November 9, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Heather Chen, Nadeen Ebrahim, Ed Upright, Alisha Ebrahimji, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, November 10, 2023
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3:41 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Palestinian Islamic Jihad says it is prepared to release 2 hostages on humanitarian grounds

From CNN's Andrew Carey

The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group in Gaza said Thursday it is prepared to release two Israeli hostages on humanitarian grounds.

One is a 77-year-old woman, the other is a 13-year-old boy — both were shown in a video released by PIJ,  a rival Islamist militant group to Hamas in Gaza.

CNN is not naming the two hostages at this point, nor is it showing the video, following a request by the families of the two hostages for their privacy to be respected at this time. 

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari referenced the video in his daily evening news conference, saying, “We have not missed, and we will not miss, any chance to return hostages.”

In a text statement, Abu Hamza, a leader of Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said that his group is prepared to release one hostage “for medical reasons” and a second “for humanitarian reasons and for his young age.”

Hamza did not elaborate on the timing or circumstances under which the hostages might be released. 

It is the first time PIJ has released video confirmation that it — and not just Hamas — is holding hostages.

2:17 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Former UN official who quit over Gaza policy says "root causes of the problem" are yet to be addressed

From CNN’s Zeena Saifi in Jerusalem

A former United Nations human rights official who quit over its policy towards Israel and its military operations in Gaza told CNN that the “root causes of the problem” have not been addressed.

The former official also alleged that Israel was carrying out a “genocide.” 

“The international community has used this mantra of a two-state solution as an excuse for not addressing the fundamental root causes of the problem,” Craig Mokhiber, a former director at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview on Thursday.

Mokhiber said there’s “certainly nothing left for a sustainable Palestinian state” and that there is no hope of an Israeli government reverting to the 1967 borders. 

“What we’ve seen is this promise of a two-state solution as a smokescreen behind which we’ve seen continued dispossession, persecution, gross violations, and now as I have alleged, genocide happening as well,” he said.

Mokhiber, who said he lived in Gaza working on human rights for the UN in the 1990s, noted in a letter to the UN’s human rights chief that Gaza is a textbook case of genocide. 

He accused the United States, the United Kingdom, and European countries of giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities, and he echoed that sentiment in his interview with CNN. 

He said up until this point, there had been a “roar” demanding accountability for alleged war crimes perpetrated by Hamas in their attack on October 7 — which he said was the correct response.

He added, what we’ve heard “at best is a whisper” demanding accountability for “Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide” before October 7 and “too much of a whisper” demanding accountability from Israel since.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said Wednesday that both Hamas and Israel have committed war crimes since the war broke out last month. 

“The atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian armed groups on 7 October were heinous, brutal and shocking, they were war crimes — as is the continued holding of hostages,” Türk said, adding, “The collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts also to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians.”

Mokhiber said that international law is “very clear” — it applies to all actors and the duty of the UN and its member states is to “work for accountability for perpetrators and redress for victims” regardless of who each one is. 

While Mokhiber received praise for his decision to leave the UN, he was also criticized and called an antisemite.

In response to that criticism, he told CNN charging people with antisemitism if they “dare call out Israeli violations against Palestinians is a tactic” that has been deployed for a long time.   

12:41 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Israeli pauses will be for specific areas and neighborhoods in Gaza, senior official says

From CNN's Alex Marquardt

A senior Israeli official is calling the four-hour breaks in military operations “tactical localized pauses” that will go into effect in specific areas. A neighborhood or area will be given several hours’ notice that they will have a pause, to give people in the north the ability to travel south for aid and relief.

Israeli strikes continue in southern Gaza and southern neighborhoods may also get notices of pauses so residents can go out and get relief as well, the official said. 

The official argued that seeing people leaving northern Gaza in the last few days to head south is an indication that Hamas is losing its grip.  

Asked when these pauses would start, the official said, “Really soon.”

12:05 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Netanyahu reiterates there will be no ceasefire without release of hostages

From Tamar Michaelis in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 28.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 28. Abir Sultan/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Thursday that there would be "no ceasefire" without the release of hostages held by Hamas.

“The fighting continues and there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel is allowing safe passage corridors from the northern strip to its south, as 50,000 Gazans did just yesterday.”

“We call again upon the Gazan civilian population to evacuate to the south,” he said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Thursday that Hamas has not put forward viable proposals on any hostage release.

“Whilst there are many, many people who are third-parties or sending optimistic messages to the news reels, I’m saying outright, according to my knowledge, up to now, there is no real, substantial information that is showing any real offer of any process on the table," Herzog told NBC News in an interview. “And that is unfortunate. And of course we are working — both on the military front and all other fronts — to bring them back home.”

The statements coincided with US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby saying Israel will begin to implement daily four-hour pauses of military operations in areas of northern Gaza.

Israel has already been opening hours-long evacuation corridors since Saturday. Israel on Thursday opened an evacuation corridor for six hours, allowing civilians to flee from northern Gaza south of Wadi Gaza. 

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post.

1:49 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Israel will begin 4-hour pauses of military operations in northern Gaza each day, US says 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Israel has agreed to move forward with daily four-hour pauses of military operations in areas of northern Gaza, the White House said Thursday.

The move appears to formalize a pattern of halting the violence to allow humanitarian aid to flow into the enclave and to allow civilians to flee away from the fighting.

Israel will announce the timing of the pauses three hours beforehand, according to John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council.

"We've been told by the Israelis that there will be no military operations in these areas over the duration of the pause, and that this process is starting today," Kirby said.

The US welcomed the development, calling the pauses "steps in the right direction."

“We have been urging the Israelis to minimize civilian casualties and to do everything that they can to reduce those numbers,” Kirby said, saying the pauses would provide “breathing space for a few hours” for civilians to move out of harm’s way.

The pauses would also provide “brief windows of opportunity” for the potential safe passage of hostages being held by Hamas, Kirby said.

Biden pushing for longer pauses: US President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday that he’s been advocating for a humanitarian pause longer than three days.

“We’re hopeful. Things are moving along,” Biden said of the process to free the more than 200 hostages, including some Americans, still held in Gaza.

Asked whether he asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a pause of three days to help facilitate this process, he said, “I’ve been asking for a pause for a lot more than three days. Yes,” later adding, “I’ve asked for even a longer pause, for some of them.”

Biden downplayed concerns over whether Netanyahu is listening to the US, but acknowledged the process has “taken a little longer than I hoped.”

Exodus from northern Gaza: For the past several days, Israel has paused violence in Gaza for hours-long windows during which civilians can evacuate south.

Since Wednesday, "many thousands" of people have been able to flee the northern part of the enclave through an evacuation corridor, Deputy US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said. Many of them traveled miles on foot through the battered enclave in a growing exodus as Israel intensified its ground and air campaign.

The Israel Defense Forces extended Thursday's evacuation window to six hours to allow people to flee south. 

Evacuees told CNN they feared that nowhere was safe within the enclave.

The US State Department said there is a second route along the coast that "will enable many more thousands to reach safer areas in the south." Patel said the US is "continuing to work closely with our Israeli partners to address and remain vigilant about efforts from Hamas to discourage and prevent civilians from fleeing this area.”

Patel also said that on Wednesday, 106 trucks of humanitarian aid were able to flow into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. He said that while the Rafah crossing had been closed due to security issues, “our understanding at this point is that it is open for the influx of aid and also for foreign nationals to depart.” 

CNN's Betsy Klein, Arlette Saenz, Abeer Salman and Haley Britzky contributed reporting to this post.

10:18 a.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Residents look for family members in rubble of destroyed buildings in central Gaza

From CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury  

Efforts continue to rescue Palestinians trapped under the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli attack in Deir Al Balah, Gaza, on November 9.
Efforts continue to rescue Palestinians trapped under the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli attack in Deir Al Balah, Gaza, on November 9. Ashraf Amra/Anadolu/Getty Images

Gaza residents are looking for family members within the rubble of destroyed buildings in the central city of Deir al-Balah after what witnesses said was an airstrike on the area, agency videos on AFP showed.

Injured people, including children, were taken to hospitals after a residential building collapsed, video showed.

"All of a sudden, an airstrike hit the area, and we went out to check only to find children injured. One child lost his arm, another lost an eye. Another old person was injured. He is diabetic and has high blood pressure, and was at home [when the strike hit]," one witness Oda Bikhet, told AFP TV. 

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza said people were killed in a strike on Deir al-Balah. It’s unclear if the ministry was citing the AFP incident and CNN could not verify the claim.

On Wednesday, the ministry said Israel struck the Jabalya Refugee Camp in northern Gaza.

CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment on the Jabalya strike.

In previous statements, the Israeli military has maintained that it targets Hamas infrastructure in the strip. 

10:07 a.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Israeli and US intelligence heads meet Qatari officials in Doha for hostage negotiations, source says

From CNN's Becky Anderson

An installation consisting of balloons and pictures of Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas militants attached to auditorium seats at the Jerusalem Convention Centre on November 2.
An installation consisting of balloons and pictures of Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas militants attached to auditorium seats at the Jerusalem Convention Centre on November 2. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

A trilateral meeting with Qatari officials and the intelligence chiefs of Israel and the US was held in Doha on Thursday to discuss hostage releases in exchange for a humanitarian pause and aid entry to Gaza, a diplomatic source familiar with the talks told CNN. 

The meeting — which included CIA Director William Burns, Mossad head David Barnea and Qatari officials — discussed a proposed plan to release between 10 to 20 civilian hostages in return for a three-day pause in fighting and the entry of further aid, plus enabling Hamas to compile and hand over a list of hostages being held in Gaza, the source said.

A US official confirmed that Burns took part in the meeting with Barnea and the Qatari prime minister concerning hostage issues. The official declined to comment on the terms of what was discussed.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that there was no prospect of Israel agreeing to a sustained pause in fighting without a substantial number of hostages being released, according to one senior US official. The multi-party talks – in which Qatar is playing a key mediating role — have been ongoing for weeks. 

CNN previously reported that one Israeli official said that the country was “ready for a pause” if there could be certainty that Hamas was “serious about releasing hostages.” What is not clear is how long of a pause Israel would be willing to agree to and what would amount to an acceptable number of hostages released. 

Negotiations have also centered around exchanging hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, CNN has previously reported.

CNN's Alex Marquardt and Katie Bo Lillis contributed reporting to this post.

9:08 a.m. ET, November 9, 2023

An "unprecedented" amount of reports of anti-Arab and Islamophobic bias in the last month, new data shows

From CNN's Chelsea Bailey

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has documented an “appalling” rise in reported anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias incidents in the month since violence escalated between Israel and Hamas, the organization announced Thursday.

The nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group said it has received 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias in the month since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The organization said in 2022 it received an average of 406 complaints in a 29-day period.

The new data, CAIR said, reflects a 216% increase in requests for help and reported bias incidents compared to the previous year.

Corey Saylor, director of research and advocacy at CAIR, said in a statement shared with CNN that the data represents the largest wave of Islamophobic and anti-Arab bias the organization has recorded since then-candidate Donald Trump called for a Muslim Ban in 2015.

“The Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian rhetoric that have been used to both justify violence against Palestinians in Gaza and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights here in America has contributed to this unprecedented surge in bigotry,” Saylor said in the statement.

Throughout the year, CAIR records and monitors incidents of reported anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias from local chapters across the country.

The new data reflects a sharp pivot from CAIR’s cautiously optimistic outlook earlier this year, when the organization published a report noting 2022 was the first time the US charted a decrease in anti-Muslim bias incidents since they began tracking such reports in the 1990s.

Read more about the CAIR report here.

8:28 a.m. ET, November 9, 2023

Most Gaza hospitals have stopped working, Palestinian officials say. Here's the latest on the Israel-Hamas war

From CNN Staff

The majority of Gazan hospitals – 18 out of 35 in the Gaza Strip – have now stopped functioning, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which draws figures from the Hamas-controlled territory.

As the humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave spirals, the ministry said Thursday that 71% of all primary-care facilities in Gaza have closed due to damage amid Israel's bombardment or a lack of fuel, saying that hospitals that remain open are limited in what they can provide and are gradually shutting down their wards.

An American nurse who, before leaving Gaza, worked in the besieged enclave with Doctors Without Borders, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that some 35,000 internally displaced people were living alongside her and her team in the southern city of Khan Younis.

In one camp, Emily Callahan said, there were 50,000 people sharing just four toilets, with only two hours of access to water every 12 hours.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has inaugurated an international humanitarian conference for Gaza, where he pledged an additional $85 million in humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave.

Here's what else to know:

  • Israel ground operation: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that its soldiers had taken control of a Hamas military stronghold in northern Gaza. Hamas’ military wing, Al Qassam Brigades, said on Telegram it was targeting Israeli forces in the northern Gaza areas of Al Tawam, Sheikh Radwan, al-Shati camp and Juhr Al-Deek. In another statement, the IDF said an Israeli airstrike killed a Hamas commander and the Israeli navy struck Hamas anti-tank missile launching posts in the Gaza Strip. Israel has been ramping up its military operation in Gaza, following the October 7 attacks by Hamas that killed 1,400 in Israel.
  • Paris conference for Gaza: President Macron hosted a conference in the French capital on Thursday aimed at ramping up humanitarian aid for Gaza, which was attended by UN agencies and European Union leaders, but not Israel. During the conference, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that Palestinian suffering "is 75 years old" and "did not start on October 7." Macron asked for the immediate liberation of the hostages held in Gaza, “without conditions.” 
  • Civilians flee south: The IDF said an evacuation corridor in Gaza for people fleeing the north of the territory will be open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time on Thursday. Thousands of people fled northern Gaza on Wednesday, traveling miles on foot as Israel intensifies its ground and air campaign. IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee said that 50,000 people evacuated northern Gaza on Wednesday. Humanitarian groups warned in October that the Israeli military's evacuation order of Palestinians in northern Gaza violates international law.
  • Aid trucks at Rafah crossing: A total of 106 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies arrived at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza on Wednesday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said, amid growing calls from international aid agencies for a ceasefire to allow more aid into the besieged enclave. The delivery from the Egyptian Red Crescent did not include desperately needed fuel, which Israel has banned from entering Gaza, claiming Hamas would commandeer supplies for military purposes. It brings the total number of aid trucks that have reached Gaza since October 7 to 756, according to the Palestine Red Crescent — a trickle compared to the roughly 455 trucks the UN says entered daily before the war.
  • Hostage deal remains elusive: There is no prospect of Israel agreeing to a sustained pause in fighting without a substantial number of hostages being released, one senior US official told CNN. The multi-party talks – in which Qatar is playing a key mediating role – have been ongoing for weeks and have so far produced many ideas, including the release of around 10 to 15 hostages in exchange for a one- or two-day ceasefire, diplomatic sources close to the talks said. But as of Wednesday, such a proposal was not on the table, the US official said.