Israel-Gaza live updates: Death toll passes 25,000 in Gaza, health ministry says

(NEW YORK) — The end of the cease-fire came after Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, freed over 100 of the more than 200 people its militants took hostage during the Oct. 7 surprise attack on southern Israel. In exchange, Israel released more than 200 Palestinians from Israeli prisons.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jan 21, 1:27 PM
IDF confirms death of kidnapped soldier

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced that Sgt. Shay Levinson, who until now had been identified as a hostage, was killed in battle on Oct. 7 and his body is being held in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials say 532 IDF soldiers have been killed, including 195 since the ground operations in Gaza began.

-ABC News’ Anna Burd

Jan 21, 12:41 PM
Netanyahu says war to continue ‘on all fronts,’ rejects Hamas’ ‘terms of surrender’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will “continue the war on all fronts and in all sectors.”

“We do not give immunity to any terrorist — not in Gaza, not in Lebanon, not in Syria and not anywhere,” Netanyahu said in the statement Sunday, written in Hebrew.

The prime minster added, “Whoever tries to hurt us — we hurt him.”

Netanyahu said he’s working to secure the return of all the hostages “around the clock,” and added: “But to be clear: I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas.”

Netanyahu also said he had a conversation with President Joe Biden over the weekend, in which he emphasized “determination to complete all war objectives, and to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” according to the prime minister’s statement.

“That is why I insist that after we achieve complete victory, after we eliminate Hamas — there will be no factor in Gaza that finances terrorism, educator of terrorism or courier of terrorism,” Netanyahu said.

“Gaza must be demilitarized, under full security control of the State of Israel,” he said. “I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan.”

Netanyahu added he will continue to “firmly” stand by his insistence to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state for as long as he is prime minister.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Jan 21, 5:39 AM
More than 25,000 killed in Gaza, health ministry says

More than 25,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, the Gaza Ministry of Health said Sunday.

Citizens inspect a car that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes on Jan. 21, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza.
At least 62,681 people have been injured since the war began, said the ministry, which operates under the Hamas Authority.

A ministry spokesperson said at least 178 bodies were brought to hospitals in the last day.

-ABC News’ Nasser Atta and Edward Szekeres

Jan 20, 12:54 PM
Relatives of hostages protest outside Israeli PM’s home

Several relatives of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza protested outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home on Saturday, demanding the government take more steps to free the captives.

Some protesters camped out in front of his home, in the coastal town of Caesarea.

More than 130 hostages are still held in captivity, according to Israeli officials.

Jan 20, 12:01 PM
Fatal shooting of Palestinian-American teen in West Bank under investigation

The fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Palestinian-American in the West Bank on Friday remains under investigation, as mourners gathered Saturday for the teen’s funeral.

Tawfiq Ajaq was killed near the city of Ramallah, according to the Defense for Children International – Palestine advocacy group.

Israeli police said they received a report Friday regarding a “firearm discharge, ostensibly involving an off-duty law enforcement officer, a soldier and a civilian.” Police did not identify who fired the shot but described the shooting as taking place over people “purportedly engaged in rock-throwing activities” along a main highway.

Israeli police said its internal affairs department is investigating the incident.

An initial assessment by the Defense for Children International – Palestine also found that it was unclear who fired the shot that struck the teen.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen civilian in the West Bank on Friday.

Asked about the incident at a briefing on Friday, U.S. National Security spokesman John Kirby said White House officials “don’t have perfect context about exactly what happened here” but are “seriously concerned about it.”

“We’re going to be in constant touch with counterparts in the region to get more information,” he said.

The teen’s funeral was held Saturday in the West Bank.

Jan 19, 3:18 PM
Biden speaks with Netanyahu in 1st known call in 27 days

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Friday, according to the White House.

This was the first known call between the two leaders since Dec. 23, 2023.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke about a two-state solution, among other things, one day after Netanyahu expressed opposition to a Palestinian state.

“The president still believes in the promise and the possibility of a two-state solution,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Friday. “He recognizes that it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It’s going to take a lot of leadership, there in the region, particularly, on both sides of the issue. And the United States stands firmly committed to eventually seeing that outcome.”

“We’re not going to agree on everything,” Kirby said. He later added that Netanyahu’s comments will not change Biden’s “strong conviction” that “the best long-term solution for regional security, particularly the security of the Israeli people, is a free, independent Palestinian state that they can live in peace and security with — and this is an important caveat — with Israel’s security also guaranteed.”
Though Biden will continue to press for a two-state solution, “this isn’t about trying to twist somebody’s arm or force a change in their thinking,” Kirby said.

Kirby said Netanyahu’s comments did not trigger the two leaders’ Friday call.

“This was a call that we’ve been, actually, trying to land on the schedule for quite a bit of time,” he said.

ABC News’ Fritz Farrow

Jan 19, 11:43 AM
Teen boy shares story of being held hostage by Palestine Islamic Jihad

Yagil Yaacov, now 13, was 12 years old when he was kidnapped at knifepoint from his room at the Nahal Oz kibbutz on Oct. 7.

He told his captors — allegedly members of the Palestine Islamic Jihad — “Don’t take me, I’m too young,” according to his mother, Renana.

Yagil’s brother was also kidnapped and the two were separated. Yagil told ABC News in an exclusive interview that he was first taken to a safe house, and then to another home where he stayed for 30 days.

Yagil said during his time as a hostage he listened to some radio and learned a little Arabic to determine what was happening around him.

He was eventually reunited with his stepmother and brother.

Yagil’s father is still being held hostage.

ABC News’ Matt Gutman

Jan 18, 2:54 PM
Netanyahu voices opposition to Palestinian state in post-war Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his opposition to a Palestinian state in a post-war Gaza.

“For 30 years I have been consistent — this conflict is not about the absence of a Palestinian state but about the existence of a Jewish state. Wherever we vacate territory, we receive terrorism,” he said at a news conference. “It happened in Judea and Samaria and it happened in Gaza. In any agreement, Israel must control all territory west of Jordan. This is what I say to our American friends: I stopped the possibility of a security breach in the State of Israel. This did not prevent me from expanding the circle of peace to four Arab countries, and I am determined to expand it to other countries in the region, together with our American friendship.”

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in response that Israel, for the first time, has a “historic opportunity” to “deal with challenges that it has faced since its founding.”

“You see the countries in the region who are ready to step up and further integrate with Israel and provide real security assurances to Israel. The United States is ready to play its part, too, but they all have to have a willing partner on the other side,” Miller said.

Miller also said, regarding the challenges facing Israel after the war eventually ends, “There is no way to solve their long-term challenges, to provide lasting security and there is no way to solve the short-term challenges of rebuilding Gaza, establishing governance and providing security for Gaza without the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Jan 18, 12:41 PM
Unclear whether medical aid has reached Israeli hostages in Gaza

It was unclear Thursday whether medical aid had reached Israeli hostages in the war-torn Gaza Strip as part of a Qatari-brokered deal between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas.

During an interview Thursday on CNN, a spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the medicine was received by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health but that there was not yet confirmation of it being distributed to the Israeli hostages as agreed upon. The spokesperson noted that an ongoing telecommunications blackout in Gaza has made it difficult to get information in real time.

The medical aid, provided by Qatar and France, entered Gaza on Wednesday, according to the Qatari foreign ministry.

As part of the agreement, Hamas was expected to pick up the medicine for the Israeli hostages at designated hospitals and then distribute it among the abductees. Qatar will verify and provide proof to Israel that the medicine was in fact delivered to the hostages, according to Hamas and Qatari officials.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has helped with getting aid into Gaza and transferring some hostages out of the enclave as part of previous deals, said it has no role in the implementation of this agreement, including the delivery of the medicine.

“The ICRC initiated the conversation in its role as a neutral intermediary. The parties negotiated the agreement, including how much medicines would be delivered and by whom, with Qatar brokering the deal,” the ICRC told ABC News in a statement on Thursday. “The mechanism that was agreed to does not involve the ICRC playing any part in its implementation, including the delivery of medication.”

“The ICRC welcomes the agreement to deliver medications to the hostages and to medical facilities for the residents of Gaza as a positive humanitarian step,” the organization added.

The Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that the ICRC could not be involved because the security situation in Gaza makes it almost impossible for them to deliver the medicine.

ABC News’ Will Gretsky, Jordana Miller, Cindy Smith and Morgan Winsor

Jan 17, 1:29 PM
Qatar says it’s brokered deal to allow medicine, aid into Gaza

Qatar said Tuesday it has mediated a deal between Israel and Hamas to deliver medicine to Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip.

Medicine and other humanitarian aid will also be delivered to civilians “in the most affected and vulnerable areas” of the Gaza Strip as part of the deal, Qatar said.

The aid landed in Egypt Wednesday and “includes medicines provided by the State of Qatar and the French Republic, along with food items provided by Qatar Charity to be further transferred to Gaza,” the Qataris said.

Jan 17, 11:38 AM
Gaza’s telecommunications blackout surpasses 100 hours

NetBlocks, a London-based nonprofit that covers internet connectivity around the world, said Wednesday that the Gaza Strip has been “in the midst of a near-total telecoms blackout for 120 hours.”

“The disruption, now entering its sixth day, is the longest sustained telecoms outage on record since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war,” NetBlocks wrote in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Morgan Winsor

Jan 17, 11:28 AM
IDF can’t confirm cause of death of 3 hostages found in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday informed the families of Ron Sherman, Nick Beiser and Elia Toledano that it is not possible to determine what caused their deaths, ABC News has learned.

Sherman, Beiser and Toledano were among the more than 200 people taken hostage by militants during the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. The IDF recovered the bodies of the three abductees from a Hamas tunnel in the city of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 14, near where Ahmed Randour, who commanded Hamas’ forces in the northern part of the enclave, had been killed a month earlier.

ABC News has learned that an investigation subsequently concluded the IDF did not know there were hostages in the area at the time it attacked the tunnel where Randor was staying and that the IDF discovered the bodies while conducting scans of the tunnel afterward.

ABC News has learned that a pathological report showed no signs of trauma or gunshots on the three bodies, and it could not be ruled out or confirmed whether they were killed as a result of suffocation, poisoning or due to an attack by the IDF or Hamas. Samples were taken to conduct a further examination.

ABC News’ Dana Savir and Morgan Winsor

Jan 17, 9:59 AM
Blinken says Palestinians need own state but must ‘work with Israel’

Speaking at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the scenes in the war-torn Gaza Strip as “gut-wrenching” and said Palestinians need a state of their own but must “work with Israel to be effective.”

Blinken said the Palestinian Authority, which exercises partial civil control over areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, could lead such a state but only “with the help of Israel, not with its active opposition.”

“The question now is, is Israeli society prepared to engage on these? Is it prepared to have that mindset?” Blinken asked. “You’re not going to get the genuine security you need absent that [Palestinian state].”

ABC News’ Joe Simonetti and Morgan Winsor

Jan 17, 9:08 AM
IDF says it killed top militant in West Bank strike

The Israel Defense Forces said early Wednesday that it has killed a top Palestinian militant in an airstrike in the occupied West Bank, averting “an imminent, large-scale terrorist attack” he was allegedly planning.

Ahmed Abdullah Abu Shalal and members of his terrorist cell were “eliminated in a precision airstrike” at the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to the IDF. It was unclear exactly how many individuals were killed in the strike.

“Abdullah was responsible for carrying out a number of terrorist attacks over the last year, including the shooting attack in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood in Jerusalem last April during which two Jerusalem residents were injured,” the IDF said in a statement. “Additionally, he was responsible for the bombing attack against IDF soldiers last October during which a soldier was injured.”

“Under Abdullah’s leadership, the terrorist infrastructure in the Balata camp in Nablus has received funding and guidance from Iranian sources who are in cooperation with terrorist headquarters in both the Gaza Strip and abroad,” the IDF added.

Jan 16, 3:35 PM
Qatar says it’s brokered deal to allow medicine, aid into Gaza

Qatar said Tuesday it has mediated a deal between Israel and Hamas to deliver medicine to Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip.

Medicine and other humanitarian aid will also be delivered to civilians “in the most affected and vulnerable areas” of the Gaza Strip as part of the deal, Qatar said.

The medication and aid is expected to depart Doha on board two Qatari Armed Forces aircraft on Wednesday, bound for Arish, Egypt, before being transported to the Gaza Strip, Qatar said.

Jan 16, 3:22 PM
2 Israeli hostages who appeared in Hamas video confirmed dead: Kibbutz

Itay Svirsky, 35, and Yossi Sharabi, 53 — two hostages who appeared in a video released by Hamas earlier this week — have been confirmed dead, according to Kibbutz Be’eri.

“Their bodies are in the hands of Hamas, we will demand their return with the rest of our abductees,” Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the communities attacked by the terrorist group on Oct. 7, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our hearts are with the families in their immense pain. May they rest in peace.”

Svirsky was at his parents’ home in the kibbutz when he was abducted, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Hamas released a video on Sunday showing the two men, as well as 26-year-old Noa Argamani, while calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the war on Gaza.

Following the release of the hostage video, the IDF said they told the men’s families that “there is grave concern for their lives” and denied Hamas’ claims that Israeli forces shot Svirsky.

Jan 16, 12:07 PM
Jordan accuses Israel of hindering aid delivery to Gaza

Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi said Tuesday that Israel is creating hurdles to the entry of aid into the war-torn Gaza Strip.

Jordan is working in coordination with the United Nations to deliver aid to Gaza, but only 10% of the total needs of the more than 2 million Palestinians who live there are currently being met, according to Safadi.

“The reality now is that Israeli measures are preventing sufficient aid from arriving and only a fraction is being delivered,” Safadi said during a press conference in Amman.

ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Morgan Winsor

Jan 15, 1:27 PM
At least 1 dead, 17 injured in car-ramming attacks in Israel, police say

At least one person was killed and 17 others were injured on Monday afternoon in car-ramming attacks that took place in various locations across Ra’anana, Israel, authorities said.

Two suspects — identified as a pair of Palestinian men from the Hebron area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank — allegedly stole multiple vehicles before ramming them into crowds of pedestrians in Ra’anana, about 13 miles north of Tel Aviv, according to the Israel Police.

Both suspects have since been arrested. The incidents and the motive remains under investigation, police said.

The victim killed was an elderly woman, according to police.

Fourteen of the 17 injured remained hospitalized Monday evening, officials said. At least seven children were among the injured.

ABC News’ Jordana Miller, Bruno Nota, Dana Savir and Morgan Winsor

Jan 15, 11:59 AM
What life is like for displaced Palestinians in Rafah’s tent city

Ahmad Ismael said his “whole world turned upside down” after Oct. 7.

The Palestinian father of four now lives with his family in a tent in Rafah, the southernmost region of the Gaza Strip. They are among the almost 1.9 million people — 85% of Gaza’s population — who are displaced from their homes, nearly half of whom are crammed inside Rafah.

“We want the tragic situation we are living in to end,” Ismael told ABC News in an interview Sunday. “We hope from God that the war will stop.”

Ismael said Israel’s intense bombardment forced him and his family to flee their home in northern Gaza. They have been living in Rafah’s tent city for the past 70 days, he said.

“We fled with only our souls,” he told ABC News. “We didn’t bring anything with us.”

Ismael showed ABC News around his family’s makeshift shelter and explained what life is like there amid the latest outbreak of war between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas.

“People wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning,” he told ABC News. “You wake up to think about the situation of the tent. Is there water flowing or not? Because of the rain, how will we provide wood for the fire? How will we provide today’s food for the children?”

Ismael said they receive some canned food from a U.N. agency’s warehouse every two or three days. But it’s not enough to feed his family, so they must try to buy other food and cook it over an open fire.

“Everything is expensive and scarce,” he told ABC News. “We used to buy this oil for 7 or 6 shekels. Today, I buy this for 20 shekels. One day you find it and the next day you don’t.”

“Firewood is also very expensive, not cheap, and even I can no longer afford it,” he continued.

“What I’m telling you is not just about my life,” he added, “but the lives of all of us here.”

ABC News’ Rashid Haddou-Riffi, Morgan Winsor and Sami Zayara

Jan 15, 10:52 AM
Another communications blackout in Gaza

NetBlocks, a London-based nonprofit that covers internet connectivity around the world, said Monday that the Gaza Strip has been “largely offline” for the past 72 hours.

“The disruption is the longest sustained telecoms blackout on record since the onset of the Hamas-Israel war, and is likely to significantly limit visibility into events on the ground,” NetBlocks wrote in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Morgan Winsor

Jan 15, 9:22 AM
At least 1 dead, 16 injured in car-ramming attacks in Israel, police say

At least one person was killed and 16 others were injured on Monday afternoon in car-ramming attacks that took place in various locations across Ra’anana, Israel, authorities said.

Two suspects — identified as a pair of Palestinian men from the Hebron area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank — allegedly stole multiple vehicles before ramming them into crowds of pedestrians in Ra’anana, about 13 miles north of Tel Aviv, according to the Israel Police.

Both suspects have since been arrested. The incidents and the motive remains under investigation, police said.

At least four of the wounded victims were hospitalized in critical condition, according to Israel’s rescue service MDA.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller, Bruno Nota, Dana Savir and Morgan Winsor

Jan 15, 5:07 AM
What we know about the conflict

The Israel-Hamas war has reached the three-month mark.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 24,100 people have been killed and 60,834 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

There has also been a surge in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have killed at least 297 people in the territory since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Jan 15, 4:59 AM
Shots fired as crowd seeks humanitarian aid in Gaza

Gunshots rang out as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians sought food from humanitarian aid trucks in the war-torn Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Video of the incident in Sheikh Iljlin, a neighborhood in southern Gaza City, shows a large crowd gathering to receive flour from aid trucks parked near an Israeli military checkpoint. Then the sound of gunfire erupts and people are seen frantically running.

ABC News was not able to independently verify who fired the shots and whether anyone was killed or injured.

The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on Monday.

-ABC News’ Felicia Alvarez, Nasser Atta, Helena Skinner and Morgan Winsor

Jan 14, 7:29 PM
Hamas releases video showing 3 Israeli hostages in captivity

Hamas released a video on Sunday showing three Israeli hostages who are still being held in captivity in Gaza.

The three hostages that appear in the video are 26-year-old Noa Argamani, 35-year-old Itai Svirsky and 53-year-old Yossi Sharabi.

The video released by Hamas called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the war on Gaza.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Jan 14, 6:47 PM
100 days into war, IDF says its ‘goals are complex to achieve and will take a long time’

As the Israel-Hamas war reached its 100th day Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces says it’s goals “will take a long time” to achieve.

“To achieve real results, we must continue to operate in enemy territory, not to allow extortion attempts for a cease-fire,” IDF Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said in a televised address Saturday.

“We must continue applying pressure and that is exactly what we are doing,” he said. “[Our] goals are complex to achieve and will take a long time. To dismantle Hamas, patience is both necessary and essential.”

The IDF also said it’s now moving to intensify its operations in southern Gaza, where it believes Hamas’ leadership is hiding.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jan 13, 4:56 PM
Netanyahu says Israel will pursue war with Hamas until victory

Israel will pursue its war against Hamas until victory and will not be stopped by anyone, including the world court, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a defiant speech Saturday evening.

Netanyahu spoke after the International Court of Justice at The Hague held two days of hearings on South Africa’s allegations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, a charge Israel has rejected as libelous and hypocritical.

South Africa asked the court to order Israel to halt its blistering air and ground offensive in an interim step.

“No one will stop us, not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anyone else,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks, referring to Iran and its allied militias.

The case before the world court is expected to go on for years, but a ruling on interim steps could come within weeks. Court rulings are binding but difficult to enforce.

Netanyahu made clear that Israel would ignore orders to halt the fighting, potentially deepening its isolation. Netanyahu also said a decision had yet to be made about a potential military takeover of the “Philadelphi Corridor” along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.

-ABC News’ Bruno Nota

Jan 13, 2:44 PM
Israel-Hamas war reaches 100th day

Saturday marked 100 days since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, the deadliest conflict between the two sides in recent history.

The fighting began on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched a surprise attack in southern Israel. Since then, Israel has launched numerous airstrikes and a ground offensive. The Israeli government has previously claimed it is defending itself.

More than 23,300 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Meanwhile, 1,200 people have been killed in Israel along with 520 Israel Defense Forces officers since Oct. 7.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the U.N’s Palestinian Relief Agency, issued a statement marking 100 days of the war, saying there are now 1.4 million people in U.N. shelters in Gaza and facing a “looming famine.”

Meanwhile, families of the Israeli hostages still held in Gaza are holding a series of events Saturday to mark 100 days since their captivity began.

-ABC News’ Mary Kekatos and Patrick Reevell

Jan 13, 8:22 AM
More than half a million people are starving in Gaza, UN says

About 577,000 people in Gaza, equal to a quarter of the population, are now starving, Arif Husain, chief economist for the U.N.’s World Food program, told ABC News.

Hussain has worked as an expert assessing hunger crises for 20 years and said, in terms of scale of severity and speed, he has never seen what is unfolding in Gaza right now, calling it “unprecedented.”

Even before the war with Israel, Gaza relied on humanitarian assistance to meet around 75% to 80% of its needs. With Israel now allowing very few supplies into Gaza, it has quickly run into massive shortages.

“If things continue as they are, or if things worsen, we are looking at a full fledged famine within the next six months,” he said.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jan 12, 12:59 PM
Deal reached to get medicine to hostages, Israel says

A deal has been reached to get medicine to the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza over the next few days, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office.

The families of the hostages are insisting that the Israeli war cabinet “demand visual proof that the medications did indeed reach the abductees, as a condition for any return from Israel.”

“After 98 days in the Hamas tunnels, all the abductees are in immediate danger and need life-saving medication,” the families said in a statement.

Jan 12, 9:30 AM
Israel rejects genocide charges at UN’s top court

Israel on Friday called on the United Nations’ top court to dismiss South Africa’s request to halt its offensive in the Gaza Strip amid “grossly distorted” accusations of genocide.

During opening statements to a panel of judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Israeli legal adviser Tal Becker said the country is fighting a “war it did not start and did not want.”

“In these circumstances, there can hardly be a charge more false and more malevolent than the allegation against Israel of genocide,” Becker added.

He noted that “Israel is in a war of defense against Hamas, not against the Palestinian people,” and that the suffering of civilians during wartime does not amount to genocide.

“The key component of genocide, the intent to destroy a people in whole or in part, is totally lacking,” he said.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres and Morgan Winsor

Jan 11, 12:18 PM
Blinken says he found new willingness to discuss Gaza’s future, denies conflict is escalating

As Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his trip to the Middle East, he said he encountered a new appetite among Middle Eastern leaders to discuss contributing to what he often refers to as “the day after” in Gaza.

“I have to say what was different about this trip is that on our previous trips here, I think there was a reluctance to talk about some of the day after issues and long-term stability and security on a regional basis, but now we’re finding that our partners are very focused on that and wanting to engage on those questions,” Blinken said.

On his major goal of preventing the Israeli-Hamas war from spreading across the region, Blinken was optimistic.

“I don’t think the conflict is escalating. There are lots of danger points; we’re trying to deal with each of them,” he said.

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Jan 11, 12:11 PM
Hostage families beg for Israel to ‘take the deal’: ‘This is hell’

The families of hostages held by Hamas came together for a news conference Thursday demanding that the Israeli war cabinet prioritize their loved ones’ return and approve any deal that would lead to their release.

“I demand the cabinet take any deal on the table,” said Shay Wenkert, whose son, Omer Wenkert, was kidnapped from the music festival on Oct. 7.

“My son has colitis,” Wenkert said. “This is hell. I’m begging you — you had opportunities for other deals and didn’t take them. Take action. You have to take the deal. Bring them home now.”

“No one is doing us any favors in Israel. They must do everything to release the hostages, at any price,” said Gilad and Nitza Corngold, parents of Tal Shoham, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Be’eri. “I suggest anyone who says ‘It’s not worth it’ to bring a family member of theirs and make a personal exchange with me — to give me their son and take mine out. Their time is running out.”

Jan 11, 11:48 AM
Genocide case against Israel begins at UN’s top court

Israel is defending itself in the United Nations’ top court starting Thursday against allegations that its ongoing military campaign in the neighboring Gaza Strip amounts to genocide of the Palestinian people — a claim that Israel vehemently denies.

South Africa, which brought forward the allegations, is initially asking the Netherlands-based International Court of Justice to order an immediate suspension of the Israeli military offensive against Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas, as part of a landmark case that is likely to take years to resolve.

“Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies as a plausible claim of genocidal acts,” South African attorney Adila Hassim told the panel of judges inside a packed courtroom in The Hague during Thursday’s opening statements. “Nothing will stop the suffering except an order from this court.”

South Africa insists Israel is committing genocide by design and that the country’s latest war in Gaza is part of its decadeslong oppression of Palestinians. South Africa’s ruling political party, the African National Congress, has a long history of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and sees parallels with its own struggle against the apartheid regime of white minority rule that ended in 1994.

“The violence and the destruction in Palestine and Israel did not begin on Oct. 7, 2023,” South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said. “The Palestinians have experienced systematic oppression and violence for the last 76 years.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has called South Africa’s allegations “atrocious and preposterous,” while Secretary of State Antony Blinken has dismissed the case as “meritless.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response Thursday called South Africa’s allegations “upside-down.”

“Israel is fighting against murderous terrorists who have committed terrible crimes against humanity: they slaughtered, they raped, they burned, they dismembered, they killed children, women, the elderly, young men, young women. A terrorist organization that committed the most terrible crime against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and now there are those who come to defend it in the name of the Holocaust,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to fight the terrorists, we will continue to repel the lies, we will continue to maintain our right to defend ourselves and secure our future.”

Lawyers for Israel will address the court on Friday.

ABC News’ Joe Simonetti, Edward Szekeres and Morgan Winsor

Jan 11, 11:08 AM
Man who lost entire family sifts through rubble in Gaza

The main highway connecting south and north Gaza, Salah al-Din Road, which Israeli forces used for a civilian corridor, has become impassable in Deir al Balah in central Gaza.

“When we came here, we were surprised — Salah al-Din is a main road connecting the north and the south in four directions, 70 meters wide,” Gaza resident Yahya Deeb Al-Laham told ABC News. Now there’s “no infrastructure, no electricity, no roads, buildings and areas are non-existent … there is nothing here, there are no signs of life. Homes for families have completely disappeared and not a single one of them remains.”

The Israelis have recently left the area.

One of the families who followed Israeli military instructions, evacuating from northern Gaza to Deir al Balah, has been completely wiped out.

The surviving family member, Muhammad Fouad Abu Safi, returned to the site to sift through the rubble and try to find what might be left of his family.

“They left me no family member, no sister, no brother, no cousin, no child,” he told ABC News. “There were about 50 people here. Only three children, girls, came out alive … the rest here were taken out as body parts or decomposing bodies.”

“Humanity has ended, mercy has ended,” he said. “Neither from America nor from any country, there is no humanity or mercy.”

ABC News’ Samy Zayara

Jan 11, 8:32 AM
UN court opens hearings on South Africa’s accusation that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza

Israel is defending itself in the United Nations’ top court starting Thursday against allegations that its ongoing military campaign in the neighboring Gaza Strip amounts to genocide of the Palestinian people — a claim that Israel vehemently denies.

South Africa, which brought forward the allegations, is initially asking the International Criminal Court of Justice to order an immediate suspension of the Israeli military offensive in Gaza as part of a landmark case that is likely to take years to resolve.

“Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies as a plausible claim of genocidal acts,” South African attorney Adila Hassim told the panel of judges in a packed courtroom at The Hague during Thursday’s opening statements. “Nothing will stop the suffering except an order from this court.”

South Africa insists Israel is committing genocide by design and that the country’s latest war in Gaza is part of its decadeslong oppression of Palestinians. South Africa’s ruling political party, the African National Congress, has a long history of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and sees parallels with its own struggle against the apartheid regime of white minority rule that ended in 1994.

“The violence and the destruction in Palestine and Israel did not begin on Oct. 7, 2023,” South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said. “The Palestinians have experienced systematic oppression and violence for the last 76 years.”

Lawyers for Israel will address the court on Friday.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has called South Africa’s allegations “atrocious and preposterous,” while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has dismissed the case as “meritless.”

Jan 10, 1:31 PM
Hamas official says hostages won’t return alive if Netanyahu doesn’t accept cease-fire

Hamas leader Osama Hamdan said in a statement that the Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza “will not return alive to their families” unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli leaders respond to Hamas’ conditions, “the first of which is a comprehensive and complete cessation of their aggression against the Gaza Strip.”

Jan 10, 11:50 AM
Israelis in Egypt for hostage talks: Egyptian security source

A delegation from Israel is in Egypt on Wednesday for new discussions on swapping Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for Palestinians in prison in Israel, an Egyptian security source confirmed to ABC News.

Jan 10, 11:18 AM
Israeli minister warns ‘Hamas will regain control’ if combat in Gaza stops

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz warned Wednesday that “Hamas will regain control” of the Gaza Strip if the Israeli military ceases combat operations there.

“We must go on. If we stop now, Hamas will regain control,” Gantz, a retired army general who previously served as Israel’s defense minister and alternate prime minister, said during a press conference in Tel Aviv. “In most areas, we have completed the phase of operational takeover and now, we are deep in the phase of dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, which will lead to the demilitarization of the strip.”

However, Gantz noted that “the most urgent thing is the return of the abductees.” More than 100 Israeli citizens are believed to still be held hostage by militants in Gaza after being taken captive during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

“This has precedence over every move in combat,” he said.

Gantz also warned that the Israeli military “will act in southern Lebanon as we act in northern Gaza” if the neighboring country “continues to serve as an Iranian terrorist outpost.” His remarks came as Israeli forces continue to exchange fire with Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militant group, amid fears that regional tensions could escalate into a wider war in the Middle East.

“This is not a threat to Lebanon,” Gantz added. “It is a promise to the residents of [northern Israel].”

Israel’s war cabinet is expected to meet on Wednesday evening, followed by a meeting of the wider security cabinet.

ABC News’ Dana Savir and Morgan Winsor

Jan 10, 10:06 AM
IDF claims to have found ‘further evidence of Hamas’ exploitation’

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday claimed to have found “further evidence of Hamas’ exploitation of the civilian population for terrorist activity across the Gaza Strip.”

The 55th Brigade combat team made the alleged discovery in recent days while “operating to destroy terror infrastructure” in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, according to the IDF.

“During the operations on the military targets, the soldiers located a UAV launch post, a loaded rifle underneath a child’s bed, along with grenades, cartridges, Hamas uniforms, and many intelligence materials inside the residences of terrorist operatives,” the IDF said in a statement. “During the operation, the soldiers found a tunnel shaft near a school, a rocket launcher near a kindergarten, and a training compound near a mosque.”

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, has denied Israel’s claims that it deliberately shelters behind civilians by hiding its fighters, infrastructure and weapons in hospitals, schools and other areas populated by civilians.

ABC News’ Morgan Winsor

Jan 10, 9:49 AM
At least 40 killed in Israeli strike near Gaza hospital, Hamas says

More than 40 people, including a journalist, were killed Wednesday when Israeli forces bombed an inhabited house across the street from Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas Government Media Office.

Hamas claimed the Israeli military had declared the city of Deir al-Balah safe before striking the area.

There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.

Earlier Wednesday, the IDF said its aircraft and ground troops were continuing to operate against Hamas in central Gaza within the area of the Maghazi refugee camp, a couple miles north of Deir al-Balah.

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