Israel-Gaza updates: IDF arrests 200 suspects at Nasser Hospital

(NEW YORK) — More than four months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The conflict, now the deadliest between the warring sides since Israel’s founding in 1948, shows no signs of letting up soon and the brief cease-fire that allowed for over 100 hostages to be freed from Gaza remains a distant memory.

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

Feb 19, 12:24 PM
IDF strikes Hezbollah weapon storage facilities, terrorist infrastructure

The Israel Defense Forces said its fighter jets hit two Hezbollah weapons storage facilities in Lebanon on Monday.

The IDF said this was in response to the unmanned aerial vehicle launched toward northern Israel earlier in the day, and the Israelis believe it was most likely launched from Lebanon by Hezbollah.

The IDF also said its fighter jets have struck some Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon on Monday.

Feb 19, 8:25 AM
Gaza’s health ministry accuses IDF of turning Nasser Hospital into ‘military barracks’

Israeli troops have turned Nasser Hospital, the main medical center serving the southern Gaza Strip, into a “military barracks” and are “endangering the lives of patients and medical staff,” according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

The health ministry said Monday that there are 136 patients and 25 medical staff inside Nasser Hospital who are now without electricity, water, food, oxygen and treatment capabilities for difficult cases since Israeli ground troops raided the facility in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis last week. The World Health Organization, which warned on Sunday that Nasser Hospital “is not functional anymore,” is helping evacuate the remaining patients to other facilities to receive treatment, according to the health ministry.

The Israel Defense Forces alleges that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, has been conducting military operations out of Nasser Hospital and other medical centers in the war-torn enclave — claims which Hamas denies.

-ABC News’ Morgan Winsor

Feb 19, 7:53 AM
IDF arrests 200 suspects at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces said Monday that it has arrested 200 suspects at Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli ground forces stormed the hospital last week, looking for members of Hamas who the IDF alleges have been conducting military operations there. Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, has denied the allegations.

Nasser Hospital is the main medical center serving southern Gaza and was — until now — the only fully functioning hospital in the war-torn enclave. The World Health Organization said Sunday that Nasser Hospital “is not functional anymore” after Israeli troops raided the facility.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller and Morgan Winsor

Feb 19, 4:45 AM
IDF continues ground operations in Khan Younis

The Israel Defense Forces said Monday morning that its ground troops and special forces are “continuing to operate” in the western part of Khan Younis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.

The IDF said its ground troops conducted “targeted raids on terror targets” in western Khan Younis over the past day, “during which AK-47s, drones, an RPG, explosive devices, and additional military equipment were located.” The soldiers on the ground also coordinated with the Israel Air Force’s fighter jets overhead to kill “terrorists who were operating adjacent to the troops in the area,” according to the IDF.

“During additional activity in western Khan Yunis, IDF ground troops used a drone to identify a terrorist cell that was approaching the troops,” the IDF said in a statement. “In response, the troops directed an aircraft to eliminate them. A short while after, four additional terrorists were identified in the area, who were also eliminated by an IAF aircraft.”

Meanwhile, the IDF said its special forces “encountered armed terrorists, conducted targeted raids on terror targets, seized weapons and directed a helicopter to strike and eliminate an additional terrorist.”

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller and Morgan Winsor

Feb 18, 4:02 PM
Medicine for hostages, weapons found at Nasser Hospital: ID

Boxes of medicine intended for Israeli hostages, a large number of weapons and a vehicle belonging to a kibbutz that was attacked by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 were found during on raid at Nasser Hospital in Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF said its forces located “medicines specifically designated for the Israeli hostages in Gaza, large quantities of weapons and a vehicle belonging to Kibbutz Nir Oz” during its operations in the Nasser Hospital.

The IDF said it also apprehended “hundreds of terrorists and other suspects who were hiding in the Nasser Hospital, some posing as medical staff.”

“Boxes of medicine were found with the names of Israeli hostages on them. The packages of medicine that were found were sealed and had not been transferred to the hostages,” the IDF said.

-ABC Edward Szekeres

Feb 18, 4:01 PM
Brazilian president’s comments prompt angry response from Israeli officials

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has prompted the fury of Israeli officials by comparing Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip to the Nazi genocide during World War II.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” Lula said at a news conference Sunday at the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.

Lula also condemned the suspension of humanitarian aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, calling for an investigation into what he described as “genocide.”

“It’s not a war between soldiers and soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children,” Lula said.

The UNRWA is facing criticism and financial strain after Israel claimed 12 of the group’s staff members in Gaza were implicated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The allegations prompted the United States, Germany, the European Union and other countries to suspend funding for the UNRWA.

Lula’s comments led to a swift and angry response from Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement calling Lula’s remarks “disgraceful and grave.” Netanyahu condemned Lula for “this trivialization of the Holocaust.”

“Drawing comparisons between Israel and the Nazis and Hitler is to cross a red line,” Netanyahu said, adding in a separate statement that Lula “has disgraced the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, and demonized the Jewish state like the most virulent anti-Semite.”

-ABC News’ Yael Benaya, Jordana Miller and Aicha El Hammar
 

Feb 18, 5:59 AM
Gaza’s Nasser Hospital no longer ‘functional,’ WHO chief says

Nasser Hospital “is not functional anymore” after Israeli forces raided the facility in the southern city of Khan Younis on Thursday, the head of the World Health Organization said.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the U.N. health agency, said a WHO team was not allowed to enter the facility on Friday or Saturday “to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel alongside partners.”

There are still about 200 patients in the hospital, including 20 who need urgent referrals to other hospitals, the WHO chief said in a statement on X.

Israel says it has apprehended about 100 suspected terrorists in the hospital, including 20 who it says participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. The military says it is looking for the remains of hostages inside the facility and does not target doctors or patients.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a large number of medical staff were arrested by the Israel Defense Forces that turned the facility into military barracks. The facility is Gaza’s largest remaining operating hospital and the Strip’s second-largest hospital.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres

Feb 16, 2:12 PM
Biden says his ‘expectation’ is Israel will not move forward with Rafah invasion

President Joe Biden said it is his “expectation” that Israel will not move forward with “any massive land invasion” in Rafah in southern Gaza as the Israelis work to get a temporary cease-fire in place to release the remaining hostages.

Biden was asked if Israel had presented a credible evacuation plan for the displaced Palestinians sheltering in Rafah. But the president’s response focused on continued efforts around a hostage deal, saying he’s made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their conversations in recent days that the U.S. feels strongly that a temporary cease-fire must happen.

“I’m still hopeful that that can be done,” Biden said. “And in the meantime, I don’t anticipate — I’m hoping that the Israelis will not make any massive land invasion in the meantime. So, it’s my expectation that’s not going to happen. There has to be a cease-fire temporarily to get those hostages.”

“This is not just Israelis — it’s American hostages, as well,” Biden said. “My hope and expectation is that we’ll get this hostage deal, we’ll bring the Americans home and the deal has been negotiated now, and we’re gonna see where it takes us.”

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Feb 16, 10:53 AM
2 killed in shooting attack in southern Israel

Two people were killed in a terror shooting attack at a bus stop near Re’em Masmiya Junction in southern Israel, according to Israel’s emergency medical services.

Four people were hurt. Two of the injured victims are in serious condition and two are in moderate condition, officials said.

Feb 15, 9:08 PM
Biden again tells Netanyahu he opposes a Rafah military operation that doesn’t consider civilians’ safety

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday — their second call in less than one week — and again said the U.S. believes any planned military operation in Rafah that does not credibly consider civilians’ safety “should not proceed,” according to the White House.

Biden told Netanyahu the same thing during a call on Sunday.

The two leaders also spoke about ongoing negotiations to secure another hostage deal and the “urgency” of getting humanitarian aid into Gaza, the White House said.

-ABC News’ Fritz Farrow

Feb 15, 5:04 PM
Hostage center confirms another death from Kibbutz Nir Oz

Yair Yaakov, a 59-year-old hostage from Kibbutz Nir Oz, has been killed, according to the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum headquarters.

He was kidnapped from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, along with his children — Or, 17, and Yagil, 13, — and his partner Meirav Tal. His partner and children were released in the prisoner exchange deal.

His body is still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, according to the forum.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Feb 15, 4:50 PM
Egyptian authorities preparing for influx of refugees from Gaza: Source

Egyptian authorities are preparing for a large influx of refugees from Gaza in a worst-case scenario event where negotiations between Israel and Hamas break down and a large number of refugees are forced to cross from Gaza into Egypt, a source familiar with the talks told ABC News.

The preparations are a preemptive measure to prevent any potential repetition of chaos caused when Palestinians poured into Egypt in 2008.

But, there is a sense of optimism after the Hamas delegation visited Cairo this week to discuss results of the quartet Cairo meeting and there is a chance a deal can be reached but things will be clearer on Friday, according to the source.

-ABC News’ Ayat Al-Tawy

Feb 15, 12:59 PM
Israel claims it killed senior Hezbollah commander

The Israel army claims it killed a senior Hezbollah commander, Ali Muhammad Aldbas; his deputy commander, Ibrahim Issa; and an operative in airstrikes on Nabatieh, Lebanon, that targeted Hezbollah military structures.

The Israel Defense Forces claimed Aldbas was among those who directed the terrorist attack at the Megiddo Junction in Israel in March 2023 and claimed he led, planned and carried out terrorist activity against Israel during this war.

Lebanese state media reported that 10 civilians died in Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon, in what was the deadliest day in over four months of border exchanges.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah vowed to retaliate for Wednesday’s strikes, which hit in the city of Nabatiyeh and a village in southern Lebanon, just hours after projectiles from Lebanon killed an Israeli soldier. Hezbollah did not officially claim responsibility for the strike that killed the soldier.

The IDF also claimed it struck a Hezbollah military structure in the area of Blida and a Hezbollah military structure in the area of Maroun al-Ras on Thursday.

“We have no interest in war but we must prepare,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday. “The planes that are currently flying over the skies of Lebanon have targets — and they know how to change the attack from place to place. In the event of a war, the prices for the State of Israel are heavy, but they are catastrophic for Lebanon and Hezbollah.”

ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Nasser Atta

Feb 15, 7:12 AM
IDF storms southern Gaza’s main hospital

Israeli soldiers stormed the main hospital of the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, hours after Israeli forces killed a patient while wounding six others inside the complex, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

The Israel Defense Forces announced in a statement on Thursday morning that it is conducting a “precise and limited operation” inside Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, “because Hamas terrorists are likely hiding behind injured civilians inside the hospital right now” and appear to have used the hospital to hide hostages.

Earlier Thursday, before the IDF’s announcement of a full-scale raid, videos were posted to social media by doctors and journalists inside the hospital showing extensive damage to the orthopaedic department overnight.

One compilation of videos shows dust hanging in the air and parts of the ceiling hanging down as medical staff guide patients down the halls. Doctors are seen trying to maneuver hospital beds through rubble and carrying injured away.

In other videos, extremely loud sounds of fighting outside the hospital can be heard as people are seen returning to the entrance, afraid to leave.

Currently, Nasser Hospital is the only fully functioning medical center in war-torn Gaza.

Feb 14, 5:50 PM
Biden defers removal of most Palestinians in the US for 18 months

President Joe Biden issued a memo Wednesday deferring the removal of most Palestinians in the United States for an 18-month period, citing the “deteriorated” humanitarian conditions in Gaza since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack, and Israel’s retaliatory military operations.

“While I remain focused on improving the humanitarian situation, many civilians remain in danger,” Biden wrote in the memo.

The president added that this move is “in the foreign policy interest of the United States.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement this will give Palestinians in the U.S. “a temporary safe haven.”

The so-called deferred enforced departure status Biden granted would not apply to convicted felons, Palestinians who are subject to extradition or those who voluntarily leave the country, according to the memo.

-ABC News’ Fritz Farrow

Feb 14, 2:15 PM
US asks for ‘credible plan’ to protect civilians in Rafah

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the White House wants to see a “credible plan” from the Israelis for how they would avoid civilian casualties during a potential military operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, where so many residents have fled for safety.

Sullivan said the Israelis are facing “three realities”: They must evacuate more than 1 million people to a safe place; they need to avoid disrupting the flow of humanitarian aid; and they need a “clear answer” to what a potential military operation in Rafah would mean for Egypt, which borders Rafah.

Sullivan also made a point to highlight that Hamas “has to account for itself, as well.”

“Hamas is hiding amongst civilians, embedding itself among civilians in ways that also put those civilians at risk. And so, some of the international community’s questions and pressure, should be on Hamas,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, “We will fight until complete victory, and this includes a powerful action also in Rafah — after we allow the civilian population to leave the battle zones.”

ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Feb 14, 1:48 PM
FBI director makes unannounced trip to Israel

FBI Director Christopher Wray made an unannounced trip to Israel Wednesday where he met with officials to discuss the “threat landscape” facing the U.S. and Israel, the FBI said.

“Director Wray’s key focus is the work the FBI continues to do to confront the elevated threat as foreign terrorist organizations have expressed support and praise for the attacks on Israel and threatened to attack U.S. interests both abroad and in the homeland,” the FBI said in a statement. “The FBI has and will continue to be responsive to requests from the Government of Israel to provide support in their ongoing efforts to keep their citizens safe from the threats and acts of terrorism.”

Feb 14, 1:25 PM
Netanyahu says negotiations can ‘move forward’ when Hamas drops ‘delusional demands’

The delegation that Israel sent to Egypt to take part in negotiations on Tuesday over a potential cease-fire or hostage deal with Hamas will not return for more talks this week, an Israeli political source told ABC News on Wednesday.

Officials from Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been mediating talks between Israel and Hamas since war broke out on Oct. 7.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that negotiations “can move forward” when “Hamas drop[s] their delusional demands.”

But Israeli labor leader Merav Michaeli is criticizing the prime minister, saying, “Netanyahu’s refusal to send a delegation to the follow-up talks on the hostage deal shows, once again, that he really does not see an urgent need to bring the hostages home. We must not allow Netanyahu to abandon our hostages for the benefit of his political survival.”

ABC News’ Jordana Miller and Morgan Winsor

Feb 14, 9:29 AM
Israeli delegation won’t return to Egypt for more talks this week, source says

The delegation that Israel sent to Egypt to take part in negotiations on Tuesday over a potential cease-fire or hostage deal with Hamas will not return for more talks this week, an Israeli political source told ABC News on Wednesday.

Officials from Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been mediating talks between Israel and Hamas since war broke out on Oct. 7.

Feb 13, 5:11 PM
US confirms death of another American in the West Bank

A U.S. citizen has died in the West Bank, the State Department confirmed on Tuesday — marking what is potentially the second killing of an American in the occupied territory in recent weeks.

State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press briefing on Tuesday that the administration was “still in the gathering information stage.” He did not provide additional details, including identifying information for the deceased or the apparent cause of death.

The death comes after a 17-year-old Palestinian-American was fatally shot in the West Bank on Jan. 19. Israeli police said at the time that its internal affairs department was investigating a firearm discharge involving an off-duty law enforcement officer, a soldier and a civilian.

-ABC News’ Shannon K. Crawford

Feb 13, 4:06 PM
Israel still ‘acting in good faith’ on hostage talks: State Department

The U.S. believes Israel is still “acting in good faith” on hostage negotiations, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Miller was mostly tight-lipped on the latest round of discussions with Egypt, the U.S. and Qatar in Cairo, though he did say that the U.S. assesses that Israel still shares the administration’s interest in reaching an agreement despite its potentially looming Rafah offensive and reports of the country’s limited involvement in the talks.

“We have seen public statements from the government of Israel that they want to secure the release of hostages,” Miller said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also reiterated to Secretary Antony Blinken last week in Israel that it is a “top priority” for him to secure the release of the hostages, Miller continued.

“So yes, we do believe they’re acting in good faith,” he said.

-ABC News’ Shannon K. Crawford

Feb 13, 3:42 PM
No hostage deal reached as Netanyahu rejects parameters

Top intelligence officials from Israel, the U.S., Qatar and Egypt are meeting in Cairo Tuesday for a new round of hostage deal discussions.

The Israeli delegation will not present a revised proposal to negotiators; they have come only to listen to possible options by the other partners, according to Israeli sources close to the negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the draft proposal his own team came up with hours before they departed for Egypt.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Feb 13, 12:41 PM
Kirby: Renewed hostage negotiations ‘moving in the right direction’

National security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the renewed hostage negotiations have “been constructive” and are “moving in the right direction.”

Officials from Israel, the U.S. and Qatar are in Egypt Tuesday for discussions.

ABC News’ Noah Minnie

Feb 13, 8:13 AM
Israel sends delegation to Egypt for truce talks

A delegation from Israel is in Egypt on Tuesday for negotiations regarding the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli political source told ABC News.

Egyptian state-owned television channel Al-Qahera News reported that Israeli, Qatari and U.S. officials are meeting with their Egyptian counterparts in Cairo on Tuesday to “discuss a truce in Gaza.”

Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been mediating talks between the warring sides.

Feb 12, 4:25 PM
Gaza hostage talks may be hitting new snag: US officials

CIA Director Bill Burns will head to Egypt this week to try to move Hamas and Israel closer to a deal to free all hostages in Gaza for an extended pause and humanitarian aid, but two U.S officials said Burns may face a fresh challenge: So far, Israel hasn’t committed to sending representatives to the table.

If Israeli intelligence officials don’t attend the planned talks, a U.S. official said Burns would still press on, working with Egyptian and Qatari partners, even though it would mean none of the main players are directly represented at the meeting.

The official also said that while American and Israeli officials are frequently engaged in high-level talks, the U.S. does not have a clear understanding of Israel’s red lines for a hostage deal.

After two hostages were rescued from Gaza overnight, the official said there could be more targeted rescue missions in the days to come. But, the official said the U.S. believes the vast majority of hostages can only be recovered through diplomacy.

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 12, 3:33 PM
State Department downplays Israeli military action in Rafah

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller on Monday downplayed recent Israeli military operations in Rafah, saying the U.S. did not assess that the overnight strikes were a prelude to a full ground incursion in the southern Gaza city.

The Israelis “have conducted airstrikes against Rafah, really, since going back to the original days of the campaign,” Miller said. “It is not our assessment that this airstrike is the launch of a full-scale offensive happening in Rafah.”

Miller again stressed that the U.S. wanted to see “a credible plan that they can actually execute” to address humanitarian concerns before Israel undertakes any kind of military campaign in Rafah, and that the State Department was looking forward to receiving briefings on the evacuation preparations Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered last week.

The Israel Defense Forces said details of a civilian evacuation from Rafah are being planned and will take some time.

Miller also dismissed the notion that Israel’s strikes on Rafah could have a detrimental impact on hostage talks.

“I don’t think it should and I think that Israelis are well within their rights to do everything in their power to try to get back the hostages that were taken from Israel and continue to be held and held for far too long now,” he asserted. “It should in no way impact the negotiations.”

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 12, 1:01 PM
Hostage families commend rescue but say ‘time is running out’ for remaining hostages

Two hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were among those kidnapped in Israel on Oct. 7, were rescued during a special operation in Rafah in southern Gaza early Monday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Monday, “We will continue to make every effort in every way to create the conditions for the return of the abductees, including … the possibility of a deal.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum Headquarters said in a statement, “We commend the IDF soldiers who demonstrated strength and bravery to secure the release of the two hostages, and wish them all to return home safely and speedily. Time is running out for the remaining hostages held captive by Hamas. Their lives are at risk with each passing moment. The Israeli government must exhaust every option on the table to release them. The lives of 134 hostages still hang in the balance.”

Feb 12, 11:21 AM
2 Israeli soldiers killed during hostage rescue mission

Two Israeli soldiers were killed during the mission to rescue two hostages from Gaza on Monday, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said.

“We are in a day of joy mixed with sadness,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “Joy for the release of our hostages and sadness for the fall of our fighters. But I want to tell you that the release of Luis and Fernando is one of the most successful rescue operations in the history of the State of Israel.”

The two hostages — Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were among those kidnapped in Israel on Oct. 7 — were rescued during a special operation in Rafah in southern Gaza early Monday, according to the IDF.

Hagari said Monday, “We will continue to make every effort in every way to create the conditions for the return of the abductees, including … the possibility of a deal.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum Headquarters said in a statement, “We commend the IDF soldiers who demonstrated strength and bravery to secure the release of the two hostages, and wish them all to return home safely and speedily. Time is running out for the remaining hostages held captive by Hamas. Their lives are at risk with each passing moment. The Israeli government must exhaust every option on the table to release them. The lives of 134 hostages still hang in the balance.”

Feb 12, 9:09 AM
Israel knew location of 2 rescued hostages in Gaza for weeks, source says

The location of two hostages rescued early Monday from the Gaza Strip was known for weeks, but the special operation was delayed several times due to fears it would cost the hostages their lives, an Israeli source told ABC News.

It took Israeli forces about 40 minutes from the time they entered the building in Rafah in southern Gaza, where the two hostages were being held, to placing them on a helicopter that flew them out of the area, according to the Israeli source.

ABC News’ Jordana Miller and Morgan Winsor

Feb 12, 9:00 AM
Netanyahu vows ‘continued military pressure, until total victory’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday hailed the military’s announcement that two Israeli hostages were rescued from the war-torn Gaza Strip.

“Fernando and Louis, welcome home,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “I salute our brave fighters for the daring action that led to their release. Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages.”

“We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home,” he added.

The two hostages — Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70 — were among those kidnapped in southwestern Israel and taken across the border to Gaza amid the Hamas-led Oct. 7 terror attack. They were rescued during a special operation in Rafah in southern Gaza early Monday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

ABC News’ Jordana Miller and Morgan Winsor

Feb 12, 12:41 AM
IDF spokesperson details hostage rescue

Members of the Israeli forces that saved two hostages from Rafah, shielded the hostages from gunfire with their own bodies during the rescue operation, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari told reporters during a briefing early Monday morning.

“Police SWAT team members protected the hostages with their own bodies” during the firefight that ensued when Israeli forces entered the room where the hostages were being held, Hagari said.

The rescue operation began at 1:49 a.m. local time on Monday, when IDF forces “breached the building,” he said. Armed Hamas militants were on the second floor, Hagari told reporters.

Israeli forces had been preparing for the operation to save the two hostages “for a while,” Hagari said.

ABC News’ Dana Savir

Feb 11, 3:48 PM
What we know about the conflict

The latest outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the Gaza Strip, has passed the four-month mark.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 28,176 people have been killed and 67,611 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 383 people in the territory since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The ongoing war began after Hamas-led militants launched an unprecedented incursion into southern Israel from neighboring Gaza via land, sea and air. Scores of people were killed while more than 200 others were taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities. The Israeli military subsequently launched retaliatory airstrikes followed by a ground invasion of Gaza, a 140-square-mile territory where more than 2 million Palestinians have lived under a blockade imposed by Israel and supported by Egypt since Hamas came to power in 2007. Gaza, unlike Israel, has no air raid sirens or bomb shelters.

Feb 11, 3:19 PM
Biden speaks with Netanyahu about possible military operation in Rafah

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday in their first call since Biden delivered his strongest rebuke yet of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, with Biden calling the Israeli forces’ actions “over the top.”

In their Sunday call, Biden told Netanyahu a military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where many Palestinians have fled to for safety, “should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring” civilian safety, the White House said in a statement.

More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population has sought refuge in Rafah after being displaced from their homes since Israel’s military offensive began, according to the United Nations.

When asked about Biden’s remark in a Sunday interview with ABC News’ “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl, Netanyahu said, “I don’t know exactly what he [Biden] meant by that, but put yourself in Israel’s shoes. We were attacked. … I think we’ve responded in a way that goes after the terrorists and tries to minimize the civilian population.”

A senior administration official told reporters that Biden’s “over the top” comment was “not specifically addressed” during the two leaders’ call on Sunday. Biden instead reiterated that he wants to see Hamas defeated, though it “must be done while ensuring that operations are … conducted in a way that ensures innocents are protected to the extent possible,” the official said.

When pressed on if Israel has indicated whether moving more than 1 million civilians in Rafah out of harm’s way is feasible, the senior official said that Israel has “made clear they would not contemplate an operation without it.”

The official added that plans to get enough U.S.-procured flour to feed nearly 1.5 million Gazan residents over six months are “coming along,” but that logistical issues need to be worked out.

In Biden’s nearly 45-minute phone call with Netanyahu, the two leaders spent about two-thirds of the conversation discussing the ongoing hostage deal negotiations, the senior official said.

The official said a framework for the hostage deal, which has been “a primary focus” for Biden over the last month, is now in place, though there are gaps that need to be worked through. Later, the official conceded that some of those gaps are “significant,” but said progress has been made in the last three weeks.

-ABC News’ Fritz Farrow

Feb 11, 11:41 AM
Biden Netanyahu to speak Sunday, US official says

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plan to speak Sunday in their first call since Biden delivered his strongest rebuke yet of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News

Biden called the Israeli forces’ actions “over the top.” When asked about Biden’s remark in a Sunday interview with ABC’s “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl, Netanyahu said, “I don’t know exactly what he [Biden] meant by that, but put yourself in Israel’s shoes. We were attacked. … I think we’ve responded in a way that goes after the terrorists and tries to minimize the civilian population.”

-ABC News’ Fritz Farrow

Feb 11, 11:24 AM
Netanyahu defends Gaza bombardment after Biden criticizes ‘over the top’ defensive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defending the Israeli military’s continued bombardment of Gaza, targeting Hamas fighters, after President Joe Biden criticized the campaign as “over the top” given the dire conditions and high death toll in the Palestinian territory.

When asked about Biden’s remark in a Sunday interview with ABC News’ “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl, Netanyahu said he appreciated the president’s support thus far and laid the blame for civilian casualties on the Hamas terrorist group, which launched an unprecedented surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

“I don’t know exactly what he [Biden] meant by that, but put yourself in Israel’s shoes. We were attacked. Unprovoked attack, murderous attack on Oct. 7,” Netanyahu said, adding, “I think we’ve responded in a way that goes after the terrorists and tries to minimize the civilian population in which the terrorists embed themselves and use them as human shields.” The Israel Defense Forces has said it is only targeting Hamas and other militants in Gaza and alleges that Hamas deliberately shelters behind civilians, which the group denies.

Karl pressed Netanyahu on the number of deaths, with the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health estimating more than 28,000 killed. Netanyahu acknowledged many civilians had been killed but claimed — without presenting evidence — that Israel’s military is currently killing more Hamas fighters than civilians.

Click here to read more.

-ABC News’ Tal Axelrod

Feb 10, 4:49 PM
IDF says it killed 120 Hamas terrorists, claims tunnels found in northern Gaza

The Israeli Defense Forces said it killed approximately 120 Hamas terrorists and destroyed 20 Hamas infrastructure sites in Shati and Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza.

The IDF said it found a tunnel shaft near an UNRWA school which led to an underground tunnel which passes under the UNRWA’s headquarters in the Gaza Strip. The tunnel was over 2,296 feet long, according to the IDF. The IDF alleged that Hamas militants used the space under the UNRWA’s headquarters as an electrical supply room.

The UNWRA said it had no knowledge of the facility’s underground, but the “recent media reports” merit an “independent inquiry,” which the agency is unable to perform due to the ongoing war.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres

Feb 10, 6:34 AM
More deaths in Rafah as ‘disastrous’ invasion looms

Israeli airstrikes killed at least 28 Palestinians in Rafah early Saturday, just hours after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from the southern Gaza city ahead of a ground invasion.

Netanyahu did not provide details or a timeline but the announcement set off widespread panic as more than than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, many after being uprooted repeatedly by Israeli evacuation orders that now cover two-thirds of Gaza’s territory.

It’s not clear where much of that population could turn to next as word of the potential invasion plans capped a week of increasingly public friction between Netanyahu and the Biden administration.

U.S. officials have said an invasion of Rafah without a plan for the civilian population would lead to disaster.

Feb 09, 2:58 PM
Hostage may have been killed from IDF attack in Gaza, Israeli forces say

The Israel Defense Forces presented information to the family of hostage Yossi Sharabi, who died in Gaza, telling the family that Sharabi may have been killed when a building adjacent to an IDF target in Gaza collapsed, ABC News has learned. It’s also possible Sharabi may have been killed by Hamas, the IDF said.

Sharabi was confirmed dead in mid-January, but this is the first time the IDF has presented their findings on how Sharabi may have died to his family.

The IDF has determined that the buildings its forces hit was a “legitimate target,” but also found “lessons” that were “learned regarding target approval processes and the required dialogue between all relevant military authorities for the approval of a target,” when reviewing how Sharabi died, ABC News has learned.

Feb 09, 10:16 AM
Israel says it will come up with plan to evacuate civilians in Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to come up with a “dual plan” to evacuate the civilian population in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip before “disbanding” Hamas battalions allegedly located there, according to his office.

“It is impossible to achieve the war objective of eliminating Hamas and leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement Friday. “On the other hand, it is clear that a massive operation in Rafah requires the evacuation of the civilian population from the combat zones.”

“That is why the Prime Minister directed the IDF and the defense establishment to bring to the cabinet a dual plan for both the evacuation of the population and the disbanding of the battalions,” the office added.

Rafah is the southernmost governorate of Gaza, where more than half of the 2.3 million population has sought refuge after being displaced from their homes amid Israel’s military offensive in the Hamas-ruled enclave, according to the United Nations. The U.N. and other aid organizations have expressed concern over where civilians would go if Rafah, which the IDF previously designated a safe zone, becomes the next target in Israel’s war against Hamas.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller and Morgan Winsor

Feb 09, 7:16 AM
‘Thousands more could die’ if fighting escalates in Rafah, UNICEF warns

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund on Friday urged Israel and Hamas to refrain from escalating fighting in Rafah, the southernmost governorate in the war-torn Gaza Strip, where more than a million people have sought refuge after being displaced from their homes.

“UNICEF is urgently calling on the parties to refrain from military escalation in Rafah Governorate in Gaza where over 600,000 children and their families have been displaced — many of them more than once,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement. “An escalation of the fighting in Rafah, which is already straining under the extraordinary number of people who have been displaced from other parts of Gaza, will mark another devastating turn in a war that has reportedly killed over 27,000 people — most of them women and children.”

“Thousands more could die in the violence or by lack of essential services, and further disruption of humanitarian assistance,” she added. “We need Gaza’s last remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems to stay functional. Without them, hunger and disease will skyrocket, taking more child lives.”

ABC News’ Nasser Atta, Edward Szekeres and Morgan Winsor

Feb 08, 4:06 PM
US wouldn’t support Israel entering Rafah if civilians aren’t considered: Kirby

The U.S. would not support Israel sending its military into the southern Gaza city of Rafah — where many Gaza residents have fled for safety — if Israel does not consider the impact to civilians, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

“More than a million Palestinians are sheltering in and around Rafah. That’s where they were told to go,” Kirby said. “The Israeli military has a special obligation, as they conduct operations there or anywhere else, to make sure that they’re factoring in protection for civilian life — particularly civilians that were pushed into southern Gaza by operations further north.”

“Given the circumstances and the conditions there that we see right now, we think a military operation at this time would be a disaster for those people,” Kirby said.

Kirby noted that the U.S. has not seen any Israeli plans “that would convince us that they are about to or imminently going to conduct any kind of major operations in Rafah.”

-ABC News’ Fritz Farrow

Feb 08, 3:29 PM
State Department aware of reports of 2 US citizens detained in Gaza

State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel acknowledged Thursday that the U.S. was aware of reports that two American citizens had been detained by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza but said he couldn’t share anything more.

“We have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens overseas,” Patel said. “We are aware of these reports, and we are currently seeking additional information. But I don’t have any additional information to share and would not be able to at this point, given the privacy considerations.”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, “Obviously, this is the kind of thing to take very seriously. So, we’ll be talking to our Israeli counterparts and trying to get information, more context here, about what happened.”

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 08, 12:30 PM
Netanyahu will likely send negotiators to Cairo in coming days, source says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely send negotiators to Cairo in the coming days, an Israeli political source told ABC News.

Egypt and Qatar are co-hosting a new round of negotiations on the proposed hostage and cease-fire deal on Thursday in Cairo, according to Egyptian state TV.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Feb 08, 7:33 AM
Aid groups sound alarm as Israeli troops advance toward Rafah

Aid organizations are sounding the alarm as Israeli troops advance toward Rafah, the southernmost governorate of the war-torn Gaza Strip, where more than a million people are displaced.

The Norwegian Refugee Council warned Thursday that expanded military operations on overcrowded Rafah would “lead to more civilian deaths and risk the aid system in Gaza coming to a halt.”

“An expansion of hostilities could turn Rafah into a zone of bloodshed and destruction that people won’t be able to escape. There is nowhere left for people to flee to,” Angelita Caredda, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement. “Conditions in Rafah are already dire, and a full-scale Israeli military operation will lead to even more loss of civilian life. Aid workers have been grappling with insecurity and insufficient aid for months. Attacks in areas where they provide food, water and shelter means this life-saving support will be impeded, if not entirely stopped.”

“Repeated relocation orders issued by Israeli authorities over four months of hostilities have forced tens of thousands of people to flee multiple times to areas that are not safe and where shelter is not available,” Caredda added. “Palestinians are being pushed into tiny corners, narrow alleys, and overcrowded shelters while residential areas continue to be pounded.”

The Israel Defense Forces originally designated some of the relocation areas in Gaza as “safe zones,” but they have been heavily bombarded, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. The United Nations estimates that 67% of the coastal enclave, or 246 square kilometers, has been placed under evacuation orders amid the latest outbreak of war between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas.

Meanwhile, the International Rescue Committee warned Wednesday that more military operations in Rafah would “significantly disrupt aid transfers from Egypt and prevent aid agencies from delivering even the most basic services to the Palestinian people who were told by Israel they would be safe there.”

“More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million population are seeking refuge in Rafah, with the majority residing in temporary shelters, tents, or exposed to the elements,” Bob Kitchen, vice resident of emergencies at the IRC, said in a statement. “Within the last 48 hours, airstrikes on residential zones in Rafah have killed at least 11 Palestinians, two of them children. If Israel expands its operations further south, it would mean the renewed forced displacement of more than a million people who have nowhere left to go; and it would end the humanitarian lifeline from Egypt.”

“If they aren’t killed in the fighting, Palestinian children, women and men will be at risk of dying by starvation or disease,” Kitchen added. “There will no longer be a single ‘safe’ area for Palestinians to go to as their homes, markets, and health services have been annihilated.”

Both the IRC and the Norwegian Refugee Council are calling for the warring sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire.

Feb 07, 5:00 PM
Blinken: Hamas counteroffer has ‘clear nonstarters,’ but there’s ‘space for agreement’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he believes a hostage deal is still within reach, despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s earlier comments rejecting Hamas’ counteroffer.

“We had an opportunity to discuss with the Israeli government the response that Hamas sent last night to the proposal that the United States, Qatar and Egypt have put together to bring the remaining hostages and extend the humanitarian pause,” Blinken said at a news conference in Israel Wednesday. “What I can tell you about these discussions is that while there are some clear nonstarters in Hamas’ response, we do think it creates space for agreement to be reached and we will work at that relentlessly until we get there.”

Blinken later added, “These things are always negotiations. It’s not flipping a light switch.”

Blinken said he plans to meet with the families of hostages on Thursday.

As for Israel’s growing offensive in Gaza, Blinken stressed that “any military operation that Israel undertakes needs to put civilians first and foremost in mind.”

Blinken said he had outlined specific measures the U.S. expected to see during his “extensive” talks with Netanyahu and Israeli national security leaders.

He said Israel should open a border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza to help improve the flow of humanitarian aid.

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 07, 3:23 PM
Freed hostages react to Netanyahu rejecting deal

Freed Israeli hostages and families of those still being held hostage by Hamas are speaking out, pleading for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a hostage deal, after the prime minister on Wednesday rejected the current proposed deal.

Netanyahu called the deal “delusional,” and described it as a “surrender” that would lead to another massacre.

Adina Moshe, who was released after being held hostage for 49 days, said Wednesday, “We love our country. … But I want my country back and its morality that is gone.”

“I fear for the lives and fates of the hostages,” Moshe said. “I’m afraid we’ll have nothing to pass on to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Please, prime minister: If you continue on this path, there will be no more hostages to release. Restore our trust — release them now.”

Sahar Calderon, a 16-year-old who was released after being held hostage for 54 days, said, “Every hour there was hell. . … A terrorist glared at me for 24 hours with murder in his eyes, and every minute I feared being raped.”

Calderon’s father is still being held hostage.

“I am grateful to the government for bringing me back, but what about my father, who is abandoned anew every day, uncertain if he will live or die?” she said. “Bring him back — do not make me lose faith in our country a second time.”

Feb 07, 1:45 PM
Israeli prime minister rejects hostage deal proposal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected the current proposed hostage and cease-fire deal, calling it “delusional,” and describing it as a “surrender” that would lead to another massacre. But Netanyahu did not say negotiations were closed.

To the families of the hostages, Netanyahu said in Hebrew, “Your loved ones are always standing before my eyes. … We do not stop working for the release of our abductees — even now.”

“The continuation of military pressure is a necessary condition for the release of the abductees,” he said. “Surrendering to the delusional demands of Hamas … not only will not lead to the release of the abductees, it will only invite another massacre.”

Netanyahu also said it would be “a matter of months” to reach Israel’s objectives and achieve “total victory” of completely dismantling Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu said he told Secretary of State Antony Blinken in their meeting Wednesday, “We are within touching distance of a complete victory, which will also be the victory of the entire free world — not only of Israel.”

Netanyahu also said the Israeli military operation will expand to the city of Rafah, where thousands of Gaza residents have fled and are living in makeshift shelters.

-ABC News’ Anna Burd and Jordana Miller

Feb 07, 12:20 PM
New round of hostage negotiations to take place in Cairo: Egyptian state TV

Egypt and Qatar will co-host a new round of negotiations on the proposed hostage and cease-fire deal on Thursday in Cairo, Egyptian state TV reported.

Feb 07, 10:41 AM
Blinken meets with Netanyahu on latest trip to Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

First, Netanyahu and Blinken “held a long and in-depth meeting in private” before having “an extended meeting” with other Israeli and U.S. officials, according to a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

During the meeting, Blinken reaffirmed Israel’s right to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas and the need to protect civilians in Gaza, according to the State Department. Blinken also stressed the importance of a two-state solution — a prospect Netanyahu has vocally opposed.

It’s Blinken’s fifth trip to the Middle East since Oct. 7 when war erupted between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the neighboring Gaza Strip. The United States, along with Egypt and Qatar, has been involved in negotiations between the warring sides.

ABC News’ Jordana Miller, Shannon Crawford and Morgan Winsor

Feb 07, 7:22 AM
Blinken meets with Netanyahu on latest trip to Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

First, Netanyahu and Blinken “held a long and in-depth meeting in private” before having “an extended meeting” with other Israeli and U.S. officials, according to a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

It’s Blinken’s fifth trip to the Middle East since Oct. 7 when war erupted between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the neighboring Gaza Strip. The United States, along with Egypt and Qatar, has been involved in negotiations between the warring sides.

Feb 06, 7:33 PM
US House fails to pass Israel aid bill

The U.S. House failed to pass a $17.6 billion standalone bill to provide aid to Israel.

The bill failed 250-180 during a vote Tuesday evening.

The GOP measure was being considered under suspension, which required a two-thirds majority to pass.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who unveiled the standalone bill over the weekend, blamed President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for its failure.

“The decision by President Biden and Leader Schumer to torpedo this bill to aid the Israeli people in their fight against Hamas is a disappointing rebuke to our closest ally in the Middle East at their time of great need,” Johnson said in a statement following the vote.

The Biden administration had issued a veto threat to the bill on Monday, saying it “strongly opposes” the measure after a bipartisan group of senators came to an agreement on a national security supplemental that includes Israel aid.

Schumer said he was against the bill and wanted Israel aid coupled with aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and the border.

Feb 06, 4:50 PM
Qatari prime minister: Hamas has responded to hostage deal framework

Hamas has formally responded to the proposed framework for a deal exchanging hostages remaining in Gaza for an extended cease-fire, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Tuesday during a press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The reply includes some comments, but in general it is positive,” he said via a translator. “However, given the sensitivity of the circumstances we will not tackle details. We are optimistic and we have delivered the response to the Israeli party.”

Hamas in a statement did not say they had agreed to the deal but said they “dealt with” the proposed hostage deal “with a positive spirit.”

However, after receiving the response from Hamas, Israeli officials indicated a deal is still “far off,” according to Israeli political sources.

While Blinken didn’t express the same level of optimism as the Qatari prime minister, he maintained that a hostage deal was within reach, saying now that they had a response from Hamas, negotiators would be “intensely focused on that.”

“We’re reviewing that response now, and I’ll be discussing it with the government of Israel tomorrow,” Blinken said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed, essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.”

When asked about the amount of time it took for Hamas to deliver an answer, the Qatari prime minister said “communication was presenting some challenges” and that “it took some time to get them to a place where we get that response,” adding, “we are hoping to see it yielding very soon.”

Feb 06, 4:02 PM
31 hostages are dead and remain in captivity in Gaza, Israeli sources say

The bodies of 31 hostages remain in Gaza, according to Israeli sources. The 31 hostages either died while being held captive by Hamas or were killed on Oct. 7, the sources said.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Feb 06, 1:31 PM
Qatari prime minister: Hamas has responded to hostage deal framework

Hamas has formally responded to the proposed framework for a deal exchanging hostages remaining in Gaza for an extended cease-fire, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Tuesday during a press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The reply includes some comments, but in general it is positive,” he said via a translator. “However, given the sensitivity of the circumstances we will not tackle details. We are optimistic and we have delivered the response to the Israeli party.”

Hamas in a statement did not say they had agreed to the deal but said they “dealt with” the proposed hostage deal “with a positive spirit.”

While Blinken didn’t express the same level of optimism as the Qatari prime minister, he maintained that a hostage deal was within reach, saying now that they had a response from Hamas, negotiators would be “intensely focused on that.”

“We’re reviewing that response now, and I’ll be discussing it with the government of Israel tomorrow,” Blinken said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed, essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.”

When asked about the amount of time it took for Hamas to deliver an answer, the Qatari prime minister said “communication was presenting some challenges” and that “it took some time to get them to a place where we get that response,” adding, “we are hoping to see it yielding very soon.”

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 06, 9:48 AM
Blinken meets with Egypt’s president amid push for new truce

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss Israel’s ongoing war in the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Their “meeting focused on developments in unyielding efforts aimed at reaching a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, exchanging detainees and providing access of needed relief aid to end the severe humanitarian catastrophe in the sector,” according to a readout from Egypt’s presidency.

It’s Blinken’s fifth trip to the Middle East since war erupted between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas. Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been involved in negotiations between the warring sides.

Feb 05, 11:54 AM
UN secretary-general opens independent review into UNRWA

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced Monday that he has appointed an independent review group to determine whether the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is “doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made.”

The probe comes amid Israel’s allegations that a dozen UNRWA employees were involved in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 terror attack.

“These accusations come at a time when UNRWA, the largest U.N. organization in the region, is working under extremely challenging conditions to deliver life-saving assistance to the 2 million people in the Gaza Strip who depend on it for their survival amidst one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world,” Guterres said in a statement.

The independent review group will begin its work on Feb. 14 and will provide an interim report by late March. A final report is due April 2024, according to Guterres.

The probe is separate from an investigation the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight is conducting into the allegations.

UNRWA has said it is investigating the allegations and took swift action against those accused of participating in the attack. However, the United States and other top donors have suspended their funding to the agency, which is the biggest humanitarian aid provider in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Morgan Winsor

Feb 05, 8:43 AM
Food convoy hit by Israeli naval gunfire in Gaza, UNRWA says

A food aid convoy waiting to move into the north of the Gaza Strip was struck by Israeli naval gunfire on Monday morning, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“Thankfully no one was injured,” Tom White, director of UNRWA affairs in Gaza, wrote in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.

-ABC News’ Morgan Winsor

Feb 03, 4:52 PM
House plans vote on standalone Israel aid bill next week

House Speaker Mike Johnson announced on Saturday the House will vote on a standalone $17.6 billion Israel aid package next week.

“Next week, we will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package. During debate in the House and in numerous subsequent statements, Democrats made clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was with its offsets. The Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally,” Johnson said in a letter to colleagues obtained by ABC News.

This news is a major reversal after House Republicans previously approved a $14.3 billion Israel funding package that included cuts to IRS funding. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not bring this legislation to the floor for vote because of Democrats’ opposition to IRS funding cuts.

Johnson again emphasized the Senate negotiated supplemental will face an uphill battle in the House and attacked Senators for excluding him and the House from the bipartisan talks.

-ABC News’ Lauren Peller

Feb 03, 3:21 PM
IDF deploys 3 divisions to northern border amid Hezbollah attacks

The Israeli military has deployed three divisions to the northern border amid Hezbollah’s attacks on northern Israel, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said at a press conference Saturday.

He said the IDF is working to “reshape the security reality” on the northern border, so that some 80,000 Israelis displaced by Hezbollah’s attacks can return to their homes.

“We do not choose war as our first option but are certainly ready, and preparing for it all the time, if need be,” Hagari said.

The IDF has struck more than 150 cells, killing some 200 terror operatives, mostly members of Hezbollah, and targeted more than 3,400 Hezbollah sites since the beginning of the war in Gaza, according to Hagari.

-ABC News’ Anna Burd

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