November 15, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Sophie Tanno, Thom Poole, Holly Yan, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:09 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023
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5:18 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Turkish president calls Israel a "terrorist state." Netanyahu responds that Turkey backs Hamas "terror state"

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam and Scott McLean 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on October 25.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on October 25. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout/Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a terrorist state during a speech to his ruling party Wednesday, the Republic of Turkey Directorate of Communications wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Israel is implementing a strategy of total annihilation of a city and its people. I say very clearly and frankly that Israel is a terrorist state,” Erdogan said, adding, “We will take steps to ensure that Israel's political and military leaders who brutally murdered the oppressed people of Gaza will face trial in international courts.”

Following Erdogan's speech to the Justice and Development Party, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Turkish president of being the one who "supports the terror state of Hamas" on X Wednesday. 

Netanyahu said, "By contrast, there are forces that support the terrorists. One of them is President Erdogan of Turkey, who calls Israel a terrorist state, but supports the terror state of Hamas, and bombed Turkish villages inside Turkey itself. So, we're not going to get any lectures from them." 

Erdogan also accused Netanyahu of threatening the people in Gaza with nuclear bombs saying, “I am telling Netanyahu, you have atomic bombs, nuclear bombs and you are threatening with them. We know this. And your end is near. You can have as many nuclear bombs as you want. No matter what you have, you are on your way out."

Erdogan canceled his planned visit to Israel last month, saying, "Turkey has no problem with the Israeli state, however, Ankara would never approve of Tel Aviv committing atrocities."

He also said last month that the Western countries consider Hamas as a terrorist organization, adding:

"Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but a liberation group that struggles to protect its lands and citizens."

4:05 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

"Carnage in Gaza cannot be allowed to continue," UN humanitarian chief says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Holly Yan

People attempt to put out a fire after an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Wednesday.
People attempt to put out a fire after an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Wednesday. Mohammed Talatene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

The horror suffered by civilians in Gaza has intensified each day and the "carnage" must stop, the United Nations' humanitarian chief said after Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa hospital.

"As the carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day, the world continues to watch in shock as hospitals come under fire, premature babies die, and an entire population is deprived of the basic means of survival," said Martin Griffiths, the UN's under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator. "This cannot be allowed to continue."

Griffiths also released a "comprehensive" plan to rein in the carnage and urged the international community to support it. "The world must act before it is too late," he said.

Israel has claimed that underground bunkers beneath Al-Shifa hospital -- the largest hospital in Gaza -- have been used by Hamas as a command center. But hospital officials and Hamas have denied those allegations. CNN cannot verify either side's claims.

4:25 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Israel claims soldiers found Hamas "military equipment" at Al-Shifa, but no evidence yet of tunnel network

From CNN's Andrew Carey and Tamar Michaelis

Israel said its soldiers have uncovered what the army is calling “military equipment used by Hamas” during a raid at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. 

Israeli forces entered Al-Shifa in the early hours of Wednesday, after signaling for weeks their intention to move on the complex, which they claim is the site of an underground command and control center for Hamas.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military operation at the hospital “is still underway and will take time."

“It’s a complicated area, which still has many people. We need to conduct in the right pace,” he said.

Doctors and health officials in the Hamas-controlled enclave have consistently rejected accusations that the hospital was the site of a command center.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said soldiers located a room in the hospital where they found, “technological assets, along with military and combat equipment used by Hamas.”

“In another department in the hospital, the soldiers located an operational command center and technological assets belonging to Hamas,” the statement went on, which indicated, the statement said, “that the terrorist organization uses the hospital for terrorist purposes."

The statement said the IDF was continuing to operate in the hospital complex.

CNN is trying to contact the hospital to speak to doctors there, but phone calls are not going through.

Earlier in the day, a senior Israeli defense official said troops had uncovered “concrete evidence that Hamas terrorists used the Shifa hospital as a terror headquarters,” promising to present the evidence later.

Israel is under significant international pressure to prove its claims about Hamas's infiltration of the hospital, in order to justify some of its military decisions — which could otherwise constitute a possible serious violation of international humanitarian law.

There is certainly no indication yet that troops have uncovered a multi-level tunnel structure with underground chambers — of the kind illustrated in an animation presented by the army spokesman at a briefing almost three weeks ago.

Hamas responded to earlier comments from the Israeli army – that troops had found weapons inside the hospital – as a blatant lie and propaganda. 

4:21 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Hamas body camera video shows early minutes of the October 7 attack in Israel

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

Footage provided to CNN by the IDF shows a tunnel in Gaza.
Footage provided to CNN by the IDF shows a tunnel in Gaza. Hamas video provided by Israel Defense Forces

On the eastern edge of Gaza, dawn is still a few minutes away on the morning of October 7. A group of Hamas militants wait, some packed into a white pickup truck, others on motorbikes. They run through a few final checks, making sure they are recording video and that their weapons are ready.

An explosion in the distance appears to be the signal to move.

As they race to the border, the men shout “Allahu Akbar,” a phrase that means “God is great” in Arabic.

After three minutes of driving, they cross the first border fence that separates Gaza from Israel. The fence is mangled, leaving a large opening through which they pass, though it is difficult to know if it is from the explosion heard moments earlier.

Video from the attack provided to CNN by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) offers a new window into a portion of the Hamas operation launched from Gaza’s eastern border. The video comes from the body camera of one of the terrorists who took part in the attack.

Video from the attack provided to CNN by the Israel Defense Forces offers a new window into a portion of the Hamas operation launched from Gaza’s eastern border.
Video from the attack provided to CNN by the Israel Defense Forces offers a new window into a portion of the Hamas operation launched from Gaza’s eastern border. Hamas video provided by Israel Defense Forces

The IDF said it released the video to show the reality of what happened on October 7, a day that Israeli officials have compared to 9/11 when an estimated 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 others taken hostage in Hamas’ brutal assault inside Israel.

The video of the attack is an unbroken recording of 100 minutes, starting before the assault and continuing until the camera stops. CNN has geolocated the locations seen in the footage and confirmed they match other footage from the attack.

As the group passes the first border fence, the gunman with the camera shouts repeatedly, “Go right!” He appears to know where he is headed, indicating the depth of planning and coordination as Hamas launched a multi-pronged assault across the Gaza border.

Less than two minutes later, the militants cross the second security fence. They are in Israel and heading toward a kibbutz, racing along dirt roads between plowed fields among a group of motorbikes. Many of the men have rifles like AK-47s, while some carry rocket-propelled grenades slung across their backs.

Seventeen minutes into the video, the pickup truck stops as the gunman opens fire for the first time across an open field with Israeli buildings visible in the distance. It is unclear if he hits anything. For a few minutes, the group pauses and appears to regroup. One man urges everyone not to shoot into the air and waste fire.

Read more about what was seen in the Hamas videos

2:58 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Intense fighting continues for contested areas in northern Gaza, CNN team reports

From CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and team in Sderot, Israel

Smoke rises from northern Gaza, as seen from Sderot, Israel, on Wednesday. 
Smoke rises from northern Gaza, as seen from Sderot, Israel, on Wednesday.  CNN

Intense fighting is still ongoing in northern Gaza, according to a CNN team at Israel's border with the enclave.

It comes after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant proclaimed Tuesday that Hamas had "lost control" of the northern Gaza Strip, including in Gaza City. 

Israeli forces continued to strike some of the northernmost areas of Gaza on Wednesday evening near Beit Lahia and Jabalya. CNN witnessed several large explosions, flares and tracer fire in that area. 

A CNN team in Sderot also heard multiple large explosions coming from the direction of northern Gaza overnight. Then, in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday morning, intense firefights broke out. 

While it’s clear that Israeli forces have secured large swaths of northern Gaza and pushed deep into Gaza City, many areas in northern Gaza remain contested, and according to the Israel Defense Forces, its forces continue to face ambushes by Hamas militants. 

2:01 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

UN Security Council to vote on resolution calling for series of humanitarian pauses in Gaza    

From CNN's Becky Anderson and Sahar Akbarzai    

The United Nations Security Council will vote on a resolution on Wednesday afternoon calling for a series of humanitarian pauses in Gaza, a diplomat briefed on the matter said.

The draft resolution calls for “for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable, consistent with international humanitarian law, the full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners.”   

It also advocates for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, especially children. 

The resolution was drafted by Malta and has the support of the 22-member Arab Group, including the United Arab Emirates, which is an elected member of the UNSC, the diplomat told CNN.  

The vote is expected to happen around 3 p.m. ET Wednesday and is likely to pass, the diplomat said.

Some context: About a month ago, the United States vetoed a draft resolution at the UNSC that called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza.

That draft resolution was proposed by Brazil. It condemned Hamas' October 7 attacks in Israel and urged the release of hostages taken, also calling on all parties to comply with international law and to protect civilian lives in Gaza during Israeli airstrikes.

Speaking after the vote, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the US wanted more time to let American on-the-ground diplomacy “play out.”

The Security Council is the UN’s most powerful body but is frequently hampered by the veto power held by each of its five permanent members. Twelve of the council’s 15 members approved the October draft, with the UK and Russia abstaining, and a US veto.

CNN's Caitlin Hu and Richard Roth contributed reporting to this post.

1:54 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

At least 42 journalists have been killed since Israel-Hamas war started, according to nonprofit

From CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury

Fatma Kanso, mother of Issam Abdallah, mourns over her son's body during his funeral in his home town of Al Khiyam, Lebanon, on October 14. Abdallah was a Lebanese national and Reuters videojournalist who was killed in southern Lebanon by shelling from the direction of Israel.
Fatma Kanso, mother of Issam Abdallah, mourns over her son's body during his funeral in his home town of Al Khiyam, Lebanon, on October 14. Abdallah was a Lebanese national and Reuters videojournalist who was killed in southern Lebanon by shelling from the direction of Israel. Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

The death toll among journalists covering the war between Israel and Hamas has soared to 42 — an average of at least one death per day since the conflict began October 7, according to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists.

Most of the journalists — 37 — were Palestinian, according to CPJ data released Wednesday. Four of the journalists were Israeli and one was Lebanese, the CPJ said.

Al Qahera News photographer Ahmed Fatima and local radio director Yaacoub Al-Barsh were among the latest journalists killed in strikes on Gaza, CPJ said, citing multiple news outlets and press freedom groups.

The latest conflict has been the deadliest period for journalists since the Committee to Protect Journalists starting tracking such data in 1992.

"CPJ is also investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt, or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes," the nonprofit added.

12:19 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Israel's operation at Gaza hospital is its own decision, White House says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The US continues to believe Israel should not target hospitals in Gaza from the air and that civilians should be protected from the crossfire, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, as Israel continues its raid on the enclave’s largest medical facility.

Kirby said the US did not sign off on the specific operation around Al-Shifa Hospital nor does it approve any of Israel’s military plans.

“We did not give an OK to their military operations around the hospital, in similar fashion to the fact that we don't give OKs to their other tactical operations,” Kirby said. “These are Israeli military operations that they plan and they execute on, you know, in accordance with their own established procedures that the United States is not involved in.”

He said he would "refrain ... from providing a running commentary on what is an ongoing operation."

He repeated his assertion from a day earlier that the US doesn’t "want to see hospitals attacked from the air" or to "see innocent civilians, patients, medical staff become victims of crossfire between Hamas and Israeli Defense Forces."

He said the operation around Al-Shifa was "not a focus" of President Joe Biden’s phone call Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kirby also said the decision Tuesday to unveil downgraded intelligence about Hamas’ use of the Al-Shifa Hospital as a command node was unrelated to Israel’s forthcoming operation.

“My delivery of some downgraded information yesterday, the timing of that really came after work by the intelligence community to prepare that information for downgrade, and it had nothing to do with any operational timing or any decision making by the Israeli Defense Forces,” he said.

CNN cannot independently verify Israel’s claims that Hamas is operating from the hospital.

1:31 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

FBI has seen significant increase in reported threats since October 7 attack, mostly against Jewish community

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

The FBI has seen a significant increase in threats since the October 7 attack in Israel, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Wednesday.

He said the "biggest chunk" have been against the Jewish community.

“The number of tips and threats that are being reported to us have gone up significantly since October 7,” Wray testified to the House Homeland Security Committee.

“The biggest chunk of the threats that have been reported into us by a good margin are threats to Jewish community, synagogues, Jewish prominent officials, things like that,” Wray said, adding that “we do also have some threats to Muslim Americans that have also been called in.”

The director said that the FBI has also received a “large number of tips and leads related specifically to Hamas and radicalization and recruitment.” Though Hamas itself has historically worked only to fundraise within the US for terrorism overseas, the FBI “cannot and (does) not discount the possibility” that the group may change its tactics in the future and perpetrate attacks outside of Israel, Wray said.

He also said law enforcement is watching for individuals who “may exploit” the violence in Gaza to encourage or carry out an attack on US soil.

“We are urgently running down every tip and lead we get and trying to mitigate them,” he said.

Wray said that lone actors and other foreign terrorist organizations may be inspired by the conflict. Several terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and al Qaeda, have already threatened attacks on the United States, he said.