Israel-Hamas war live updates: Israel says it’s preparing Gaza ground attack

UniqueThis 34 October 14, 2023

Israeli-American Alec Burkin was days away from getting married when Hamas attacked.

Burkin and his fiancée canceled their wedding, scrambled to get 50 of their guests out of the country, and are now raising thousands of dollars for Israeli reservists sent to the frontlines. 

“We have many friends that have been called up,” he said. “They have been taken away from their children, from their loved ones and called up in order to defend us. This is a way that I can play my small role.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Arab nations in an effort to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from expanding.

Blinken met with Foreign Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman Al Saud in Saudi Arabia and headed to the United Arab Emirates where he sat down with President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Blinken also intends to preserve a previous deal to stabilize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which was recently put on hold by Saudi Arabia.

Fifteen medical centers have been damaged, two hospitals have stopped providing service, and 28 health staff have been killed and dozens more injured, according to Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila.

The two hospitals that stopped providing service are Beit Hanoun Hospital and Al-Durrah Children’s Hospital, Al-Kaila said.

"The Israeli occupation forces daily threaten to evacuate hospitals in the Gaza Strip, which is a clear threat to the lives of hundreds of sick and wounded people, including Al-Durrah Hospital for Children, which was evacuated yesterday after being bombed with internationally banned white phosphorus bombs, and before that, Beit Hanoun Hospital, which also stopped working as a result of the Israeli bombing," Al-Kaila said. He added that 23 ambulances were also damaged and out of service.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces has denied claims that the country is using white phosphorus munitions in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday evening it was preparing to implement “a wide range of offensive operative plans,” which will include “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

The IDF said that in recent days soldiers have been fighting to regain control of towns and outposts, capturing “many weapons that were in the possession of the terrorists, while evacuating the wounded who were hit.”

Now, those forces “backed by an extensive logistical effort and by completing the reserve mobilization of hundreds of thousands of servicemen,” were preparing to expand their attack, the IDF said.

Israel’s national security adviser said Saturday that it needs to “eliminate” Hamas and its “military and governmental capabilities” so that “there is no way for them to resurrect from it.”

“It will take months before we can say how this will happen, but Hamas will not rule Gaza,” Tzachi Hanegbi said.

Speaking of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza, he said, “We won’t stop until we know what happened to them and do whatever we can to bring them back.”

Hanegbi also said that when it came to its intelligence failure ahead of the attacks and protecting its citizens, “We failed and no one thinks differently, and it will be investigated, but all efforts now are for war.”

Israeli soldiers prepare armed drones stationed close to the Gaza Strip, from a field near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Saturday.

Thousands of Palestinians fled on Oct. 14, to southern Gaza seeking refuge after Israel warned them to evacuate before an expected ground offensive against Hamas in retaliation for the deadliest attack in Israel's history.
Thomas Coex / AFP - Getty Images

Hezbollah’s military media in Lebanon said that on Saturday afternoon it attacked a “surveillance and monitoring center belonging to the occupation forces” in the disputed area of Shebaa Farms along the border with Israel.

Hezbollah said that the “center was hit and a large part of its technical equipment was destroyed.”

NBC News could not immediately independently verify the claim.Shebaa Farms was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, but Lebanon claims the area as Lebanese.

There are 35,000 people taking shelter inside of Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital ahead of Israel's expected ground operation, according to Mohammed Abu Selmeia, the head of the hospital.

Al-Shifa is Gaza's largest hospital.

Families who fled their homes take refuge in Al-Shifa Hospital
Families who fled their homes take refuge in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, on Friday.Boaa Albaz / Anadolu via Getty Images

TEL AVIV — Israeli troops have recovered the bodies of a number of civilians that were strewn in open areas of Gaza, an Israeli military spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told NBC News that Israeli units operating inside Gaza have retrieved the bodies of a number of civilians. "These were people they killed on the way and dropped." The bodies were lying in fields on the Gaza side of the border.

While dead bodies are not as valuable to Hamas as live hostages, the group has been known to use dead Israelis as bargaining chips. Before Saturday's attack, Hamas was holding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the two countries should work together to "continue their cooperation towards regional security" amid concerns about the number of civilians at risk from the war.

"It’s a disturbing situation. It’s a very difficult situation. And, you know, the primary suffer of this situation are civilians and civilian populations on both sides are being affected," the foreign minister said Saturday. "It’s important, I think, that we all condemn the targeting of civilians in any form at any time, by anyone."

Israeli soldiers walk near houses that were destroyed during a Hamas attack on the kibbutz
Israeli soldiers walk near houses that were destroyed during a Hamas attack on the kibbutz in Be'eri, Israel, on Saturday.Amir Levy / Getty Images

The foreign minister said priority needs to be placed on stopping "further civilian suffering."

"We need to find a way to quickly de-escalate the situation to quickly bring back peace," he said.

Blinken agreed that civilians need to be protected. "We’re working together to do exactly that," he said. "In particular, working on establishing safe areas in Gaza, working on establishing a corridor so that humanitarian assistance can reach people who need it."

"None of us want to see suffering by civilians on any side, whether it’s in Israel, whether it’s in Gaza, whether it’s anywhere else, and we’re working together to do our best to protect them," he continued.

Blinken also called Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss the ramifications of the war.

Smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah
Smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday.Said Khatib / AFP via Getty Images

"Wang reiterated that China opposes all acts that harm civilians and condemns all practices that violate international law," Chinese Embassy Spokesperson Liu Pengyu posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that "safeguarding one’s security cannot be realized at the expense of harming innocent civilians."

NEAR ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER — The Israeli military is preparing for a potential second front in the war on the Israel-Lebanon border — this one with Hezbollah.

The buildup includes Merkava battle tanks and armored personnel carriers just a few miles from Lebanon in northern Israel, shown to NBC News on Saturday by the Israeli military.

As soldiers conducted maintenance on their vehicles, the sounds of small-arms fire could be heard in the distance. Smoke rose from the mountaintops from what Israel’s military says were roughly 30 mortar shells fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory. Israeli forces responded by shelling the site from which the mortars were fired.

In the afternoon sun, a group of religious troops observing the Sabbath took a break from conducting maintenance on their vehicles to pray under a tent with a Torah scroll brought to their encampment.

Israeli tanks are stationed near the border with Lebanon
Israeli tanks are stationed near the border with Lebanon, on SaturdayPetros Giannakouris / AP

The Al-Qassam Brigades announced the deaths of 22 hostages, including foreigners, as a result of the Israeli airstrikes in places where they were being held.

The group announced nine deaths today that occurred during the past 24 hours following Israeli airstrikes. Yesterday, 13 hostages were killed, mostly in Gaza, following airstrikes, according to the Qassam Brigades. This includes at least four foreigners.

Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip
Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, on Saturday.Ariel Schalit / AP

JERUSALEM- Jerusalem this afternoon seems quieter than usual. Few places are open. Even fewer people are walking the streets in the golden light. The mood is somber. 

Like everywhere across the country, everyone here knows someone who was kidnapped, killed or otherwise affected.

Three young men sit in “The Sira,” one of the only few bars in town open on a Saturday. They say they are "depressed, scared, anxious, all of the above.”

"You need to understand," one of the men says, "We have a friend whose been kidnapped and many who are dead. We’ve been holding it together all week. Now, we just want to let go. We want to try and relax. "

Up the road, a young woman is bathing in the fading light. She’s a USAID worker. She arrived here a month ago, but her work changed overnight. “I’m here to stay,” she says. She adds that the mood in Jerusalem has changed. The morale is low. The streets, she says, are empty. She only walks the 200 meters road up from the hotel every day to her sunny spot. More than that, doesn’t feel safe. 

65-years-old Miami resident Ingrid Fremin—Rodriguez came to Jerusalem as a tourist. This is not the vacation she and her husband had in mind, but they are trying to make the most of it. Yesterday, they visited the Mahneh Yehuda food market. Today they ventured out to the old city. Shops were open she said, but the tourists are nowhere to be seen.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Israeli infantrymen during a tour Saturday of Kibbutz Bari and Kibbutz Kfar Gaza.

He met with several fighters, including Col. Ami Biton, a commander of the Parachute Brigade (35th Battalion). Biton told Netanyahu that he was among the hundreds of fighters who arrived within the first hours to fight.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Israeli infantrymen
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Israeli infantrymen, on Saturday.Israel Prime Minister's Office via WhatsApp

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that the U.S. should not accept refugees from Gaza.

"If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all anti-Semitic. None of them believe in Israel’s right to exist," he said during opening remarks at a meet-and-greet event in Creston, Iowa.

The governor said "Arab states" should be taking them in instead.

"You don't fly people and import them into the United States of America, so we're going to be very strong on that," he continued. "And I think about our country, you see these demonstrations supporting Hamas in the United States of America. ... My view is very simple, if you don't like this country, if you hate America, you should not come to this country."

Hezbollah’s TV station has reported an intense exchange of fire along Lebanon’s border with Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Al-Manar TV reported that Hezbollah fighters pounded Israeli positions in the Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba hills area on Saturday.

It was the latest exchange of shelling between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters since last Saturday following Hamas’ attack on southern Israel.

Israel’s military said that it was striking Lebanon after coming under fire from Hezbollah. Chebaa Farms was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war, but Lebanon considers it and the nearby Kfar Chouba hills as Lebanese territories.

The Golan Heights were annexed by Israel in 1981.

Palestinians look for survivors among the rubble of a collapsed building
Mahmud Hams / AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a “productive” discussion with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Saturday, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, who said he initiated the call before his meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister this morning. 

The call lasted about an hour with consecutive translation. 

The Secretary called Wang Yi to tell him the purpose of his trip is to prevent the conflict from widening, and Blinken knows China has relations with countries in the region and thinks it could be important if it could use its influence to achieve that same goal, according to Miller.

Blinken told Wang Yi that it is in their shared interests to keep the conflict from spreading, according to Miller, who stressed that the U.S. has been concerned about others entering the conflict from day one. 

Reporting from Israel, near the border of Gaza, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel says many in Gaza there are reluctant to leave, while those who do still face danger from the continuing bombing.

TEL AVIV — About 10 to 12 congregants attended Shabbat morning service at the Beit Daniel Synagogue on Saturday. They sang, chanted and read from the Torah.

Rabbi Meir Azari said that he was supposed to be officiating four bar mitzvahs on Saturday, three weddings this week and four next week — but all of them have been canceled given that so many young people have been mobilized to join the war.

"People have had to stop everything in their life," said Azari, who has led the congregation for 33 years. "We saw grief and an anger through the years, but this is something very different. That reminded me of my youth as a young teenager, during Yom Kippur War."

Lauren Freedman, 62, has lived in Israel for 31 years and said that both Israeli and Palestinians just want to live normal lives.

"I think about the store where I buy fruits and vegetables — most of the workers there are Palestinians," she said. "So when I went in this week, all of the Palestinians were gone. And it was just the Israeli Jews. And I think about these people who are coming to work every day simply to earn a living. And there's good partnership and cooperation between them and the Israeli employees. And [what's happening] is just so sad."

Home to the Mona Lisa and a world-renowned tourist destination, Paris' Louvre Museum of art remained shuttered today, citing security concerns.

"For security reasons, the Musée du Louvre is closing its doors today, Saturday, October 14. Those who have booked a visit during the day will be reimbursed," the gallery posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Police officers stand guard outside the Louvre Museum
Police officers stand guard outside the Louvre Museum as visitors are evacuated in Paris, on Saturday. Thomas Padilla / AP

The closure comes after Macron called for the mobilization of 7,000 soldiers for increased security patrols after a teacher was fatally stabbed and two more people injured in an Islamist attack on a school in Arras, northern France.

France, which has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe, banned pro-Palestinian protests earlier this week over concerns that they would generate "disturbances to the public order," according to Reuters.

The U.S. is working to secure a safe border exit for U.S. citizens trying to leave Gaza, a Department of State spokesperson said.

"We have informed U.S. citizens in Gaza with whom we are in contact that if they assess it to be safe, they may wish to move closer to the Rafah border crossing," the spokesperson said, adding that "there may be very little notice if the crossing opens and it may only open for a limited time."

The State Department has updated its travel advisory for Israel to authorize the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel working at the embassy in Jerusalem and U.S. branch office in Tel Aviv, along with their family members.

The departure authorization was given on the grounds of the "unpredictable security situation" across Israel, the update said.

The department has advised Americans not to travel to Gaza, due to the threats of armed conflict, civil unrest and terrorism, and has also advised citizens to "reconsider travel" to Israel and the West Bank.

Thousands of people have turned out to a protest in central London over the Israeli siege of Gaza.

The mood as crowds gathered outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House was sombre and determined, attendees said. Many carried homemade signs with slogans such as “Stop the war” and “Free Palestine, shame on the U.K” as they walked through London’s crowded shopping district of Oxford Circus.

“I don’t normally come to protests, but I was moved by the horror unfolding in Gaza,” said Ben Stoll, 26, a doctoral student at London’s Royal Holloway University, who has family living in Israel.

People gather for the "March For Palestine" protest in London
People gather for the "March For Palestine" protest in London, on Saturday.Adrian Dennis / AFP via Getty Images

“The declaration of a total siege on Gaza is a war crime, and needs to be called out as such by our political leaders,” Stoll added.

Ahead of protests, the facade of the BBC's building was splattered with red paint overnight. London's police force warned on X last night that deviation from the planned route, towards the Israeli embassy in Kensington, West London, could result in arrest. Thousands of officers have been stationed across the capital to oversee the event, they added in a separate post.

Workmen clean off red paint from the windows at the entrance to the BBC
Workmen clean off red paint from the windows at the entrance to the BBC in London, on Saturday.Justin Tallis / AFP via Getty Images

The military arm of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a post on Telegram that it killed nine hostages, including four foreigners, in retaliation for the continued bombing of Gaza.

NBC News could not independently verify the claim.

Egyptians and Israelis reached a tentative agreement to allow U.S. citizens to leave Gaza via the Rafah border crossing in northern Egypt.

The State Department told Americans that the crossing might only be open for a short period of time and with very little notice.

“We have informed U.S. citizens in Gaza with whom we are in contact that if they assess it to be safe, they may wish to move closer to the Rafah border crossing — there may be very little notice if the crossing opens and it may only open for a limited time,” a State Department spokesperson told NBC News.

But Haneen Okal, a Palestinian-American from New Jersey, said that the crossing is still closed and that about 600 people were waiting near the border where Egyptian authorities erected “temporary” blast walls on its side of the crossing, according to The Associated Press.

It has previous been reported that there are 500 to 600 Americans in Gaza.

Israel says its offering Palestinians safe passage from northern Gaza to the South for the next several hours — but it’s hardly safe as airstrikes continue.

“There’s no shelters. They cut off the water. All the bathrooms are closed," said Salma Shurrah, a 22-year-old dental student. "They cut off the Internet. They bombed all the Internet places in Gaza. So the Internet connection is very poor and it’s very bad. That means the truth is not coming out as it should be here."

He continued: "We’re living times that have never existed and any humanity possible. This aggression needs to be over. Palestinian live matter, Gaza, life matter. We’re not numbers."

Ali Hassan Jadallah, a Palestinian photojournalist who has covered years of war and tragedy in his native Gaza City, told his own story of loss this week. On Tuesday, he was pictured salvaging superhero costumes from the rubble of his home after it was hit by an Israeli air strike. His wife and young children survived the attack. 

Israeli airstrikes demolish Anadolu Agency's photojournalist Ali Jadallah's house
Ali gathers his children's belongings from the rubble of his family home on Tuesday.Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu via Getty Images

“The fact that God saved me and my family from the blast is enough for me” he shared in an emotional post on Instagram. Yet the following day, his parent’s residence was hit by a missile in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City. Ali later posted a video of himself while driving his father’s lifeless body in the back of a car to bury him, alone.

Israeli airstrike in Gaza City kills Anadolu Agency photojournalist Ali Jadallah's family members
Ali Jadallah, right, at the scene of a missile attack on his parent's home in Gaza City on Wednesday. Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu via Getty Images

Jadallah confirmed to NBC News on Saturday that his twin brothers Khaled and Salah, sister Dua, father Hassan and numerous other family members all died in the strike.

"Everyone was killed, only my mother survived," he said via WhatsApp. Images from the scene show him kissing her hand as she was pulled from the wreckage alive. 

Sirens and shouting can be heard in a very graphic video posted online showing a group of people who died while fleeing northern Gaza on Friday. Among the dead in the convoy were children and women, lying in pools of blood near vehicles.

The body of a small child was shown beside a woman and nearby a young boy lay dead in the street.

Seventy were killed after Israeli airstrikes hit convoys of Palestinian evacuees heading south in Gaza. Airstrikes continued on Saturday, hitting areas that included the south, where the Israeli military has told people to evacuate to from the north.

TEL AVIV — The Israeli military is vowing to hunt down the man it says was responsible for the attack: Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. “He’s a dead man walking. We will get to that to man,” Lt Col Richard Hecht, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said Saturday. 

Long before Hamas terrorists burst through the Gaza border fence on Saturday, Sinwar, a Hebrew speaker, was seen by Israeli security officials as one of their most ruthless enemies.  

Born in a Gaza refugee camp in the early 1960s to parents displaced from their homes in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, he rose through the ranks of Hamas as an internal enforcer with a reputation for brutality.

Although he was captured by Israel in 1989 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in killing Israeli troops and Palestinian collaborators, he was freed in 2011 along with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas five years earlier.

After getting a call from U.S. officials late Saturday to be at the Rafah crossing the next day at 12 p.m., Haneen Okal, a Palestinian-American from New Jersey debated with family for 12 hours over whether they would make the treacherous journey from north Gaza to the southern tip, where the strip borders Egypt.

“Lots of people are waiting here, outside the Palestinian gate. They are all waiting to get out of here, but the Palestinians are not here to open the gate, and the Egyptians are not there on their side too. Nobody has any information, any update,” she said.

Around 600 people were waiting outside the crossing, she added, though many had turned around, unsure if the news that they would be allowed to leave was real or not.

Haneen Okal, an American with 3 children who is trying to leave Gaza via the southern Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Oct. 14, 2023.
Haneen Okal at the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza on Saturday. Courtesy of Haneen Okal

“Some family refused to leave our home. It was 12 hours of negotiating, going out from north to south, the streets were full of families, they were rushing and backing into cars with their bags,” Okal said. People without cars walked along roadsides to reach the south, she added, following Israeli evacuation orders for more than 1 million residents to leave the northern part of the strip.

Okal, a mother of three who returned to Gaza for the first time in nine years to visit family, said that she was scared that officials would not let her newborn son, Elias, pass into Egypt as he does not yet have a passport. She delivered him unexpectedly early in Gaza due to a medical emergency and was in the process of booking passport appointments in Tel Aviv when the war broke out, she said.

JERUSALEM — Life appeared to continue as normal in Jerusalem, on the border of the West Bank, even as Gaza remained under siege further west.

Injured children were rushed to the hospital in Khan Younis after airstrikes hit the city in southern Gaza. The area outside a hospital appeared to be chaotic as ambulances arrived and medics carried crying kids inside.

Egyptian officials said Egypt, Israel and the United States have agreed to allow foreigners in Gaza to pass through the Rafah crossing point later Saturday. One official said both Israel and Palestinian militant groups had agreed to facilitate their exit, and that talks were still underway about bringing in aid.

The officials were not authorized to brief journalists and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Water has begun to run out in the Gaza strip, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine has said in a statement, putting 2 million people at risk of dehydration and contracting water-borne diseases from consuming contaminated fluids.

Gaza’s treatment plant and public water networks have stopped working due to the lack of fuel after Israel placed the coastal enclave under a "total siege" on Oct. 9, the statement said. Drinking water has also begun to run out at the U.N. base in the south of the strip, where people have been told to evacuate.

Palestinian water crisis in Gaza
Palestinians line up to fill containers with water in Khan Younis on Saturday.Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images

“It has become a matter of life and death. It is a must; fuel needs to be delivered now into Gaza to make water available for 2 million people,” said Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General.

“We need to truck fuel into Gaza now. Fuel is the only way for people to have safe drinking water. If not, people will start dying of severe dehydration, among them young children, the elderly and women. Water is now the last remaining lifeline,” he added.

SDEROT, Israel — In the small Israeli city of Sderot, on the border with northern Gaza, the steady booms of outgoing Israeli artillery can be heard. Small arms are firing in the distance. And with drones and jets overhead, Israel is continuing to strike northern Gaza as many civilians there stream south.

The streets of Sderot are empty apart from police and military, as many of the city’s some 30,000 residents have left. Located inside the IDF’s declared military zone, Sderot remains in Hamas’ crosshairs.

Despite Israel’s heavy bombardment of Gaza, Hamas is still managing to launch rockets into Israeli territory — evidenced this morning, with a warning siren sounding in Sderot followed 15 seconds later by a barrage of rockets striking the city.

TEL AVIV — President Joe Biden “was very emotional” in a Zoom call with American families of people taken hostage in Israel on Friday, one of the people who attended told NBC News.

Abbey Onn said it had been confirmed to her by Israeli officials that her cousins Carmela Dan, 80, and Noya Dan, 13, were being held hostage in Gaza. Three more of her cousins were missing, she added.

Biden assured her that “they consider the hostages missing as U.S. citizens, as their own, and that they will do everything they can — but that this is unchartered territory,” she said.

Onn, who lives in the Israeli city of Herzliya, said that the president stayed on the call for and hour and spoke of “ his own loss of his wife and daughter, and later on his son.” He said that he could “deeply identify” with their sense of loss and grief, Onn added.

There were reports of bombings overnight near Khan Younis in southern Gaza — the area where people were told to flee for safety. On Saturday, intense airstrikes also continued east of Gaza City.

The Israeli military has continued to warn those in the north to evacuate south. Hospital administrators at Al Awda Hospital in northern Gaza, have however insisted that it would be impossible to evacuate hundreds of sick and injured people there.

Thousands of people, both Israeli and Palestinians have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip, entered southern Israel in a surprise attack leading Israel to declare war on Hamas in Gaza on Oct. 8.
A Palestinian man shouts following an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday.Yasser Qudih / AFP - Getty Images

Egyptian authorities have erected “temporary” blast walls on Egypt’s side of the Rafah crossing point with Gaza, two Egyptian officials say.

The crossing point has been closed since earlier this week after Israeli airstrikes hit close to its Palestinian side.

The officials said the blast walls were erected as part of “precautionary measures” Egypt has taken in recent days over growing concerns about a mass exodus of Palestinians.

One of the officials said the walls will be removed once a deal is reached with Israel to spare the crossing from its airstrikes.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

Palestinians were fleeing in a mass exodus after Israel’s military told people to evacuate to the southern part of the besieged territory ahead of an expected ground invasion.

The shirtless man drops to one knee and begs for his life in Arabic, but he receives no mercy. A Hamas terrorist lifts his boot and lands two blows to the man’s bare torso. Then a second gunman kicks him in the side, followed by a third, propelling him to the ground. 

The grim scene unfolded at the kibbutz Re’im on the morning of Oct. 7 and was recorded by a dashboard camera.

The victim was Osama Abu Asa, a security guard who watched over stores in the Jewish community 5 miles from the Gaza border. He was pleading in Arabic to the terrorists, for he was an Arab himself — one of thousands of minority tribespeople living in shantytowns in Israel’s Negev desert, essentially trapped between two worlds.

Abu Asa’s body was later found with bullet wounds to the head and chest, his brother said.

“Osama was a good man,” the brother, Jawad Abu Asa, said in an interview, crying as he spoke. “He cared for his family, prayed on time and helped everyone, even the people of Gaza.”

Hamas’ surprise assault killed more than 1,300 people in Israel. The vast majority were Israeli Jews, but the dead also included Abu Asa and at least 14 other Bedouins, some of whom were killed in rocket attacks on their villages.

Read the full story here.

Israeli troops are continuing to conduct small contained raids near the fence in Gaza, according to spokesperson Richard Hecht. Hecht also told journalists that he wasn’t aware of reports that bodies of hostages had been recovered from Gaza.

He reiterated that Israeli military was offering safe passage to the south of Gaza via a second route and blamed Hamas for preventing people from leaving the northern area.

Hecht added that he was “aware of talk of a humanitarian exit” for Americans in Gaza and said there would be more details to come.

A plane carrying WHO medical supplies has landed near the Rafah crossing in Egypt, according to the organization's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

"We’re ready to deploy the supplies as soon as humanitarian access through the crossing is established," Ghebreyesus said on X.

"We continue our plea to Israel to reconsider the decision to evacuate 1.1 million people. It will be a human tragedy," he added.

The Rafah crossing is the border between Gaza and Egypt. It has been closed since last week, after sustaining multiple air strikes on the Palestinian side by the Israeli military. Though Egypt has said it is willing to assist in the distribution of humanitarian supplies into the strip along the corridor, it has long restricted the outward flow of Palestinian refugees.

French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered 7,000 soldiers to be mobilized for increased security patrols, his office said on Saturday, a day after a teacher was stabbed to death in an Islamist attack.

France was put on its highest security alert on Friday after a 20-year-old man fatally stabbed a teacher and gravely wounded two other people in an attack at a school in the city of Arras in northern France.

Macron’s office said that the soldiers would be mobilized by Monday evening until further notice as part of an ongoing operation that regularly conducts patrols in major city centers and tourist sites.

The security alert comes as France hosts the Rugby World Cup and prepares to face South Africa on Saturday evening in their quarter-final.

ASHDOD, Israel — “I’ve got a feeling we are all alone,” an Israeli officer who identifies himself as a “fighter in a special police unit,” said late Friday night. “A lot of people criticize us.”

Noting criticism of Israel’s order for the entire population of northern Gaza to evacuate south, as well as scrutiny of some of the country’s response to Hamas’ unprecedented attack one week ago, the officer said: “Seeing the people hating us, they’re just ... using their strength for nothing.”

The officer walked into the room in Ashdod carrying an Israeli flag on Friday.
The officer walked into the room in Ashdod carrying an Israeli flag on Friday. Chantal Da Silva / NBC News

The officer, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said he did not want to see “Palestinian people killed” but felt Israel had to “strike back” at Hamas — even if it results in the death of civilians.

“We will never erase Gaza from the map. We will never kill 2.8 million people because that’s not us. We won’t do that,” he said.

The IDF said fighter jets conducted "wide-scale strikes throughout the Gaza Strip" last night, including against dozens of Hamas terror targets and “Nukhba” operatives, referring to a special forces unit within Hamas that it said helped lead last week's unprecedented attack.

It said fighter jets also struck an operational headquarters from which Hamas managed its aerial activity.

"During the strike, IDF fighter jets killed Merad Abu Merad who was the head of the Hamas Aerial System in Gaza City, and was largely responsible for directing terrorists during the massacre on Saturday," the IDF said. NBC News was not immediately able to independently verify the developments.

Explosions intermittently flashed in the darkness overnight in Gaza, with the booming sounds of shelling interrupting the silence. Hours earlier, a window of safety for residents to evacuate, as announced by the IDF, had expired.

The IDF's Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee said the Israeli military would allow movement on two streets in Gaza “without any harm between the hours of 10:00-16:00" local time.

"For your safety, take advantage of the short time to move south — from Beit Hanoun to Khan Yunis," he said. "If you care about yourselves and your loved ones, go south according to our instructions."

"Residents of the beach, sand, and west of Olive will also be allowed to move on Daldul and Al-Sana Streets towards Salah Al-Din and Al-Bahr Streets," he said.

Joel Simonds, a Los Angeles-based rabbi involved in progressive causes, has always known that many of his ideological allies did not agree with him on Israel.  

But after this weekend’s terror attack, the worst killing of Jews since the Holocaust, Simonds said many liberal Jews feel abandoned by people they thought were friends, some of whom have expressed little sympathy for the Israelis killed while focusing instead on the plight of Palestinians.

American Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal, have often supported social justice movements. Simonds said while most progressive leaders have offered support, he feels betrayed by others on the left who have not.

Israel has been so fraught in some progressive circles that many preferred not to talk about it, enforcing a sort of strategic silence to avoid dividing the movement and distracting it from common ground issues.

That long-stifled debate is now spilling into public view in heated and sometimes ugly ways, dividing Democrats and exposing what some say is antisemitism that has been allowed to fester on the left for years. 

Read the full story here.