October 29, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Sophie Tanno, Maureen Chowdhury and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 1:40 AM ET, Mon October 30, 2023
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3:52 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

UN food program says aid warehouse break-ins show "growing hunger and desperation" in Gaza

From CNN's Zeena Saifi in Tel Aviv and Chris Liakos in Cairo

Palestinians storm a UN-run aid supply center in Deir al-Balah on Saturday.
Palestinians storm a UN-run aid supply center in Deir al-Balah on Saturday. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations World Food Programme said some of its aid supplies were looted in Gaza and warned of "growing hunger and desperation" in a news release Sunday.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said earlier Sunday that "thousands" of people had broken into some of its warehouses and distribution centers in the central and southern areas of the strip, "taking wheat flour and other basic survival items like hygiene supplies."   

The food program said one of the warehouses was storing some of its food commodities, and supplies from humanitarian deliveries through Egypt.

"This is a sign of people losing hope and becoming more desperate by the minute. They are hungry, isolated, and have been suffering violence and immense distress for three weeks," said Samer Abdeljaber, a World Food Programme official for the region. "We need a humanitarian pause to be able to reach the people in need with food, water and basic necessities safely and effectively. Much more access is urgently needed, and the trickle of supplies needs to become a flow."

The food program pointed to the "harrowing 24-hour communication blackout" and "persistent access challenges" that brought all of its operations to a halt as a result of Israel's extensive airstrikes Saturday.

"WFP plans to provide food lifeline to over one million people who are going hungry now and needs a steady supply of food with at least 40 WFP trucks to cross daily into Gaza to be able to meet the escalating needs," the statement said. "So far emergency food and cash assistance has reached over 635,200 people in both Gaza and the West Bank."

1:10 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Israeli fighter jets strike Hezbollah military infrastructure, IDF says

From CNN Pierre Meilhan

The Israeli military said its fighter jets struck Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon Sunday in response to shelling toward northern Israel from a “terrorist cell.”

The strike took place in the Har Dov area, and Israeli aircraft destroyed weapons that could have been used for further shelling, the Israel Defense Forces said via Telegram. 

Of the three launches from that area in southern Lebanon, the Israeli military said it intercepted two, and the third landed in an open area. 

In addition, several launches were fired toward the Malkia area in northern Israel, but two of them were intercepted and there were no injuries, according to the IDF. 

Remember: This fighting is centered on northern Israel and southern Lebanon — separate from Israel's fighting with Hamas farther south, which is centered around Gaza. But an uptick in clashes with Hezbollah has raised fears that the powerful Lebanese paramilitary group could actively participate in the conflict.

Hezbollah has unambiguously supported the Palestinian militants and roundly condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza, but it has not intervened on behalf of Hamas so far.

The group has explicitly linked its attacks on Israel to the IDF's strikes in Lebanese territory, and the fighting remains limited to this border region for now.

12:27 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

US communicating with Israel at "the highest levels" about protecting Gaza civilians, official says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The United States is emphasizing the importance of protecting civilian lives in Gaza in conversations “at the highest levels” of the Israeli government, the top US national security adviser said Sunday, even as he repeatedly declined to say whether Israel was going about its war the right way.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said US President Joe Biden would speak later Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — their first known conversation since Israel expanded its ground operations in Gaza — and would reiterate the importance of distinguishing "between terrorists and civilians" as Israel conducts its operation.

The assault on Gaza has left thousands of Palestinian civilians dead and worsened the humanitarian crisis in the enclave. Aid has been slow to enter and civilians, including hundreds of Americans, have been unable to leave. While some aid has made its way to Gaza, humanitarian workers say it is a fraction of what’s required for the 2.2 million people crammed into Gaza under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.

More than 200 hundred hostages also remain held by Hamas on the strip, according to officials, and securing their release could be complicated by the expanded operation.

Sullivan said Israel was solely responsible for its military operations. “They’re the ones making decisions, they’re the ones conducting the operations,” he said, declining to openly criticize any aspect of the new military effort.

“I’m not going to react to every strike, every move that they make,” he said.

Israel's intentions in Gaza: Sullivan did indicate that tougher conversations were being held behind the scenes between senior US and Israeli officials — including Biden and Netanyahu — about the scope and intent of Israel’s going into Gaza.

“We’ve asked them hard questions, the same hard questions that we would ask ourselves if we were seeking to conduct an operation to take out a terrorist threat,” Sullivan said. “We’ve pressed them on questions like objectives and matching means to objectives, about both tactical and strategic issues associated with this operation.”

Sullivan said Hamas was “making life extremely difficult for Israel” by using civilians as human shields and placing its rocket infrastructure among civilian populations.

“That creates an added burden for Israel. But it does not lessen Israel’s responsibility under international humanitarian law to distinguish between terrorists and civilians, and to protect the lives of innocent people,” he said.

Read more on CNN about US communications with Israel about Gaza.

11:55 a.m. ET, October 29, 2023

The risk of expanding Middle East conflict is real, US national security adviser says

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Avery Lotz

An explosion as seen from the Israeli border with Gaza on Sunday.
An explosion as seen from the Israeli border with Gaza on Sunday. Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

The US sees an "elevated risk" of a spillover conflict in the Middle East as Iranian proxies continue targeting American troops stationed in the region.

"We are vigilant, because we are seeing elevated threats against our forces throughout the region and an elevated risk of this conflict spreading to other parts of the region. We are doing everything in our power to deter and prevent that," US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

Last week, the US carried out airstrikes targeting two facilities linked to Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria following a series of drone and rocket attacks against US forces in the region.

The airstrikes against the facilities linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups did not result in any casualties, the US assessed.

Asked about US strikes on Iranian proxies in the region, Sullivan said on ABC, “If attacks continue, we will respond, and I think the Iranians understand our message.”

“We, of course, are taking every measure necessary to protect our forces, to increase our vigilance and to work with other countries in the region to try to keep this conflict that is currently in Israel and Gaza from spinning out into a regional conflict,” Sullivan said. “But the risk is real, and therefore, vigilance is high, and the steps that we are taking to deter that and prevent that are serious, systematic and ongoing.”
11:40 a.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Israel's military describes fighting with Hamas on the ground in northern Gaza Strip

From CNN's Amir Tal 

The Israeli military is continuing ground operations in the northern Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement Sunday. 

Israeli "aircraft, guided by IDF troops, struck Hamas military structures, some of which contained Hamas terrorists," the military said. "In addition, anti-tank missile launching posts, observation posts and military infrastructure were struck."

"Terrorists who shot at the soldiers were killed, as well as terrorists who were identified on the coastline in the Gaza Strip near the area of Zikim," the IDF said. 

Remember: Israel says the next stage of its war with Hamas has begun after expanding its ground operations in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that the second stage of the war against Hamas has begun, with the goal of destroying the group's armed wing and government, and returning hostages held in Gaza home.

The IDF launched its offensive after the devastating October 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel.

11:13 a.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Israeli troops have advanced over two miles into northern Gaza, video suggests

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Israeli troops appear to have advanced over two miles into Gaza, according to a CNN analysis of video published by an Israeli media outlet. 

The troops in the video, taken on Saturday, are seen putting an Israeli flag on a Gaza resort hotel's roof. CNN geolocated the video to an area just over two miles from the Gaza-Israeli border.

"Soldiers of the 52 Battalion of the 401 Brigade are waving the Israeli flag in the heart of Gaza, by the beach," a soldier is heard saying in the video, taken several miles north of central Gaza City. "We will not forgive nor forget, and we’ll not stop until the victory."

The video is one of the first glimpses into where Israeli ground forces have been, and what they've been doing, during the expanded ground operations in Gaza. 

A communications blackout in Gaza has significantly hampered the flow of information out of it, though providers said service was gradually being restored Sunday.

The video was published by Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom. CNN has asked the Israel Defense Forces for comment on the video, and why soldiers are installing an Israeli flag on the hotel roof. 

On the ground: A CNN team in the Israeli city of Sderot, near the Gaza Strip perimeter, heard machine gun fire at regular intervals Sunday.

The gunfire was heard from the northern part of the enclave, close to the border, while the Israel Defense Forces continued to fire artillery rounds and mortars from outside the border further south.

Earlier on Sunday, IDF tanks and armored personnel vehicles were seen approaching the border while helicopters, drones and fighter jets flew overhead.

A large column of vehicles was seen north of the strip. Staging grounds further away from the border that were full of tanks and armored vehicles just a few days ago are now nearly empty, suggesting the troops have moved closer to the perimeter.

CNN's Ivana Kottasová contributed reporting to this post from Sderot, Israel.

10:57 a.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Israel has "crossed the red lines" in Gaza, Iranian President Raisi says 

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks to the crowds gathered to protest in Tehran in support of Palestinians in Gaza on October 18.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks to the crowds gathered to protest in Tehran in support of Palestinians in Gaza on October 18. Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has "crossed the red lines" in Gaza, which "may force everyone to take action," Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said Sunday.

"Zionist regime’s crimes have crossed the red lines, which may force everyone to take action. Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel," Raisi said in a post on social media. 

"The US sent messages to the Axis of Resistance but received a clear response on the battlefield," Raisi said.  

Some context: Israel's fierce military campaign in Gaza has raised concerns that more fronts will open up. Iran is allied to Hamas as well as Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group that has been involved in tit-for-tat exchanges of fire with Israel in recent weeks.

Experts say that while Iran is wary of being dragged into the Israel-Hamas war, it may not be in full control if the militias it backs in the region independently intervene as Hamas suffers heavy blows and the death toll in Gaza continues to mount.

In the early days after the October 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, questions were raised about Iran’s potential involvement in the killings. Tehran at the time commended the operation but was quick to deny any hand in it.

Initial US intelligence also suggested that Iranian officials were surprised by Hamas’ attack, and that Tehran was not directly involved in its planning, resourcing or approval, CNN has reported.

11:25 a.m. ET, October 29, 2023

10 aid trucks pass from Egypt into Gaza through key border crossing

From CNN's Asmaa Khalil in Rafah, Egypt, and Abeer Salman in Jerusalem

Ten aid trucks passed inspection procedures at the Rafah border crossing and were received by the Palestinian Red Crescent on the Gazan side on Sunday, according to a CNN freelance journalist on the ground on the Egyptian side.

"Today we received 10 trucks from our brothers at the Egyptian Red Crescent through the Rafah crossing, containing food supplies and medical necessities. The total number of received trucks so far has reached 94, while fuel has not been allowed to enter yet," the Palestinian Red Crescent said in an updated statement on Sunday afternoon.

The journalist on the ground saw a total of 40 trucks from Egypt’s National Alliance for Civil Development Work arrive on the Egyptian side of the crossing between Saturday and Sunday morning — most of which are waiting to undergo security checks before entering Gaza.

The Israeli military said Sunday it expects more aid trucks to begin entering Gaza soon.

CNN also spotted the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan at the Rafah crossing.

A key link: The Rafah crossing is the only entry point to Gaza not controlled by Israel, which has implemented a "complete siege" on the Hamas-run enclave and the more than 2 million Palestinians living there.

Some aid trucks have been able to enter Gaza through Egypt since the crisis began, as seen by CNN’s team on the Palestinian side of the border, but the main United Nations agency working in Gaza has warned the limited shipments have done little to address humanitarian needs — and that more aid is desperately needed.

2:14 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Second-largest hospital in Gaza City warned to evacuate ahead of possible bombardment, humanitarian group says 

From CNN's Abeer Salman, Richard Allen Greene, Radina Gigova and Muhammad Darwish 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it has received a warning Sunday from the Israeli military to immediately evacuate Al-Quds Hospital, the second-largest in Gaza City, ahead of possible bombardment.

The hospital is located in the Tal Al Hawa neighborhood, in Gaza City, north of Wadi Gaza – the line south of which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has urged people in Gaza to flee. 

The hospital is located in the Tal Al Hawa neighbourhood, in Gaza city, north of Wadi Gaza – the line south of which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has urged people in Gaza to flee. 

The Palestinian Red Crescent "has just received a new threat by the Israeli Authorities this morning, ordering the team to immediately evacuate Al-Quds Hospital," reads a statement from the organization. 
"Two phone calls were received, with a clear and direct threat, that the hospital must be evacuated at once, otherwise PRCS holds full responsibility for the lives of everyone inside the hospital," the organization said. 

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the evacuation threat as "deeply concerning."

"We reiterate - it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives," he added in a post on social media Sunday.

In response to questions about the Palestinian Red Crescent statement, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Maj. Nir Dinar told CNN on Sunday, "They received much more than two (warnings) for the last three weeks." 

Al-Quds Hospital is treating hundreds of patients, including wounded people, patients in intensive care and children in incubators, the Palestinian Red Crescent said. In addition, approximately 12,000 internally displaced civilians are currently sheltering at the hospital. 

The aid organization's management and operations teams, which are helping civilians staying in the northern Gaza Strip, are also stationed in the hospital, the organization said. 

"All medical facilities and medical missions, as well as civilians are protected under international Humanitarian Law. States Parties to the Geneva Convention, are called upon to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances," the Palestinian Red Crescent said. "We call once again on the international community as a whole, The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the UN system and the International agencies to act immediately and save Al-Quds Hospital, as well as all hospitals in Gaza from being targeted, and to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe from unfolding," it added.

Repeated warnings: In a statement released on October 14, the World Health Organization strongly condemned "Israel's repeated orders" for the evacuation of 22 hospitals in northern Gaza, and said those evacuation orders are "a death sentence for the sick and injured."

"Hospital directors and health workers are now facing an agonizing choice: abandon critically ill patients amid a bombing campaign, put their own lives at risk while remaining on site to treat patients, or endanger their patients’ lives while attempting to transport them to facilities that have no capacity to receive them," WHO said. 

"Overwhelmingly, caregivers have chosen to stay behind, and honor their oaths as health professionals to 'do no harm,' rather than risk moving their critically ill patients during evacuations," WHO said. "Health workers should never have to make such impossible choices," it added.