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Day 28 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Friday, Nov. 3


As Hezbollah’s leader spoke, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli officials to push for a humanitarian pause in Gaza.

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):

Friday, Nov. 3, 2023

4:30 pm: Israeli military sees diminished Hezbollah threat

Following the speech by Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, Israeli sources who spoke to Al-Monitor saw a diminished threat of a Lebanon front war, Ben Caspit reports.

3:02 pm: US aircraft carriers conduct exercises in Mediterranean

Two US Navy aircraft carriers and their accompanying ships and planes partook in military exercises in the Mediterranean Sea over the past three days, the US Navy said Friday.

“Sailors and naval aviators from the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group and those of the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group trained on high-value unit defense, ballistic missile defense, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations, and maritime security operations,” the Navy announced.

The US Sixth Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney joined the exercises, as did two Italian Navy frigates.

2:57 pm: Blinken presses Israeli leaders on West Bank settler attacks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel’s leaders assured him they would confront the uptick in settler violence that is forcing Palestinians from their homes in the occupied West Bank, Elizabeth Hagedorn reports.

Blinken returned to Tel Aviv on Friday — his fourth trip since Hamas’ attacks on Oct. 7 — amid a US push for humanitarian pauses in the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 9,200 people and wounded over 23,000, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

1:12 pm: Al-Monitor’s weekly webinar on Israel-Hamas war

This week’s edition featured Al-Monitor’s columnist Ali Hashem, senior news editor Joyce Karam and Palestine columnist Daoud Kuttab discussing updates such as Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s Friday speech and calls by US President Joe Biden for a humanitarian pause in the fighting. Check out the full video here.

12:21 pm: Funeral for Palestinian journalist held in Gaza

A funeral was held in the Gaza Strip Friday for Palestinian journalist Mohammad Abu Hatab, whose network said he was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Dozens of journalists have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war as of Friday, the majority of them Palestinians. Adam Lucente reports.

11:21 am: 24 Israeli soldiers killed since beginning of ground operation in Gaza

The Israeli military released on Friday the names of five more soldiers who were killed in combat in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of Israeli soldiers killed since Israel launched its ground invasion in the enclave to 24.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Friday that Israeli troops are advancing “according to the plan” and that attacks on Hamas targets “will continue and increase."

11:01 am: Pentagon confirms flying unarmed drones over Gaza

The Pentagon on Friday publicly confirmed that the US military has been flying unarmed drones over Gaza to gather intelligence related to hostage recovery, following reporting by Reuters on Thursday.

Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder acknowledged, “In support of hostage recovery efforts, the US is conducting unarmed UAV flights over Gaza as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts.” He added, “These UAV flights began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.”

10:20 am: Hezbollah chief says Lebanon front 'open to all possibilities'

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned that the situation on the Lebanese front hinges on Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon.

“Our Lebanese front is open to all possibilities,” he said, adding, “We should all be ready and prepared for all possibilities and scenarios to come.”

Nasrallah also warned the United States over its involvement in the conflict, and said the US threats do not intimidate Hezbollah.“We received messages that the US will bomb Lebanon and even Iran if we continue our operations in southern Lebanon. We tell them, ’Your warships in the Eastern Mediterranean do not scare us and never scared us before,’” he said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is visiting Israel, said Washington is “determined that there not be a second or third front opened in this conflict.”

“We’re committed to deterring aggression from any part, and we’ll take the steps necessary to deal with it,” he said.

10:05 am: Nasrallah says Hezbollah entered battle Oct. 8, hints at increased activities

Commenting on the Lebanese situation, Nasrallah said the movement entered the battle on Oct. 8, one day after Hamas’ attack.

He addressed those expecting an all-out war with Israel, saying, “For those who are asking Hezbollah to engage in open warfare, what is happening on the border may appear moderate, but that is not the case. And we will not be content with this.” 

He added, “The operations on the border have led to a state of fear and panic among the [Israeli] and American leaderships that the front will head toward further escalation or lead to a large-scale war. This is a realistic possibility that could happen, and the enemy must take it into serious consideration.”

Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah’s actions had forced Israel to deploy forces along its northern border instead of to Gaza.

10:00 am: Blinken gets 'clear commitment' from Israel on West Bank violence

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel’s leaders assured him they would address the uptick in settler violence that is displacing Palestinians in the West Bank.

“What I heard today was a clear commitment from the government to deal with extremist violence in the West Bank — to condemn it, to take action to prevent it, to take action against those who perpetrate it,” Blinken said.

The Israeli rights group Yesh Din has documented more than 100 incidents involving settler attacks on Palestinians since Oct. 7.

9:50 am: Hezbollah’s leader implicates US in Gaza deaths, praises Iraqi 'resistance'

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said the events in Gaza and the scenes of women and children being pulled from under rubble are exposing the false claims circulated by international media that Israel is a democratic state and a state of law, hiding the reality of “this barbaric Israeli entity.”

Nasrallah also accused the United States of direct involvement in the war in Gaza and of being responsible for the “massacres” being carried out in the Palestinian territory and elsewhere in the region over the past years. This is why, he continued, the Iraqi “Islamic resistance” made the “wise” decision to attack US bases in Iraq and Syria.

9:45 am: Blinken pushes Israel on Gaza aid, protecting civilians

Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed Israel’s leaders to implement “humanitarian pauses” to facilitate the hostages’ release and allow aid delivery in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv, Blinken said he discussed with the Israelis “tangible steps” to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance, including bringing fuel to hospitals.

“A number of legitimate questions were raised in our discussions today, including how to use any period of pause to maximize the flow of humanitarian assistance, how to connect a pause to the release of hostages, how to ensure that Hamas doesn’t use these pauses or arrangements to its own advantage,” Blinken said.

9:27 am: Hezbollah denies any involvement in Oct. 7 Hamas attack

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said that the Hamas incursion into Israel that saw the murder of 1,400 Israelis was “100% Palestinian in terms of decision and execution,” responding to claims that the Lebanese militant group had a hand in the attacks.

“Even the Palestinians had kept it secret even from their fellow Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza, let alone other resistance factions across the resistance axis,” Nasrallah added.

He accused global institutions including the UN Security Council, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League and the European Union of not “moving a finger” to help the Palestinians despite the historic occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel and the violence that has come with it.

9:15 am: Situation in Palestine over past years led to Oct. 7 events, Nasrallah says

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said the situation in the Palestinian territories has been extremely difficult in light of the actions taken by the current Israeli government, which he described as “extremist.”

Nasrallah said four main issues led to the Oct. 7 “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” launched by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing. He listed the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails, the Israeli violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, the daily killings, arrests and demolitions in the West Bank, settlement expansion and the years of siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

9:00 am: Hezbollah chief breaks silence in first public speech since war began

Thousands of people gathered in south and east Lebanon ahead of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s first public speech since the beginning of the Hamas-Israel war and cross-border fire along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Crowds waved the Hezbollah and Palestinian flags as they awaited Nasrallah’s televised speech. Iran-backed Hezbollah has been engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges with Israel in south Lebanon since Hamas’ surprise attack on southern Israel Oct. 7, raising fears of a wider regional conflict.

7:12 am: Gaza death toll reaches 9,257

At least 9,257 Palestinians, including 3,826 children and 2,405 women, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the enclave said. Another 23,516 have been injured. The ministry said in a statement that Israel had struck 102 medical institutions, putting 16 hospitals and 32 primary care centers out of service. It further called on concerned authorities to allow the entry of urgently needed medical aid and teams as well as fuel as the health sector continues to deteriorate.

7:00 am: Blinken meets with war cabinet in Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is taking part in an expanded meeting of Israel’s war cabinet. After arriving in Israel Friday morning, he met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before joining the cabinet gathering. American officials said before Blinken's departure to Israel that he aims for Israel to agree to a "humanitarian pause" to enable continued negotiations for the release of hostages as well as the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza residents.

5:30 am: Israeli planes strike south Lebanon ahead of Hezbollah chief's speech

Cross-border fire between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah continued ahead of the much anticipated speech of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has remained silent since the Hamas-Israel war erupted on Oct. 7. The official National News Agency reported Israeli strikes in areas around the villages of Ayta al-Shaab and Rmeish along the Israel-Lebanon border. Another Israeli strike was reported in the village of Tayr Harfa. The Tayr Harfa municipality said the Israeli attack destroyed the solar energy project that had been the main source of water for residents.

4:14 am: Gazan workers in Israel sent back to Gaza Strip

Thousands of Gazan workers and laborers in Israel have been sent back to Gaza, reported Reuters. Some of them returned through the Kerem Shalom crossing near Rafah. The move comes after Israel’s security cabinet decided Thursday to sever all ties with Gaza and send all Gazan workers back to the enclave.

1:18 am: US uses drones over Gaza to search for hostages

The United States has been flying surveillance drones over the Gaza Strip in an effort to locate hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, said the Times of Israel, citing American officials. One of the officials said the drone flights have been ongoing for more than a week now. At least 10 Americans remain unaccounted for.

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