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February 9, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

What we covered

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Israeli military to plan for the evacuation of the more than 1.3 million Palestinians, many already displaced, believed to be in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
  • Aid organizations warned the forced displacement of so many people would have grave repercussions. The United Nations said it was "extremely worried" about Israel's plan while Human Rights Watch said a mass evacuation would have "catastrophic consequences."
  • Meanwhile, the speaker of the Israeli parliament canceled a meeting scheduled with Secretary-General António Guterres because of the UN leader's call for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza.
  • UN investigators said Friday that an Israeli undercover operation on a hospital in the occupied West Bank last month may amount to a war crime.  
  • Here's how to help humanitarian efforts in Israel and Gaza.
12:03 a.m. ET, February 10, 2024

Our live coverage of Israel's war in Gaza has moved here.
10:15 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

Iran-backed militia umbrella group vows to expel US troops from Iraq

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias in the country, says it will resume attacks on US targets and expel US troops from the country.

In a statement Friday night it said that the US, who it refers to as the occupying enemy, understands nothing but the "language of weapons" and that recent US strikes in Iraq including the killing of senior Kataib Hezbollah commander Wisam Mohammed Saber al-Saedi in Baghdad on Wednesday "violated the rules of engagement."

The IRI will respond with "strikes and broad attacks," it said, and called on others to join the resistance. It also said it was turning all efforts to "expelling the occupation at this historical state in Iraq and the region."

At around the same time Friday night, the Kataib Hezbollah militia, one of the most powerful armed factions in the IRI, vowed revenge for the killing of their commander Al-Saedi in a post on Telegram.

"It is the stage of revenge, and liberation and hell is coming," it said.

Late last month, Kataib Hezbollah said it was suspending its military operations against US forces in the region two days after a drone attack killed three US service members and wounded dozens of others.

The US, however, vowed to respond to the US soldier deaths, and has conducted deadly retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria in the last week to that end.

Kataib Hezbollah is not just part of the IRI, it is also part of the Hashd al Shaabi – or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – a predominantly Shiite Iran-backed paramilitary force based in Iraq. Unlike other Iran-backed groups around the region, the PMU is tied to the Iraqi government and officially falls under the authority of the Iraqi military forces.

9:53 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

Movement between hospital buildings restricted at Nasser Medical Complex due to fighting, doctor says

A medical doctor inside the Nasser Medical complex in Khan Younis said in a video Friday that the situation in the area is “very dangerous” and movement is restricted, adding that medical staff cannot move from one hospital building to another due to the fighting. 

Ahmed Moghrabi, the head of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Nasser Hospital, posted the video on his Instagram account. Gunfire and the sound of drones flying overhead can be heard in the video, which has been geolocated by CNN, as Moghrabi points his camera to show an empty street in the Gaza city, saying "We can't move at all."

In a statement Thursday, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health warned of a “health and humanitarian crisis” as a result of what it described as an Israeli “siege and targeting,” adding that there are 300 medical staff, 450 injured people and 10,000 displaced people in the Nasser Medical complex.

The Israeli military on Friday said troops were “continuing to conduct targeted raids in western Khan Yunis.”

CNN’s Ibrahim Dahman contributed reporting.
9:40 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

Israeli forces detain Palestine Red Crescent Society members and patients at Al-Amal Hospital, aid group says

Israeli ground forces detained eight members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), including four doctors, at Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis on Friday, the group said.

Four wounded individuals were also detained along with five of the patients' companions at the hospital, PRCS said in a statement Friday.

Israeli forces were in the hospital for approximately 10 hours, PRCS said.

"They conducted a search of the hospital, damaged some equipment, furniture, and appliances, detained, interrogated, beat, and humiliated the teams, and prevented them and patients’ companions from drinking and using the bathroom," the statement read.

Asked for comment on the claims, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with a statement neither confirming nor denying the detentions but said its forces "prioritize the safety of civilians, patients, medical workers, and medical facilities during the operation." 

The Israeli military also claimed Hamas is conducting activities in the hospital and that Israeli forces began an operation to locate Hamas members and dismantle the group's infrastructure in the vicinity.

CNN is unable to independently verify the claims made by either side at Al-Amal Hospital.

Around 220 patients and staff were at the Al-Amal hospital Friday, the PRCS said in an earlier statement.

10:09 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

Mass evacuation in Rafah would have "catastrophic consequences," human rights organization warns

People walk along a crowded street in Rafah, Gaza, on February 8. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned about the repercussions of forcibly evacuating displaced Palestinians in Rafah as Israel plans a military escalation in the southern Gaza city.

“Forcing the over one million displaced Palestinians in Rafah to again evacuate without a safe place to go would be unlawful and would have catastrophic consequences," HRW refugee and migrant rights researcher Nadia Hardman said. "There is nowhere safe to go in Gaza. The international community should take action to prevent further atrocities.”

HRW said the Israeli military has a responsibility to protect civilians whether they evacuate or not.

"Civilians who do not evacuate following warnings are still fully protected by international humanitarian law," HRW said. "Many civilians may be unable to heed a warning to evacuate for reasons of health, disability, fear, or lack of any place else to go."

HRW's statement comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Israeli forces to plan for the “evacuation of the population” from Rafah, adding the Israeli military would “soon go into Rafah, Hamas’s last bastion.” 

9:20 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

Israeli parliament speaker cancels meeting with UN chief after statement calling for ceasefire

The speaker of the Israeli parliament on Friday canceled a meeting scheduled with Secretary-General António Guterres because of the UN leader's call for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza.

"I intended to try and convince, as well as hand [the UN Secretary General] a book we prepared in the Knesset, documenting [October 7] with still images," Amir Ohana said in a statement. "But yesterday he again called on the State of Israel to stop fighting, criticizing it 'even if Hamas uses human shields.'"
Guterres said Thursday the level of destruction and number of people killed in Gaza show that “there is something wrong in the way the military operations are being conducted.”

Responding to a reporter who said Hamas is hiding within the civilian population, Guterres reiterated his condemnation of the use of human shields, adding that the protection of civilians is a must even in those circumstances. 

“I even said [the use of human shields is] a violation of international humanitarian law, but the same humanitarian international law is clear that even when there are human shields, there is an obligation to protect civilians,” he said. “In that regard, I think we are abiding by principle without double standards.”
In a news conference held after Ohana's statement, Guterres' spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters the secretary general's office knew about the cancelation first through the media before receiving an official notification, adding that Guterres' statement on Thursday was not new.
9:02 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

UN is "extremely worried" about Israel's military plans in Rafah

A woman and children sit outside tents sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, on February 8. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations is "extremely worried about the fate of civilians in Rafah," UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said Friday as Israel began drawing up an evacuation plan for the estimated 1.3 million Palestinians living in the southern Gaza city.

Speaking at his daily news briefing, Dujarric said people "need to be protected," but added that the UN also "does not want to see any forced mass displacement, of people, which is by definition against their will.”

UN Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths also issued a statement Friday urging for the protection of civilians.
"There's nowhere left to go in Gaza," Griffiths said. "Civilians must be protected and their essential needs, including shelter, food and health, must be met."

Griffiths added that Rafah's population of over 1 million people "have endured unthinkable suffering" and have been moving for months. 

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed Israel's military to plan for the “evacuation of the population” from Rafah, his office said in a statement, ahead of an anticipated ground assault.
The post was updated with the statement from Martin Griffiths.
7:08 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

CIA director will travel to Cairo next week for Gaza hostage talks

CIA Director Bill Burns is expected to travel to Cairo for a Tuesday meeting on the ongoing Gaza hostage negotiations, according to two sources familiar with the plans. 

One of the sources said Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Israel's Mossad Director David Barnea are also expected to attend.

5:52 p.m. ET, February 9, 2024

Israel's military plan for Rafah aims to drive Palestinians from Gaza, Abbas says

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans for a military escalation in Gaza's southern city of Rafah.

A statement issued by the Palestinian Authority’s presidential office said the real aim of Netanyahu's dual proposal to evacuate people from the overcrowded city of Rafah is to displace the Palestinian people from their land. 

The presidency denounced the potential forcible displacement of Palestinians from Rafah, already burdened with hundreds of thousands of displaced people from northern Gaza, as a "real threat" and "dangerous prelude" to implementing Israeli policies aimed at displacing Palestinians from their land.