November 29, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Antoinette Radford, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:11 a.m. ET, November 30, 2023
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4:38 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

Level of aid entering Gaza "remains completely inadequate," UN chief says

From CNN’s Caitlin Hu and Mitchell McCluskey

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up as they prepare to cross Rafah crossing into Gaza on Wednesday, November 29.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up as they prepare to cross Rafah crossing into Gaza on Wednesday, November 29. Amr Nabil/AP

The level of aid and fuel entering Gaza remains insufficient, even with the truce between Israel and Hamas in place, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

“The level of aid to Palestinians in Gaza remains completely inadequate to meet the huge needs of more than 2 million people,” Guterres said. “And although the total volume of fuel allowed into Gaza has also increased, it remains utterly insufficient to sustain basic operations.”

The Security Council convened on Wednesday to discuss how to implement its mandatory resolution earlier this month, which calls for "humanitarian pauses and corridors" within Gaza.

Guterres noted the importance of opening more crossings into Gaza as the Rafah crossing with Egypt has become inundated.

“It is important to recognize that the Rafah border crossing does not have enough capacity, especially taking into account the slow pace of security procedures,” Guterres said. “That is why we have been urging the opening of other crossings, including Kerem Shalom, and the streamlining of inspection mechanisms to allow for the necessary increase of lifesaving aid.”

A convoy of trucks successfully delivered “much-needed” humanitarian aid to UN shelters in the northern Gaza Strip earlier this week — the first arrival of aid to the area in nearly 50 days, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which runs many of the shelters.

The six trucks reached Jabalya on November 27, it said.

More than 70% of people in the Gaza Strip have been displaced due to the war, with more than a million now sheltering in UNRWA facilities, including about 100,000 people in 50 shelters in the north, UNRWA said. It also stressed the pause in fighting should evolve into a full humanitarian ceasefire so that more aid can come in, uninterrupted.

Hospitals in Gaza are also still overwhelmed, Guterres said.

“The medical system has broken down under the heavy caseload, acute shortages and the impact of hostilities,” Guterres said.

“Ultimately, we know that the measure of success will not be the number of trucks dispatched or the tons of supplies delivered – as important as these are,” Guterres said. “Success will be measured in lives that are saved, suffering that is ended, and hope and dignity that is restored.”

CNN’s Ibrahim Dahaman in Cairo and Eyad Kourdi contributed reporting to this post.

This post has been updated with details of the aid delivered to UN shelters in northern Gaza.

2:41 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

Forum of hostages' families releases names of 2 captives freed on Wednesday 

From Tamar Michaelis

Yelena Trupanob, left, and Irena Tati
Yelena Trupanob, left, and Irena Tati Family handout via the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum in Israel released the names of two hostages released on Wednesday.

They are both women:

  • Yelena Trupanob
  • Irena Tati

The Israel Defense Forces announced earlier, citing the Red Cross, that two Israeli hostages who were not part of Israel's hostage deal with Hamas were handed over to the Red Cross on Wednesday.

Both of the released detainees immigrated to Israel from Russia, the families forum said in a statement. 

In an update, the IDF said its team, along with a team from Israel Security Authorities, are currently with the two released hostages inside Israeli territory.

After the released hostages undergo an initial medical assessment, IDF soldiers will continue to accompany them to hospitals, where they will be reunited with their families, it added. 

On October 7, both Irena and Yelena were kidnapped from their homes in kibbutz Nir Oz, along with Yelena's 28-year-old son, Sasha and his girlfriend Sapir Cohen (29), who are still being held captive in Gaza, according to the forum.  

Yelena's husband Vitaly was killed during the October 7 attack, the forum said.  

2:19 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

Hamas media says 2 female Russian hostages released as Red Cross vehicles seen entering Egypt

From Tamar Michaelis in Tel Aviv and CNN's Eyad Kourdi, Radina Gigova and Lauren Kent 

Hamas said Wednesday that it handed over two female Russian hostages to the Red Cross in Gaza, following efforts from the Kremlin to negotiate their release, according to Hamas media.

It’s not clear if the two Russians also hold Israeli citizenship. The Israeli government in the past has not noted dual citizens.

The Israel Defense Forces, citing information provided by the medical group, also announced that two Israeli hostages who were not part of Israel's hostage deal with Hamas were handed over to the Red Cross on Wednesday and they are on their way to Israeli territory.

It is not clear if these are the same Russian hostages that Hamas media is reporting to have been released on Wednesday and that they hold dual citizenship.

Red Cross vehicles were seen entering Egypt at the Rafah crossing Wednesday. It was not clear who was in the vehicles.

Russian state media outlets TASS and RIA Novosti also reported that Hamas had released two more Russian detainees — both women — on Wednesday. However, the Russian foreign ministry has not yet officially commented on their release. This follows the Sunday release of a dual Russian-Israeli national male, who was also released as a special case outside of the parameters of the Israel-Hamas truce. 

2:13 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

More than 570 aid trucks await Israeli inspection to enter Gaza from Egypt

From CNN’s Sarah El Sirgany and Eyad Kourdi

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up near the Rafah crossing into Gaza from Egypt on Wednesday.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up near the Rafah crossing into Gaza from Egypt on Wednesday. Amr Nabil/AP

Hundreds of aid trucks are lined up to cross into Gaza from Egypt on Wednesday, an Egyptian official told CNN.

At least 572 trucks are waiting on the road connecting the Egyptian Rafah crossing and Nitzana crossing for Israeli inspection, according to Ayman Walash, director of Egypt's foreign media center.

The Israeli inspection of each truck takes hours, Walash said, underscoring the long process it takes for aid coming through Egypt to reach Gaza.

Other aid trucks were already able to enter Gaza today. Three fuel trucks, which delivered a total of 129,000 liters of diesel — along with four trucks carrying cooking gas — arrived in the enclave on Wednesday. Additionally, seven more fuel trucks are ready at the border gate, poised for entry.

As of Tuesday, a substantial amount of aid totaling about 11,413 tons is still in the Egyptian city of Al-Arish, which is about 45 kilometers (about 28 miles) from Rafah.

Walash added that nine Palestinians injured in Gaza also arrived in Egypt Wednesday for medical treatment.

12:58 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

Families of Israeli American hostages criticize Red Cross response

From CNN's Gabe Cohen

Families of Israeli American hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza criticized the Red Cross response throughout the conflict during a media roundtable Wednesday.

“We did express our disappointment that there have been no visitation rights. No medical attention has been provided to hostages,” Ruby Chen, whose son Itay Chen is being held, told CNN. “We do not hear their voice. Their voice needs to be heard. Specifically, what is the status of the hostages, why they're not being permitted to visit the hostages, and to get the international community behind them and be the conscience of the international community.”

Chen said they voiced the criticism to Red Cross officials at a meeting earlier Wednesday morning, and the officials told the families the organization would respond within a couple days. CNN has reached out to the Red Cross for comment.

Liz Hirsh Naftali, the great aunt of 4-year-old Abigail Edan, who was released Sunday, added that she believes the Red Cross isn’t doing enough to publicly report the conditions of the hostages being released from Hamas’ custody.

Chen's parents, as well as the parents of Omer Neutra and Edan Alexander, participated in the roundtable. The families say they’ve received no proof since October 7 that their sons are alive or information about their medical status.

The families praised US President Joe Biden's administration, saying that they have met with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

But they said they’re looking for the administration to call for US citizens to be prioritized when hostage releases occur. The families plan to meet with national security adviser Jake Sullivan tomorrow, they said.

CNN reported earlier Wednesday that Red Cross officials have not yet been allowed to visit hostages that Hamas is holding in Gaza, according to multiple sources – a violation of an agreement struck between Israel and Hamas, which stipulated that the Red Cross would be able to visit the hostages by the end of the fourth day of the truce. 

12:51 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

By the numbers: Biden’s calls to Middle East leaders since October 7 attack

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal and Samantha Waldenberg

US President Joe Biden has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 15 times since the October 7 attacks, according to CNN’s tally. The two leaders held their first call on that day, and their most recent call was this past Sunday, according to readouts provided by the White House. 

Biden has also spoken to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi several times since the war between Israel and Hamas began.

Remember: Qatar helped broker a truce between Israel and Hamas to allow for the release of hostages and Egypt has been the logistics hub for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

Here's the breakdown:

Biden called Netanyahu: 15 times 

Biden called Al-Thani: Four times

Biden called Sisi: Four times 

3:41 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

IDF opens fire at positions in southern Lebanon, Lebanese News Agency reports

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Mia Alberti in Beirut

The Israeli Defense Forces have opened fire at positions in southern Lebanon in two separate incidents on Wednesday, according to the Lebanese news agency (NNA).

Israeli soldiers targeted the vicinity of the Lebanese town of Houla and opened fired in the vicinity of a Lebanese Army vehicle during a patrol next to a United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) site, the NNA reports.

In a separate incident Israeli soldiers fired "bursts of machine gun fire" in the same region, the UNIFIL confirmed to CNN through WhatsApp.

"Earlier today, IDF soldiers identified a suspicious vehicle that approached the security fence in the area of Kibbutz Malkia in northern Israel. The soldiers responded with warning shots," the IDF said.

Although the cross-border fighting between Hezbollah and Israel has virtually stopped since the beginning of the pause in Gaza, Lebanese authorities have since reported several incidents similar to Wednesday's shootings.

On Tuesday, the NNA reported Israel shelled the outskirts of the town of Aita al-Shaab. CNN has reached out to UNIFIL for comment about this reported shelling.

Lebanese authorities have also reported Israeli drones and warplanes violating Lebanese air space above the south of the country several times since Friday.

This post has been updated with the latest comments from the Israel Defense Forces.

12:36 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

Israel assessing Hamas claim that the youngest hostage and family members are no longer alive

From CNN’s Eyad Kourdi, Jeremy Diamond and Tamar Michaelis

The Bibas family is pictured in this undated family handout photo. Kfir, ten months, Ariel, 4, and their parents Shiri Bibas, and presumably their father Yarden, were all kidnapped from Nir Oz, an Israeli kibbutz that was devastated when it came under attack by Hamas militants on October 7.
The Bibas family is pictured in this undated family handout photo. Kfir, ten months, Ariel, 4, and their parents Shiri Bibas, and presumably their father Yarden, were all kidnapped from Nir Oz, an Israeli kibbutz that was devastated when it came under attack by Hamas militants on October 7. Courtesy Maurice Shnaider

The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday it was assessing a Hamas claim that the youngest Israeli hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his brother and his mother are no longer alive.

The armed wing of Hamas said earlier on Wednesday, without providing evidence, that Kfir, his four-year-old brother Ariel, and their mother Shiri, were killed in an Israeli airstrike. The armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said they had been killed in earlier Israeli bombing.

The IDF responded with a statement saying they were “assessing the accuracy of the information.” 

The military said they had spoken to relatives of the Bibas family, and “are with them at this difficult time.”

“Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip. Hamas must be held accountable. Hamas’ actions continue to endanger the hostages, which include nine children. Hamas must immediately release our hostages,” the IDF said.

The Bibas family released a statement, saying:

“Our family has learned of Hamas' latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials. We thank the people of Israel for their warm support, but kindly request privacy during this difficult time."

A cousin of Shiri Bibas, Jimmy Miller, said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 that "Hamas need to return them back to us alive," adding, "We don’t care if they transferred them to someone else, or to another entity, they are the exclusive responsible to bring them back to us alive and well."  

Minutes after the Hamas claim emerged, a senior Israeli official who was holding a briefing at the time said “I hope it’s not true,” and “We have no indication they’re murdered.”

IDF chief spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said earlier in the week that the IDF did not believe the boys and their mother were in the hands of Hamas.

There has been no Israeli bombing of Gaza since a ceasefire began on Friday morning. 

Kfir, Ariel and Shiri Bibas, and presumably their father Yarden, were all kidnapped from Nir Oz, an Israeli kibbutz that was devastated when it came under attack by Hamas militants on October 7.

5:08 p.m. ET, November 29, 2023

At least one American hostage expected to be released today, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Alex Marquardt

At least one American citizen being held hostage by Hamas is expected to be handed over in the exchange Wednesday, an Israeli source and a second source familiar with the matter told CNN.

This comes after Israel had been given the names of another group of hostages due to be freed today.

CNN's Francesca Hoffman contributed to this report.