October 26, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

By Rhea Mogul, Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Emma Tucker, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 0506 GMT (1306 HKT) October 27, 2023
37 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:52 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

Israel says raids will continue as it prepares for a ground incursion. Here's what you should know

From CNN staff

The Israel Defense Forces will continue ground raids into Gaza in the coming days to prepare for the next stages of the war against Hamas, spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari announced Thursday.

He said the IDF continues its strikes against Gaza from air and sea, and is focusing on killing senior Hamas commanders and destroying Hamas infrastructure.

"There will be more," vowed Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at a news briefing Thursday.

Gallant's comments echoed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address on Wednesday, during which he said Israel is "raining down hellfire on Hamas" and "preparing for a ground incursion."

Here are other headlines you should know:

  • Hostage situation: The families of hostages being held by Hamas warned the Israeli government that their "patience has run out," calling on the government to act immediately, according to a statement released Thursday. And a Hamas delegation held talks focused on the release of hostages in Moscow with a senior Russian foreign ministry official, according to Russian state media TASS and a Hamas statement.
  • Latest on humanitarian aid: The main United Nations agency aiding Palestinians said Thursday that its operations are being “paralyzed” in Gaza due to the lack of fuel, as Israel continues to insist supplies exist but are controlled by Hamas. The Palestine Red Crescent Society says 12 aid trucks entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt Thursday, carrying water, food, medicine and medical supplies — but no fuel. And France is chartering a special flight to transport 54 tons of emergency humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Stopping short of calls for ceasefire: The leaders of the 27 European Union member states met in Brussels Thursday, where they expressed concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and called for aid to reach those in need via "humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs." The call for humanitarian "pauses" stops short of calling for a ceasefire, which several European leaders have previously ruled out. A divided United Nations has also failed to endorse a ceasefire in Gaza. Former Colombian president and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos lamented the lack of ceasefire Thursday, telling CNN's Isa Soares that Israel should not respond to Hamas’ “crime” on October 7 with “another crime.”
  • On the ground developments: Israeli forces claim to have killed the deputy head of the Hamas intelligence directorate, one of the officials they hold partially responsible for planning the October 7 attacks, according to a joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli Security Agency, or Shin Bet. Separately, roughly 900 US troops have deployed or are deploying to the Middle East to bolster US force protection in the region, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday.
8:28 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

Hamas-controlled health ministry publishes list of Gaza death toll after Biden expressed doubt

From CNN's Eyad Kourdi

The health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza has responded to US President Joseph Biden's public questioning of the reliability of Palestinian casualty figures in the conflict with Israel, in a statement published by the ministry Thursday.  

The ministry published a 212-page report listing the names of thousands of what it described as “documented deaths since October 7th” in Gaza which it blamed on Israeli military "aggression."

The ministry also declared its “commitment to accuracy and accountability” in tabulating the numbers. 

"Our people are not anonymous entities that can be ignored," the ministry asserted, pushing back against what they called the “dehumanization of the Palestinian victims.” 

The list does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. 

On Wednesday, Biden said he had “no confidence” in the figures of civilian casualties reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.

“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” Biden told reporters “I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging war.” 

He added Israel must be “incredibly careful to be sure that they're focusing on going after the folks that are propagating this war against Israel” rather than civilians.

On Thursday, White House spokesperson John Kirby echoed Biden’s remarks calling the Gaza-based ministry “a front for Hamas,” though when asked, he did not dispute that thousands of Palestinians and many innocent civilians had been killed.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the US-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, criticized Biden’s remarks, and said the PA’s own health authority saw the numbers as accurate.

“There are certain leaders who don't want to see reality. They only want to see what is happening on the Israeli side. They don't want to see what is happening on the Palestinian side,” he said in an interview Thursday with Al Jazeera.

“The numbers are correct,” he added. “They are our numbers. These numbers are fed to us from the hospitals of Gaza every single day that are received by our Ministry of Health."  

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is run by a rival faction to Hamas, and operates its own Ministry of Health which maintains a relationship with the ministry in Gaza.  

Death toll numbers for Gaza are released both in Gaza and Ramallah daily. 

CNN is not able to independently verify the death toll tabulated in Gaza. 

The Israeli military has expressed doubts about the casualty numbers being reported out of Gaza, but it has not provided evidence that they are exaggerated. 

“I don’t have the numbers of people killed in Gaza Strip,” Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told CNN. “When the Hamas agency comes out with the numbers, take them with a pinch of salt.” 
9:00 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

Biden holds meeting with Muslim American leaders at White House

From CNN's Khalil Abdullah and Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the White House on October 23, in Washington, DC.
US President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the White House on October 23, in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden met Thursday with a small group of Muslim American leaders at the White House, two sources familiar with the meeting said, as the president comes under criticism from the community for not doing more to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The meeting was expected to focus in part on efforts to combat Islamophobia, one of the sources said. Biden has denounced Islamophobia, including during a primetime address last week.

The White House did not comment on the meeting. 

Some background: Biden and the administration have faced harsh criticism from Muslim Americans for his handling of the crisis in the Middle East, including on efforts to get US citizens out of Gaza and on preventing civilian deaths.

During a news conference Wednesday, Biden said he had "no confidence" in death figures provided by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza.

“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed," he said. “I'm sure innocents have been killed, and it's a price of waging war,” Biden added. 

A day later, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby acknowledged thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, telling reporters, “We absolutely know that the death toll continues to rise in Gaza, of course we know that — but what we're saying is that we shouldn't rely on numbers put forth by Hamas and the Ministry of Health.”

He also pushed back against charges, including from the Council on American–Islamic Relations, that Biden’s comments on civilian deaths in Gaza were insensitive and harsh.

“What’s harsh is the way Hamas is using people as human shields, what’s harsh is taking a couple of hundred hostages and leaving families anxious, waiting and worrying to figure out where their loved ones are. What’s harsh is dropping in on a music festival and slaughtering a bunch of young people just trying to enjoy an afternoon — I could go on and on, that's what's harsh,” Kirby said. “And being honest about the fact that there have been civilian casualties, and that there likely will be more, is being honest, because that's what war is, it's brutal, it's ugly, it's messy.”

CNN's DJ Judd contributed reporting to this post.

5:26 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

Netanyahu visits agency rebuilding Israeli communities after Hamas attack

From Tamar Michaelis and Mitchell McCluskey

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Tekuma Authority, which is responsible for rebuilding Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip that were damaged or destroyed in Hamas' October 7 attack, according to a release from the Israeli Government Press Office on Thursday.

The agency was established in Yavne, Israel, last week, according to the release.

Director Moshe Edri, who briefed Netanyahu, said the authority has provided cash advances to “severely damaged” communities and that additional funds would be transferred in the coming days.

The prime minister was also shown areas undergoing reconstruction.

Netanyahu said the government would pass a law to provide additional funding and speed up the rebuilding process.

“Hope is built on one important principle and that is security. We need to smash Hamas so that it will be safe for people to return,” Netanyahu said. “I would like to thank you for what you are doing; it is very important. Some of you also come from these communities,” he added.

5:15 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

EU leaders call for "pauses" in Israel-Hamas conflict to allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza

From CNN’s James Frater in Tel Aviv

Ursula von der Leyen arrives at the European Council in Brussels on Thursday.
Ursula von der Leyen arrives at the European Council in Brussels on Thursday. Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images

 

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday expressed their concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and called for "aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures."

Those measures include "humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs," the leaders said.

In their communique on the Middle East, which sets out the position of the EU, leaders also called for “continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” to Gaza.

The call for humanitarian "pauses" stops short of calling for a ceasefire, which several European leaders have previously ruled out.

The 27 heads of state and government agreed that the EU “will work closely with partners in the region to protect civilians, provide assistance and facilitate access to food, water, medical care, fuel and shelter.”

The European leaders also said the EU will ensure “that such assistance is not abused by terrorist organizations.”

EU leaders reiterated their call “on Hamas to immediately release all hostages without any precondition” and their condemnation in the “strongest possible terms of Hamas for its brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks across Israel.”

Leaders also reiterated “the importance of ensuring the protection of all civilians at all times in line with international humanitarian law,” adding that the EU “deplores all loss of civilian life.”

The EU also said the body is “ready to contribute to reviving a political process on the basis of the two-state solution, including through the Peace Day Effort,” referring to an ongoing diplomatic effort by the EU, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Arab League.

5:04 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

IDF spokesperson says military will continue ground raids into Gaza over coming days

From Tamar Michaelis and Jorge Engels

Israeli armored vehicles take part in an operation in northern Gaza on Thursday.
Israeli armored vehicles take part in an operation in northern Gaza on Thursday. Israel Defense Forces/Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces will continue ground raids into Gaza in the coming days to prepare for the next stages in Israel’s war against Hamas, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Thursday in a televised news conference.

The purpose of Israel's ground operations is to kill Hamas militants, lay the foundations for an all-out invasion and neutralize explosive devices and reconnaissance posts, according to Hagari.

Hagari’s comments come after the IDF said it carried out a "targeted raid" overnight in northern Gaza using tanks.

Hagari also said the IDF continues its strikes against Gaza from air and sea, and is focusing on killing senior Hamas commanders and destroying Hamas infrastructure.

When asked about US involvement in the Israeli forces' decision-making related to ground operations, Hagari said, "We’re constantly in touch with the US. The IDF chief of the General Staff speaks almost on a daily basis with the commander of the US Centcom."

"It is true that US advisers arrived. … They have a lot of experience. We’re listening, it’s good to learn and to listen. But our war is right in our borders, not thousands of miles away," Hagari added. "We also know Gaza very well. Eventually, this is Israel’s decision. And Israel understands that it needs to fulfill the aims of the war."

On Gaza's dwindling fuel supplies: Hagari also reiterated that Israel would not allow fuel into Gaza for now, saying that Hamas’ arrays are “struggling to function” without fuel and blaming Hamas for stealing fuel from a facility belonging to the main United Nations agency aiding Palestinians, UNRWA.

Israel has also disputed that there are fuel shortages in Gaza. Responding to a post from the UNRWA about low supplies, the IDF on Tuesday posted an aerial photo of what it said were fuel tanks in Gaza, claiming they held more than 500,000 liters of fuel. CNN is unable to verify the IDF claim.

"The facility that was posted (on Tuesday) is located in Rafah and belongs to UNRWA. … We supervise it aerially and together with UNRWA. Again, we’re not striking UNRWA. On the contrary, we’re making an effort along with the international community to ensure that south of Wadi Gaza, there will be conditions that allow the civilian population to access water, food and drugs," he said.

UNRWA said Thursday that its operations are being "paralyzed" in Gaza due to the lack of fuel.

CNN cannot independently verify the amount of fuel in Gaza.

4:54 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

Iran's foreign minister issues warning to US at UN meeting

From CNN's Richard Roth and David Shortell

At an emergency United Nations General Assembly session, Iran's foreign minister warned the US that if Israel’s retaliation against Gaza doesn’t end, the United States will "not be spared from this fire."

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke following a deadlock in the Security Council about agreeing to a Mideast resolution.

The minister claimed Hamas is ready to release its civilian hostages, saying the world should urge for the release of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

"We do not welcome expansion of the war in the region. But if the genocide in Gaza continues, they will not be spared from this fire," Amir-Abdollahian said, addressing US leaders.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan spoke before Amir-Abdollahian at the emergency session, saying the foreign minister was in New York Thursday “to fill your ears with poison.”

“This man, the mass murderer, or any other representative of the terror regime in Iran has no place at the UN, let alone in the family of nations. It is a moral stain on the UN and the values it was founded upon,” Erdan said.

4:44 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

France charters special flight to send 54 tons of emergency aid for Gaza, foreign affairs ministry says

From CNN's Jorge Engels in London and Joseph Ataman in Paris

France is chartering a special flight to transport 54 tons of emergency humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, according to a statement released Thursday by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“This shipment is a new contribution from France to the response to the humanitarian emergency in Gaza, for the benefit of civilian populations. France reiterates its call for a humanitarian truce, so that aid can respond sustainably to the needs of civilian populations in Gaza,” the statement reads.

The emergency humanitarian cargo will be flown from Paris to Egypt, where it will be handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent for delivery to Gaza.

The ministry says the 54-ton cargo includes:

  • Emergency medical kits containing medicines and hospital equipment intended to bolster emergency structures, capable of treating up to 500 seriously injured people.
  • 58 boxes of medicines, each one with the capacity to provide care for 500 patients, including those being treated in the pediatrics, emergency and general medicine sectors.
  • 18 emergency respirators
  • 1,000 solar lamps and around 10 electricity generators
  • 336 tents, each capable of sheltering a family
  • 28 tons of food supplements, as well as 70,000 drinking water tablets