Death toll in Gaza rises to 1,537, health ministry says
From CNN’s Ibrahim Dahman and Kareem Khadder
At least 1,537 Palestinians have been killed since Israel started strikes on Gaza following the deadly Hamas attack last Saturday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
The death toll includes 500 children and 267 women. An additional 6,612 people have been injured, the ministry added.
4:12 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Humanitarian crisis worsens in Gaza as Israel cuts off food, water and fuel. Here's what to know
From CNN staff
Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of violence.
Israeli jets continued to pound the densely populated Gaza Strip on Thursday in response to Hamas’ brutal terror attacks Saturday that left at least 1,200 people dead and thousands of others injured.
It has implemented a "complete siege," of the Hamas-run enclave, cutting off food, electricity, fuel and water. Humanitarian groups are warning supplies are running low.
On the sixth day of the conflict, more than 1,500 people have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Here are the top headlines to know:
Complex hostage situation: Hamas is holding as many as 150 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities. Israel is cutting off any electricity, water or fuel to Gaza until the hostages are returned home, Energy Minister Israel Katz said. Hamas, meanwhile, is warning that it will start executing hostages if Israel targets people in Gaza without warning. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesperson for the IDF, said "reason dictates" that the hostages are being kept underground.
A humanitarian crisis: Israel is continuing airstrikes and withholding essential supplies from Gaza. Food and water are limited and "quickly running out" on the enclave, the deputy head of emergencies of the UN World Food Programme said. Gaza’s only power station stopped working on Wednesday after running out of fuel, the head of the Gaza power authority said. So far, more than 330,000 people have been displaced there, according to a statement by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Graphic photos: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office Thursday released “horrifying photos of babies murdered and burned by the Hamas monsters.” The three photos, posted on the social media account for Netanyahu's office, showed two babies whose bodies had been burned beyond recognition and a third blood-stained infant’s body. The prime minister said he shared the photos, among others, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.
PM thanks US: Netanyahu thanked the United States for its “incredible support for Israel” during his country’s “war against the barbarians of Hamas.” During his trip, Blinken also said he met with the families of Americans killed or taken hostage by Hamas. At least 27 Americans have been killed and 14 are unaccounted for, the White House said.
Countries arrange to evacuate citizens: Officials around the world are working to evacuate their citizens from Israel following the attacks by Hamas, organizing repatriation flights in an effort to get them home as the crisis unfolds. The United States and Ukraine both scheduled flights to pick up citizens tomorrow and Saturday. Other countries like India, Nepal and Colombia have already evacuated hundreds of people.
Global support: There are no plans to put US troops on the ground in Israel, a top White House official said, pointing instead to a wide array of intelligence sharing, and weapons and munitions contributions to Israel. The United Kingdom has also sent warships and surveillance aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel, its defense ministry said.
3:51 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Another Canadian presumed dead, and 4 reported missing, following attacks in Israel
From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson
The Canadian government says another one of its citizens is presumed dead following the Hamas attack on Israel, in addition to two Canadians confirmed dead and four more people from the country who have been reported missing.
Senior officials from Global Affairs Canada also shared details on evacuations from the country, saying two Canadian Armed Forces flights left Tel Aviv on Thursday for Athens, Greece, with a total of just under 300 evacuees.
Senior officials say they are aware of more than 1,600 Canadians that want help getting out of the war-torn region, with about half of them in Israel. Others are in the West Bank and cannot access air options, so the government is trying to arrange them ground transportation to Jordan.
More than 100 Canadians, meanwhile, are located in Gaza, and Global Affairs is currently unable to help them leave, the officials said.
CNN’s Braden Walker contributed to this report.
3:28 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Dual Israeli-US citizen was killed trying to help woman escape, cousin says
From CNN’s Ryan Young
The family of Jonathan Rom, a dual Israeli-American citizen, said he was killed in Saturday’s Hamas attack on the Nova festival.
His cousin Daniel Zaken said Rom was trying to help a young woman escape the festival when he encountered heavy gunfire.
Rom's family was informed of his death by the Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday, Zaken said.
Rom was born in South Carolina but had lived in Israel for several years, he said.
3:09 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Between 30 and 40% of those wounded in airstrikes on Gaza are children, surgeon tells CNN
From CNN's Alex Hardie
Children make up “between 30 and 40% of the wounded” in Israel's recent airstrikes on Gaza, British-Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
Speaking from Al Awda Hospital in Gaza, Abu-Sittah said “the overwhelming majority of the wounded are coming from the rubble of their own home.”
Children and other patients come in with wounds from "the blast, shrapnel, masonry that flies in and damages their bodies, or they are crushed under the rubble of their own home," the surgeon said.
“All of these injuries are extremely contaminated and require surgeries and repeated surgeries,” he said, adding, “the devastating thing is, with children, this is a lifetime worth of reconstructive surgery."
"As that body — that scarred body — tries to grow in the future, these kids will need surgery after surgery, as we have seen with the kids in Gaza’s previous wars — or in Syria, or in Yemen, or anywhere where children are hurt.”
“This has completely overwhelmed the health system, which was already on its knees at the end of 15 years of siege,” Abu-Sittah said, referring to Israel's tight control over the occupied territory's flow of goods, and its strict land, sea and air blockade.
“We are down on consumables, on the very material that you need to be able to treat patients,” he said.
Abu-Sittah traveled from London to Gaza on Sunday, saying that “as a Palestinian, I am driven to continuously come back and help my people here who are under continuous attack.”
3:31 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
France will “do everything” to release hostages held by Hamas, Macron says
From Dalal Mawad in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday his government will “do everything” to release hostages held by Hamas.
"We will do everything for the release of the hostages no matter their nationality,” he said, addressing the nation in his first televised speech following Hamas' attacks on Israel. At least 13 French citizens were killed in the attacks, Macron said.
Macron said his country was working with Israeli authorities and other partners to bring home the French hostages “safe and sound.”
“France never abandons its children,” he added. Seventeen French citizens are still missing following the attacks, including children.
He said Israel “has the right to defend itself against terrorist groups like Hamas, through targeted actions but while preserving the safety of civilian populations.”
Macron added “The fight against terrorism cannot replace the search for peace,” and renewed a commitment to ensure Israel’s security and the Palestinians’ aspiration for a state.
The French president also said he was in talks with regional allies to avoid the extension of the conflict, especially with Lebanon.
3:14 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Palestinian Authority president renounces civilian killings "on both sides of conflict"
From CNN's Tamara Qiblawi and Jen Deaton
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he renounces the “killing of civilians on both sides of the conflict,” in a new statement Thursday.
“We reject the killing of civilians on both sides, we reject mutilation of bodies,” Abbas said, adding that “such practices violate international law, morals and religion.”
Abbas also appealed for help in getting aid into Gaza, and for the restoration of water and electricity in the enclave, according to the statement published by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.
Abbas “urged the international community to intervene to allow humanitarian aid and medical relief into Gaza through humanitarian corridors. He also called for the immediate resumption of water and electricity.”
Abbas also called the Palestine Liberation Organization the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," adding that the internationally-recognized umbrella group comprised of several Palestinian parties renounced violence and would continue to pursue national aspirations for Palestinians.
Abbas’ comments come ahead of a meeting Friday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
2:53 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Israelis "have every right to be angry" about government's initial response to Hamas attack, official says
From CNN’s Henry Hullah
Israelis “have every right to be angry” with the government’s initial handling of Hamas’ surprise attack on Saturday, Mark Regev, a senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN on Thursday.
Responding to Israeli concerns about the speed at which the country’s political leadership and the Israel Defense Forces responded to the Hamas assault, Regev told CNN's Christiane Amanpour, “It is clear this time we were surprised. Something went very, very wrong.”
Remember: Hamas successfully launched its devastating attack despite Israel spending decades preparing for such an assault. It has become a technology powerhouse, with one of the world’s most impressive armed forces and a premier intelligence agency. But when Hamas launched its attack by air, land and sea Saturday, Israel was caught off-guard.
More from Regev: The adviser said that once Israel “wins this war," inquiries into what happened would take place.
“We know how to investigate ourselves." Regev said. "We will look into what went wrong, what was right. Lessons will be learned … and if mistakes were made, they will be exposed.”
CNN's Joshua Berlinger contributed reporting to this post.
2:51 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023
White House believes only a few Americans being held hostage in Gaza
From CNN's Donald Judd
The US government still doesn’t have any details on the condition of American hostages in Hamas custody, White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Thursday.
But he said that the number of US hostages is still believed to be less than a handful.
Kirby told CNN’s MJ Lee that the limited information the administration has on the hostages has been relayed, at least in part, on accounts from “the families, who, as I mentioned yesterday — some of these families actually saw their loved ones being abducted and taken away — so they have been a significant source of information as well.”
The belief is that hostages in Hamas custody may not necessarily be in one central location, based on previous intelligence on Hamas operations, Kirby said.
“I won't speak about a specific intelligence matters, but it is a common tactic in the Hamas playbook to break up hostages and move them in rounds in sometimes small groups, so we have nothing that would indicate to us that they would follow a different set of protocols,” he said. “But I can't stand here before you and prove to you that that is exactly what's happening – we have to, in order to think about our policy options, you have to make some assumptions and we can't rule that out as a possibility.”