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
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9:49 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

A ground offensive is still on track, Israeli prime minister says. Here's what you should know

From CNN staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to tell soldiers on Tuesday a ground offensive "is coming" amid a growing sense of military delay. 

As Israel prepares for the ground operation, a source from the French presidential palace said it is believed such an operation will be "difficult to carry on with the respect of" international humanitarian law.

And Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told an audience of Israeli troops Tuesday that Israel must destroy Hamas and warned that the war is still in its early stages.

Here are other headlines you should know:

  • Rising death toll: The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah said in a statement published Tuesday that in the most recent 24-hour period, 704 people in Gaza had been killed. Also, at least 12 British nationals were killed following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday. Additionally, 33 Americans have died as a result of the October 7 attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
  • Inside Hamas: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released one minute of footage from a 43-minute film they compiled which appeared to show in gruesome detail some of the atrocities that occurred on October 7 attack. Meanwhile, intelligence shared with the US suggests a small cell of Hamas operatives planning the 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 US is also stepping up efforts to target a “secret” Hamas investment portfolio believed to be worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars. 
  • Fuel shortage: As fuel needed to run water systems runs out, some Gazans have been forced to drink dirty, salty water, sparking concerns of a health crisis and fears that people could start dying from dehydration. Gaza needs at least 160,000 liters (42,267 gallons) of fuel a day in order to fuel basic necessities, according to Juliette Touma, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees in the Near East. UNRWA says it will be forced to halt its operations in Gaza by Wednesday night if no fuel is delivered to Gaza. And at least six hospitals in Gaza have been forced to close due to the lack of fuel, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. 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. The comments appear to be at odds with earlier comments from the IDF chief of staff.
  • Hostage situation: Talks are currently underway to try to secure the release of a large number of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, two sources familiar with the matter and one Western diplomat familiar with the deliberations told CNN, but the talks are being complicated by a number of factors. The IDF said it dropped leaflets in Gaza on Tuesday, appealing to residents for any information about the hostages. 
  • UN meetings: The Palestinian Authority's Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Maliki spoke in the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East on Tuesday. Blinken on Tuesday called on UN Security Council member states to use their leverage to stop the Israel-Hamas war from expanding, urging them in particular to warn Iran that any involvement would be met with consequences. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Tuesday he will not meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres after the UN chief criticized Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Cohen also called out Guterres, saying "shame on him" in an answer to a reporter's question at the United Nations stakeout.
  • International input: There is a "glaring double standard" as the Western world condemns the Hamas attack on October 7 but is not condemning Israel's bombing of Gaza or calling for a ceasefire, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan told CNN Tuesday. Elsewhere, John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson, declined to offer details Tuesday on if there are plans underway for the mass evacuation of American citizens from Israel and Gaza as the potential remains for a wider regional war. French President Emmanuel Macron told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that "nothing can justify" the suffering of civilians in Gaza. Macron also expressed his support for the Palestinian people, whom he said "Hamas does not represent."
9:19 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Egypt is reinstalling cement slab wall to seal Gaza border between aid convoys, satellite imagery shows

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Egypt appears to be sealing off the Gaza border between aid convoys, new satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies shows. 

In the imagery, taken at 2:25 p.m. local time, the unbroken shadow of the cement slab wall is seen. 

Egypt had originally constructed the cement wall after Israeli airstrikes created large craters on the Gaza-crossing side roadway. 

CNN previously reported that of the 20 aid trucks that were originally scheduled to cross on Tuesday evening, only eight aid trucks entered into Gaza, according to a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

A crane is seen in the satellite image, suggesting that Egypt is able to lift the cement slabs and reopen the crossing quickly, as needed.

9:19 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Israel strikes Syrian military targets in response to missiles launched from Syria, IDF says

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes on Syrian military infrastructure and mortar launchers, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Wednesday.

The strikes were in response to two missiles launched from Syria Tuesday toward the Golan Heights, the IDF said on Telegram.

8:48 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

UN secretary-general: Hamas attacks on Israel "did not happen in a vacuum"

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Richard Roth

Antonio Guterres attends a press conference at the United Nations headquarters on September 13, in New York City.
Antonio Guterres attends a press conference at the United Nations headquarters on September 13, in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/VIEWpress/Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel “did not happen in a vacuum” during his remarks to the Security Council on the Middle East Tuesday.

“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said, adding that Palestinians “have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence.”

At the same time, Guterres noted that “the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.” He added that Palestinian people should not be collectively punished for Hamas' attacks, either. 

Therefore, according to Guterres, all parties of the conflict should “take constant care in the conduct of military operations to spare civilians” as well as “respect and protect hospitals and respect the inviolability of UN facilities which today are sheltering more than 600,000 Palestinians.”

Guterres called the intensified strikes on Gaza by Israel “deeply alarming” as “the level of civilian casualties, and the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods continue to mount."

At least 35 of Guterres' UN colleagues working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees were killed in the bombardment of Gaza over the last two weeks, according to the secretary-general.

He said “the clear violations of international humanitarian law” are witnessed in Gaza, offering Israel's order for more than one million people to evacuate earlier this month as an example.

Guterres emphasized that the aid delivered to Gaza does not correspond to its enormous needs, including the fuel supplies that are about to run out “in a matter of days.”

He reiterated his appeal for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and an immediate release of all hostages “without conditions.”

8:32 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

The Biden administration is "working tirelessly" amid Middle East conflict, vice president says

From CNN's Donald Judd

Vice President Kamala Harris acknowledged the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the most fulsome comments she’s made on the subject since war broke out earlier this month.

“I do want to also acknowledge this very difficult moment that we are in in the context of the world. In particular what’s happening in Israel, with the attack by Hamas, the Palestinians and all who suffer in that region of the world," Harris said Tuesday during remarks to the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference in Washington.

The vice president pointed to what she said has been “countless hours with our president, be it in the Oval Office, in the Situation Room, in classified briefings he has with everyone in our intelligence community and military leaders to civil society leaders."

"The one thing I can report back to all of you is that we are working, and our president is working tirelessly and around the clock," she said.

Harris also went on to detail the administration’s priorities in the conflict.

“One, we stand with Israel's right to defend itself, that we stand for the importance of understanding that we must prioritize humanitarian values, that the rules of war are abided, that there would be no intentional attack of civilians, that humanitarian aid be administered, that we do all that we can to ensure that there will not be an escalation, in particular by Iran's proxies in that region of the world," she said.

Harris also pledged that she and the president “hold on to the responsibility that I think we uniquely have — to represent the values that are about stability in the interest of peace, and we have not abandoned, and are still profoundly committed to a two-state solution.”

8:15 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Fake placenames with anti-Israel messages flood Google Maps' depiction of the Rafah border crossing

From CNN’s Donie O'Sullivan and Eyad Kourdi

When Google Maps users navigated to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Tuesday, they might have seen placenames that included, "F**k Israel," and "May god curse Israel's Jerusalem."

Cyber activists appeared to have targeted the service to post anti-Israel messages, likely by taking advantage of a feature on Google Maps that allows people to create and contribute information about businesses and landmarks that appear on the service.

CNN found dozens of anti-Israel placenames created in Arabic and English, including one in Arabic that read, "Palestine is free, may god forgive us."

There is no evidence that any Google systems were breached or compromised as part of this stunt which, Ben Decker, CEO of online threat analysis company Memetica, described as "cyber vandalism."

"Cyber vandalism traces its origins back to the early stages of the internet," Decker said, "when communities would hack into and deface websites."

Google, which also owns the map service Waze, said on Monday it was disabling its live traffic data in Israel and Gaza as Israeli forces prepare for a potential ground invasion of Gaza.

The company did not say if the action was at the request of the Israel Defense Forces. CNN reached out to the IDF for comment.

Google took the same action at the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year after online researchers used live traffic data to track the movements of Russian troops.

It is unclear if the targeting of Google Maps with anti-Israeli messages was the result of the company's decision to disable live traffic data.

After CNN shared several examples of fake anti-Israel placenames with Google on Tuesday, a company spokesperson said, "On Google Maps, we strive to strike the right balance of helping people find reliable information about local places, and reducing inaccurate or misleading content. We have clear policies for user contributions — we are actively reviewing the examples you shared and are in the process of removing policy-violating content."

Many of the fake placenames were still live as of Tuesday evening.

Memetica's Decker said cyber vandalism is "a politically agnostic form of hacktivism that has been used by online communities around the world."

"The reason cyber vandalism is far more prevalent than real-world vandalism, particularly when it comes to geopolitical conflicts like Israel-Gaza, is that it can be a completely faceless and anonymous act," he said.

7:09 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023

Israeli official says Hamas will not let Americans leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

Hundreds of Americans who are stuck on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing are not able to leave because “Hamas won’t let them out,” Mark Regev, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN.

“In many ways Hamas is keeping them hostage. I remember (Secretary of State Antony Blinken) raised that issue over a week ago before the (US) president was here and it was one of the issues that came up and we said from our point of view, we'll do everything we can to facilitate their immediate release.” Regev said.

Regev emphasized that the Rafah crossing is the only way out for Americans stuck in Gaza since the crossings on the Israel side “have been destroyed” and are “a war zone.”

Blinken previously confirmed that there are an estimated 500 to 600 Americans in Gaza.

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.