February 8, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Amir Vera, Deva Lee, Jack Guy, Sophie Tanno and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, February 9, 2024
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11:46 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Antisemitism accusation sours Israel-Ireland basketball game

From CNN's Jacob Lev

The Ireland team and Israel team before the FIBA Women's EuroBasket Championship Qualifier match at the Rimi Olympic Centre in Riga, Latvia on February 8.
The Ireland team and Israel team before the FIBA Women's EuroBasket Championship Qualifier match at the Rimi Olympic Centre in Riga, Latvia on February 8. Oksana Dzadan/Sportsfile/Getty Images

The Irish women's national basketball team refused to shake hands with their Israeli opponents ahead of a 2025 EuroBasket qualifier in Latvia on Thursday after an Israeli player accused the Irish team of antisemitism.

Basketball Ireland said in a statement it had told governing body FIBA Europe on Wednesday the team would not take part in pre-match formalities including shaking hands with Israel as a "direct result of recent comments made by Israeli players and coaching staff — including inflammatory and wholly inaccurate accusations of antisemitism, published on official Israeli federation channels."

On Wednesday, Israeli player Dor Sa'ar called the Irish team "quite antisemitic," in an interview posted on the Israeli Basketball Association's website.

Prior to tipoff, Ireland stood for the national anthem by the team bench while Israel stood near center court. Players did not shake hands. Israel went on to defeat Ireland 87-57. 

10:34 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Biden says Israel's Gaza response "has been over the top"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak in Washington

President Joe Biden speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington DC on February 8, 2024.
President Joe Biden speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington DC on February 8, 2024. Evan Vucci/AP

US President Joe Biden late Thursday offered one of his sharpest rebukes to date of Israel’s military conduct in Gaza, saying the operation to go after Hamas had been “over the top.”

He also voiced optimism that a deal currently being brokered pairing the release of hostages with a prolonged pause in the fighting could eventually lead to a more sustained change in the war.

And he painted a stark portrait of the suffering in Gaza, insisting more must be done to stem the humanitarian crisis there.

Delivered at the very end of a fiery evening news conference, Biden’s remarks offered a new window into his view of the four-month conflict, which has tested American diplomacy and exposed divisions within his Democratic coalition.

“I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza – in the Gaza Strip – has been over the top,” Biden told reporters at the White House, describing his own efforts to open up Gaza so more humanitarian aid could flow in.

His assessment of the Israeli military campaign as excessive marked a new stage in Biden’s public posturing on the war. For much of the months since October 7, Biden has embraced Israel and staunchly defended its right to go after Hamas.

This post has been updated.

Read the full story.

9:10 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

US strikes more Houthi targets in Yemen, military says

From CNN's Rashard Rose

The US military carried out further strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen on Thursday, US Central Command said in a statement.

The strikes hit four unmanned surface vessels and seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that "presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region," CENTCOM said on social media platform X. 

Coalition strikes against the Iran-backed Houthis have destroyed or degraded more than 100 missiles and launchers since January 11, a Pentagon spokesperson said at a briefing earlier Thursday.

The Houthis have said they will not stop their attacks on Red Sea shipping until Israel ends its war in Gaza.

8:11 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

US says it wouldn't support Israeli military operations in Rafah without plan for civilians. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

The United States would not support an Israeli military operation in Rafah, the Gaza Strip's most southerly city where more than a million displaced civilians are living, "without serious planning," the US State Department said Thursday.

"To conduct such an operation right now with no planning and little thought in an area where there is sheltering of a million people would be a disaster," US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a news briefing.  

Patel added that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made this clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in meetings in Israel on Wednesday.

Netanyahu said the same day that the Israel Defense Forces "is preparing to fight in Rafah."

Here are the latest developments in the region:

  • Deadly attack at Gaza medical center: An Israeli airstrike targeting a room in the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City killed five people on Thursday, journalist Khader Zaanoun, who received his information from health officials in the city, told CNN.
  • Americans detained by IDF in Gaza: Two American citizens were detained by Israeli forces during a raid of a home in Gaza early Thursday morning local time, according to a family member in the United States. The family does not know where the men have been taken at this point. CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment. 
  • Fate of UN aid agency in Gaza: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday that it would not be possible to replace the main UN aid agency in Gaza amid Israeli calls for it to be shut down. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is the only agency capable of doing the job, Guterres said.
  • US strikes against Iran-backed militias: The US killed or wounded more than 40 militants in its strikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on February 2, according to the Defense Department. US Central Command is still assessing the complete results of the strikes, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder said at a briefing Thursday. Ryder also provided an update on February 3 strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, saying those attacks destroyed or damaged 35 Houthi targets at 13 locations.
  • In Lebanon: An Israeli drone strike on a car in the center of the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh on Thursday killed at least three people, Lebanese state media NNA reported. NNA did not give the names of those killed in the strike, but the IDF told CNN it had carried out a strike on a Hezbollah commander. Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force said on Thursday that dozens of its aircraft deployed over Lebanon could "turn into hundreds" ready to operate within minutes from launch in case of war.
9:20 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Australia has asked Israel for more evidence on accusations against UN relief agency staff

From CNN staff

Penny Wong at the World Holocaust Remembrance Center on January 17, 2024.
Penny Wong at the World Holocaust Remembrance Center on January 17, 2024. Maya Alleruzzo/AP

Australia does not have all the evidence from Israel following its accusations that United Nations staff in Gaza were involved in Hamas' October 7 attack, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Thursday.

Wong told public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that she was still asking to be shown all the evidence that Israel had. 

Australia joined nations including France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany in pausing financial support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) following Israeli allegations that 12 of UNRWA's 13,000 staff members in Gaza were involved in the Hamas attack. The UN's oversight body is conducting an investigation into the matter. 

Wong said she spoke to UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini on Thursday but did not ask him for the evidence on the Israeli allegations, and instead spoke about how to restore confidence and work through the issues.

“But what I would say is the primary concern is making sure that other donors, particularly those who have not provided their next round of operational funding, core funding, that that confidence can be attained before the end of the month,” Wong told the ABC, referring to UNRWA stating it only has enough funding until the end of February.

UNRWA provides lifesaving services to Palestinians, especially to civilians in Gaza impacted by Israeli bombardment.

6:46 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Israel Air Force says hundreds of its aircraft are ready to strike Lebanon in case of war

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau and Lauren Izso

The Israeli Air Force said Thursday that dozens of its aircraft deployed over Lebanon could "turn into hundreds" ready to operate within minutes from launch.

"The dozens of aircraft currently operating in the skies of Lebanon are only part of our capabilities. Once the order is given, my intention is for these dozens to become hundreds of aircraft capable of executing all missions within minutes, from launching operations over the skies of Lebanon," Israeli Air Force Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar said in front of military personnel.

Bar said that in case of a war in Lebanon, "the term 'attack' does not fully capture what will occur."

Bar said that massive strikes would target " hundreds of locations simultaneously, including deep within the country."

In an earlier statement, the Israel Defense Forces said soldiers who fought in Gaza were now training for combat on the northern front. 

"The 36th Division, the Northern Command's offensive division, has completed an intense combat operation in the Gaza Strip, during which the division's soldiers significantly damaged the capabilities of the Hamas terrorist organization," the IDF said. "Now, the division is increasing its readiness for operational plans against the northern enemy – in defense and offense," it added.

6:21 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

At least 3 dead following Israeli drone strike on car in southern Lebanon, state media reports

From CNN's Mostafa Salem and Lauren Izso

An Israeli drone strike on a car in the center of the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh on Thursday killed at least three people, Lebanese state media NNA reported.

NNA did not give the names of those killed in the strike, but the Israel Defense Forces told CNN it had carried out a strike on a "Hezbollah commander who was involved in a number of (rocket) launches towards the areas of Kiryat Shmona and Metula in northern Israel."

The IDF said that the strike was "in response to the launch toward Kiryat Shmona this morning."

Hezbollah confirmed that it had fired rockets into several locations in northern Israel on Thursday morning. There were no immediate reports of Israeli casualties following the Hezbollah rocket attacks.

Hezbollah has not yet commented on reports that one of its commanders was killed in the Israeli strike, but late Thursday, the militant group announced that it had conducted further rocket launches targeting the Israeli military in Meron airbase in Israel.

9:28 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

US says it killed or wounded more than 40 militants in strikes on Iran-backed groups last Friday

From CNN's Michael Conte, Oren Liebermann and Haley Britzky

US-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Yemen in response to the Houthi aggression at the Red Sea on February 3, 2024.
US-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Yemen in response to the Houthi aggression at the Red Sea on February 3, 2024. US Central Command

The US killed or wounded more than 40 militants in its strikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on February 2, according to the Defense Department.

US Central Command is still assessing the results of the strikes, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder said at a briefing Thursday. The strikes included more than 85 targets the militant groups have used to attack US forces, he said.

Strikes on Houthi targets: Ryder also provided an update on February 3 strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, saying those attacks destroyed or damaged 35 Houthi targets at 13 locations.

“More broadly, since the first coalition strikes on January 11, we assessed that we've destroyed or degraded more than 100 missiles and launchers, including anti-ship, land attack and surface to air missiles, plus numerous communication capabilities, unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned surface vessels, coastal radars, air surveillance capabilities and weapons storage areas,” Ryder said of the US and UK attacks on Houthi targets over the past several weeks.

Remember: The US has described recent attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria and attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes by the Houthis, who are also affiliated with Tehran, as "distinct but related challenges."

In both cases, Washington is seeking to deter further attacks while avoiding wider conflict in a region already roiled by the Israel-Hamas war.