November 5, 2023 Israel-Hamas war news

By Kathleen Magramo, Andrew Raine, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Christian Edwards, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 2:53 a.m. ET, November 6, 2023
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2:07 p.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Blinken makes unannounced visit to Iraq amid concerns about broader regional conflict

From CNN’s Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Baghdad, Iraq, on November 5.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Baghdad, Iraq, on November 5. Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Iraq Sunday — a significant stop on his whirlwind trip through the region.

Blinken met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad for more than an hour.

He also visited the US Embassy, where he received a security briefing on the threat to US facilities.

Some context: US officials have repeatedly warned against other parties becoming involved in the conflict in Israel. In the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack, Iranian-backed proxy groups have scaled up attacks aimed at US troops in Iraq and Syria. 

“We need to continue to prevent escalation of this conflict, its spread to other areas and other theaters. The United States has and we will continue to respond to attacks by Iran’s proxies to defend our personnel in the region, personnel who are here in Iraq and in Syria to help prevent the resurgence of ISIS. We will do what is necessary to deter and, as I said, respond to any attacks,” Blinken said at a news conference in Tel Aviv Friday.

Ahead of his stop in Iraq, Blinken made stops in Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Cyprus. From Iraq, he will travel on to Turkey.

More from Blinken: Speaking to reporters after the Iraq meeting Sunday, Blinken said his discussion with the prime minister was “good” and “productive,” and added that he made clear that attacks by Iranian-backed militias against US personnel are totally unacceptable.

They also discussed making sure the conflict in Gaza does not spread into the wider region, the top US diplomat said.

Regarding Gaza, Blinken said negotiations on a humanitarian pause in the fighting are a "process," but that US and Israeli teams are meeting Sunday to "work through the specifics, the practicalities of these pauses."

"Israel has raised important questions about how humanitarian pauses would work. We've got to answer those questions. We're working on exactly that," he said.

2:05 p.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Humanitarian agencies lose contact with workers as operators report another communications outage in Gaza

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Kareem El Damanhoury 

Communications in Gaza have been disrupted for a third time since the current Israel-Hamas conflict began, with telecom operators reporting outages Sunday and aid agencies saying they can't contact their teams in the strip.

The operator Paltel announced a "complete interruption" of its telecom and network services in a statement posted on Facebook. It said the interruption was due to "the main routes that were previously reconnected being cut off again from the Israeli side."

Fellow operators Jawwal and Ooredoo Palestine also said in statements that their entire telecom and internet services had been disrupted Sunday.  

The internet monitoring firm NetBlocks posted shortly before noon ET, warning "live network data" showed a "new collapse in connectivity in the #Gaza Strip with high impact to Paltel, the last remaining major operator serving the territory." 

The main United Nations agency supporting Palestinians in Gaza said it lost contact with its workers.

"UNRWA is not able to get through to the vast majority of our team," the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said in a post on the social media platform X shortly after 7:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. ET). 

 "This is the third communications blackout over the past 10 days. Gazans are completely cut off from their loved ones and the rest of the world," the agency continued. 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society also said it lost contact with its teams in Gaza due to the blackout. 

"Unfortunately, we've lost contact with our #Gaza teams during the third telecom blackout since the escalation began," the humanitarian organization said in a post on X shortly before 7 p.m. local time (noon ET). 

4:08 p.m. ET, November 5, 2023

IDF releases what it says is evidence of Hamas using civilian infrastructure to launch attacks

From CNN’s Stephanie Halasz

Rockets are fired from Gaza toward Israel on November 5.
Rockets are fired from Gaza toward Israel on November 5. Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces has released what it said was evidence of Hamas using civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and children’s playgrounds, as shields for its attacks on Israel. 

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesperson for the Israeli military, claimed during a news briefing Sunday that the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, among others, is used by Hamas as a shield against Israeli response to its rockets.

Hagari showed aerial images of the hospital, pointing out what he said were rocket launchers nearby.

“Only 75 meters, 80 meters to the hospital. Here, the IDF identified a launch pad, meaning, they launched rockets from here,” Hagari claimed, charging that the Palestinian militant movement places launchers there knowing that Israeli airstrikes on those targets would damage the hospital. 

Hagari also showed aerial images of what he said was a tunnel opening at Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Hospital. 

“A tunnel that was being used for terror infrastructures in the Qatari hospital. If it wasn’t enough … the terrorists also shoot at our soldiers from within the hospital,” Hagari claimed.

Earlier Sunday, the IDF said it had identified “launch pits” and “rocket launchers in an old children’s playground in the Gaza strip.”  

The IDF included nighttime video of what it said were four launching barrels for rockets, “only five meters from a children’s swimming pool.” 

A CNN safety expert reviewing the footage said it did appear to show what the IDF was claiming.  

Palestinian officials reject claims: The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila rejected the Israeli military's claims, saying Israel aims "to create excuses for targeting (hospitals)."

"Israel always creates excuses and comes up with theories and lies to legitimize their plans and actions," she told CNN.

The head of the Hamas-controlled government media office in Gaza, Salama Marouf, also rejected the claims in a news conference outside the Al-Shifa Hospital Sunday night.

"(Israel) is conducting massacres against hospitals," he said, as ambulances were bringing casualties in for treatment behind him. "Over the past hour, there have been extensive airstrikes in the vicinity of hospitals in the Gaza Strip."

Some background: The IDF made the accusations against Hamas after intense criticism of the barrage of strikes it has launched against the densely populated enclave, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians.

Israel launched its war on Hamas after the militant group killed about 1,400 people in Israel in a surprise attack last month. More than 200 people are still being held captive, Israel says.

Israel’s more than 11,000 strikes in Gaza since then have damaged civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, United Nations shelters and refugee camps, killing and wounding civilians. More than 9,700 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since October 7, according to Dr. Mai Al-Kaila, the Palestinian minister of health in Ramallah, using data drawn from medical sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

The IDF says it is targeting Hamas leaders, fighters and infrastructure. 

On Gaza evacuations: Hagari also accused Hamas of trying to stop civilians from leaving for the south of Gaza, as the IDF has urged. He said recent "corridors" established by Israel for safe passage of evacuating civilians have had to be closed because of Hamas attacks in the area.

Hagari said over 1.5 million multi-colored flyers — to signal different messages—have been dropped into the Gaza strip.

More than 19,734 phone calls, warning people to leave certain areas, have been made, he said, and over six million recorded messages have been sent in Arabic, urging civilians to evacuate south. 

A US special envoy in the Middle East, David Satterfield, said Saturday that between 800,000 and a million people have fled from the north to southern parts of the Gaza Strip, deepening the humanitarian crisis. Critical supplies remain in short supply during Israel's siege on the territory, and the IDF has struck targets south of the evacuation line.

CNN's Kareem El Damanhoury, Abeer Salman and Kareem Khadder contributed reporting to this post.

This post has been updated with the response from Hamas and Palestinian Authority government representatives.

1:18 p.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Israeli military says its ground troops have reached the coast of Gaza

From CNN's Tamar Michaelis

The Israeli military said Sunday that its soldiers had reached positions along the coast of Gaza as part of the expansion of its ground operations.

The 36th Division of the Israel Defense Forces reached the coast as it worked to encircle Hamas forces and strike targets in Gaza, the IDF said in a news release.

“In the last 12 hours, the soldiers of the division struck around 50 targets, including combat zones, operational residences, outposts, military positions and underground infrastructure, and eliminated terrorists in close-quarter combat,” the statement added.

1:06 p.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Ambassador says IDF is making "every effort" to get civilians out of harm's way as humanitarian pressure grows

From CNN’s Aileen Graef

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said Sunday that Israel is “making every effort” to get the civilian population in Gaza “out of harm’s way.”

“We're making every effort to distinguish between terrorists and civilian population. We call the civilian population to move to the south out of harm's way, and Hamas is doing everything they can to keep them in harm’s way,” Herzog said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Herzog called the deaths of civilians “tragic,” but said Israel cannot "allow Hamas immunity because they hide behind civilians."

Herzog said Israel would be open to the idea of a humanitarian pause if it means getting hostages out of Gaza, but said Hamas is “not serious” about a hostage release agreement and is “playing for time.”

Outcry over Gaza crisis grows: Israel's military said it gave Gaza civilians a four-hour window Sunday to move south, as its ground offensive and heaviest bombardment target Gaza City and the northern strip. Officials say the flight of displaced residents to southern Gaza has only deepened the humanitarian crisis, and the IDF has struck targets south of the evacuation line.

US President Joe Biden and his top advisers are warning Israel with growing force that it will become increasingly difficult for it to pursue its military goals in Gaza as global outcry intensifies about the scale of humanitarian suffering there.

American officials also believe there is limited time for Israel to try to accomplish its stated objective of taking out Hamas in its current operation before uproar over the humanitarian suffering and civilian casualties — and calls for a ceasefire — reach a tipping point.

More from the Biden administration: Jon Finer, the US deputy national security adviser, said Sunday that Hamas operating in densely populated areas “places a higher burden” on the Israel Defense Forces to protect civilians, but the US will continue to hold Israel to operating within humanitarian law.

Finer told ABC that during his trip to the Middle East this weekend, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made clear to the Arab countries calling for a ceasefire, that the United States does not believe “now is the time for an overall ceasefire,” but still supported humanitarian pauses to get aid in and hostage out.

Finer also said there is ongoing talks to get the hostages still held by Hamas released, and the administration still thinks it is “possible,” but they have not reached an agreement.

12:36 p.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Palestinian ambassador to UK says Abbas' meeting with US secretary of state was tense

From CNN’s Abby Baggini

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom slammed the United States on Sunday for failing to be an "honest mediator" in the Israel-Hamas war.

"We need to see the US playing the role of an honest mediator, not adopting the Israeli narrative," the ambassador, Dr. Husam Zomlot, said on CBS shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "We needed a grown-up in the room and that is the US — unfortunately, we haven't heard that, and we have not come up with a joint statement." 

Zomlot, who also served as the last Palestinian ambassador to the US, said Blinken's meeting with Abbas was tense.

"Our president demanded an immediate ceasefire to the atrocious, murderous assault by Israel on our civilians and people. This is not a war against Hamas," Zomlot said. "It's clear since it started that it's a war against our people, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank."

The ambassador also slammed the US for refusing to call for a ceasefire and instead opting for the term "humanitarian pause."

"This whole talk, Margaret, about 'humanitarian pauses' is simply irresponsible," he told CBS' Margaret Brennan. "Pauses of crimes against humanity — we're going to pause for six hours killing our children, and then we resume killing the children? I mean, this doesn't stand even international laws."

Zomlot declined to formally condemn the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and instead called on the US to "empower the state of Palestine that will be able to protect its people."

Zomlot said he does not consider the conflict to be a war, because "a war does not happen between the occupied and an occupier" and "only happens between two sovereign states."

He said the situation in the West Bank is "very volatile and dangerous" and that he is concerned about it escalating into a broader regional war.

"Every minute we wait, there is a risk of spreading over," he warned.

11:55 a.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Hospital in Gaza scrambles to treat dozens of children after main generator stops working, doctor says

From CNN's Lauren Kent and Radina Gigova in London 

Medical staff at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza are trying to provide care to more than 60 injured children, including 13 on mechanical ventilation, despite a lack of medical supplies and after the hospital's main generator stopped working due to lack of fuel, a pediatrician at the hospital told CNN on Saturday. 

Most of the children who came to the emergency department on Saturday were in "very critical" condition, said Dr. Husam Abu Safyia, a pediatrician at the medical center. 

The main hospital generator stopped working Friday and the hospital is relying on a small electric generator that is being used "just for intensive care units," he said in a message to CNN. 

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah warned Saturday of a "catastrophe within Gaza hospitals," adding that wounded people are "taking their last breaths" due to the lack of medical resources and fuel. 

11:38 a.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Qatar "hopeful" Gaza border crossing will reopen as dispute over ambulance strike threatens progress

From CNN’s Becky Anderson and Elizabeth Wells in Doha, and CNN’s Zeena Saifi in Jerusalem

A family carries their luggage at the Rafah border crossing in Rafah, Gaza, on November 5.
A family carries their luggage at the Rafah border crossing in Rafah, Gaza, on November 5. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Qatar is "hopeful" the Rafah crossing will open again to allow people to leave Gaza for Egypt, but cannot say when that will happen, the Gulf state’s foreign ministry spokesperson said Sunday in response to questions from CNN. 

The opening of the crossing this week to allow hundreds of foreign passport holders and dozens of wounded Palestinians out of the besieged, Hamas-run enclave was “a very optimistic moment in a very gloomy month,” Majed Al-Ansari, the official spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN.

“We do understand that there are a lot of difficulties on the ground here that do not allow for this positive point to continue, but we are hopeful that we will see more opening of this crossing and we will see more people coming out as soon as possible,” he said. Al-Ansari could not give a specific timeline. 

The crossing into Egypt — the only way out of Gaza since Israel closed its two crossings —closed Saturday and did not open Sunday.

Dispute over ambulances: Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, is blocking foreign nationals from departing until Israel guarantees that ambulances from Gaza can reach the Rafah crossing, a US official familiar with situation said Saturday. Israel has accused Hamas of using ambulances to transport militants. In the case of an ambulance targeted by an Israeli strike Friday, the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza has rejected that allegation. Witnesses said dozens were killed and wounded in the strike.

Qatar’s Al-Ansari acknowledged the dispute over ambulances. 

“The bombing of ambulances — which are part of this agreement, for the ambulance convoys to move patients out of harm’s way — certainly does not help as a proof of concept for this agreement to be successful,” he said.

He urged for "all parties, but especially the occupation army" to assure safe routes and make sure an agreement is reached and respected.

Hostage negotiations ongoing: Qatar has played a vital role in negotiating for the evacuation of foreign nationals and injured civilians. It also leads the mediation in negotiating for the release of hostages held in Gaza. Asked by CNN for an update on those negotiations, Al-Ansari said they were ongoing, and that Qatar remains committed in its mediating role.  

“While we have continuously said that the escalation on the ground makes it more difficult for these mediations to succeed … they are still ongoing and we remain steadfast in our commitment to handle this mediation in the best way possible,” he said. 

11:35 a.m. ET, November 5, 2023

Blinken visits West Bank and blast rocks Gaza refugee camp. Here’s what you need to know today

From CNN staff

People stand in the rubble of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on November 5.
People stand in the rubble of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on November 5. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to the Middle East this weekend as the humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate – and as settler violence in the West Bank has increased. Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday, in his first visit to Ramallah since the war began.

The top US diplomat has used the Middle East tour to continue advocating for a "humanitarian pause" to the fighting between Israel and Hamas, to allow fuel and life-saving aid to enter the war-torn Gaza Strip. He has also reiterated US opposition to an immediate ceasefire, saying it would give Hamas a chance to regroup and attack Israel again. That position stands in contrast to the Arab leaders he met with in Jordan.

Israel has as yet rebuffed the US calls for a temporary pause in fighting — and the calls for a ceasefire. Shortly after Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet Friday, Netanyahu very publicly rejected the US proposal, saying he would not allow for a ceasefire or a pause until hostages held by Hamas are released.

Here are the latest developments:

  • More on Blinken's tour: The diplomat has met with foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Qatar and Cyprus since returning to the Middle East. His meeting with the Palestinian Authority leader Sunday centered on violence in the West Bank, where at least 150 Palestinians have been killed in since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health – a number nearing the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank in all of 2022. At a summit Saturday in Amman, Jordan, Blinken called extremist violence “a serious problem that’s only worsened since the conflict.” He also spoke about the need to focus on rebuilding Gaza after Israel's offensive there and its future governance, which Blinken said the Palestinian Authority should be a part of.
  • Deadly blast in refugee camp: Dozens were killed and many more wounded in a explosion at the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip late Saturday night, according to hospital officials. The explosion killed 52 people, Mohammad al Hajj, the director of communications at the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ hospital in Deir Al-Balah, told CNN. He said the blast was the result of an Israeli airstrike. The Israel Defense Forces says it is looking into the circumstances around the explosion. Muhammed Alaloul, a journalist in Gaza, told CNN he lost four children and three siblings in the explosion.
  • Explosions near hospital: Large explosions rocked the vicinity of the Al-Quds hospital, close to Gaza City, early Sunday, the Palestine Red Cross Society (PRCS) said. The PRCS said the building was targeted by the IDF, and that a number of people had been killed in the blast. Earlier Sunday, Israel once again told civilians to move south from Gaza City, though it's unclear how many received the message. CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment on the explosions. It has frequently accused Hamas of using civilian infrastructure such as hospitals for military operations.
  • Rising Gaza death toll: More than 9,700 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since October 7, according to Dr. Mai Al-Kaila, the Palestinian minister of health in Ramallah, using data drawn from medical sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave. The figure included 4,800 children, Al-Kaila said. The updated figures came after a US special envoy, David Satterfield, said Saturday that between 800,000 and a million people have fled from the north to southern parts of the Gaza Strip, deepening the humanitarian crisis. Critical supplies remain in short supply during Israel's siege on the territory.
  • Demonstrations around the world: Hundreds of family members of hostages taken by Hamas in the October 7 attack held a rally in front of the Kirya – the government’s military headquarters – in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, “to demand greater actions by the government to release the hostages.” More than 200 hostages are still being held in Gaza after Hamas’ attacks nearly a month ago. Meanwhile, three people were arrested at anti-government protests in Jerusalem on Saturday, while people marched in major capitals across the globe to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.