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
27 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:17 p.m. ET, November 16, 2023

US has not determined whether Israel has violated international humanitarian law, official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The United States has not made any assessment if Israel has “violated international humanitarian law,” State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Thursday.

“We constantly are monitoring facts as they develop,” Miller said at a briefing.

Israeli forces have been conducting operations in the Gaza Strip that have led to the deaths of more than 11,000 people, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The forces have been active in and around Al-Shifa hospital after claiming that there is a Hamas command and control center in tunnels under the complex.

Under the Geneva Convention, medical facilities must not be attacked, but they can lose that protection if “they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy.”

Miller said on Tuesday that the US government had not made a formal assessment about whether Israel was adhering to international humanitarian law, but said he was “not going to speak to internal deliberations inside the department.”

Miller also said the US has pressed for all parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law “to take feasible precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians, and we urge all possible steps to mitigate civilian harm.”

Even as he said that the US has not formally assessed Israel to be in violation of the law, Miller reiterated comments from Secretary of State Antony Blinken “that in his (Blinken’s) judgment, far too many Palestinian civilians have been killed as a result of this conflict.”

“Far too many children have been killed as a result of this conflict,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, the UN's humanitarian agency chief said "carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day" and called for a ceasefire.  

2:46 p.m. ET, November 16, 2023

Ambulance crews trapped in Gaza City hospital due to fighting say they cannot respond to wounded people

From CNN’s Abeer Salman and Eyad Kourdi 

Medics trapped inside the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City say they are unable to reach wounded people outside because of intense fighting in the area, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement Thursday. 

From inside the hospital, ambulance crews can hear explosions and heavy gunfire, according to the group, which provides humanitarian and medical assistance.

“There are a number of martyrs and wounded in the hospital courtyard, about 30 meters away, that our teams are unable to reach,” the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

Al-Ahli is the only hospital in northern Gaza that is operational and able to admit patients, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said late Wednesday.

The hospital can no longer conduct surgeries, a British-Palestinian surgeon working there said on Thursday. “The hospital is now effectively a first aid station,” Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah said in a statement. 

Hundreds of wounded people are at the hospital with no access to surgery, Abu-Sittah added.

“They will die from their wounds,” Abu-Sittah said.

2:58 p.m. ET, November 16, 2023

US has expressed concerns to Israel about violations of Visa Waiver Program

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Priscilla Alvarez

The US government has expressed concerns to the Israeli government that American passport holders from the West Bank have not been able to transit through Israel as is required under the Visa Waiver Program, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Thursday.

“I won't get into full details of our private diplomatic conversations, but we expect Israel to address those concerns. We expect them to be in full compliance with the Visa Waiver Program and there are remedial measures that we that are available to us if they are not,” Miller said at a briefing.

“There are a full range of remedial measures that can be taken before ultimate suspension” from the program, Miller added.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, the department and its “interagency partners continually monitor implementation of program requirements by all countries in the Visa Waiver Program to ensure full implementation.”

“U.S. Government officials are working with the Government of Israel to address reports of Americans facing issues in traveling to and flying out of Ben Gurion Airport. DHS expects all countries in the Visa Waiver Program to fulfill all program requirements,” according to the spokesperson. 

More background: The Biden administration announced in September that Israel would join the Visa Waiver Program, which allows eligible travelers to apply to enter the US without a visa, and it went into effect in late October.

2:36 p.m. ET, November 16, 2023

Lack of supplies is forcing staff at Al-Shifa Hospital to make "harrowing" decisions, director says

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder and Eyad Kourdi

The lack of medical supplies at the Al-Shifa Hospital is forcing staff to make “harrowing” decisions, the facility’s director, Dr. Mohammad Abu Salmiyah, told Al-Jazeera Arabic in a phone interview from inside the complex Thursday.

Medics have had to amputate patients’ limbs to prevent the spread of infection from wounds that go untreated due to the lack of resources, he said, and there is no medicine for children suffering from diarrhea and vomiting.

Damage from raid: Al-Shifa is at the center of an ongoing Israeli military raid that started in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Abu Salmiyah said medical equipment in the MRI, CT and X-ray departments had been destroyed in the raid, as had the pharmacy, and the hospital was still completely dark due to the lack of electricity. More than 7,000 people were still trapped inside, he added.

2:48 p.m. ET, November 17, 2023

Body of Israeli hostage found near Al-Shifa Hospital, IDF says

From Tamar Michaelis in Tel Aviv

Yehudit Waiss is seen in an undated photo.
Yehudit Waiss is seen in an undated photo. Hostages and Missing Persons Forum

The Israeli army says soldiers near Al-Shifa Hospital have found the body of Yehudit Waiss, who was kidnapped from the kibbutz of Be’eri on October 7. 

The body was recovered from what the army called a "structure" near the medical facility.

The statement offered no details of how she died, and it is not clear what condition the structure was in when the soldiers found the body. No details have been given about when she is believed to have died.

The Hostages and Missing Person’s Families Forum said Waiss was a 65-year-old grandmother. Her husband, Shmuel, was killed in Hamas' attack on October 7.

Waiss has been brought back to Israeli territory, the army added, and the family is aware.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said Waiss was killed by Hamas, without giving details on the cause of death.

“Unfortunately, Yehudit was murdered by the terrorists in the Gaza Strip, and we didn’t reach her on time,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a televised briefing.

This post has been updated with the latest reporting.

3:01 p.m. ET, November 16, 2023

Gazans facing "immediate possibility of starvation" as food production collapses, UN organization says

From CNN's Jorge Engels, Mia Aliberti and Chris Liakos

People in Gaza are facing an “immediate possibility of starvation” as fuel shortages cripple food production and distribution in the enclave, a United Nations organization that provides food assistance warned.

“Supplies of food and water are practically non-existent in Gaza and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement Thursday.

According to the WFP, only 10% of necessary food supplies has entered Gaza since the start of the war with fuel shortages severely impacting bread production as well as the distribution of essential humanitarian aid with aid trucks unable to reach their destination.

The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East reiterated these concerns, saying thousands of people taking shelter at UNRWA facilities in Gaza are "dehydrated, exhausted, hungry and shell-shocked."

"The children were pleading for a sip of water and a loaf of bread," Philippe Lazzarini said of his recent visit to Gaza.

The WFP said it has provided emergency food aid to more than 700,000 displaced Gazans and is planning to reach more than one million people in the next few weeks, but stressed these needs cannot be met with only the Rafah border crossing with Egypt open.

“The only hope is opening another, safe passage for humanitarian access to bring life-saving food into Gaza,” said McCain.

Lazzarini reiterated that if the UNRWA isn't able to get fuel soon, it runs the risk of having to suspend its "entire humanitarian operation" in the enclave.

This post has been updated with the latest comments from UNRWA.

12:49 p.m. ET, November 16, 2023

UN agency: Communications blackout in Gaza due to fuel shortages will hamper aid deliveries 

From CNN's Mia Aliberti and Eyad Kourdi

A "total communication blackout" is underway in Gaza due to fuel shortages, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, said Thursday.

Lazzarini interrupted a live news conference in Geneva to explain: "no fuel, no hospitals, no fuel, no water, no fuel, no communications."

The official, who did not specify where he got the news from, said the conditions were "amplifying the anxiety and the panic and also accelerating the last remaining civilian order in the Gaza strip."

UNRWA noted in a post on X that the communications blackout in the enclave means UN agencies won’t be able to coordinate aid convoys to the enclave, including a planned aid operation at the Rafah Crossing Friday.

More background: Internet monitoring firm, Netblocks, also reported earlier that "Gaza is now in the midst of a major internet outage as generator fuel supplies and backups finally run out; telecom services including landline, cellular and Wi-Fi are likely to be unavailable to most residents at the present time."

Earlier on Thursday, the primary telecom provider in Gaza, Paltel, said that "all telecom services in Gaza Strip have gone out of service as all energy resources sustaining the network have been depleted, and fuel was not allowed in."

11:53 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023

White House won't provide details of Al-Shifa Hospital intelligence, but attests to its "soundness"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House says it remains “convinced of the soundness” of intelligence it says shows Hamas using Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a command node, but again declined to provide any further details of what led to that assessment. 

“We have our own intelligence that convinces us that Hamas was using Al-Shifa as a command and control node — and most likely, as well, as a storage facility,” US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters in San Francisco, where President Joe Biden is attending a summit of Pacific leaders.

The intelligence showed Hamas “were sheltering themselves in a hospital, using the hospital as a shield against military action and placing the patients and medical staff at greater risk,” Kirby said.

“We are still convinced of the soundness of that intelligence," he said.

He repeated: “We're confident in our own intelligence assessment about how Hamas was using that hospital.”

When pressed again later by CNN’s MJ Lee about whether Israel had shared any new intelligence about the facility with the United States, Kirby said White House officials were in “daily touch” with their counterparts and “certainly interested in their perspectives — what they're seeing, what they're doing, what they're learning.”

But he again declined to provide any more details about what precise information was backing up the American assessment of how Hamas was using the hospital.

“I'm not going to talk about specific intelligence that may pass between the two of us. I will just go back to what I said before, and what I said on the airplane coming out here: Our own intelligence assessment is that Hamas was using, is using, Al-Shifa as a command and control node and potentially as a storage facility to support their planning and their execution of terrorist attacks in the region,” he said.

11:04 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023

Hezbollah and IDF continue fighting across Israel-Lebanon border

From CNN's Mia Alberti in Beirut

Smoke rises following Israeli artilley shelling along Lebanon's southern border with northern Israel on November 16.
Smoke rises following Israeli artilley shelling along Lebanon's southern border with northern Israel on November 16. AFP/Getty Images

Throughout Thursday morning, Israel launched missiles and artillery strikes on the outskirts of the Lebanese border villages of Naqoura, Blida, Alma Al-Shaab and Labouneh, according to the Lebanese National News Agency.

Lebanese authorities say the area of Labouneh is "almost barren due" to Israel's use of "incendiary bombs."

Meanwhile, sirens were activated in the northern Israeli town of Shtula after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it detected "a number of missiles" launched from Lebanon on Thursday. The IDF said the missiles fell in an open area. 

The IDF also said it was attacking areas across the border in Lebanon with artillery fire after an anti-missile hit the Dovev area in Israel, with no casualties.

The IDF also said in a post on social media that it had attacked "terrorist targets" belonging to Hezbollah on Thursday, including "several military positions." The IDF also said it "attacked a terrorist who was operating in Lebanese territory, near the peace zone."

Following the Israeli strikes, Hezbollah launched several attacks towards Upper Galilee in northern Israel. The Iran-backed militant group said it attacked Misgav Am, Bayad, which is across the border from the Lebanese town of Blida, the Yiftah barracks and Metula. 

The IDF said the Misgav area and IDF posts in Metula were attacked but noted there were no casualties. "IDF forces attacked the sources of the fire with artillery fire," it said on social media.

The IDF also said it attacked a "terrorist cell" that tried to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon on Thursday.