Israel-Hamas war rages as humanitarian crisis spirals in Gaza

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Highlights

  • Ambulances evacuating premature babies from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital have arrived in Egypt, where medical professionals were waiting with incubators to take them into care.
  • Israel is under pressure to provide evidence for its claim that Hamas uses Al-Shifa for combat purposes. It released surveillance video Sunday that it says shows Hamas militants bringing two hostages into the complex. Hamas and hospital officials have denied Israel’s claims about Al-Shifa. 
  • CNN visited a newly exposed tunnel shaft at the complex, which might offer the most compelling evidence of a possible tunnel network, but does not establish without a doubt there is a Hamas command center beneath the facility. Several staff, patients and sheltering Palestinians have fled Al-Shifa since Israel raided the hospital.
  • Elsewhere, the United States and Qatar have given upbeat assessments on the negotiations surrounding hostages held by Hamas. A deal freeing dozens of civilians could be reached within days, sources told CNN.

The Israeli military reached the heart of Gaza City “much earlier than Hamas had expected” and the forces continue to advance according to the plan, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Monday. 

“We carried an offensive move that met the heart of Gaza City, through encirclement. It led to us getting to the city’s heart quickly, much earlier than Hamas had expected,” spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in his daily briefing. 

“The troops continue to advance according to the plan, this takes time,” he said, adding that “the war (operates) in stages.” 

The Israeli army is looking for Hamas militants in Zaytun and Jabalya in northern Gaza and is “currently encircling Jabalya and start dismantling the (Hamas) battalion there as well,” Hagari said. 

The spokesperson added that over the past few days, Israeli forces have been conducting face-to-face battles against the Zaytun battalion — one of the central battalions of Hamas operating in Zaytun in the northern Gaza Strip. 

CNN has analyzed footage released by the Israel Defense Forces and propaganda videos from Hamas, as well as satellite imagery and social media videos. They show that troops have closed in on Gaza City on three axes – from Gaza’s northwest border along the Mediterranean coast, from the northeast near Beit Hanoun, and from the east to the south of the city, approaching the sea, as well as a number of clashes following the expanded operation.


Approximate Israeli route
and Confirmed Israeli operations

Doctors Without Borders clinic came under fire

A Doctors Without Borders clinic in Gaza City came under fire on Monday during fierce street fighting, the medical charity said.    

The organization, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), wrote on X that “our colleagues saw that a wall was torn down and part of the building was engulfed by fire, as heavy fighting took place all around it.”  

“An Israeli tank was seen in the street,” it added.  

CNN is reaching out to the IDF and Hamas for comment.   

One MSF staff member and 20 relatives are currently “in extreme danger” inside the clinic, with their status unknown, the organization said.   

Additionally, five MSF cars that had been used in a failed mission Saturday to evacuate staff and family members were destroyed in Monday’s exchange of fire, the group also said.   

“Four MSF cars burned down. A fifth car, parked across the street, was broken in two pieces as if crushed by a heavy-duty vehicle or a tank. All the cars and the clinic were clearly identified with the MSF logo.”   

On Saturday, a relative of one MSF staff member was killed when the convoy was attacked en route back to Gaza City after a failed attempt to evacuate south, the organization said at the time.     

MSF said on Saturday that both Hamas and the IDF were made aware of the evacuation route. The convoy of 137 people, including 65 children, was forced to turn back at the final Israeli checkpoint near Wadi Gaza when shots were heard nearby.   

 “On their way back, between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm local time, the convoy was attacked in Al-Wehda street near the junction of Said Al-A’as Street, near the MSF office,” the group reported on Saturday.   

“Two of the MSF cars were deliberately hit, killing a family member of one MSF staff and injuring another.”   

On Monday, MSF said the cars, now destroyed, were the only means to evacuate its staff and their families.  

6 Americans serving in Israeli security forces have died since October 7, State Department says

Six American citizens who were serving in the Israeli security forces have died in Israel and Gaza since October 7, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Monday.

“There are a total of six American citizens who have died, not from the terrorist attacks on October 7, but in the month-plus since,” said Miller. Five of them were members of the Israel Defense Forces and the sixth was a border officer, he said.

Four of the Americans serving with the IDF died in the Gaza Strip and a fifth was killed in northern Israel, the spokesperson said.

Americans in Gaza: According to Miller, 800 American citizens, legal permanent residents and family members have now departed Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. 

The number of Americans who remain in the enclave — who have registered with the State Department — has increased to 1,200. 

On Friday, a State Department official said there were fewer than 900.

“One of the things that happens is we continue to identify either additional American citizens or American citizens or permanent residents who have additional family members that they’re reporting to us that we then try to get on the list to get out of Gaza,” Miller said, noting why the 1,200 remaining is a higher number than it had been previously.

Al-Shifa hospital under attack

Israeli forces launched a raid November 15 on Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest medical facility, after accusing Hamas of operating from tunnels beneath the vast complex – a claim denied both by the militant group and hospital officials. CNN has geolocated the damage to the hospital caused by strikes on November 10, as well as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) activity in and around the compound. The Friday strikes killed or injured an estimated 15 people, according to the director-general of the Hamas-controlled health ministry.

Negotiations “getting close to the end” on release of hostages held by Hamas

People look at pictures of Israeli hostages taken by Palestinian militants in the October 7 attack, and currently held in the Gaza Strip being displayed during a demonstration in Tel Aviv calling for their release on November 11, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that negotiators are “getting close to the end” on the release of hostages held by Hamas – but he declined to elaborate on the details of a potential deal.

He also declined to comment on CCTV footage that Israel said shows two hostages being moved through Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on October 7. 

“I know that everybody’s interested in the numbers and who they’re going to be. We’re working that through literally in real time with both sides. So, I think it’s better if I just don’t speculate about what that pool is going to look like. Obviously, we are laser focused on the American citizens that we know are being held hostage and we want them out, all of them, everybody should be out now,” Kirby said, when asked by CNN’s MJ Lee asked if any of those that might be released would be American citizens. 

When asked what level of confidence the White House has that the American hostages are alive, Kirby responded, in part, saying in part: “I would say we have no indication otherwise.”

CNN

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