October 19, 2023 - Israel-Hamas war news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Eric Levenson, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Tori B. Powell and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 9:43 a.m. ET, October 20, 2023
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9:48 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Gaza death toll rises to 3,785, health ministry says

From CNN's Kareem Khadder and Eyad Kourdi

People attend the funeral ceremony of Palestinians who were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on October 19.
People attend the funeral ceremony of Palestinians who were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on October 19. Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu/Getty Images

The death toll in Gaza since October 7 has risen to 3,785, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. 

It includes 1,524 children, 1,000 women, and 120 elderly people, the health ministry said. 

Additionally, 12,493 people had been injured, including 3,983 children and 3,300 women, according to ministry's spokesperson Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra. 

Al-Qidra in a news conference further highlighted the strain on the health care system, saying that 44 medical staffers had died, 70 more had been injured and 23 ambulances had been destroyed as a result of “Israeli violations."

8:57 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Egypt and Jordan leaders: If Israel-Hamas war doesn't end, it could plunge the region into catastrophe

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali and Jomana Karadsheh

Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during bilateral talks in Cairo Thursday reaffirmed their joint position against collective punishment policies in Gaza, including sieges, starvation and displacement, Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement.

The leaders rejected any attempts at forced displacement of Gazans into their respective countries.

They called for an immediate halt to the conflict in Gaza, the protection of civilians, the lifting of the siege and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Both leaders in the statement warned that “if the war does not stop and expands, it threatens to plunge the entire region into a catastrophe.”

9:37 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

What to know about the West Bank, the territory where the Gaza conflict is spilling over

From CNN's Zeena Saifi, Becky Anderson and Kareem Khadder

After Israel announced a “complete siege” of Gaza in response to the October 7 attacks by Hamas, tensions are mounting in the West Bank, where Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with both Israeli forces and settlers.

The West Bank is the Palestinian territory west of the Jordan River that sits adjacent to Israel and Jordan. Residents hope the territory will form part of a future Palestinian state. But since Israel took control of and occupied the West Bank in 1967 from Jordan following the Six-Day War, it has been settled by Israeli civilians, often under military protection. Most of the world considers these settlements illegal under international law, but despite this successive Israeli governments have pledged support for them.

Take a look at where West Bank is located:

Some context: Israel views the West Bank as “disputed territory,” and contends its settlement policy is legal. This year, following the election of the most right-wing, extremist government in Israeli history under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, violence between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank flared.

As of mid-September this year, the United Nations had reported 798 settler-related incidents in the occupied territory, leading to 216 Palestinians injured. In the same period, Israeli forces killed 179 Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Israel Defense Forces says most are terror suspects or people engaging violently with its troops during raids, but does not offer evidence in every case for this assertion.

Settlers have long been accused of carrying out acts of violence against Palestinians. As well as killings, these attacks have included incidents of physical assault, property damage and harassment.

Hani Odeh, the mayor of a small village in the territory called Qusra, insisted their aim is to drive Palestinians from their home and ultimately from the occupied West Bank.

CNN’s Abeer Salman and Celine Alkhaldi contributed to this report.

7:54 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Israel detains 63 alleged “Hamas terror operatives” in West Bank raids, IDF says

From CNN’s Jo Shelley in London

Israeli security forces detained 63 alleged “Hamas terror operatives” in military operations that saw more than 80 people detained across the occupied West Bank overnight, the IDF said in a statement on Thursday.

“Following wide-scale counterterrorism activity overnight in Judea and Samaria [the Jewish biblical names for the West Bank], over 80 wanted suspects were apprehended, including 63 Hamas terror operatives,” it said. 

Israeli forces continue to operate in the Nur Shams refugee camp, where five people were apprehended, the statement added.

In Qibya, the IDF said Israeli forces had demolished the residence of a man it claimed was “a Hamas terrorist” responsible for an attack that killed an Israeli soldier in July.

One Palestinian was shot in clashes with Israeli forces the town of Burdus, it said.

“During the forces’ activity to demolish the terrorist’s residence, a violent riot was instigated in the town of Burdus by approximately 20 suspects, who hurled Molotov cocktails and other objects at the forces. In addition, suspects blocked routes with burning tires and trash cans. The forces responded with live fire and a hit was identified,” the statement said.

Read more about the growing tensions in the West Bank here.

7:52 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Netanyahu says Israel fighting Iran-led “axis of evil”

From CNN’s Jo Shelley in London

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israel, on October 19.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israel, on October 19. Simon Walker/10 Downing Street/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday his country is fighting an “axis of evil” led by Iran.

“Hamas are the new Nazis, the new ISIS, and we have to fight them together,” Netanyahu said during a news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, adding that it was “the battle of the entire civilised world” and on the other side was “an axis of evil, led by Iran,” which also included Hezbollah.

Netanyahu said Israel was embarking on a “long war” and needed the UK’s “continuous support.”

Britain supported Israel’s “right to defend itself in line with international law,” Sunak said, while also adding to calls for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza.

“We absolutely support Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law, to go after Hamas, to take back hostages, to deter further incursions and to strengthen your [Israel’s] security for the long term,” Sunak said, addressing Netanyahu.

He added: “We also recognize that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too and that is why I welcome your decision yesterday to ensure that routes into Gaza will be opened for humanitarian aid to enter.”

9:03 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

It’s afternoon in Israel and Gaza. Here’s what you need to know

From CNN staff

US President Joe Biden has returned home from his high-stakes visit to Israel, which threatened to be derailed by the fury and confusion surrounding a large explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on the eve of his arrival, which triggered protests across the Arab world.

Biden was engaged in a difficult balancing act: Seeking to offer support to an ally traumatized by Hamas’ brutal terror attack on October 7, while also trying to prevent Israel’s response from fueling a war across the region. And so he tempered his words of support with a call for restraint.

“Justice must be done,” Biden said in a speech in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. “But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is in Israel on Thursday and was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Gaza aid: Egypt has agreed to allow aid trucks into Gaza, as anger rises globally over Israel’s siege of the enclave in response to Hamas’ brutal attacks. Biden said his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had agreed to open the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza to allow aid to reach the Palestinian population. Up to 20 trucks from an aid convoy waiting for days at the closed border gate would be allowed into Gaza, Biden said Wednesday on his way back from Israel. But just how much difference this will make for the 2 million people living in Gaza is not clear. The World Health Organization has warned the humanitarian situation is spiraling out of control.
  • Hospital blast: A large explosion rocked the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday evening, but its cause has been shrouded in uncertainty. Palestinian officials and several Arab leaders initially accused Israel of hitting the hospital amid its ongoing airstrikes in Gaza, but Israel vehemently denied responsibility. Israel has since presented evidence that it said shows the blast was caused by a misfire by militant group Islamic Jihad. Biden backed that explanation Wednesday, citing US intelligence. A National Security Council spokesperson later said that analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open-source information suggested Israel is “not responsible.” Read more here.
  • Hostages latest: The Israel Defense Forces has notified the families of 203 people it believes are being held hostage by Hamas. The military had varying degrees of confidence in its assessment and said it could not be certain about the total number of hostages being held in Gaza. Hamas said the number of hostages captured by its fighters during the attack on Israel was at least between 200-250. Last week, Hamas published a video of Mia Schem, a 21-year-old French-Israeli citizen being held in Gaza – the first footage of hostages it has yet released.
  • Biden visit: The US president said he knew he was risking criticism by visiting Israel, but he “came to get something done.” He said he was “very blunt” with Israeli leaders when he met with them on Wednesday, and warned they would be “held accountable” if they didn’t allow for more assistance for people displaced by the conflict. “Israel has been badly victimized but the truth is if they have an opportunity to relieve the suffering of people who have nowhere to go, that’s what they should do,” Biden cautioned. Referring to “wartime decisions” he had made in the past, Biden also stressed the need for “clarity about the objectives” of any military operations, ahead of a potential Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. 
  • Jordan fallout: Jordan’s King Abdullah II will travel to Cairo to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, just a day after the two leaders were set to hold a summit with Biden in Amman, Jordan, along with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. But Jordan, Egypt and the PA canceled the planned meeting with Biden less than 24 hours before he was set to arrive, following the blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.
  • More on the conflict: In a special episode of CNN 10, a student news show, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, talks about how the war is affecting people on the ground and around the world. A mental health expert also explains how you can take care of your mind. CNN talks to two students caught in the war, and Sara Sidner gives a behind-the-scenes look at how a CNN is reporting from Tel Aviv. Watch the episode here.
7:25 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Death toll in Gaza rises to more than 3,500 people, health ministry says

From CNN's Celine Alkhaldi in Abu Dhabi

More than 3,500 people have been killed and more than 12,000 injured in Gaza since October 7, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said Thursday.

In the occupied West Bank, 69 people have been killed and more than 1,300 injured, according to the health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas.

10:30 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Israel detained Hamas spokesperson in occupied West Bank, Palestinian Prisoners Club says

From CNN's Kareem Khadder, Abeer Salman and Eyad Kourdi

Hassan Yousef, leader of the Hamas Islamist movement in the West Bank, speaks to the media after he was released from Israeli prison, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 19, 2014.
Hassan Yousef, leader of the Hamas Islamist movement in the West Bank, speaks to the media after he was released from Israeli prison, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 19, 2014. Majdi Mohammed/AP/File

Israeli forces detained prominent Hamas spokesperson Sheikh Hassan Yousef in his home in the Occupied West Bank on Thursday, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a non-governmental organization that says it is dedicated to addressing the concerns of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

“Occupation forces arrested Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef from his home in Beitunia, as part of a wide-scale arrest campaign in the occupation West Bank,” the statement said.

Who is Sheikh Hassan Yousef: He is a leading Palestinian political figure, serving as the official Hamas spokesperson in the West Bank and holding a seat on the Palestinian Legislative Council. He acted as spokesperson during the first intifada and was a regular guest in international media in 1993. He has been arrested by Israeli forces on several occasions and has spent a total of 24 years in Israeli jails on various charges of incitement, entering Jerusalem without permission and for being a Hamas member.

Just on Wednesday, Yousef participated in a protest in the West Bank, expressing deep admiration for the Palestinian people, and urging unity among all Palestinian factions, according to a video obtained by CNN.

It is unclear what the reasons were for his detention and whether they were related to his remarks during the protest.

At least 120 Palestinians were arrested on Thursday morning, and a total of 850 Palestinians have been detained in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to the club statement Thursday.

The arrests include lawmakers, prominent figures, journalists, and former detainees who have served extended terms in Israeli jails, it said.

"There is a massive Israeli operation to arrest Palestinians," Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Palestinian National Initiative, told CNN. "And every night, they are conducting more and more arrests. The number of Palestinian prisoners now in Israeli jails is up to 6,300."

Barghouti added, "They’re not charged, they’re not taken to court. They’re no due legal process and that’s what they call administrative detention, including no less than 200 children who are now in Israeli jails.”

CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on Yousef's detention.

Read more.

7:25 a.m. ET, October 19, 2023

Airstrikes kill at least 13 and destroy entire block in Gaza's Khan Younis, hospital director says

From CNN's Kareem Khadder and Eyad Kourdi

The father of a child from the al-Majaida family killed when an Israeli air strike hit their home carries their body during a funeral in Khan Younis, Gaza, on October 19.
The father of a child from the al-Majaida family killed when an Israeli air strike hit their home carries their body during a funeral in Khan Younis, Gaza, on October 19. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

An entire city block in Khan Younis was decimated by airstrikes on Thursday, according to Dr. Mohammad Zaqout, the general director of Gaza hospitals and the director of Al-Nasser Medical Center in the southern Gaza city.

“An entire city block was targeted and destroyed by airstrikes this morning, which killed 13 people from the families of al-Majayda and al-Batta and Fares families in Khan Younis, and 25 others are missing under the rubble," Zaqout told CNN on the phone.

Rescue workers are "working tirelessly" to find the missing, he added.

Remember: Many Palestinians fled to southern Gaza earlier this week after Israel’s military told 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes immediately, as it appeared to prepare to ramp up retaliation for Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks.