CIA Director William Burns held several meetings in Qatar and Israel last week to secure the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip as the war continues in Gaza for the 44th day.
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):
Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023
7:00 pm: Israel releases video of hostages inside Al-Shifa hospital
The Israeli army and intelligence services released video footage from Oct. 7 in which it says Hamas members are seen transporting two hostages into Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
According to the IDF, the two hostages are a Nepalese citizen and a Thai citizen.
IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that soldier Noa Marciano, who was kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip, was first held at an apartment near Al-Shifa hospital and later taken to the hospital, where she was murdered.
"Noa was taken by Hamas terrorists to Al-Shifa hospital and murdered by a Hamas terrorist. A hospital — a place that is supposed to value life — was used to murder," he said. "Intelligence shows that additional hostages were in the hospital at different times."
According to the army, the bodies of Marciano and another hostage, Judith Weiss, were found at different buildings near Al-Shifa hospital.
3:00 pm: Russia, Iran call for a cease-fire
Russia and Iran's foreign ministers spoke on Sunday, calling for a cease-fire in Gaza as the war approached its 45th day. Russia said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at the request of Tehran.
"During the conversation, main attention was focused on the current situation in the zone of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"General concern was expressed about the ongoing armed confrontation in the Gaza Strip. … The need for an early cease-fire and urgent assistance to the affected civilian population was stressed,” it added.
1:10 pm: White House warns Israel to account for displaced civilians in southern Gaza
Speaking on CBS’ "Face the Nation" on Sunday, White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said that while Israel has the “right” to continue operations targeting Hamas in southern Gaza, the IDF must account for the displaced civilians sheltering there who fled an intense bombardment campaign in the north.
“We think that their operations should not go forward until those people, those additional civilians, have been accounted for," he said.
12:05 pm: WHO says Al-Shifa hospital has become 'death zone'
A joint United Nations and World Health Organization team was escorted by the IDF to Al-Shifa hospital for a one-hour tour Saturday to “assess the situation on the ground, conduct a rapid situational analysis, assess medical priorities and establish logistics options for further missions,” according to a WHO statement.
The statement described the hospital as a “death zone,” with ceased operations and multiple patient deaths after IDF troops stormed the complex, which Israel maintains the facility had served as a headquarters for Hamas militants. Hamas and hospital staff deny the claims.
“Lack of clean water, fuel, medicines, food and other essential aid over the last six weeks have caused Al-Shifa Hospital — once the largest, most advanced and best equipped referral hospital in Gaza — to essentially stop functioning as a medical facility,” the statement added.
9:00 am: Palestinian journalist Belal Jadallah killed in Israeli airstrike
Senior Palestinian journalist Belal Jadallah was killed on Sunday in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, multiple Palestinian outlets reported. Jadallah was chairman of the Palestinian Press House, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting and mentoring local journalists.
At least 42 journalists, mostly Palestinian, have been killed in the war, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It assessed that the Gaza war is the most deadly conflict for members of the press since the organization started keeping count in 1992.
7:00 am: Qatar says only 'logistical' problems impede hostage deal
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Sunday that Qatar is discussing a possible immediate cease-fire in Gaza with the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell.
The Qatari prime minister added that he believes that a deal can be reached on the hostages held by Hamas as the challenges facing a potential agreement are "very minor."
"The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical," he said at a joint press conference with Borrell in Doha.
6:00 am: Iran urges Muslim countries to cut ties with Israel
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Muslim states to "at least cut off political ties with Israel for a limited period of time," Tasnim news agency reported. His words come weeks after calling for an Islamic oil and food embargo on Israel.
During a joint summit between members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League in Riyadh last Sunday, Muslim states did not agree to impose wide-ranging sanctions on Israel as requested by Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi.
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