Biden Says 14 Americans Killed in Hamas Attacks
As Israeli soldiers retook two dozen towns and villages near Gaza from Hamas fighters, the scale of the atrocities visited on civilians was coming into focus: in Kfar Azza, a kibbutz a mile and a half from Gaza, more than a dozen bloated bodies were lying on the ground. Soldiers carried slain residents on stretchers. Houses had been ransacked or burned down. “It’s not a war or a battlefield; it’s a massacre,” said Maj. Gen. Itai Veruv, an Israeli commander on the scene.
In Washington, President Biden said more than 1,000 civilians had been killed by Hamas fighters, including women, children and elders, acts he characterized as“pure unadulterated evil.” He said that 14 Americans were among them. Mr. Biden also confirmed that Americans were among those Hamas militants had taken hostage and threatened to kill if Israeli struck at civilians without warning.“This is terrorism,” he said as he spoke to the nation from the White House, vowing unequivocally to stand with Israel.
The national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, later said that at least 20 Americans were missing, but that it was not clear how many were being held.
The Israeli military said it had recovered the bodies of around 1,500 Palestinian assailants since Saturday morning, offering one of the first clear indications of the size of the assault. Israel continued to hammer Gaza with airstrikes on Tuesday, reducing some buildings to rubble. Officials in Gaza said hospitals and schools were hit. Health officials in Gaza said on Tuesday that 900 Palestinians have been killed, including 260 children, and 4,500 others have been wounded in the last four days.
Here’s what else to know:
President Biden bristled with indignation during his 10-minute address at the White House, appearing as angry as he ever has in public since becoming president. In remarks after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he denounced the attack as “evil” multiple times. Victims, he said, had been “butchered” and “slaughtered,” and he decried the “bloodthirstiness” of the assailants.
Israel’s government approved the call-up of an additional 60,000 reservists, raising the total number mobilized over the last three days to 360,000, the most in such a short period since the country’s founding.
The United Nations’ top human rights official condemned the “horrifying mass killings” and executions allegedly committed by Palestinian armed groups. At the same time, he warned that Israel’s announcement of a “complete siege” of Gaza would worsen the “already dire” humanitarian conditions there.
Israel has asked the United States for more weapons, including precision-guided munitions for combat aircraft and interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defense system. Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel since Saturday, putting a strain on Israel’s defenses. Israel has struck more than a thousand targets in Gaza in retaliation.
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The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to a press release from the U.S. Central Command. The Pentagon had previously announced that it was moving the carrier closer to Israel to reassure Israelis of the United States’ commitment to their security.
“The arrival of these highly capable forces to the region is a strong signal of deterrence should any actor hostile to Israel consider trying to take advantage of this situation,” said Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, the leader of the Central Command.
Hamas fighters launched coordinated attacks on at least four communications towers close to the Gaza border in the initial phase of their cross-border assault on Israel — the most sophisticated operation yet to disrupt the infrastructure in the area.
The attacks occurred within a few hours Saturday morning, alongside strikes on observation towers, according to a New York Times analysis of propaganda videos and satellite images.
Footage posted online on Saturday by the Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, showed a quadcopter drone hovering near a communications tower before it dropped an improvised explosive munition on generators at the base of the tower. The video also showed heavy smoke billowing from the area in the apparent aftermath of the attack. The sun is just rising over the horizon in the video, indicating the tower was struck shortly after Hamas began firing rockets at Israel.
A breach in the border fence is visible in the video, about a thousand feet from the communications tower. The tower is two-and-a-half miles west of the Be’eri kibbutz, near the northern end of Gaza, where Hamas fighters massacred more than 100 Israelis and took others as hostages on Saturday.
The other three towers — which are spaced between one and three miles apart along Israel’s border with Gaza — are seen smoking in satellite imagery captured at 11:31 a.m. on Saturday, several hours after Hamas’s attack on Israel began. It is unclear whether drones or some other weapon caused the damage.
From satellite imagery, all four of the communications towers look similar. But they could be used for different purposes, said Michael Armstrong, an associate professor of operations research at Brock University in Canada and an expert in military strategy.
Some may be for border surveillance, while others could be involved in the transmitting and receiving of data, such as military communications, he said.
The tower in the Qassam footage may be used for collecting intelligence as well as for facilitating cellular service, according to a former U.S. defense official who reviewed the video and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Israel’s surveillance capabilities. The former official added that the height of the towers, and their proximity to the border, indicates that they are used to monitor Gazans.
Mr. Armstrong said Hamas most likely targeted these towers to “blind Israeli commanders and prevent communication among their units.” He added that the munitions used would not need to be complex — they would just need to create shrapnel that could damage infrastructure like antennas, cameras and cables.
Theattacks also included multiple strikes on Israeli observation towers used for visual surveillance along the border. The impact of the attacks on the towers’ functionality is not yet known.
In another video shared by Al Qassam, the same improvised munition delivered by drone near the Be’eri kibbutz was used to blow up a machine gun turret on one of the Israeli Defense Forces’ observation posts along the border.
Hamas has tried low-tech methods of attacking communications towers in the past — in 2018, a tower was targeted with a flaming kite in the Gaza Strip — but Mr. Armstrong said the attacks on Saturday were its first successful deployment of armed drones that he had seen.
Reporting contributed by John Ismay in Washington. Graphics by Aaron Byrd.
Israel’s fighter jets and artillery have struck targets in Gaza frequently over the years as part of a longstanding conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. But residents of Gaza said that from the first day of the war, this time has felt worse.
Gazans say that the strikes have been indiscriminate and have hit structures that are normally safe, such as schools, hospitals and mosques. Israel has said its strikes are targeting sites connected with Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, including the homes of members.
Israel has given broad warnings for people to leave certain neighborhoods or towns, but has acknowledged they are not as extensive or specific as they have been in the past, and many residents say they have not received them. Gazans say they have nowhere to go anyway.
Entire families have been killed in their homes, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.
The strikes came as part of Israel’s response to Saturday’s attack, when hundreds of Palestinian gunmen swept across Israel’s border with Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers and firing thousands of rockets as far away as Tel Aviv.
Israel has acknowledged it is striking with extraordinary severity, saying that is because of the level of harm that fighters had wrought during their assault. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said in a briefing on Tuesday: “This is not like previous rounds.”
On Tuesday, Israeli warplanes continued to pound Gaza with airstrikes, reducing some buildings to rubble. Palestinian authorities said 900 people had been killed and about 168 buildings had been damaged since Saturday, among them seven hospitals and 48 schools.
On the ground, residents say they have felt an intense level of fear, with some describing the relentless airstrikes as being like multiple earthquakes underfoot.
“What they are doing shouldn’t be allowed,” said one woman sheltering at the Al Shifa hospital, who did not give her full name. She said she fled to the hospital cradling her week-old baby after an airstrike hit near their home in northern Gaza, close to the border with Israel.
She and 19 members of her family had been sheltering for three days in a hall in a part of the hospital that is under construction. They were joined by many others who fled the strikes and slept in the hallways or in the courtyards outside.
Telephone and internet service were cut off in many parts of Gaza on Monday after an Israeli strike hit the building housing the Palestine Telecommunications Company in the city center. The U.N. humanitarian agency said Israeli airstrikes have damaged water, sanitation and hygiene facilities affecting more than 400,000 people in Gaza.
And after days of strikes, entire neighborhoods no longer look like they did just a couple of days ago.
In the upscale Gaza City neighborhood of Al-Rimal, where the Israeli army said on Tuesday that it had carried out its main airstrikes overnight, buildings were so damaged they bled into each other. Landmarks had been erased and entire streets have taken on a dark gray hue because of the dust.
Thousands of people fled Al-Rimal, but many have nowhere to go; Gaza has no bomb shelters and those who went to the homes of relatives often found that they too were fleeing.
A woman, 38, at the Al-Shifa hospital morgue Tuesday, who did not give her full name, was waiting along with other family members to take the body of her niece and her two young daughters so that they could be buried. On Monday, she said, the three were killed when an airstrike hit their home and they were crushed under the rubble.
“No warning,” she said.
Israeli army Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said that the Israeli Air Force was too stretched to fire warning strikes — known as “roof knocks” — that it has often fired in previous Gaza conflicts to encourage Palestinian civilians to leave an area before it is hit with larger missiles.
Authorities sent text messages to Palestinian phone numbers in one area on Saturday night and have posted on social media about other areas. Residents in a few high-rise buildings have gotten alerts before airstrikes destroyed them, but otherwise, Gazans said, there have been few specific warnings.
Colonel Hecht said that Israel was telling Gazans to move from areas that would be targeted, and advised them to leave through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Hours later on Tuesday, the Israeli military bombed the crossing, shutting it down.
Patrick Kingsley and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.
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The renowned Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, who was born in Argentina to Jewish parents who later relocated to Israel and started the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with the Palestinian intellectual Edward Said in 1999, decried the violence in Israel in a statement on Tuesday.
“Edward Said and I always believed that the only path to peace between Israel and Palestine is a path based on humanism, justice, equality and an end to the occupation rather than military action,” Barenboim said in a statement posted on social media. “I find myself today grounded in this belief more strongly than ever.”
The European Union’s top diplomat on Tuesday offered the first public hint of criticism of Israel from a Western ally since the country suffered a devastating surprise attack launched from Gaza on Saturday, saying that some of Israel’s retaliatory actions were against international humanitarian law.
The official, Josep Borrell Fontelles, said that “Israel has the right” to defend itself, but that it had to be done in accordance “with international law, humanitarian law, and some decisions are contrary to international law.” He was speaking to reporters after convening an emergency meeting of all 27 E.U. foreign ministers to discuss the bloc’s position on the conflict, a session that took place at the margins of an E.U. meeting with Gulf countries in Muscat, Oman.
He also stressed the E.U.’s condemnation of Hamas, describing its attacks as “mass murder of civilians.”
The comments demonstrated the fine line the European Union is attempting to navigate between supporting Israel, a key ally that the bloc has grown significantly closer to in recent years in the face of mass terrorism, and standing by the Palestinian civilian population, a long-term core policy of the bloc.
Mr. Borrell also offered assurances that aid to Palestinians from the European Union — their largest benefactor — would continue to flow, saying that suspending it would play into Hamas’s hands. And he called for “no blockage of water, food or electricity to the civilian population in Gaza,” and to open humanitarian corridors to facilitate people escaping to Egypt.
His comments came a day after Israel ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip, with its defense minister, Yoav Gallant, saying that “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” would be allowed in. Israel has responded to Saturday’s attack with a barrage of airstrikes in Gaza that it says targeted Hamas centers of operation; Gazans say that the strikes have been indiscriminate and that they have nowhere to escape to.
Mr. Borrell’s reassurances on humanitarian aid appeared meant to end any confusion after contradictory statements by E.U. officials on Monday created the impression that the bloc was moving to suspend most of its aid to the Palestinians.
The E.U. has earmarked more than $1 billion for the Palestinian civilian population between 2021 and 2024. The money is directed to the United Nations and other agencies that offer services, food and medical aid to civilians, and also directly funds the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Borrell said that, after talking to all E.U. ministers, “an overwhelming majority, with maybe two or three exceptions, of the member states, stated clearly that the cooperation with the Palestinian Authority has to continue and the funding has to continue and the payments should not be interrupted.”
“Not all the Palestinian people are terrorists,” he added. “So a collective punishment against all Palestinians will be unfair and unproductive, will be against our interest and against the interest of the peace.”
Oct. 10, 2023, 3:56 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 3:56 p.m. ET
Reporting from Beirut
The Israel Defense Forces said it had detected a number of launches from Syria into Israeli territory, according to a statement.
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The Israeli military said the projectiles apparently fell in an open area and that it is firing artillery and mortar shells in return. It is the first time since fighting erupted on Saturday that fire has been exchanged along Israel’s border with the country. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
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A funeral was held on Tuesday in the Tzur Shalom cemetery in Kiryat Bialik, Israel, for Noa Englander, who had attended the music festival held in southern Israel where hundreds of young people were murdered by Hamas terrorists.
For several days, Englander’s family was unable to locate her and her partner, who were at the festival together, but her body was found on Monday. Her partner is still missing.
The White House confirmed on Tuesday that about 20 Americans remained missing and may be held hostage by Hamas as President Biden issued a scathing condemnation of the attack on Israel and vowed to stand by the embattled Middle East ally without equivocation.
Mr. Biden bristled with indignation during a 10-minute statement at the White House after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appearing as angry as he has in public since becoming president. He denounced the attack as “evil” multiple times and used words and phrases like “atrocities,” “sickening,” “abhorrent,” “brutality,” and “violation of every code of human morality” to describe it.
“This was an act of sheer evil,” Mr. Biden said in the State Dining Room. “More than 1,000 civilians slaughtered — not just killed, slaughtered — in Israel, among them at least 14 American citizens killed. Parents butchered using their bodies trying to protect their children, stomach-turning reports of babies being killed, entire families slain.”
The president, who was flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, confirmed without elaboration that at least some of the people seized by Hamas during its lightning blitz over the weekend were American citizens in addition to the 14 Americans known to have been killed. “We now know that American citizens are being held by Hamas,” Mr. Biden said.
Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser, later told reporters that “20 or more” Americans were unaccounted for, though it is not yet clear how many of them are in the hands of Hamas. He said the government is in regular contact with their families.
Mr. Sullivan said some stocks of interceptors kept in Israel had already been released for use and that more shipments of ammunition and other weapons would be on the way. “You can expect American planes flying into Israel,” he said.
Mr. Sullivan offered nothing but supportive words and said the administration did not plan to lecture Israel about how to defend itself. But in a nod to concerns about Palestinian civilians caught up in the war, he suggested that the United States was working on a way to allow Gazans to escape the punishing Israeli airstrikes.
“I’m not going to get into the details of that, about a specific crossing or so forth,” he said. “Only to say that that is something we are focused on and we are working on.”
Mr. Biden spoke before cameras shortly after he and Ms. Harris wrapped up a call with Mr. Netanyahu in which they repeated their vow to support Israel. It was Mr. Biden’s third conversation with Mr. Netanyahu since the attack began on Saturday.
In addition to dispatching the first shipment of military equipment to Israel, the president has deployed ships and warplanes closer to the area in hopes of deterring Iran, Hezbollah or any other force from escalating the war. Mr. Sullivan said Congress would be asked to approve more aid.
The president made no effort to urge restraint from Israel as it responds. “Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond, indeed has a duty to respond to these vicious attacks,” he said.
And he rejected suggestions that the attack was understandable if not justified given what critics consider to be Israel’s repression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
“There’s no justification for terrorism,” he said flatly. “There’s no excuse. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the state of Israel and the murder of Jewish people. They use Palestinian civilians as human shields. Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard for who pays the price.”
During a briefing for reporters afterward, Mr. Sullivan made clear that the issue is personal for Mr. Biden, who has been a strong supporter of Israel for more than half a century. “You’ve heard his voice, and this has been a deeply emotional time for all of us,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters, his own face reddening and his voice thick with emotion. “All of us have developed close relationships with our Israeli counterparts.”
Speaking of the president, Mr. Sullivan said, “He can hear the pain in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s voice when he talks with him.” He added: “This is not about policy or strategy. This is personal for us.”
Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.
Oct. 10, 2023, 3:31 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 3:31 p.m. ET
Reporting from Jerusalem
At least 900 Palestinians have been killed, including 260 children, and another 4,500 have been wounded since the assaults began on Saturday morning, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said.
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Reporting from Washington
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken plans to leave for Israel from Washington on Wednesday and arrive on Thursday, said Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman. The secretary plans to meet with senior Israeli officials. “Our support for Israel is unwavering,” Miller said, adding that Blinken will carry “a message of solidarity and support.”
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Reporting from Washington
Miller said the secretary of state has been focused on three things in conversations with foreign officials: one, ensuring Israel gets the support it needs, including military aid; two, asking that messages be conveyed to actors hostile to Israel not to take advantage of the situation by carrying out attacks or engaging in other violence; and three, getting help in securing the release of all hostages held by Hamas. Miller said the first tranche of armament aid from the United States should arrive there soon.
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Reporting from Washington
Miller said the U.S. government has no evidence that Iran helped plan the Hamas terrorist attacks on Saturday or supported the operation. He said Iranian officials know in general that Hamas carries out activities against Israel, but there is no sign yet that those officials were aware of “the precise timing or scope of what occurred.”
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Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser at the White House, said the United States believes there are 20 missing Americans after the Hamas attacks in Israel. He said not all of those are necessarily hostages. “We do not know how many are hostages,” he said.
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“Iran is complicit in this attack, in a broad sense,” says Sullivan. But he said the United States does not have confirmation of whether Iran knew about the attack or was central in coordinating “this particular gruesome attack.” He said that could change as intelligence agencies work in the days ahead.
“Welcome,” said the sign at the entrance to Kfar Azza, a lush Israeli village just across some fields from the border with Gaza. On the pathway, another sign pointed the way to the gym and the swimming pool.
Then I saw the legs of a bloated corpse dressed in fatigues poking out from under a bush, and beside it a khaki vest with the insignia of a commando unit of Hamas, the group that controls the Palestinian coastal enclave, and staged Saturday’s assault on Israel.
Past the village dining hall, kindergarten and culture center, the tidy rows of one-story beige houses came into view. And the scale of the horror began to unfold.
Four days after hundreds of Hamas gunmen breached Israel’sborder fence in the most brazen attack on the country in decades, overrunning two dozen towns and communities, including this one, in a bloody killing spree, soldiers and rescue workers on Tuesday began the gruesome task of extricating the bodies.
They moved slowly, house to house, for fear that Hamas gunmen could still be hiding inside or have booby-trapped them. Live grenades lay in wait, to be neutralized by sappers. They carried out one slain resident in a body bag on a stretcher and placed it in the back of a truck. Then another. And another.
A New York Times photographer, Sergey Ponomarev, and I were among the first journalists allowed into the village since the deadly assault. We were accompanied by the Israeli military into the area that is still generally off-limits.
After days of stunned national numbness and chaos, the dimensions of the atrocity that took place here were now coming into clear focus. In all, more than 1,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed in Israel. Nobody could say how many of them were lying here, in Kfar Azza, but it is emerging as one of the worst sites of the bloodshed. Soldiers and rescue workers said scores, possibly hundreds, had been slaughtered here, including grandparents, infants and children.
“It’s not a war or a battlefield; it’s a massacre,” said Maj. Gen. Itai Veruv, an Israeli commander on the scene. “It’s something I never saw in my life, something more like a pogrom from our grandparents’ time.”
At least a dozen corpses were strewn along the pathways and on lawns gathering flies, some of them of Hamas fighters, others of Israelis loosely covered with blankets. The smell of death was in the air.
Kfar Azza, a kibbutz, or communal village, was founded in 1951, three years after the establishment of the State of Israel. The early settlers were long considered the pioneering, salt-of-the-earth socialist elite of the country. Like those who live in most other kibbutz communities, the residents are generally left-leaning liberals.
More recently, as Israel shifted to the right, the kibbutzniks, as they are known, have been dismissed by supporters of the ultranationalist government as privileged snobs, or worse, as traitors.
Before the assault, Kfar Azza was the picture of a close-knit community of about 750 souls, with a social club and a synagogue. It is now a desolate canvas of life interrupted. Some residents are missing and may be among the roughly 150 hostages taken into Gaza. Those who survived the blood bath have been evacuated to hotels around the country.
As we went through the village, we heard booms of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, blasts of Israeli artillery fire into the enclave and the rat-a-tat of gunfire as Israeli soldiers crouching in the fields continued to secure the area. In between hung an eerie silence.
In one small house, in the part of the kibbutz where young adults lived, two bodies lay on the floor. The white ceiling was pockmarked with holes from bullets and shrapnel, like a macabre negative of a starry night sky. The house had been ransacked, but a richly colored spice rack remained intact. Other houses had been burned, their interiors entirely charred.
A few homes were untouched, frozen in time, with children’s strollers and bicycles left on the porch.
But nearby were the remains of a wrecked pickup and an improvised paraglider, two of the vehicles used by the gunmen to cross the border.
One survivor of the assault, Shay Lee Atari, a singer, has spoken out from her hospital bed to the Israeli news media, cradling her 1-month-old baby and describing how her partner had helped her and their daughter escape as gunmen entered their home.
She said she ran and hid in a storeroom, covering herself and her baby, Shaya, with sacks of soil she found there. When that shelter was no longer safe, she ran across a lawn, under fire, and knocked on doors until a family let them in. In all, she said, they waited for 27 hours until they were rescued. Her partner, Yahav Wiener, is missing, Ms. Atari said.
“I really don’t know where our state was,” she said, echoing the anger and bewilderment of many Israelis over how the country, with its vaunted military and intelligence capabilities, could have been caught so off-guard and unprepared.
“They abandoned us,” she said, adding bitterly: “They were on Twitter. That’s where they were.”
The smiling faces of other victims can be seen in family photographs being circulated in commemoration by hurting family and friends on social media. There is the Kedem Siman Tov family — parents and three young children, all killed. And there is Itai and Hadar Berdichevsky, who hid their 10-month-old twins before they were gunned down. The twins were rescued 13 hours later.
The shock and rage now reverberating through Israeli society comes on top of months of upheaval over the government’s plans to curb the country’s judiciary, deepening longstanding social, political and ethnic rifts.
An antigovernment banner was hanging high up on the kibbutz water tower in Kfar Azza. It bore the legend, “Shame!”
Below it, a few yards away, six more bodies of residents in black body bags were laid out on the ground.
Oct. 10, 2023, 2:40 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 2:40 p.m. ET
Reporting from Washington
That was one of the sharpest, even angriest condemnations of terrorism in Israel that I’ve ever heard from an American president in covering the White House since the 1990s. Biden offered no equivocation and made no effort to urge restraints on Israel’s response. He wanted to make sure there was no daylight between him and Israel at this time.
Oct. 10, 2023, 2:36 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 2:36 p.m. ET
Biden said that he first visited Israel over 50 years ago as a newly elected senator. Biden is facing scrutiny over his age and ability to lead. His long experience with Israel will no doubt be emphasized by his advisers — and, likely, his campaign — in the days ahead.
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Biden confirms that Americans are among those held captive: “We now know that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas.”
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Biden warns other governments not to step into the conflict in hopes of taking advantage of the situation. “I have one word: Don’t.”
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Biden said the U.S. would help provide intelligence to save hostages held by Hamas, who include American citizens. But he did not suggest that American troops would directly assist with rescue missions.
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Biden says Congress would be asked to take “urgent action” to help the security interests of allies and partners.
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Biden said that the United States was sending additional military assistance to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome rocket interceptor system.
Oct. 10, 2023, 2:31 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 2:31 p.m. ET
Reporting from Washington
Biden confirms that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas but does not say how many.
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Biden is giving the Israeli government room to respond with strong force, but still proding them to try to minimize civilian casualties by arguing an American response to a terror attack would be swift and decisive, but would adhere to the laws of war.
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Biden delivered a forceful condemnation of Hamas as a terrorist group, as many have called on him to do, and defended Israel’s right to respond to the attack. Biden, who has long been a supporter of Israel and also has a long relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that he reminded the prime minister that both the United States and Israel are democracies and must act “according to the rule of law.”
Oct. 10, 2023, 2:29 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 2:29 p.m. ET
Reporting from Washington
Biden is flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in the State Dining Room, both with grim looks on their faces.
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Biden says Hamas does not stand for the rights of Palestinian people, but rather use them as “human shields.”
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Biden is connecting Hamas’s campaign to the brutality of the Islamic State, which gruesomely murdered American hostages and civilians in Syria and Iraq.
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Hamas has threatened to execute hostages, Biden says. “The brutality of Hamas’s blood thirstiness brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism.”
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Biden, with anger in his voice, said that babies are among those who have been killed, and says that women have been “raped, assaulted and paraded as trophies.”
Oct. 10, 2023, 2:26 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 2:26 p.m. ET
Biden says Hamas’s attack that slaughtered 1,000 people, including at least 14 Americans, was "pure unadulterated evil."
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The Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, released the names of three of its employees who were killed in the recent attacks on Israel.
Israel’s defense minister’s order to place a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip came on top of a 16-year blockade that Israel, often along with Egypt, has imposed on the coastal territory.
The announcement by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday that Gaza would receive “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” after a major incursion by Palestinian gunmen left hundreds dead has led aid agencies to warn of an exacerbated humanitarian crisis.
Under the longstanding blockade, the densely populated strip, with more than two million residents, nearly half of whom are under 18 years old, faces severe restrictions on the movements of goods and people.
Most commodities in Gaza, from foodstuffs to construction supplies, are imported from Israel through official border crossings, according to the United Nations. Gaza gets most of its electricity via Israeli power lines, and produces some at a power plant in Gaza with fuel imported from Israel. It receives a smaller number of goods through its much shorter border with Egypt.
Electricity shortages are chronic, with power often available for only 12 to 15 hours per day. That undermines health services, water pumping and purification and the area’s fragile economy, aid workers say.
Movement of people in and out of Gaza was heavily restricted before the attacks, with Israel and Egypt granting small numbers of people permission to travel, mostly for work or medical care.
On Saturday, after Palestinian gunmen began their assault inside Israel, the Israeli authorities stopped supplying electricity, leaving Gaza’s residents with only about three or four hours of power per day, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian office, which said Gaza’s power plant might soon run out of fuel.
Now, Israel has closed both of its crossings with Gaza, the Kerem Shalom Crossing for cargo and the Erez Crossing for people.
“Before things were restricted, now they are blocked entirely,” said Tania Hary, the executive director of Gisha, an Israeli nonprofit that focuses on free movement of Palestinians in Gaza.
Humanitarian officials said that a complete blockade would create more severe suffering for Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
“Overwhelmed hospitals treating thousands of wounded will now have to do so without reliable access to electricity,” Mahmoud Shalabi, a senior program manager for Medical Aid for Palestinians, a charity based in the U.K., said in an email.
Egyptian officials have not said whether Israel’s announced siege of Gaza would affect their policy toward the movement of goods and people in and out of the territory.
Gaza’s border with Egypt remained open with limited traffic on Tuesday, and truckloads of food, construction material, fuel and emergency medical supplies entered over the weekend. But Egypt also heavily controls the movement of people and goods across its border crossing, opening and closing it in response to security conditions.
Even if Egypt left its crossing open, experts said, it could not fill the gaps left by the complete closure of Israel’s crossings. In 2022, some 32 percent of goods entering Gaza came from Egypt, Gisha said in a report.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:54 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:54 p.m. ET
Reporting from Washington
President Biden briefly described his call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a tweet. “We connected with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss coordination to support Israel, deter hostile actors, and protect innocent people,” said the president’s account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
.@VP and I sat down with our teams to receive a situation update on the terrorist attack in Israel and to direct next steps.
We connected with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss coordination to support Israel, deter hostile actors, and protect innocent people. pic.twitter.com/u4xOHMeMqw— President Biden (@POTUS) October 10, 2023
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:28 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:28 p.m. ET
Reporting from Washington
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just finished a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about their support for Israel. The president plans to make remarks on camera soon from the State Dining Room.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:27 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:27 p.m. ET
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is cutting short a trip to China, South Korea and Japan in light of the expanding war between Israel and Hamas, his office announced Tuesday.
In a phone conversation with Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, from Beijing, Schumer pledged that the Senate would do “whatever it takes” to ensure Israel has the supplies it needs. He is expected to return to the United States on Thursday, and receive a classified briefing on developments in the Middle East once he is back.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:32 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:32 p.m. ET
The leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, and Gregory Meeks, Democrat of New York, filed a bipartisan resolution Tuesday to express solidarity with Israel and pledge lawmakers’ readiness to provide Israel with whatever emergency assistance it needs for its war against Hamas and siege of the Gaza Strip. An additional 390 House members have endorsed the resolution.
With the exception of Israeli airlines, major carriers around the world have suspended air service to Israel after a devastating surprise attack launched from Gaza on Saturday. Tour operators and cruise lines are also changing itineraries to avoid Israel or canceling trips all together.
Though Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s main international airport, located just outside Tel Aviv, has remained open since the fighting first erupted, hundreds of flights have been delayed and canceled. On Tuesday evening local time, there were 131 flight cancellations and 90 delays, according to FlightAware, a tracking service.
In the United States, Delta Air Lines announced the cancellation of all flights to and from Israel through the remainder of this month. United Airlines and American Airlines have also suspended service indefinitely.
Several European carriers, including Air France, Finnair and TAP Air Portugal, have also temporarily halted direct flights to and from Israel.
Government agencies across the globe, including the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, have urged operators to exercise caution when flying in Israeli airspace given the explosive conflict. Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority advised airlines to prepare for delays when calculating fuel needs.
There were about 6,700 international flights into Israel scheduled for this month, the bulk of which are operated by El Al, Israel’s national airline, according to data from aviation-analytics company Cirium. In July, about 37,000 passengers flew into Israel daily, with travelers from the United States representing the largest share at more than 3,800 passengers, according to Cirium data.
El Al said on its website that flights were being operated as scheduled and that the airline was offering flexible cancellations to customers. The airline is also adding flight service from additional destinations to get people home to Israel.
The U.S. Department of State has not prohibited travel to the Israel or to the West Bank, but said that travelers should exercise increased caution upon visiting either of these places. Americans should not enter Gaza, the federal agency said.
Tour operators with excursions to Israel have also altered itineraries. Collette, a tour company with headquarters in Rhode Island, said it was canceling all remaining trips to Israel this year.
Most major cruise lines with scheduled port calls in Israel over the next month are forgoing stops in the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Haifa for ports in Turkey and Greece. Some trips embarking from Israel, like Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, have been canceled entirely through the end of October.
Ceylan Yeginsu contributed reporting.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:15 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:15 p.m. ET
Reporting from Paris
Catherine Colonna, France’s foreign minister, said on Tuesday that eight French citizens had been killed and 20 were still missing after the attacks, numbers that have gone up as Israeli authorities identify more victims. She told a parliamentary committee that several of those who were missing had likely been kidnapped, including at least one child.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:11 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:11 p.m. ET
Reporting from Beirut
Schools across southern Lebanon will remain closed on Wednesday, according to a statement by Lebanon’s minister of education, Abbas Al-Halabi.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:07 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:07 p.m. ET
A top E.U. diplomat called for “no blockage of water, food or electricity to the civilian population in Gaza, to open humanitarian corridors to facilitate people who have to escape the bombing of Gaza so they can leave the country to Egypt, because the border is closed,” after an emergency meeting with European foreign ministers on Tuesday.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:09 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:09 p.m. ET
Israel has the right to defend itself, the top E.U. diplomat said, “but it has to be done accordingly with international law, humanitarian law, and some of the decisions are contrary to international law.”
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:10 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:10 p.m. ET
“Not all the Palestinian people are terrorists. So a collective punishment against all Palestinians will be unfair and unproductive, will be against our interest and against the interest of the peace,” said Josep Borrell Fontelles, the top E.U. diplomat.
Relatives of four American citizens who are missing or believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas during Saturday’s attacks on Israel pleaded with authorities in the United States and Israel to help find and bring back their loved ones in a news conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
“I think after more than three days now it is more than a reasonable request to have somebody from the Israeli government or the U.S. administration approach us with any type of information,” said Nahar Neta, whose mother, Adrienne, has been missing since Saturday morning.
Mr. Neta fought back tears as he described being on the phone trying to calm his 66-year-old mother, who was born and raised in California, as Saturday’s attack unfolded. His siblings were on the phone with her as attackers broke into her home in Be’eri, a kibbutz near the border with Gaza. He said they heard screaming and have not heard from her since.
“It is our hope, which is a little bit ridiculous at this stage to say, that the optimistic scenario here is that she’s held hostage in Gaza and not dead on the street of the kibbutz where we grew up,” he said.
He said the U.S. government had a responsibility to return its citizens “safe and sound.”
Rachel Goldberg said she woke up on Saturday in Jerusalem to the sound of sirens warning of incoming rocket fire. Her 23-year-old son, Hersh Golberg-Polin, was at a music festival near Gaza’s border. When she turned her phone on 10 minutes later, she saw two consecutive text messages from him that read “I love you” and “I’m sorry.”
Mrs. Goldberg — who moved with her family from California to Jerusalem in 2008 — has not heard from her son since. She said the only thing the police could tell her was that his last known cellphone signal was on the border with Gaza. Sitting next to her, her husband struggled to hold back tears.
Ruby Chen said his 19-year-old son, Itay, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who was serving in the Israeli army, had been missing since Saturday. He pleaded with President Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to “do what they can to make this end for us as soon as possible.”
Jonathan Dekel-Chen, a resident of the kibbutz Nir Oz who is not related to Ruby Chen, said he believed his 35-year-old son, Sagi, was “an arm-lengths away in Gaza, evidently, but couldn’t be farther from me and our family right now.” He noted that Sagi, who he said tried to repel the attack on Saturday, was the father of two daughters and that his wife was pregnant with their third.
Mr. Dekel-Chen, who grew up in Connecticut, said that the kibbutz was “destroyed in a barbaric, inhumane attack in which dozens of my friends, my neighbors, were killed.”
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:44 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:44 p.m. ET
Farhan Haq, a United Nations spokesman, said that a building housing the staff of U.N.’s humanitarian relief agency had sustained significant damages from airstrikes in Gaza and reminded Israel that U.N. buildings must be protected at all times. Mr. Haq said there were no casualties in those strikes, but added that two U.N. staff members had been killed since Saturday. He said 200,000 Palestinians had been displaced and more than 120,000 of them were sheltering in U.N. schools under challenging circumstances with limited potable water.
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:51 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:51 p.m. ET
Volker Turk, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said: "The imposition of sieges that endangers the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential for their survival is prohibited under international humanitarian law.” The U.N. also said that Israel has cut water and electricity supplies to Gaza and the coastal enclave has only 3 to 4 hours of electricity every day, which hinders the ability of hospitals and health centers to treat patients.
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:57 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:57 p.m. ET
Martin Griffiths, the top humanitarian chief of the United Nations, said in a statement that the Middle East was at a tipping point and the violence must stop. “The scale and speed of what’s unfolding in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel is bone-chilling,” he said.
He also called for Israeli hostages to be released and the siege on Gaza blocking essential aid to be lifted and civilians allowed to leave. “My message to all sides is unequivocal: The laws of war must be upheld.”
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:22 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:22 p.m. ET
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said that efforts to advance an emergency unity government “are advancing with great strides.” Mr. Netanyahu has invited Benny Gantz, who leads the opposition National Unity party, to meet with him on Tuesday night.
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:26 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:26 p.m. ET
Mr. Gantz, who had previously said he wouldn’t join Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, has expressed his willingness to bring his party into an emergency government as long as it is able to influence decision-making during the crisis.
The Cleveland Orchestra said on Tuesday that it would cancel a tour this month in Israel because of security concerns. “The safety of our musicians and staff is a top priority,” the orchestra, which had planned to perform in Tel Aviv, Jersulam and Haifa, said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with friends and family in Israel right now, and we hope for their continued safety.”
The orchestra still plans to travel to Austria for two concerts this month, including in Vienna on Oct. 18 and in Linz on Oct. 20.
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:05 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:05 p.m. ET
Rocket-warning sirens are sounding in the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon and the surrounding area.
Oct. 10, 2023, 11:54 a.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 11:54 a.m. ET
Reporting from Beirut
The Israeli Defense Forces said it had identified rockets being fired from Lebanese territory on Tuesday and was responding with artillery fire. It is the third consecutive day that fire has been exchanged along Israel’s volatile northern border. Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, said rocket fire had been detected close to the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.
Oct. 10, 2023, 12:33 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 12:33 p.m. ET
Reporting from Beirut
The Israeli Defense Forces said Tuesday evening that an anti-tank missile had been fired from Lebanese territory toward an Israeli military vehicle, and that an army helicopter responded by striking a Hezbollah observation post. Less than half an hour earlier, the Israeli Defense Forces said it had struck another two Hezbollah observation posts with tank fire after “approximately 15 rockets” were launched from Lebanese territory.
Oct. 10, 2023, 1:40 p.m. ETOct. 10, 2023, 1:40 p.m. ET
Reporting from Beirut
Hezbollah claimed responsibility on Tuesday for an anti-tank guided missile attack on an Israeli armored personnel carrier in the northern Israeli town of Avivim, according to a statement released via Al Manar, the Hezbollah-owned Lebanese broadcaster. The Israeli Defense Forces said that no soldiers were injured in the attack. Hezbollah’s claims that they destroyed the vehicle could not immediately be verified.
Israeli troops have secured much of the Gaza border after Palestinian militants killed hundreds of Israelis in a surprise weekend assault. Now Israelis and Palestinians are anticipating something that a few days ago seemed unthinkable: a full-scale Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
About 300,000 Israeli reservists have been mobilized and the government has signed off on an order to call up another 60,000, Israeli authorities said. Many of the battalions have been deployed in Israel’s south and are combing the area for any remaining Palestinian militants.
But as Israel reels from one of the worst attacks in its history — with at least 900 Israelis slain — the government faces enormous pressure to take drastic measures to restore the sense of security in a country that feels exposed and vulnerable.
Many military analysts now say Israel is likely to send forces into the coastal enclave. “The government has no choice politically,” said Chuck Freilich, who served as Israel’s deputy national security adviser. “The public is so shaken and dismayed and wants to see a real change in the situation.”
Israeli authorities have not publicly said they will order a ground invasion. But Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to make Hamas pay “an unprecedented price” and military officials have said all options are on the table.
“The next step is to move forward, go on the offense, and attack the Hamas terrorist group,” Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “We will have to change the reality within Gaza to prevent such a thing to occur again — as long as it takes.”
The last full-scale Israeli ground invasion of Gaza was in 2014, during a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas that killed thousands of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis. Israeli tanks and ground troops flooded into the coastal enclave in an attempt to destroy Hamas infrastructure, leading to deadly combat in tunnels and Gaza’s densely packed streets.
Israel has fought numerous skirmishes with Gaza-based Palestinian militants in the nine years since the war ended. But the battles have been mostly waged from the air: Palestinian militants have fired frequent barrages of rockets across the country, while Israeli fighter jets and artillery have struck targets in Gaza.
The Israeli military, meanwhile, turned its focus in recent years to advanced cyberwarfare and sophisticated defense mechanisms. The infantry and tank units that would roll into Gaza in the event of a ground invasion took a back seat, said Mr. Freilich, also a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies think tank.
One question is what a ground invasion could accomplish, especially with about 150 Israelis believed to be captive in Gaza. Israeli officials have for years deemed a relatively stable enclave ruled by Hamas preferable to whatever a chaotic power vacuum might bring — a calculation that has been shattered by the recent attack.
Mr. Freilich outlined three possible scenarios: a limited incursion to weaken Hamas; a protracted campaign to demolish its military capabilities; and an attempt to end Hamas rule in Gaza. The latter two options would likely mean “months of very bloody house-to-house fighting” in the densely populated enclave on the militants home turf.
“There are major military risks, and there’s also the hostage situation, which greatly constrains Israel’s freedom of action,” Mr. Freilich said. But he added: “We’re in a different situation, in which people will be willing to be pay a price they weren’t in the past.”
The American ambassador to NATO said on Tuesday that U.S. military assistance to Israel after the weekend attacks by Hamas assailants would not come at Ukraine’s expense.
The United States has committed around $45 billion in weapons and military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, making it the single largest donor to the Ukrainian war effort.
But now, as officials and industry executives acknowledge that they are struggling to meet some of Ukraine’s war demands, the Biden administration is rushing to send air defenses and munitions to Israel.
That has raised questions as to whether the United States could keep pace with both conflicts without also impeding its own military readiness.
Julianne Smith, the American ambassador to NATO, sought to head off concerns ahead of meetings this week of defense ministers at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
“We don’t anticipate any challenges in that regard,” Ms. Smith told journalists Tuesday, echoing earlier assurances from Washington.
She said the United States could both “stay focused on our partnership and commitment to Israel’s security, while also meeting our commitments and promise to continue supporting Ukraine, as it defends its territory and protects all of the values that all of us hold dear here across the NATO alliance.”
The Pentagon has ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and officials are looking at munitions and other equipment in American stockpiles that can quickly be made available for Israel. That is part of a longstanding American agreement to provide security assistance to Israel, which benefits greatly from U.S. aid.
But a senior NATO official, Adm. Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, said last week that Western weapons stockpiles were already nearing “the bottom of the barrel” in calling for the defense industry to step up production. Additionally, congressional Republicans in the United States are calling for steep cuts to new aid for Ukraine, and refused to approve more spending in a budget fight.
“Any funding for Ukraine should be redirected to Israel immediately,” Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.
Ms. Smith said some of the two days of meetings this week in Brussels, beginning on Wednesday, would seek additional ways to continue supplying Ukraine and speeding weapons production across NATO member states.
At least 830 Palestinians have been killed and 4,250 wounded since the assaults by Palestinian fighters and Israel’s retaliatory campaign began on Saturday morning, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said Tuesday.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, confirmed that two of its senior officials have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza. Zakaria Abu Muammar and Jawad Abu Shammaleh were members of Hamas’s political bureau in Gaza, the group said. The Israeli military said it had targeted both men for their alleged involvement in attacks against Israel.
Gaza’s medical system and infrastructure have come under attack by Israeli airstrikes, the health ministry in the territory said on Tuesday, as hundreds of wounded fill hospital operating rooms and intensive care units.
At least five medical workers have been killed, the ministry said.
“The Israeli occupation has expanded its circle of targets to the medical teams, the health facilities and ambulances,” said Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Gaza health ministry.
Israel has said its strikes are targeting all sites connected with Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, including the homes of members. Israel said it believes Hamas members are hiding in homes, schools and hospitals. Because its members are Palestinians from Gaza, they live among the community.
Seven hospitals have been struck with Israeli airstrikes and one of them was bombed out of operation, Mr. al-Qidra said. His account could not be immediately verified, but the United Nations has said that at least two hospitals, multiple homes and two centers run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society have been hit.
The strikes came as part of Israel’s response to Saturday’s attack, when hundreds of Palestinian gunmen swept across Israel’s border with Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers and firing thousands of rockets toward the center of the country. On Monday, Israel’s defense minister announced a “complete siege” of Gaza, saying “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” would be allowed in.
Volker Türk, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, on Tuesday warned that a full siege of Gaza would exacerbate the “already dire” humanitarian situation in the coastal territory and would hurt hospitals’ ability to treat the growing number of wounded.
At least 765 Palestinians have been killed since Saturday and 4,000 injured, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Gaza, a small densely populated enclave that is home to more than two million people, has been under a severe blockade imposed by Israel, and backed by Egypt, for 16 years, limiting what can go in, including medicines and medical equipment.
“The hospitals in Gaza are in a very critical situation as a result of this oppressive siege and has led to a big shortage of medicine and medical tools and fuel,” Mr. al-Qidra said, referring to the new bombardment. “Everyone needs to bear responsibility to save the medical work in Gaza.”
The heavy Israeli bombardment has made movement in the streets dangerous and ambulances have had difficulty transporting the dead and wounded. Instead, people have at times relied on borrowed vehicles, tuk-tuks or motorcycles.
The health ministry said that at least nine ambulances had been struck since Saturday.
“The health system was already suffering before this war,” said Dr. Mohammed Abu Mughaiseeb, the deputy medical coordinator in Gaza for Doctors Without Borders, widely known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières.
He said he has seen people coming to schools and hospitals for shelter because they feel these are the safest areas — though they may not be. A building next to Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest, was struck, he said, and shrapnel hit the hospital.
“If the current situation continues, we are now in day four, there will be a critical impact not just on the medical system but on every aspect of life in Gaza,” he said.
Nations worldwide were trying to clarify the situations of their citizens who were caught in the attacks by Palestinian fighters against Israel. At least 50 foreign nationals have been reported killed or kidnapped, and many others were still missing on Tuesday, as authorities warned it was increasingly likely that they had been taken hostage.
President Biden said on Monday evening that at least 11 U.S. citizens had been killed in Israel. An unknown number were still unaccounted for, Mr. Biden said, adding that “it is likely that American citizens may be among those being held by Hamas.”
At least 18 Thai nationals have been killed and 11 have been taken hostage, Thailand’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
More than 10 British citizens are feared dead or missing after the attacks, the B.B.C. reported on Tuesday, citing an unnamed official, although the British government has yet to give any public figures. “The situation is fast-moving and complicated,” James Cleverly, the U.K. foreign secretary, said on Tuesday. “A lot of the figures are yet to be fully confirmed and I don’t want to speculate. A significant number of British-Israeli dual nationals have been involved.”
Ten citizens of Nepal were killed in the attacks, Reuters reported.
France’s foreign minister,Catherine Colonna, said on Tuesday that eight French citizens had been killed and 20 were still missing. She told a parliamentary committee that several of the missing, including at least one child, had likely been captured.
Argentina’s embassy in Israel said on Tuesday that seven Argentines had been killed and that 15 were still missing.
Two citizens of Ukraine were among those killed, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday.
The Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv said on Tuesday that two Russian nationals were confirmed dead and that four were still missing.
Shani Louk, a German-Israeli citizen, was abducted by Hamas militants while attending an open-air music festival, German officials said. The German federal prosecutor has launched an investigation into the killings and kidnapping of German nationals in Israel. German authorities have not released the number of their citizens believed to be victims of the Hamas attacks.
Two Mexican nationals are still missing, according to Mexico’s Foreign Ministry. A third citizen, David Heiblum, was initially thought to have been kidnapped, but Alicia Bárcena, Mexico’s foreign minister said on social media on Tuesday that he was safe.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan in September. He condemned the attacks in Israel but also said he was “concerned” about casualties in Gaza.Credit...Julia Nikhinson/Associated Press
While the United States and other countries have offered their full-throated support for Israel in recent days, Japan is among the nations that have been more measured in public statements.
Japan was not included among a list of Group of 7 countries in Europe that joined the United States in a statement on Monday offering “steadfast and united support to the State of Israel, and our unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism.” Canada was also absent from the statement.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that Japan “strongly condemns the attacks which severely harmed innocent civilians” but added that “Japan is deeply concerned about a number of casualties in Gaza as well” and urged “all the parties” to “exercise maximum restraint.”
After a telephone call with Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, Yoko Kamikawa, Japan’s newly appointed foreign minister, issued a statement on Monday condemning the attacks and kidnappings by Palestinian gunmen, but added that “Japan is deeply concerned about a number of casualties caused by the attacks by the Israeli side.”
During a news conference on Tuesday in Tokyo, a reporter asked Hirokazu Matsuno, the chief cabinet secretary, why Japan had not signed the joint statement from the White House and its European allies, which condemned Hamas and described the allies as “common friends of Israel.”
Mr. Matsuno offered a technical answer, saying that “the international community has traditionally expressed its position on Middle East issues within various frameworks, and I understand that the statement you pointed out was issued within one of those frameworks.”
He added that Japan would “cooperate with the international community, including the G7, and strengthen its efforts to reach out to both Israel and Palestine, and will make every effort to calm the situation.”
Japan’s effort to balance its response may reflect a desire not to conflate Hamas, a militant group, with Palestinian civilians.Some European leaders have also said that there should be a distinction between Hamas and Palestinians.
Hikari Hida contributed reporting.
The announcement by the Israeli military that it had killed about 1,500 Palestinian fighters since their incursion into southern Israel on Saturday is a blow to Hamas, but likely not a debilitating one, given its capabilities and the number of fighters it can summon.
Hamas, which is both a militant group and the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, does not provide details about its military capabilities. But outside estimates put its overall force in the tens of thousands, including some highly trained commandos and a larger number of fighters with varying capabilities.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ali Barakeh, a Beirut-based foreign relations official with Hamas, said that 2,000 of the group’s fighters had participated in the initial attack on Israel on Saturday morning. Fighters from other armed Palestinian factions joined once the operation was underway, he said.
Hamas, which is supported financially and militarily by Iran, became notorious during the second Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 by dispatching large numbers of suicide bombers to civilian areas in Israel. In more recent years, it has developed a large arsenal of rockets that it regularly fires from Gaza at communities in Israel.
Its fighters in Gaza carry assault and sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other arms and are believed to move around the territory via tunnels that conceal their movements from Israeli drones. Analysts say those capabilities could enable them to fight a prolonged guerrilla war if Israel, which has pledged to destroy Hamas militarily, launches a ground invasion of Gaza.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested on Tuesday that Iran was not behind the incursion in Israel, while praising what he called Israel’s “irreparable” military and intelligence defeat.
“We kiss the foreheads and arms of the resourceful and intelligent designers” of the attack, he said in his first televised speech since Palestinian gunmen launched a devastating cross-border assault from Gaza on Saturday.
But he added: “Those who say that the recent saga is the work of non-Palestinians have miscalculated.”
The comments were the Iranian government’s latest denial of involvement in the incursion. On Monday, Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said that efforts to blame Tehran for the attack were a “political attempt to justify support for Israel.”
Israeli officials have said publicly that they have not determined whether Iran, which provides funding to Palestinian militant groups including Hamas, which controls Gaza, was behind the attack. And the White House said on Monday that it still had no evidence that Tehran was directly involved in planning or executing the attack.
Iran, which does not recognize the state of Israel, has positioned itself as a key supporter of the Palestinian cause, and Mr. Khamenei delivered his speech wearing a Palestinian scarf. He repeatedly referred to Israel as “the Zionist regime,” a term favored by Iran’s ruling clerics, and warned that it would face consequences if it continued to conduct deadly strikes against Palestinians.
“The heads and decision makers of the usurping Zionist regime and its supporters should know that the massacre and mass killing of the people of Gaza will bring a greater calamity on them,” he said.