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    Israel-Hamas war updates and latest news on Gaza conflict

    2 Hours Ago

    Two elderly Israeli hostages arrive in Tel Aviv after their release

    One of the freed hostages in a wheelchair disembarks from a military helicopter after landing on the roof of Ichilov Hospital.

    Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

    Two Israeli women who were captured and subsequently freed by Hamas landed in Tel Aviv, Israel early Tuesday.

    An Israeli military helicopter carrying Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, arrived on the rooftop of Ichilov hospital, according to Reuters footage.

    One of them was seen in a wheelchair while the other was carried out on a stretcher.

    The military wing of Hamas said in a statement on Telegram that the women were released for “compelling humanitarian” reasons. The Israel Defense Forces has previously said the militant group is “trying to present itself as a humanitarian organization to the world” by releasing hostages.

    Hamas militants massacred 1,400 people, including babies, women and elderly, and kidnapped more than 200 people from Israel in their Oct. 7 rampage. Little is known about their well-being and whereabouts.

    The militants have so far released four hostages.

    Joanna Tan

    3 Hours Ago

    Third aid convoy enters Gaza, UN warns fuel about to run out

    A third convoy of humanitarian aid trucks delivered water, food and medicine to the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, but the United Nations warned that fuel was not included and reserves will run out within the next two days.

    Humanitarian deliveries through the Rafah crossing from Egypt began on Saturday after wrangling over procedures for inspecting the aid and bombardments on the Gaza side of the border had left relief materials stranded in Egypt.

    Reuters

    4 Hours Ago

    Not the time for a ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict, says White House’s Kirby

    This is not the time for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told CNN on Monday.

    “We don’t believe that this is the time for a ceasefire,” he said. “Israel has a right to defend themselves. They still have work to do to go after Hamas leadership.”

    Reuters

    6 Hours Ago

    Biden administration concerned over effectiveness of looming Israeli ground invasion: NYT report

    U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023. 

    Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

    The Biden administration has conveyed to Israel its concerns regarding a looming ground invasion into Gaza, according to officials who spoke to The New York Times.

    “The officials said, that the Israel Defense Forces do not yet have a clear military pathway to achieve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s goal of eradicating Hamas. In conversations with Israeli officials since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, American officials said they have not yet seen an achievable plan of action,” according to The New York Times report.

    Read the full New York Times story.

    — Amanda Macias

    7 Hours Ago

    Israel says the two hostages released by Hamas will receive medical treatment and see family shortly

    Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was held as hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on October 23, 2023, as Hamas announced she was going to be released.

    Hostages And Missing Families | via Reuters

    A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed that Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yochaved Lifshitz, 85, were released by Hamas after being taken hostage for a little over two weeks.

    “After being handed over to the Israeli Defense Forces, they are making their way at this time to a medical center in Israel that was organized and specially prepared to receive them. Their family members will be waiting for them there,” Netanyahu’s office wrote in a statement.

    Nurit Cooper, 79, who was held as hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on October 23, 2023, as Hamas announced she would be released.

    Hostages And Missing Families Forum | via Reuters

    “We thank Egypt for the assistance and the Red Cross for their important role as life savers. The Government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security establishment will continue to operate with the best of their abilities and efforts in order to locate all of the missing and return all of the abductees home,” the statement added.

    — Amanda Macias

    7 Hours Ago

    Hamas ‘abduction manual’ shows that hostage-taking was a central aim of attack

    Photographs of Israeli kidnapped by Hamas militants during a protest demanding their release outside the HaKirya military base in central Tel Aviv, Israel, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.

    Kobi Wolf | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    The Israeli Defense Forces released an “abduction manual” belonging to the Hamas militant group that details instructions on how to kidnap civilians.

    It is believed that Hamas is currently holding approximately 200 civilians since the war began on Oct. 7.

    Read the full story on NBC News.

    — Amanda Macias

    7 Hours Ago

    Al Qassam Brigades video shows hostages being released

    The Al Qassam Brigades have released a video on their Telegram channel showing the two hostages with Hamas fighters apparently filmed before and during their release. The above is a still from the video.

    Al Qassam Brigades

    The Al Qassam Brigades released a video on their Telegram channel showing the two hostages with Hamas fighters apparently filmed before and during their release, NBC News reported.

    In the video, the two hostages, identified as Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, can be seen being handed over to the Red Cross.

    The photo above is a still from the video.

     — Riya Bhattacharjee

    9 Hours Ago

    Senior defense official: the threat of escalating violence is ‘significant’

    Protesters burn the U.S. flag during an anti-Israel protest in Tehran, Iran, October 18, 2023.

    Majid Asgaripour | Wana News Agency | via Reuters

    A senior U.S. defense official said the military is monitoring escalating threats of violence, but declined to say whether Iran or other proxy groups plan to intensify attacks on U.S. troops, NBC News reported.

    “We know there is a significant threat of escalation throughout the region,” including to U.S. troops, the official said. They added that an uptick in violence in the region has “Iranian fingerprints all over it.”

    “We see a prospect for much more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel in the near term,” the official said. “Let’s be clear about it, all roads lead back to Iran.”

    U.S. troops were deployed to Syria and Iraq “for one purpose and one purpose only,” they added. “It’s to support local partners who are in the lead to achieve the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

    “What Iran is actually doing is giving space for ISIS to reconstitute and further destabilize the region,” the official said.

    —Chelsey Cox

    9 Hours Ago

    Biden administration engaged in ‘intense diplomacy’ for release of hostages, White House says

    U.S. National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2023.

    Leah Millis | Reuters

    National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the release of hostages held by Hamas is “a top priority for the administration.”

    “What I can tell you is that we are very hard at work trying to get them released, particularly our American citizens that we know are still being held hostage. There are active communications going on, as you and I speak. I want to be careful that I don’t get into too much detail or context about them. Lest I say something that makes it harder for us to achieve their release,” Kirby said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Katy Tur Reports.”

    “We’re mindful, of course, that there are dozens more hostages from other countries, including Israel,” Kirby added.

    — Amanda Macias

    10 Hours Ago

    ‘We cannot give up on peace,’ Biden says

    U.S. President Joe Biden pauses during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

    Miriam Alster | Pool | via Reuters

    President Joe Biden reiterated calls for peace as the war between Israel and Hamas drags into its third week.

    “As hard as it is, we cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity, and peace,” Biden wrote on X.

    — Amanda Macias

    10 Hours Ago

    A look at the U.S. firepower moved to support tensions in the Middle East

    In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) man the rails as the ship departs Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding for builder’s sea trials off the U.S. East Coast on April 8, 2017 in Newport News, Virginia.

    Getty Images

    The Pentagon on Monday afternoon laid out the U.S. firepower that has been repositioned in an effort to mitigate the expansion of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

    Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the movement of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf.

    “Our carrier strike groups give us the ability to launch operations independently, anywhere in the world and immediately upon arrival,” a senior Defense official told reporters on the call.

    The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity per ground rules established by the Pentagon, added that the Defense Department has placed additional forces on prepare-to-deploy orders in order to “increase their readiness and ensure rapid response.”

    The USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, the Navy’s most powerful military asset, is operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Some of Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, systems, as well as the Patriot air defense system, will arrive in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Citing security concerns, the Pentagon declined to name the countries to which THAAD and Patriot will be transported.

    — Amanda Macias

    11 Hours Ago

    Israeli Foreign Minister to visit UN this week

    Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen at a press conference on Sept. 4, 2023.

    Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

    Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will visit the United Nations on Tuesday as the U.N. Security Council meets to discuss the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

    “Foreign Minister Cohen will be accompanied by relatives of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, with whom he will participate in public events to raise awareness of the hostages’ plight and call for their immediate release,” the Consulate General of Israel in New York wrote in a statement.

    — Amanda Macias

    11 Hours Ago

    UN Security Council meeting Tuesday to discuss Gaza’s security situation

    A UN Security Council meeting for the Maintenance of Peace and Security of Ukraine at the UN’s headquarters on June 6, 2023 in New York City.

    View Press | Corbis News | Getty Images

    The United Nations Security Council will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET to discuss the security situation in Gaza.

    The meeting comes as the first convoys of critical humanitarian aid arrive in Gaza.

    Last week, the United States vetoed a resolution on humanitarian assistance in Gaza because it failed to “mention Israel’s right of self-defense” in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack carried out by Hamas.

    “Russia’s resolution, put forward without any consultations, makes no mention of Hamas — none. By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical and it is indefensible,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said before the United Nations Security Council on Oct. 18.

    Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. was working to address urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza and called for diplomacy carried out by President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and regional partners to “play out.”

    — Amanda Macias

    11 Hours Ago

    At least 35 humanitarian workers have been killed since start of war, UN agency says

    Palestinians inspect the damage inside a mosque following Israeli air strikes at Jenin refugee camp.

    Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East wrote on social media site X that 35 workers have been killed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

    “We are lost for words,” UNRWA wrote in a post on X.

    “We pay tribute to our 35 colleagues who have been killed in Gaza since 7 October. We grieve and we remember. These are not just numbers. These are our friends and colleagues. Many were teachers in our schools,” the organization added.

    — Amanda Macias

    12 Hours Ago

    Hamas says it has released two more hostages

    Nurit Cooper, 79, who was held as hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on October 23, 2023, as Hamas announced she would be released.

    Hostages And Missing Families Forum | via Reuters

    Hamas said it has released two hostages, identified as Nurit Cooper and Yochved Lifshitz, for “compelling humanitarian” reasons.

    The militant group said on its Telegram channel that the release was brokered through the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Hamas is estimated to have taken approximately 222 hostages.

    The family of Lifshitz, 85, confirmed to NBC News the hostage release. The Times of Israel reports that both of the elderly women were from Nir Oz.

    Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was held as hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on October 23, 2023, as Hamas announced she was going to be released.

    Hostages And Missing Families | via Reuters

    Though Hamas previously said it tried to release the two hostages on Friday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “propaganda,” and Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed skepticism that they would be released.

    Earlier in the day, the State Department declined to discuss U.S. and partner efforts to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas more than two weeks ago.

    “We do want to see all of the hostages released and we want to see them released unconditionally and we want to see them released as soon as possible,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller told reporters during a daily press briefing.

    Last week, the first of the U.S. American hostages, mother and daughter Natalie and Judith Raanan, were released.

    — Amanda Macias

    13 Hours Ago

    State Department declines to provide an update on efforts to secure release of hostages

    The State Department declined to provide an update on the U.S. efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas.

    “As for any details, because of the delicate and very sensitive nature of this entire issue, we don’t find it productive to our objective to talk about the details publicly,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said.

    The White House has previously said there are at least 10 U.S. citizens who remain unaccounted for.

    — Amanda Macias

    13 Hours Ago

    Blinken thanks State Department staff for work on Middle East

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to members of the media before leaving Cairo, Egypt, on Oct. 15, 2023.

    Jacquelyn Martin | Pool | via Reuters

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked American civil servants for their work as the ongoing crisis in the Middle East intensifies.

    “Over the past few weeks, amidst the terror, the violence, the suffering that’s unfolding in the Middle East, we have seen how important a nimble and power diplomatic workforce is,” Blinken said during remarks in Arlington, Virginia.

    “Our teams from Jerusalem to Cairo from Amman to Riyadh, in posts around the world, they’ve been working around the clock under tremendous pressure to shape our policy, to inform our understanding, to lead our diplomatic engagement with key partners to advance key goals for the United States,” he added.

    — Amanda Macias

    15 Hours Ago

    U.S. troops in Syria targeted by drones, officials say

    U.S. troops in Syria were targeted by drones but there were no injuries, Reuters cited two U.S. officials as saying Monday.

    The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the attack occurred at Al-Tanf base close to Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan.

    It marks the latest in a series of attacks against U.S. forces in the Middle East region.

    — Karen Gilchrist

    15 Hours Ago

    UK announces extra $24 million for Gaza aid

    U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday announced a further £20 million ($24.4 million) in humanitarian aid for Gaza, doubling its earlier funding.

    Sunak also told the House of Commons that British intelligence analysis suggests that an explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City last week was likely caused by a missile fired from within Gaza. Both Israel and Hamas have blamed one another for the blast.

    “The U.K. government judges that the explosion [at al-Ahli hospital] was likely caused by a missile or part of one that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel,” he said.

    — Karen Gilchrist

    16 Hours Ago

    Israeli soldiers conducting ‘readiness’ exercises for ground operations in Gaza, IDF says

    EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content | Israeli soldiers practice firing their rifles in a field close to the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 23, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

    Thomas Coex | Afp | Getty Images

    The Israel Defense Forces said Monday that its soldiers were conducting a “variety of training exercises in order to improve the forces’ readiness and capabilities for ground operations in the Gaza Strip.”

    In a post on social media site Telegram, it added that teams from the Infantry Corps, the Armored Corps and additional units were preparing for “a number of different combat scenarios.”

    It also said that meetings were being held to “tighten cooperation between air and ground forces.”

    The update comes as Israel is expected to launch a major ground incursion into Gaza. IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus reportedly said such an attack could be prevented on the basis of a full Hamas surrender and the return of Israeli hostages.

    — Karen Gilchrist

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