October 23, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 2:05 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023
16 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:38 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Israeli forces arrest at least 85 people in West Bank overnight, Palestinian organization says

From CNN's Tim Lister

At least 85 people have been arrested in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces Sunday night and early Monday morning, according to a statement published by the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

The arrests took place in Ramallah and Bethlehem, it said, adding that more than 1,215 people have been arrested in the West Bank since the start of the month.

CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on the arrests. There have been arrests of suspected militants in the West Bank daily since October 7.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club is a non-governmental organization dedicated to addressing the concerns of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers, according to its website.

Some context: Even before the war with Hamas, tension was high between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank.

Following a wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis last year, Israel launched regular incursions and raids into the West Bank targeting what they said were militant strongholds. The resulting violence left a record number of both Palestinians and Israelis dead, numbers not seen in at least a decade. 

Since Israel took control and occupied the West Bank in 1967 from Jordan following the Six Day War, the territory, which residents hope will form part of a future Palestinian state, has been settled by Israeli civilians, often under military protection.

Most of the world considers these settlements illegal under international law.

5:47 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Analysis: China’s special envoy is on Middle East mission. Peace is just part of the picture

From CNN's Nectar Gan and Simone McCarthy

Beijing’s special envoy to the Middle East Zhai Jun met with Qatar's Minister of State Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi in Doha, Qatar, on October 19.
Beijing’s special envoy to the Middle East Zhai Jun met with Qatar's Minister of State Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi in Doha, Qatar, on October 19. Handout/China MFA

Days after the United States’ shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, which culminated in President Joe Biden’s historic wartime visit to Israel, China has started its own diplomatic hustling in a region teetering on the brink of a wider conflict.

Zhai Jun, Beijing’s special envoy to the Middle East, has embarked on a whirlwind tour aimed at promoting peace talks between Israel and Hamas – even though Beijing still refuses to condemn or even name the Palestinian militant group in any of its statements.

Zhai has traveled to Qatar and attended a peace summit in Egypt, calling for a ceasefire, humanitarian access to Gaza and reiterating China’s support for a two-state solution. It is unclear if he will visit Israel, as Beijing has provided no details of the trip.

But brokering peace is a tall order, especially for a country with little experience or expertise in mediating such a long-running, intractable conflict – in a deeply divided region where it lacks a meaningful political and security presence.

Few experts in or familiar with the Middle East expect Zhai’s trip will lead to any concrete deliverables in peacemaking.

Instead, they view it as a chance for China to tilt the global balance of power further in its favor as the strategic competition with the US heats up.

Read the full analysis here.

5:28 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Gaza needs fuel "as urgent as water and food," says UN agency

From CNN’s Yong Xiong in New York

Trucks carrying fuel enter Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 22.
Trucks carrying fuel enter Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 22. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Gaza needs fuel “as urgent as water and food," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told CNN on Monday," as the two aid convoys that entered Gaza this weekend barely alleviate the dire conditions within the territory.

“Without fuel, it is not going to be possible to go around Gaza. . .or to power the water desalination plant to get clean drinking water or to power hospitals and the lifesaving machines,” Communications Director Tamara Alrifai said.

Alrifai said humanitarian aid that entered Gaza was “a fraction” of what is needed for over 400,000 displaced people currently taking shelters in schools run by UNRWA, adding the situation is “very, very dire.”

She said people in Gaza are forced to ration food, “even counting the minimum required calories per person per day per survival,” adding “We are really counting on a continuous and unimpeded access of the trucks from Rafah into Gaza.”

People queue outside a bakery in Rafah, Gaza on October 22.
People queue outside a bakery in Rafah, Gaza on October 22. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has previously said that fuel won’t be allowed into Gaza.

On October 14, the IDF told CNN that when aid enters Gaza, “Water pipes are turned into rockets. Cement meant for buildings is turned into tunnels. Food for orphans and people in need is given to Hamas operators. And fuel for the hospital is taken to Hamas bunkers.”

Crisis in Gaza: Amid a weekend of ramped-up strikes, doctors described “catastrophic” conditions at one central Gazan hospital as electricity and fuel supplies run out and crippled medical facilities rapidly become overwhelmed with casualties.

Dr. Iyad Issa Abu Zaher, director general of Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital, described a “bloody day” for his staff to CNN on Sunday, saying the hospital had received up to 166 bodies and more than 300 injured people.

“It’s impossible for any hospital in the world to admit this number of injured,” he said.

2:54 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Names written on children’s bodies speak to the fears of Gazan parents amid the Israel-Hamas war

From CNN's Abeer Salman, Kareem Khadder, Kareem El Damanhoury and Rhea Mogul

The bodies of three children lie on a steel tray inside what appears to be a Gaza hospital morgue, one leg of their trousers pushed up to reveal writing in black ink on their skin.

“We received some cases where the parents wrote the names of their children on the legs and abdomen,” Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Masri, the head of the emergency department at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, told CNN.

He said parents were worried that “anything could happen,” and no one would be able to identify their children.

This means that they feel they are targeted at any moment and can be injured or martyred,” Al Masri added.

The black ink is a small sign of the fear and desperation felt by parents in the densely populated enclave as Israel continues to pound it with relentless airstrikes in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attacks.

The supervisor of the room at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital where dead bodies are washed described Sunday as “an exceptional day.”

Declining to be named, he told CNN that the number of dead overnight from Saturday into Sunday had exceeded 200, and echoed what Dr Al Masri had said.

“What we noticed today is that many parents writing the names of their children on their legs so they can get identified after airstrikes and if they get lost. This is a new phenomenon that just started in Gaza.”
“Many of the children are missing, many get here with their skulls broken…and it’s impossible to identify them, only though that writing do they get identified.”

Read the full story here.

5:17 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Dozens killed in Gaza as Israel says it struck 320 targets, including tunnels and command centers

From CNN’s Elliott Gotkine in London and Abeer Salman in Jerusalem

People inspect the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Monday, October 23.
People inspect the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Monday, October 23. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it struck 320 “terror targets” in Gaza overnight, including tunnels and “dozens of operational command centers” belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The heavy bombardment of the besieged Palestinian enclave killed dozens of people, Palestinian doctors and Gaza ministry officials told CNN. 

Thermographic videos from Israeli aircraft and shared by the IDF showed strikes on buildings in Gaza, which hit "dozens of operational command centers, some of which concealed Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, military compounds, and observation posts."

“Furthermore, the IDF struck targets that posed a threat to forces in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip who are preparing for ground operations, including dozens of mortar shell and anti-tank missile launch posts,” the military said.

The intensified airstrikes took place as the IDF said it is preparing for what it called the "next stages" in the fight against Hamas.

In northern Gaza: At least 26 people were killed after Israeli strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp the director of the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza, Atef Al Kahlout told CNN. Jabalia is one of the largest refugee camps in Gaza.

In southern Gaza: 29 people were killed in the city of Rafah after four houses were struck, the Ministry of Health in Gaza spokesperson Ashraf Al Qidra said.

Damage all over: Buildings in Rafah, Khan Younis, Central Gaza and Gaza City were struck overnight, including several residential homes, the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza said. “Heavy strikes” were reported near the Quds Hospital in the city. 

In Israel's Sderot, near the Gaza Strip: CNN’s Nic Robertson reported that Sunday’s strikes have been the most sustained bombardment of northern Gaza he has seen since he began to report from southern Israel two weeks ago.

This post has been updated.

1:25 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Humanitarian aid from India arrives in Egypt

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India’s humanitarian aid to Gaza arrived in Egypt on Sunday, the country’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Adrindam Bagchi said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The plane arrived at el-Arish in Egypt’s Sinai and the relief material was handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent for “onward transmission to Palestine,” Bagchi said.

An Indian Air Force flight was carrying nearly 6.5 tonnes of medical aid and 32 tonnes of disaster relief material, including life-saving medicines, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, sanitary utilities and water purification tablets.

Remember: Aid has been piling up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing that connects to Gaza. The vital passage was briefly opened over the weekend, delivering the first convoy of 20 aid trucks into besieged Gaza on Saturday, and another 14 trucks passed through on Sunday.

A humanitarian crisis is rapidly worsening in Gaza as Israel bombards the territory, while the volume of aid that has passed through is but a drop in the ocean for over 2.2 million people inside the territory.

Returning foreigners home: Separately on Sunday, 143 passengers, including two Nepali citizens, arrived in New Delhi from Tel Aviv on India’s sixth flight to bring back its citizens from Israel, Bagchi said on Sunday.

1:19 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

IDF says it struck another "terrorist cell" in Lebanon

From CNN's Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

The Israel Defense Forces said it struck a terrorist cell in Lebanon.

"The terrorist cell was planning to carry out an anti-tank missile launch towards the town of Shlomi," which is located in northern Israel, the IDF said in a statement Monday.

The IDF said Sunday it struck two Hezbollah terrorist cells on the Lebanese side of the border with Israel.

Some context: Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Islamist movement with one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East. The group, which has its main base on the Israel-Lebanon border, could become a wildcard player in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and spark a wider regional conflict.

The fallout is palpable on the Lebanon-Israel border, where Hezbollah and the IDF are engaging in low-rumbling tit-for-tat skirmishes since the war began.

4:26 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

CNN Investigates: Forensic analysis of images and videos suggests rocket caused Gaza hospital blast, not Israeli airstrike

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Katie Polglase, Benjamin Brown, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Eliza Mackintosh

A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Hospital after it was hit in Gaza on October 18.
A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Hospital after it was hit in Gaza on October 18. Ali Jadallah/Anadolu/Getty Images

In the days since a blast ripped through the packed Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, killing hundreds of Palestinians, dueling claims between Palestinian militants and the Israeli government over culpability are still raging. But forensic analysis of publicly available imagery and footage has begun to offer some clues as to what caused the explosion.

CNN has reviewed dozens of videos posted on social media, aired on live broadcasts and filmed by a freelance journalist working for CNN in Gaza, as well as satellite imagery, to piece together what happened in as much detail as possible.

Without the ability to access the site and gather evidence from the ground, no conclusion can be definitive. But CNN’s analysis suggests that a rocket launched from within Gaza broke up midair, and that the blast at the hospital was the result of part of the rocket landing at the hospital complex.

Weapons and explosive experts with decades of experience assessing bomb damage, who reviewed the visual evidence, told CNN they believe this to be the most likely scenario – although they caution the absence of munition remnants or shrapnel from the scene made it difficult to be sure. All agreed that the available evidence of the damage at the site was not consistent with an Israeli airstrike.

Read the full CNN investigation here.

12:43 a.m. ET, October 23, 2023

Risk of a large-scale ground conflict in Gaza is "significantly rising," says China's Middle East envoy

From CNN’s Wayne Chang

Zhai Jun during a meeting in Tehran on October 22, 2019.
Zhai Jun during a meeting in Tehran on October 22, 2019. Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images/File

The situation in Gaza is severe and the risk of a large-scale ground conflict is significantly rising, China's Special Envoy on the Middle East issue warned Sunday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Speaking at a press briefing in Cairo, Zhai Jun said “armed conflicts are permeating along the Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian borders, with their spillover effects expanding regionally and internationally. The prospects are worrisome.” 

Zhai urged the international community to stay vigilant against such developments and act immediately to prevent the situation from turning into serious humanitarian disaster.

China will continue to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the Palestinians through United Nations and bilateral channels, Zhai promised, without specifying what aid has already been provided.

Zhai attended Saturday’s Cairo peace summit with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other Arab leaders to find a “roadmap” for ending the “humanitarian tragedy” in Gaza.

Zhai is currently in the Middle East to promote peace talks and push for a ceasefire. Zhai visited Qatar and Egypt and will also visit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries in the region.

Before his trip, Zhai had phone calls with the foreign ministry heads of the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Norway and other countries, as well as with the special representatives at United Nations and European Union, CCTV reported.

China's stance: Chinese leader Xi Jinping said last week that a two-state solution to establish an independent Palestine is the “fundamental way out” of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Xi, who made the comments in a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly in Beijing, said China is willing to work with Egypt and Arab nations to “promote an comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue,” according to CCTV.