October 28, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Thom Poole, Sophie Tanno, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:19 a.m. ET, October 29, 2023
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5:18 a.m. ET, October 28, 2023

Gazans mourn multiple casualties after overnight bombardment 

From CNN's Kareem Khadder

Destroyed buildings during Israeli bombardment on October 28 in Gaza.
Destroyed buildings during Israeli bombardment on October 28 in Gaza. Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance/Getty Images

People gathered at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza on Saturday morning to mourn loved ones lost in a night of intense Israeli airstrikes

Video captured by CNN shows multiple bodies, including those of children, covered in white shrouds or thick blankets, placed on the ground in the hospital yard.

Dr. Khalil Al-Dikran told CNN the hospital had received 22 bodies overnight and hundreds of injured. He said people had brought the dead and the wounded to hospital using everything from cars, bikes, and donkey carts.

Hospitals have lost contact with each other, he said, after communications networks were cut across the Gaza Strip.

People are desperate to find some news about their loved ones and their families,” he added.

Al-Dikran also said that after a pause of several hours, airstrikes had resumed again in central and northern Gaza.

Artillery fire had continued uninterrupted through the night, he said.

 

3:53 a.m. ET, October 28, 2023

Israel says its warplanes hit 150 underground targets overnight, and killed head of Hamas' aerial operations

From CNN's Andrew Carey

An overview of Gaza showing destroyed buildings during Israeli bombardment on October 28.
An overview of Gaza showing destroyed buildings during Israeli bombardment on October 28. Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance/Getty Images

The Israeli military says its warplanes hit 150 underground targets overnight and killed the head of Hamas' aerial operations.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had struck what it called terror tunnels and underground combat spaces during a period of very heavy air strikes on the north of the Gaza Strip.

Among several Hamas operatives killed, the military said, was the man in charge of Hamas’s aerial assets, who it named as Asem Abu Rakaba. 

Abu Rabaka was responsible for Hamas's UAVs, drones, and paragliders, as well as its aerial detection and aerial defense systems, the IDF said in a statement.

He had taken part in planning the October 7 attack on Israeli communities close to the Gaza border and “directed the terrorists who infiltrated Israel on paragliders," according to the IDF.

2:40 a.m. ET, October 28, 2023

Sounds of heavy bombardment reverberate throughout the night near Israel's border with Gaza

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova in Ashkelon, Israel

 A dense cloud of smoke from the bombing of Gaza invades the Israeli border city of Ashkelon on the night of October 27.
 A dense cloud of smoke from the bombing of Gaza invades the Israeli border city of Ashkelon on the night of October 27. Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

Questions swirled around the extent of the Israel Defense Forces' operation in Gaza overnight as the sun rose Saturday on a quiet, foggy morning in southern Israel.

In the city of Ashkelon near the Gaza border, heavy bombardment, sustained artillery fire and the roar of fighter jets were heard from the direction of the coastal enclave overnight in what appeared to be the busiest night of fighting during Israel's war with Hamas.

The IDF said Friday it was “expanding ground operations” in the Gaza Strip and “operating forcefully.” It has not given more details about the number of troops that have entered the enclave.

A substantial Israeli ground offensive has been expected ever since the October 7 attacks, in which Hamas killed more than 1,400 people and took some 200 others to Gaza as hostages. However, it is not yet clear whether the IDF announcement of an expanded operation signals the start of that push.

Meanwhile, Hamas militants continued firing rockets into Israel overnight — several alarms indicating incoming rockets were heard late into the evening in towns north of Gaza.

Early on Saturday, the sounds of war have mostly quietened, with only sporadic thunders of explosions heard in the distance.

All eyes are now on what Israel does next.

Earlier, an Israeli government spokesperson confirmed the IDF was "expanding its ground operations," in Gaza but said he would not comment further on the status of the military action.

"But it's important to understand what's coming up," spokesperson Eylon Levy told CNN. "The days ahead are going to be long, they’re going to be difficult, because we're going to go after the totality of the Hamas terror and governing infrastructure inside the Gaza Strip." 
2:28 a.m. ET, October 28, 2023

"You get home and then start crying": The horrors facing Israel's body collectors

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova and Adi Kopelwitz

Volunteers from Israeli volunteer-run emergency rescue service ZAKA search through debris in Be'eri, a kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 20.
Volunteers from Israeli volunteer-run emergency rescue service ZAKA search through debris in Be'eri, a kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 20. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

Yanir Ishay has thrown away three boxes of cigarettes in the past two weeks.

He said he thought he could smell death on them, having carried the packets in his pockets while collecting human remains from the sites of Hamas’ terror attack in southern Israel. Then his wife told him they were brand new — he’d just bought them.

“That’s when I realized the smell was in my mind, not in the box,” he told CNN.

Ishay is one of 120 volunteers – all of them men – working with ZAKA, a religious search and rescue organization, to recover the bodies of people killed near the Israel-Gaza perimeter by Hamas militants on October 7. Israeli authorities say more than 1,400 people were killed in the attack.

Weeks on, ZAKA volunteers are still collecting remains.

“With all the preparations and with all the experience, never in our worst nightmares have we ever imagined we would see anything like what we have seen here,” Snir Elmalih, a longtime ZAKA member, told CNN at a cemetery in Ashdod, where he was working on Friday.

He and other volunteers told CNN the victims of the massacre included whole families, little children, babies, even pregnant women, and that their bodies were found in a horrific state – mutilated and burnt.

ZAKA has long worked in Israel and around the world, responding to terror attacks, accidents and disasters. Most of its members are deeply religious orthodox Jewish men and their mission is driven by the desire to ensure everyone, no matter what the circumstances of their death, can get a proper Jewish burial.

“We believe that the respect for the dead is no less important – and sometimes more important – than the respect for the living,” Elmalih said.

READ MORE: Israel's body collectors encounter horrors beyond their worst nightmares

11:59 p.m. ET, October 27, 2023

US Defense Secretary reiterates need to protect civilians in call with Israeli counterpart as potential ground invasion looms

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to the media during a NATO Defense Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on October 12.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to the media during a NATO Defense Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on October 12. Johanna Geron/Reuters/FILE

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated “the importance of protecting civilians during the Israel Defense Forces’ operations” in a call Friday with the Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, according to a Pentagon readout. 

Austin also emphasized the urgent need for “humanitarian aid delivery for civilians in Gaza” and for Hamas to release all hostages, the Pentagon said.

Austin's call comes as the Israel Defense Forces announced it is "expanding ground operations" in the Gaza Strip and "operating forcefully" on all fronts to fulfill its goals in the war with Hamas.

11:58 p.m. ET, October 27, 2023

IDF says it cannot guarantee the safety of journalists reporting from Gaza

From CNN's Heather Law

A member of the press is seen among the destroyed buildings and debris after Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on October 11.
A member of the press is seen among the destroyed buildings and debris after Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on October 11. Abed Zagout/Anadolu/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told international news organizations that they cannot guarantee the safety of journalists reporting from Gaza, according to a Reuters report published Friday. 

International news agencies Reuters and Agence France Presse (AFP) contacted the Israeli military this week for assurance their journalists on the ground in Gaza would not be targeted by Israeli airstrikes. 

The IDF responded in a letter to both agencies saying they are "targeting all Hamas military activity throughout Gaza" and "[u]nder these circumstances, [they] cannot guarantee [their] employees' safety, and strongly urge [them] to take all necessary measures for their safety."

The letter also said Hamas deliberately put military operations "in the vicinity of journalists and civilians," Reuters wrote. Hamas did not immediately respond when asked if these allegations put forth by the IDF were true, Reuters said. 

Reuters and AFP have both expressed concern over the safety of journalists in Gaza, Reuters stated. 

“The situation on the ground is dire, and the IDF’s unwillingness to give assurances about the safety of our staff threatens their ability to deliver the news about this conflict without fear of being injured or killed," Reuters explained in a statement in response to the IDF's letter.
"We are in an incredibly precarious position and it's important that the world understands that there is a large team of journalists working in extremely dangerous conditions," AFP Global News Director Phil Chetwynd said.

CNN is a client of Reuters and AFP, regularly using live and recorded video feeds from the news agencies. 

11:58 p.m. ET, October 27, 2023

UN aid agencies say they've lost contact with staff in Gaza

From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Kareem Khadder, and Jen Deaton 

Several United Nations agencies report they have lost contact with their local staff in Gaza, as most of the communication capabilities of the enclave appear to have been interrupted.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X that the organization has lost touch with its staff as well as with its "health facilities, health workers and the rest of our humanitarian partners on the ground." 

Lynn Hastings, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Palestine, also took to X to say that "Gaza has lost contact with the outside world amid reports of intensified bombardment."

The UN's Children's Fund executive director, Catherine Russell, said in a post on X that she is "extremely concerned" about her team in Gaza after losing touch with them.

"All humanitarians and the children and families they serve MUST be protected," Russell said. 

Communications in Gaza have been severely disrupted in the past several hours as a result of airstrikes, the main Palestinian telecoms company says, although those with Israeli or eSIMs still have patchy connection.

11:58 p.m. ET, October 27, 2023

Gaza is approaching a near total internet blackout

From CNN's Amy O'Kruk

Gaza is approaching a near total internet blackout as the region suffered its worst loss in connectivity today since fighting first broke out on October 7.

The last standing major internet operator in the region, Paltel, experienced damage to its international routes, according to NetBlocks, an internet outage monitoring firm based in London. Many Palestinians are experiencing a total loss of internet access and the ability to communicate electronically, according to the data, while some may have very little connectivity.

Jawwal, another Palestinian telecom company that provides mobile service to the Gaza Strip, also released a statement Friday, saying “the intense bombardment in the past hour has resulted in the destruction of all remaining international routes connecting Gaza with the outside world” leading to a “complete interruption of telecommunications services.”

Internet connections are likely to worsen as the Israel Defense Forces announced its "expanding ground operations."

Those with Israeli or international SIM cards are still reporting some internet access.

11:58 p.m. ET, October 27, 2023

Israel rejects call for ceasefire approved by UN General Assembly

From CNN's David Shortell and Tara John

Smoke and explosions caused by Israeli bombardment are seen on the horizon in northern Gaza on October 28.
Smoke and explosions caused by Israeli bombardment are seen on the horizon in northern Gaza on October 28. Abed Khaled/AP

Israel is rejecting a call for a ceasefire in Gaza approved by the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, with the country's foreign minister calling it "despicable" in a post on social media.

“We reject outright the UN General Assembly despicable call for a ceasefire,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Israel intends to eliminate Hamas just as the world dealt with the Nazis and ISIS.”

The UN General Assembly voted Friday to approve a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the war between Israel and Hamas. A total of 120 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while 14 countries, including the US and Israel, voted against it. Another 45 countries abstained from the vote.

In a speech following the resolution’s passage, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said, “Today is a day that will go down in infamy. We have all witnessed that the UN no longer holds even one ounce of legitimacy or relevance.”

“The majority of the international community has shown that it prefers to support the defense of Nazi terrorists rather than support the law-abiding state of Israel to defend its civilians,” he said.