Israel-Hamas war updates for Oct. 16, 2023

Table of Contents

Arab leaders urge the U.S. to do something about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Every Arab leader who met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the last few days highlighted the importance of dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a senior State Department official told NBC News.

The official said President Joe Biden told Blinken to return to Tel Aviv, Israel following his whirlwind trip through the six Arab countries: Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

After nine hours of negotiations with Israel, Blinken announced that both sides “agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multi-lateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza — and them alone.”

The new U.S. envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, David Satterfield, is set to meet Israeli officials on Tuesday to see if they can get the plan worked out, the official added.

Joanna Tan

Israel is fighting its ‘second independence war,’ says Israel Ambassador to Singapore

This is our 'second independence war,' says Israel's ambassador to Singapore

Israel is fighting its “second independence war” against Palestinian militants Hamas — and it must win, said Israel’s ambassador to Singapore, Eli Vered Hazan.

“This fight is about the existence of the State of Israel, I call it personally, our second independence war, and we must win,” Hazan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

Asked about Israeli warplanes’ bombarding the Gaza Strip, where 2.2 million Palestinians live, the ambassador said: “Israel usually do not bomb civilians.”

“We are focusing on the Hamas leaders. We are focusing on a military, I would say, target,” he added. “We have no other choice but to do it.”

The Gaza Strip has endured more than a week of relentless bombing by the Israeli air force since Hamas militants infiltrated Israeli territory.

— Lee Ying Shan

Senior U.S. general flies into Israel as its war with Hamas deepens

The top U.S. general overseeing American forces in the Middle East made an unannounced trip to Israel on Tuesday, saying he hoped to ensure its military has what it needs as it fights a deepening war against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The trip by Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, is the latest by a senior U.S. official to Israel ahead of an expected ground assault by Israel’s military in Gaza. It comes a day before a planned visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to the country.

The U.S. military is increasing its firepower in the region, aiming to prevent Iran and other Iran-backed groups from getting involved in the conflict as international fears of a wider, regional war grow.

The Pentagon is also rushing weaponry, including air defenses and munitions, to Israel.

“I’m here to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict,” Kurilla told Reuters, which is traveling with him, in brief remarks before landing.

A U.S. official told Reuters Kurilla was scheduled to hold high-level meetings with Israel’s military leadership, ensuring a clear understanding of the close U.S. ally’s defense requirements.


Israel hits back at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in retaliation for Monday’s strikes

The Israel Defense Forces claims to have struck unspecified Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon early Tuesday local time, in response to earlier strikes by the Iran-backed militia group, the IDF said in an update on its official Telegram channel.

Hezbollah reportedly targeted five Israeli outposts in its Monday strikes, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported, citing a Hezbollah statement.

— Clement Tan

Biden says he will travel to Israel to ‘stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack’

President Joe Biden said he will travel to Israel on Wednesday to “stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack.”

“I’ll then travel to Jordan to address dire humanitarian needs, meet with leaders, and make clear that Hamas does not stand for Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” Biden wrote on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.

— Amanda Macias

Satellite images show crowds on Gaza side of border crossing into Egypt

New satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies show crowds of people and vehicles gathering on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.

Crowds of people and vehicles form on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt in this Maxar satellite image taken on Oct. 16, 2023.

Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

A Maxar satellite image focuses on the southern border of Gaza and the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Oct. 15, 2023.

Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

Biden discusses alleviating worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza with Egyptian President

Palestinians fill water bottles and take them home as a UN report states that more than 2 million people struggle with water shortage, in Khan Younis, Gaza on October 14, 2023. 

Mustafa Hassona | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Joe Biden discussed ways to alleviate the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, in coordination with the UN, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and other regional partners, the White House said.

They also discussed the need for stability in the Middle East. Biden “condemned Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel and reiterated that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination,” the White House said.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are being displaced as they flee to the south as Gaza runs out of food, water, electricity and critical supplies, the United Nations warned.

(EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts graphic content) Injured Palestinians including children are brought to hospital after Israeli airstrike in Deir-Al-Balah, Gaza on October 14, 2023.

Ashraf Amra | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Palestinian medics evacuate an injured woman during clashes between Israeli Security forces and Palestinian protesters along the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, Gaza Strip, 27 July 2018. Photo: Wissam Nassar/dpa (Photo by Wissam Nassar/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 14: Palestinians line up in front of a bakery to buy bread as Israeli airstrikes continue on the 8th day in Gaza City, Gaza on October 14, 2023. Palestinians are trying to survive in an area without electricity, water, food and fuel. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Abed Rahim Khatib | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Palestinian Jamil Abu Asi distributes soup to people who lost their lives in Israeli airstrikes and take shelter at schools in Khan Yunis, Gaza on October 15, 2023.

Mustafa Hassona | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday

U.S. President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One for return travel to Washington, at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, January 23, 2023.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the conflict intensifies.

“He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a brief press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Blinken said that Biden will receive security briefings and coordinate with regional partners to mitigate the expansion of the war.

Biden will also work to implement a plan that will allow for humanitarian aid and resources to safely enter Gaza Strip.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken holds nearly eight hour meeting with Israel’s Netanyahu

U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 12, 2023.

GPO | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for nearly eight hours in Tel Aviv.

The meeting, which included Netanyahu’s war cabinet, was interrupted twice by air raid sirens. Blinken and Netanyahu were forced to take cover along with traveling press in a shelter during the alerts.

Blinken has visited Israel twice since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

— Amanda Macias

Hamas says it is prepared to release non-Israeli hostages when certain conditions are met

A fighter from Izz al-Din al-Qassam stands in front of a tunnel during an exhibition of weapons, missiles and heavy equipment for the military wing of Hamas in the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip, during the commemoration of the 2014 war that lasted 51 days between Gaza and Israel.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

A spokesman for Hamas said that the group is prepared to release non-Israeli hostages when certain conditions are met.

It was not immediately clear how many hostages would potentially be released.

The White House has previously said that they believe “less than a handful” of Americans are being held by Hamas.

Here’s more from MSNBC.

— Amanda Macias

Secretary Austin speaks with King Abdullah II of Jordan about ongoing crisis in Israel

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin gives a press conference during the NATO Council Defence Ministers Session at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 12, 2023.

Simon Wohlfahrt | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan as the ongoing crisis intensifies.

“The two leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring that civilians have access to humanitarian aid,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh wrote in a readout of the call.

“The secretary reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Jordan partnership and reiterated the U.S. commitment to Jordan’s security,” Singh added.

— Amanda Macias

Biden strongly considering trip to Israel, officials say

President Joe Biden is strongly considering traveling to Israel as early as this week, three U.S. officials tell NBC News.

Officials say planning has begun for a potential ground visit from Biden.

The White House declined to comment.

Biden on Sunday was invited to Egypt for an international summit on Oct. 21 centered on the future of Palestinians.

NBC News reported on Sunday the White House was considering an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for Biden to travel to Israel.

Emma Kinery

Trump says he would expand travel ban to include Gaza residents if reelected

Donald Trump said that if elected president again in 2024, he would widen the travel bans from his first term in office to include residents from Gaza and “anywhere else that threatens our security.”

“I banned refugees from Syria, I banned refugees from Somalia, and from all the most dangerous places in the world — and in my second term, we are going to expand each and every ban to keep America safe,” Trump announced at a campaign stop in Iowa, according to remarks prepared for the event.

Trump in those remarks also vowed to implement “strong ideological screening” for all U.S. immigrants and “aggressively deport resident aliens with jihadist sympathies.”

He also said that his administration would send immigration officers to “pro-jihadist demonstrations to enforce our immigration laws and remove the violators from our country.”

The speech in Iowa shows Trump, the top contender in the Republican presidential primary, reacting to the Israel-Hamas war by ratcheting up his hard-line views on immigration.

The Trump administration in 2017 issued an executive order restricting travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries, among other measures. The Supreme Court narrowly upheld that order in 2018.

In 2020, the administration expanded the travel ban to include six additional nations.

President Joe Biden revoked those bans on his first day in office.

Kevin Breuninger

Approximately 2,000 U.S. troops placed on ‘prepare to deploy’ orders to the Middle East

The Pentagon in Washington, DC, on Mya 10, 2023, in an aerial view.

Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images

The Pentagon has placed approximately 2,000 U.S. troops on preparation to deploy orders to the Middle East, a Defense official confirmed to NBC News.

The U.S. servicemembers will likely deploy to neighboring countries in support of Israel.

— Amanda Macias

Actor Wallace Shawn joins hundreds of protesters outside of the White House

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the White House urging President Joe Biden to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, including actor Wallace Shawn.

The protest was organized by If Not Now and Jewish Voices for Peace, two Jewish organizations advocating for equality for Israelis and Palestinians.

Shawn, known for his role in The Princess Bride, held a sign that read “My grief is not your weapon.”

Emma Kinery

Blinken seeks shelter for a second time with Netanyahu amid air raid sirens

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to shelter in place for a second time during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a note from press traveling with the State Department.

During the first air raid sirens, Blinken and Netanyahu waited in a bunker for approximately five minutes.

— Amanda Macias

Humanitarian teams and supplies ready to reach those in Gaza, UN says

The entrance of the Gaza City headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on August 7, 2023.

Majdi Fathi | Nurphoto | Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that humanitarian teams have supplies that are ready to be moved into southern Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

Dujarric added that a World Health Organization aircraft arrived in Egypt near the Rafah passage with additional supplies. Meanwhile, the World Food Program is working to reach approximately 225,000 displaced people in at least 19 United Nations shelters throughout the Gaza Strip.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken sheltered in a bunker with Israel’s Netanyahu during visit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister following their meeting in Doha on October 13, 2023.

Karim Jaafar | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were forced to shelter in a bunker for at least five minutes, State Department spokesman Matt Miller said.

Miller said a meeting between the two in Tel Aviv was interrupted by sirens. Over the weekend, a congressional bipartisan delegation also had to shelter in place during meetings in Israel.

— Amanda Macias

UN humanitarian official will travel to the Middle East to discuss ongoing crisis with partners

The United Nations flag waves during preparations for the UNGA 2023 at the United Nations headquarters on September 13, 2023 in New York City.

Miguel J. Rodríguez Carrillo | Corbis News | Getty Images

Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, will travel to the Middle East as the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies.

Griffiths, who is expected to stay in the region for a few days, will begin in Egypt with a possible stop in Israel.

The trip was announced by United Nations Secretary-General spokesman Stéphane Dujarric during a daily press briefing.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has previously called for a ceasefire and immediate humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

— Amanda Macias

Indirect economic impacts of geopolitical conflicts could be persistent, says strategist

The direct market impacts stemming from geopolitical are typically short-lived, according to Principal Asset Management chief global strategist Seema Shah. However, she believes that the impacts on the macroeconomy can linger.

“The key macro concerns from the developments in Israel lie with the threat of upward pressure on oil prices, and how its corresponding effect on core inflation could potentially prompt central bank action. … The indirect impacts via inflation and economic growth can be more persistent,” Shah said.

The strategist believes the critical macro concerns lie with the oil market. While Brent crude prices have not risen as much as had been expected initially following the outbreak of the attack, an escalation in tensions would likely put further upward pressure.

“Higher oil prices can work their way into core inflation and inflation expectations if sustained,” said Shah. “Safe haven flows have contributed to a sharp fall in bond yields this week. Yet, if oil prices rise further and price pressures do re-emerge, expectations of additional monetary action from policymakers could threaten a renewed bond rout.”

— Hakyung Kim

Read more about the war’s effect on markets and the global economy at CNBC’s markets live blog.

Britain’s Sunak announces £10 million in humanitarian aid for those impacted in Gaza

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the media during his visit to Shell St Fergus Gas Plant in Peterhead on July 31, 2023 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Wpa Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the U.K. will make available £10 million (about $12 million U.S.) in humanitarian aid for civilians impacted in Gaza.

“An acute humanitarian crisis is unfolding, to which we must respond. We must support the Palestinian people – because they’re victims of Hamas, too,” Sunak in a speech before the House of Commons.

The funding will go to providing critically needed items and services like, emergency shelters, food and water.

— Amanda Macias

Biden receives briefing from national security team as Israel-Hamas conflict drags into second week

President Joe Biden

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed by their national security team on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, a White House official said.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who oversees America’s intelligence agencies, ran the briefing alongside National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Bill Burns.

— Amanda Macias

Israeli defense minister warns that conflict ‘will be a long war’

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas “will be a long war.”

“Mr. Secretary, this will be a long war. The price will be high, but we are going to win for Israel, for the Jewish people and for the values that both countries believe in,” Gallant said alongside Blinken in Tel Aviv.

Blinken’s visit to Israel, his second in the past week, follows a series of high-profile meetings in the region. The top U.S. diplomat is slated to meet again with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

— Amanda Macias

Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office opens federal hate crimes investigation in killing of 6 year old

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois on Monday opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American child in Chicago, a spokesperson tells NBC News.

Joseph Czuba, 71, was arrested and charged by the Will County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday for allegedly stabbing the child and his mother because they were Muslim and because of the ongoing situation in Israel.

President Joe Biden in a statement on Sunday said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked and sickened” by the murder.

“This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are,” Biden said.

“As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred. I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate. We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone.”

Emma Kinery

UK PM Rishi Sunak calls Hamas attacks a ‘pogrom,’ says six Britons were killed

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday said attacks carried out last week by Palestinian militant group Hamas were tantamount to a pogrom.

“We should call it by its name: it was a pogrom,” Sunak said of the attacks against Israel on Oct. 7.

At least 1,400 people were killed in Israel following the attacks, while nearly 2,700 people have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s retaliatory offensive.

Among those killed in Hamas’ attack on Israel were at least six Britons, Sunak told the House of Commons, adding that a further 10 were still missing.

— Karen Gilchrist

Netanyahu says fight with ‘Nazi’ Hamas is a war between light and darkness

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday likened Israel’s war against Palestinian militant group Hamas to an existential battle between light and darkness.

Addressing the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Netanyahu said that Hamas and other allied groups represented a new form of “Nazism,” the Times of Israel reported.

“Hamas is part of the evil axis of Iran and Hezbollah. They aim to plunge the Middle East into an abyss of chaos,” he said, dubbing the groups “dark forces.”

“Now, many around the world understand who Israel is facing. They comprehend that Hamas represents a new version of Nazism. Just as the world united to defeat the Nazis and Isis, so it must unite to defeat Hamas,” he added.

— Karen Gilchrist

Blinken meets with Herzog, promises U.S. support for Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at the airport en route to Israel for crisis talks after a tour of Arab nationson October 16, 2023.

Jacquelyn Martin | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday and emphasized the United States’ promise to support Israel.

“Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to provide Israel with the assistance it needs to protect its citizens,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Blinken and Herzog also discussed protecting civilians impacted by Hamas and the continuing push to free the hostages.

Emma Kinery

U.N. relief agency reports fuel, medical supplies removed from its compound

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said it has received reports that a group of people with trucks on Sunday removed fuel and medial supplies from its compound in Gaza City.

The individuals purported to be affiliated with the Ministry of Health of Gaza.

UNRWA staff evacuated the compound on Oct. 13, and the agency has not had access to the site since.

Its “fuel & other types of material are kept for strictly humanitarian purposes – any other use is strongly condemned,” the UNRWA said Monday on social media.

CNBC could not independently verify the reports.

The Gaza Strip has been under complete siege by Israel since the start of last week, deprived of Israel’s water, electricity, fuel and food supplies, following the Oct. 7 terrorist offensive of Palestinian militant group Hamas. Amid fears of an impending ground incursion, Israel at the end of last week instructed the residents of Gaza City to evacuate south of the Wadi Gaza river.

The Gaza ministry of health has repeatedly warned that electricity and supply shortages are critically straining the local health system.

Ruxandra Iordache

Yellen: ‘Too early’ to speculate on how war will affect global economy

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks during a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council at the U.S. Treasury on July 28, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said predicting the consequences of the Israel-Hamas war on the global economy was premature.

“I think it’s too early to speculate on whether or not there will be significant consequences,” Yellen told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost.

“I think, importantly, it depends on whether the hostilities extend beyond Israel and Gaza and that’s certainly an outcome we’d like to avoid.”

Yellen who is currently attending the Eurogroup Finance Ministers Meeting in Luxembourg, added that the Treasury Department is “monitoring the situation at this point.”

Read the full story here.

—Chelsey Cox

White House official expresses hopes for Rafah crossing reopening

A White House official is hoping that the Rafah crossing bridging Egypt and the Gaza Strip can be opened for a few hours over the course of Monday to allow the safe passage of some civilians before an anticipated Israeli ground incursion.

“Right now it’s still closed,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, in Reuters-reported comments from a CNN interview. “We’re hoping, hoping, that sometime later today, it can be open for a period of hours. But again, we just have to kind of wait and see how this goes.”

He signaled that hopes of the crossing — the only point of transit out of the besieged Gaza Strip, which is otherwise enclosed by Israel and the sea — being open over the weekend were “dashed.”

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby joins White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 12, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The White House is currently present at the top level in Israel, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arriving earlier in Tel Aviv.

Earlier in the day, Israel appeared to contradict reports of a humanitarian corridor that would facilitate the passage of foreign nationals out of the Gaza Strip through the Rafah route. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry later in the day said that Israel had yet to take a stance that allowed the opening of the crossing, Reuters reported.

— Ruxandra Iordache

Putin to speak with leaders of Israel, Palestinian Authority

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold separate phone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

“Today we have, one might say, such a ‘powerful shot’: five telephone conversations. The President has already spoken with the President of Syria [Bashar Assad] and the President of Iran [Ebrahim Raisi]. During the day, more telephone contacts will take place with the Presidents of Egypt — [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi, Palestine — Abbas, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu,” presidential assistant Yuri Ushakov said in Google-translated comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference at the Commonwealth of Independent States’ Head of States Meeting at the Ala-Archa State Residence on October 13, 2023 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Getty Images

Earlier on Monday, Putin and Assad urged an end to the violence that has erupted between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. The conflict, sparked by the Oct. 7 terror attacks perpetuated by Hamas, has seen Israel declare a complete siege of the enclosed Gaza Strip and call on residents of the northern half of the region to evacuate south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands.

Russia — which is itself carrying out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine — has had to strike a fine balance to preserve its ties with both Israel and Iran, a historical supporter of Hamas. Moscow, heavily sanctioned by Western nations, has yet to fully condemn Hamas and instead characterized the group’s conflict with Israel as a failure of U.S. diplomacy.

Ruxandra Iordache

Biden: ‘There must be a path to a Palestinian state’

U.S. President Joe Biden stressed his belief in the need for eventual Palestinian statehood — something that Israel’s current government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes — while also supporting Israel’s mission to eliminate the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“There needs to be a Palestinian Authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state,” Biden said in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” which aired on Sunday evening.

Biden reiterated his administration’s support for Israel and its right to defend itself and neutralize Hamas, saying that the group does not “represent all the Palestinian people.”

While Biden has so far not vocally criticized Israel’s military response — which the UN says is causing a humanitarian catastrophe and falling foul of international law — the president cautioned that “it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.”

— Natasha Turak

‘The worst is yet to come,’ think tank says

The nature of the likely urban warfare and the resource deficit already experienced by the civilians of the Gaza Strip mean that an Israeli ground incursion into the region will greatly exacerbate the local death toll, warns Rajan Menon, director of the Grand Strategy program at Defense Priorities.

Israel is expected to launch a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks of Palestinian militant group Hamas. After amassing troops at the border, the Israel Defense Forces late last week instructed residents of Gaza City to move south.

“When the [Israeli military] begins its ground operation, because of the density of population in Gaza, there are going to be very many more deaths, and the campaign is going to be very brutal,” Menon told CNBC’s Dan Murphy.

“Hamas, in my view, probably anticipated an Israeli retaliation of some sort, if not a full ground invasion, and I think they are prepared to fight, and urban warfare by its very nature is very, very dangerous and bloody. So the worst is yet to come, unfortunately.”

Israel's ground offensive in Gaza will be 'very brutal,' says U.S. think tank

He stressed that the Israeli military has shown “every indication” of preparing to proceed with a ground campaign, which he believes the residents of the besieged Gaza strip are unequipped to handle.

“The population not only lacks basic necessities for survival, they are now facing an incoming army. And so the civilian casualty toll will reach very, very high levels,” he said, adding that the Arab community may put some of the fault of the attack at the feet of the Washington administration, which has firmly condemned Hamas and expressed support for Israel.

“Of necessity, because the U.S. is supplying Israel, is backing Israel, there will be some association in the minds of the Arab population at large that this is an operation that is … backed by the U.S, no matter what the words of Mr. [national security advisor Jake] Sullivan and Mr. [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken.”

Blinken on Monday arrived in Tel Aviv, marking his second visit to Israel within five days.

Ruxandra Iordache

More than 1 million Gazans displaced; not enough body bags for the dead, U.N. says

Palestinians searching for survivors after an Israeli airstrike on the refugee camp of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip on October 9, 2023.

Mahmud Hams | Afp | Getty Images

More than 1 million people, or nearly half the population of Gaza, have been displaced, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in its latest report on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The mass displacement follows an evacuation order from the Israeli Defense Forces on Oct. 13, which urged the 1.1 million residents of the northern half of Gaza to relocate to the south, ahead of an anticipated Israeli ground offensive. The U.N. has warned that such a large migration is not possible without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”

“Some 600,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are in the Middle Area, Khan Yunis and Rafah, of those, nearly 400,000 are in UNRWA facilities – much exceeding our capacity to assist in any meaningful way,” the UNRWA report wrote.

“Despite the Israeli Forces’ evacuation order, an unknown number of IDPs remain in UNRWA schools in Gaza city and the North. UNRWA is no longer able to assist or protect them,” the agency said, adding that “the number of killed is increasing,” and that “there are not enough body-bags for the dead in Gaza.”

— Natasha Turak

Iran accuses U.S. of military involvement in Israel-Hamas war

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Iran accused Washington of being militarily involved in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“We believe the U.S. is militarily involved in this war right now, because they said that they would send an aircraft carrier to the region, and they also sent a second aircraft carrier,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in Google-translated comments reported by Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency.

Kanaani further said that the alleged U.S. military involvement included providing roughly $8 billion to Israel and help with the Iron Dome missile defense system. He also said that the United States should be “held accountable” for the purported crimes of Israel.

U.S.-sanctioned Iran has historically backed Hamas and praised — but denied involvement in — the group’s terrorist attack against Israel of Oct. 7. The Iranian foreign minister has been on a tour of the Middle East that included a visit to the leadership of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israel last week.

Israel has meanwhile accused Iran of ordering attacks carried out by Hezbollah at the Lebanon-Israel border on Sunday.

“Hezbollah carried out a number of shooting attacks in order to distract from our war efforts in the south [Gaza], under Iranian instruction and with [Iranian] support,” chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a Monday briefing, according to Reuters.

Ruxandra Iordache

Egypt says Israel has not allowed Rafah crossing to open from Gaza

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is welcomed by Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Al-Safadi on May 1, 2023 in Amman, Jordan.

Jordan Pix | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Monday said that Israel had yet to take a stance that allowed the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office appeared to deny reports of a humanitarian corridor that would facilitate the safe passage of foreign nationals through the Rafah crossing — the only exit point out of the Gaza Strip enclosure, which is otherwise bordered by Israel and the sea.

Fears have mounted over the possibility of a military Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, following an Israeli instruction for the residents of Gaza City to evacuate south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands. Israel has launched a complete siege that seals off Israel’s own supplies of water, electricity, fuel and food to Gaza, following a multi-pronged terrorist attack from Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.

Shoukry urged “joint efforts to calm down, reduce escalation, and address the crushing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip,” during a meeting with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, the Egyptian foreign ministry said Monday in a Google-translated post on social media.

Ruxandra Iordache

Intelligence failure of Hamas attack will reshape Israel’s political landscape: Editor-in-chief

Hamas attack will reshape political map in Israel, Jerusalem Post editor says

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel will eventually result in a political reckoning, Avi Mayer, editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, told CNBC.

“This is a military and intelligence failure that is unprecedented in Israeli history,” Mayer said.

“Just as in the aftermath of that war [the 1973 Arab-Israeli war] there was a commission of inquiry that essentially brought down the rule of Golda Meir, I am absolutely certain that there will be a similar commission of inquiry once the dust settles, once things return to some sense of normalcy. I would not be surprised if blame were placed on the prime minister.”

Opinion polls show a majority of Israelis hold the government responsible for the “terrible failure,” he added.

“I am absolutely certain that there will be a re-shifting of the political map in Israel, I don’t know that Prime Minister Netanyahu will survive.”

— Jenni Reid

Israel to evacuate several settlements near Lebanese border

Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced it would implement a plan to evacuate residents of northern Israel living up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the Lebanese border to state-funded guesthouses.

The evacuation would involve 28 communities and will be overseen by the heads of local municipalities, the Ministry of Interior and the National Emergency Management Authority, according to a statement published by the Israel Defense Forces on social media.

The order comes after Israel last week exchanged fire on multiple occasions with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has stated its readiness to intervene in Israel’s conflict with Palestinian militant group Hamas.

On Sunday, Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al Manar said that the militant group launched strikes at the Israeli settlement of Shtula near the Lebanese border — one of the areas that Israel plans to evacuate. Hezbollah attributed the strikes to “retaliation for the aggression on Lebanon which killed three Lebanese in the last two days.”

Ruxandra Iordache

China, Russia foreign ministers meet, urge cease-fire

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his visiting Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Beijing and exchanged views on the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, China’s foreign ministry said, according to a Google translation.

China reiterated its condemnation of harm to civilians, with Wang Yi saying “the top priority is to cease fire and end the war, push both sides to return to the negotiating table, establish emergency humanitarian relief channels, and prevent greater humanitarian disasters,” according to the ministry.

China supports a two-state solution to the conflict between Israeli and Palestinian people, which would create an independent state of Palestine alongside that of Israel.

Both China and Russia have previously advocated a cease-fire of hostilities and denounced violence, without explicitly condemning Hamas.

Ruxandra Iordache

Secretary of State Blinken returns to Israel amid marathon Middle East trip

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to members of the media before leaving Cairo, Egypt, Sunday Oct. 15, 2023, en route to Jordan.

Jacquelyn Martin | Pool | via Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel for a second time within five days, following stops in several Middle Eastern capitals, in an attempt to address the Israel-Hamas war and prevent broader regional spill-over. He first traveled to Israel on Thursday to express support for the country and its government, as it battles Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

“From here, we’re heading back to Israel,” Blinken said from Cairo on Sunday, in comments reported by NBC News. “I want an opportunity to share everything that I’ve heard, that I’ve learned over the last few days visiting with our other partners and to talk about the way forward with our Israeli allies and friends.”

“We stand with Israel as it defends itself,” Blinken posted on Monday morning on his official account on social media platform X, previously known as Twitter. “The United States is also actively working to ensure the people of Gaza can get out of harm’s way and the assistance they need — food, water, medicine — can get in. Hamas does not care if Palestinians suffer.”

— Natasha Turak

Israel appears to deny cease-fire to allow foreigners out of Gaza Strip

Gazans with foreign passports wait at the Rafah Border Gate to cross into Egypt as Israel’s attacks on Gaza continue on the eighth day in Rafah, Gaza on Oct. 14, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to deny the existence of a humanitarian corridor allowing the passage of foreign nationals out of the Gaza Strip.

“There is currently no cease-fire and humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the expulsion of foreigners,” it said in a Google-translated statement.

Earlier on Monday, Reuters had reported, citing anonymous Egyptian sources, that the U.S., Egypt and Israel had agreed a ceasefire coinciding with the re-opening of the Rafah border into Egypt — the only crossing out of the besieged Gaza Strip enclosure, otherwise surrounded by Israel and the sea.

Netanyahu’s office did not clarify if the statement referred to this report, which CNBC could not independently verify.

An alert on the site of the U.S. embassy to Israel said, “According to media reports, the Rafah crossing will open at 9am local time on October 16.  We anticipate that the situation at the Rafah crossing will remain fluid and unpredictable and it is unclear whether, or for how long, travelers will be permitted to transit the crossing.”

The Israeli Defense Forces late last week urged the 1.1 million residents of the northern half of Gaza to evacuate south, stoking concerns over the possibility of an Israeli ground incursion into the region. Israel, which has amassed substantial troops at the border, said it exclusively targets Hamas military positions.

Humanitarian agencies have repeatedly warned that such a short window for evacuation in the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded on all sides and has been cut off from Israel’s electricity, water, food and fuel supplies, will compound the local civilian crisis.

Ruxandra Iordache

Biden warns Israel that re-occupying the Gaza Strip would ‘be a big mistake’

U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on October 04, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Re-occupying the Gaza Strip would “be a big mistake” for Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden said during an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday.

Asked by the interviewer during the program “60 Minutes” if Biden would support an Israeli occupation of Gaza, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.”

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel has triggered a ferocious Israeli response, with an aerial bombardment and full siege of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. To date in the conflict, officials say that 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, and 2,750 have been killed in Gaza. 

Israel has mobilized more than 300,000 reservists and amassed a large number of troops near the Gaza border, suggesting a possible ground invasion of the battered enclave.

Many military analysts say a re-occupation of Gaza by Israel would create an immediate disadvantage for Israeli troops who are not familiar with the lay of the land and would be fighting a deeply embedded enemy waiting to ambush them.

— Natasha Turak

Biden says effort to normalize Saudi-Israel relations still ‘alive’

The latest hostilities triggered by the terrorist attacks of Palestinian militant group Hamas have not ended efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a TV interview with CBS News.

Saudi Arabia and a spate of other Arab nations have historically supported the Palestinian people, refusing diplomatic ties with Israel on that account. The U.S. has been pushing for a normalization of relations between its two key allies in the Middle East, Riyadh and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli administration.

“Saudis and Emiratis and other Arab nations understand that their security and stability is enhanced if there is normalization of relations with Israel,” Biden said. “And so I think that it’s still alive, it’s going to take time. Look, this [is] going to take time to get done. It’s going to take time, but the direction, the moving into normalization, makes sense for the Arab nations, as well as Israel.”

Israel made significant inroads in reconnecting with the Arab world through the September 2020 Abraham Accords brokered by the government of former U.S. President Donald Trump. The agreement re-established relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with Sudan and Morocco also recognizing Israel in the years since.

In March this year, a China-mediated deal pushed long-feuding arch-rival Iran — which has backed Hamas — and Saudi Arabia to rekindle diplomatic ties, raising questions over the future of Riyadh’s relations with Israel.

Ruxandra Iordache

UNRWA says staff are ‘no longer able’ to provide humanitarian aid in Gaza

Displaced Palestinians gather at the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) school in Khan Yunis, after evacuating their homes that were damaged by Israeli airstrikes on October 15, 2023 in Gaza. The agency said its staff are “no longer able to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

Ahmad Hasaballah | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency said its staff are “no longer able to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

“Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life,” the commissioner-general of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said in a statement Sunday, warning they will soon run out of food and medicine too.

“There is not one drop of water, not one grain of wheat, not a litre of fuel that has been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the last eight days,” said Philippe Lazzarini. “An unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding under our eyes.”

In a statement to CNBC, Israel’s Defense Forces said: “Israel has no legal obligation to supply Gaza with electricity, fuel or goods. Gaza is independently capable of generating electricity and supplying water.”

The IDF claimed that “90% of Gaza’s water is sourced within the Gaza Strip,” and blamed Hamas militants for destroying the infrastructure at crossings “through which goods pass through everyday.”

The IDF also claimed the militants were diverting resources in Gaza for their own use.

The UNRWA has lost 14 of its staff members and said most of its 13,000 staff in the besieged enclave are now displaced or out of their homes.

“Unless we bring now supplies into Gaza, UNRWA and aid workers will not, be able to continue humanitarian operations,” Lazzarini said.

Joanna Tan, Natasha Turak

Death toll in Gaza rises to nearly 2,700; Israel’s hostage count jumps to 155

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 2,670 and 9,600 people have been wounded, according to Gaza’s health ministry, as Israel continues its offensive against Hamas militants in the besieged enclave. Deaths in the occupied West Bank also climbed, with 55 people killed and 1,200 others injured.

In Israel, more than 1,400 people have died while 3,500 were wounded, according to the government press office.

The number of hostages believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza jumped to 155, according to IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagar, who did not confirm if it was due to an increase in civilian abductees or combined military-civilian hostages.

Joanna Tan

Senate leader Schumer says chamber will rush through military aid to Israel

U.S. Capitol Police secure the U.S. Capitol in response to a call for a “Day of Rage” on October 13, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that the senate would push through a military aid package to help Israel in its war against the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

“We will work to move this aid through the senate ASAP, and the Israeli leaders made it clear to us they need the aid quickly,” said Schumer during a trip to Israel.

He said among Israel’s requests are additional interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been operating non-stop shooting down Hamas rockets from Gaza, and precision munitions.


China says Israel’s actions have ‘gone beyond self defense’ in Gaza

Internally displaced Palestinians take refuge in a United Nations school, in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

China urged Israel to heed calls from the international community to end its collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel’s actions have gone beyond self-defense and it should heed the call of the international community and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to stop its collective punishment of the people in Gaza,” China Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly told his Saudi Arabia counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in a call on Sunday.

Wang’s comments came during a series of calls over the weekend, as world leaders worked to prevent an escalation of the Israel-Hamas war into a broader Middle East crisis.

Read more here.

— Clement Tan

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