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

Eight days into the fighting between Israel and Hamas, nearly 1 million are now displaced in Gaza as rocket barrages continue in the direction of Israel and the Israeli bombardment intensifies on the enclave.
Israel has pounded northern Gaza since Hamas's deadly incursion a week ago

The Pentagon announced Saturday that it had dispatched a second aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean on what officials said was a regularly-scheduled deployment for exercises in Europe.

The White House said the Eisenhower would be available to support deterrence already undertaken by the strike group led by the U.S.’ largest carrier, the USS Ford, already in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Israeli army confirmed on Saturday its preparations for a full Gaza invasion involving land, sea and air. This comes as the death toll among Palestinians surpassed 2,200 and stood at 1,300 in Israel.

The Israeli military said it was preparing for an extensive campaign in Gaza and “the implementation of a wide range of offensive plans, which include, among other things, an integrated and coordinated attack by air, sea and land.” 

“Israeli army battalions and soldiers are deployed all over the country and are prepared to increase readiness for the next stages of the war, with an emphasis on a significant ground operation,” the announcement read.

One week after Hamas' attack on Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the sites affected. Meanwhile, airstrikes and rocket barrages intensified in the war. 

With 1 million already displaced in Gaza — nearly half the population — Israel continued to call on Palestinians on the northern side to leave the area. Egypt reportedly was set to allow limited access to those with American citizenship to leave through the Rafah crossing but those negotiations were held up over the issue of aid. The State Department estimates that up to 600 Palestinian Americans still remain in Gaza. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued shuttle diplomacy on Friday and was returning to Saudi Arabia for second time in a day, and will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Blinken met his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan earlier in the day. Riyadh has offered its mediation in the conflict. 

As a ground invasion nears, the Israeli military faced clashes from the northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah claimed an attack on Friday. Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah was killed in the fire, while three other journalists were 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 and vowed support, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Doha.

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 Jordan, 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.

Click here for our most recent updates.

Live updates (all times EDT):

Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 

7:45 pm: US death toll up to 29, 15 unaccounted for

The US State Department said on Saturday that the number of Americans killed in the Hamas-Israel war has reached 29 people. “At this time, we are also aware of 15 US citizens who are unaccounted for, as well as 1 lawful permanent resident,” the statement read.

7:10 pm: Second US aircraft carrier heads to eastern Mediterranean

Washington dispatched a second aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean on Saturday to deter Iran and its proxy groups throughout the Middle East from taking advantage of Israel's war in Gaza.

The USS Eisenhower strike group includes the guided-missile cruiser US Philippine Sea, two guided-missile destroyers and a carrier air wing with nine air squadrons. The Eisenhower joins the USS Ford, the largest US aircraft carrier, already in the eastern Mediterranean.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Saturday following his visit to Israel and “discussed the importance of adhering to the law of war, including civilian protection obligations, and addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza” amid Israel’s impending assault against Hamas in Gaza.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the US navy's super carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) ("Ike") in the Mediterranean Sea on July 7, 2016. The US aircraft carrier is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the US 6th Fleet area of operations. Air Wings embarked aboard conducted strikes against the terrorist group ISIL in Libya, Iraq and Syria. / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the US Navy's carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) ("Ike") in the Mediterranean Sea on July 7, 2016. Credit: Getty

4:30 pm: Iranian FM, Hamas political bureau chief meet in Doha

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Hamas’ political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh in the Qatari capital, Doha, hours after his meeting with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi stressed the need for “urgent and decisive measures” against Israeli actions in Gaza in separate phone calls with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik on Saturday, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency.

4:05 pm: Abbas tells Biden he 'completely rejects' displacement of Palestinians

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told President Joe Biden in a phone call on Saturday that he “completely rejects displacement of Palestinians from Gaza," according to a readout released by the Palestinian Authority’s WAFA news agency. The US side has not yet released a readout of the call, which came as the Israeli army confirmed its preparation for a full Gaza invasion.

3:41 pm: Netanyahu, Biden speak for fifth time since Hamas attack 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Joe Biden spoke on the phone for the fifth time since Hamas attacked Israel. Netanyahu thanked Biden for the visits to Israel by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

3:30 pm: WHO calls Israel's evacuation orders 'death sentence'

The UN’s public health agency, the World Health Organization, strongly condemned Israel’s “repeated orders for the evacuation of 22 hospitals” in Gaza, calling them a “death sentence.” The agency said more than 2,000 patients are currently receiving treatment in those hospitals. 

3:28 pm: Israeli military hits targets in Syria after rocket fire 

The Israeli military has fired artillery toward the spot from which a rocket was fired at Israel, said spokesperson Daniel Hagari. Earlier in the day, Israeli aircraft and tanks fired at Hezbollah infrastructure targets in Lebanon in retaliation for more than 30 mortar bombs fired at Israel. Some of the mortar bombs reached Israeli territory, said Hagari.

3:00 pm: Blinken heads back to Saudi Arabia, will meet MBS

The State Department announced on Saturday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading back to Saudi Arabia for the second time today and will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh has voiced willingness to mediate in the conflict and MBS held a first call with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi this week.

2:20 pm: Nearly 600 Americans stuck in Gaza amid Egypt talks over Rafah, aid

The US State Department said on Saturday it is still working to get Americans out of Gaza as negotiations over the exit of foreigners and the delivery of aid continue. A State Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor on Saturday it has informed US citizens that they may want to move closer to Rafah if they deem it safe to do so. Adam Lucente reports.

1:28 pm: France says 17 citizens killed by Hamas, 15 missing 

The French Foreign Ministry reported that 17 of its nationals were killed by Hamas and 15 are missing. A statement issued by the Elysee Palace quoted President Emmanuel Macron as saying the liberation of French nationals is an absolute priority for the country, and that France has contacted the Iranian regime and demanded it not intervene in the conflict.

12:45 pm: Israel failed to protect its people, says Israel's national security adviser 

National security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel failed to assess Hamas' capabilities and protect Israeli citizens. Briefing journalists, Hanegbi said, “We did not live up to our mission; there is no disputing that the State of Israel did not live up to its mission." He also said that Israel was wrong in its assessment that Hamas has been weakened and was deterred after "learning the lesson of [the 2021 Gaza operation] Guardian of the Walls."

The IDF confirmed it had extended the deadline for Gazans to leave the north of the Strip and travel to the south "to get out of harm's way," but it did not specify what the new deadline is. "We will continue giving time to civilians to leave," said the army.

12:30 pm: Israeli army readies for full Gaza invasion 

The Israeli army has confirmed its preparation for a full Gaza invasion. “IDF battalions and soldiers are deployed all over the country and are prepared to increase readiness for the next stages of the war, with an emphasis on a significant ground operation,” the IDF said. 

11:30 am: Lebanon says Israel launched strike that killed, wounded journalists

Lebanon said on Saturday that Israel was behind the cross-border fire that killed a Reuters journalist and wounded six others near the border the previous day, calling it a “deliberate attack.” Read more here.

11:10 am: France on high alert, closes Louvre 

French authorities on Saturday ordered the Louvre Museum in Paris temporarily closed for security reasons. The decision comes against the backdrop of growing tensions in France following the Gaza war. Rina Bassist reports from Paris.

10:57 am: Netanyahu visits south of Israel 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Be’eri and Kfar Gaza in the south of the country for the first time since the attack by Hamas against Israel last Saturday. The two kibbutzim were the sites of mass killings of civilians in the attack.

PM's office does not say if taken in Be'eri or Kfar Aza kibbutzim (he visited both). Credit : Avi Ohaion/GPO Thanks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a site of Hamas' attack in south Israel. (Credit: Avi Ohaion/GPO)

10:05 am: Gaza death toll rises above 2,000

The number of people killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip has risen to more than 2,200, Reuters reported, citing authorities in the enclave.

9:43 am: Israeli strikes continue in Gaza ahead of ground invasion

The Palestinian Authority's WAFA news agency reported that 20 people were killed in an Israeli strike on a house in the central Gaza Strip. Earlier, the IDF tweeted that sirens went off in southern Israel due to rocket fire.

9:30 am: How did Israel misread Hamas' intentions and capabilities?

Colin Clarke explains a series of Israeli intelligence failures in the lead-up to Hamas' deadliest attack on Israel last Saturday. Read his piece here.

7:20 am: Israeli military says it killed senior Hamas leader

The Israeli military announced on Saturday that its airstrikes killed Murad Abu Murad, a senior Hamas commander who headed the group's aerial operations in Gaza City. The strike was part of the Israeli bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza overnight, including sites belonging to Hamas’ Nukhba commando forces who led Hamas' infiltration into Israel last Saturday. The Israeli army said that Abu Murad "largely took part in directing terrorists" in Hamas' attack. 

7:15 am: UNRWA counts nearly 1 million displaced in Gaza

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said in a press release that nearly 1 million people in Gaza — nearly half the population — have been displaced since the start of the Israel-Hamas war a week ago, including hundreds of thousands in the past 12 hours.

7:00 am: Aid flights land in Sinai Peninsula 

Two flights carrying relief aid for Gaza arrived at Egypt's Sinai Peninsula El Arish Airport, where assistance materials are being kept until delivery into the Strip can be secured, said the Red Crescent. According to Reuters, one of the two flights came from Turkey, which had sent already two airplanes with humanitarian aid.

6:30 am: Iranian FM meets Hezbollah leader in Beirut

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the Lebanese capital to discuss the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. In a press conference later in the day, Amir-Abollahian expressed confidence in the capabilities of Lebanese and Palestinian "resistance" groups.

"The resistance in the region has the ability to meet its needs by itself," he said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

6:30 am: Rafah crossing to open for Palestinians with US citizenship

The United States and Egypt have agreed to temporarily open the Rafah border crossing to enable nearly 600 American citizens who live in the Gaza Strip to evacuate.

The agreement was reached as part of talks between Washington and Cairo as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tours the region and visits Egypt. The Washington Post reported that the crossing will open Saturday between 12 and 5 pm local time.

5:30 am: Lebanon to complain to UNSC over killing of journalist

Lebanon's Foreign Ministry said it will submit a formal complaint to the UN Security Council over what it called "Israel's deliberate killing" of Issam Abdullah, a Lebanese national and Reuters video journalist, state media reported on Saturday.

Abdullah was killed in southern Lebanon on Friday when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck a group of journalists, a Reuters witness at the scene said.

On Saturday, the Israeli army said it attacked a Hezbollah target in Lebanon after intercepting drones that entered Israeli skies from its border with Lebanon and were heading toward Israel’s third-largest city, Haifa. One of the drones, said the IDF, shot a missile toward an Israeli aircraft.

4:37 am: Plane sent by WHO with medical supplies for Gaza lands in Egypt

A plane carrying medical supplies to support the urgent health needs of more than 300,000 people in Gaza has landed in Al Arish, Egypt, near the Rafah border crossing, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X.

"We're ready to deploy the supplies as soon as humanitarian access through the crossing is established," he said.

3:00 am: US F-15 fighter jets arrive in Middle East

US F-15 fighter jets arrived in the Middle East on Oct. 13 as Washington continued to bolster its forces in the region, the US Air Force said. The jets were deployed from the RAF Lakenheath base in the UK. Earlier in the week, the United States increased the number of A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft in the region.

Click here for our most recent updates.

For our previous live coverage, see:

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