November 3, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

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4:08 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Israeli forces closing in on Gaza City, satellite imagery shows

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Eliza Mackintosh, Ivana Kottasová, Lou Robinson and Henrik Pettersson

Israeli ground forces are closing in on Gaza City, the largest and most densely packed population center in the Palestinian enclave, satellite imagery and videos from open and official sources suggest.

CNN’s analysis of the imagery helps shed light on what is happening on the ground as the Israel Defense Forces claims it has encircled the city.

“IDF forces encircle Gaza from the air, land and sea, surrounding the city of Gaza and its surroundings,” Daniel Hagari, an IDF spokesperson, said Friday. “The fighters are advancing in battles, during which they are destroying above-ground and underground terrorist infrastructures and eliminate terrorists.”

Since the IDF launched its ground offensive into Gaza a week ago, marking the latest phase of its war against Hamas, its troops have pushed forward on three axes – from Gaza’s northwest border along the Mediterranean coast, from the northeast near Beit Hanoun, and from east to west, along the south of Gaza City – in an apparent effort to divide the strip into two.

Israeli troops have moved deeper along that western stretch, towards the sea, according to European Space Agency satellite imagery from Wednesday, which indicated the forces were within about a kilometer of completely encircling Gaza City.

While the imagery is low-resolution, it appears to show the tracks from heavy armored vehicles snaking across the strip, south of the urban center, nearly reaching the coast.

Videos showing Israel’s advance south of Gaza City have yet to surface, but footage shared by the IDF and circulating on social media in recent days showed Israeli troops had moved in the northernmost communities in Gaza – Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Atatra – and were sitting on the perimeter of Gaza City from the north.

Satellite imagery and footage have also shown Israeli forces on Salah al-Din Road, a highway running the length of the strip, seemingly blocking anyone still in Gaza City from moving south. A video that surfaced Monday, filmed by freelance Palestinian journalist Yousif Al Saifi, showed an Israeli tank opening fire on a car on the road.

4:11 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Analysis: Hezbollah isn’t going to war with Israel, for now 

Analysis by CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi

For weeks, Lebanon was preparing for war. People spoke about their backup plans in hushed tones. The government said it was putting together contingency supplies for the public’s basic necessities.

It all hinged on Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s thinking about the Hamas-Israel war, which he kept close to his chest before breaking his nearly month-long silence about October 7 on Friday.

In a fiery speech from an undisclosed location, the reclusive head of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group heaped praise on Hamas and hailed the war as a “turning point” in the Arab-Israeli conflict. He extolled the virtues of the weekslong cross-fire with Israel on Lebanon’s southern border, which he described as an “unprecedented battle.”

He also said Hezbollah would be "prepared for all scenarios,” and that any escalation by the Israeli army at the border would be a "historic folly" that would prompt a major response.

Yet for all the tough talk, Nasrallah was not banging war drums. He said Hezbollah’s “primary goal” was to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, and said it was incumbent on the US — which he held directly responsible for the bloodshed in the Palestinian enclave — to implement the cessation of hostilities.

What this tells us is that Nasrallah’s immediate plans do not include a broader conflict.

This may come as a disappointment to many in the Arab street. When the pro-Palestinian demonstrations washed over much of the region in recent weeks, many of the chants called on Nasrallah to go to war.

But it will be a relief to Israel’s Western allies, who fear a wider regional conflict and have repeatedly warned Nasrallah not to enter the fray. Two US aircraft carriers — including the nuclear-power USS Gerald Ford — were dispatched to the Mediterranean in an apparent bid to deter Hezbollah.

That relief will be shared by many in Lebanon. The tiny eastern Mediterranean country has barely recovered from the devastating economic crisis of 2019, and much of the population — while horrified by the soaring death toll and widespread destruction wrought by Israel’s offensive in Gaza — has been worn down by decades of war and crises.

Nasrallah may have been restrained by that popular sentiment, or he may have concluded, after weeks of deliberation, that his powerful paramilitary has too much to lose in a war with Israel.

5:19 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Israel admits airstrike on ambulance in Gaza that witnesses say killed and wounded dozens

Palestinians pull a damaged ambulance after an attack outside Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on November 3.
Palestinians pull a damaged ambulance after an attack outside Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on November 3. Anas al-Shareef/Reuters

Israel has claimed responsibility for an attack outside Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City that witnesses say killed and wounded dozens of people.

Videos from the scene show multiple people bloodied and strewn across the ground near an ambulance.

Fifteen people were killed and 50 others wounded, Hamas-run health authorities say.

In a statement, Israel said it targeted the ambulance because it was being used by Hamas.

“An IDF aircraft struck an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone,” it said in a statement. “A number of Hamas terrorist operatives were killed in the strike. We have information which demonstrates that Hamas' method of operation is to transfer terror operatives and weapons in ambulances.”

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said earlier Friday that the ambulance was in a medical convoy from the hospital, traveling to the Rafah border crossing, and had informed the International Committee of the Red Cross about the move.

The ICRC confirmed it was aware of the scheduled movement of a convoy of vehicles carrying wounded patients from northern Gaza to the south, but it was not part of it, the organization said on Friday.

"We were informed by the MoH (Ministry of Health) about the planned convoy, but we were not part of it," the ICRC said in a statement to CNN. 

Earlier Friday the organization said it had received a request from the Gaza Ministry of Health to accompany the convoy.

"Even if we were not present, this is still medical convoy, and any violence towards medical personnel is unacceptable," the ICRC said. "No doctors, nurses, or any medical professionals should ever die while working to save lives." 

"Any involvement of the ICRC in evacuating civilians from an area requires the agreement of the sides on the exact terms and conditions so that this can be done safely, and then with the full consent of those evacuated,” the organization said in a previous statement.

This post has been updated with the latest statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

2:49 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Israeli government urges citizens to reconsider foreign travel in light of increase in antisemitic incidents  

From CNN's Tamar Michaelis 

The Israeli government is warning its citizens to reconsider foreign travel and to exercise caution while abroad in light of an increase in antisemitic incidents and violence in recent weeks. 

The Israeli National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it had observed a “significant rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel incitement alongside life-threatening violent attacks on Israelis and Jews around the world,” including in countries that do not have “terrorism-related travel warnings.” 

"Jewish communities, religious and community establishments (synagogues, Chabad centers, kosher restaurants and Israeli businesses), Israeli delegations, and airports with flights to and from Israel are key targets for protests and attacks by antisemitic groups,” the statement said.

The NSC said Israelis should abide by its recommended conduct while abroad.

Some context: Earlier this week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that antisemitism is reaching “historic levels” in the United States.

US-based advocacy groups are reporting a spike in hate incidents against Jewish and Muslim individuals amid the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also said it is collecting data and has seen an uptick in reports.

The Anti-Defamation League also cited some 312 antisemitic incidents between October 7 and October 23, 190 of which were linked to the fighting in Israel and Gaza. By comparison, there were 64 incidents over the same time frame in 2022.

CNN's Tori Morales Pinales and Hannah Rabinowitz contributed reporting to this post.

1:07 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Videos show dozens of casualties after incident near Gaza hospital, as cause remains unclear

There are dozens of casualties after an incident near Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, according to multiple videos from the scene and the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The cause is not immediately clear. 

Multiple videos from the scene show at least a dozen bloodied casualties strewn across the ground near an ambulance. There appears to be some shrapnel damage to at least one of the cars on the scene.

CNN has geolocated the videos to the edge of a compound that includes the hospital. There is so far no video evidence of any crater from a munition.

CNN has inquired about the incident with the Israel Defense Forces.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, who was at the hospital, said that Israel was responsible for the attack. 

Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra said that authorities had organized a medical convoy from the hospital, traveling to the Rafah border crossing, and informed the International Committee of the Red Cross about the move.

“When the ambulances moved towards the south, the occupation (Israel) targeted the ambulances in multiple locations, including on the gate of Al-Shifa medical compound,” he said. “The Israeli occupation targeted intentionally those ambulances.”

1:06 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Rocket seen hitting courtyard of school in Israeli city overlooking Gaza

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

At least two rockets were seen making a direct hit in the Israeli city of Sderot on Friday evening, with one striking the courtyard of a kindergarten. Shrapnel hit the windows of the building as well as several nearby cars.  

That rocket hit less than 100 meters (about 328 feet) from where some journalists are positioned in the city, overlooking Gaza. 

There were no reported casualties. 

12:07 p.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Families of 11 Hamas victims file complaint with the International Criminal Court

From CNN's Lianne Kolirin

The International Criminal Court building in The Hague, Netherlands on July 30, 2016.
The International Criminal Court building in The Hague, Netherlands on July 30, 2016. Michel Porro/Getty Images

Families of eleven victims of the Hamas attack on October 7 have accused the perpetrators of “crimes against humanity” in a complaint filed to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Relatives of the victims, who were all civilians, have also called on International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan to investigate Hamas’ actions as “war crimes” that were carried out as part of a “genocidal plan,” according to a press statement shared with CNN by their lawyer Francois Zimeray on Friday.

“It was the execution of a genocidal plan assumed by its perpetrators. In the face of denial in real time, the truth must be defended, these atrocities must be known and engraved in the collective memory," the complaint lodged by Zimeray, a lawyer at the Paris Bar and ICC said.

The complaint concerns 11 victims who were either killed or injured within Israeli borders. Several had been at the Nova music festival, where Hamas gunmen killed more than 260 people.

According to Zimeray's law firm, Zimeray & Finelle, “the material facts cannot… be disputed” as Hamas has “amply documented and broadcast” its actions, which shocked the “universal conscience.”

Zimeray asked the prosecution to "consider the advisability of issuing an international arrest warrant for the leaders of Hamas, following the example of the warrant issued for the Russian President in relation to the aggression in Ukraine." 

The development comes days after Khan visited the region and where, from Cairo, he gave a speech in which he said that impeding the flow of aid into Gaza could constitute a war crime. 

11:29 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Pregnant women describe the desperate maternal health situation in Gaza, health agency says

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

The United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA) released audio interviews with three women currently taking shelter in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza describing their desperate situation.

The recordings were made over the last few days in Al Shifa Hospital, UNFPA said.

One woman says she was forced to flee her home while heavily pregnant and another lost a child in utero during an airstrike. 

Gaza is home to 50,000 pregnant women and "some 5,500 of these women are due to give birth in the coming month," according to an October 12 report from UNFPA. "That is equal to 166 births per day, taking place with inadequate access to healthcare or even clean water."

"I was under the rubble… I couldn't move… I was nine months pregnant. I had ten days left to give birth. They scanned the fetus; they found the pulse was weak and they had to do an emergency cesarean section,” 35-year-old Islam Hussein said in the interview released by UNFPA. "I named my son Sanad — it means support.”

"I am two months pregnant, and I had a hemorrhage before," 24-year-old Reham Rashad Bakr said. "There is a treatment that I should take but I am not able to take it,” she said in the audio interview. "Pregnant women like me should be drinking milk and eating eggs. All bakeries have been bombed. There is no bread, no water.” 

Alaa Al Bayaa, a 30-year-old pregnant Palestinian woman, said when she went to the doctor, she was told her baby had died.

"The doctor told me there is no pulse, there is no hope," she said. "It means my fetus is dead and it needs to be removed from my uterus."  
11:06 a.m. ET, November 3, 2023

Blinken returns to Israel for meetings with top officials. Here's what you should know today

From CNN staff

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel on Friday for his third trip to the country since the October 7 Hamas attack, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials.

Standing alongside Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv on Friday, Blinken said the US stood by Israel but called for Gazan civilians to be protected amid intensifying Israeli bombardment.

Here are the top headlines right now:

  • Blinken visit: Following Blinken's remarks, Herzog thanked the diplomat for his "moral clarity." The top US diplomat was expected to push for a "pause" in airstrikes on Gaza to "allow for mediation," while visiting Israel on Friday, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the negotiations. However, the timeline for such a pause was unclear.
  • Israeli military update: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are advancing in Gaza and destroying Hamas infrastructure, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a press conference on Friday. Separately, he said that the IDF is on a "very high level of alertness" at the Lebanese border, a day after unusually fierce exchanges of fire in that area.
  • Bombardment of Gaza: Residents of the enclave faced another night of heavy aerial assault, with the skies of northern Gaza illuminated by flares and explosions. A doctor at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital said that low fuel stocks had plunged wards into darkness and cut off major, basic functions like oxygen generation. Meanwhile, Gazan residents who had been working in Israel were seen returning to the besieged territory on Friday through the Kerem Shalom border crossing in southern Israel, a day after an Israel Cabinet decision to expel them.
  • Rafah border crossing: The exodus of foreign nationals from Gaza into Egypt continued Friday, with 99 people making their way through on Friday morning, according to an Egyptian border official. The White House on Thursday confirmed a total of 79 American citizens and family members were among those who had arrived in Egypt so far.
  • Criticism from Ireland's leader: Ireland's leader Leo Varadkar criticized Israel's actions in Gaza, describing them Friday as resembling "something approaching revenge," according to Irish public service broadcaster RTÉ. Varadkar told reporters during a visit to South Korea on Friday, "I strongly believe that like any state Israel has the right to defend itself, has the right to go after Hamas so they cannot do this again. But what I am seeing unfolding at the moment isn't just self-defense, it resembles something more approaching revenge and that's not where we should be and I don't think it is how Israel will guarantee its future freedom and security," Varadkar continued.
  • Hezbollah chief breaks his silence: Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah made his first public remarks since the Hamas-Israel war erupted on October 7. 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." His speech comes amid escalating skirmishes between his powerful, Iran-backed armed group and Israel, sparking concern of a potential broader regional war.  

CNN's Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting to this post.

This post has been updated with new details about Nasrallah's remarks.