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October 13, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

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1:05 a.m. ET, October 14, 2023

Biden spoke with families of missing Americans for about 45 minutes, father tells CNN

President Joe Biden spent about 45 minutes Friday speaking to family members of missing Americans in Israel, according to the father of missing American Sagui Dekel-Chen.
“As an American citizen, as an Israeli citizen, as someone whose beloved son, we are sure is being held alive, dead, wounded, we don’t know, I could not possibly ask for more than President Biden expressed about the United States' commitment to getting these people back,” Jonathan Dekel-Chen told CNN’s Abby Phillip. 

Dekel-Chen said it wasn’t an easy conversation, but that the president made it clear that he and the administration are in it for the “long haul.”

“As crazy as this must sound, at that moment, as proud as I am to be an Israeli I was no less proud to be an American as a result of that phone call,” he said. “And honestly most of the time he was listening to people’s stories and their desires for his action, and his answers were inspiring.” 

Although the president could not give much information, according to Dekel-Chen, the president’s “willingness to listen” was “extraordinary.” 

Dekel-Chen’s son, Sagui has been missing since Saturday when his kibbutz was invaded.

Some context: Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza, kidnapped a number of people, including both civilians and soldiers, during its October 7 attack on Israel. It's unclear how many people are being held hostage; Israeli authorities have said as many as 150 people may have been kidnapped. The IDF said Friday that it had notified 120 families of those taken hostage.
11:04 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Israeli military strikes Hezbollah target in southern Lebanon after infiltration and fire on IDF drone

The Israeli military says it has struck a Hezbollah target in southern Lebanon after one of its drones was fired on.

The move came in response to "the infiltration of unidentified aerial objects into Israel and fire on an IDF UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle]," the Israeli military said in a statement Saturday morning local time, adding that it intercepted both the aerial objects and the fire.

A CNN team on the ground in southern Lebanon heard two loud explosions in the early hours of Saturday.

In an earlier statement, the Israeli military said the "infiltration of an unidentified object" took place near the city of Shfar'am in northern Israel.

11:03 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

State Department tells some Palestinian-Americans that Rafah Crossing "may be open" Saturday afternoon

The closed gates of the Rafah Crossing Point, Gaza's border crossing with Egypt, on October 10, 2023. Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Some Palestinian-Americans have received their first set of instructions that family members stuck in Gaza may be able to evacuate into Egypt on Saturday afternoon, according to emails shared with CNN.

The US State Department's Consular Affairs Crisis Management System (CACMS) told family members that on Saturday the Rafah crossing "may be open."

"We understand the security situation is difficult, but if you wish to depart Gaza you may want to take advantage of this opportunity," the CACMS email said.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN they “are actively discussing this with our Israeli and Egyptian counterparts.”

“We support safe passage for civilians,” they said. “We are working with our Israeli and Egyptian partners to establish a safe humanitarian corridor both for Gazans trying to flee this war and to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches those in need within the territory.”

Anas Alfarra, a Lawful Permanent Resident of the US living in the San Francisco area who is trying to get family members out of Gaza, says the email falls short of what the US Embassy needs to be doing.

"Two 'mays' and a 'wish' in a situation that warrants much more," Alfarra told CNN.

Mai Abushaaban, a 22-year-old from Houston who also received the email, has been desperately trying to evacuate her mother and sister from Gaza this week.

"I’ve had to put a lot of pressure on the embassy," Abushaaban said. "It feels almost as though we were forgotten, I personally feel like we’re second-class citizens." 

This comes after the United States has continued to press the Egyptian and Israeli governments on “the importance of the Rafah crossing being open for American citizens and foreign nationals of other countries who want to leave and have the right to leave to be able to do so,” a senior State Department official said Friday.

US officials have been engaged in discussions for days to try to secure a humanitarian corridor that would allow Americans and other civilians to safely leave Gaza ahead of an expected Israeli military incursion.

The United Nations on Thursday said it was informed by the Israeli military that “the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours,” but IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN Friday that any deadline “may slip.”

The State Department official told the press traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the US' focus has been “on American citizens, but other countries you could presume are engaged in trying to get their foreign nationals out as well.”

There are an estimated 500-600 Palestinian-Americans in Gaza.

10:03 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Tens of thousands have fled since Israel's evacuation warning

Tens of thousands of people left their homes in Gaza on Friday after Israel's military warned over one million people living north of Wadi Gaza to move south, according to a statement by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Saturday.

Prior to the warning, more than 400,000 Palestinians had been internally displaced, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it had distributed food to 135,000 people in shelters across Gaza on Friday, but warned "humanitarian supplies are running low."

OCHA added that most people in Gaza now have no access to water.

"As a last resort, people are consuming brackish water from agricultural wells, triggering serious concerns about the spread of waterborne diseases," it said.
10:30 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Gaza's humanitarian crisis deepens. Here's what you should know

Palestinians flee from northern Gaza to the south after the Israeli army issued an unprecedented evacuation warning on Friday, October 13, 2023. Hatem Moussa/AP
As Israel tightens its chokehold in Gaza, a humanitarian crisis in the territory is rapidly spiraling amid warnings that people are at risk of starvation.
It comes as Israel has ordered more than a million people in Gaza to evacuate southward ahead of a potential Israeli ground operation, according to the United Nations. Many people in the enclave left their homes on Friday.

The Gaza Strip is one of most densely populated places on earth, with some 2 million people crammed in 140-square-mile territory.

Here's where things stand:
  • Offensive action from Israel: In addition to continued airstrikes, Israeli troops have carried out local raids over the past day in the Gaza Strip, searching for hostages and collecting evidence to find people taken by Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces said. Meanwhile, Israel has amassed more than 300,000 reservists along the Gaza border for a potential full ground operation. Israel has also been accused by the Palestinian Ministry of Health of the "targeting and killing of medical and ambulance personnel during their humanitarian missions to evacuate the victims of aggression."
  • Humanitarian concerns: The UN said the calls for the evacuation of 1.1 million people in Gaza are “impossible” and has urged the Israeli military to withdraw, according to Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary general. Dujarric said such a mass evacuation would have "devastating humanitarian consequences." Israel has blocked food, water and fuel from coming in leading to “catastrophic” conditions, the Palestinian Health Ministry warned.
  • What Hamas is saying: A senior Hamas official said Friday that the current situation in Gaza represents "an extraordinarily audacious and brutal endeavor to forcibly remove the Palestinian indigenous people from their land." The official called Israel's actions in Gaza "inhumane" and "barbaric," adding that Hamas "will not surrender our legitimate fight for freedom and self-determination."
  • International input: The White House says national security officials held calls with United Nations officials on Thursday and Friday about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but declined to offer details about progress on getting foreign nationals out of the area. Vassily Nebenzia, the permanent representative of Russia to the United Nations, is circulating a draft resolution at the UN Security Council which calls for a ceasefire in the "Israel-Gaza" war. Nebenzia called for de-escalation in the conflict and said the resolution received a mixed reaction from the other 14 member countries. Hamas, the militant Islamic group that governs Gaza, said in a statement Saturday morning (local time) that it welcomes "Russia's tireless efforts" aimed at stopping Israel's aggression against the territory.
  • Attacks in Lebanon: Israel is conducting drone attacks on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. It comes after the Israeli military shelled southern Lebanon in response to an explosion at a security fence near the Lebanese-Israeli border earlier Friday, the IDF said. There are rising fears of the Lebanon-based Shia militant faction Hezbollah entering the conflict.
  • Concerns about a wider regional conflict: Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said his country is “extremely concerned” about the conflict in Israel spreading and that it is working to de-escalate the situation. Of Israel's immediate neighbors, it is only at peace with Jordan and Egypt, and is officially in a state of war with Lebanon and Syria. Israel has said it is ready in case there are attacks from those two countries.
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8:45 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Hamas welcomes Russia's offer for mediation, praises Putin's position

Hamas, the militant Islamic group that governs Gaza, said in a statement Saturday morning (local time) that it welcomes "Russia's tireless efforts" aimed at stopping Israel's aggression against the territory.

"[We] appreciate Russian President Vladimir Putin's position regarding the ongoing Zionist aggression against our people and his rejection of the Gaza siege, the cutting of relief supplies, and the targeting of safe civilians there," the statement read.
What Putin has said: On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged both sides in the fighting between Israel and Hamas to "minimize or reduce to zero" civilian casualties, and the foreign ministry in Moscow made similar calls for calm on Friday.
His comments come as Russia continues a ruthless war campaign against Ukraine and is being investigated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. That case includes, among other things, allegations of targeting civilians.
In addition to Putin's comments, the Russian envoy to the UN circulated a resolution calling for a ceasefire Friday.
Remember: Israel has ordered a “complete siege” on the crowded Gaza strip — including halting supplies of electricity, food, water, and fuel — while also bombarding the densely populated territory in retaliation for Hamas' devastating October 7 terror attacks. At least 1,900 Palestinians have been killed by near-constant shelling in Gaza, according to the health ministry, including journalists, medics and other civilians. The dead include 614 children and 370 women, says the Palestinian health ministry.
8:19 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

11 Ukrainians killed in Hamas attack in Israel, Ukraine's foreign ministry says 

The number of Ukrainian nationals killed in Hamas' attack on Israel over the weekend has risen to 11, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko told Interfax-Ukraine on Friday.  

Nikolenko also said there are still nine Ukrainian citizens missing.

8:30 p.m. ET, October 13, 2023

Israel targeted medical personnel during humanitarian missions, Palestinian Health Ministry says

The Palestinian Ministry of Health accused Israeli forces of the "targeting and killing of medical and ambulance personnel during their humanitarian missions to evacuate the victims of aggression."

CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment. The IDF told CNN it will look into these allegations.

At least 15 health facilities were damaged and 23 ambulances were destroyed in airstrikes Friday, according to the Palestinian ministry.

A dramatic video posted on the ministry in Gaza's Facebook page captured the moment an ambulance was rocked by an explosion as it attempted to flee a chaotic scene.

In the video, explosions are heard going off when the person recording jumps into an ambulance. Several people can be seen inside the ambulance, including a woman on a stretcher and a young girl by her side.

An explosion rocks the ambulance carrying the child and woman. The young girl screams in panic as another explosion goes off.

It is not clear what happened to the woman and child. The exact source and cause of the explosion was unclear.

"The Israeli violations against medical personnel, health institutions, and ambulance units are a blatant attack on the laws, conventions, and international norms that stipulate the protection of medical personnel and their facilities during times of conflicts and wars," the Palestinian Ministry of Health said Friday in a statement.

The ministry also said that "thousands of displaced citizens are sleeping in hospital courtyards, facing the immense number of wounded individuals who are congesting the hospital corridors, putting immense pressure on the fragile healthcare system."

The ministry went on to call for "immediate action to open a secure passage to ensure the arrival of medical supplies, fuel, delegations, ambulance vehicles, and allow the departure of hundreds of wounded and patients before it is too late."

The ministry also accused Israeli forces of targeting people in Gaza as they were trying to evacuate their homes.

"The Israeli occupation deceived the citizens and forced them into forced displacement, then multiplied its crimes by targeting them this afternoon," the health ministry said.
"The world witnessed that all the victims of this targeting are entire families, including unborn children. Three ambulances were targeted, and 10 of their crews were injured during the evacuation of the wounded."