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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6:51 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Netanyahu deletes social media post accusing security chiefs of failing to warn about October 7 attack

From CNN's Lucas Lilieholm, Tamar Michaelis, Maija Ehlinger and Laura Paddison

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on Saturday. Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received sharp criticism after he accused security chiefs in a now-deleted social media post of failing to warn him about the impending Hamas attack prior to October 7.

Amid a chorus of disapproval from opponents and allies, Netanyahu deleted the post on Sunday morning, issuing a rare apology and stating Israel’s security heads had his “full backing.”

But the incident has done little to quell increasing frustration and anger directed at Israel’s leader for failing to anticipate the brutal Hamas attacks, which saw the group kill at least 1,400 people and take more than 200 hostages, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Netanyahu’s tweet comes at a time when he is also under increasing pressure from the families of hostages for a “comprehensive deal” to ensure their release. These calls are becoming more urgent amid concerns for what Israel’s expanding ground operations could mean for the safety of hostages trapped in Gaza.

In the now-deleted post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Netanyahu said, “At no point was a warning given to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Hamas’s intention to start a war. On the contrary, all the defense officials, including the heads of the Intelligence Directorate and the Shin Bet, assessed that Hamas was deterred.”

An outpouring of criticism swiftly followed Netanyahu’s post, following which, the prime minister deleted the post on Sunday morning and issued an apology. “I was wrong. Things I said following the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that,” he wrote on X. Israel’s security chiefs had his “full backing,” he added.

But even in this apology, Netanyahu made no mention of his own responsibility for the failure to anticipate the deadliest attack in Israel’s history. By contrast, security chiefs Ronen Bar and Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, as well as chief of staff of the IDF Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, have all taken responsibility to some extent for failures that led to the attacks.

5:56 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

International Criminal Court prosecutor says strikes on civilian infrastructure always have to be justified

From CNN's Melissa Bell and Chris Liakos in Cairo, and Catherine Nicholls and Jessie Gretener in London

The International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan told CNN on Sunday that anyone who targets civilian infrastructure in the Israel-Gaza conflict will need to "justify every strike.”

"There should be no doubt that every decision-maker, from head of government, to military advisors, to lawyers that have targeting-making decisions, should be on clear notice that they will be required to justify every strike against every civilian object," Khan said.

"What I can say, clearly, is the willful killing and hostage-taking are great breeches of the Geneva Conventions," Khan said. "In all circumstances, human objects have to be protected, unless you can establish that they've lost their protection," he continued. 

Khan said civilian targets, such as a “house or school or hospital or a church or a mosque,” are required to be protected under international law unless they become military objectives. 

He said to determine whether those targets are military objectives is “complex” and will require analysis and information. 

"You've got to prove that — you can't assume it. And the burden of proof is on the person that is firing at, or targeting the dwelling house, or the school or the hospital or the church or the mosque,” Khan outlined.

The prosecutor also warned that denying humanitarian assistance to civilians is a crime.

"I think that's, again, a matter that needs urgent consideration by Israel — to make sure that food and medicine go to children and women and men," Khan said.

He suggested that, even if a child were to survive an attack initially, a subsequent lack of medical care may mean dire consequences. 

"What kind of hope does a baby have, does a child have, to medical care if there's no anesthetic? If there's no morphine? If there's no medicine?" he asked.

"Whether a child is born Jewish in Israel or is a Christian or Muslim in Gaza — they're children and we should have that sense of humanity — that legal, ethical, moral responsibility to do right by them," Khan stated. 

More background: The ICC is an independent organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands and is not part of the United Nations system. Under Article 5 of the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

However, the ICC can only exercise jurisdiction over crimes if they were committed on the territory of a country that is a member — or by one of its nationals.

Israel is not party to the Rome Statute.

There have been some case-by-case exceptions. A state that is not party to the ICC can make a declaration to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC, and the United Nations Security Council can refer situation to the ICC even if the UN member state is not party to the statute. 

5:41 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

UAE will seek resolution for "immediate humanitarian pause" at UN Security Council meeting, sources say

From CNN’s Becky Anderson in Doha and Richard Roth in New York 

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on October 25.
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on October 25. David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Monday regarding Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, diplomatic sources confirmed.

The United Arab Emirates will seek a binding resolution from other Security Council members for an "immediate humanitarian pause" in the fighting, the sources said.

The emergency meeting comes after 120 countries voted for a United Nations resolution on Friday, introduced by Jordan, that called for a “sustained humanitarian truce” in Gaza. The United States was one of 14 countries that voted against the resolution, with 45 countries abstaining.

The sources said the draft text of the Security Council resolution calls for “an immediate humanitarian truce” and further “humanitarian pauses.”

Earlier this month, the United States vetoed a draft resolution at the UNSC which called for a humanitarian pause. 

The UAE is the only Arab country currently a member of the UNSC.

5:17 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

US worked to restore connectivity in Gaza, official says

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

The US applied pressure on Israel to restore connectivity in Gaza after phone and internet service was severed late last week, according to a senior US official.

The blackout — which left civilians, aid groups and journalists without any means of communicating with the outside world — came amid heavy Israeli bombardment of the enclave. Service appeared to be gradually restored on Sunday.

The official said the US made clear to Israel the importance of restoring service in Gaza.

Speaking in an interview Sunday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan underscored the importance of communications networks in Gaza.

"We don't have a perfect picture of what is happening in Gaza. We do feel strongly that the restoration of that communications was a critical thing," he said on MSNBC. "Because aid workers need to be able to communicate, civilians need to be able to communicate, and of course, journalists need to be able to document what is happening in Gaza to report it to the wider world."

"That was something that we cared about, worked on, and we are glad to see that restoration," he said.

6:33 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

"Fabric of society is starting to break down" in Gaza, UN agency says

From CNN's Helena Geers, Rosanne Roobeek, Anna Gorzkowska, and Jessie Gretener in London

Palestinians check damage at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Khan Younis on Sunday.
Palestinians check damage at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Khan Younis on Sunday. Mohammed Salem/Reuters

 

The "fabric of society" in Gaza is starting to break down, an official from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) told CNN — echoing warnings Sunday of a breakdown in civil order.

Thomas White, director of Affairs for Gaza for UNRWA, spoke about how people were looting logistic and aid warehouses in Gaza. 

"We have been warning for a couple days now, that if essential public services and humanitarian aid would not be provided to the population in a sustained way we would see a breakdown in civil order. What we are seeing right now is the first stages of that, and that some of our logistic bases were looted by hundreds of young men. It's a very worrying sign that the fabric of society is starting to break down," White explained.

White said he was concerned for the people of Gaza but also for the UNRWA's ability to maintain operations there. He called for a humanitarian ceasefire, citing the urgent need “get the assistance that people need and stabilize society in Gaza." 

4:36 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

UN secretary-general calls for leaders to "step back from the brink." Here's the latest diplomatic news

From CNN Staff

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he urged “all those with responsibility to step back from the brink” while speaking about the Israel-Gaza conflict on Sunday.

Guterres said he will “continue to insist on the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages in Gaza,” and reiterated his “appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

“I repeat my utter condemnation of the appalling attacks perpetrated by Hamas,” Guterres echoed. “There is no justification, ever, for the killing, injuring and abduction of civilians.”

Guterres continued by saying the situation in Gaza was “growing more desperate by the hours” and called for all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. 

“I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations,” he said. 

Here's what else top diplomats and world leaders are doing on the diplomatic front Sunday:

French President Emmanuel Macron said 17 metric tonnes of humanitarian freight arrived in Egypt from France on Sunday.

“We are continuing our efforts by air and sea. Together, in solidarity, alongside Egypt and the Red Crescent,” Macron posted on X, formerly Twitter.

He also reiterated a call for a humanitarian truce for Gaza.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said he believes Israel has crossed the line regarding international law while speaking to Norwegian state broadcaster NRK on Sunday.

“They (Israelis) have the right to self-defense, and I recognize that defending oneself against warfare from such a densely populated area as Gaza is very demanding. And there are still rockets coming from Gaza towards Israel, we condemn that,” Støre said. “International law also states that it must be proportionate, civilians must be taken into account, humanitarian law is very clear of that, and I believe that that line has now been far crossed.”

Støre said he was specifically referring to Israeli “attacks coming from the air against civilian areas where people have nowhere to hide.” 

US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi Sunday about the need for the continued flow of aid into Gaza and stressed the importance of protecting civilians lives, according to the White House.

In the call with Netanyahu, Biden reiterated his support for Israel to defend itself but said Israel needs to do so "in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians." He also called for significantly increasing the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and discussed ongoing efforts to locate hostages still held by Hamas.

4:24 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

US Marine rapid response force moves toward eastern Mediterranean, sources say

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann

A US Marine rapid response force is moving toward the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to two officials — amid concerns over the war in Gaza broadening into a regional conflict.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship, was operating in the waters of the Middle East in recent weeks, but it began making its way toward the Suez Canal late last week, the officials said.

The Bataan is currently in the Red Sea and is expected to pass into the eastern Mediterranean soon, one official said. 

The move will place the Marine unit closer to Lebanon and Israel as the US is warning citizens to leave Lebanon. One of the typical roles of a Marine Expeditionary Unit is to help civilians evacuate.

CNN has reached out to the US Defense Department for comment.

On Tuesday, the White House said it would be “imprudent and irresponsible” not to plan for a possible evacuation of American citizens from the Middle East, including Israel and Lebanon. But at the time, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said, “We’re not at a point of execution right now.”

But on Friday, as Israel expanded its ground campaign in Gaza, the US embassy in Beirut once again urged Americans to “leave now,” warning that the best time to leave a country is “before a crisis.”

Earlier this month, the US State Department raised the travel advisory level for Lebanon last week to Level 4: Do Not Travel.

More background: The US has warned there is an “elevated risk” of the war between Israel and Hamas spilling over into a broader regional conflict, despite the efforts of the Biden administration to keep the fighting contained to Gaza.

One of the highest risks comes from Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where there is an ongoing, if still low-level, exchange of hostilities with Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian proxy. 

In 2006 during the last war between Israel and Hezbollah, the State Department ordered a non-combatant evacuation for American citizens in Lebanon, ultimately evacuating approximately 15,000 Americans in about two weeks.

4:01 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Video shows Hamas launching weaponized drone from Gaza residential building during October 7 attack

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy 

Hamas launched at least one of its weaponized drones in the October 7 terror attack from a residential building in southern Gaza, video circulating social media shows.

CNN geolocated the takeoff site in the video to a residential building on the eastern outskirts of Khuza'a, in southern Gaza. 

It's the latest video to come to light from captured Hamas weaponry and body cameras that sheds new insight into how Hamas conducted its surprise assault on Israel. 

The drone is seen rising in the video from the building, away from Khuza'a and toward the Gaza-Israel border. A second video, taken near an Israeli military outpost just east of Nir Oz, shows the drone flying. 

It is suddenly heard losing propulsion and is then seen hitting the ground. It's unclear what caused the drone to crash, and it's unclear whether it dropped munitions before crashing. 

4:12 p.m. ET, October 29, 2023

Cousin of Israeli held hostage in Gaza: "You must avoid any action that could hurt hostages"

From CNN’s Abby Baggini

Boaz Atzili, the cousin of Israeli hostage Aviv Atzili, spoke to a crowd calling for the release of the hostages held by Hamas at a Sunday rally in Washington, DC. 

"Hamas will not release them out of the good of their heart. It will take a prize, but 226 human beings' lives are worth any prize," he told the crowd.

Aviv and his Israeli-American wife, Liat Beinin Atzili, are believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas after the group attacked their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, according to Boaz.

He said the family's home was found empty and burned, but that their cell phone later pinged inside Gaza, leading the Atzili family to believe that Hamas is holding the couple.

Liat's father, Yehuda Beinin, previously told CNN that his daughter and son-in-law's official status has been updated to "probably abducted."

"They are a wonderful couple," Boaz said of Aviv and Liat, both 49 and parents to three adult children.

Boaz, who teaches international politics, called for an end to military action in Gaza, fearing that it could harm the hostages and perpetuate a cycle of violence. 

"We've had enough bloodshed. Stop the missiles and the rockets. Stop the bombings. You must avoid any action that could hurt hostages. Start looking for solutions that would allow both Israeli and Palestinian families to live their lives peacefully. That will put an end to the endless cycle of hurt and sorrow," Atzili said. "But first, bring them all back home, bring all the hostages back home."

"Our family wants to see Aviv and Liat hugging their children again, please," he concluded.

The demonstrators, who gathered in front of the Red Cross National Headquarters, plan to hold a rally every Sunday until the hostages are released. 

Family members of the hostages spoke with members of Congress on Thursday and participated in the Empty Shabbat Table event at the Lincoln Memorial Friday afternoon.

In Israel, families of hostages say they told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting Saturday that they would only accept an "everyone in return for everyone" deal, which would secure the immediate release of all hostages.h

The number of hostages believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza is up to 239, Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Sunday. Officials have said the exact number of captives held by the group and other militants in Gaza has been difficult to precisely assess.

CNN's Tamar Michaelis contributed reporting to this post.