Israel-Hamas war updates: News on Gaza conflict

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U.N. relief agency warns of schools hit by strikes, impending telecom breakdowns

Two schools run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine have been directly hit by strikes, while another sustained collateral damage, UNRWA said in a Wednesday update.

The agency has repurposed most of its schools as shelters for displaced Palestinian civilians. It is now sheltering 813,000 internally displaced persons in 154 of its facilities in the Gaza Strip and estimates that almost 1.6 million people have been displaced in total across the territory.

“In some areas, the telecommunications companies have stopped operating. It is expected that communications will start to fail as of Thursday 16 November, when telecommunications companies run out of fuel to operate their data centres and major connection sites,” UNRWA warned.

A total of 103 UNRWA staff members have been killed since the start of the conflict, the agency said, adding that this is the highest death toll for U.N. aid workers incurred in a conflict in the organization’s history.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israel foreign minister strikes back at Erdogan over comments

Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during a press conference at the European Office of the United Nations, Palais des Nation, in Geneva on November 14, 2023. (Photo by PIERRE ALBOUY / AFP) (Photo by PIERRE ALBOUY/AFP via Getty Images)

Pierre Albouy | Afp | Getty Images

Israel’s foreign minister has struck back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Wednesday accused the Middle Eastern country of acting as a “terror state” in its operations in the Gaza Strip.

“The President of Turkey is distorting reality and once again can be found on the wrong side of history, standing next to those who glorified the October 7 massacre of Israelis: Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen,” Eli Cohen said on social media.

“Israel is a law-abiding state, which acts in accordance with international law. Israel will proceed with its war against the Hamas terrorist organization, which is worse than ISIS.”

Erdogan has increasingly ramped up his rhetoric against Israel, citing solidarity with the Palestinian cause and deploying humanitarian aid for the embattled Gaza enclave following Israel’s retaliatory war campaign in the region.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israeli military alleges weapons found at al-Shifa hospital

Israeli Army spokesperson for international media, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

Jalaa Marey | Afp | Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces said it found weapons, grenades, uniforms and a laptop at the al-Shifa hospital they stormed on Wednesday.

In a video purporting to be shot on the site of the medical complex, IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said: “Israeli troops breached here a few hours ago, and we have cleared the area, made sure that it’s safe.”

“Hamas systematically uses hospitals in their military operations in violation of international law, and what we have found, I think, is only the tip of the iceberg,” he added.

CNBC could not independently Conricus’ claims.

Over the course of the nearly seven-minute footage, the spokesman walks through what he identifies as the MRI unit of the al-Shifa hospital, pointing out security cameras obstructed with black tape, “grab and go” bags for Hamas operatives, AK-47 rifles, cartridges, ammo, grenades, uniforms, knives, an insignia allegedly belonging to Hamas and a laptop.

The equipment is said to have been found hidden behind a MRI machine, alongside bandages and medical gear.

“These weapons had no business being inside a hospital. The only reason they are here is because Hamas put them here, because they use this place, like many other hospitals and ambulances and sensitive facilities inside the Gaza Strip, for their illicit military purposes,” Conricus said.

Israel has faced international backlash over the humanitarian impact of its decision to raid al-Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip. The IDF says that Hamas uses medical and civilian facilities as its operation bases and houses beneath its large underground network of tunnels. Israel has yet to release evidence of tunnels found at al-Shifa.

Ruxandra Iordache

‘We can’t leave a vacuum’ in Gaza Strip, Israeli president says

Israeli President Isaac Herzog addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress at the U.S. Capitol on July 19, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said his country will need to retain a “very strong force” in the Gaza enclave to prevent a future resurgence of Palestinian militant group Hamas, according to an interview with the Financial Times.

“If we pull back, then who will take over? We can’t leave a vacuum. We have to think about what will be the mechanism; there are many ideas that are thrown in the air,” Herzog said. “But no one will want to turn this place, Gaza, into a terror base again.”

Herzog, whose post lacks executive power, speaks amid an ongoing Israeli ground campaign and bombardment in the Gaza Strip, in response to the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7. The Gaza enclave has been under Hamas control since 2007.

U.S. President Joe Biden, whose country has closely supported Israel, has said that the only long-term solution in the Gaza Strip beyond the current conflict is the creation of two independent Israeli and Palestinian states. U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken has previously said a transition period may be required, but that Israel cannot reoccupy the Gaza Strip after the war.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israeli military says it struck the house of the leader of the Hamas politburo

Ismail Haniya, the Head of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, delivers a speech in Gaza City on April 30, 2018. (Photo by Momen Faiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces said it struck the residence of Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Hamas political bureau.

“The residence was used as terrorist infrastructure and a meeting point for Hamas’ senior leaders to direct terrorist attacks against Israel,” the Israeli military said on social media.

CNBC could not independently verify the report.

Haniyeh is believed to reside in Qatar, where the Hamas politburo moved from Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. Hamas did not immediately comment on the strike on its Telegram account.

Haniyeh replaced Khaled Meshaal as head of the Hamas political wing in 2017, leaving Yahya Sinwar as leader of the militant group in the Gaza Strip.

Ruxandra Iordache

U.N. Security Council adopts resolution on Israel-Hamas conflict

The U.N. Security Council has adopted a resolution on Israel and Palestinian territories, after four previous attempts failed to gain sufficient support.

Under the Malta-penned measure, the Council calls for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all hostages held by Hamas and for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” throughout the Gaza Strip to allow access for aid workers.

It also urges “all parties to refrain from depriving the civilian population in Gaza of basic services and aid indispensable to their survival” in line with humanitarian law and does not condemn the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7.

The resolution — passed with 12 members in favor, none against and three abstentions — is the first UNSC pronouncement on Israel and Palestinian territories since 2016. Russia, the U.S. and U.K. were the three members who abstained.

Reactions varied:

  • Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative Brett Jonathan Miller criticized the measure as “detached from the reality on the ground,” saying it “falls on deaf ears when it comes to Hamas and other terrorist organizations”.
  • Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of the state of Palestine, said the Security Council should have called a ceasefire by now and “at least echoed the call of the General Assembly for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.
  • Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia stressed that “humanitarian pauses cannot replace a ceasefire or truce,” he said, while emphasizing the urgency of bringing humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
  • U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington could not endorse a text that did not condemn Hamas and reaffirm the right of self-defense from terrorist attacks, expressing horror that some member councils “still cannot bring themselves” to condemn Hamas offensive of Oct. 7.
  • November Council President China, represented by Ambassador Zhang Jun, said that the coalition should have adopted a more robust resolution at an earlier time.

Ruxandra Iordache

Biden reiterates two-state solution is the ‘only answer’ to Israel-Hamas conflict

US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, California on November 15, 2023. US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping shook hands and pledged to steer their countries away from conflict on November 15, 2023, as they met for the first time in a year at a high-stakes summit in California. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Brendan Smialowski | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated the “only” lasting answer to the Israel-Hamas conflict is a two-state solution, but ongoing Israeli action in the Gaza Strip is justified given that Hamas has said publicly it plans to attack Israel again.

“I’ve made it clear to the Israelis that … the only answer here is a two-state solution. We have got to get to the point where there’s the ability to even talk without having to worry about whether Hamas is going to engage in the same activities they did [in] the past,” Biden told reporters after meeting with China President Xi Jinping in Woodside, California.

“Hamas has already said publicly they plan on attacking Israel again … and so the idea they are going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic,” Biden said.

He added that Israeli action against Hamas is going to stop when Hamas “no longer has the capacity to do horrific things to the Israelis.”

— Clement Tan

Bipartisan U.S. coalition returns from Israel, reports hostage deal is ‘very close’

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 11: U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) leaves a House Republican caucus meeting where the conference met to vote on a Speaker of the House nominee in the Longworth House Office Building on October 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House Republicans nominated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) to replace recently ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.S. House Reps. Mike McCaul, R-Tx., and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., said on Wednesday after their trip to Israel that a hostage deal is nearing, which could also result in a temporary cease-fire.

“They’re actually very close to a potential deal, particularly with women and children, to be able to get them out of Gaza – and it would entail a potential short cease-fire, but I think that was the most encouraging news we had,” McCaul said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that there “could be” an incoming hostage deal with Hamas but did not provide further clarity on the timeline. He has also repeatedly made it clear that Israel will not consider a cease-fire until all of Hamas’ hostages are released.

McCaul and Meeks joined a bipartisan congressional delegation on a visit to Israel, where they met with Netanyahu and other Israeli military officials.

The two representatives have led a bipartisan coalition in support of Israel since the early days of the war, even as financial aid measures have divided the parties at large. In the Wednesday interview, McCaul and Meeks both expressed optimism that Congress would fund support for both Israel and Ukraine after the holidays.

“We think we should have the funding for Israel, funding for Ukraine, funding for humanitarian purposes. And I think we also need funding for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific,” Meeks said.

Rebecca Picciotto

Israel found weapons inside Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, Netanyahu’s advisor says

Israeli forces found weapons during a raid on Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, an advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told MSNBC Wednesday.

“We have discovered weapons and other things. We entered the hospital on the basis of actionable intelligence,” advisor Mark Regev said.

CNBC was unable to independently verify the claims.

— Karen Gilchrist

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