February 6, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Amir Vera, Jack Guy, Antoinette Radford, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell and Helen Regan, CNN

Updated 10:01 a.m. ET, February 7, 2024
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11:56 p.m. ET, February 5, 2024

Tent city holding more than 1 million Palestinians is rapidly expanding, satellite images show

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Gianluca Mezzofiore

This satellite image shows a makeshift tent city in Rafah.
This satellite image shows a makeshift tent city in Rafah. Maxar

A makeshift tent city estimated to hold more than 1 million displaced Palestinian civilians is rapidly expanding in Rafah, southern Gaza, according to new satellite images from Maxar Technologies.

The images show much of the previously open area in Rafah has been filled with tents, largely between December 10 and February 3, as internally displaced Palestinians seek shelter from the war. 

Aid workers have raised concerns over any expanded Israeli military operation in Rafah as forces push south in their war with Hamas.

More than half of the estimated 2.2 million people in Gaza are seeking refugee in the Rafah area, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

OCHA said Monday that refugees facing acute shortage of food, water, shelter and medicine are still pouring into Rafah as fighting worsens nearby.

6:37 a.m. ET, February 6, 2024

Hamas leader "on the run" as Israeli troops advance on Rafah, defense minister claims

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey

Hamas' leadership, including its top official in Gaza, is "on the run" as Israel's military pushes further south in the Palestinian enclave, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed on Monday.

The Israeli military operation in the southern city of Khan Younis will "soon achieve its goals" as troops advance southward on Rafah — Hamas' last remaining stronghold, Gallant said in a televised briefing. "Our forces operate on the ground in most of the territory of the Gaza Strip," he said.

Israel has publicly accused Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar of being the “mastermind” behind the group's October 7 attack — though experts say he is likely one of several — making him one of the key targets of its war in Gaza.

Gallant claimed Monday that Sinwar had no contact with his fighters and was forced to flee from one hideout to another with the Israeli military in close pursuit. "He is not leading the forces; he is busy with his own personal survival. He became, instead of the head of Hamas, a fugitive terrorist," Gallant said.

Gallant also claimed that Israeli forces had killed or seriously wounded about half of Hamas' fighters in Gaza.

Hamas denial: Husam Badran, a Qatar-based spokesperson for Hamas, denied Gallant's claims, saying they were an attempt to raise Israeli morale. Hamas fighters were "still operating in all areas" of Gaza, according to a statement from Badran published by Hamas media outlet Al Aqsa late Monday.

9:06 p.m. ET, February 5, 2024

US did not give Iraq advance notice of Friday's strikes, State Department says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Haley Britzky and Natasha Bertrand

US officials said Monday that Iraq was not notified ahead of a series of strikes on Iran-linked targets in the country, contradicting earlier statements that the Iraqi government was warned before the strikes occurred.

“As for this specific response on Friday, there was not a pre-notification. We informed the Iraqis immediately after the strikes occurred,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a briefing on Monday.

“Iraq, like every country in the region, understood that there would be a response after the deaths of our soldiers,” he noted.

In a call with reporters on Friday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had said the US “did inform the Iraqi government prior to the strikes.” On Monday, however, following the State Department briefing, Kirby confirmed that he misspoke.

Read more on what the US is saying about the strikes.

9:04 p.m. ET, February 5, 2024

8,000 displaced people flee Red Crescent headquarters and hospital in southern Gaza

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman, Tim Lister and Ibrahim Hazboun

About 8,000 displaced people have been evacuated from the Palestine Red Crescent Society headquarters and Al-Amal hospital in Gaza's southern city of Khan Younis on Monday, the Red Crescent said.

About 80 patients and wounded, 40 elderly displaced individuals and 100 administrative and medical staff remain, it added.

The Red Crescent said earlier that hundreds of people who had been taking shelter at its headquarters and the hospital had begun to leave. On Friday, the aid group had called for a humanitarian corridor for evacuees as Israeli tanks had surrounded the area and were “firing live ammunition,” killing four people.

Alarms have been raised for days over the hospital as a site of “relentless bombing and direct gunfire,” the Red Crescent said in a news release, adding its medical workers were living in a “state of terror and panic.”

12:44 a.m. ET, February 6, 2024

Blinken and Saudi crown prince discuss "regional coordination" on ending the war in Gaza

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Antony Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on February 5.
Antony Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on February 5. Saudi Press Agency/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday discussed “regional coordination” on ending the war in Gaza and plans for the war-torn strip after the fighting ends, a State Department spokesperson said in a readout.

During a meeting lasting more than two hours in Riyadh, the leaders also spoke about the “importance of addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza and preventing further spread of the conflict" and the "urgent need to reduce region tensions," including attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea, according to the readout from spokesperson Matt Miller.

Following his meetings in the region last month, Blinken said US partners in the Middle East were “ready to support a lasting solution that ends the long-running cycle of violence and ensures Israel's security.”

Blinken said at the time those partners underscored that this should include "a pathway to a Palestinian state."

11:25 a.m. ET, February 6, 2024

US and coalition forces in Syria attacked 2 more times since Friday airstrikes, official says

From CNN's Haley Britzky and Natasha Bertrand

The United States and coalition forces have come under attack three more times in Syria since the US launched airstrikes against Iran-backed militias over the weekend, a US official said.

US President Joe Biden said “yes” on Sunday when asked whether the strikes were working to deter Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups — but several attacks were carried out in the region in the past few days.

  • On Saturday, multiple rockets were launched against US forces at Mission Support Site Euphrates, Syria. No casualties or infrastructure damage were reported.
  • On Sunday evening, a one-way drone attack against US, coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces at Omar Oil Field near Mission Support Site Green Village, Syria, resulted in multiple SDF casualties and “significant damage to infrastructure,” the official said. 

The US official previously reported that a single rocket was launched at Mission Support Site Euphrates on Monday morning, but on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry amended the report, saying it was later assessed to be the SDF “firing away from the installation and not an attack on MSSE.”

More background: On Friday, the US military struck more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria, including command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, weapons storage facilities, rockets, missiles, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities used by the Iran-backed militia groups and the IRGC. Officials said Friday they believed the strikes to be successful.

11:54 p.m. ET, February 5, 2024

"War must not end" before Israel kills Hamas leadership, Netanyahu says

From CNN's Michael Schwartz and Ido Soen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday the "war must not end" before Israel kills Hamas' leadership. 

"Our goal is an absolute victory over Hamas. We will kill the Hamas leadership, therefore we must continue to act in all areas of the Gaza Strip," he said at a faction meeting of his party, Likud.
"The war must not end before that. It will take time — months not years."

Remember: Israel has repeatedly said it woul continue hunting Hamas leaders long after the war in Gaza is over. Netanyahu has also previously said the war against Hamas "will be a long fight."

12:51 a.m. ET, February 6, 2024

UN chief appoints group for independent external review of UNRWA

From CNN’s Celina Tebor

Antonio Guterres attends a press briefing at the UN headquarters on January 15, in New York City.
Antonio Guterres attends a press briefing at the UN headquarters on January 15, in New York City. Wang Fan/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images/File

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed a group to conduct an independent review of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the main UN agency in Gaza that provides humanitarian assistance for Palestinians.

The external review will begin on February 14 and will run alongside a separate investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services into Israel's allegations that UNRWA personnel were involved in Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks.

France’s former foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, will lead the review and work with three research organizations: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The group will “assess whether the Agency is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made,” Guterres said in a statement, adding that Israeli cooperation will be critical to the investigation's success.

Some context: UNRWA fired several employees in the wake of the allegations, and its top donor, the United States, plus a growing number of countries have paused funding to the organization as the humanitarian disaster spirals in Gaza. The agency has warned that it will “most likely” have to suspend its relief work by the end of February due to the pause of funding, and that it will worsen the crisis in Gaza and among Palestinian refugees it serves in the larger region beyond the besieged enclave's borders.

CNN's Amy Cassidy in London and Mostafa Salem contributed reporting to this post.