October 31, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

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

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, November 1, 2023
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11:52 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Here's what we know about Israel's ongoing military ground operation in Gaza

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Ivana Kottasová, Katie Polglase, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Paul Murphy, Henrik Pettersson and Lou Robinson

The Israeli army began its full ground operation in Gaza on Friday, moving tanks, bulldozers, infantrymen and combat engineer units into the Strip.

But rather than make any quick advance on Gaza City, Israeli forces so far appear to have moved only slowly toward the enclave’s largest population center.

Drawing on videos and photos from open and official sources, as well as reporting from CNN teams on the ground, it appears as though Israeli forces crossed the border in three main locations.

The first is in the northwest corner of the strip. A video released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Saturday morning showed bulldozers pushing through sand very close to the seashore. A breach in the perimeter fence, through which Israeli vehicles appeared to have entered Gaza, is clearly visible.

But there is also evidence of Israeli forces close to the sea further south from this location. 

On Sunday a video circulated showed Israeli soldiers waving a flag from the roof of a resort hotel, geolocated by CNN to Atatra, which lies about two miles south of the perimeter fence.

On Tuesday, photos released by the Israeli army showed soldiers even deeper into the Strip, just to the north of the Al-Shati, or Beach, refugee camp, which would put them only three miles or so from the centre of Gaza City.

A second point at which Israeli forces appear to have entered Gaza is from the northeastern corner of the Strip near the town of Beit Hanoun, according to footage and satellite imagery. Video distributed by the Israeli army and geolocated by CNN shows dozens of soldiers advancing on foot across sandy terrain and, in a different clip, a bulldozer pushing through sandy soil to create a lane free from IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

Videos show deserted buildings that have sustained massive damage from Israeli aerial and artillery strikes ahead of the ground operation. There is no visible presence in the footage of civilians or Hamas militants, indicating people had fled or withdrawn before the Israeli military arrived. Even so, a CNN team just a mile or so away on the Israeli side of the border reported hearing sporadic machine gun fire, and on Tuesday morning multiple explosions from the same direction.

The CNN team reported the number of Israeli military vehicles inside the perimeter appears to be increasing, as the IDF appears to have expanded the ground operation once again.

Finally, another piece of video evidence, which surfaced on Monday, points to a possible third entry point about 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) to the south, along the eastern perimeter. The video, filmed by freelance Palestinian journalist Yousif Al Saifi, showed an Israeli tank opening fire on a car on the main Salah Al Din road, which runs the length of the Strip.

The video was geolocated by CNN to just south of the Netzarim junction, named after a former Israeli settlement, and likely regarded by Israel as a strategic location to hold by if it wants to divide the northern part of Gaza from the south.

Read more about Israel's ground operation in Gaza.

11:29 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Al Jazeera employee lost 19 relatives in Israeli airstrike on Jabalya refugee camp Tuesday, network says

From CNN's Kevin Flower

Palestinians search for casualties at the site of a strike in Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza on Tuesday.
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of a strike in Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza on Tuesday. Anas al-Shareef/Reuters

Al Jazeera said one of its employees lost 19 members of his family in the Israeli airstrike on the Jabalya refugee camp on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Qatari-funded news network condemned what it called a “heinous and indiscriminate Israeli bombing” that killed 19 family members of their satellite engineer, Mohamed Abu Al-Qumsan.  

Al-Qumsan lost his father, two sisters, eight nephews and nieces, his brother, his brother’s wife and their four children, his sister-in-law, and one uncle in the bombing that the news network called an “unforgivable act."

Al Jazeera appealed to the international community to address the "grave injustice with utmost urgency" for the family of Al-Qumsan and other Gazan civilians.

The Israeli strike in the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza killed a large number of people Tuesday and left catastrophic damage, according to eyewitnesses and medics in the enclave.  

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed the strike was targeting a Hamas commander hiding in an underground bunker and that when the complex imploded it possibly collapsed nearby buildings.  

Last week, Al Jazeera’s Gaza Bureau Chief Wael Al Dahdouh lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson in what the network said was an airstrike that hit a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza where the family was taking shelter after being displaced.  

At least 31 journalists have been killed in Israel-Gaza conflict since October 7, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Among them are 26 Palestinians, four Israelis, and one Lebanese as of October 31.

11:09 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Palestinian ambassador to UN says Israeli strike on Jabalya refugee camp was a crime

From CNN's Caitlin Hu and Tara John in New York 

Riyad Mansour speaks at the UN Headquarters on October 27.
Riyad Mansour speaks at the UN Headquarters on October 27. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said the Israeli strike on the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza was a crime and urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take action.

Mansour made the comments upon leaving a UN meeting on Tuesday, saying the ICC should hold those responsible for the lethal airstrike.

“Those who are responsible for giving the orders for that crime should hear something from Mr. Khan from the ICC,” Mansour told CNN in reference to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan. 
“If he has the courage, and I hope he does. We appreciate the fact that [he] came to the crossing, Rafah crossing, and he made a statement there. But it would be also nice to issue a warrant of arrest for those who are responsible for such crimes," Mansour said.

When asked whether Egypt should allow the entry of refugees from Gaza, Mansour replied “no.”

Some context: According to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces, the airstrike targeted and killed Ibrahim Biari, whom it described as one of the Hamas commanders responsible for the October 7 attack on Israel, which left than 1,400 people dead and hundreds taken hostage.

10:04 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Chile and Colombia call ambassadors in Israel for consultation following Israel's deadly Gaza strikes

From Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultation due to Israel's strikes on Gaza.

"If Israel does not stop the massacre of the Palestinian people, we cannot be there," Colombian President Gustavo Petro said in translation on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

On October 19, Petro met with Gali Dagan, the Israeli ambassador to Colombia, to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip. 

Chilean President Gabriel Boric said the country is recalling its ambassador to Israel due to Israel's "violations of International Humanitarian Law in the Gaza Strip."

"Given the unacceptable violations of International Humanitarian Law that Israel has incurred in the Gaza Strip, the Government of Chile has decided to recall the Chilean ambassador to Israel, Jorge Carvajal, to Santiago for consultations," Chile's foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. 

Chile's foreign ministry said it strongly condemns and observes with great concern the military operations, "which at this point in their development entail collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, do not respect fundamental norms of International Law, as demonstrated by the more than eight thousand civilian victims, mostly women and children."

Chile reiterated its call for an immediate end to hostilities, "which will allow the deployment of a humanitarian support operation to help the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and civilian victims."

The Colombian foreign ministry has not yet issued a statement. 

Some context: Bolivia announced Tuesday that it is cutting diplomatic relations with Israel, citing "crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people" in the wake of Israel's war with Hamas, according to the Bolivian Agency of Information (ABI).

Bolivia is also preparing to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, the ABI said.

9:48 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Bolivia cuts diplomatic relations with Israel citing "crimes against humanity" against Palestinians

From CNN's José Álvarez, Karol Suarez, Caitlin Hu and Heather Law

Bolivia is cutting diplomatic relations with Israel, citing "crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian people" in the wake of Israel's war with Hamas, the Bolivian Agency of Information (ABI) said.

The decision came on Tuesday, and was announced by Vice Foreign Minister Freddy Mamani and María Nela Prada, who serves as the minister of the Presidency of Bolivia and interim foreign minister. The announcement came one day after Bolivian President Luis Arce met with the Palestinian Ambassador to Bolivia Mahmoud Elalwani.

Bolivia is also preparing to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, the ABI said.

Diego Pary, Bolivian representative to the United Nations, reiterated his country's stance at an emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Tuesday, saying they "are on the side of the rights of the Palestinian people."

"[A]s a result the people and government of Bolivia [have] taken the decision to break diplomatic ties from today with the state of Israel because we consider it a state that does not respect life of peoples, international law or international humanitarian law," Pary said.

CNN reached out to Israel's diplomatic representation in Bolivia for comment, but has yet receive a response.

 

9:23 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Jordan king "stresses the importance of a ceasefire" in Gaza during call with Biden

From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh 

During a phone call with US President Joe Biden, Jordan's King Abdullah II stressed "the importance of a ceasefire and an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid."

The Jordan leader "urged stepping up efforts to stop the war and work towards a political horizon, reiterating that the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the two-state solution," the Royal Hashemite Court said in a Tuesday post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

9:17 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Blinken discussed minimizing harm to civilians in call with Israeli president, according to State Department

From CNN's Rashard Rose

Antony Blinken speaks during a United States Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing in Washington, DC, on October 31.
Antony Blinken speaks during a United States Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing in Washington, DC, on October 31. Celal Gunes/Anadolu/Getty Images

In a call with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated his country’s “support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism consistent with international humanitarian law” while also emphasizing “the need to take feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians,” according to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

The official said the two leaders also discussed "efforts to safeguard U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; continue working tirelessly to bring hostages home; increase urgently the pace and volume of humanitarian assistance that is entering Gaza for distribution to Palestinian civilians; and prevent the conflict from spreading."

CNN previously reported that Blinken will travel to Israel on Friday for meetings with members of the Israeli government, and then will make other stops in the region.

8:25 p.m. ET, October 31, 2023

Palestinian American family mourns 42 relatives killed in a single day

From CNN's Isabel Rosales, Dianne Gallagher and Devon M. Sayers

Thousands of miles away from the brutality of war in Gaza, Tariq Hamouda and his wife Manal are in disbelief over the loss of three generations of their family.

The Palestinian Americans, who live in Maple Grove, Minnesota, say it’s been over a week since they learned 42 relatives were killed in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, and they’re still unable to fully comprehend the news.

Hamouda says his wife, whose maiden name is Saqallah, lost four brothers, a sister and most of their children when two explosions destroyed the Saqallah family compound on October 19 in the Sheikh Ejleen neighborhood of Gaza City.

Hamouda and the family say it was an Israeli airstrike. Israel has launched numerous airstrikes on Gaza City since October 7, including multiple strikes in the area that day.

CNN cannot independently confirm that it was an Israeli strike. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it could not comment without coordinates of the house. The family declined to provide CNN with the coordinates for fear of reprisal.

“It’s not one, two, three, or four — it is 42 members, it’s really hard to cope with,” Eyad Abu Shaban, Manal’s cousin said.

Abu Shaban, Manal’s cousin, says the deceased range in age from three months to 77. They were all staying in a single compound. His uncle, Essam Abu Shaban, wife Layla Saqallah and their son Ahmed were among those killed.

To avoid Israeli airstrikes, they had evacuated the nearby Tel El Hawa neighborhood and sought refuge in the Saqallah’s home, Abu Shaban says.

Before the airstrikes, the IDF called to say there could be military activity in the area, but they were never told to evacuate their home, Hamouda says surviving family members told him.

“We’ve never seen in this day and age where the whole world is watching innocent people just being torn apart. Families, whole families, just wiped off the map,” Abu Shaban said. “I want everybody to know that the people of Gaza are just like them, they hurt, they bleed, they have families, they have feelings.”

Read more.