October 27, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell, Matt Meyer and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT) October 28, 2023
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6:11 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

UN says current aid levels in Gaza "nothing more than crumbs" as hunger and disease become major issue

From CNN's Kareem Khadder, Vasco Cotovio and Eyad Kourdi

Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) holds a news conference in Jerusalem on October 27.
Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) holds a news conference in Jerusalem on October 27. Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu/Getty Images

The head of the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warned Friday that hunger and disease are rapidly becoming a major issue in Gaza and said more aid was urgently needed in the enclave.

Philippe Lazzarini said current aid levels were “nothing more than crumbs,” and would make little difference for the more than 2 million people living in Gaza. 

“Over the last week, I followed closely the focus about the number of trucks entering Gaza. Many of us saw in these trucks a glimmer of hope. This is, however, becoming a distraction,” Lazzarini said at a news conference in Jerusalem on Friday. “These show trucks are nothing more than crumbs that would not make a difference for the 2 million people [of Gaza].”

In addition to living in fear of Israeli airstrikes, Lazzarini said the people of Gaza were now facing the growing threat of hunger and disease.

“Food and water are running out. The streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage."
"Gaza is on the brink of a massive health hazard as the risks of diseases are looming,” he explained.
“The last remaining public services are collapsing, our aid operation is crumbling and for the first time ever, [our staff] report that people are now hungry.”

Palestinians take shelter in a UN-run school and receive aid distributed by the United Nations, in Khan Younis, Gaza, on October 23.
Palestinians take shelter in a UN-run school and receive aid distributed by the United Nations, in Khan Younis, Gaza, on October 23. Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Aid efforts thus far had been woefully insufficient, he said.

"We should avoid conveying the message that few trucks a day means the siege is lifted for humanitarian aid. This is not true,” he said. “The current system in place is geared to fail. What is needed is meaningful and non-interrupted aid flow.”
“The siege means that food, water and fuel – basic commodities – are being used to collectively punish more than 2 million people among them a majority of children and women,” he added. 

The head of UNRWA also criticized the questioning of where aid would end up if allowed into Gaza.

“It pains me that humanitarian aid, a very basic right for people, is constantly questioned while at the same time, despair is live-streamed under our watch,” he said, explaining that UNRWA has very strict mechanisms in place. “All our vendors and partners are vetted against the sanctions list. We give aid to those who need it most. Our convoys and their routes are notified and deconflicted. 

“UNRWA does not and will not divert any humanitarian aid into the wrong hands,” he vowed, addressing Israel’s complaints that transfers into Gaza are often diverted by Hamas and put to military use.

Lazzarini reiterated his call for fuel to be allowed into Gaza so that basic services – bakeries, the water plant, hospitals – could continue to operate and so that UNRWA could continue its work. 

“Over the last few days, UNRWA has drastically limited its consumption of fuel. This came at a cost. Our team had to make tough decisions that no humanitarian worker should do,” he said without detailing what those decisions had been. “A few days ago, I warned that we will not be able to continue our humanitarian operations if we do not get fuel supply. My warning still stands.”

Lazzarini also lamented deaths among UNRWA staff. According to the UNRWA Commissioner-General, 57 of the organization’s workers in Gaza have died since the war between Israel and Hamas started.

"They are mothers and fathers. Wonderful people who are dedicated their life to their communities. If they were not in Gaza, they could have been your neighbour," he said.
"One colleague died while on his way to pick up bread from a bakery. He left six children behind."

6:42 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

Atmosphere tense at Al-Aqsa mosque ahead of midday prayers on Friday

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Zeena Saifi in Jerusalem

Israeli border police watch as Muslim worshippers arrive at the Lion's Gate to make their way to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for noon prayer on October 27.
Israeli border police watch as Muslim worshippers arrive at the Lion's Gate to make their way to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for noon prayer on October 27. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Friday midday prayers are about to begin in Jerusalem and the atmosphere near the al-Aqsa mosque is getting tense, a CNN team on the ground reports.

Israeli police are strictly regulating who can come into the compound, only letting a selected few through the Lion’s Gate entrance to the site.

Police are not giving any reasons for denying people access, which is creating more tension.

At one point, a scuffle between worshippers and the police heated up, with officers forcefully pushing people out of the alleyway leading to the compound.

CNN witnessed a group of heavily armed police officers aggressively pushing a young woman out of the way as she tried to film the situation on her phone.

The police then cleared the entire area of people and appeared to be preventing young people in particular from entering the site.

The CNN team was also ordered to leave the area.

The midday congregational prayers — the most important moment of the week for Muslims — are about to begin.

Some context: The al-Aqsa Mosque is located in the Old City, in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians hope will one day become the capital of a future Palestinian state. Much of the international community considers it to be occupied territory.

Israel captured the land from Jordan in a 1967 war and considers the whole of Jerusalem as sovereign Israeli territory.

The compound, frequently a flashpoint in tensions, is home to one of Islam’s most revered sites but also the holiest site in Judaism, known as the Temple Mount.

4:18 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

Israeli military conducts "targeted raids" inside Gaza for second straight night

From CNN’s Hadas Gold

The Israeli military conducts ground raids in Gaza on October 27 in this still taken from a handout video.
The Israeli military conducts ground raids in Gaza on October 27 in this still taken from a handout video. IDF

Israeli troops conducted “targeted raids” inside Gaza for a second consecutive night before withdrawing, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in statement Friday.

Video published by the IDF showed tanks and armored vehicles moving on a road near agricultural land as well as strikes on buildings and open areas.

The raid, which included aircraft and artillery strikes in the Shaja'iyah neighborhood, targeted Hamas infrastructure including "anti-tank missile launch sites, military command and control centers, as well as Hamas terrorists," the IDF said.

“The troops exited the area at the end of the activity,” the statement said.

It comes one day after the IDF said it carried out a raid with tanks in northern Gaza as "part of preparations for the next stages of combat."

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, in response to its October 7 deadly terror attacks and kidnap rampage in which 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 200 others taken hostage.

1:59 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

"I see death 20 times a day," says 90-year-old woman after fleeing her Gaza home

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Ashkelon, Israel

Souad Al Alem speaks to CNN at a refugee camp in Gaza.
Souad Al Alem speaks to CNN at a refugee camp in Gaza. Hassan Eslayeh/CNN

Souad Al-Alem was one of the roughly 10,000 people forced to flee the Palestinian town of al-Majdal. It was 1948, she was a young woman and Israel’s troops were approaching the community during the Arab-Israeli war in what is now part of the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Now in her 90s and living in Gaza, Al-Alem has been forced to run again — one of the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught up in the war.

“I see death 20 times every day, in the sky and on earth. Even the force of every blast affects us psychologically. It feels like it is on top of our heads when it’s next to us or nearby,” Al-Alem told CNN.

Just 10 miles north of the Gaza border, not much remains of al-Majdal. Once a buzzing market place known for textile manufacturing, it was reduced to rubble after the 1948/49 war.

All of its houses are long gone, replaced with modern Israeli buildings that are now part of Ashkelon. Only the old mosque remains standing. Nearby, an empty, overgrown field gives a hint of the size of the former town.

Read the full story.

12:35 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

EU pledges 50 million euros in additional humanitarian aid for Gaza

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the European Union summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on October 27.
Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the European Union summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on October 27. Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union will provide 50 million euros (around $52 million) in additional humanitarian aid for Gaza, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels following the first day of the EU leaders' summit, von der Leyen said the first 56 metric tons of aid from the EU have already been delivered to Gaza via two flights to Egypt.

During their meeting Thursday, European leaders expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in Gaza and called for aid to reach those in need via "humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs" — stopping short of calling for a ceasefire.

Von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel both emphasized the bloc's commitment to addressing the humanitarian crisis.

The EU is in contact "with the leaders in the region in order to encourage solutions on humanitarian front and release of the hostages," Michel said.

Asked whether Hamas representatives will be participating in an upcoming conference aimed at resolving the conflict, Michel said he "doesn’t see any role" for the group, citing its designation as a terrorist organization.

12:01 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

It's morning in Israel and Gaza. Catch up on the latest developments here

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 said 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's what else you need to know:

  • Hostage situation: The families of hostages being held by Hamas warned the Israeli government that their "patience has run out," an urged the authorities 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 outlet 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 said 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 UN 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.
12:04 a.m. ET, October 27, 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

Members of the European Council speak as they attend the European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium October 26.
Members of the European Council speak as they attend the European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium October 26. Yves Herman/Reuters

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels 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 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.
4:36 a.m. ET, October 27, 2023

Hamas-controlled health ministry publishes names of thousands killed after Biden expresses doubt

From CNN's Eyad Kourdi

People perform funeral prayers next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes, at a cemetery in Khan Younis, Gaza on October 26.
People perform funeral prayers next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes, at a cemetery in Khan Younis, Gaza on October 26. Abed Zagout/Anadolu/Getty Images

The health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza on Thursday published a 212-page report listing thousands of names described as “documented deaths since October 7” in the enclave, which it blamed on Israeli military “aggression.”

The list, which does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants but does list age and gender, followed US President Joe Biden’s comments that he had “no confidence” in the figures of civilian casualties reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.

Israel, along with the US, has expressed doubts about the casualty numbers being reported out of Gaza but has not provided evidence that they are exaggerated.

White House spokesperson John Kirby called the Gaza-based ministry “a front for Hamas,” though when asked he did not dispute that thousands of Palestinians, many innocent civilians, had been killed.

The prime minister of the US-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said the PA’s own health authority considers the numbers to be “correct.”

“They are our numbers,” Shtayyeh said in an interview Thursday with Al Jazeera. “These numbers are fed to us from the hospitals of Gaza every single day (and) are received by our Ministry of Health.”

The report stated that between October 7-26, 7,028 Palestinians were killed, including 2,913 children. A total of 3,129 females and 3,899 males were killed. The number of unidentified people killed stands at 218, but they are not included in the final death toll, the report added.

The report also excludes those buried without being brought to hospital, those for whom hospitals were unable to complete registration procedures, and people missing under the rubble, who number around 1,600, with many of them feared dead.

The ministry said the actual death toll is likely to be much higher than the report stated. The list of 6,747 names, released by its Hamas-controlled health ministry, gave the sex, age and identity card number of each of the victims. It said 281 bodies had not yet been identified.

Some context: The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is run by a rival faction to Hamas, and operates the umbrella Ministry of Health, which maintains a relationship with the ministry in Gaza. Death tolls for Gaza are released both in Gaza and Ramallah daily.

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

9:33 p.m. ET, October 26, 2023

IDF spokesperson vows more ground raids into Gaza over coming days

From Tamar Michaelis and Jorge Engels

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 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.