November 12, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Heather Chen, Andrew Raine, Sophie Tanno, Maureen Chowdhury, Antoinette Radford and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT) November 13, 2023
28 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:46 p.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Netanyahu addressed calls for a ceasefire, Israel's goals in Gaza and other key topics in an interview Sunday

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Niamh Kennedy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with CNN on Sunday, November 12.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with CNN on Sunday, November 12. CNN

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Sunday on CNN that Hamas is only calling for humanitarian pauses in Gaza to let up the fighting against the group.

Asked by CNN's Dana Bash if Israel would consider implementing longer pauses in fighting to allow the evacuation of more civilians from fighting hotspots in Gaza, Netanyahu said:

"That's not a pause. If you're talking about stopping the fighting, that's exactly what Hamas wants. Hamas wants an endless series of pauses that basically dissipate the battle against them."

Netanyahu also addressed other key wartime topics during the interview:

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not agree to a "ceasefire in the entire area" of Gaza until all Israeli hostages have been released.

He also outlined Israel's primary objectives in Gaza, saying they were to:

  • First, destroy Hamas so it cannot carry out attacks like October 7 again
  • Second, implement "an overriding and over reaching Israeli military envelope" to ensure that "terrorism" does not resurge in Gaza post-war.
  • Third, ensure any civilian authority taking over control of Gaza would agree to "demilitarize" and "de-radicalize" the enclave.

He then accused the Palestinian Authority (PA), which used to control Gaza and is based in the occupied West Bank, of failing "on both counts," seeming to rule out a post-war role for the PA in Gaza — an idea US officials have indicated they would support.

On the crisis at Al-Shifa Hospital: The prime minister claimed the embattled Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, is being used as a Hamas command center, and that civilians should be evacuated.

"There's no reason why we just can't take the patients out of there instead of letting Hamas use it as a command center for terrorism," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said Israel is helping patients "by creating safe corridors" for evacuation.

While the Israeli military earlier Sunday said one such corridor was opened in the area of Al-Shifa, the International Committee of the Red Cross said no one had left through it.

Heavy fighting near the medical center has left it in a “catastrophic situation,” with patients and staff trapped inside, ambulances unable to collect the wounded and life-support systems without electricity, health officials in Gaza and aid agencies are reporting.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has described the situation as a "complete siege" of the hospital.

On civilian casualties: Netanyahu said Sunday that civilian casualties in Gaza are being "reduced" because of Israel's calls for civilians to move south. 

"I think the number of civilian casualties is actually being reduced because people are heeding our calls to leave the area," Netanyahu said.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its military offensive nearly a month ago, the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in the Palestinian enclave said last week.

It’s unclear how many combatants are included in the total. CNN cannot independently verify the numbers released by the ministry in Gaza, which is sealed off by Israel and mostly sealed by Egypt.

12:40 p.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Analysis: Rally puts pressure on Netanyahu over hostages — but overall support for war remains high

From CNN's Andrew Carey

People attend a rally for Israeli hostages on November 11 in Tel Aviv.
People attend a rally for Israeli hostages on November 11 in Tel Aviv. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Organizers say tens of thousands of people attended a rally Saturday evening for Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

The demonstration – held in Tel Aviv and attended by, among others, the former President Reuven Rivlin — was the biggest since October 7, Israeli media reported.

On the face of it, it had the appearance of the huge protests seen earlier in the year against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his plans to take power away from the country’s Supreme Court.

And there was anger, with many there demanding the government do more to bring home the hostages.

“They ask us who our rage is directed at, and it is all of humanity… but mainly those who are responsible for us,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Jacky Levy, whose partner’s family was abducted during the Hamas attack, as saying. 

For sure, Netanyahu is under great pressure. 

October 7 happened on his watch, and opinion polls suggest he will pay heavily for that when the time comes to hold a general election.

Infuriatingly for many Israelis, he still refuses to accept responsibility, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that he would “answer all the questions” when Hamas was defeated.

But it would be a big mistake to see the large crowds on Saturday evening as indicative of any growing unease among Israelis at the prosecution of the war.

While a ceasefire might, in theory, be an attractive option to secure the hostages' release, overall support in Israel for the war, if not the war leader, remains very high.

11:39 a.m. ET, November 12, 2023

"We can't bury the bodies": Those inside Al-Shifa Hospital describe increasingly dire conditions

From CNN's Sarah El Sirgany and Kareem Khadder

Conditions are deteriorating further at Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical center, according to accounts from inside the embattled enclave.

A freelance journalist inside the complex, Mustafa Sarsour, told CNN: “There are more than 70 bodies that still need to be buried, and for the fourth day we can’t bury the bodies.”

Sarsour added that there was “trash in every corner of the hospital building complex. Before the electricity went out, there was a burner (incinerator) at the back of the hospital where the trash was burnt.”

He said the smell was “beyond imagination.”

Sarsour told CNN there are more than 15,000 displaced people, medical staff and patients inside Al-Shifa. 

He said there were tanks some 200 meters north of the complex and heavy gunfire.

CNN is unable to verify accounts about military operations in the vicinity of Al-Shifa.

Remember: Heavy fighting near Gaza’s largest hospital has left it in a “catastrophic situation,” with patients and staff trapped inside, ambulances unable to collect the wounded and life-support systems without electricity, health officials and aid agencies are reporting.

According to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, staff and patients have been unable to leave the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as the complex remains under "complete siege."

On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces spoke of “ongoing intense fighting” around the vicinity of Al-Shifa, but denied claims it was directly firing at or laying siege to the complex.

Thousands of displaced civilians are still thought to be in the hospital compound, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society and hospital officials.  

11:04 a.m. ET, November 12, 2023

"We're doing everything we can around the clock" to get hostages released, Netanyahu tells CNN

From CNN's Amarachi Orie

People attend an event calling for the release of Israeli hostages in Jerusalem on November 7.
People attend an event calling for the release of Israeli hostages in Jerusalem on November 7. Dedi Hayun/Reuters

Israel is "doing everything we can around the clock" to get its more than 200 hostages released by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday.

This one of our two war goals. One is to destroy Hamas, and the second is to bring back our hostages," he said.

Bash asked Netanyahu what he would say in regard to the thousands of Israelis, including the families of the hostages, that rallied this weekend, frustrated that they are not getting more information on their loved ones who were abducted by Hamas on October 7.

He responded, saying: "It's understandable. They're under tremendous distress. They're under — just, torture."

When asked whether he's doing enough, Netanyahu said: "We're doing everything we can around the clock, and I can't, you know, talk about it."

"I personally met with ... families of hostages several times and it tears your heart out," he added.

Netanyahu said "the entire world should join us" in attempting to free hostages, adding that the only ceasefire that will be considered "is one in which we have our hostages released."

11:12 a.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Netanyahu refuses to answer whether he would take responsibility for October 7 attacks

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to answer whether he would take responsibility for failing to prevent the October 7 attack on Israel, saying there would be time for such "difficult" questions once the war is over.

In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Netanyahu acknowledged that it is "a question that needs to be asked."

"And we're going to answer all these questions," he insisted, adding: "Right now, I think what we have to do is unite the country for one purpose; to achieve victory.

"Let's focus on victory – that's my responsibility now."

Some context: Netanyahu has been under pressure for failing to anticipate the deadliest attack since Israel’s founding, which saw Hamas gunmen killing more than 1,200 people and taking more than 200 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

At a protest on Saturday, families of hostages called on Netanyahu and the government to do more to secure their release.

11:13 a.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Netanyahu appears to rule out giving control to Palestinian Authority in post-war Gaza

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Getty Images

When asked about Israel's post-war plans for Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to rule out handing control to the Palestinian Authority (PA), saying the organization had failed to "demilitarize" and "de-radicalize" Gaza in the past.

He told CNN's Dana Bash that Israel's first priority was to destroy Hamas.

Netanyahu continued that once that is achieved, then there has to be "an overriding Israeli military envelope," to avoid a resurgence of terrorism.

"A civilian authority has to cooperate in two goals; one is to demilitarize Gaza and the second is to de-radicalize Gaza," he said.

"And I have to say that the Palestinian Authority has unfortunately failed on both counts."

He instead described putting in place a "reconstructed civilian authority," to avoid falling into "the same rabbit hole."

He described aiming for a future of "peace" and "cooperation." "We have to give Gaza a better future, let's not bring it to a failed past," he said, adding, "Let's create a different reality there."

What happens to Gaza after the conflict is a major open question. This week the US floated the possibility of the Palestinian Authority taking a role.

11:25 a.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Netanyahu tells CNN "no reason" Israel can't take patients out of Gaza hospital, blames Hamas

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, November 12.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, November 12. CNN

Asked about hospitals in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the country is helping patients by establishing evacuation corridors amid fighting on the ground, but insists that no immunity will be given to Hamas terrorists.

"We have designated routes to a safe zone south of Gaza City," he told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday. "We want all civilians to be moved out of harm's way."

However, he stressed that Hamas is "doing everything in its power to keep them in harm's way."

"We've called to evacuate all the patients from that (Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest) hospital, and 100 or so have already been evacuated," Netanyahu told CNN.

"There's no reason why we can't just take the patients out of there."

Some context: CNN cannot verify Netanyahu's claims about evacuations from Al-Shifa.

Israel earlier announced a corridor near the hospital, but the International Committee of the Red Cross said it could not confirm any evacuations had taken place.

Heavy fighting near the medical center has left it in a “catastrophic situation,” with patients and staff trapped inside, ambulances unable to collect the wounded and life-support systems without electricity, health officials in Gaza and aid agencies are reporting.

8:41 a.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Coming up: CNN speaks to Benjamin Netanyahu

At the top of the hour – 9 a.m. ET – CNN will be speaking to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He's being interview live on State of the Union by Dana Bash. Follow us for updates on what he has to say.

1:53 p.m. ET, November 12, 2023

Red Cross unable to confirm any evacuations from Al-Shifa Hospital

From CNN's Sarah El Sirgany and Kareem Khadder

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) tells CNN it cannot confirm any evacuations from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces have repeatedly said that an evacuation corridor has been opened on the eastern side of the hospital, where thousands of displaced people are sheltering along with staff and patients in increasingly dire circumstances.

“We are in touch with the parties and with the Ministry of Health but can’t confirm any evacuation operation at this point,” ICRC spokesperson Ala'a Nayel told CNN. Hamas controls the health ministry in Gaza.

“Evacuations must be carried out in a safe manner without putting civilians at risk. Regardless of evacuations, civilians are protected by international humanitarian law even if they remain to stay; we are constantly reminding the parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Nayel added.

“We are urgently calling for the respect and protection of medical facilities, patients, and healthcare workers in Gaza. This protection is not only a legal obligation but a moral imperative to preserve human life in these terrible times.”

On Saturday, the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said the hospital was under "complete siege," which Israel has denied. Officials with Doctors Without Borders also said it was impossible for staff and patients to evacuate Saturday.