October 12, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Kathleen Magramo, Adam Renton, Christian Edwards, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Dakin Andone, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Christina Maxouris, Kaanita Iyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:14 a.m. ET, October 13, 2023
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2:17 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

No plans to put US troops on the ground in Israel, White House says

From CNN's Donald Judd

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.

"There is no intention or plan to put American troops on the ground in Israel — there's no desire by the Israelis for that outcome," said John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communication.

"The Israelis have made it very clear that they don't want foreign troops on their soil, that they want to prosecute these operations on their own, and they have every right to want to do that," he added.

He reiterated that US President Joe Biden’s first priority is the safety and security of Americans overseas, "as well as our own national security interests, and we have national security interests throughout the region."

2:16 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

New York governor to ramp up security at sensitive targets as Biden meets with national security officials

From CNN's Jessica Xing and Donald Judd

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at a vigil and rally on October 10 in New York City.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at a vigil and rally on October 10 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Security will increase at sensitive targets throughout New York after a former Hamas leader made a generic call for protesters to stage demonstrations Friday, the governor said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said she has asked law enforcement to “ramp up every known area possible targets whether it is a yeshiva, a synagogue,” adding “we have so many museums and gathering places so we have been embedded with NYPD."

State police are also gathering and sharing intelligence as part of their place on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the governor said.     

She also called upon “law-abiding” Palestinians to reject Hamas and says ongoing violence falls “squarely at the feet of Hamas.” 

Security efforts across the country: Hochul said she would be participating in a White House briefing in the afternoon and had been in “continuous briefings” this week on security.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with senior law enforcement and national security officials on Thursday, the White House said.

The purpose of the meeting was "to discuss steps we are taking to safeguard the homeland and the people of the United States, including Jewish, Arab, and Muslim communities, following the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel," the statement said.

1:56 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

Blinken describes gruesome images Netanyahu shared with him

From CNN's Michael Conte

Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of violence.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken became emotional describing his reaction to images of victims of the Hamas assault that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared with him and his team, saying the attack “almost defies comprehension.”

“A baby, an infant riddled with bullets. Soldiers beheaded. Young people burned alive in their cars, or their hideaway rooms,” Blinken said at a news conference in Israel.

Blinken again compared the attack by Hamas to the attacks on civilians by ISIS.

“It's beyond what anyone would ever want to imagine, much less actually see and, God forbid, experience,” said Blinken.
2:09 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

Biden administration will arrange charter flights for US citizens seeking to leave Israel starting Friday

From CNN's Donald Judd

The United States government will arrange charter flights starting Friday for American citizens seeking to leave Israel, according to President Joe Biden's administration.

Biden previously directed his team “to ensure that we are assisting US citizens who do want to leave Israel and providing them with a safe means of doing that.”

The administration is “still working through some of the details,” but is in the process of organizing charter flights for US citizens and their immediate family members “from Israel to sites in Europe," said John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council on Thursday. 

“I would add that we're also exploring other options to expand the capacity of doing this, including exploring whether it's possible to help Americans leave by land and by sea,” he said. “We know there's a demand signal out there and we're going to try the best we can to meet it.” 

Kirby directed American citizens seeking to leave Israel to fill out an intake form at travel.state.gov, which he said will help the State Department process requests and “get a sense of what the scope of the need is.”

He referred questions on the number of Americans seeking to leave Israel — and if passage on the charter flights would be free of cost — to the State Department.

The State Department expects “initial travel options to facilitate the safe departure of thousands of U.S. citizens per week” from Israel, spokesperson Matt Miller said.

In a statement about the start of charter flights on Friday, Miller said that “senior State Department officials are actively working with airline carriers and international partners on how best to provide additional options to U.S. citizens seeking to depart Israel or conduct onward travel to the United States.”

CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post.

2:00 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

27 Americans have died in Israel, White House says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington on Thursday.
White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington on Thursday. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The number of Americans who have died after the Hamas terror attack in Israel now stands at 27, according to the White House.

Meanwhile, 14 Americans are missing, said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

1:16 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

Israeli-American teen honors parents' sacrifice after they died shielding him from Hamas gunfire

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A 16-year-old Israeli-American whose parents were killed in Hamas' terror attacks on Israel last weekend says they will live on in his and his family's memories after helping the teen survive.

"Mom and Dad, they sacrificed their lives to save me," Rotem Matias told "CNN This Morning."

Matias was in a safe room with his parents, Deborah and Shlomi Matias, when Hamas militants infiltrated the room, Deborah's father, Ilan Troen, previously told CNN.

After she was shot, Deborah's body provided cover to her son, who hid for more than 12 hours despite being wounded himself, said Troen, a professor emeritus from Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

Having survived the attack, Rotem plans to keep a bullet that was removed from his stomach during surgery, he said Thursday.

“I wanted to just keep it as a memory, to never forget them and remember that even though it was the hardest and lowest point in my life, I found … some hope that maybe I could live and share the memories, and how I saw my parents with other people,” he said.  

Read more about Rotem and his family here.

1:21 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

US secretary of state met with the families of Americans killed and held hostage by Hamas

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Casey Riddle

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on October 12.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on October 12. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the families of Americans killed or taken hostage by Hamas, he said at a news conference in Tel Aviv Thursday, reaffirming that the US was doing "everything we can to secure the release of the hostages."

Deputy Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steve Gillen joined the meetings with the families, Blinken said, and he “will stay on the ground here to support the efforts to free their loved ones.”

“The enormity of their anguish, their loss, is immeasurable. For the families of the missing, there's an unrelenting agony of not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Something that I don't think most of us can truly understand, truly contemplate, if you're not in their shoes. No one should have to endure what they're going through,” Blinken said.

At least 25 Americans have been killed following Hamas' terror attacks in Israel. The White House said Wednesday that 17 Americans were unaccounted for.

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza: Blinken also discussed with Israeli officials "ways to address the humanitarian needs of people living in Gaza to protect them from harm while Israel conducts its legitimate security operations," the secretary said.

“We also talked about possibilities for safe passage for civilians who want to leave or get out of the way in Gaza and that's a conversation, a discussion that we will pursue in the coming days including some of the countries that we'll be visiting,” he said.

The only current route out of Gaza is to Egypt, which Blinken is expected to visit on his trip. One US official said Wednesday that Cairo wants to use a humanitarian corridor to send food and medical supplies into Gaza but doesn't want to open the border in the other direction to accept civilians who are fleeing.

The official with knowledge of the negotiations said that under the proposal being discussed, all US citizens would be permitted to pass through the Rafah border crossing if they present their US passports, while the movement of other Palestinian civilians would be limited to 2,000 people a day.

12:48 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

Top US diplomat will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Qatar and Jordan after Israel

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to Jordan and Qatar, after leaving Israel.

The intensive shuttle diplomacy comes as the US seeks to stop the conflict between Hamas and Israel from expanding, tries to secure the release of the hostages, and works with Egypt and Israel to open a humanitarian corridor from Gaza.

“Across each of these engagements, we’ll continue pressing countries to help prevent the conflict from spreading, and to use their leverage with Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the hostages,” Blinken said at a news conference in Tel Aviv.

He will also discuss how to establish a more peaceful, prosperous and secure region, he added.

12:50 p.m. ET, October 12, 2023

Here's how Hamas is using cryptocurrency to raise funds

From CNN’s Scott Glover, Curt Devine, Majlie de Puy Kamp and Scott Bronstein

Iran has loomed large as one of Hamas' most generous financial backers, providing the militant group crucial resources it needs to carry out acts of terrorism. But investigators in the US and across the globe have identified another revenue source being exploited by Hamas: Far-flung online donors offering support in cryptocurrency.

Even before Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel over the weekend, Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C. had been pursuing a criminal investigation into the militant group's use of cryptocurrency through alleged money launderers, CNN has learned.

Justice Department lawyers have released scant details of its money laundering case — with most of the court filings sealed — but those that are public reveal it stems from Hamas-linked cryptocurrency accounts the US government seized three years ago. A court filing in May said the case was "ongoing" and a judge halted proceedings in a related civil matter until next month to allow the criminal case to continue without interference.

Separately, cryptocurrency addresses that Israel has seized for alleged links to Hamas and another Palestinian militant group have collectively been worth tens of millions of dollars, according to private analysts who spoke to CNN.

Hamas' use of digital currency represents just one of the many ways the group — designated a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union — has sought to raise funds while evading sanctions.

“There’s not one financing method for Hamas or other terrorist organizations. They’re opportunistic and adaptive,” said former CIA analyst Yaya Fanusie, now an adjunct senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security. “Efforts to stop them are a constant game of cat-and-mouse.”

Read more about Hamas' use of cryptocurrency here.