November 13, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Eric Levenson, Mike Hayes, Antoinette Radford, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, November 14, 2023
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1:30 p.m. ET, November 13, 2023

News organizations send letter to leaders of Israel and Egypt seeking access to Gaza Strip as war escalates

From CNN’s Oliver Darcy

A coalition of 11 news organizations sent a letter on Monday to the leaders of Israel and Egypt, asking their governments to grant access for international journalists to enter the Gaza Strip to cover the ongoing war.

"As the current crisis enters its sixth week, the need for more journalists to document events on the ground is greater than ever — particularly when so much information is being shared informally via social media," the letter said.

The letter, which was addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, was signed by CNN, BBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, CBS News, ABC News, ITV News and Sky News.

The news organization noted in the letter that "while we have been able to see images and read accounts from inside Gaza, the only reliable reporting has come from a small number of incredibly brave journalists who are working to document events there."

"We understand the risks that reporting on the ground in a time of conflict entails, but we also know that factual, impartial information is vital to enable the world to understand this crisis," the letter said. "As professional news organizations with decades of experience, we have the security and planning infrastructure in place to manage those risks."

More background: The lack of direct access to the Gaza Strip has posed significant challenges for news organizations trying to report on Israel’s campaign against Hamas.

Since the onset of the war, western news organizations have largely covered the war from Israel, having virtually no ability to get personnel inside the Gaza Strip independently. Instead, newsrooms have largely relied on freelancers and producers to get news out from the war-torn environment. 

In the last few weeks, some journalists, including for CNN, have been granted the ability to embed with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as they carry out missions inside the Palestinian territory. But those journalists have had to agree to various conditions, including staying with the IDF during their brief time inside Gaza.

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

UN agency says it will not be able to facilitate aid deliveries to Gaza on Tuesday due to lack of fuel

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy in London

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said it has no fuel to fill its trucks in Gaza and will not be able to facilitate aid deliveries through the Rafah crossing on Tuesday. 

Thomas White, director of UNRWA Affairs in the Gaza Strip, told a press briefing Monday that the agency had about 80 trucks in its fleet that have been transporting aid through the Rafah crossing, which connects Egypt to Gaza.

“We have no fuel to put in these trucks. We will not be receiving aid from Egypt tomorrow,” White told journalists.
More than 700 truckloads of aid need to enter Gaza every ten days to simply “keep the pace,” White said. The logistics are “not keeping pace with demand,” he said.

UNRWA had issued similarly bleak warnings regarding its dwindling fuel supplies on October 25. At the time it said that if it did not receive fuel deliveries within one day it would be forced to halt operations in Gaza.

During Monday’s briefing, White explained that for the past two and a half weeks, the agency had been using fuel from a strategic reservoir inside Gaza after brokering access with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). That reservoir, which receives fuel from a pipeline to Egypt and has a one-million-liter capacity, has now run completely dry, according to White.

UNRWA had been “signaling to various interlocutors” for the past few days that the reservoir’s supplies were set to run out, White said.

Negotiations to refuel the reservoir are currently “stalled” at the “highest level of the Israeli government,” he added.

CNN has reached out to the Israeli government for comment.

UNRWA’s aid operation in Gaza has been “strangled of resources,” White stressed, warning that the situation is “going to get exceptionally tough” in the coming days.

The agency will be forced to entirely halt some services, including desalination plants and waste removal, he said. There is a “real potential” that free-flowing waste in the streets will lead to a “devastating” cholera outbreak in Gaza, White warned.

2:06 p.m. ET, November 13, 2023

Hamas has command node under Al-Shifa hospital, US official says

From CNN's Jake Tapper and Donald Judd

Smoke rises as displaced Palestinians take shelter at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on November 8.
Smoke rises as displaced Palestinians take shelter at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on November 8. Doaa Rouqa/Reuters/FILE

A US official with knowledge of American intelligence says Hamas has a command node under the Al-Shifa hospital, uses fuel intended for the hospital and its fighters regularly cluster in and around Al-Shifa.

Hamas and hospital officials have denied the command center accusation. 

The US official's information comes after comments made Sunday by a top White House official that the hospital, which is the largest one in Gaza, was being used not just to treat civilians. 

“You can see even from open-source reporting that Hamas does use hospitals, along with a lot of other civilian facilities, for command-and-control, for storing weapons, for housing its fighters,” National Security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “Without getting into this specific hospital or that specific claim, this is Hamas' track record, both historically and in this conflict."

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Hamas has headquarters in civilian areas.

"(T)here's an added burden here on Israel because of the way Hamas is fighting, headquartered in hospitals and schools and digging tunnels under residential buildings and apartments," he told Fox News in an interview. "I mean, that's what Hamas does. They don't abide by any law of war, and they're deliberately putting the people of Gaza at greater risk by how they are conducting themselves."

Kirby said the US administration is talking to Israel about how "to minimize civilian casualties, particularly when we're talking about a hospital with a pediatric unit and young babies premature that they have no – have no voice, have no stake in this and just want to survive." He pledged the administration would "keep working with them about how to do this in a way that, again, goes after the leadership and protects civilian life to the maximum extent possible."

Israel has insisted it is justified in taking military action around the hospital, despite criticism from the UN and others. The Israeli government announced it has created evacuation corridors and called for the removal of civilians, in addition to providing fuel. 

"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, for the rockets that they fire against Israel, for the terror tunnels that they use to kill Israeli civilians," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview on CNN's State of the Union. 

Netanyahu added that Israel is "treading carefully when it comes to hospitals. But we're also not going to give immunity to the terrorists."

The CIA declined to comment. 

2:08 p.m. ET, November 13, 2023

More than 560 foreign nationals departed Gaza for Egypt on Monday, border official says

From Asmaa Khalil in Rafah and CNN’s Eyad Kourdi

People show their documents on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing on November 13 before crossing to the Egyptian side.
People show their documents on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing on November 13 before crossing to the Egyptian side. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Ten buses carrying 564 foreign nationals departed the Gaza Strip for Egypt via the Rafah crossing on Monday, an Egyptian border official told a journalist working with CNN at the crossing. 

In addition, a total of 154 aid relief trucks also made their way into the Gaza Strip on Monday, loaded with essential supplies such as food, water, relief items, medical equipment, and medications, an Egyptian border official said. 

Before the conflict, the United Nations reported that about 455 trucks on average would enter daily with aid supplies. 

The official said that four injured Palestinians have been allowed entry into Egypt, each accompanied by another person. 

Among the injured evacuees Monday was a 59-year-old with grave head injuries who was transported in an ambulance. Another evacuee, a 38-year-old woman, arrived with a fractured right limb and meningitis, conditions she developed after being trapped for six days under the rubble of her bombed house, according to someone accompanying her.

This post has been updated with the latest number of aid trucks that entered Gaza on Monday.

12:57 p.m. ET, November 13, 2023

Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah reports latest casualty figure in Gaza

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder and Eyad Kourdi 

Relatives of people killed in Israeli attacks mourn during funeral prayers in Khan Younis, Gaza, on November 13.
Relatives of people killed in Israeli attacks mourn during funeral prayers in Khan Younis, Gaza, on November 13. Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu/Getty Images

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the occupied West Bank has reported updated casualty figures in Gaza.

In its update Monday, the ministry, which is based in Ramallah, said that 11,180 Palestinians, including 4,609 children and 3,100 women, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, citing medical sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave. 

Injuries from the attacks have affected 28,200 individuals, the ministry said. 

According to the ministry, 15 patients at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza have died in recent days, among them six newborns, due to power outages and a shortage of medical supplies. Previously health officials at the hospital had said three neo-natal babies had died.

Additionally, 202 health care workers have lost their lives, and 53 ambulances have been disabled, the ministry added.  

The ministry did not issue a daily report on the death toll on Sunday, saying it was unable to update casualty figures due to Israeli attacks on hospitals. 

The Ministry of Health in Ramallah draws data from medical sources in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

1:47 p.m. ET, November 13, 2023

Israeli military says it killed Hamas fighters "embedded" among civilians at Gaza’s Al-Quds Hospital 

From CNN's Jo Shelley and Abeer Salman

The Israeli military said on Monday it had killed a group of Hamas fighters “embedded” among civilians at Gaza’s Al-Quds Hospital after its troops were fired on from the hospital entrance.  

“During operations carried out by the 188th Brigade, RPG fire and small arms fire were directed at the soldiers from the direction of the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement. “The shooting was carried out by a terrorist squad that had embedded itself within a group of civilians at the entrance of the hospital.” 

The IDF said its forces fired towards the fighters, some of whom were killed in the exchange. 

“During the incident, approximately 21 terrorists were killed and there were no casualties to our forces,” the IDF said. 

CNN cannot confirm whether any civilians were injured during the firefight. 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), however, disputed the Israeli military's claims, saying, "There are no armed individuals inside the hospital and no shots were fired from inside."

“The Palestine Red Crescent Society condemns the false claims by the Israeli occupation army regarding armed militants launching shells from inside Al-Quds Hospital,” the PRCS said in a statement. “It considers these claims as clear incitement to continue targeting and besieging the hospital, in clear violation of international humanitarian law.”

The IDF also sent journalists a highly edited video, apparently shot from a drone, showing what it said was a video of a man carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the entrance to the hospital and aerial footage purporting to show an RPG being launched at an IDF tank. “After the terrorists fired RPGs, they returned to hide in the hospital,” it said.  

CNN has verified that the video shows that this is the hospital entrance steps. 

The PRCS said the video “clearly shows that the militants came from the street while Israeli tanks were stationed in front of the hospital, putting the lives of medical teams and patients at risk.”

The PRCS called on the international community to protect the medical teams it said were trapped inside Al-Quds.

Some background: The Al Quds hospital is the second largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip and is no longer operational because of the lack of fuel and electricity. 

Earlier Monday, the PRCS had said “intense gunfire” was continuing in the vicinity of the Al-Quds hospital. A convoy accompanied by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) to evacuate patients and staff from Al Quds Hospital had to turn back because of the "relentless bombardment and dangerous situation” in the area, the PRCS said.

This post has been updated with the latest statement from the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

10:43 a.m. ET, November 13, 2023

Lebanese state news says media convoy struck by Israeli missiles; no reported injuries

From CNN's Ben Wedeman, Sarah El Sirgany and Eyad Kourdi

Flames erupt next to a press car following reported Israeli shelling in Lebanon's southern border village of Yaroun on November 13.
Flames erupt next to a press car following reported Israeli shelling in Lebanon's southern border village of Yaroun on November 13. AFP/Getty Images

The Lebanese state-run news agency (NNA) said two Israeli missiles struck a convoy of media in the town of Yaroun on Monday near the Israeli-Lebanese border.

There were no reported injuries, according to NNA. CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

Journalists in the convoy were reporting on recent exchanges across the border between the Israeli military and Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

The Lebanese TV news channel Al-Jadeed was broadcasting live from the area when an explosion occurred, starting a fire nearby. Several vehicles in the convoy appeared to have been damaged, according to video from the scene.

In the aftermath of the explosion, media personnel were urgently advised to leave the area to "avoid further attacks," NNA reported. 

Last month, Reuters cameraman Issam Abdallah was killed and others injured when a media convoy was hit in southern Lebanon.

Tensions rising: The incident on Monday comes amid rising cross-border exchanges. The IDF reported Monday that “in response to the launches over the past day, IDF fighter jets struck a number of Hezbollah military sites and terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon. These targets included terror infrastructure, weapons storage compounds, and an operational command center used by Hezbollah.”

Earlier on Monday, Hezbollah announced that it had targeted a site in Al-Ramtha within the Shebaa Farms area, claiming a direct strike. It also said that one of its fighters had been killed, but did not say where or when.

Additionally, the Lebanese state news agency reported Monday that two civilians were killed and several others injured in an Israeli air strike that hit a house in the settlement of Eyeta.

9:46 a.m. ET, November 13, 2023

Israeli electric worker killed in Hezbollah missile attack, company says

From CNN’s Amir Tal

An employee of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) was killed Sunday in Hezbollah’s missile attack on Dovev in northern Israel, the company said in a statement Monday.

The electric supplier said that “an anti-tank missile hit a team of employees of the electric company while they were working, in coordination with the security forces, in the area of Moshav Dovev to repair power lines damaged by previous firing.”

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack with anti-tank missiles on northern Israel on Sunday, saying it was aimed at a military logistical team setting up communication towers. The group, which has fired anti-tank missiles across the border on multiple occasions over the past month, claimed in its statement that the attack killed and injured an unspecified number of individuals.

Israel responded to the attack by striking what it described as "a terrorist cell embedded in a civilian area in Lebanon."

Some background: Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Islamist movement with one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East. The group, which has its main base on the Israel-Lebanon border, could become a wildcard player in the Hamas-Israel war, and spark a wider regional conflict.

8:37 a.m. ET, November 13, 2023

Doctors refuse to leave at-risk patients at Al-Shifa Hospital after IDF evacuation order, health official says

From CNN's Kareem Khadder and Eyad Kourdi

Patients and internally displaced people are pictured at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 10.
Patients and internally displaced people are pictured at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 10. Khader Al Zanoun/AFP/Getty Images

Doctors at Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza have refused a mandatory evacuation order of the hospital from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), because they fear the approximately 700 at-risk patients will die if left behind, according to Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, director-general of the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

“The problem is not the doctors, it’s the patients. And if they are left behind, they will die, and if they are transferred they will die on the way, this is the problem, we are talking about 700 patients,” Dr. Al-Bursh told CNN Monday. “There has been no response until now by the doctors, but some of the displaced people and families have already been leaving.”  

Several thousand people have been sheltering in the hospital compound, according to doctors in the hospital.

The evacuation order, according to Dr. Al-Bursh, is not coordinated with any international humanitarian agencies, such as the International Red Cross. The lack of coordination raises concerns about the safety and feasibility of transferring such a large number of patients, many of whom are in critical condition and will die in transport, he said. 

Earlier on Monday, the IDF announced that a safe passage for the inhabitants of northern Gaza had been reopened. IDF spokesperson Richard Hecht said on Sunday that the majority of Rantisi and Al-Nasr hospitals, both in Northern Gaza, are almost completely evacuated. 

On Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told CNN it could not confirm any evacuations from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza.

Some context: Israel has repeatedly claimed that underneath the embattled Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, there is a Hamas command center, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied.

CNN has requested comment from the IDF regarding al Bursh’s allegation that it has ordered the hospital’s evacuation.