November 16, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Lauren Mascarenhas, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Matt Meyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 2:48 p.m. ET, November 17, 2023
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1:41 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023

Biden accuses Hamas of committing a “war crime” for operating what US and Israel claim is command node at Gaza hospital

From CNN's Betsy Klein and DJ Judd

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a news conference at the Filoli Estate on November 15, in Woodside, California.
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a news conference at the Filoli Estate on November 15, in Woodside, California. Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden accused Hamas of committing a “war crime” for operating what the US and Israel have claimed is a command node under the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.

Biden said he discussed the dangerous situation at the hospital, Gaza’s largest, during his meeting with China's leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday.

“You have a circumstance where the first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under a hospital. And that's a fact. That's what's happened,” Biden told reporters during a press conference Wednesday.

Some context: Israeli forces launched a raid early Wednesday morning on Al-Shifa, after accusing Hamas of operating from tunnels beneath the vast complex – a claim denied by the militant group and hospital officials.

CNN cannot verify either side's claims.

Israel said its troops found "military equipment used by Hamas," the military said in a statement but offered no evidence yet of a vast tunnel network it claimed was used by the militant group.

Israel said it will present more evidence to support their claims of a Hamas command center, an adviser to the prime minister told CNN Wednesday.

Conditions at Al-Shifa, which has run out of fuel and is no longer considered operational, have deteriorated rapidly in recent days amid intense fighting, with doctors warning of a “catastrophic” situation for patients, staff and displaced people still inside.

Wednesday’s raid has also sparked widespread international criticism.

Biden noted that the US has called on Israel to be “incredibly careful” as it targets Hamas in the area, but suggested that action was justified.

“We discussed the need for them to be incredibly careful. You have a circumstance where you know there is a fair number of Hamas terrorists. Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again, like they did before."

The president also noted the savagery of Hamas' October 7 attacks in Israel. "And so, the idea that they're going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic," he added.

Israeli forces, he suggested, are “bringing in incubators” and “other means to help the people in the hospital,” adding that there have been efforts to get doctors, nurses, and other personnel out of harm’s way.

Evidence: In a follow up exchange with CNN, Biden told MJ Lee, “Yes,” he was absolutely confident based on intelligence he’d seen that Hamas was operating a command center under the Al-Shifa hospital, but declined to share details on the evidence.

“No, I can’t tell you—I won’t tell you,” he told CNN.

9:44 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

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.

4:47 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023

UN Security Council adopts resolution calling for series of humanitarian pauses in Gaza    

From CNN's Mariya Knight, Caitlin Hu and Richard Roth

A Palestinian man sits in his home destroyed during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on November 15.
A Palestinian man sits in his home destroyed during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on November 15. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution calling for a series of humanitarian pauses in Gaza.

Twelve states voted in favor of adopting the resolution during Wednesday's session. Three countries — the US, Russia, and the UK — abstained from the vote. 

The resolution calls “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.”  

The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch praised the resolution's adoption.

“The UN Security Council just sent a rare and powerful message to Israel, Hamas and other armed groups that compliance with international humanitarian law is non-negotiable. So far, there has been widespread disregard for civilians by all parties. That the US finally stopped paralyzing the council on Israel and Palestine so this resolution on the plight of children in Gaza could move forward should be a wake-up call to Israeli authorities that global concern, even among its allies, is strong," Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. 
9:40 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. 

3:09 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023

Israeli opposition leader calls on Netanyahu to resign

From CNN's Tamar Michaelis, Andrew Carey and Sugam Pokharel 

Israel's former Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on November 20, 2022.
Israel's former Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on November 20, 2022. Menahem Kahana/Reuters

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, saying the Israeli leader has “lost the public’s trust.” 

This is the first time Lapid has urged Netanyahu to quit since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7. 

“Netanyahu cannot remain Israel's prime minister. We need a national recovery government … he needs to go now. We cannot allow ourselves to have a Prime Minister who has lost the public’s trust, whether from a social or a security point of view,” Lapid said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12. 

“The people who are running things right are the defense establishments. This government is dysfunctional," he said. "We need to change the government.” 

However, the former prime minister added that he doesn’t think now is the right time to hold elections.  

Instead, he said the best course of action was for Netanyahu’s Likud party to oust the veteran leader and replace him with a party colleague.