Skip to main content

Day 15 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Saturday, Oct. 21

SOUTHERN ISRAEL - OCTOBER 21: An IDF soldier jumps off the front of a tank on October 21, 2023 in Southern Israel. Today marks two weeks since the kibbutzim and communities around the Gaza border, as well as the Super Nova party a were attacked by Hamas militants. As Israel prepares to invade the Gaza Strip in its campaign to vanquish Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that launched a deadly attack in southern Israel on October 7th, worries are growing of a wider war with multiple fronts, including at th

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant sent a strong warning to the Lebanese armed group on Saturday that it will pay a price for the escalation.

Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.

Click here for our most recent updates.

Live updates (all times EDT):

Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023

10:00 pm: US sends THAAD battery and Patriot battalions to Middle East

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon is sending a THAAD battery and additional Patriot battalions to the Middle East to protect US forces.

9:30 pm: Israeli army says it disrupted 'terrorist infrastructure' in Jenin

Israel announced late on Saturday that it hit “underground terrorist infrastructure" in a mosque in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. It added that the operation disrupted a cell for Hamas and Islamic Jihad that was planning an imminent attack. 

9:00 pm: US-led troops in Iraq reportedly targeted by suicide drone

A suicide drone hit an air base in Iraq hosting US troops on Saturday, Iraqi security sources said. The Pentagon said it could not confirm that such an attack took place.

3:50 pm: Israeli army says it will enter Gaza

IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi said on Saturday that Israel will enter Gaza. 

“We will enter the Strip for an operational, professional mission to destroy Hamas operatives and infrastructure,” Halevi said without specifying a timeline for the operation. A ground invasion has been considered imminent for the past 10 days, but the hostage situation and pressure from Washington have reportedly delayed the operation. 

3:30 pm: Erdogan calls Hamas leader Haniyeh

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Gaza in a phone call with the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Erdogan told him about Ankara's efforts for a cease-fire, for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza and possible treatment of the wounded in Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called Haniyeh on Monday.

3:00 pm: UN to send second aid convoy to Gaza on Sunday 

The United Nations is hoping to send a second convoy of trucks with humanitarian aid into the southern Gaza Strip after a first convoy of 20 trucks entered the area on Saturday, said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

1:30 pm: How will Iran respond to Gaza war?

The Islamic Republic appears uninterested in a direct confrontation with Israel amid the latter's war with Tehran-backed militants in Gaza, but has warned that its proxies remain ready to pull the trigger and "re-map" Israel, Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Tehran reports. 

1:20 pm: Cairo conference ends without consensus 

The Gaza conference in Cairo ended without an agreed-upon statement after Arab countries refused to include a condemnation of Hamas and recognition of Israel’s right to self-defense. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulidis, both participants in the Cairo conference, headed to Israel after the meeting. 

12:30 pm: Casualties on Lebanon border 

Casualties were reported along the Israel-Lebanon border on Saturday as the army traded fire with Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah amid fears of a new front opening as Israel battles Hamas.

Israel already ordered the evacuation of Kiryat Shmona, a border town that is home to some 25,000 people, as the border area has come under fire from Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah said one of its fighters had been killed while in Israel two Thai farm workers were wounded, Haaretz reported. 

10:30 am: Jordan’s King Abdullah calls displacement of Palestinians war crime

Jordan's King Abdullah said in his opening speech at the Cairo Peace Summit on Saturday that the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza would be a war crime.

He also warned against the double standard in treating Palestinians. “Palestinian lives matter less than Israeli ones. Our lives matter less than other lives. The application of international law is optional. And human rights have boundaries,” he said.

8:36 am: Israel threatens Hezbollah

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant sent a strong warning to the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah that it will pay for the escalation. “Hezbollah has decided to join the combat and is paying a price for it, and we must prepare for any possibility. Great challenges lie ahead," said Gallant during a visit to Israel’s northern border. 

Reuters reported on Friday that war insurers have given notice to cancel cover for some airlines domiciled in Israel and Lebanon, with some cancellations already taking effect. The US Embassy in Lebanon has evacuated non-emergency staff and is urging citizens to leave the country.

8:30 am: West Bank seethes

With at least 81 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops or settlers since the Gaza conflict erupted Oct. 7, the occupied West Bank is threatening to explode. Palestinians in the West Bank are enraged by the bombardment of Gaza and the weakness of the Palestinian Authority along with the silence of the Arab states, Ahmad Melhem reports from Ramallah.

8:00 am: 20 aid trucks enter Gaza 

The first of 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered the war-torn and besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said he was "confident that this delivery will be the start of a sustainable effort to provide essential supplies … to the people of Gaza," and warned that "this first convoy must not be the last."

The border crossing was closed again after the passage of the trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent, which is responsible for delivering the aid including food and medical supplies from various UN agencies.

3:19 am: Rafah crossing open for humanitarian aid

The first 20 Red Crescent trucks with humanitarian aid are making their way through Egypt's Rafah crossing into the south of the Gaza Strip carrying food, medicine and medical equipment, reported CNN. The US Embassy in Israel noted earlier in the morning, "If the border is opened, we do not know how long it will remain open for foreign citizens to depart Gaza."

Click here for our most recent updates.

For our previous live coverage, see:

Day 14 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Friday, Oct. 20

Day 13 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Thursday, Oct. 19

Day 12 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Wednesday, Oct. 18

Day 11 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Tuesday, Oct. 17

Day 10 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Monday, Oct. 16

Day 9 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Sunday, Oct. 15

Day 8 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Saturday, Oct. 14

Day 7 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Friday, Oct. 13

Day 6 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Thursday, Oct. 12

Day 5 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Wednesday, Oct. 11

Day 4 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Tuesday, Oct. 10

Day 3 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Monday, Oct. 9

Day 2 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Sunday, Oct. 8

Day 1 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Saturday, Oct. 7