November 15, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Sophie Tanno, Thom Poole, Holly Yan, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:09 a.m. ET, November 16, 2023
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7:10 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

WHO chief says they "lost touch" with personnel at Al-Shifa hospital

From CNN’s Clare Sebastian and Mostafa Salem

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus looks on during a press conference on the World Health Organization's 75th anniversary in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 6.
World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus looks on during a press conference on the World Health Organization's 75th anniversary in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 6. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) has again “lost touch” with health personnel at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X.  

“Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning. We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital. We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety,” Ghebreyesus said.

Also on Wednesday, the Red Cross described reports from Al-Shifa hospital as "very worrying."

“All measures must be taken to avoid the impact of any military activities on sick and wounded people, medical staff and civilians. They are protected by international humanitarian law and must be spared from harm,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson Alyona Synenko told CNN.

Synenko also said the ICRC does not have staff members on the ground in Al-Shifa.

Israel said its military launched what it described as a “targeted” operation against Hamas early Wednesday morning inside Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, where thousands of Palestinians are believed to be sheltering.

In its statement Wednesday, Israel again accused Hamas of continuing to use the large hospital complex for military purposes. Hamas denies the allegations – CNN cannot verify either side's claims.

5:17 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Jordan condemns Israel's operation in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza

From CNN's Kareem Khadder

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned Israel’s raid of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, which he described as a "storming" and "a violation of international humanitarian law."

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs condemned the Israeli occupation forces’ storming of Al-Shifa Medical Hospital in occupied Gaza as a violation of international humanitarian law, especially the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, holding Israel responsible for the safety of civilians and working medical personnel in the hospital,” the Wednesday statement read.

 Jordan also continued to call for an end to Israel’s operation in Gaza.

“The continuation of the senseless attacks and the raging war against Gaza and its people, the targeting of civilian objects in the Strip, the continued systematic destruction of civilian facilities that provide basic services to Gazans, and the policy of collective punishment represent a condemned perpetuation of grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, and constitute war crimes,” the spokesman for the ministry, Ambassador Dr. Sufyan Al-Qudah said.

Some context: Israel said its military launched a “targeted” operation against Hamas early Wednesday morning inside Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, where thousands of Palestinians are believed to be sheltering.

Conditions at the hospital, which has run out of fuel and is no longer considered operational, have deteriorated rapidly in recent days amid intense fighting, with doctors warning of a “catastrophic” situation for patients, staff and displaced people still inside.

5:14 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

"Grave violations" against children occurring in Gaza, says UNICEF chief

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder and Lucas Lilieholm

Executive Director of UNICEF Catherine Russell addresses members of the U.N. Security Council at United Nations headquarters in New York on October 30.
Executive Director of UNICEF Catherine Russell addresses members of the U.N. Security Council at United Nations headquarters in New York on October 30. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP

"Grave violations" against children are occurring in Gaza, the UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement Wednesday, one day after her visit to the territory.

“The parties to the conflict are committing grave violations against children; these include killing, maiming, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access – all of which UNICEF condemns,” the statement read.

Russell added that in addition to the thousands of children killed and wounded, many are missing and believed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings, which she called “the tragic result of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.”

She said that UNICEF staff are continuing their work on behalf of Gaza’s children despite being directly impacted by the conflict themselves.

“Many people, including our staff and their families, are now living in overcrowded shelters with very little water, food or decent sanitation – conditions which could lead to disease outbreaks.” she said.

Russell called for an immediate ceasefire to allow for more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, especially fuel – some is expected to reach Gaza on Wednesday, the first to reach the territory since Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel.

UNICEF says more than 700,000 children have been displaced since the conflict began. Of the 11,255 Palestinians killed as a result of Israeli attacks on Gaza, 4,630 were children, according to figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah. 

10:01 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Netanyahu scolds Trudeau on social media after Canadian leader calls for "maximum restraint" in Gaza

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses a joint press conference at the Adazi military base in Riga, Latvia, on July 10.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses a joint press conference at the Adazi military base in Riga, Latvia, on July 10. Gints Ivuskans/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to social media Wednesday to rebuke his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau after he urged Israel to show "maximum restraint" in its military operations in Gaza.

In remarks shortly before a government announcement in British Columbia, Trudeau said the world was witnessing horrific events, including "this killing of women, and children, of babies."

"This has to stop," Trudeau added.

“The human tragedy that is unfolding in Gaza is heart-wrenching, especially the suffering we see in and around the Al-Shifa Hospital. I have been clear that the price of justice cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians," Trudeau said.

"Even wars have rules, all innocent life is equal in worth, Israeli and Palestinian. I urge the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint,” he added.

Netanyahu pushed back on Trudeau's comments on "X", formerly Twitter, saying Hamas was to blame for the horrific events Trudeau cited, not Israel.

"It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust," Netanyahu wrote.

The Israeli leader continued, "While Israel is doing everything to keep civilians out of harm’s way, Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm’s way. Israel provides civilians in Gaza humanitarian corridors and safe zones, Hamas prevents them from leaving at gunpoint. It is Hamas not Israel that should be held accountable for committing a double war crime – targeting civilians while hiding behind civilians. The forces of civilization must back Israel in defeating Hamas barbarism."

In his remarks, Trudeau acknowledged that Hamas was using Palestinians as human shields and repeated his call that all hostages be released immediately and unconditionally, noting that Hamas has said that it would commit horrors like those on October 7 over and over.

Trudeau will attend the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group or APEC beginning Wednesday in California where he, US President Joe Biden and other world leaders are set to discuss the conflict in the Middle East on the sidelines of the summit.

3:07 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Army has found no indication yet of hostages’ presence at Al-Shifa Hospital, Israeli radio reports

From CNN's Andrew Carey

The Israeli army has not yet found any indication that hostages are inside the Al-Shifa hospital, according to Israeli radio.

It said searches inside the complex continue.

The Israeli military said early Wednesday morning it was “carrying out a precise and targeted operation" at Al-Shifa, Gaza's biggest hospital.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Peter Lerner told CNN on Wednesday the operation at the hospital was "based on operational necessity and intelligence."

Israel accuses Hamas militants of operating beneath its structure – an allegation the militant group and hospital officials deny.

2:32 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Israeli tanks "inside the courtyard of Al-Shifa Hospital," Palestinian reporter says

From CNN’s Abeer Salman in Jerusalem and Manveena Suri

Israeli tanks and military vehicles are “inside the courtyard of Al-Shifa Hospital,” Khader Al Za’anoun, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency, Wafa, told CNN.

The Israeli army “is calling on the young men through megaphones to raise their hands, come out, and surrender themselves,” Al Za’anoun said.

Israeli soldiers were “in the buildings and departments (and) are conducting search and interrogation operations with the young men amidst intense and violent gunfire inside the hospital," the reporter added.

The Israeli military said early Wednesday morning it was “carrying out a precise and targeted operation at Al-Shifa, Gaza's biggest hospital. It accuses Hamas militants of operating beneath its structure – an allegation the militant group and hospital officials deny. 

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Peter Lerner told CNN on Wednesday the operation at the hospital was "precise" and "ongoing."

“Our operation that was launched in the early hours of this morning in the area of Shifa Hospital was precise, located at [a] specific location within the hospital grounds, within the complex of the hospital. And indeed it was based on operational necessity and intelligence, and the operation is ongoing. I won't go into specifics of where or how the activities are ongoing but I can confirm it is ongoing,” Lerner told CNN’s John Vause.

Asked whether Israeli forces had informed officials in Gaza ahead of the raid, Lerner said: “We work on the basis of international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict. And when approaching the hospital we indeed informed the administrators to keep away from the windows to make sure that the patients and civilians inside the complex keep away from the windows and take cover because we intend on conducting our military operation in order to differentiate and distinguish between the civilians and the terrorists.”

“We are trying to and we have been trying to evacuate as many people as we can from the hospital and the hospital grounds itself in order to enable us to confront Hamas and continue our goals of this war," Lerner said.

Some context: Earlier this week doctors at Al-Shifa hospital refused an Israeli military evacuation order because of fear that approximately 700 at-risk patients will die if left behind, according to Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, Director-General of the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

“The problem is not the doctors, it’s the patients. And if they are left behind, they will die, and if they are transferred they will die on the way, this is the problem, we are talking about 700 patients,” Dr. Al-Bursh told CNN Monday.

12:43 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

What we know about Israel’s raid on Al-Shifa hospital

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

The Israeli military said it is conducting a raid inside Gaza’s biggest hospital Al-Shifa as it targets Hamas militants it claims are operating beneath the structure — which the militant group and hospital officials deny. 

Thousands of Palestinians are believed to be sheltering in and around the hospital, where conditions have rapidly deteriorated with doctors working by candlelight and wrapping premature babies in foil to keep them alive

Here’s what we know so far:

The raid: On early Wednesday morning, local time, the Israeli military said it was “carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa Hospital” in Gaza.  

Hospitals are protected in times of war under international humanitarian law, but Israel said in a statement that Hamas’s “continued military use of the Shifa hospital jeopardizes its protected status.” 

Israel believes it has given Hamas operatives sufficient time to cease their alleged activities inside the building, according to the statement.  

The United States on Tuesday cited intelligence suggesting Hamas has a command node under the hospital, seeming to back Israel’s assertion. CNN cannot independently verify the US or Israeli claims. 

Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner told CNN the presence of civilians at the hospital makes the ground operation there “challenging.” He said Israeli forces were trying to “mitigate” the impact, citing the presence of medics and Arabic speakers among those carrying out the raid.  

What’s happening on the ground: Khaled Abu Samra, a doctor at the hospital, told CNN they were given 30 minutes’ warning before the Israeli operation on the complex began.

“We were asked to stay clear of the windows and the balconies. We can hear the armored vehicles, they are very close to the entrance of the complex,” he said. 

Khader Al Za’anoun, a journalist inside the hospital, told CNN that Israeli tanks had moved into the hospital complex, and there were gunfire exchanges across the yard. It’s unclear whether there are IDF soldiers inside the hospital buildings, Al Za’anoun said. 

What Palestinian authorities have said: Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Mai Al-Kaila said Wednesday the raid represented “a new crime against humanity, medical staff, and patients.” 

It could have “catastrophic consequences” for patients and medical staff, she said. Her health ministry is based in Ramallah and falls under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) -- and is separate from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza.

Hamas blamed both Israel and the US for the Israeli raid in a statement, claiming that the US had given Israel “a green light … to commit more massacres against civilians" by using Israel’s “false narrative” of Al-Shifa being used as a command center.

The statement also accused the United Nations of failing to defend Palestinians, saying: “The silence of the United Nations and the betrayal of many countries and regimes will not deter our Palestinian people from clinging to their land and their legitimate national rights.”  
2:43 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Hamas blames Israel and the US for Israeli army raid on Gaza's largest hospital

From CNN's Andrew Carey

Al-Shifa hospital and surroundings in Gaza on November 11.
Al-Shifa hospital and surroundings in Gaza on November 11. Maxar Technologies/AP

Both Israel and the United States are to blame for the Israeli army's raid on Gaza’s largest hospital, according to a statement from Hamas.

The raid on the Al-Shifa hospital also constituted a failure by the United Nations to defend Palestinians, Hamas said.

“The silence of the United Nations and the betrayal of many countries and regimes will not deter our Palestinian people from clinging to their land and their legitimate national rights,” Hamas said.

Hamas claimed the US had given Israel, “a green light … to commit more massacres against civilians" by supporting what it called Israel’s “false narrative” – that Hamas was using Al-Shifa hospital as a command and control base.

On Tuesday, the White House and the Pentagon said that Hamas is storing weapons and operating a command center from Al-Shifa hospital, citing newly declassified intelligence.

The remarks echoed claims made by Israel, which Palestinian hospital officials and Hamas have consistently rejected.

12:26 a.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Hundreds of people facing "catastrophic conditions" inside Al-Shifa hospital as Israeli operation gets underway

From CNN Staff

Hundreds of staff and patients are still inside Al-Shifa, according to the most recent reports from inside the hospital, along with several thousand who have sought shelter from Israel’s air and ground offensive.

Doctors reported Monday that premature babies at Gaza’s largest hospital were being wrapped in foil and placed next to hot water in a desperate bid to keep them alive.

Meanwhile, a reporter for the Al Arabiya network who was inside the hospital told CNN that people were too scared to flee due to the heavy fighting.

Global attention has turned to the hospital amid reports suggesting several patients, including children, have died in what the hospital’s director has called “catastrophic” conditions.

Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, the director-general of the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, said Monday that medical staff had refused an Israel Defense Forces evacuation order because they fear approximately 700 patients would die if they were left behind.

“The problem is not the doctors, it’s the patients. And if they are left behind, they will die, and if they are transferred, they will die on the way. This is the problem: We are talking about 700 patients,” Al-Bursh told CNN on Monday.

A doctor present at Al-Shifa hospital told CNN they were given a 30-minute warning before the Israeli operation on the complex began early Wednesday.

Amid the deteriorating conditions, military spokesperson Peter Lerner told CNN that the Israeli forces were trying to "mitigate" the presence of civilians at Al-Shifa hospital – citing the presence of medics and Arabic speakers among those carrying out the raid – which was making the ground operation “challenging.”