At least 12 British nationals were killed in Hamas attacks and 5 are still missing, official says
From CNN’s Caitlin Danaher and Luke McGee in London
At least 12 British nationals were killed following in the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday.
“We can confirm at least 12 British nationals were tragically killed in last week's terrorist attacks,” the spokesperson said, adding that five Britons were still missing, but he could “not be more specific” on the number of UK nationals the government believes may have been captured by Hamas.
9:08 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
It’s afternoon in Israel and Gaza. Here’s what you need to know
From CNN staff
As humanitarian aid begins to trickle into Gaza, hostages have begun to trickle out. After Hamas released two American hostages Friday, it released a further two hostages Monday: Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79.
The two Israeli women are friends and neighbors of kibbutz Nir Oz, which was targeted by Hamas gunmen in the October 7 terror attack. They were held in Gaza for more than two weeks before their release Monday.
“I went through hell,” Lifshitz told reporters on Tuesday. She described how she was beaten and taken underground into Hamas’ underground tunnel network. Both Lifshitz’s and Cooper’s husbands are still being held in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.
Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said soldiers are conducting training exercises ahead of a potential ground incursion into Gaza where the humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate after more than two weeks of an Israeli bombardment. One relief agency said at least 2,000 children in Gaza have been killed since Israel began responding to Hamas’ unprecedented rampage.
Here are the latest developments:
Freed hostage: Lifshitz told reporters how she was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen and taken into Gaza. Speaking in Tel Aviv, she said how she was beaten with sticks and slung over the back of a motorcycle, with her head dangling from one side and her legs from the other. She was brought into Hamas’ sprawling network of underground tunnels, where she said she walked for many kilometers along with 25 others. But Lifshitz said she was received by medical staff who “took care of the sanitary side of things so that we didn’t get sick.” Lifshitz was among some 200 people believed to be held in Gaza after being kidnapped on October 7.
Gaza aid: Twenty trucks carrying humanitarian aid passed the Rafah Crossing into Gaza on Monday, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). A total of 34 trucks were able to enter Gaza over the weekend, it said. But aid agencies have warned that these first modest deliveries will do little to alleviate the deepening needs of the more than 2 million people living in the besieged enclave. The initial deliveries also did not include fuel, which is vital for the functioning of hospitals. Israel has cut off electricity supplies to Gaza, meaning hospitals have to run on emergency generators.
Ground offensive: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel’s fight against Hamas “could be a long war,” as the IDF prepares to mount a ground offensive into Gaza. Israeli soldiers are taking part in training exercises to bolster their “readiness and capabilities for ground operations” in Gaza, the IDF said. Defense minister Yoav Gallant also said Israel is preparing for a “multilateral operation” against Hamas from the “air, ground and sea.” But, while Israeli officials have said they aim to “destroy Hamas,” analysts have warned that Israel does not seem to have a plan for the future of Gaza.
Regional tensions: The Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the US has asked Iran to “have self-restraint,” as fears grow that Israel’s conflict with Hamas could spiral into a wider regional war. Since Hamas’ October 7 attack, there has been consistent crossfire on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, as the IDF clashes with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamist movement that has its main base on the Israel-Lebanon border. CNN reported Monday that the US has intelligence that Iranian-backed militia groups are planning to ramp up attacks against US forces in the Middle East, according to multiple US officials.
8:39 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
Residents search for survivors in rubble as Israel continues striking Gaza
From CNN’s Kareem Khadder and Abeer Salman
Israel struck several locations across Gaza on Tuesday as residents continued to search for survivors after an intense night of bombardments.
In the north, two strikes hit near Al Wafa’a Hospital in Gaza City, a live broadcast feed from Al Jazeera showed.
The live feed showed one strike near the entrance of the hospital and a big cloud of smoke rising before a second strike hit near that location, and the sound of a jet flying overhead.
Several injured people were seen being taken to the hospital, according to the live feed.
“Al Wafa’a Hospital did not receive any prior warning to the strike from the Israeli forces,” the head of the hospital Fouad Najm told Al Jazeera.
In southern Gaza, several strikes hit Khan Younis, according to a CNN journalist who saw the impacts. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said a “populated” house in Al-Amal neighborhood in Khan Yunis was targeted.
“This house is located across from Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis, which shelters more than 4,000 displaced people from northern Gaza. This attack caused dust to scatter inside the hospital and shelter center, leaving citizens in a state of panic and extreme fear,” the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
A strike near a shopping center in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza caused deaths and injuries, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior said.
Videos on social media showed people in panic and the injured being transported in shopping carts.
In Deir Al Balah in central Gaza, residents continued digging through the rubble looking for missing family members after an airstrike on the area, according to a journalist who witnessed the scene.
French president proposes international collaboration to combat terror groups
From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday proposed an international coalition to combat terror groups with a similar model to the fight against ISIS.
Macron said that Hamas is comparable to ISIS and al Qaeda "in action and intention." Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he condemned the "pure hate" and "pure violence" of the October 7 attacks on Israel.
"The struggle [against terror groups] must be without mercy but not without rules," he said, calling for humanitarian access and electricity to civilian populations caught in fighting, without such assistance going to terror groups.
The French president stressed that the acts of Hamas "go beyond all understanding," marking "a black page in our history."
Expressing France’s condolences to Israel over the attacks, he said, "Our two countries are joined by the same grief."
At least 30 French citizens were killed in the Hamas attacks and nine French citizens are "missing or held hostage," he said.
Macron urged that the Palestinian cause be heard "with reason," adding that the "first condition" of a Palestinian state in peace and security must be accepting the existence and security of Israel.
Macron said that he will visit Ramallah in the West Bank later today.
7:53 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
Netanyahu warns Israel's fight against Hamas "could be a long war"
From CNN's Pauline Lockwood
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country's fight against Hamas "could be a long war."
Israel formally declared war on Hamas on October 8, the day after the militant group launched a brutal terror attack on Israel that killed more than 1,400 people.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), told CNN that the Israeli military's aim is: "To strike Hamas and prevent them from ever being able to attack us again."
Speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Netanyahu stressed the need to defeat Hamas or "we will all lose."
Netanyahu warned that Hamas would also present a threat to Europe.
He also echoed Macron's warning to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamist militant group that dominates southern Lebanon, not to join the war. He said Hezbollah would "regret" entering the conflict.
"I hope they heed our warning. They will suffer horrible consequences," he said.
9:01 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
Released hostage criticizes Israeli military, says costly border fence with Gaza "didn't help"
From CNN's Christian Edwards and Niamh Kennedy in London
Yocheved Lifshitz, who was held captive in Gaza for more than two weeks before being released Monday evening, appeared to criticize Israel’s security failure that allowed Hamas gunmen to pour into Israel on October 7.
Speaking to journalists outside Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center on Tuesday, Lifshitz accused the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of not taking threats from Hamas “seriously.”
“I could not have known that we (could) get into this stage,” she said.
Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it has spent billions of dollars securing the border from attacks.
“It didn’t help,” Lifshitz said of the costly border fence that was breached on October 7.
“The lack of awareness by Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) and the IDF hurt us a lot,” she said. “They warned us three weeks beforehand, they burned fields, they sent fire balloons and the IDF did not treat it seriously,” she added, referring to Hamas.
Lifshitz explained how this culminated in the attack on her kibbutz of Nir Oz in southern Israel on October 7.
"All of a sudden on a Saturday morning, everything was very quiet. There was a hard pounding on the settlement,” she said.
Not long after, "hordes" of Hamas fighters broke through the kibbutz's "expensive" fences and kept coming in their "droves" before placing Lifshitz on a motorbike and driving away, she said.
"It was very, very difficult and unpleasant," a visibly upset Lifshitz added.
Speaking in the wake of the October 7 attack, IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus admitted “the entire system failed.”
9:06 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
"It looks like a spiderweb," recalls released Israeli hostage taken into Hamas tunnels
From CNN's Christian Edwards and Niamh Kennedy in London
Yocheved Lifshitz, an 85-year-old Israeli grandmother who was released by Hamas Monday evening, described being taken underground into Hamas’ huge network of tunnels after being captured by Hamas gunmen on October 7.
After being slung over the back of a motorbike and hit with sticks, Lifshitz told reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday that she was taken underground.
“They walked for a few kilometers on the wet ground,” Lifshitz’s daughter, acting as a translator, explained. “There is a huge, huge network of tunnels underneath. It looks like a spiderweb.”
Lifshitz said there were doctors and paramedics waiting to receive them. After initially being grouped together with 25 other people, Lifshitz said her captors then placed her in a smaller group with four other individuals from a kibbutz near hers.
“As we got there, the people told us that they are people who believe in the Quran and they will not harm us, and we will get the same conditions they get in the tunnels,” Lifshitz said.
“There were guards and a paramedic and a doctor who took care of the fact that we’ll have the same medicine that we need," she said, adding how they "took care of the sanitary side of things so that we didn't get sick."
Lifshitz said they slept on mattresses, describing the tunnels as “most, wet, damp everywhere.”
Liftshitz was released Monday evening, along with her neighbor and friend Nurit Cooper, 79. Both are residents of kibbutz Nir Oz.
But more than 200 people are believed to have been captured and brought into Gaza.
"It's not over until everyone's home," Lifshitz said.
9:13 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
"I went through hell," says released Israeli hostage
From CNN's Pauline Lockwood, Niamh Kennedy and Christian Edwards
Yocheved Lifshitz, who was released by Hamas on Monday,told reporters on Tuesday that she "went through hell" in Gaza.
Lifshitz, an 85-year-old grandmother, was held captive in Gaza for more than two weeks before being released and returned to Israel late Monday evening.
"It was difficult, but we will get through this," she said, recounting her experience to journalists outside Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center.
Speaking in Hebrew, and sitting alongside her daughter who translated, Lifshitz described how she was captured by Hamas gunmen during their brutal terror attack on Israel on October 7.
"I was kidnapped on a motorbike on my side while they were driving toward Gaza," Lifshitz said. Her daughter explained how her head lay on one side of the motorbike while her feet dangled from the other. "It was a painful act. They brought us into a gate. I was lying on the side on the motorbike. I got bruises because of the drive," Lifshitz added.
Lifshitz's daughter explained that her mother was brought down into a "huge network" of spider web-like tunnels where she was held.
6:30 a.m. ET, October 24, 2023
Happening now: Freed hostage holding news conference in Tel Aviv