Hamas says senior commander killed in Israeli airstrike

A senior Hamas armed commander was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, Hamas’ armed wing Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam Brigades said Tuesday on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

Nofal was a member of the General Military Council and commander of the Central Brigade in the al-Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian militant group said.

CNBC was unable to independently verify the reports.

Israel has been targeting the strategic positions of Hamas in a bid to strip away its military capabilities, following the group’s terrorist attacks of Oct. 7.

— Karen Gilchrist

Jordan to host Biden, el-Sisi and Abbas for summit

Jordan’s King Abdullah II will host a four-way summit in Amman, reuniting U.S. President Joe Biden, his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Jordanian royal house said on social media.

The meeting will “discuss dangerous developments in Gaza, its regional impact, & ensuring provision of aid into the Strip.”

Biden will head to Jordan on Wednesday, after a first stop in Tel Aviv and an anticipated meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A spate of high-profile U.S. officials have visited Israel to express solidarity since the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken making the voyage on two occasions. Blinken has also met with Abbas.

The bolstered U.S. diplomatic foray into the Middle East comes amid humanitarian concerns over Israel’s retaliatory siege of the Gaza Strip and broader fears that the Israeli-Hamas war will ripple into the region.

Ruxandra Iordache

UN relief agency no longer able to assist Gaza Strip

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is no longer able to provide aid to the civilians of the besieged Gaza Strip, amid a deepening dearth of fuel, clean water and medical supplies, spokesperson Tamara Alrifai told CNBC.

“As we speak, UNRWA, the largest aid agency in Gaza, is no longer able to assist and protect civilians, especially those who have taken shelter in our schools and in our buildings. We do not have the supplies, we do not have water, clean drinking water, we do not have food, we do not have hygiene kits,” she said, noting that UNWRA staff have lost the ability to move freely on Gaza territories without fear of being targeted.

The 140-square-mile enclave has been under siege by Israel since the start of last week, following a terror attack perpetuated by Palestinian militant group Hamas. Fifteen UNRWA staff members have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of hostilities, Alrifai said.

Residents have lost access to Israeli supplies of food, electricity, fuel and water — and the only operating power plant of the Gaza Strip has also exhausted its fuel. The local health system is collapsing, lacking the necessary electricity resources and medical equipment.

This deficit threatens to be compounded by a potential ground incursion from Israel into the region, humanitarian agencies say.

‘We have to get aid in’: UNRWA spokesperson says the situation in the Gaza Strip is really drastic

“We have to get aid in,” Alrifai said. “The safest way is to establish what we call in the humanitarian world a humanitarian cessation of hostilities. This is an agreed window where all parties agree that convoys of aid will be going into Gaza and that whoever receives them … will not be targeted while they’re organizing a distribution of water and food.”

She said that the urgent priorities were to procure fuel to generate electricity and subsequently purify water supplies.

The international community has yet to be able to broker a corridor to receive such supplies, or to allow the evacuation of stranded Gaza residents or foreign nationals into Egypt, through the shuttered Rafah crossing.

Ruxandra Iordache

Next phase of Israeli campaign could be ‘something different’ from ground incursion: IDF

The Israel Defense Forces is advancing its campaign to eliminate the military abilities of Palestinian militant group Hamas, a spokesperson said, but the next step may not be a long-anticipated ground incursion.

“We are preparing for the next stages of war. We haven’t said what they will be. Everybody’s talking about the ground offensive. It might be something different,” the IDF’s Lt Colonel Richard Hecht told reporters, according to Reuters.

Expectations have mounted that Israel will launch a ground offensive into the besieged Gaza Strip, which it has sealed off from its electricity, fuel, food and water supplies. Israeli troops have amassed at the border, with the IDF on Friday last week instructing the residents of Gaza City to evacuate south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands.

But there has been no ground offensive as yet amid widespread warnings from human rights groups that a potential Israeli incursion could dramatically exacerbate the humanitarian crisis taking place in the Gaza Strip.

“The bottom line is that we will commence the enhanced military activities when the timing suits the goal,” IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said in an overnight press update.

U.S. President Joe Biden will follow in the footsteps of Secretary of State Antony Blinken with a visit to Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday.

Ruxandra Iordache

Iran’s supreme leader urges trial for Israel over actions in Gaza Strip

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday said the Israeli government “must be tried” for its actions against the Palestinian people, in Google-translated comments reported by Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

“If the crimes of [Israel] continue, the Muslims and the resistance forces will become impatient and no one will be able to stop them,” he said. Iran refers to groups that oppose Israel — including Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which it sponsors — as participants in a resistance movement.

Israel last week launched a complete siege of the Gaza Strip and instructed those in the northern half of the region to evacuate south, following bloody terrorist attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7. Iran has repeatedly called for aid and relief for the Palestinian people, while celebrating but denying involvement in the Hamas offensive.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a graduation ceremony for armed forces officers at the Imam Ali academy in Tehran, Iran October 10, 2023. 

WANA News Agency | Via Reuters

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has stressed that the so-called resistance groups are independent in their decision-making, but Tehran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Monday warned that this resistance front could proceed with “pre-emptive action” in the “coming hours.”

Fears have mounted over the possibility of the contagion of the Israeli-Hamas conflict within the Middle East.

“It is in everyone’s interest to prevent a regional spillover. Urged Iran to use its influence to avoid regional escalation,” EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said on social media on Monday, after speaking with Amirabdollahian.

Ruxandra Iordache

U.N. human rights office says Israel’s Gaza evacuation is ‘forcible transfer’

Israel’s Gaza evacuation order could amount to a crime of “forcible transfer” in breach of international law, according to a spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office.

“We are concerned that this order, combined with the imposition of a complete siege of Gaza, may not be considered as lawful temporary evacuation and would therefore amount to a forcible transfer of civilians in breach of international law,” Ravina Shamdasani said, according to Reuters.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lists the “deportation or forcible transfer of population” as a type of crime against humanity, which it punishes. The Palestinian Authority accepted the Rome Statute in 2015, “thereby accepting the jurisdiction of the Court over alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014,” the ICC says.

Israel has signed but not ratified the Rome Statute and contests the ICC’s authority to carry out such an investigation.

Human rights organizations have decried the humanitarian impact of the siege and resource deprivation inflicted by Israel against the Gaza Strip since last week in its retaliatory strikes against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Ruxandra Iordache

Hamas says crossings official killed in Israeli airstrike

Palestinian militant group Hamas said its official appointed to oversee crossings out of the Gaza Strip has been killed in an Israeli air strike.

General Fouad Abu Butihan died in a strike on Nuseirat in central Gaza, Hamas said on Telegram, according to a Google translation. CNBC could not independently verify the report.

The besieged Gaza Strip is bordered by Israel, the sea and the Rafah crossing leading into Egypt.

Israeli military has said it is targeting Hamas’ armed positions in the Gaza Strip with the aim of stripping away all of the group’s military capabilities.

Ruxandra Iordache

Germany’s Scholz warns Iran, Hezbollah not to intervene in conflict

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday warned Iran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah not to become involved in the ongoing Israel-Hamas hostilities.

“I expressly warn Hezbollah and Iran not to intervene in the conflict,” Scholz said Tuesday, in commented reported by Reuters. He spoke after a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah in Berlin.

Scholz is expected to visit Israel in an expression of solidarity on Tuesday, according to domestic and international media reports — a day before the scheduled arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Jordanian King Abdullah II (not pictured) speak to the media on Oct. 17, 2023 in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The international community has largely condemned the Oct.7 terrorist attacks perpetrated by Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas, with fear now mounting over a potential spill-over of the conflict into the wider Middle East following repeated fire exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah.

Iran’s foreign minister on Monday evening warned that so-called resistance groups could take “pre-emptive action” against Israel in “the coming hours,” without supplying details.

Ruxandra Iordache

Nearly half a million Israeli people displaced, military says

Roughly half a million Israeli people have been internally displaced, largely “at their own merit and at their own initiative” to avoid civilian damage in the ongoing conflict with Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said during an overnight press update.

“We’ve evacuated all of southern Israel close to the border, close to Gaza. Most of Sderot has been evacuated, parts of Ashkelon has been evacuated, and those are cities with tens of thousands of people,” he said, noting that official evacuation instructions have now been sent to Sderot and other communities near the Gaza Strip , while the residents of more than 20 Israeli settlements in the north have been displaced.

Israel’s Ministry of Defense on Monday said it would evacuate civilians from 28 communities near northern Israel up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the Lebanese border to state-funded guesthouses.

The internal Israeli displacements come amid an anticipated Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, along with ongoing fire exchanges with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah since last week.

They also come around the same time as evacuations in the embattled Gaza Strip, where more than 1 million people — or nearly half the local population — were internally displaced, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said in its latest report on Monday.

The U.N. expressed alarm at the Israeli military’s evacuation directive to the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza and warned it was “impossible” for such a human movement to take place without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”

Ruxandra Iordache

Iran warns of potential ‘pre-emptive action’ from resistance groups

Iran’s foreign minister on Monday evening warned that “pre-emptive action” from so-called resistance forces could be imminent against Israel in the short term.

“The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy [Israel] … in the coming hours, we can expect a pre-emptive action by the resistance front,” Hossein Amirabdollahian said on state TV without supplying further details, in comments reported by Reuters.

“All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza,” he added.

Striking a discordant note, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi earlier on Monday said that the alleged resistance group active against Israel are independent and make their own decisions, in Google-translated comments reported by Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran has historically backed Hamas and has celebrated but denied involvement in the Palestinian militant group’s terrorist attacks of Oct. 7. Like many Arab countries in the Middle East region, Tehran has supported the cause of the Palestinian people, and it has repeatedly called for aid and relief for the civilians of the besieged Gaza Strip enclosure.

Iranian officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility that the Israeli-Hamas hostilities could spill over into the Middle East, amid increasing fire exchanges between Israel and the Tehran-supported Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon. Like close ally Russia, Iran has attributed the current conflict between Israel and Hamas to a failure of Western — and particularly U.S. — diplomacy.

Ruxandra Iordache

Israel’s Gaza operation to happen ‘when the timing suits the goal’

Israeli Army Spokesperson for International Media, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

Jalaa Marey | Afp | Getty Images

Israel’s military continues to prepare for an “enhanced military operation in Gaza” and is monitoring the evacuation of civilians from the northern part of the Gaza Strip south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said in a press update.

Israel declared full siege of the Gaza Strip at the start of last week, depriving it of Israel’s water, electricity, food and fuel supplies within two days of a multi-pronged terrorist attack delivered on Oct. 7 by Palestinian militant group Hamas. The timing of Israel’s anticipated ground incursion remains under question.

“As always military activity is timed according to many variables, some of them physical, some of them related to humanitarian constraints, some of them related to the state of your enemy and the state of your own readiness. But the bottom line is that we will commence the enhanced military activities when the timing suits the goal,” Conricus said, stressing that the “aim of this war is to completely dismantle Hamas and their military capabilities.”

Several human rights organizations have decried the imminent offensive and Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, citing concerns over a worsening humanitarian crisis.

In addition to combating Hamas, Conricus said that the IDF has been carrying out military responses “in kind” to attacks coming from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, with which it has been exchanging fire since last week. Hezbollah has expressed its readiness to get involved in the Israeli-Hamas hostilities, amid growing fears that the conflict will engulf the broader Middle East.

“Our message to Hezbollah is that any aggression, any escalation to the situation would not serve the purposes neither of Hezbollah and definitely not those of Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” Conricus said.

Ruxandra Iordache

Biden says he will travel to Israel to ‘stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack’

President Joe Biden said he will travel to Israel on Wednesday to “stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack.”

“I’ll then travel to Jordan to address dire humanitarian needs, meet with leaders, and make clear that Hamas does not stand for Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” Biden wrote on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.

— Amanda Macias

Arab leaders urge the U.S. to do something about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Every Arab leader who met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the last few days highlighted the importance of dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a senior State Department official told NBC News.

The official said President Joe Biden told Blinken to return to Tel Aviv, Israel following his whirlwind trip through the six Arab countries: Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

After nine hours of negotiations with Israel, Blinken announced that both sides “agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multi-lateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza — and them alone.”

The new U.S. envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, David Satterfield, is set to meet Israeli officials on Tuesday to see if they can get the plan worked out, the official added.

Joanna Tan

Senior U.S. general flies into Israel as its war with Hamas deepens

The top U.S. general overseeing American forces in the Middle East made an unannounced trip to Israel on Tuesday, saying he hoped to ensure its military has what it needs as it fights a deepening war against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The trip by Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, is the latest by a senior U.S. official to Israel ahead of an expected ground assault by Israel’s military in Gaza. It comes a day before a planned visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to the country.

The U.S. military is increasing its firepower in the region, aiming to prevent Iran and other Iran-backed groups from getting involved in the conflict as international fears of a wider, regional war grow.

The Pentagon is also rushing weaponry, including air defenses and munitions, to Israel.

“I’m here to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict,” Kurilla told Reuters, which is traveling with him, in brief remarks before landing.

A U.S. official told Reuters Kurilla was scheduled to hold high-level meetings with Israel’s military leadership, ensuring a clear understanding of the close U.S. ally’s defense requirements.


Israel hits back at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in retaliation for Monday’s strikes

The Israel Defense Forces claims to have struck unspecified Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon early Tuesday local time, in response to earlier strikes by the Iran-backed militia group, the IDF said in an update on its official Telegram channel.

Hezbollah reportedly targeted five Israeli outposts in its Monday strikes, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported, citing a Hezbollah statement.

— Clement Tan

Satellite images show crowds on Gaza side of border crossing into Egypt

New satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies show crowds of people and vehicles gathering on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.

Crowds of people and vehicles form on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt in this Maxar satellite image taken on Oct. 16, 2023.

Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

A Maxar satellite image focuses on the southern border of Gaza and the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Oct. 15, 2023.

Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

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