July 17, 2024

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Blast at Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza leaves massive wreckage

37 min read
Blast at Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza leaves massive wreckage

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Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow live updates here.

The Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike Tuesday that the military said killed a high-ranking Hamas leader who was involved in the Oct. 7 terror attacks that launched the latest devastating fighting.

The Israel Defense Forces said that Ibrahim Biari, one of the architects of the attacks, was killed along with other militants in the strike.

The strike caused adjacent buildings to collapse, IDF spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said. He accused of Hamas of using civilians as human shields. The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza said dozens were killed and hundreds were wounded. NBC News has not verified casualty figures.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to make another trip to Israel this week, the State Department said.

Blinken spoke Tuesday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in a phone call and “Secretary Blinken and President Herzog discussed efforts to safeguard U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza,” the State Department said in a statement.

And the Rafah crossing from Gaze into Egypt was set to open Wednesday for “a number of wounded to leave to complete their treatment in Egyptian hospitals,” a media director at the crossing said.

AIN EBEL, Lebanon — “Please don’t return now. Let’s wait and see what will happen.”

Those are the warnings, for now, from the mayor of the Christian village of Ain Ebel, as only the men remain amid renewed fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

The village is waiting and watching to see what will happen as tensions remain high and the possibility of armed conflict with Hezbollah, the militant group inside Lebanon, and Israel exists. People here still remember the last war between Hezbollah and Israel, which was in 2006 and lasted 30 days.

Bolivia says it breaks diplomatic ties with Israel; Chile, Colombia recall ambassadors

Bolivia said it was breaking diplomatic ties with Israel, citing airstrikes in Gaza, while Chile and Colombia said they were recalling their ambassadors.

Bolivia’s announcement is a step further than the actions announced by Chile and Colombia.

“Bolivia demands an end to the attacks in the Gaza Strip, which have so far caused thousands of civilian deaths and the forced displacement of Palestinians; as well as the cessation of the blockade that prevents the entry of food, water and other essential elements for life,” Bolivia’s minister of the presidency, María Nela Prada, said in a statement.

Chile’s Foreign Ministry said it recalled its ambassador to Israel, citing what it called “the unacceptable violations of International Humanitarian Law that Israel has incurred in the Gaza Strip.”

Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its government “expresses its strongest rejection of the actions of the Israeli security forces in Gaza, in areas densely populated by civilians.” It also called for a cease-fire.

Israel’s military has said it seeks to minimize civilian casualties and that it is striking Hamas in Gaza. The announcements by Chile, Colombia and Bolivia come after an airstrike at a refugee camp. Israel says a top Hamas commander and other Hamas militants were killed.

71-year-old American aid worker stuck in Gaza: ‘How many more children will find their only peace by dying?’

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Ramona Okumura, a 71-year-old retired prosthesis expert who lives in Seattle, traveled to Gaza to help children who lost limbs. She has been stuck in the enclave for more than three weeks.

She says her cohort has around seven days of food left.

“After more than three weeks of the thousands of explosions in Rafah, I can’t believe the State Department’s advice is to wait in Rafah near the border while all the bombs, missiles and shells from the sea are hitting everywhere in Rafah!” she said.

Okumura, a volunteer with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund as part of the Gaza Amputee Project, has been waiting for the Rafah border to open, like many other Americans.

“There is the almost constant vibration and noise from jets flying overhead, bombs and missiles hitting all around us at all hours of the day and night,” Okumura said.

She’s sheltering with colleagues and families in Gaza, where they are all struggling with food, water and location insecurity, and she wants the U.S. to help broker a cease-fire “to stop this massacre of children.”

“How many more children will find their only peace by dying?” she asked.

Cousin of hostage in Hamas video relieved ‘she is alive’

Alana Zeitchik, a cousin of Danielle Aloni, the woman identified as speaking in the newest hostage video released by Hamas, says the family was shocked but also relieved to see her in the video. 

“You never expect to see your family member in that condition. But of course there’s a sense of relief to see her alive,” Zeitchik said, adding, “She doesn’t look very well, and she’s clearly in distress.”

The IDF confirmed that Hamas is holding six of Zeitchik’s cousins, including Aloni.

“I have been afraid since Day One, and I will continue to be afraid until we have them back with us safely,” Zeitchik said in a message to her family. “We love you so much and we are doing everything in our power to bring you back.”

State Dept. says it’s unaware of any U.S. deaths in Gaza

The State Department is not aware of any reports of U.S. citizen deaths in the Gaza Strip, a spokesperson said today.

The spokesperson acknowledged that the ability of the U.S. government to confirm information about U.S. deaths there is extremely limited because of the security situation on the ground.

The State Department was not able to comment on specific cases, citing privacy considerations, but it said U.S. diplomats “have made thousands of phone calls and sent thousands of emails to U.S. citizens in Gaza, their immediate family members, and their loved ones who are inquiring with us on their behalf.”  

More than 400 Americans and their family members have requested help from the State Department to leave Gaza, about 1,000 people, Blinken testified to Congress today.

The impediment is simple,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s Hamas.”

White House opposes House Republican plan for Israel-only aid

President Biden would veto a House Republican proposal that would send aid to Israel but would require cuts to IRS funding and leave out assistance to Ukraine, the Office of Management and Budget said.

“The bill fails to meet the urgency of the moment by deepening our divides and severely eroding historic bipartisan support for Israel’s security,” the OMB said in a statement of administration policy.

“It inserts partisanship into support for Israel, making our ally a pawn in our politics, at a moment we must stand together,” it said.

The proposal by House Republicans includes $14.3 billion for Israel, and it would rescind the same amount in IRS funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, a law passed last year.

Blinken to travel again to Israel

Blinken will make another trip to Israel on Friday, the State Department said.

Blinken went to Israel in mid-October, and Biden visited in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas.

“Secretary Blinken will travel to Israel on Friday for meetings with members of the Israeli government and then will make other stops in the region,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Blinken today spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Blinken reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself, and the State Department said, “Secretary Blinken and President Herzog discussed efforts to safeguard U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.”

Top New York U.N. official retires amid ‘genocide’ in Gaza

The director of the United Nations’ New York office of the high commissioner for human rights, who is retiring, said in a letter that the U.N. has failed to end a “text-book case of genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

Craig Mokhiber wrote that “the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs, and coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military, leaves no room for doubt or debate.”

Mokhiber’s retirement goes into effect tomorrow, and a spokesman for the U.N. said there will be a recruitment process to fill the vacant post.

“Mr. Mokhiber informed the UN back in March 2023 of his upcoming retirement,” it said in a statement. “The views in a letter made public today are his personal views.”

Mokhiber condemned the U.S., the United Kingdom and much of Europe for allowing the “horrific assault” on Palestinians to continue and “giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.”

Mokhiber began working for the U.N. in 1992 and lived in Gaza as a U.N. human rights adviser. He cited his experience with the campaigns against the Tutsis, the Yazidi and the Rohingya that informed his use of the word “genocide” to describe the situation in Gaza.

“High Commissioner, we are failing again,” he wrote in his letter, addressed to the high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk.

IDF ‘do not know yet’ number of civilian deaths in Jabalia strike, spokesman says

A spokesperson for the IDF said earlier today the military did not yet know the extent of collateral damage caused by an airstrike in the Gaza Strip that it said killed a major Hamas figure.

“I can understand that there are reports of civilian casualties. They are still unconfirmed,” an IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said in a video posted to social media.

“We do not know yet from a verifiable source how many noncombatants have been killed,” he said. He said the military takes “every precaution in order to minimize collateral damage.”

The strike killed Ibrahim Biari, a senior Hamas commander who was one of the architects of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, the IDF has said.

The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza said dozens of other people were killed and hundreds were wounded. NBC News has not independently verified figures of casualties.

Another IDF spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said today that when it struck Biari, it caused the collapse of adjacent buildings. He said Hamas is using the civilian population “as protective armor,” adding, “This is intentional and devastatingly barbaric.”

In a video address, Israeli President Isaac Herzog called upon world leaders to make sure the Jewish community is protected from global antisemitism. Jewish people all over the world are embroiled in the conflict together, he said.

“When they criticize Israel defending its people and fighting against the most brutal attack that humanity has seen in the last generation, they mean no Jews,” Herzog said.

He said Israel is fighting a battle on behalf of the entire world. Just because this conflict started with Jews in Israel, he said, does not mean it ends there. “Europe will be next,” he said.

War divides typically unified LGBTQ activists

The Israel-Hamas war has divided the LGBTQ community in a way few issues have. Israel appeared to weigh in on the rift over the weekend when its official account on X reshared a video of someone waving what appeared to be a combination of a rainbow Pride flag and the Palestinian flag at a pro-Palestinian rally in New York City. 

“Looking forward to seeing Hamas raise the rainbow flag across Gaza as a thank you for your solidarity,” the account wrote. 

Signs reading “Queers for Palestine” have also been displayed at pro-Palestinian protests around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada and Tunisia.

Queer Palestinians are often subjected to a hostile living environment and sometimes face violence, according to the U.K.-based LGBTQ advocacy group Human Dignity Trust.

But critics have accused Israel of using its record on LGBTQ issues to gloss over, or “pinkwash,” its treatment of Palestinians.

LGBTQ advocate Matt Bernstein, who is Jewish, wrote on Instagram this month that while the attacks by Hamas were “incomprehensible,” he “cannot ‘stand with israel.’” 

“i am not advocating for the oppression of queer palestinians,” he wrote in a lengthy post. “i am advocating for their right to not die.”

A group of smaller LGBTQ advocacy groups suggested the Palestinian people should have the right to self-governance but urged LGBTQ Americans to rally around Israel.

“As LGBTQ and Allied Americans, we know what it is like to have violent extremists attempt to target and kill us for who we are and who we love,” the group wrote in a petition.


UNRWA reports 3 more dead in Gaza, bringing total to 67

Three additional UNRWA staff members have been killed as of yesterday, the result of ongoing airstrikes in Gaza. That brings the total number of UNRWA staff members lost to 67 and 22 injured since the war began.

More than 670,000 people continue to shelter in place in nearly 150 UNRWA zones throughout the Gaza Strip.

In Gaza, humanitarian aid remains dire, and assistance currently available is not enough to cover basic needs of the affected population. Since the start of the war, 44 UNRWA sites have also been damaged. Nine UNRWA sites remain operational in the middle and southern areas of Gaza.

The agency reported that 4,282 people visited the sites yesterday.

Most aid trucks entered Gaza in a single day, Kirby says

Kelly O’Donnell and Annemarie Bonner

Another 66 trucks of aid entered Gaza today, according to Kirby, the National Security Council spokesperson, who described the move as the highest single-day number so far.

It’s still just a fraction of the need, however, and the U.S. is urging restoration of key services, such as water and fuel, he added.

Kirby also said the U.S. is supporting the safe passage of civilians out of Gaza and blames the difficulty of getting civilians out on Hamas.

“They are putting obstacles up to allow us to get folks out. It’s not Israel. It’s not Egypt. It’s not places like Jordan. Hamas has been making it difficult to do this,” he said.

Kirby reaffirmed, however, that Hamas has not gotten hold of any of the supplies that have reached Gaza.

President Biden is scheduled to speak to King Abdullah of Jordan this afternoon to address the worsening crisis.

Cornell identifies student accused of making antisemitic threats

A 21-year-old Cornell University junior was charged Tuesday night with making threats via interstate communication after he threatened Jewish students at the institution, authorities said.

Patrick Dai, a junior at Cornell, faces a charge of posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications, federal prosecutors in the Northern District of New York said.

The student allegedly threatened to “shoot up” a campus building and he would “stab”or “slit the throat” of Jewish men and rape or throw off a cliff Jewish women he encounters on campus, according to the prosecutors.

The suspect allegedly made the threats on a virtual discussion board for Cornell students that’s connected to the internet, prosecutors said.

Read the full story here.

Generators at Gaza hospitals are near shutdown, spokesman says

The main electrical generators in the Dar Al-Shifa Medical Complex and the Indonesian Hospital in the Gaza Strip are just hours away from shutdown, according to Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“We send an urgent distress call to all our brothers from oil-producing countries to intervene urgently to supply the Al-Shifa Medical Complex and the Indonesian Hospital with fuel to save the lives of the wounded and sick,” Al-Qudra said.

Between the hospitals, there are 42 children under life support incubators, 62 patients wounded and under artificial respiration and 650 with kidney failure, and hundreds of operations are taking place, he said.

Funerals continue in Israel

Friends and family members mourn Yosef Vahav, 65, who was killed in the Hamas attack on the Nir Oz kibbutz, at his funeral today in Beit Guvrin, Israel.

Funeral of Yosef Vahav from Kibbutz Nir Oz, in Beit Guvrin
Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Gazans should be moved to hospital ships, Israel’s national security adviser says

The head of Israel’s National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, suggested that Palestinian civilians in Gaza be taken to hospital ships for treatment.

The Israeli government wants to encourage the population in northern Gaza to evacuate, Hanegbi said at a news conference, adding that various countries have offered to send hospital ships to the shore. He also that the wounded could be transferred to Egyptian hospitals.

“This is our obligation as a country that operates in accordance with the laws of war,” Hanegbi said.

The IDF has accused Hamas of building headquarters and tunnels underneath civilian hospitals as a form of cover from bombardments.

‘There will be no winners in this war,’ chef Yotam Ottolenghi says in post

Yotam Ottolenghi, the Israeli-born British chef known for his award-winning cookbooks, is expressing his “deep sadness” about what’s happening in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

“There will be no winners in this war,” Ottolenghi said on Instagram. “For now, I call on people to really listen and understand the suffering of others, to open their hearts and to give to charities that ease the pain on both sides and that promote dialogue.”

Ottolenghi is the author of nine bestselling books, one of them a National Book Award winner. In addition, he is the chef-patron of the Ottolenghi Group, which includes three restaurants in London.

ANALYSIS: ‘It will just delay aid to Israel’: Speaker Johnson’s move on aid is dividing GOP leadership

Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman joins “Morning Joe” to discuss House Speaker Mike Johnson’s using the bipartisan goal of providing aid to Israel to pick a fight with Biden over his signature achievement.

U.N. relief chief worries about dehydration, spread of disease in Gaza

A United Nations relief chief on the ground in Israel said he’s concerned that the conflict in Gaza will spread further, and he called, once again, for a humanitarian pause to the war.

He said he spoke to families in Gaza over the phone today, including an 8-year-old who told him, “We don’t want to die.”

“Dehydration is an increasing concern, as is the possibility of the spread of disease and other health concerns due to unsafe water and breakdown in sewage treatment services,” said Martin Griffiths, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator and under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, through another U.N. chief at a briefing today.

Griffiths is also concerned by requests from Israeli authorities for hospitals to be evacuated, adding that moving would be a “death sentence” for babies in incubators and those on life support.

“The current situation may pale in comparison with what is to come,” he said. “There is a genuine risk that this war could escalate further and spill over into [the] wider region. We must take urgent collective action to prevent this.”  

Photo: Grief outside Gaza hospital

A mourner holds up the body of a relative today as it is transported for burial at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza.

A mourner holds up the body of a relative as it is transported for burial at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on Oct. 31, 2023.
Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu via Getty Images

‘Bring them home now’: Pressure mounts on Netanyahu to prioritize Israeli hostages

TEL AVIV — Across the street from the Israeli Ministry of Defense, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was telling the nation in a speech to prepare for a long and hard war in the Gaza Strip, the chanting was loud, relentless and urgent.

At a demonstration near the ministry’s imposing tower on Saturday, two people with megaphones repeated “Bring them home now!” for at least 20 minutes. A hundreds-strong crowd echoed, “Now!”

As Israel intensifies its ground operation against Hamas and bombards Gaza from the air, it is simultaneously working to defend those actions to a world outraged by a spiraling humanitarian crisis. But perhaps the most acute pressure on Netanyahu comes from the families of the 240 Israelis still being held hostage.

Their imprisonment since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 is one factor fueling the Israeli anger against the country’s embattled leader. In addition to blaming Netanyahu for failing to protect Israelis from the assault, many think he has not been sufficiently proactive, sympathetic or communicative with families of the captives. A growing number also disapprove of prioritizing a military campaign in Gaza over the hostages’ safe return.

Read the full story here.

UNICEF worker in Gaza ‘cannot provide my kids with the basic needs of life’

Over the last few weeks, nearly 40 UNICEF workers have remained in Gaza to continue their humanitarian work while tending to their own families under increasingly desperate conditions.

In a voice memo shared with NBC News, one of them, a young Palestinian mother of two, describes huddling with more than 55 members of her extended family for two days in isolation and darkness.

“No internet connection, no line, way or any means of communication,” the woman, whose first name is Nesma, says in the Oct. 29 recording. “The only way for us to get some bits and pieces of news, was by gathering around my mother-in-law’s old radio.”

Her daughter, Zane, 7, was asking for “regular water” like on a “regular day.”

“I couldn’t afford to tell her this is not one of our regular days,” Nesma says in the voice memo.

Her younger daughter, Talia, 4, was “showing severe symptoms of stress and fear and resorts to self-harm like ripping her hair off and scratching her thighs until they bleed,” Nesma says.

She concludes by saying: “Since the seventh of this month my mission in life has become to keep them alive. I don’t have the luxury to think about their mental health. As a humanitarian worker, I feel absolutely helpless as I cannot provide my kids with the basic needs of life, let alone the children of Gaza.”

“I keep telling myself, ‘Nesma, keep them alive.’”

More tonight on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. 

317 Israeli soldiers have been killed in action, IDF says

The number of Israeli soldiers killed since Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack and Israel’s ensuing war against Hamas has climbed to 317, including two today, according to the IDF.

The IDF has created a website honoring each of the fallen soldiers, most of them young men and women.

The highest number of soldier deaths occurred on Oct. 7, as troops battled more than 2,000 Hamas members who crossed into Israel in the surprise attack.

Senate confirms Jack Lew as U.S. ambassador to Israel as war rages in Middle East

WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed Jack Lew to be the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, as Congress gears up for a fight over how to provide funding to support Israel in its war against Hamas.

The vote was 53-43 with support from only two Republicans: Sens. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina. No members of the Democratic Caucus voted against him.

Lew, 68, had been expected to receive widespread support from Senate Democrats, but it was unclear how many Republicans he could win over. He needed only a simple majority to be confirmed.

The U.S. has not had a Senate-confirmed ambassador to Israel since Tom Nides left the administration in July. Stephanie Hallett, a career diplomat, has been the top official at the U.S. Embassy in the interim.

Read the full story here.

Al Jazeera reporter said her family was told to leave Gaza home in threatening phone call

Youmna ElSayed, a reporter with Al Jazeera, said her husband received a threatening phone call warning the family to evacuate their home and move to the southern section of the Gaza Strip.

The caller purported to be a member of the Israeli military and told ElSayed’s husband that the area around their home was going to be very dangerous soon. ElSayed said they were the only ones in the building to have received the call.

“None of the other six families got a warning call from the Israeli military, like we did, so this was a direct threat just to us, to our family,” she said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists included details of the phone call to ElSayed as part of its report on the risks of reporting on the war yesterday, noting that journalists from BBC, Al Jazeera, RT Arabic and Al-Araby TV have reported obstructions to their reporting since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

More than 400 Americans and their family members blocked from leaving Gaza by Hamas, Blinken says

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his department is focused on trying to get more than 400 Americans and their families, totaling about 1,000 people, out of Gaza. They’re being blocked from leaving by Hamas but are in close communication with the State Department, he said.

“We’ve had about 5,500 communications that we’ve initiated, phone calls, emails, WhatsApp, to be in touch with them to try to guide them as best we can and to work for their ability to leave,” Blinken said.

He added that roughly 5,000 other foreigners are also seeking to get out.

Blinken was speaking at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on national security. He was interrupted by several protesters chanting for a cease-fire in Gaza and raising red-stained hands. Approximately 12 were arrested, according to the Capital Police.

“Cease-fire now — save the children of Gaza. Cease-fire now — where is your pride, America?” shouted one protester.


Hamas military wing to release some hostages ‘in the coming days’

Lina Dandees and Gabrielle Vitali

TEL AVIV — The military wing of Hamas, Qassam Brigades, will release a number of foreign hostages, the group’s spokesperson Abu Ubaida said in a speech, although it wasn’t clear when or how many would be freed.

“Some countries have intervened, through mediators, to free some foreign nationals detained in Gaza, and we have received the requests from these countries,” Ubaida said. “Therefore, we informed the mediators that we will release a number of foreigners in the coming days.”

Ubaida noted the release comes from “neither desire nor need to keep them or continue their detention in Gaza.”

Earlier today, Israel’s national security adviser Tzahi Hanegbi said there is no “hostage deal in sight,” adding that “the end of the war is not close” because Hamas must first cease to exist.

Rafah crossing may open tomorrow for the wounded

JERUSALEM — The Rafah land crossing between Gaza and Egypt will be open tomorrow for “a number of wounded to leave to complete their treatment in Egyptian hospitals,” said Wael Abu Omar, a media director at the crossing.

Without confirmation from the Egyptian side and approval from Israel, however, it’s not a done deal yet.

The Rafah border crossing is the only land route out of Gaza that is not controlled by the Israeli government. It was shut down after Israel’s full siege of Gaza and only opened to allow a limited number of trucks carrying relief supplies into the embattled enclave.

IDF says refugee camp strike killed top Hamas commander

The Israeli military said it killed Ibrahim Biari, a senior Hamas commander who was one of the architects of the Oct. 7 terror attack, during a devastating strike on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza.

Hamas denied that any of its leadership was in Jabalia at the time of the strike. NBC News has not independently verified Biari’s death.

The “elimination” of Biari, the commander of Hamas’ Central Jabaliya Battalion, was part of a wide-scale “strike on terrorists and terror infrastructure,” the IDF said in a statement.

The strike destroyed at least 20 homes, according to Hamas. The nearby Indonesian Hospital said dozens of people were killed and hundreds more were wounded. Photos and video of the scene show piles of rubble and debris surrounding huge holes in the ground where buildings apparently once stood.

The IDF added that the strike caused underground Hamas infrastructure beneath buildings to collapse and damaged the militant group’s control in the area. “The IDF reiterates its call to the residents of the area to move south for their safety,” the statement added.

UNICEF: ‘Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children’

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder reiterated the organization’s calls for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and pleaded for the killing of children to stop.

“Reportedly more than 3,450 children [have been] killed; staggeringly this rises significantly every day,” he said at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. “Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It’s a living hell for everyone else.”

Elder spoke about the growing threat of child deaths caused by dehydration due to the lack of safe drinking water in Gaza. He said the two children of one of his colleagues in Gaza are getting sick by drinking dirty water.

“Four-year-old Talia is showing severe symptoms of stress and fear and is now self-harming, such as ripping her hair off and scratching her thighs until they bleed,” he said. “And yet as her mother explains: I don’t have the luxury to think about my children’s mental health.”

Elder said the cost of conflict in Gaza does not end when the fighting stops. Rather, he said, communities will need mental health and psychosocial support for generations to come.

A Palestinian man holds the body of a relative during a funeral service in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on Oct. 31, 2023.
A Palestinian man holds the body of a relative during a funeral service today in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza.Mahmud Hams / AFP – Getty Images

Dozens killed in blast at Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital reports

ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER — The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza reported that the initial combined numbers of people killed and injured in the strike on the Jabalia refugee camp today is 400.

The hospital director, Dr. Atef Al-Kahlot, confirmed these numbers in a news conference, adding that they are still looking for missing persons and carrying out rescue operations.

The Indonesian Hospital said most of the casualties were children or women.

Jabalia is the largest of Gaza’s eight refugee camps, located north of Gaza City.

Syracuse University cancels lecture by Middle Eastern studies scholar over ‘safety concerns’

Syracuse University has canceled plans to host a Middle Eastern studies scholar for a “teach-in” lecture today because the school is “not able to confidently ensure the safety of the attendees, the speaker and our whole campus community,” according to a letter from the chancellor that was sent to the campus and obtained by NBC News.

“Syracuse University cares deeply about free speech and remains strongly committed to academic freedom. We support those seeking to become better informed about important public issues, such as the conflict in the Middle East,” said Kent Syverud, the university’s chancellor and president. “However, in the current environment, it is vital that all of us plan carefully and in advance to ensure free speech also occurs in a time, place and manner that takes into account the safety and security of our whole community.”

Syverud said the event was brought to the university administration’s attention “less than 24 hours ago” after a faculty member involved in planning it contacted the school’s public safety department with “safety concerns.”

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, the founding director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program at San Francisco State University, had been scheduled to speak, according to a spokesperson for the university. Abdulhadi’s work includes advocating for Palestinian people, and she has been vocal in her criticism of the Israeli government.

Syverud said the university will “work with the organizers to reschedule this event when it can be done safely.”

Amnesty International alleges IDF used white phosphorus in unlawful Lebanon attack

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called for a war crimes investigation after alleging in a report today that the Israeli military used white phosphorus munitions in several unlawful military operations along Lebanon’s southern border.

Israel, however, has not signed and is not bound by the United Nations convention on the use of white phosphorus.

Amnesty said it used photos, videos and interviews with civilians and first-responders to verify the munitions used. In one video, a resident poked material in a backyard that appeared to be crusted over with white phosphorus and it reignited.

Specifically, Amnesty said in its report that Israel used white phosphorus munitions near the populated civilian town of Dhayra. One attack, the report said, injured nine civilians.

White phosphorus is a chemical that burns at extremely high temperatures when exposed to air and is typically used by militaries to create light or smoke screens. But its use is contentious among human rights groups, who say that in some circumstances it breaks international human rights laws if civilians could be harmed.

If humans come into direct contact with the substance, it can stick to the skin and burn down to the bone. White phosphorus embedded in wounds can spontaneously reignite and lead to severe injury or death, according to the World Health Organization.

An IDF spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but earlier this month the military said in a statement that the “main type of smoke-screen shells used by the IDF do not contain white phosphorous” and that “other smoke-screen shells, with white phosphorus, are not unlawful and many Western militaries possess them, including the IDF.”

The IDF said its policies prohibit the use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas, subject to certain exceptions.

Amnesty International’s allegations follow a similar report published by Human Rights Watch on Oct. 12.

Hamas could inspire attacks in the U.S., FBI director says

The Israel-Hamas war is escalating threats to the United States, FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing today.

“We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago. In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West,” he said.

“The cyber targeting of American interests and critical infrastructure that we already see conducted by Iran and nonstate actors alike — we can expect to get worse if the conflict expands,” Wray added.

Read the full story here.

Rocket hits Ashdod outside apartment building

ASHDOD, Israel — A rocket hit a parking lot outside an apartment building in Ashdod in Israel’s Southern District not long ago, causing multiple vehicles to burst into flames.

Cars were charred, with at least one vehicle turned on its side. At least two people were lifted into ambulances, but first responders told NBC News said no one appeared to be seriously injured.

One resident in the area stood outside shaking. She said she had heard loud blasts and was terrified.

Sirens had also blared by Ashdod’s coast around the same time, with booms ringing out shortly after as the Iron Dome appeared to make at least one interception.

Multiple cars burst into flames in Ashdod in Israel's southern district after a rocket hit a parking lot.
Multiple cars burst into flames in Ashdod in Israel’s Southern District after a rocket hit a parking lot. Chantal Da Silva / NBC News

Photos show enormous craters after Jabalia refugee camp blast

Images appear to show large craters in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip after the government office in Gaza says 20 homes were destroyed.

Rubble and debris surround huge holes in the ground where buildings apparently once stood. Palestinians can be seen gathered around the craters, shifting through wreckage.

Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp
Anas al-Shareef / Reuters
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, October 31, 2023.
Anas al-Shareef / Reuters

No hostage deal ‘in sight,’ Israel’s national security adviser says

ISRAEL — Israel’s national security adviser Tzahi Hanegbi said that the National Security Council does not “see a hostage deal in sight,” adding that “the end of the war is not close” because Hamas must first cease to exist.

“It is our duty to continue to distinguish between murderers and those who are not involved, to encourage the civilian population to settle in the south,” Hanegbi said.

He also said that while he understands Egypt’s fear of allowing the migration of displaced people into its territory, there are ways for the country to help citizens uninvolved in the conflict.

“We think its important, despite their fear, to give medical care to the wounded in Egyptian hospitals,” Hanegbi said.

Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza hit with a massive blast

ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER — A massive blast has hit the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the Health Ministry there.

At least 20 homes were completely destroyed, the government office in Gaza said. Victims were taken to the nearby Indonesian-run hospital for treatment, with an official count of casualties not immediately available.

Israel has not yet publicly addressed the blast and NBC News has not independently verified any details.

Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp
Abed Sabah / Reuters

Video shows freed Israeli hostage reuniting with her family

Pvt. Ori Megidish, an IDF soldier who was rescued by the Israeli military during a ground operation in Gaza yesterday, reunites with her family.

Houthi spokesperson says group fired rockets at Israel

Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesperson, said in a post on X that the Houthis, a group of Iran-backed Shia rebels in Yemen, “launched a large number of ballistic and winged missiles” at Israeli targets.

He wrote that the group “will continue to carry out more qualitative missile and drone attacks” until Israel’s “aggression” against Palestinians in Gaza ends.

The IDF said earlier today that the Israeli air force had intercepted a surface-to-surface missile in the area of the Red Sea.

Houthis have been at war with the Saudi Arabian coalition in Yemen since 2015.

Evidence collected from scorched vehicles after Hamas attack

Police officers inspect cars that were damaged during the Hamas attack on the southern border of Israel, at a location in Netivot today.

Israel Escalates Ground Operations And Aerial Attacks In Campaign To Defeat Hamas
Amir Levy / Getty Images

Celebrations in Israeli city as freed soldier returns home

KIRYAT GAT, Israel — Celebrations are well underway in Kiryat Gat, a city in southern Israel, where a soldier taken hostage by Hamas has returned home after Israel announced yesterday she had been freed during ground operations in Gaza.

Music blasted outside Pvt. Ori Megidish’s building as residents gathered to celebrate her return. A man with a cane danced jubilantly with neighbors as children raced around handing out candy and holding up a newspaper announcing her rescue.

One neighbor, Yael Shushan, told NBC News that Megidish appeared to be doing as well as could be. “She’s all right,” said Shushan, who has been neighbors with Megidish’s family for at least a decade.

She said the family was “excited” and relieved, with the whole community “happy she’s come home.”

Yael Shushan, right, celebrates the return of Ori Megidish with another neighbor today.
Yael Shushan, right, celebrates the return of Ori Megidish with another neighbor today.Chantal Da Silva / NBC News

Megidish was kidnapped by Hamas militants as they swept through southern Israel on Oct. 7, Israeli officials said. The exact details of her rescue have yet to be released.

She was medically examined and found to be in good condition, the IDF and the Shin Bet security service said in a previous joint statement.

U.N. officials say ‘basic services are crumbling’ in Gaza amid Israeli offensive

EILAT, Israel — Netanyahu rejected the U.N. Security Council’s calls for a cease-fire as the Israeli military is battling with Hamas inside the Gaza Strip. NBC News reports on the latest on trucks trying to get aid to Gaza amid the ongoing IDF ground operation.

Grief and loss on the streets of Khan Younis

A Palestinian man is comforted during a funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip today.

A mourner reacts during a funeral of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes,, in Khan Younis
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

Gaza faces imminent ‘public health catastrophe,’ WHO warns

A World Health Organization official said today that a “public health catastrophe” was imminent in Gaza amid overcrowding, mass displacement and damage to water and sanitation infrastructure. At the same press briefing, a spokesperson from the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, warned of the risk of infant deaths due to dehydration with just 5% of normal water supplies available.

Two Gaza hospital generators to stop tomorrow, Health Ministry says

ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER — The generators at the Al-Shifa and Indonesian hospitals are expected to stop working tomorrow, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

A lack of energy has reached a crisis point in recent weeks as aid groups push for Israel to allow fuel to be brought in to Gaza. Negotiations over the release of hostages have stalled as Hamas insists on being able to receive fuel, a source with knowledge of the talks told NBC News yesterday.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said today that there has been no fuel among the 144 trucks delivering supplies since the Rafah crossing was opened to humanitarian aid.

Israel has alleged that Hamas has fuel available that the organization has refused to supply to hospitals.

Charities and aid organizations have warned that vital medical and humanitarian work will stop if there are is not sufficient fuel.

A family is mourned in Rafah, southern Gaza

Palestinians mourn five members of the same family during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip today.

Israel said on October 31 its forces battled Hamas inside Gaza overnight and struck 300 targets after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu categorically ruled out a ceasefire as a "surrender" to the Palestinian militant group.
Said Khatib / AFP – Getty Images

‘The entire family just disappeared,’ friend of Hamas hostage says

Richard EngelNBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Host of MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel”

ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER — The Trupanov family came to Israel 25 years ago, but every member has either been killed or is being held hostage by Hamas, a longtime friend of the family told NBC News.

“Four from the family got kidnapped, and one got murdered. There is no more family,” Netta Alon said.

Yesterday, a new video released by Hamas showed Lena Trupanov being held hostage and Alon is calling for her release. “We’re not happy to see her like that,” Alon said. She doesn’t know if other family members were also alive.

As Gaza faces relentless bombing, Alon worries for their safety. “This is the reason why we want her back now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not in a few days,” she said. “If they’re not coming back, there is no more Trupanov family.”

Four bases with U.S. troops attacked yesterday, military source says

Richard EngelNBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Host of MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel”

ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER — A total of four bases where U.S. troops are stationed in the Middle East were attacked yesterday, according to a senior U.S. military official.

The Iran-backed Islamic Resistance said yesterday it attacked U.S. and coalition forces at Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq, NBC News previously reported, but the rockets didn’t result in any casualties or infrastructure damage.

Three other bases were also attacked in the region, the senior military official said today. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Israeli military releases more video of its ground operation inside the Gaza Strip

The Israeli military released video of what it said were troops operating in the Gaza Strip. The footage showed vehicles clearing paths for tanks and troops walking by destroyed buildings.

Thousands evacuate south Lebanon, IDF says as its warplanes attack Hezbollah

The Israel Defense Forces said today its warplanes attacked Hezbollah infrastructure in Lebanon.

Israel Lebanon border tensions
Smoke rising near the northern Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Giladi along the border with Lebanon yesterday.AFP – Getty Images

“We will attack in response to any attempted attack, and we will eliminate any squad that tries to shoot or penetrate our territory,” spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

He added that thousands of Lebanese have left the southern part of the country in the recent week, “on their own initiative, fearing that Hezbollah will bring war on them.”

Mother of Israeli hostages breaks down at Kibbutz house

Hadas Kalderon, whose children have been taken hostage, and her mother and niece killed, breaks down in tears while looking through the burned-out home of her mother, Rina Sutzkever, in the Nir Oz kibbutz, Israel, yesterday.

Israel Continues To Mourn Oct 7 Attack Victims, While Many Remain Unidentified
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Journalist turns himself in to IDF to free his detained wife, CPJ reports

Mohamed Bader, a journalist with the Saudi news outlet al-Hadath, turned himself in to the IDF on Saturday after his wife was arrested in the West Bank, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Palestinian Prisoners Authority said Bader’s wife, fellow journalist Soujoud al-Assi, was arrested as part of a series of overnight raids in which 25 people were arrested. The IDF confirmed to NBC News on Sunday that it arrested 23 people “suspected of involvement in terrorist activity” but did not answer specifically to al-Assi’s arrest.

CPJ confirmed Bader’s surrender with al-Hadath editor-in-chief Rola Sarhan and spoke to al-Assi after she was released Saturday. Al-Assi told CPJ that she was arrested to pressure her husband into surrendering to the IDF.

Bader had previously been in a four-month administrative detention from April to August, according to the Palestinian news website Amad.

U.S. rejects Russian allegations the West was behind the Dagestan riot

The U.S. has nothing to do with the Russian claims that the West was behind the riots in Dagestan, national security spokesman John Kirby said yesterday, calling it “classic Russian rhetoric.”

Hundreds of people swarmed a flight coming from Israel during the weekend at the airport in Makhachkala, breaking glass doors around the airport and injuring police officers. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of organizing the chaos.

“The West had nothing to do with this. This is just hate, bigotry and intimidation. Pure and simple,” Kirby said.

Hostage total rises to 240, IDF says

JERUSALEM — The number of hostages held in Gaza has risen to 240, the Israeli military said in a statement this morning.

The updated toll came even after the IDF said it rescued one of its soldiers, Pvt. Ori Megidish, last night. The total increased from 239 amid what the IDF said was a “complex identification” process.

“We will continue to make every effort, and take advantage of every opportunity, to return them back home,” IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in the statement.

The Israeli government and its military have come under increasing pressure to free the captives, with emotional protests in Tel Aviv and elsewhere calling for a cease-fire or a prisoner exchange with Palestinians being held in Israel.

Israeli ambassador to the U.N. wears a yellow star drawing a sharp rebuke from Israel’s Holocaust memorial

The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations wore a yellow star on his lapel yesterday, likening the current crisis to the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, the official Israeli memorial for the Holocaust, described the act as dishonorable.

United Nations Security Council Meets On Israel And Hamas War
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan during a Security Council meeting in New York City yesterday.Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

“This act dishonors both the victims of the Holocaust and the State of Israel,” Dani Dayan, the chairman of Yad Vashem, wrote on X. “The yellow star symbolizes the helplessness of the Jewish people and being at the mercy of others,” he said.

“Today we have an independent country and a strong army. We are masters of our destiny,” Dayan said, emphasizing that Israelis now wear a blue-and-white flag, “not a yellow star.”

Humanitarian cease-fire ‘a matter of life and death,’ U.N. agency chief says

As Israel’s bombardment of Gaza shows no sign of relenting, UNRWA, the U.N. agency charged with the development of the enclave, repeated its call for a cease-fire and more aid to be sent in.

“An immediate humanitarian cease-fire has become a matter of life and death for millions,” Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the U.N. Security Council yesterday, adding a cease-fire is necessary for a “safe, unimpeded, substantial and continuous flow of humanitarian aid, including fuel.”

According to UNRWA, 64 of its aid workers have been have been killed so far, underscoring the dangers of providing humanitarian aid during Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza. It is the “highest number of U.N. aid workers killed in a conflict in such a short time,” Lazzarini said.

Day breaks over the rubble in Rafah

A young man steps through the rubble of destroyed buildings in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip today.

Israel said on October 31 its forces battled Hamas inside Gaza overnight and struck 300 targets after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu categorically ruled out a ceasefire as a "surrender" to the Palestinian militant group.
Said Khatib / AFP – Getty Images

Hamas describes encounters with Israeli ground forces

Hamas’s military wing, Qassam Brigades, said today that it has targeted an Israeli ground force with mortar shells in northern Gaza, near the border.

In an update posted on Telegram, Qassam Brigades said it struck three Israeli vehicles with missiles in northern Gaza, adding that it opened fire from an “ambush.”

Top Hamas commander killed, IDF says

The IDF said today that its fighter jets killed Nasim Abu Ajina, a top Hamas commander, who is alleged to have played a key role in the Oct 7. attacks on Israel. Hamas has not separately confirmed Abu Ajina’s death.

The IDF said it also killed several Hamas militants that “fired both anti-tank missiles and machine gun fire.”

“The soldiers killed terrorists and directed air forces to real-time strikes on targets and terror infrastructure,” it said, adding it had struck more than 300 targets since yesterday, as Israel continues to intensify its ground incursions into Gaza. Targets included “military compounds inside underground tunnels,” the IDF said.


Freed teen hostage Natalie Raanan returns to Chicago

Natalie Raanan, the teen who was taken hostage by Hamas along with her mother and later released, has now returned to Chicago, the Israeli Embassy said.

“Her family members have been anxiously waiting for her return, and today I am sharing their happiness,” Yinam Cohen, Israel’s consul general to the Midwest, said in a statement.

Raanan and her mother, Judith Raanan, were released Oct. 20, but the family believes seven more members are still missing, and another was confirmed to have been killed by Hamas.

“While we’re celebrating Natalie’s return, we remember the 239 hostages, among them babies, children, women, and the elderly, who are still held by Hamas in Gaza,” Cohen said.

Shattered buildings in devastated Gaza City neighborhood

Flames and smoke rise behind destroyed buildings in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City last night.

Israeli attacks on Gaza continue on the 24th day
Ali Jadallah / Anadolu via Getty Images

Catch up with NBC News’ latest coverage of the Israel-Hamas war

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