March 17, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Heather Chen, Andrew Raine, Antoinette Radford, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 0402 GMT (1202 HKT) March 18, 2024
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12:00 a.m. ET, March 18, 2024

Our live coverage of Israel's war in Gaza has moved here.

11:24 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

Israeli military says it is carrying out operation in the area of Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital

From CNN staff

Palestinians arrive to the partially demolished Al-Shifa Hospital to take shelter in Gaza on February 22.
Palestinians arrive to the partially demolished Al-Shifa Hospital to take shelter in Gaza on February 22. Dawoud Abo Alkas/Anadolu/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces said early on Monday that it is carrying out a military operation in the area of Gaza City’s Al Shifa hospital. 

The IDF said in a statement that the operation is based on intelligence that the hospital is being used by “senior Hamas terrorists to conduct and promote terrorist activity.”

CNN cannot independently verify this claim.

The Israeli military has frequently targeted Gaza’s hospitals since October 7, prompting global condemnation and calls to protect healthcare workers, infrastructure, and patients from fighting.

The Israeli military raided Al-Shifa, the largest medical complex in Gaza, in November.

11:14 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

Israeli military announces death of soldier abducted by Hamas on October 7

From CNN's Amir Tal

Damaged houses are seen, following the deadly October 7 attack by gunmen from Palestinian militant group Hamas, in Kibbutz Beeri in southern Israel, on November 28, 2023.
Damaged houses are seen, following the deadly October 7 attack by gunmen from Palestinian militant group Hamas, in Kibbutz Beeri in southern Israel, on November 28, 2023. Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters/File

The Israel Defense Forces announced Sunday the death of Daniel Perez, who was abducted by Hamas on October 7.

Perez, 22, had served as a platoon commander, according to the IDF.

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum said that Perez had immigrated to Israel 10 years ago. 

According to CNN's count, 33 of the 130 people still held captive in Gaza after being taken hostage on October 7 are now believed to be dead.

7:49 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

Irish leader remarks on shared history with Palestinians during St. Patrick's Day visit to White House

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during a Saint Patrick's Day event with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during a Saint Patrick's Day event with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The ongoing war in Gaza was top of mind for both US President Joe Biden and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as the two men celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the White House on Sunday.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has loomed large while the taoiseach, Ireland's prime minister, visits Washington. Ireland’s leaders face domestic pressure to make a strong case for a ceasefire in meetings with their US counterparts.

A shared history: Support for the Palestinian cause runs deep in Ireland, with many pointing to what they believe is a shared history — one the taoiseach addressed directly Sunday.

“We see our history in their eyes. A story of displacement, of dispossession, a national identity questioned and denied. Forced immigration, discrimination, and now hunger,” Varadkar said.

He added later: “Mr. President, we also see Israel’s history reflected in our eyes. A diaspora whose heart never left home no matter how many generations passed. A nation state that was reborn. And a language revived. I believe it’s possible be for Israel and for Palestine. And I believe you do, too.”

Biden's comments: “The Taoiseach and I agree about the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza, and get this ceasefire deal that brings the hostages home and moves toward a two-state solution — which is the only path, the only path — to lasting peace and security,” Biden told guests on Sunday.

6:38 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

Concern grows for 1.4 million Palestinians in Rafah as Israeli offensive looms. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter in a tent camp in Rafah, Gaza, on March 11.
Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter in a tent camp in Rafah, Gaza, on March 11. Bassam Masoud/Reuters

The World Health Organization chief said he is "gravely concerned" after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved plans for the country's offensive in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza.

Netanyahu's office said the military is preparing to evacuate the estimated 1.4 million Palestinians stuck there — many after being displaced from other parts of the enclave. Aid agencies warn civilians have nowhere left to go.

The White House said Sunday that it still has not seen a "credible" plan from the Israeli government on how it would protect the civilians. CNN has previously reported on Gazans who heeded evacuation warnings being killed by Israeli strikes in areas deemed safe by the Israel Defense Forces.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Reaction to Schumer's speech: US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s warning that Israel risks becoming a “pariah” for its war in Gaza, and his call for new elections in the country, sent shockwaves from Washington to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the address as "totally inappropriate" in an interview with CNN this morning. That has been echoed by Republican critics, while prominent Democrats defended Schumer today.
  • Death toll in Gaza rises: At least 92 people have been killed in Gaza since Saturday, bringing the death toll since October 7 to 31,645, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. CNN cannot independently verify these numbers due to the challenges of reporting from the war zone.
  • Hostage and ceasefire negotiations: Netanyahu told CNN that Israel will keep trying to secure a deal that would see the release of 100 hostages in exchange for a six-week pause in fighting — despite what he called "outlandish" Hamas demands. Mossad Director David Barnea is expected to travel to Doha for further ceasefire talks with mediators beginning as early as Monday, according to a diplomat familiar with the talks. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned Sunday that a Rafah offensive could hinder the peace deal negotiations.
  • Humanitarian aid in Gaza: The first aid ship to Gaza carrying 200 tons of much-needed food has been fully offloaded as part of new efforts to ease a dire humanitarian crisis. A second boat with some 240 tons of humanitarian food aid is being prepared, according to nonprofit World Central Kitchen. But maritime shipments and airdops, like the US made again Sunday, cannot on their own stop what aid agencies warn is a looming famine in Gaza. Israel's siege has kept ground deliveries from reaching starving Gazans.
  • In the occupied West Bank: At least 25 Palestinians were detained in the occupied West Bank between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society. Those arrested included a woman originally from Gaza, a child, and a wounded person, in addition to former prisoners, the group said Sunday. The IDF denied claims by the group that the prisoners were beaten and otherwise mistreated, and claimed only six people were arrested.
5:42 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

Senior Hamas official says the group's latest proposal for a ceasefire is "logical"

From CNN’s Eyad Kourdi in Gaziantep and Mostafa Salem in Doha

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad speaks at a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 28.
Hamas official Ghazi Hamad speaks at a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 28. Amr Alfiky/Reuters/File

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said the latest proposal submitted for a ceasefire by the group to mediators is "logical."

"Our demands have become clear. We have spent a long time in talks and meetings with our brothers in Qatar and Egypt, and proposed our vision in a detailed and written way, and I think the mediators are convinced that Hamas has proposed a logical proposal that can achieve a reasonable agreement," Hamad, who is a senior figure in the political bureau of Hamas, told Al-Arabiya channel on Sunday.

He added that the proposal could bring about a "breakthrough" in the negotiations, but blamed Israel for "insisting" on continuing the war. 

"We know (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu would say our demands are unrealistic. The judges on this are the mediators, and we believe the mediators are convinced that Hamas offered a proposal that can make a breakthrough and achieve an agreement," Hamad said.

Some background: Ceasefire talks have progressed slowly.

Netanyahu told CNN on Sunday that Israel will keep trying to secure a deal that would see the release of 100 hostages in exchange for a six-week pause in fighting, despite what he described as "outlandish" demands by Hamas.

Hamas submitted a new set of demands on Thursday, including calls for a large number of Palestinian prisoners to be released and an eventual agreement on a permanent ceasefire.

Both Israel and Hamas have at turns accused one another of not negotiating in good faith, while US officials have spoken with more cautious optimism about the talks.

3:05 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

At least 25 Palestinians detained in the West Bank overnight, the Palestinian Prisoner Society says

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem and Lauren Izso in Tel Aviv

At least 25 Palestinians were detained in the occupied West Bank between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

Those arrested included a woman originally from Gaza, a child, and a wounded person, in addition to former prisoners, the group said Sunday. The majority of arrests were made in the Hebron region, with further arrests throughout the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Prisoner Society accused Israeli security forces of carrying out “widespread acts of abuse, severe beatings, and threats against detainees and their families” and destroying homes.

The group, an NGO promoting prisoners’ rights, said a cancer patient from Gaza was detained while on her way to receive cancer treatment in Jerusalem.

Israel denies claims: The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that it conducted overnight “counterterrorism activity,” in which it says it arrested wanted suspects and confiscated weapons.

CNN reached out to the IDF regarding the accusations that it mistreated detainees and arrested a woman on her way to receive cancer treatment. In response, an IDF spokesperson said only six people were arrested last night in Dehisha, a Bethlehem refugee camp. 

"They did not arrest a woman and certainly not a child, there was no destruction of houses and the other claims are far from reality," the spokesperson said. 

Some context: Since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, more than 7,630 Palestinians have been arrested on the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

For its part, the IDF says it has arrested more than 3,500 wanted suspects during that time period, including some 1,500 members of Hamas.

Violence against Palestinians by both Israeli troops and settlers in the West Bank has sharply increased during the war, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah.

3:33 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

How US lawmakers are reacting to the Schumer speech that Netanyahu called "totally inappropriate"

From CNN's Andrew Millman, Aileen Graef and Avery Lotz

US Senator Ben Cardin speaks during a nomination hearing in Washington, DC, on October 18.
US Senator Ben Cardin speaks during a nomination hearing in Washington, DC, on October 18. Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg/Getty Images

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s warning that Israel risks becoming a “pariah” for its war in Gaza, and his call for new elections in the country, sent shockwaves from Washington to Jerusalem.

President Joe Biden called it a "good speech" and said Schumer had expressed a "serious concern" shared by many Americans. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, slammed the address as "totally inappropriate" in an interview with CNN this morning.

Here's some of the latest reaction to the comments by Washington's highest-ranking Jewish official:

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has defended Schumer’s recent comments on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

“Senator Schumer’s speech came from his heart — what he believes is necessary for peace,” Cardin said.

The Maryland senator said Schumer was simply calling for Israelis to be able to vote for who they want as leader, and that this will only happen once Israel has gotten "past Hamas."

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised Schumer's remarks as an "act of courage" and an "act of love for Israel" in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

“The prime minister’s presentation proved the necessity of Chuck Schumer’s speech,” Pelosi said.

The California Democrat added that Netanyahu must “be unaware or ill-informed” of the humanitarian situation in Gaza after the prime minister claimed Israel was letting in enough aid to Gaza.

Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed Schumer's comments as "inappropriate" and "embarrassing" Sunday.

“There’s a way to talk about your differences – not to topple a democratic country,” the Texas Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” McCaul characterized the speech as indicative of a "split in the Democratic party" between what he called a "pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel faction" and those who support Israel.

McCaul said a Rafah offensive would allow Israel to take out "high-value targets" in Hamas.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail: Former President Donald Trump has criticized Schumer, suggesting Israel is loyal to the Democratic Party "to a fault." Asked on Fox News today if the majority leader's words amounted to the US telling a sovereign ally how to run its government, Trump answered, "100%. There's no question about it and they don't know where to go. They're very bad for Israel."

The former president has repeatedly been criticized for parroting the antisemitic trope that US Jews, a population that historically has voted for Democrats by wide margins, have dual loyalties to the US and Israel.

2:24 p.m. ET, March 17, 2024

German chancellor says casualties from Israeli offensive in Rafah could hinder peace deal efforts

From CNN's Benjamin Brown, Eve Brennan, and Jessie Gretener in London

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a press statement in Jerusalem, Israel, on March 17.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a press statement in Jerusalem, Israel, on March 17. Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance/Getty Images

An Israeli offensive in Rafah could hinder peace deal negotiations between Israel and Hamas, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday.

There are an estimated 1.4 million people in the southernmost Gaza city, many of whom have already been displaced several times from other parts of the enclave.

Speaking in Aqaba, Jordan, Scholz said "a large number of casualties in such an offensive would make any peaceful development in the region very difficult."

Scholz made the comments while on a whirlwind trip to the region Sunday, first meeting with the King Abdullah II of Jordan in Aqaba, and then meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu, Scholz also questioned whether there are other ways for Israel to achieve its goal of eradicating Hamas.

"No matter how important the goal, can it justify such terribly high costs? Or are there other ways to achieve your goal?" Scholz asked.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, said "we cannot have a future for Gaza, a future for peace" if Hamas "remains intact." Israel has repeatedly said it must launch military operations in Rafah to root out the remaining portion of Hamas' forces.

More background: The German chancellor's comments come just days after Netanyahu said he approved a plan for a mass evacuation and Israel Defense Forces operation in Rafah.

The head of the World Health Organization and other aid agencies have raised alarm about a potential Rafah incursion, saying the Palestinians sheltering there have nowhere safe to move to. CNN has previously reported on Gazans who heeded evacuation warnings being killed by Israeli strikes in areas deemed safe by the IDF.