October 13, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Kathleen Magramo, Adam Renton, Christian Edwards, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Alisha Ebrahimji, Elise Hammond, Kaanita Iyer, Zoe Sottile and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 7:44 a.m. ET, October 16, 2023
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10:37 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

A Russian diplomat is circulating a draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza

From CNN's Richard Roth

Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, comments following a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters Friday, October 13, 2023.
Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, comments following a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters Friday, October 13, 2023. Craig Ruttle/AP

Vassily Nebenzia, the permanent representative of Russia to the United Nations, is circulating a draft resolution at the UN Security Council which calls for a ceasefire in the "Israel-Gaza" war.

Nebenzia called for de-escalation in the conflict and said the resolution received a mixed reaction from the other 14 member countries.

When asked why the resolution doesn’t mention Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza and staged the deadly October 7th attacks on Israel, the diplomat said it’s because his proposal is a humanitarian resolution.

The envoy said his country condemns any violence against residents of Israel and Gaza. Nebenzia said Israel has the right to defend its territory, but that the day-after-day shelling of Gaza by Israel recalls the siege of Leningrad during World War II. He also said Israel’s plan to move over a million people in northern Gaza to the south is similar to creating a ghetto.

Nebenzia blamed the US for over the years blocking action by the Quartet on the Middle East, which consists of United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. The group was established in 2002 to help mediate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Some context on Russia's response: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday urged both sides in the fighting between Israel and Hamas to "minimize or reduce to zero" civilian casualties, and the foreign ministry in Moscow made similar calls for calm on Friday.

These comments come as Russia wages a ruthless war campaign against Ukraine and is being investigated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. That case includes, among other things, allegations of targeting civilians.

Commentators on Russian state TV have mocked the US and Israel after the Hamas attack, and Putin has framed the brutal assault as a failure of US policy in the Middle East.

7:28 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Canadians stuck in Gaza may be able to leave on Saturday, official says

From CNN's Michelle Watson  

Canadians stuck in Gaza may be able to leave the area Saturday, said Julie Sunday, an assistant deputy minister with Global Affairs Canada.  

"We learned this morning that there may be an opportunity for individuals to leave through the Rafah gate into Egypt tomorrow, between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.," Sunday said on Friday. "We are actively engaging with Egyptian and Israeli authorities to ensure that Canadians ... and their family members will be able to leave."  

At least 150 Canadian citizens and residents have requested help in Gaza, Sunday said.  

 "In terms of the 150 people we're focused on who have directly requested our assistance in Gaza, we are in contact with them to be able to validate their papers etcetera – if they have non-Canadian family members," she said. "We are proactively working to get approval for them to be able to cross borders should the opportunity arise."  

"Our mission in Cairo is working with Egyptian authorities to ensure these Canadians can then be transported to Cairo so that they can return to Canada," Sunday said.

"We are not going to tell Canadians to move until we know that that is a possibility and we have confirmation that these individuals can get across that border. The last thing we want is Canadians getting stuck at a border," Sunday said.  

Sunday said that the government is in contact with the families of Canadians who are missing as a result of the ongoing conflict – but it's unclear how many are missing.  

"If we are treating this as a missing persons case, it's because we have no evidence that they are deceased," Sunday said.

2:11 a.m. ET, October 14, 2023

Israel denies using white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon after Human Rights Watch claim

From CNN Staff

Israel is denying claims it used white phosphorus munitions after the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Israeli forces of using them during military operations in Gaza and Lebanon this week.

According to a HRW report published Wednesday, the rights group said it verified one video taken on October 10 in Lebanon and another video in Gaza on October 11 that it claims shows "multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border."

White phosphorus is intended to provide illumination or to create a smokescreen in battle, but it is known to burn flesh down to the bone, according to earlier CNN reporting.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza on Friday reported the evacuation of Durra children's hospital in eastern Gaza after they said it was targeted by "white phosphorus bombs," according to Dr. Ashraf Alquedra, ministry spokesperson. 

Asked if Israeli forces had used white phosphorus this week in Gaza and Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces strongly denied the claims. In a live interview earlier on Friday, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN “categorically, no," it had not.

HRW said it interviewed two individuals from the al-Mina area in Gaza City, who described seeing strikes “consistent with the use of white phosphorus" and "both described ongoing airstrikes before seeing explosions in the sky followed by what they described as white lines going earthward,” they said.

The rights group said it reviewed the video and confirmed that it was taken in the port of Gaza City and “identified that the munitions used in the strike were airburst 155mm white phosphorus artillery projectiles. Other videos posted to social media and verified by Human Rights Watch show the same location," the group said. "Dense white smoke and a garlic smell are characteristics of white phosphorus,” the statement said. 

The rights group also reviewed two videos on October 10 that occurred near the Israel-Lebanon border. “Each show 155mm white phosphorus artillery projectiles being used, apparently as smokescreens, marking, or signaling,” the release explained. 

CNN has reached out for comment to authorities in Lebanon.

Is white phosphorus illegal? Under an international protocol ratified by Israel in 1995, the use of such incendiary weapons is allowed when "not specifically designed to cause burn injury to persons," CNN previously reported.

There is no prohibition, per se, against white phosphorus in conflict. But the timing and location of its use are restricted.

For example, it is illegal under the protocol to use white phosphorus against any personnel, civilian or military. It can be directed only against military targets. International law says incendiary weapons cannot be used where civilians are concentrated.

Israel's history with white phosphorus: Israel previously faced widespread criticism for firing white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas during a Gaza offensive that began in late 2008. HRW said in a 2009 report that Israel's white phosphorus munitions had killed and injured civilians and damaged civilian structures, including including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse, and a hospital. HRW claimed that Israel's use of the weapons in crowded neighborhoods "violated international humanitarian law (the laws of war), which requires taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm and prohibits indiscriminate attacks."

In response, the nation pledged to limit the use of white phosphorus and make greater efforts to protect civilians during conflicts. Still, the government said that it had used white phosphorus lawfully.

6:39 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

IDF reservist traveling from Pennsylvania to Israel to fight after Hamas attack

From CNN's Jonathan Park

Ilan Kedar was in New York last Saturday, on a weekend trip with his mother, when he heard the news of the Hamas surprise attack on Israel.

“[I was] just feeling every emotion you can possibly think of: sadness, anger, frustration and confusion,” Kedar, 32, told CNN. “Especially being in New York and not being over there" where his wife, two older sisters and extended family all live.

His family was still “relatively safe,” he said, but only “as safe as you can possibly feel when you have sirens above you all the time.” 

Kedar was born in Jerusalem and moved to the United States with his family when he was a baby — his mother is American and his father is Israeli. He lived in Chicago through high school before returning to Israel to serve with the Israeli Defense Forces for five years and has been on reserves duty since he was released by the IDF in 2014.

Usually, he said, calls to return to Israel for reserve duty came via an automated phone call, but this time was different.

“It was literally just through WhatsApp — a message to all the reservists to come in, meet at the emergency warehouses,” he said.

By then, Kedar had already started looking for flights, preparing to join the 360,000 other reservists who have answered their country’s call to arms as unspeakable violence continues to escalate in Israel and Gaza. Of course, he said, people worried about his safety, but everyone was still supportive of his decision to serve.

“They know that this is the right thing for me to do,” he said. “It’s not about one individual person. It’s not about me; it’s about my safety. It’s about the safety of the state of Israel. And our goal now is to serve the greater good, and that’s what we all intend to do.”

Kedar will leave Saturday evening to join the war.

5:54 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

It's past midnight in Gaza. Here's what you should know

From CNN staff

After nearly a week of deadly airstrikes on Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Friday: "It's only the beginning."

And ‏Izzat al-Risheq, a senior Hamas official, said the militant group "will not surrender our legitimate fight for freedom and self-determination."

"We will either live standing tall or we will die fighting," he said Friday.

The situation in Gaza, according to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, "has reached a dangerous new low" while Israeli forces mass near the enclave border ahead of a possible ground assault.

Here are other headlines you should know:

  • Confirmed deaths: At least 1,900 people have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza following the Hamas terror attack, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. A total of 47 people have been killed, and hundreds of others injured, since Saturday in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, during clashes with Israeli forces and by settler gunfire, Palestinian officials said. A Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah was killed near the Israeli border in southern Lebanon on Friday, according to a statement from the news agency. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said the government is doing “all that we can to minimize civilian casualties." At least 1,300 people were killed by Hamas in Israel on Saturday, according to officials.

  • Evacuations: Israel’s military is telling 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes immediately, as it appears to prepare to ramp up retaliation for Hamas’ attacks. Israel did not consult with the US ahead of issuing the evacuation warning, the White House said. Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog group, said that the measure “cannot be considered an effective warning" and called for the order to be "rescinded immediately." US President Joe Biden said he was working “urgently to address the humanitarian crisis” in the coastal enclave.
  • Hostage situation: The Israel Defense Forces said it has notified the families of 120 hostages taken captive during the Hamas attack, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on social media on Friday. The United Kingdom's ambassador to the United Nations, Dame Barbara Woodward, said Friday that she will urge her Security Council colleagues to do all they can to secure the release of hostages in the Middle East, as well as de-escalate conflict in the region and allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.
  • Why didn't Israel anticipate the attacks?: US officials and lawmakers are generally coming to believe that Israel’s failure to predict the explosion of simmering rage from Gaza was primarily due to a lack of imagination, according to conversations with dozens of current and former intelligence, military and congressional officials.
  • Military support: The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a rapid reaction force capable of conducting special operations, is making preparations in case it is ordered closer to Israel to bolster the US’ force posture there, multiple US officials tell CNN.
5:55 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Church raises more than $40,000 to help Americans trapped in Israel return home

From CNN’s Isabel Rosales 

Daystar Church in Cullman, Alabama, has raised tens of thousands of dollars from local businesses and neighbors to help bring home Americans stuck in Israel, according to its senior pastor. 

“The generosity of local community has allowed us to raise over $42,000 to help rescue our citizens but the most powerful thing that has happened is a movement of prayer for their protection and safety,” said Pastor Jerry Lawson. 

Lawson told CNN the church paid nearly $60,000 out of its general fund to help 47 stranded Americans, who will be returning to the United States in groups. Donations will go toward reimbursing the church for those immediate costs.

The first of the assisted groups consists of multiple Alabama church members, including one from Daystar. Lawson said the group is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Saturday.  

The group landed in Israel last Saturday “as the first rockets came in from Gaza,” Lawson said. They were in the country on an all-inclusive religious tour to visit holy sites, but when US airlines stopped flights in and out of Israel, the group was stuck. Many of them do not have the financial means to arrange alternate travel home, Lawson added.

“Having watched videos of atrocities committed by Hamas, we’re so grateful that no one in our group was attacked or injured in any way,” Lawson told CNN.

The pastor credits Alabama state Sen. Garlan Gudger with helping to raise money and US Sen. Tommy Tuberville with helping expedite visas to Jordan, to help the group make their way back home to the US.

“Our hope is that all Americans arrive home safely but that terrorist activities cease so that peace can begin,” Lawson said. 
5:55 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

First Florida evacuation flight from Israel expected to arrive in US on Sunday

From CNN's Kit Maher

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters that he expects the first evacuation flight to bring Floridians home from Israel, in accordance with a newly signed executive order, will arrive in the state on Sunday.

"I'm pleased to be able to report that we have confirmed our first flight to leave Israel and to bring home Floridians who are trapped over there. We'll have exact times on that probably shortly, but we anticipate our first crew of people being able to get back to Florida on Sunday," DeSantis said.
"We're pleased to see the progress there. We thank the Israeli government for working with us. I know they obviously have a lot of irons in the fire," the governor went on. "They're not just letting any old flight takeoff. But this is important, and we've got a great relationship, and so, we're going to be able to get that done."

The first flight will depart tomorrow and will land in Florida on Sunday, the governor's press secretary Jeremy Redfern confirmed to CNN. 

The first charter flight evacuating Americans from Israel landed in Athens on Friday. The State Department has said more flights will depart over the coming days.

5:26 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Thousands of US citizens have contacted State Department as it arranges more flights out of Israel

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Pete Muntean and Priscilla Alvarez

More than 20,000 United States citizens have reached out to the State Department about the Israel-Hamas War since last Saturday, but not all have actively sought help getting out of Israel.

A State Department spokesperson would not share exactly how many US citizens wanted to leave Israel, "given this is an unfolding situation."

The spokesperson told CNN the State Department has “sent messages to every U.S. citizen who contacted us to inform them that we will provide detailed information to any U.S. citizen who indicates interest in departure assistance.”

An aviation source shared with CNN a schedule with nearly three dozen flights over the next week. Most of the flights are between Tel Aviv and Athens, but other flights go between Tel Aviv and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Delta, American and United Airlines all announced Friday that they would use larger aircraft for chartered flights or that they were adding flights to and from Athens. The airlines also have said they're in close contact with the US State Department.

Here's what each airline is doing:

  • American Airlines announced its flights from Athens to New York’s JFK airport on Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be on a larger aircraft, a Boeing 777-300, in order to accommodate more passengers. 
  • Delta announced it is adding three more flights from Athens to JFK on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday “in support of repatriation efforts,” the airline said in a statement. The airline said it is trying to keep seats on those flights open for people coming from Tel Aviv. 
  • United Airlines has now added two more round trip flights from Newark to Athens, adding to the three others it had previously announced. The airline added they're using "a larger 787-10 aircraft on Athens flying whenever possible." The flights are in addition to United’s daily service to Newark and Washington Dulles from Athens.

The first charter flight carrying Americans arrived in Athens on Friday.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said there would be more flights arranged in the coming days.

“The State Department will continue to organize these charter flights for as long as there is a demand from US citizens for departure assistance,” he said.

6:10 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

An Illinois man says he's terrified for his son who got called back to fight for Israel

From CNN’s Whitney Wild

Fletcher is an American from a Chicago suburb who has been called into duty to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Fletcher is an American from a Chicago suburb who has been called into duty to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. Courtesy David Valentine

David Valentine said he is full of pride in his son who was called back to the Israel Defense Forces ranks Saturday, just hours after Hamas militants attacked

But, he is also completely terrified.

Fletcher Valentine, 32, was born in Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb roughly 45 minutes north of the Chicago. He joined the IDF after gaining Israeli citizenship while pursuing a master's degree in diplomacy and counterterrorism in his late 20s, David Valentine, who still lives in the US, told CNN. Fletcher Valentine spent three years in active duty, joining a paratrooper unit. 

After a year-and-a-half break from the military, Fletcher Valentine again joined the ranks with thousands of other reservists called back to fight for Israel. 

Fletcher Valentine is stationed near the Israeli-Lebanese border, living in an evacuated kibbutz, his father said. Valentine is staying in a little girl's bedroom. A photo his father sent to CNN captures the paradoxes of war: Valentine's rifle lay on the floor, propped up by his shoe, the barrel stretching across a box of abandoned Legos. 

David Valentine said the first notification that his son was being called up came early Saturday morning, shortly after the attack started.

"The first notice was basically get ready, and within 20 minutes it was, 'You’ve been activated,'" David Valentine said.

He said he is afraid for his son's safety, but also for the anguish war inflicts on soldiers. 

"I'm equally terrified he will have to shoot someone," David Valentine said. "Normally my kid wouldn’t even step on a bug." 

“I worry about the toll it would take if he had to actually start shooting people and killing people," he added.

They speak daily by either text or voice memo on WhatsApp. 

"His dream was always to be there when they make peace in the Middle East," Valentine said of his son. "That was a big reason why he went to study there for his master’s degree."