.
A view of the surroundings of Al Ahli hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, on October 18. Ali Jadallah/Anadolu/Getty Images

The deadly explosion that is believed to have killed hundreds of people at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City last week was caused when a rocket launched by a Palestinian militant group broke apart in midair and the warhead fell on the hospital, US intelligence officials said on Tuesday.

The US intelligence findings largely confirmed CNN reporting based on open source materials that determined that a rocket launched from within Gaza broke up midair, causing the blast at the hospital.

It also remains consistent with the top-line assessment the administration shared with Congress last week.  

But officials on Tuesday offered the most detailed explanation to date of how the US reached its assessment that Israel was not behind the blast, which the intelligence community now believes killed between 100 and 300 people. Officials also revealed that the intelligence community’s judgment that the blast was not caused by an Israeli missile was “high confidence.”

Intelligence officials said the two primary pieces of evidence were imagery of the blast site, which showed damage consistent with a rocket, rather than a missile fired from Israel; and analysis of video taken from four locations, some of which was aired on Al Jazeera, that captured the rocket’s path.

The intelligence community was able to geolocate that imagery by matching up the silhouettes of buildings in the hospital compound and adjacent structures with the specific buildings from the video, according to an intelligence official.  

Here is how the official described the rocket’s path: 

“Two of the cameras captured the flight of the projectile, and when we assess those videos, our judgment is that the rocket was launched from within the Gaza Strip, and traveled to the northeast. About 10 seconds after the launch, our conclusion is that the motor combustion became unstable. We can tell that in part based on the fluctuating intensity of the rocket’s plume. About five seconds after that, there is a flash in the video, and our assessment is that that is the rocket motor failing, and about five seconds later, one object hits the ground followed about two seconds later by a second. Our judgment is that the first object that hits the ground was likely the motor from the rocket, and the second shortly thereafter was the warhead," the official said.
"Given the sequence of events we can see in the videos and the geolocation of the launch based on those videos, our conclusion is that there was a catastrophic motor failure that likely occurred, which separated the motor and the warhead. The warhead landed in the hospital compound, and that was the second explosion and the much bigger one," the official said.

The intelligence community assesses with low confidence that the rocket was likely fired by members of the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or PIJ. That assessment is based on Israeli intercepts that have not been publicly released that show different militants on the ground inside Gaza speculating that PIJ might have fired the rocket in question, one intelligence official said. 

7:28 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Drawing on experiences in Iraq, US military advisers urge Israelis to avoid all-out ground assault in Gaza

From Natasha Bertrand, Oren Liebermann, MJ Lee and Katie Bo Lillis

American military officials are trying to steer Israel away from the type of brutal, urban combat the US engaged in against insurgents during the Iraq War, in an effort to keep the Israelis from getting bogged down in bloody, house-by-house fighting as they prepare for an assault on Gaza, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

In helping the Israel Defense Forces game out a number of different strategies to defeat Hamas in Gaza, US military advisers sent to Israel are invoking lessons learned specifically from Fallujah in 2004, one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq War. 

Instead of launching a full-scale ground assault on Gaza, which could endanger hostages, civilians and further inflame tensions in the region, US military advisers are urging Israelis to use a combination of precision airstrikes and targeted special operations raids.

They are also drawing on strategies developed during the battle by US-led coalition forces to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS, which relied more heavily on special operations forces. Like Hamas, ISIS built tunnels throughout Mosul and used civilians as human shields, and the fight to retake the city was harder and more drawn-out than anticipated.

To help deliver this message, the Biden administration has sent a three-star Marine Corps general to counsel the IDF on planning its tactical assault. Lt. Gen. James Glynn, the former commander of Marine Forces Special Operations Command, has significant experience with urban warfare in Iraq, particularly in Fallujah, where he commanded troops during some of the bloodiest fighting there between US forces and insurgents, officials said. 

Since the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7, the US has grown increasingly concerned that Israel's strategy to move into Gaza with a large number of ground troops is only half-baked and could lead to a bloody and indefinite occupation by Israeli forces in the Gaza strip, officials said.

Read more about what US officials are telling their Israeli counterparts.

7:41 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

8 of 20 scheduled humanitarian aid trucks were able to cross into Gaza Tuesday, UN agency says

From CNN's Abeer Salman and Hamdi Alkhshali

Of the 20 aid trucks that were originally scheduled to cross, only eight aid trucks entered Gaza on Tuesday through the Rafah crossing, a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said.

The agency did not give a specific reason why the other 12 trucks didn’t make it through the crossing.

The Palestine Red Crescent (PRCS) also said in a statement on Tuesday that it received the fourth batch of humanitarian aid from its Egyptian counterpart at the Rafah crossing, consisting of eight trucks.

Five of the trucks were loaded with water, two carried food and one truck was loaded with medicine, PRCS said.

So far, a total of 42 aid trucks have entered Gaza with life-saving supplies.

5:46 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Hamas operatives used underground phone lines for over 2 years to plan the Israel attack , sources say

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Zachary Cohen

Palestinian militants move toward the border fence with Israel from Khan Younis in southern Gaza on October 7.
Palestinian militants move toward the border fence with Israel from Khan Younis in southern Gaza on October 7. Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Intelligence shared with the United States suggests a small cell of Hamas operatives planning the deadly surprise attack on Israel communicated via a network of hardwired phones built into the network of tunnels underneath Gaza over a period of two years, according to two sources familiar with the matter. 

The phone lines in the tunnels allowed the operatives to communicate with one another in secret and meant they could not be tracked by Israeli intelligence officials, the sources told CNN.

During the two years of planning, the small cell operating in the tunnels used the hardwired phone lines to communicate and plan the operation but stayed dark until it was time to activate and call on hundreds of Hamas fighters to launch the October 7 attack, the sources said. 

They avoided using computers or cell phones during the two-year period to evade detection by Israeli or US intelligence, the sources said.

"There wasn't a lot of discussion and back and forth and coordination outside of the immediate area," one of the sources said. 

How they went undetected: The intelligence shared with US officials by Israel reveals how Hamas hid the planning of the operation through old-fashioned counterintelligence measures such as conducting planning meetings in person and staying off digital communications whose signals the Israelis can track in favor of the hardwired phones in the tunnels.

It offers new insight into why Israel and the US were caught so flat-footed by the Hamas attack, which saw at least 1,500 fighters pouring across the border into Israel in an operation that killed at least 1,400 Israelis.

CNN has not seen the specific intelligence but spoke to sources familiar with it. The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment and the Israeli embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

CNN previously reported that a series of strategic warnings from US and Israeli intelligence agencies did not lead officials from either country to anticipate the events of October 7.

The Israel Defense Forces colloquially refers to the tunnels built by Hamas over the last 15 years or so as the "Gaza metro." The tunnels make up a vast labyrinth that is used to store rockets and ammunition caches, as well as provide a way for militants to move about unnoticed. The IDF also says it contains vital Hamas command and control centers.

Read more about how Hamas planned the attack.

5:11 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Israeli Navy clashes with Hamas divers, IDF says

From CNN's Tamar Michaelis, Ibrahim Dahman, and Mitchell McCluskey

Israel’s Navy forces clashed with a "cell of divers" from Hamas south of the city of Ashkelon on Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

The Hamas fighters had infiltrated Israeli territory through a tunnel in the sea off the northern Gaza coast, according to Hagari.

“The Navy soldiers eliminated the squad,” Hagari said.

IDF fighter jets also struck the military compound in the Gaza Strip that the Hamas divers came from, the IDF said in a Telegram post. 

Israeli forces are working to ensure there are no more Hamas fighters at sea, Hagari said.

The Al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of Hamas — reported that a Hamas force affiliated with them “was able to infiltrate by sea and land on the beaches of Zikim south of occupied Ashkelon.” 

The Al-Qassam Brigades reported that “armed clashes” took place in that area.

5:01 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

IDF spokesperson says "no fuel to enter Gaza" — contradicting earlier comments

From CNN’s Tamar Michaelis in Jerusalem and Eve Brennan

Israel's military will not allow any fuel to enter the Gaza Strip because Hamas needs that fuel for its operational infrastructure, the Israeli Defense Forces said.

IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari claimed fuel from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was "stolen by Hamas." Hagari was responding to a question about if Israel would consider allowing fuel into the strip if it were in exchange for hostages.

"Hamas needs fuel desperately, and after stealing from UNRWA, we will discuss the fuel with the world and if the hospitals are in trouble then they should address Hamas – they [Hamas] should fill the fuel for hospitals and citizens. And the world should demand Hamas to do so," Hagari said.

The comments appear to be at odds with earlier comments from the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, who said efforts will be made to provide access to fuel in Gaza where needed to alleviate the humanitarian crisis but that the IDF would "not allow" the fuel to reach Hamas.

"We will make sure there will be fuel in places where they need fuel to treat civilians. We will not allow the fuel for Hamas so they can continue fighting against the citizens of Israel," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said during a live TV address Tuesday afternoon.

Halevi did not provide any more details as to how the IDF could provide access to fuel to those most in need.

4:50 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Gaza needs at least 160,000 liters of fuel per day to power basic necessities, UN organization says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Julia Puckette

Gaza needs at least 160,000 liters (42,267 gallons) of fuel a day in order to fuel basic necessities like hospitals and bakeries, according to Juliette Touma, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East.

Before the war, the Gaza Strip received around 480,000 liters (126,800 gallons) of diesel and petrol fuel each day, according to historical data from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

Of that daily amount, around 400,000 liters (105,668 gallons) were used to power the Strip’s sole power plant, UN OCHA data also shows.

4:46 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells soldiers a ground offensive "is coming"

From CNN’s Tamar Michaelis in Jerusalem and Eve Brennan in London

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to tell soldiers on Tuesday a ground offensive was still on track amid a growing sense of military delay. 

"We stand before the next stage, it is coming," the prime minister told the Israel Defense Forces' Yahalom unit on Tuesday, according to a press release from Netanyahu’s office. "You know it and you are part of it; you are part of the vanguard." 

The Yahalom unit is a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps and is trained to deal with special engineering tasks, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) website. The press release said Netanyahu was briefed on the unit's recent activity and on its preparation for the future during a visit at the IDF Immanuel Base.

"We have only one mission – to smash Hamas. We will not stop until we complete it, with your help. I rely on you; the people of Israel rely on you. I am proud of you and I salute you," Netanyahu said as he met with troops.

Netanyahu went on to say that Israel is "striking the enemy with great force."

"Yesterday, in our attacks in Gaza, we struck the enemy the harshest blow they have taken in a single day. We killed dozens of terrorists, possibly even more. At this very moment, we are clarifying the exact magnitude of the strike," Netanyahu said. "However, we also know that even as we are active in additional sectors in the north, we are hitting whoever tries to attack us, in Judea and Samaria as well," he added, using biblical names to reference the West Bank.

The press release added that Netanyahu was shown some munitions that Hamas brought into Israel, which were seized by the Yahalom unit and given to its National Center for Neutralizing Ammunition. 

7:07 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

US teams up with Gulf nations to target "secret" Hamas investment portfolio worth up to $1 billion 

From CNN's Matt Egan

The United States is stepping up efforts to target a “secret” Hamas investment portfolio believed to be worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The US Treasury Department is working with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations to target the Hamas investment portfolio, a US official said Tuesday. The other four members of the GCC are Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. 

In the wake of Hamas terror attacks on Israel, US and Saudi officials on Tuesday in Riyadh convened an emergency meeting of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), which includes the United States and the GCC nations. 

There has been a redoubling of efforts to use the TFTC, which was created in 2017, to go after Hamas, Hezbollah and other Iranian-aligned militant groups, including by sharing relevant, timely and actionable information, the US official said. 

Last week, Treasury leveled sanctions on people that officials say are managing assets in a “secret” Hamas investment portfolio

That Hamas investment portfolio is likely valued at between $400 million and $1 billion, according to a US official. The portfolio is generating significant amounts of revenue for Hamas, the official said. 

Treasury has said the global portfolio of investments includes companies operating “under the guise of legitimate businesses” in Sudan, Algeria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other nations. 

“We cannot tolerate a world in which Hamas and other terrorist organizations’ fundraisers live and operate with impunity, abusing the financial system, to sustain their terror. The United States will not tolerate that world,” Brian Nelson, Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said during prepared remarks at the emergency TFTC meeting. 

Nelson urged the Gulf nations to share more information on the parts of the Hamas financial ecosystem “vulnerable to disruption” and called on member countries to take action. 

“From our perspective, not acting against Hamas and its terrorism is a disservice to the Palestinian people,” Nelson said. “From a financial standpoint, we can clearly see that Hamas has exacerbated economic hardships for decades in the Gaza strip by diverting humanitarian assistance to support its campaign of terror, and we must publicly condemn these actions.”

Read more about the efforts to target Hamas funds here.