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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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. 

12:09 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

"Explosions are shaking the buildings" after rocket fire near hospital, reporter inside Al-Shifa says

From CNN's Andrew Carey

A reporter inside Gaza's largest hospital complex said intense fighting outside the facility occurred Wednesday as Israel launched a raid at Al-Shifa hospital.

“Explosions are shaking the buildings of Al-Shifa Hospital … which is besieged from all four directions, following the launching of rocket and artillery shells in the vicinity of the hospital,” Khader Al-Za’anoun a reporter for the Palestinian news agency Wafa, said in a text message to CNN. 

Israeli forces have “invaded the hospital with large numbers of soldiers and military vehicles, including tanks, armored vehicles, troop carriers, and bulldozers" and were preventing anyone from leaving, Al Za’anoun said.

Israel has claimed Hamas militants have set up a command center at Al-Shifa, an allegation denied by Hamas and hospital officials. CNN cannot verify either side's claims. Hamas said Al-Shifa is now under the control of Israeli forces.

On Wednesday, Al Za’anoun said four militants had been shot dead — but stressed that he believed the shootings happened outside the hospital complex, on a nearby street.

Medical staff inside the hospital described explosions, the sound of gunfire, and reports of interrogations taking place, with people being handcuffed and blindfolded.

Several hours before Al-Za’anoun's report, a senior Israeli defense official told reporters there had been no gun battles inside the hospital complex that he was aware of — though he acknowledged the operation was ongoing at the time.

The Israeli official confirmed several people had been interrogated in parts of the complex in which Israeli forces were operating.

“If there (is) an individual or individuals that we related to Hamas, then we will interrogate them,” the official said.

The official said there had been “no friction with patients, medical staff or injured civilians,” who, the official said, were located in a part of the hospital not part of the Israeli operation.

10:44 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Truck delivers fuel to UN agency in Gaza to be used only to transport aid from Rafah, director says

From Asmaa Khalil and Mostafa Salem

A truck carrying fuel crosses into Rafah, Gaza, on November 15.
A truck carrying fuel crosses into Rafah, Gaza, on November 15. Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Around 23,000 liters (6,078 gallons) of fuel from Egypt were delivered to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to be used only for transporting aid from Rafah, the organization’s director in Gaza, Thomas White, said on X

“Just received 23,027 [liters] of fuel from Egypt (half a tanker) – but its use has been restricted by Israeli authorities - only for transporting aid from Rafah,” White wrote. “No fuel for water or hospitals.”

“This is only 9% of what we need daily to sustain lifesaving activities,” he added. 

The truck carrying the fuel crossed the border from Egypt into Gaza on Wednesday morning, a CNN stringer at the Rafah border crossing saw. It’s the first truck to carry fuel into the Gaza Strip since Israel imposed a blockade on the strip following Hamas’ attack on October 7. 

Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a government agency that liaises with Palestinians on civilian affairs, said earlier that UN trucks transporting humanitarian equipment from the Rafah crossing into the southern Gaza Strip will be refueled at the crossing Wednesday. 

10:13 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Hamas claims Gaza's largest hospital is now under the control of Israeli forces

From CNN's Kareem Khadder

Tents and shelters stand at the yard of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza on November 12.
Tents and shelters stand at the yard of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza on November 12. Ahmed El Mokhallalati/Reuters

Hamas has claimed Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, is under the control of Israeli forces, the militant group said in a statement Wednesday.

Israeli forces launched a raid on the Al-Shifa hospital complex early Wednesday after accusing Hamas of operating from tunnels beneath the vast complex – a claim that has been repeatedly and vehemently denied by the militant group and hospital officials.

“We hold the 'Israeli' occupation fully responsible for the lives and safety of medical personnel, the wounded, the sick, premature children, and the displaced,” the Hamas government media office said. 

More on the hospital raid: Khaled Abu Samra, a doctor at the hospital, told CNN they were given 30 minutes’ warning before the Israeli operation on the complex began in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“We were asked to stay clear of the windows and the balconies. We can hear the armored vehicles, they are very close to the entrance of the complex,” he said.

Khader Al Za’anoun, a journalist inside the hospital, told CNN on Wednesday morning Israeli tanks and military vehicles were in the hospital courtyard. He added Israeli soldiers were “in the buildings and departments are conducting search and interrogation operations with the young men amidst intense and violent gunfire inside the hospital,” and were using megaphones to ask young men in the hospital to “raise their hands, come out, and surrender themselves.”

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

Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner told CNN on Wednesday that the IDF had informed hospital administrators, patients and civilians inside to take cover “because we intend on conducting our military operation in order to differentiate and distinguish between the civilians and the terrorists.”

CNN's Nadeen Ebrahim and Jessie Yeung contributed reporting to this post.

9:35 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

“I’m an American citizen. And they shot me": 17-year-old American tells CNN what it's like to be stuck in Gaza

From CNN's Mick Krever, Abeer Salman and Jomana Karadsheh

Farah Abuolba speaks to CNN on November 12.
Farah Abuolba speaks to CNN on November 12. CNN

“I’m an American citizen. And they shot me.”

From a dark room in Gaza’s Al Quds Hospital, Farah Abuolba speaks matter of factly into the camera. For more than a week, the teenager has been languishing without hope that she, her mother, and her sister will ever escape the nightmare they have entered.

On November 3, as she and her family tried to reach the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the bus she was traveling in along Gaza’s coastal road came under what she believes was Israeli attack, with a blast that severed half her left hand. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has denied that it struck that street on November 3.

“I felt all my blood, all my blood dripped all over me,” Abuolba recalled tearfully the day after the incident, as the sound of explosions ricocheted in the background. “How I felt when I saw my hand falling, or how I felt my skin just – and my bones breaking. And how I saw my wrist just turn blue. I knew that my hand was gone.”

That was her third attempt to evacuate from Gaza, where Israel has conducted thousands of airstrikes since October 7. But without being able to reach the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, through which some foreign nationals have been permitted to exit into Egypt, Abuolba remains stuck in the battered Palestinian territory.

Approximately 400 American citizens plus their family members — about 1,000 people total — are stuck in Gaza and are seeking to leave, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on November 1. The number has changed little since, according to the latest from the State Department.

Abuolba grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where she has lived with her family since the age of three. Israel’s siege of Gaza has been the unexpected coda to her first trip to see extended family in the enclave.

Speaking to CNN, she remembered the initial joy of the visit, relaxing on Gaza’s beaches with her cousins. Now all she wants to do is go home.

“I’m trying so hard to find a way home just so I can fix my hand. How am I – how am I going to go to school now, like it’s normal? Like my life is normal?” she asked CNN.

Read more about Abuolba's ordeal as she tries to evacuate Gaza.