Hundreds of journalists sign letter protesting war coverage
Hundreds of journalists have signed an open letter condemning Israel’s killing of reporters and urging integrity in the Western media’s coverage of the war with Hamas.
“We are writing to urge an end to violence against journalists in Gaza and to call on Western newsroom leaders to be clear-eyed in coverage of Israel’s repeated atrocities against Palestinians,” it says, adding, “We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”
Accusing Israel of “wide scale suppression of speech,” it says, “We stand with our colleagues in Gaza and herald their brave efforts at reporting in the midst of carnage and destruction. Without them, many of the horrors on the ground would remain invisible.”
Among the signatories a journalists from The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Boston Globe and the Reuters news agency.
Fate of hostages whose release was promised remains unknown
JERUSALEM — There is no news this morning about the fate of two Israeli hostages whose release was promised by the military wing of the Islamic Jihad group yesterday.
Abu Hamza, a spokesperson for the Al-Quds Brigade, said in a video on the Telegram messaging app yesterday that Hanna Katsir, 77, would be released for health reasons because they could not provide her with medicine.
He also said that 12-year-old Yagil Yaqoub would be freed. In a statement earlier this week, Israel’s government said the child had a life-threatening peanut allergy.
The International Committee of the Red Cross told NBC News today that it would need guarantees. “We cannot force our way through the bullets,” spokesperson Alyona Synenko said.
Rafah border crossing open for around 600 foreign nationals today
The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is preparing to receive 595 foreign passport holders, according to the spokesman for Egypt’s North Sinai governorate.
Most of the foreign nationals are Russian, Ukrainian and Egyptian. So far, 3,828 have been able to leave Gaza, not including those slated to exit today. At the start of the war, there was an estimated 7,500 foreigners in Gaza.
Evacuations from the border crossing are heavily negotiated, and have included more than 400 U.S. citizens, among other countries, as well as injured Palestinians.
Four-hour pauses ‘cynical and cruel,’ U.N. official says
Israel’s decision to allow a daily four-hour humanitarian pause in combat operations in northern Gaza is “very cynical and cruel,” the U.N. special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories said today.
“There has been continuous bombings, 6,000 bombs every week on the Gaza Strip, on this tiny piece of land where people are trapped and the destruction is massive,” Francesca Albanese told reporters in the Australian city of Adelaide. “There won’t be any way back after what Israel is doing to the Gaza Strip.”
She added that the four-hour pause would “let people breathe and to remember what is the sound of life without bombing before starting bombing them again.”
“It’s very cynical and cruel,” Albanese added.
Blasts leave behind a scarred landscape in Rafah
Palestinians stand at the edge of a blast crater in Rafah, in southern Gaza, this morning.
Palestinian Authority ready to assume responsibility in Gaza in broader deal, Abbas says
President Mahmoud Abbas said today that his Palestinian Authority was ready to assume responsibilities in the Gaza Strip as part of a comprehensive political solution for the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.
His comments came as Israel continued its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, having vowed to “destroy” the militant group that has been entrenched in Gaza for decades and in power since 2006. Abbas’ Fatah-run Palestinian Authority partially administers the West Bank.
However, the Israeli government has yet to outline what it envisions for the densely populated enclave after the military operation ends. Netanyahu said last night that Israel had no intent to reoccupy or govern Gaza, having earlier suggested that his country would maintain “overall security responsibility” for the enclave when the conflict ends.
20 Gaza hospitals out of action, ‘intense violence’ at Al-Shifa: WHO
Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital was coming “under bombardment,” a spokesperson for the World Health Organization said today, adding that 20 hospitals in the besieged enclave were now out of action entirely.
Quoting colleagues on the ground, Margaret Harris told a news briefing that she didn’t have “the detail on Al-Shifa but we do know they are coming under bombardment.” Asked to elaborate, she said there was “intense violence” at the site.
At the same briefing, the U.N. humanitarian office said that there had been some “issues” getting aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which it said had been designed for pedestrians, not trucks.
Only 65 trucks carrying food, medicine, hygiene supplies and water, and seven ambulances, crossed from Egypt into Gaza on Wednesday, it said.
Fire burns at dawn along the Gaza border
An image taken from the Israeli side of the border with Gaza shows a fire burning at dawn in the northern Gaza Strip today.
‘Be strong’: Father of 8-year-old girl believed kidnapped by Hamas speaks out
TEL AVIV — Thomas Hand, an Irishman who has lived in Israel for decades, let his daughter sleep at a friend’s house on the other side of the Be’er kibbutz Oct. 6. The next day, after Hamas militants terrorized their village and Hand was rescued by Israeli soldiers, he was told that his 8-year-old daughter, Emily, had been found dead.
But that was wrong, as weeks later IDF soldiers told Hand they had found no sign of her body and that they thought she had been taken to Gaza as a hostage, along with her friend and her friend’s mother.
The Red Cross has been unable to provide Hand with any proof of life for his only daughter, but he remains hopeful that she is alive, and he said, “The evidence that I’ve got is enough to tell me she is alive.”
Emily will celebrate her 9th birthday next week.
“We love you, we are waiting for you, we want you to come home soon,” Hand said in a message to Emily. “Hopefully you’ll be here for your birthday. Be strong, we know you’re strong.”
Iran warns that an expansion of the war in Gaza is ‘inevitable’
Iran warned that the war in Gaza could lead to an expansion of the conflict, as Israel continues its aerial bombardment and its ground offensive presses deeper into Gaza.
“Due to the expansion of the intensity of the war against Gaza’s civilian residents, expansion of the scope of the war has become inevitable,” Reuters quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying to his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
While it is unclear what exactly Iran meant by an inevitable expansion, the country has long maintained a network of proxy militias across the Middle East.
‘More needs to be done’ to protect civilians, Blinken says
Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the news that Israel would formalize daily humanitarian pauses but said that “more needs to be done.”
“Far too many Palestinians have been killed, far too many have suffered these past weeks,” said Blinken, speaking in New Delhi at the end of a lengthy diplomatic trip across the Middle East and Asia.
“I think some progress has been made,” he said, but he added that “much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them.”
Heavy blasts hit near Gaza City hospitals
TEL AVIV — A whoosh as an object flies past, then a bang and then shouts and screams from people outside the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, all captured in graphic video that also showed people badly wounded and bloodied in the facility’s courtyard.
Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said in a statement that there had been multiple casualties at the hospital.
Gazan officials have also accused Israel of launching strikes near a number of hospitals in northern Gaza overnight and early this morning.
Dr. Mustafa Al-Kahlot, director of the Al-Rantisi and Al-Nasr hospitals for children, said at least one child had died while others were trapped. “We were bombed twice. The first was at the hospital gate and the second was directly on the departments,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said it “did not target civilians and operates in accordance with international law.”
Top U.S. and Indian officials discuss range of issues including Israel-Hamas war
Top diplomats and defense chiefs from India and the United States met today focusing on security issues involving the Indo-Pacific, China and the Israel-Hamas war.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and India have a strong partnership and would discuss matters with implications for the future.
“The future is now,” he told reporters.
“We are promoting a free and open and prosperous Asia-Pacific, including by strengthening our partnership in the Quad with Japan and Australia,” Blinken said in remarks at the start of the meeting.
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Israel strikes target in Syria
Israel’s military attacked a target in Syria that launched a unmaned aerial vehicle toward Eilat yesterday and hit a school, it said in a statement today.
The IDF would “respond severely to every aggression against Israeli territory,” the statement said.
It added that Israel held Syria responsible for “every terror activity emanating from its territory.”
Israeli tanks seen near children’s hospital in Gaza City
Multiple tanks can be seen in the vicinity of Gaza City’s Rantisi Specialist Hospital, in videos posted on social media and geolocated by NBC News.
The videos show two tanks stationed in destroyed alleys, indicating the advancement of Israeli troops deep in the city. Witnesses told an NBC News crew that military vehicles were seen about a half-mile away from the Al-Shifa medical complex, also in Gaza City.
“The occupation is present in the vicinity of the hospitals square in central Gaza and is demanding its evacuation,” the Hamas-run government media office told NBC News. NBC News has reached out to the IDF for comment.
The reports of Israeli ground forces in the vicinity of the hospitals came after local health officials reported bombardment in the area left multiple hospitals damaged. Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qudra said the attacks had not stopped all morning, causing a “major disaster.”
A child takes in the damage in Rafah
A young girl rides on top of a bicycle as she stares at the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli strike in Rafah, in southern Gaza, today.
Harvard shares plan for combating antisemitism after criticism
Harvard announced plans for fighting antisemitism on campus after intense criticism from students and alumni over its response to the Israel-Hamas war.
Prominent alumni have threatened to cut off donations, citing a letter signed by more than 30 student groups that blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas, as well as video of a pro-Palestinian protest at Harvard Business School on Oct. 18 that appeared to show a Jewish student being harassed.
In an email to the Harvard community yesterday, President Claudine Gay said the school would implement a “robust program of education and training” for students, faculty members and staff on antisemitism at Harvard and beyond.
“As part of this program, we will provide education about the roots of certain rhetoric that has been heard on our campus in recent weeks, and its impact on Jewish members of our community, to help us all better recognize antisemitism in daily life and interrupt its harmful influence,” she said.
More than 50,000 Gazans flee south again, U.N. says
More than 50,000 people left northern Gaza yesterday, fleeing south via a humanitarian corridor along the main traffic artery, Salah Ah Deen road, according to a report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Most of the people evacuated via foot or donkey carts, the report, published today, said. It added that “most were able to carry only few personal belongings.”
The corridor will remain open today from 10 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) to 4 p.m, Avichay Adraee, a spokesperson for the Israeli military wrote on X in Arabic, adding that northern Gaza was a “fierce combat zone.”
War is costing more than expected, Israel’s central bank chief says
War with Hamas is costing Israel more than expected, its central bank chief said, describing it as a “major shock” to the economy.
Though the Israeli economy is strong and stable, “there is no doubt the war will have fiscal implications and generate budget pressures,” Bank of Israel’s governor, Amir Yaron, said yesterday at an International Monetary Fund conference in Washington.
Israel’s gross domestic product growth is likely to shrink about 1% in 2023 and 2024, he said, while the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is likely to rise above 65% by the end of 2024, compared with just under 60% before the conflict began, “as costs are larger than was initially projected.” He said the estimates were based on the war remaining concentrated at Israel’s southern border and lasting until the end of this year.
“The Israeli economy has known how to function and to recover from difficult periods in the past and to return to prosperity rapidly,” Yaron said. “I have no doubt that the same will be the case this time.”
IDF says it killed several top Hamas commanders
The Israel Defense Forces said this morning its troops had killed three top Hamas commanders who it said were part of the Oct. 7. attacks.
Ahmed Musa, a company commander, and Omar Al-Hindi, a platoon commander, were located in western Jabaliya, it said today, adding that Mohammed Kahlout, head of a sniper array, was also killed.
“Furthermore, IDF troops struck a shipping container located at a beach, containing approximately 20 rocket launchers,” it added.
NBC News has not verified the claims.
International travel demand has fallen since Israel-Hamas war began, data shows
International flight bookings around the world have fallen since the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict, especially in the Americas, as people cancel trips to the Middle East and around the world, according to the travel analysis firm ForwardKeys.
“This war is a catastrophic, heartbreaking, human tragedy that we are all seeing daily on our TV screens,” Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at ForwardKeys, said in a statement. “That is bound to put people off (from) traveling to the region, but it has also dented consumer confidence in traveling elsewhere too.”
In the three weeks after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, international flight bookings from the Americas dropped 10%, compared with the number of tickets issued in the three weeks before the attack, according to flight ticketing data from the firm.
International flight bookings fell 5% across regions on average, impacting the global rebound in international travel from the pandemic.
A boy searches through the rubble of a home in Khan Younis today
‘We don’t seek to occupy’ Gaza, Netanyahu says
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Thursday, “we don’t seek to govern Gaza, we don’t seek to occupy” but that he is committed to destroying Hamas.
“We’re going to continue until we eradicate Hamas. Nothing will stop that,” Netanyahu said in an interview on Fox News.
Netanyahu did not give an estimated time for the military offensive against Hamas in Gaza to last. “I’ve set goals. I didn’t set a timetable, because you know, it can take more time. I wish it will take little time,” he said.
Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News this week that Israel would have “the overall security responsibility” for Gaza for an indefinite period after the war. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said subsequently that it was clear that “Gaza cannot be continued to be run by Hamas,” but that “it’s also clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza.”
A look at NBC News’ latest coverage on the Israel-Hamas war
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