Gaza's death toll has soared to 1,900 with nearly half a million displaced, as 1,300 were killed in Israel almost one week after Hamas' assault on Israeli towns. Israel's ultimatum for the Palestinians in northern Gaza to leave the area will expire in few hours, even as Egypt limited access to the Rafah crossing in the south.
As Israel's ground invasion near, the Israeli military was faced with clashes from the northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah claimed an attack on Friday and Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah was killed in the fire and three other journalists are wounded by Israeli shelling.
Protests have erupted across many cities in the Arab world, including in Egypt and Jordan, which have peace agreements with the Jewish state.
Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Tunisia also witnessed protests. A ground invasion is now highly anticipated to take place in the coming hours. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Israel vowing support while Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Doha.
A Palestinian uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli soldiers at the north entrance to the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Oct. 13, 2023. (Credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held meetings in Israel on Friday and vowed "ironclad" support for the Israeli operation. Meanwhile US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is doing shuttle diplomacy and visited Qatar and Bahrain on Friday ahead of traveling to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
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.
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Live updates (all times EDT):
Friday, Oct. 13, 2023
7:25 pm: Gaza residents have nowhere to hide
With an Israeli ground invasion in Gaza looking imminent, Al-Monitor’s Andrew Parasiliti previews the humanitarian, regional and geopolitical risks that accompany such an operation in the Week in Review.
6:45 pm: Iran doubles down on backing Hamas
Iran has continued in its media and official statements to glorify the Palestinian militant group Hamas, and Iranian authorities deny US media reports that Washington and Doha had agreed to hold the release of $6 billion kept in Qatari banks. More here from Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Tehran.
5:00 pm: German airline Lufthansa suspends flights to/from Beirut
German airline Lufthansa and its low-cost carrier Eurowings announced the suspension of all flights to and from the Lebanese capital Beirut until Monday, Oct. 16, as tensions soar in the south of the country.
Here is a list of other flight disruptions since the fighting started last Saturday.
4:31 pm: Gaza death toll hits 1,900
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the death toll from Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip has reached 1,900, with another 7,696 injured, according to the Palestinian Authority's WAFA news agency. After telling people in northern Gaza to ignore Israel's evacuation order, Hamas said that Israeli jets struck southbound cars full of Palestinians, killing more than 70 people, according to The Associated Press.
2:50 pm: Erdogan reports 'intensive contacts' to free Hamas hostages
The Turkish president said his government, which has channels with both Hamas and Israel, is seeking the release of hostages held in Gaza, but hinted at Western obstacles. Ezgi Akin reports.
2:40 pm: Netanyahu addresses Israelis, pledges to destroy Hamas
Addressing Israelis on TV, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Today, everyone knows that we’re fighting for the homeland, and we’re fighting like lions,” adding, “We will destroy Hamas and we will win, but it will take time.”
1:56 pm: Israel raises travel warning to Jordan, Sinai Peninsula
Israel’s National Security Council increased the travel warning to Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula, including the beach area, to a level-3 medium alert. It advises Israel to refrain from any unnecessary trips to these regions.
1:48 pm: Iran’s foreign minister begins Syria trip
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian traveled to Syria, where he met with his Syrian counterpart Faisal al-Mikdad, Syria’s official news outlet SANA reported.
Earlier on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian discussed the war in Gaza with Lebanese officials as part of a regional tour that also included Iraq.
1:05 pm: 15 French citizens confirmed killed in Hamas attack
A new total of 15 French citizens were killed and several others remain missing, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told French TV5. On Thursday evening, President Emmanuel Macron announced that 13 French nationals were killed.
12:50 pm: Lebanese journalist Issam Abdullah killed in Israeli shelling
Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdullah was killed in Israeli artillery shelling on Lebanon’s border, multiple Lebanese media outlets have confirmed. Three other journalists were wounded.
12:49 pm: White House: no indication Hezbollah intends to 'go all-in'
White House National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said Friday that the United States has “no indication at this moment” that Hezbollah has made a decision “to go all-in” and widen the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Kirby said Washington could not confirm which group fired rockets from the Lebanese border toward Israel today.
Former US and Israeli officials have warned that a decision by Hezbollah to launch a full-scale barrage on northern Israel would significantly widen the conflict and potentially lead to a regional war.
11:54 am: Blinken says Gaza aid efforts complicated by Hamas blocking roads, using human shields
Efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza have been complicated as Hamas “continues to use innocent civilians as human shields and is reportedly blocking roads to prevent Palestinians from moving to southern Gaza out of harm's way,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a visit to Qatar.
Blinken made the comments at a news conference with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.
“We know the humanitarian situation is urgent. We're actively engaged with partners including Qatar to get aid to those who need it,” Blinken said.
“Your Excellency, thank you again, for today's very, very good discussions and for all the work that our countries have done together,” he added.
Earlier this week, Blinken had meetings in Israel and Jordan with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
11:39 am: Journalists killed, injured in Israeli fire in south Lebanon
A cameraman for the Reuters news agency was killed and two reporters for Al Jazeera injured when Israeli shelling hit a car carrying journalists near Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon, according to Lebanon’s official news agency. The Palestinian Information Center identified the Reuters cameraman as Issam Abdallah.
Reuters has yet to comment on the reports. Al Jazeera said Carmen Jokhdar and Ellie Brakhaya were wounded in the Israeli shelling.
The Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al-Manar reported shortly thereafter that the group responded to Israeli attacks against towns in southern Lebanon.
11:05 am: Lebanese army says Israeli fire hit outpost
The Lebanese Armed Forces said Israeli shelling hit one of its unmanned outposts near Alma Al-Shaab during an exchange of fire the Lebanese media blamed on unspecified non-state actors.
No military personnel were reported hurt.
10:09 am: US secretary of state expresses 'appreciation' to Qatar
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha about Hamas' attack on Israel and the ongoing war between Israel and the group. "I expressed appreciation for Qatar’s efforts to secure the return of hostages," said Blinken in a tweet, referencing the Israelis and foreigners being held by Hamas in Gaza.
Blinken was in Israel on Thursday and met with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman earlier on Friday.
10:00 am: Al-Monitor contributor describes ‘doomsday’ situation in Gaza
In a message from Gaza after days of trying to reach Al-Monitor’s editors, a contributor describes a very grim situation. Their name is withheld for safety reasons as the individual tries to flee northern Gaza. Full message:
"I hope you pray for us, that may God look over us. We are living in a real doomsday in Gaza. There is no electricity, internet or even water. I made a great effort to respond to you.
No one can leave Gaza. All crossings have been bombed, even the Israeli crossing. All people here are going through the same suffering of all nationalities. No one is able to help anyone. Everyone is fleeing from one dangerous place to another.
I apologize for not being able to help. What is happening is extermination, not a war against Hamas. It was an honor to know you and work with you over the past years. Goodbye."
9:53 am: Cross-border fire between Israel, Lebanon
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and “the resistance” — a likely reference to Hezbollah — between the villages of Aalma El Chaeb and Zahaira in southern Lebanon. Both areas are close to the Israeli border.
The Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al-Manar reported Israeli shelling and aircraft in the area. The IDF did not immediately comment.
There have been a few instances of cross-border exchanges since the war with Hamas began.
9:13 am: Gaza death toll nears 1,800
At least 1,799 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to a statement by the Ramallah-based Health Ministry, carried by the official WAFA news agency. The statement read that over 6,388 people have been injured in the fighting.
8:55 am: PA reports attack by Israeli settlers in West Bank
The Palestinian Authority reported that Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian towns of Yatma and Qabalan south of Nablus. Three Palestinians were injured, according to the PA's official WAFA news agency.
The IDF did not immediately comment.
8:26 am: Protests across Arab world in support of Palestinians
There were protests across the Arab world on Friday in support of Palestinians in Gaza and against Israel.
The demonstrations occurred in Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, according to multiple reports.
Watch: Thousands rally in Doha, Qatar, in protest of the merciless Israeli aggression on Gaza, which has claimed 1,600 lives so far since last Saturday.#FreePalestine #IsraelPalestineWar #IsraelTerrorists #غزة_تُباد #غزة_تحت_القصف #فلسطين_قضية_الشرفاء pic.twitter.com/WDsbVkouqS
— Wafa News Agency - English (@WAFANewsEnglish) October 13, 2023
In the case of Syria, protests were held in both government and rebel territory, according to the local press.
8:13 am: Rocket from Gaza intercepted in northern Israel
IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari tweeted that a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip toward northern Israel was intercepted by Israeli air defense. Hamas rockets do not typically reach beyond Tel Aviv.
8:00 am: Erdogan says Turkey working for release of Hamas hostages
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he and government officials including Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and Turkey’s intelligence chief Ibrahim Kalin were working to find a way out of the crisis, particularly for the release of the hostages.
Erdogan also called on Israel to allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza through the Rafah crossing linking Egypt to the Palestinian enclave.
7:45 am: Turkey says Israeli call for civilians to leave Gaza ‘unacceptable’
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Israel’s call on the UN to evacuate its staff as well as nearly 1.1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza in the next 24 hours was “unacceptable.”
The ministry said the move “is a clear violation of international law and has no place in humanity. We expect Israel to immediately undo this grave mistake.”
7:37 am: Defense Secretary Austin pledges to stand by Israel in Tel Aviv
Addressing the press alongside Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, "In times like these, the best thing a friend can do is just to show up." He added, “This is not the time for neutrality.” Austin said the United States is sending ammunition, air defense capabilities, more Iron Dome interceptors and other military equipment to Israel, and will further assist Israel with whatever it needs to guarantee its security. Austin also announced that all parties in the region have been told that if they are considering opening another front to the ongoing war, “Don’t."
7:32 am: Oil prices continue to climb amid conflict
Oil prices continued to rise on Friday after the United States tightened sanctions on Russian energy exports and fears grew that an escalation of the war in the Middle East would impact the output of the region, which is critical to the world's crude supply.
Brent futures rose $2.75, to $89.26 per barrel at 7:32 am Eastern Time on Friday, while US West Texas Intermediate crude moved up 4% from yesterday, to $86.26. Jack Dutton reports.
6:27 am: Palestinian president, Blinken discuss ending Hamas-Israel escalation
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the Jordanian capital of Amman. According to the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, Abbas stressed the need to end the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza and urged the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow urgent aid to reach Gaza, warning of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in the enclave.
6:16 am: European leaders arrive in Israel on solidarity visit
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola have arrived in Israel. "We are here with a message of solidarity after the worst terror attack Israel has endured in generations," Metsola wrote on X. "Terror will not prevail. How we respond matters. We can — we must — stop Hamas. And do what we can to mitigate humanitarian consequences."
6:11 am: Barrage of rockets on southern Israel continues
The municipality of Sderot reported seven direct hits by rockets, with at least five striking buildings. Rockets were also fired at the city of Ashkelon. The rocket fire comes after an almost 10-hour lull.
6:04 am: Hamas assailants to be treated in separate medical facility, says Israel
Following public criticism of Israeli public hospitals treating Hamas assailants, the Israel Defense Forces has decided to transfer the wounded attackers to a dedicated location. A military medical facility near the southern town of Beersheba is now being reorganized to receive them.
6:00 am: Meta responds to EU ultimatum about Hamas-Israel disinformation
Meta has responded to the European Union's demand that the social media giant crack down on disinformation regarding the Hamas-Israeli conflict on its platform or face investigation and other penalties. The 27-state bloc gave Meta a 24-hour deadline to respond to what it said was a rise in disinformation about the war, including doctored images and videos.
An EU spokesperson confirmed to Al-Monitor that Meta had responded. Pressed to share the response, the spokesperson said that it was up to Meta to decide whether to make it public.
Al-Monitor has contacted Meta for comment. The EU issued similar warnings to X, formerly Twitter, and TikTok. X has responded publicly to the bloc, saying that it was removing “tens of thousands” of false or inappropriate posts around the war.
5:57 am: Putin warns of 'unacceptable' civilian casualties from Israeli ground offensive
Russian President Vladimir Putin says an Israeli ground operation in Gaza would result in high civilian casualties. “The use of heavy machinery in residential areas is a complex matter fraught with grave consequences,” he said in televised remarks from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. “Most importantly, the civilian casualties will be absolutely unacceptable,” he added.
5:54 am: Israel denies reports of receiving Hamas attack warning from Egypt
Israel’s national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi categorically denied reports that Egypt had warned Israel of a potential attack by Hamas. “This never happened,” Hanegbi told Haaretz. “Aero intelligence, zero warning, complete fake news.”
Michael McCaul, Republican chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Thursday that Israel had received a warning.
5:40 am: Italian foreign minister visits southern Israel
Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tiani visited the southern Israeli town of Netivot and met with residents whose relatives had been kidnapped by Hamas and taken to Gaza. Other world leaders are expected to arrive in Israel later in the day.
5:16 am: Israeli diplomat in hospital after being attacked in China
An Israeli diplomat was taken to the hospital in Beijing after being stabbed in a suspected terror attack. The diplomat, who works in Israel’s embassy in the Chinese capital, was not near the embassy when assaulted, i24 news reported. The victim is in stable condition, Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed.
5:15 am: Jordanian police prevent protesters from approaching border
Jordanian security forces have forcibly prevented dozens of Jordanians from approaching the border with Israel, Al Jazeera reported. In a statement on the X platform, Jordan’s Public Security Directorate urged all protesters to remain in the public places previously designated for marches and rallies. Videos showed tear gas being used on the protesters.
5:09 am: Iranians, Iraqis demonstrate in support of Palestinians
Massive crowds took to the streets across Iran in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians, Iranian state media reported. Meanwhile, in Iraq, thousands of people held a mass rally in the city of Karbala to express their support for the Palestinians’ right to resist occupation, according to local media. The protests come a day after Hamas urged its supporters to hold a “Day of Rage” in the West Bank, Jerusalem and throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
4:59 am: IDF puts Israeli death toll at 1,300, at least 3,200 wounded
The Israel Defense Forces has issued a day seven update on the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, reporting that more than 1,300 Israelis have been killed and at least 3,200 more have been injured in the conflict. The update also stated that 120 families of hostages held by Hamas have been notified. More than 6,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza and the IDF has struck 2,687 targets in Gaza, it read.
4:38 am: Blinken holds talks with Jordan’s king in Amman
King Abdullah II of Jordan received US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman. Blinken had met with lsraeli leaders in Tel Aviv Thursday. During the meeting, the Jordanian monarch called for de-escalating the situation in Gaza and protecting civilians, stressing the urgent need for humanitarian corridors for relief aid into the besieged enclave. While in Tel Aviv, Blinken had pledged long-term support for Israel as it prepares for a ground incursion against Hamas.
4:30 am: Hamas claims 150 rockets fired toward Ashkelon
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, said on its Telegram channel that its forces had fired 150 rockets from the Gaza Strip toward the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel in response to the displacement and killing of Palestinians. Israeli media, meanwhile, reported a suspected militant presence in Ashkelon’s industrial zone as heavy gunfire was heard in the area.
4:26 am: Palestinian Red Crescent urges end to humanitarian crisis
The Palestinian Red Crescent issued an urgent appeal on Facebook, calling on world leaders and the international community to prevent the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip from worsening. Israel has ordered the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to immediately move to the south in anticipation of a ground invasion there.
“We do not have the means to evacuate the sick and the wounded in our hospitals, or the elderly and the disabled. There are no safe areas in the whole of the Gaza Strip,” the Red Crescent stated.
3:31 am: Iran FM in Beirut meets prime minister, Hezbollah chief
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a meeting in Beirut with Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati. They reportedly stressed the need to end the escalation in Gaza and protect Lebanon. According to Lebanese state media, Iran's top diplomat warned of the escalation in Gaza extending to other areas if Israel fails to halt its destructive war against the enclave.
Amir-Abdollahian had earlier met with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah, for talks on what Hamas has called Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and the continued Israeli airstrikes against the Gaza Strip, according to local and Iranian media.
3:25 am: Egypt, wary of influx of Gaza refugees into Sinai, rallies behind Palestinians
A day after Egyptians commemorated the 50th anniversary of their country's surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 6, 1973, also known as the Yom Kippur War, Hamas militants were in the midst of their own attack on southern Israeli towns. Read more from Mohammed Magdy.
3:24 am: Al-Qassam Brigades claim 13 captives killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza
In a Telegram post, Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said that 13 of the hostages captured Saturday had been killed in the intense Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours. Some of those killed are foreigners. There has been no confirmation thus far from Israel.
3:01 am: US defense chief lands in Israel
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel, where he is scheduled to meet with officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the Israeli war cabinet. According to the Department of Defense, the visit aims to underscore Washington’s unwavering support of Israel in the aftermath of Hamas’ surprise attack.
2:20 am: Snubbed by Russia, Israel and Ukraine draw closer after Hamas attack
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not reached out to Israel since the attack by Hamas last Saturday, instead focusing his statements over the past few days on the rights of the Palestinian people.
1:07 am: IDF attacks 750 military targets in Gaza overnight
The Israel Defense Forces said it attacked 750 military targets in Gaza during the night, including 12 high-rise buildings where Hamas had established positions, underground tunnels, arms depots and homes of Hamas leaders' homes, which served as headquarters. The IDF also targeted high-ranking Hamas members.
0:13 am: UNRWA relocates operation center, staff to south Gaza
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said in a post on the X platform that it has relocated its operations center and international staff to southern Gaza. The announcement follows an order by the Israeli military that UN staff and all Palestinians in the north evacuate the area amid a looming Israeli ground offensive.
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