November 3, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

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10:31 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Blinken: US and Israel have "identified mechanisms" to get fuel to hospitals in Gaza

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kaitlan Collins

United States and Israeli officials have "identified mechanisms to enable fuel to reach hospitals and other needs," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, as the situation in Gaza's healthcare facilities continues to deteriorate.

The issue of getting fuel into Gaza was expected to be a key focus of Blinken’s conversations in Tel Aviv, and a source familiar with the discussion told CNN that it was one of the top US diplomat’s most notable pushes.  

It is unclear when the mechanisms may be put into action. The source said Israel’s wartime cabinet was not very receptive given the difficulties in ensuring that fuel is for humanitarian purposes. Israeli officials have repeatedly said they believe Hamas will steal the fuel.

“Israel has raised appropriate concerns, concerns that we share” about Hamas siphoning off the fuel, Blinken said at a press conference in Tel Aviv, adding that the group’s “cynicism knows no bounds.”

Blinken said he “spoke to Israeli leaders about tangible steps that can be taken to increase the sustained delivery of food, water, medicine, fuel and other essential needs while putting in place measures to prevent diversion by Hamas and other terrorist groups.”

Blinken said conversations would continue “about getting assistance to flow, including with help from the United Nations.”

The situation in Gaza's hospitals: A woman sheltering in Gaza’s largest medical facility told CNN that piles of both trash and people line the hospital’s corridors, with many “sleeping on the floors because residents feel hospitals are safe.”

“The smell of death is everywhere,” she said. “The smell of blood is everywhere.”

Gaza’s leading cancer hospital, the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital, has stopped operating due to Israeli bombardment and fuel shortages, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health said in a statement Wednesday.

Israel has claimed that there is fuel in Gaza, but that it is under Hamas’ control. CNN cannot independently verify the amount of fuel in the enclave.

Hospitals in the heavily battered enclave are “hanging by a thread,” the UN said Monday, adding that around 10 hospitals in Gaza are still operational. But those facilities are constantly receiving evacuation orders, the UN added.

11:35 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

US surveillance drones flying over Gaza to help with hostage search

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis, Natasha Bertrand, Zachary Cohen and Oren Liebermann

The US military is flying surveillance drones over Gaza as part of American efforts to help Israel locate the more than 240 hostages still held by Hamas, the Pentagon confirmed Friday.

CNN had earlier reported the drones — which are also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) — are part of a surge of intelligence assets sent to the region in the days and weeks following the October 7 attack on southern Israel, according to multiple US officials familiar with the matter. The attack caught both Israeli and US intelligence services by surprise.

“In support of hostage recovery efforts, the US is conducting unarmed UAV flights over Gaza, as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. “These UAV flights began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.”

Two other US drones — both MQ-9 Reapers, one of the US’s most sophisticated drones primarily used for surveillance — were also flying off the coast of Lebanon over the weekend, according to one source familiar with the effort and flight tracker data reviewed by CNN. The US is closely monitoring for any signs that Lebanese Hezbollah — or any other Iranian proxy force — may seek to escalate the simmering tensions rippling across the region. 

It’s not clear how helpful the imagery gathered by the overhead flights in Gaza will be in locating hostages, since they are widely believed to be held in the vast network of underground tunnels, some former intelligence officials said. 

US officials insisted the intelligence gathered by the drones and shared with Israel is limited to hostage recovery efforts and is not so-called “targeting intelligence” — information used to conduct lethal strikes against Hamas leaders and positions.

US special operations personnel inside Israel have also been advising the Israeli Defense Forces on hostage recovery efforts, as the US separately has been providing bombs and other lethal aid. 

But Ryder said Thursday that those forces and the US military broadly are “not participating in IDF target development” or “helping them run their campaign” in Gaza. 

“We the US military are not participating in IDF target development, helping them run their campaign — just to be crystal clear that it is their operation,” Ryder said. “That planning element is providing planning and intelligence support as it relates to hostage recovery.”

Still, several of these officials acknowledged to CNN that that the information gathered by the drones that the US shares with Israel could also be helpful in tracking Hamas’s activities beyond holding hostages.

Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes for weeks, drawing international criticism that it has been insufficiently mindful of the risk to civilians trapped in the blockaded enclave. 

The Biden administration also dispatched three-star Marine Corps general James Glynn to counsel the IDF on planning its tactical assault on Gaza, but he has since returned to the US.

Of the more than 240 hostages still held by Hamas, 10 of them are believed to be Americans.

This post has been updated with comments from the Pentagon confirming the drones' use in hostage recovery efforts.

10:45 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Blinken says it's shocking that October 7 Hamas attack "has receded so quickly in the memories of so many"

From CNN's Michael Conte and Jennifer Hansler

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, on November 3.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, on November 3. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it "striking" and "shocking" that the brutality of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel "has receded so quickly in the memories of so many" during a news conference in Tel Aviv on Friday.

Blinken said today he viewed additional images and footage from the attack collected by the Israeli government.

“It remains almost beyond the human capacity to process, to digest,” he said.

Blinken, who appeared visibly shaken, described an example of additional video Israeli officials showed him today of the Hamas attack.

“I saw, for example, a family on a kibbutz, a father (of) two young boys — maybe 10, 11 years old — grabbing them, pulling them out of their living room, going through their very small backyard and into a shelter, followed seconds later by a terrorist who throws a grenade into that small shelter. And then as the father come staggering out, shoots him down. And then the boys come out, and they run into their house, and the camera in the house is filming everything. And they're crying. ‘Where's daddy?’ one says. The other says, ‘They killed daddy. Where's my mommy?’ And then the terrorists comes in, and casually opens the refrigerator and starts to eat from it,” Blinken said he saw in the video.

The top US diplomat expressed sympathy for the plight of Palestinians civilians as well, saying he sees his own children when he sees images of “Palestinian children, young boys and girls, pulled from the wreckage and buildings.” 

“Hamas doesn't care one second or one iota for the welfare, for the well-being of the Palestinian people,” said Blinken. “It cynically and monstrously uses them as human shields, putting his commanders in command posts, its weapons and ammunition, within or beneath residential buildings, schools, mosques, hospitals.”

Blinken said that the US is still pressing Israel to minimize civilian casualties.

“We’ve provided Israel advice that only the best of friends can offer on how to minimize civilian deaths, while still achieving its objectives of finding and finishing Hamas terrorists and their infrastructure of violence,” he added.

 

10:09 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

US secretary of state: "We need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler in Tel Aviv

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Tel Aviv during his visit to Israel on November 3.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Tel Aviv during his visit to Israel on November 3. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more needs to be done to protect Palestinian civilians on Friday after meeting with top Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

“We need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians,” he said at a news conference.

In some of his most forceful comments to date, Blinken condemned Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields and embedding its fighters within civilian infrastructure, but said that “civilians should not suffer the consequences for its inhumanity and its brutality.”

“We've been clear that as Israel conducts its campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters — it matters because it's the right and lawful thing to do. It matters because failure to do so plays into the hands of Hamas and other terror groups,” Blinken said, echoing earlier comments that "how Israel does this matters."

“There will be no partners for peace if they're consumed by humanitarian catastrophe and alienated by any perceived indifference to their plight,” he added.

Blinken said that the US believes efforts to get humanitarian assistance in and hostages out “would be facilitated by humanitarian pauses.”

“That was an important area of discussion today with Israeli leaders – how, when and where these can be implemented, what work needs to happen, and what understandings must be reached,” Blinken said.

“A number of legitimate questions were raised in our discussions today, including how to use any period of pause to maximize the full humanitarian assistance, how to connect a pause to the release of hostages, how to ensure that Hamas doesn't use these pauses or arrangements to its own advantage,” Blinken said.

“These are issues that we need to tackle urgently, and we believe they can be solved,” he added.

In a meeting with Blinken today, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Israel will not agree to a pause in fighting unless it includes the release of hostages, one source directly familiar with the comment told CNN.

9:57 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Israeli defense minister told Blinken there will be no pause in fighting without hostage releases, source says

From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins

During a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Israel will not agree to a pause in fighting unless it includes the release of hostages, one source directly familiar with the comment tells CNN.

Israeli officials have been frustrated with Hamas releasing one or two hostages at a time, the source said.

Blinken will push Israel for a "pause" in airstrikes on Gaza to "allow for mediation," a different diplomatic source familiar with the negotiations told CNN ahead of Blinken’s meetings.

CNN’s Becky Anderson contributed reporting to this post.

10:05 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Hezbollah's secretary general praises October 7 attacks, says they were fully planned and executed by Hamas

From CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi and Lauren Kent in London 

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appears on a screen as he addresses his supporters in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 3.
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appears on a screen as he addresses his supporters in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 3. Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is now speaking in Lebanon, marking his first public remarks since the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

Nasrallah called the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel a "great, blessed operation."

In his speech on Friday, Nasrallah addressed speculation about whether Iran-backed factions were part of the attacks, saying that the planning and execution of the attacks were "100 percent Palestinian," adding that it did not bother Hezbollah that the operation was kept secret from them. Nasrallah said he understood Hamas' need for the element of surprise. 

Nasrallah said October 7 caused a "political earthquake" in Israel and that it will have "lasting effects" on the conflict with Israel, adding his view that the attacks exposed the country's military weaknesses. 

He added that the lives lost in Gaza, the West Bank and other fronts were "worthy sacrifices" because they established a "historic new stage" in the conflict. 

Nasrallah said the United States sending "fleets of warships" to the eastern Mediterranean also exposes Israel's weaknesses and its reliance on allies. 

The US has sent two carrier strike groups to the Mediterranean.

Nasrallah is speaking via video link from an undisclosed location, and the speech is being broadcast to a large crowd of supporters gathering in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

As the speech began, a CNN team on the ground in Beirut heard celebratory gunfire. 

He has not spoken publicly in person since 2006, when a month-long war erupted between Lebanon and Israel.  

His speech comes amid escalating skirmishes between his powerful, Iran-backed armed group and Israel, sparking concern of a potential broader regional war. 

9:47 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

More than 350 foreign nationals arrive in Egypt from Gaza through Rafah border crossing on Friday

From Asmaa Khalil in Rafah and CNN's Zeena Saifi in Jerusalem 

A total of 353 foreign nationals have arrived in Egypt from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing on Friday, an Egyptian border official told CNN on the ground. 

The border crossing remains open, but it is unclear if more will cross through today. 

It was not immediately clear what nationalities had crossed into the country from the besieged enclave. 

Some background: The exodus of the foreign nationals is the result of a deal announced Wednesday brokered by Qatar between Israel, Hamas and Egypt, in coordination with the US, that allows for the departure of those individuals, alongside critically injured civilians from Gaza, according to sources familiar with the talks. The agreement is separate from any hostage negotiations, the source added.

Earlier Friday, a convoy of Egyptian Red Crescent ambulances entered Gaza to retrieve wounded Palestinians, an Egyptian border official told CNN. So far, 48 injured Palestinian civilians have been transferred to Egypt for treatment.

The post has been updated with the latest numbers of foreign nationals crossing into Egypt from Gaza.

9:05 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

15 injured Palestinians from Gaza arrive in Egypt for treatment Friday, Egyptian official says

From Asmaa Khalil in Rafah and CNN's Zeena Saifi in Jerusalem

Fifteen injured Palestinians entered Egypt through the Rafah border crossing on Friday, an Egyptian government official told CNN. 

They will be transferred to hospitals across the country for treatment, the official added. 

By a CNN count, this brings the total number of wounded Palestinians who have been transferred to Egypt for treatment to 63. 

10:02 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Scottish leader says his in-laws have left Gaza through Rafah crossing

From CNN’s Eve Brennan in London

Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf attends day two of the SNP conference at The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) on October 16, in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf attends day two of the SNP conference at The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) on October 16, in Aberdeen, Scotland. Peter Summers/Getty Images

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said he is “hugely relieved” that his in-laws were able to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Friday morning. 

“We are grateful to all of those who have assisted our parents over the last few weeks, including the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) crisis team,” he added in a statement posted to social media on Friday signed by himself and his wife, Nadia El-Nakla. 

Yousaf previously told UK media that his in-laws, who live in Dundee in Scotland, went to visit family in Gaza about a week before the October 7 attacks and subsequently could not leave the strip

“Although we feel a sense of deep personal relief, we are heartbroken at the continued suffering of the people of Gaza. We will continue to raise our voices to stop the killing and suffering of the innocent people of Gaza,” Yousaf added. 

Yousaf went on to say that the last four weeks “have been a living nightmare” for his family, adding that he is thankful “for all the messages of comfort and prayers” received from across the world and “from across the political spectrum in Scotland and the UK.” 

“We reiterate our calls for all sides to agree to an immediate ceasefire, the opening of a humanitarian corridor so that significant amounts of aid, including fuel, can flow through to a population that have suffered collective punishment for far too long, and for all hostages to be released,” he added. 

“Families in Gaza and Israel are suffering after the loss of entirely innocent men, women and children,” said Yousaf. “We pray for them all, and pray that the international community at least focuses on achieving a lasting peace in the region: one that recognises that the rights and lives of Palestinians and Israelis are equal."

CNN's Livvy Doherty contributed reporting to this post.