At least 25 Americans killed in Israel, Blinken says
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
The American death toll in Israel has risen to at least 25 people, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.
"Tragically, the number of innocent lives claimed by Hamas' heinous attacks continues to rise. Among those, we now know that at least 25 American citizens were killed," Blinken said in Tel Aviv.
On Wednesday, the State Department confirmed the deaths of at least 22 Americans.
7:41 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
UK PM Sunak speaks to Egyptian president about Gaza border crossing
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Max Foster in London
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak acknowledged the "challenging security situation" at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, during a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Thursday.
Sunak "expressed his condolences for the Egyptians who have lost their lives, along with so many others," according to a Downing Street spokesperson.
Sunak called terrorism "an evil which must be confronted, wherever we find it." The UK leader also said it was important that the conflict did not spread further and noted the importance of Egypt’s historic role in the region, including in seeking de-escalation.
He also offered UK support to try and manage the situation at Rafah border crossing and keep the route open for humanitarian and consular reasons.
Gaza is blockaded both by Israel and by Egypt. There has been speculation as to whether Egypt would open the Rafah crossing -- the only border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt -- although it has not yet done so.
Eyad al-Bozom, a spokesperson for the Palestinian interior ministry, said Israeli warplanes had targeted the Rafah gateway on Tuesday. Teams working at the crossing were asked to evacuate "immediately due to threats of strikes of the crossing," al-Bozom said.
7:46 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
97 hostages' families have been notified, IDF says
The families of 97 hostages taken from Israel by Hamas have been informed that they are being held in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Thursday.
In addition, the families of 222 soldiers killed since Hamas launched its attacks on Saturday have also been notified, according to IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari.
7:35 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
HAPPENING NOW: Netanyahu and Blinken give joint briefing
From CNN's Christian Edwards
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken are addressing reporters in a joint news briefing in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu thanked Blinken for his visit, both in English and in Hebrew.
“Your visit is another tangible example of America’s unequivocal support for Israel,” he told Blinken.
Netanyahu said, through the attack this weekend, “Hamas has shown itself to be an enemy of civilization."
9:07 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
3 Chinese citizens killed, 2 missing in Israel-Hamas conflict
From CNN's Xiaofei Xu and Martha Zhou
Three Chinese citizens are among those killed following attacks by Hamas on Israel, China's Foreign Ministry said Thursday. Two others are missing.
“It has been confirmed that three Chinese citizens were unfortunately killed in the conflict, two are missing and several others were injured,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, without mentioning Hamas.
“We urge foreign partners to make every effort to search for and rescue our missing personnel,” Wang added at a regular news briefing.
China has called for de-escalation of the situation after the Hamas attacks but has yet to condemn the group.
Israel’s ambassador to China Irit Ben-Abba expressed her frustration with Beijing’s response so far in an interview with Bloomberg TV Thursday.
“We expected China to say much more," she said. "We expected China to mention Hamas atrocities, we expected China to condemn the terrorist attacks."
7:20 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
New York family fears their son was kidnapped by Hamas
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
A family in Long Island, New York, is awaiting news on their son, Omer Neutra, who they fear was kidnapped by Hamas this weekend, according to the New York City Mayor’s office.
Neutra, the New York Times reports, grew up on Long Island and, after spending a gap year in Israel in 2020, decided to join the Israeli military.
He last spoke to his parents by phone last Friday, according to the New York Times.
“Then all hell broke loose, and we haven’t spoken to him since,” his mother, Orna Neutra, told the newpaper.
The White House said Wednesday that 17 Americans remain unaccounted for. It’s unclear how many are being held hostage by Hamas.
Neutra was interested in peace-building, and wanted to return home to Long Island and attend college.
“He was planning to come back,” his father, Ronen, told the New York Times. “And we want him back.”
Here's what New York City Mayor Eric Adams said:
7:18 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
"Israel does not stand alone," NATO chief says
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said "Israel does not stand alone," as the alliance pledged support to Israel during the second day of the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
Israel defense minister Yoav Gallant briefed his NATO counterparts via a video call "on the atrocities by Hamas perpetrated against Israeli civilians and the nationals of several NATO allies," NATO said in a press release.
Stoltenberg said the alliance condemned the terrorist attacks in the strongest possible terms.
NATO allies "expressed solidarity with Israel, making clear that it has the right to defend itself with proportionality against these unjustifiable acts of terror" and called for Hamas to "immediately" release all hostages, the statement said.
"No nation or organization should seek to take advantage of the situation or to escalate it," it warned.
NATO defense ministers are meeting for talks at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, where they have discussed the situation in Israel as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier Thursday, Stoltenberg welcomed US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and thanked him for strong leadership and support for the alliance.
7:12 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
At least 100 antisemitic acts committed in France since weekend
From CNN's Joseph Ataman in Paris
More than 100 antisemitic acts, consisting of "mainly graffiti," have been recorded by French police since Saturday, interior minister Gérald Darmanin said in an interview with radio station France Inter.
The graffiti includes swastikas and calls to kill Jews, in addition to "some more serious acts," including people with weapons stopped at the entrance to Jewish sites, he said.
There is currently no Islamist terrorist threat particularly targeting Jews in France, Darmanin added. But he warned that "hate online has been unleashed," with an "extremely raised" level of reports of antisemitic abuse online.
"If it's a protest in support of Hamas or in support of the action by some Palestinians against Israel, it's 'No.' So, since Sunday we're prohibiting them on a case-by-case basis," Darmanin said, following the bans of several pro-Palestinian protests in France.
"The Palestinian cause is absolutely respectable," he added.
Evacuations: Separately, the French foreign ministry announced that the country will evacuate more of its citizens from Israel in further flights planned for the coming days.
The first repatriation flight is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Priority will be given to unaccompanied children and pregnant women, disabled people or those with medical emergencies.
The ministry said in a statement Thursday that it is working with Air France to see commercial flights resume “as quickly as possible.” Air France suspended its flights to Israel following the Hamas attacks on Saturday.
7:08 a.m. ET, October 12, 2023
Elon Musk’s X says it has removed "hundreds" of Hamas-affiliated accounts
From CNN’s Hanna Ziady
X says it has removed "hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts" and taken down thousands of posts since the attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group.
The platform, formerly known as Twitter, was given 24 hours by the European Union earlier this week to address illegal content and disinformation regarding the conflict or face penalties under the bloc's recently enacted Digital Services Act.
CEO Linda Yaccarino responded to EU official Thierry Breton in a letter dated Wednesday that she posted to X. She said the company had "redistributed resources and refocused internal teams who are working around the clock to address this rapidly evolving situation."
"There is no place on X for terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups and we continue to remove such accounts in real time," Yaccarino wrote.
"X is... addressing identified fake and manipulated content during this constantly evolving and shifting crisis," she added. The platform had "assembled a leadership group to assess the situation" shortly after news broke about the attack, Yaccarino said.
A slew of mischaracterized videos and other posts went viral on X over the weekend, alarming experts who track the spread of misinformation and offering the latest example of social media platforms' struggle to deal with a flood of falsehoods during a major geopolitical event.
Since the attack on Israel, Yaccarino said X had acted to "remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content" that break its rules on violent speech, manipulated media and graphic media. It had also responded to more than 80 "take down requests" from EU authorities to remove content.
"Community Notes" — which allow X users to fact check false posts — are visible on "thousands of posts, generating millions of impressions," she wrote.
According to Yaccarino, notes related to the conflict take about five hours on average to show up after a post is created, a revelation that could fuel concerns that fake or manipulated content is being seen by thousands — or in some cases millions — of people before being moderated.
Acknowledging receipt of Yaccarino's letter Thursday, Breton said on X that the the Digital Services Act enforcement team "will analyse the reply and decide on next steps."
The law is one of the most ambitious efforts by policymakers anywhere to regulate tech giants and companies face billions in fines for violating the act.