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Day 20 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Thursday, Oct. 26

Israel says it is seeking to totally destroy Gaza's Hamas rulers after the deadly October 7 attacks which caused the worst bloodshed in Israel's history

The UN relief agency has warned of devastation in the Gaza Strip as Israel has conducted several ground operations over the past few weeks.

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):

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023

6:00 pm: Qatar ambassador in Washington meets family member of kidnapped Israelis

Qatari ambassador to the United States Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani met in Washington with Avichai Brotz from kibbutz Kfar Aza, whose wife and three children were kidnapped by Hamas, reports Ynet. It was the first time that a Qatari representative met with family members of Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip.

4:10 pm Israel considers denying visas for UN officials

Amid a deepening feud with the United Nations, Israel will thoroughly review every request for a visa submitted by a UN official instead of granting them automatically, the office of Israel’s ambassador to the UN told Al-Monitor on Thursday. The news comes after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the Hamas attack on Israelis “did not happen in a vacuum.” Rina Bassist reports.

2:20 pm: Gaza turns to 'graveyard' as bombing, siege intensify 
In an op-ed published in The Guardian on Thursday, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said the Gaza Strip “is becoming the graveyard of a population trapped between war, siege and deprivation.” He added, “History will ask why the world did not have the courage to act decisively and stop this hell on earth.”

More than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel started its bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Thursday. Read Beatrice Farhat’s report.

11:40 am: IDF kills deputy head of Hamas' intelligence bureau

The IDF said Thursday that it killed the deputy head of Hamas’ intelligence directorate, Shadi Barud, in an airstrike. The Israeli military and security agencies accuse Barud of being one of the key planners of the Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel that killed 1,400 people. Barud “was responsible for planning numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians,” the IDF said.

11:15 am: Hamas delegation visits Moscow

A Hamas delegation arrived in Moscow on Thursday led by senior member Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, according to Russian state media. The Kremlin said that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani is also currently in Moscow and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “will soon arrive on an official visit.” Adam Lucente reports.

9:47 am: Hamas ministry reports Gaza death toll tops 7,000, roughly 40% children

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Thursday that the number of Palestinians killed in the ongoing Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 has reached 7,028. Among those killed are 2,913 children and 1,709 women, according to the ministry. Meanwhile, more than 18,484 people have sustained various injuries in the bombardment. In Israel, at least 1,400 people have been killed since the Hamas attack on Oct.7, according to government figures.

6:02 am: Red Crescent says 12 aid trucks entered Gaza via Rafah crossing

The Palestine Red Crescent said 12 aid trucks carrying water, food, medicine and medical supplies have crossed from Egypt into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. Its tweet also read that 74 trucks have entered the besieged Gaza Strip since the opening of the Rafah crossing over the weekend as the humanitarian situation in the enclave continues to deteriorate. However, no fuel has been allowed inside the territory despite pleas from Gaza hospitals as they struggle to cope with rising casualties.

4:46 am: At least 15 killed in Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis

At least 15 people were killed and more than 60 others injured in a massive Israeli airstrike on a residential neighborhood in Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza, reported WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the northern areas of Gaza toward the south ahead of Israel’s looming ground offensive.

4:44 am: Israeli army has notified 224 families of kidnapped relatives

The families of 224 people have received official notice that their relatives have been kidnapped by Hamas and taken to Gaza, said the IDF. The army also said it had hit 250 Hamas targets, including missile launch sites, over the last 24 hours.

4:40 am: Fire caused by Israeli strikes engulfs forests in Lebanese border areas

The residents of a border village in south Lebanon are calling on the Lebanese army and UN peacekeeping forces deployed in the area to extinguish a massive fire that was caused by Israeli airstrikes overnight. Israeli warplanes fired several airstrikes toward Lebanese territory, sparking a fire in Naqoura and Alma al-Shaab. It quickly expanded this morning and has reached the outskirts of al-Dhayra village. Hezbollah and Israel have been engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges since Hamas’ surprise attack on southern Israel Oct. 7.

2:56 am: Limited Israeli raid in north Gaza

Israeli armored forces operated within the northern Gaza Strip, attacking Hamas targets before withdrawing to Israeli territory, the IDF reported, saying the raid was conducted "as part of preparing the space for the next battle stages."

Click here for our most recent updates.

For our previous live coverage, see:

Day 19 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Wednesday, Oct. 25

Day 18 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Tuesday, Oct. 24

Day 17 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Monday, Oct. 23

Day 16 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Sunday, Oct. 22

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

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