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Israel prepares ground attack as Gaza battles humanitarian crisis

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday it was preparing to implement “a wide range of offensive operative plans,” which will include “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

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The Israel Defense Forces has massed military personnel and equipment at the border, and it said Saturday it was preparing to expand its aerial attack with “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

No large-scale ground offensive into Gaza has been announced, but Israel’s military has been telling civilians in Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza to go south.

The United Nations says that amounts to 1 million people being told to leave in densely populated Gaza, which is 139 square miles.

The World Health Organization said Saturday that forcing patients to move “could be tantamount to a death sentence.” Israel’s military says the order is for the safety of civilians as it attacks Hamas.

What we know

  • A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Gaza as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flee from the territory’s north to the south, heeding Israeli warnings to evacuate before an anticipated ground invasion. Their options for seeking safety are extremely limited.
  • Israel’s retaliation comes after Hamas, which rules Gaza, carried out the worst terrorist attack in Israel in decades a week ago, a coordinated assault on kibbutzim a music festival and city streets.
  • Clean water, fuel and medical supplies have all but run out in Gaza, the United Nations said, and electricity has been unavailable for days. The head of Gaza's largest hospital says it has become a mass shelter, with 35,000 seeking refuge inside.
  • The Israel Defense Forces has massed military personnel and equipment at the border, and it said Saturday it was preparing to expand its aerial attack with “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”
  • At least 1,300 people — including 265 soldiers — were killed in Israel in the terrorist attack and more than 3,300 were injured. In Gaza, over 2,200 people have been killed and 8,000 have been injured.
  • Twenty-nine Americans have been killed, the State Department said Saturday. Fifteen U.S. citizens are unaccounted-for, as well as one lawful permanent resident.
  • NBC News’ Lester Holt, Tom Llamas, Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Kelly Cobiella, Matt Bradley, Ellison Barber, Chantal Da Silva and Josh Lederman are reporting from the region.

Despite discussions among different officials on allowing Americans to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the border remained closed and no one has gained passage at yet.

Pete Davidson, the son of a 9/11 victim, opens SNL with heart

Alex Lo

"Saturday Night Live" returned for its 49th season, delayed by the summer writers strike. And its guest host, alum Pete Davidson, addressed the ongoing tragedy in the Mideast head on.

"We saw horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza and I know what you’re thinking: Who better to comment on it than Pete Davidson?" the usually-goofy-but-not-this-time comedian said.

Pete Davidson SNL
Pete Davidson guest hosts Saturday Night Live on Oct. 14, 2023. Saturday Night Live

"Well, in a lot of ways, I am a good person to talk about it because when I was seven years old, my dad was killed in a terrorist attack. So I know something about what that’s like.

"I saw so many terrible pictures this week of children suffering, there Israeli children and Palestinian children. And it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place. And, you know, no one in this world serves to suffer. That you know, especially not kids.

"You know, after my dad died, my mom tried pretty much everything she could do to cheer me up. I remember one day when I was eight. She got me what she thought was a Disney movie. But it was actually the Eddie Murphy stand-up special "Delirious." And we played it in the car on the way home and when she heard the things Eddie Murphy was saying, she tried to take it away.

"But then she noticed something for the first time in a long time, I was laughing again. I don’t understand that. I really don’t and I never will, but sometimes, comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy.

"You know, my heart is with everyone whose lives have been destroyed this week. But tonight, I’m gonna do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy and that’s tried to be funny. Remember, I said try."

Israeli-American CEO rushes home: “I have to come back. I have to be here. I’m Jewish. We have to protect Israel.”

Lindsey Reiser

Maayan Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Hello Heart, was on her way to a conference in Las Vegas when the flood of texts from home began. The horrors that her team witnessed made her know there was no question: She had to get to Israel.

Speaking from a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv, her children nearby, Cohen explained.

“Israelis are probably one of the only people that we have war, when we are at risk, everybody flies in. This is our country.

"I have to come back. I have to be here. I’m Jewish. We have to protect Israel.”

Ron DeSantis says U.S. shouldn’t take in refugees from Gaza 

CRESTON, Iowa — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said today the U.S. should not accept refugees from Gaza as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flee from the north to the south, following Israeli government warnings to evacuate before an anticipated ground invasion.

Onstage before the crowd of about 50 people in this rural town southwest of Des Moines, DeSantis said other Arab states should absorb the refugees. But delving deeper into his reasoning, he offered up a sweeping characterization of the fleeing Palestinians. 

“If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic. None of them believe in Israel’s right to exist,” he baselessly claimed. 

Read the full story here.

Gaza evacuation: How residents are moving south to find shelter

Molly Hunter

Getting out of Gaza is harrowing, and the route is littered with deadly obstacles.

Finding hostage locations will be the priority for special forces, analyst says

Special forces are most likely heading into or are in Gaza to identify areas where hostages might be held, a retired admiral and MSNBC analyst said tonight.

“What is happening is special forces are flooding into Gaza City, They’re attempting above all to find and fix the location of these hostages,” James Stavridis, retired admiral and MSNBC chief international analyst, said on the network.

Stavridis said that Israel’s military, which has ground forces around Gaza, could also go in by the sea.

More than just another round of fighting in Gaza, Israel spokesperson says

Israeli’s military action against Hamas in Gaza aims to “dismantle” Hamas as both a military and a governing organization, a spokesperson for Israeli’s government said today.

“This is not another round of fighting in the Gaza Strip; this is not another round in which Israel is aiming to deter Hamas or degrade Hamas,” spokesperson Eylon Levy said on MSNBC. “This is a war in which Israel’s aim is to dismantle Hamas.”

Hamas controls Gaza. It was elected in Gaza in 2006, and there have not been elections since. It has a military arm and a political arm.

Tanks on the move on a clear morning near the border

Ellison Barber

NEAR THE ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER — At 4:40 a.m. along the northern section of the border, tanks roll along the street, clanking on the pavement as they move.

In the distance, artillery booms are heard and flashes of light are spotted overhead, creating an unusual contrast on a morning clear enough for stargazing and a perfect view of the Big Dipper.

U.K. flights leave Israel as government gets nationals out of region

Three United Kingdom-facilitated flights left Israel bound for the U.K. and Cyprus, the government said, “with more expected in the coming hours.”

“We are working with the Egyptian authorities to facilitate British and dual nationals, and their spouses and children, leaving Gaza via Rafah,” the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said on X.

Governments have been working to help their citizens leave Israel and Gaza as the conflict continues and could enter a new phase when a promised bombardment by Israel takes place.

Canada has been sending Canadian armed forces flights to get Canadians out of Israel. U.S. officials have said charter flights would go to Israel for Americans there.

Agreement to allow Americans out of Gaza through Rafah gate remains elusive


Abigail Williams

Allie Raffa

Abigail Williams, Monica Alba, Allie Raffa and Andrea Mitchell

The tentative agreement to allow Americans safe passage through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt from Gaza continues to face significant obstacles to implementation, U.S. officials say.

The issue will be a key item on Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s agenda when he lands in Cairo tomorrow, they said.

Earlier discussions with Egypt by the U.S., Qatar and Israel focused on a five-hour window during which U.S. citizens could pass through the Rafah crossing today, but the deadline came and went without any immediate sign of success. 

A U.S. official said that although the original window has passed, the parties continue to negotiate and obstacles remain. 

There’s still no guarantee that Hamas, which controls the Gaza side of the border and which has told residents not to evacuate, will allow for safe passage, three U.S. officials cautioned. A fourth source with knowledge of the situation pointed to another issue — Egypt’s outstanding concerns over aid guarantees tied to any opening of the border. Even if Egypt’s demands are met, Hamas remains a critical piece of the equation. 

Even so, the State Department continues to publicly urge the 500 to 600 Americans estimated to be in Gaza to move south, cautioning that ​if​ the crossing opens, the window could be brief.  

With a ground invasion of Gaza believed to be imminent, securing safe passage for Americans through the Rafah crossing remains an administration priority, according to multiple sources. 

Blinken is expected to make remarks from the tarmac in Cairo at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Demonstrators descend on Israel's L.A. consulate to support Palestinians

LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside Israel’s Consulate General today in support for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. 

Despite a splinter group's attempt to block the nearby 405 freeway, which was thwarted by Los Angeles police, and a single confrontation with a pro-Israel protester, the event was peaceful overall, authorities said.

Demonstrators blocked busy Wilshire Boulevard, which runs from the sea to downtown and passes UCLA and the Westwood Federal Building, for hours this afternoon. No arrests were reported.

Estee Chandler, a well-known actor who founded the Los Angeles chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, said it was important to note that Jewish Americans attended to support the Palestinian state and human rights for the people of Gaza.

“Dehumanization of Palestinians starts at the top from our government officials,” she said. “We need to remind people that Palestinians are human beings, our brothers, our sisters, our cousins, our dentists, our friends, our teachers, our neighbors, and we have to love each other and take care of each other.”

Critics of Hamas say its level of violence may have discarded any notion of human civility.

“This is about humanity,” Chandler said. “This is about not letting the worst things that we’ve seen in history, that we’ve learned about history, happen again before our eyes with the support of our government and the use of our tax dollars.”

At least 12 journalists killed in conflict, group says

At least 12 journalists have been killed in the conflict since Hamas attacked Israel and Israel launched strikes on Gaza, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Two others are missing and eight had been injured as of Saturday, the organization said in a statement.

Of the 12 confirmed dead, 10 are Palestinian and one is Israeli, according to the group, known as CPJ. A Beirut-based journalist was killed in Lebanon yesterday in shelling by Israel.

Reuters has said video journalist Issam Abdallah was killed while providing a live signal to broadcasters. Abdallah was killed in Lebanon close to the Israeli border where Hezbollah militants and Israel's military had been trading fire, it reported.

Israel said it would investigate, Reuters reported.

"Journalists are making great sacrifices across the region covering this important conflict. Measures to ensure their safety must be taken by all parties to stop this deadly and heavy toll," Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in the statement.

U.S. leaders face new challenges amid Israel-Hamas war

As the impact of the Israel-Hamas war is felt around the world, the conflict is presenting new challenges for U.S. leaders. 

In Gaza, 'we’re dying, and everyone is watching'

NBC News

GAZA CITY — A humanitarian crisis is gripping Gaza as hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians flee to the south amid the Israeli military’s aerial bombardment in retaliation for Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack one week ago.

The Israel Defense Forces warned residents to evacuate from Gaza’s north — home of its largest population center, Gaza City — on Friday, and the deadline has passed.

After the surprise assault Oct. 7, Israel placed the territory under siege, cutting off basic utilities. Today, Gaza is almost out of clean water, food, fuel and medical supplies. There hasn’t been electricity in days, and its largest hospital, Al-Shifa, is now a shelter for 35,000 people, with men sleeping in the parking lot and women inside.

There is little safety even for those fleeing. An airstrike hit a convoy of people trying to head south on a road that was supposed to provide safe passage. Among the dead were children and women, lying in pools of blood near vehicles. Ambulances were also struck.

“We’re dying, and everyone is watching. Shame on you, all the Arab countries. We were told to leave, but where? Where to go?” said Heba Al Attar, who is leaving a United Nations-operated school, which is supposed to be a safe place. “They’re shelling people on the roads, too. Where are we to go?” 

More than 1,900 people have been killed in Gaza, and more than 7,600 have been injured.

Read the full story here.

Reservists leave U.S. to answer call to fight in Israel

Meagan Fitzgerald

Lori Rampani

Meagan Fitzgerald and Lori Rampani

Americans have been saying goodbye to relatives who are answering the call to fight in Israel.

Reservist Nor Labe bought his ticket to Israel before the military called him up.

“There was no way that I was going to sit at home,” he said.

Andrew Silverman, who was visiting his family in Chicago, jumped on a flight to Israel upon being notified that his friend had been killed in the conflict. “From there, the rest of the day became about me trying to get on a flight back to Tel Aviv,” Silverman said. “I think people are really using this as an opportunity to come together and help each other.”

Zev Baryodin left his 1-year-old son and pregnant wife to serve in Israel. “He is doing his duty, and I am extremely proud of him,” his father said.

Most Israelis enter the military at 18. After serving for two to three years, soldiers are typically placed in the Israel Defense Forces reserves and can serve for decades.

Members of the IDF who live overseas are not required to return upon a call to fight.

But to some, including Josh Jacobson, "it just felt so weird to be in Boston when there is so much going on here. It is my duty as part of the collective nation of Israel to come back and help."

2nd U.S. aircraft carrier group headed to eastern Mediterranean

Mosheh Gains

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is headed from Norfolk, Virginia, to the Eastern Mediterranean, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today, part of an effort to deter a widening war.

Austin said the carrier strike group will join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived earlier week.

The Eisenhower group includes a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers and nine aircraft squadrons, Austin said in a statement.

Biden this week issued a warning to other groups or countries about the conflict.

“Let me say again — to any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t. Don’t,” he said.

At the Human Rights Campaign dinner tonight, Biden said the Israel-Hamas war is “another reminder that hate never goes away.”

"A week ago we saw hate manifest in another way in the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. More than 1,300 innocent lives lost in Israel, including at least 27 Americans," he said.  

"It’s yet another reminder that hate never goes away," he told the crowd. "It hides. It hides under the rocks."

Israel’s military vows to kill Hamas leader behind attack

Raf Sanchez

ASHDOD, Israel — Israel’s military is conducting an all-out hunt for Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza and mastermind of the worst attack in Israel's history.

The IDF says he's its Osama bin Ladin.

“When they chose to go full front against Israel, they signed their own death warrants," IDF Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.

An emotional goodbye after Florida family’s son goes to Israel to fight

Natalie Obregon

Marissa Parra and Natalie Obregon

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Nata Nagli was in the family’s South Florida home last week when she woke her 22-year-old son, David, and told him about the Hamas terrorist attack on her native Israel.

David was soon on his feet, she said, telling her, “Mom, I know you’re going to start crying now,” which she did.

“But there’s nothing that you can tell me that’s going to stop me from going. I need to join my unit,” he said, Nagli told NBC News.

David joined the Israel Defense Forces when he was 18 and is in the reserves. Israel has called up more than 300,000 reservists since Hamas launched its terrorist attacks. Israel’s prime minister declared war on Hamas and vowed to crush it.

David’s parents drove him to the airport last Saturday, the day he and the world learned of the Hamas attacks.

A long time ago, David gave his mother a box with a bug inside that says, “Love Bug.” Nagli gave her son the box back at the airport as they said goodbye.

“When he hugged me goodbye, he said, ‘Mom, I promise I’m going to bring the love bug back,’” she said. 

David Nagli in the Miami airport.
David Nagli in the Miami airport.Courtesy Nagli family

Border buzzing with drones and fighter jets

Ellison Barber

NEAR THE ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER — It’s a quarter to 2 a.m. in Israel. Along the northern section of the Israel-Gaza border, you can hear the buzz of drones and fighter jets overhead.

Tanks on flatbeds have driven along the road bedside us — headed in the direction of Gaza.

We haven’t seen rocket fire here in a few hours, but we are hearing artillery. In the last 45 minutes, we’ve heard the booms of artillery at least nine times.

An estimated 35,000 people find refuge at Gaza City hospital

Richard EngelNBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Host of MSNBC's "On Assignment with Richard Engel"

An estimated 35,000 people have sought refuge at Gaza City's main hospital, Al-Shifa, with men seen camping in its parking lot and women and children staying inside.

It's one of three Gaza City hospitals under orders to evacuate.

Today, the World Health Organization condemned the evacuation orders, which it said would cover 22 hospitals and their more than 2,000 inpatients in northern Gaza.

It's "tantamount to a death sentence" for patients, the WHO said in a statement.

‘I really have to go’: NYC man goes back to Israel to fight Hamas

Tom Llamas

NEAR THE GAZA BORDER, Israel — When the 40-year-old Israeli-American father of three, living in New York City, was called back by Israel’s military after Hamas’ terror attacks on the country, he could have avoided it.

“But I really have to go,” Capt. Shai, who asked that his first name not be used, told NBC News at an Israeli military training camp in southern Israel.

“They took hostages — women, children and grandparents, back to Gaza,” he said. “And at that moment, I knew I have to go back.”

Israel called up more than 300,000 reservists after Hamas’ unprecedented terror attack on the country, which killed more than 1,300 people in Israel. Israel’s military said it is preparing for a ground attack on Gaza.

Airstrikes in Gaza have killed more than 2,200 people in the densely populated enclave, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Capt. Shai said he feels bad for the plight of Palestinian civilians. “There are many Palestinians in Gaza that are innocent, that didn’t do these attacks necessarily,” he said. “But Hamas is holding them captive.”

“This is unprecedented. We’re at war,” he said. “And so, we always try to minimize civilian casualties. Always. That’s the way we operate. But at the same time, we have to understand that they’re not giving us another choice.”

Family of missing Israeli festivalgoer pleads for her safe return

Jonathan Capehart

Sharona Shmunis Harel was celebrating her 40th birthday at a music festival when Hamas militants began their violent attacks in south Israel.

Ohad Harel, her brother-in-law, says her family believes she is among the Israeli hostages, and they are desperately pleading for her return.

Read more about Hamas’ terrorist attack on an Israeli music festival.

'Israel needs to protect its people,' rabbi says

George Solis

Lori Rampani

George Solis and Lori Rampani

Joshua Davidson, a senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-el in New York City, today described Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip as a “necessary act of self-defense.”

“The message to the Jewish community and all who are friends in the Jewish community and supporters of Israel is the need for solidarity. Israel needs to be able to defend itself. It’s bombing of Gaza. It’s probable ground invasion of Gaza is not retaliation," Davison said. "It’s not some cathartic act of vengeance. It’s a necessary act of self-defense. Nothing would make us happier than if Hamas laid down their weapons and marched out of Gaza with their hands in the air. But in all likelihood, that’s not going to happen. Israel needs to protect its people.”

Renat Lifshitz of New York says the war is affecting even the small details of daily life for Jews everywhere.

“There’s a lot of fear. There’s fear now more than ever since the Holocaust. I feel like this is the fear in New York, Israel, Florida and all over the world. It’s like everyone is afraid to walk around, people are afraid to wear their Jewish Star," Lifshitz said. "The other day I was afraid to order an Uber because my name is Jewish and Israeli, and God forbid the Uber driver says ‘Are you Jewish?’ and ‘I’m going to kill you,’ so, yeah, it’s extremely terrifying. It’s extremely hurtful. Everyone makes us feel so hated nowadays.”

FBI director: Threats related to the war are on the rise in the U.S.

Michael Kosnar

Michael Kosnar and Dennis Romero

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a gathering of police chiefs today that threats related to the Middle East's latest warring factions are on the rise in the U.S.

In prepared remarks to the 2023 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in San Diego, Wray said the Hamas attacks and the subsequent war may be inspiring threats and hatred.

NBC News has not immediately determined whether the remarks were delivered as planned.

"In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, and we have to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own," Wray said in the prepared version of his words.

He asked for vigilance among the chiefs and the departments they lead.

"As the first line of defense in protecting our communities, you’re often the first to see the signs that someone may be mobilizing to violence.”

NBC affiliate WGAL of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, reported that a demonstration in the state capital, Harrisburg, to bring attention to the plight of the residents of Gaza and the occupied territories was interrupted by a man in a vehicle who allegedly brandished a firearm and yelled racial slurs.

The station said Pennsylvania Capitol Police are investigating the incident at the Harrisburg Rally for Palestine as a possible hate crime. The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged authorities to prosecute the man in the vehicle for alleged hate crimes.

Pennsylvania Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mother desperate for information after daughters' kidnapping was livestreamed

For a week now, Maayan Zin has been desperate for information about her daughters who were taken hostage from the kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Hamas attackers livestreamed the kidnapping of 8-year-old Ela Elyakim and 15-year-old Dafna Elyakim from the kibbutz Oct. 7.

Hamas later posted a photo of Dafna online.

Ela and Dafna were supposed to have spent the weekend at their mother’s home in Tel Aviv, but they went to their father’s in Nahal Oz to take part in a ceremony celebrating the 70th anniversary of the kibbutz’s founding.

Maayan Zin, 50, learned his daughters had been kidnapped when her sister called and shared the image of Dafna several hours after the kidnapping.

"I thought it must be Photoshopped," Zin said.

Only when she saw the video of the kidnapping did the reality start to sink in for Zin.

The video shows the family seated and scared as men armed with semi-automatic weapons walk around their house and, speaking in English, ask the adults for their IDs.

In addition to the girls, their father, Noam Elyakim, 48; his girlfriend, Dikla Arava Eliaz, 50; and Eliaz’ 17-year-old son, Tomer, were kidnapped. 

The video appears to show Noam Elyakim was shot in the leg.

Israeli strikes slowing as Saturday turns to Sunday near Gaza border

Marc Smith

SDEROT, Israel — It's just past midnight on the border with Gaza, and the streets remain quiet, save the constant hum of an Israeli drone hovering above.

The tempo of outgoing Israeli strikes has slowed in the last several hours.

In the darkness of night, the skyline of Gaza City is black; only a few lights can be seen flickering in the distance.

Iran foreign minister meets Hamas political leader, state news says

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, and Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh met for talks in Qatar, the Iranian state news agency IRNA said.

It was the first meeting between Iranian and Hamas officials since Hamas attacked Israel last Saturday, the state-run news agency said.

Iran has had a long relationship with Hamas and supports it, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, but he said this week the U.S. had no “direct evidence” that Iran was involved in the Hamas terrorist attacks.

U.S. intelligence had reported increased threat from Hamas but not details of imminent assault, sources say

U.S. intelligence agencies reported a heightened risk of violence from Hamas in the weeks before the group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel but did not pick up detailed information about an imminent large-scale assault, according to two sources familiar with the intelligence. 

The U.S. assessments, based partly on Israeli intelligence, included information that Hamas appeared ready to ratchet up its rocket attacks on Israel and a broader threat of more violence by the Palestinian militants, the sources said. 

However, the U.S. intelligence reporting did not have specific information about a pending massive attack like the one carried out a week ago, which took Israel by surprise, the sources said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters Thursday that the U.S. did not have intelligence in advance of an imminent attack and that if it had, the administration would have shared the information with Israel.

CNN first reported on intelligence assessments about the threat of a potential increase in violence from Hamas.

At an event at Georgetown University in February, CIA Director William Burns expressed concern about the climate in the Middle East and the potential for an eruption of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants. 

Burns said that “in the conversations I had with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, ... it left me quite concerned about the prospects for even greater fragility and even greater violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as well.”

President Biden speaks to Palestinian Authority President Abbas on two-state solution

Lawahez Jabari

Syedah Asghar and Lawahez Jabari

Biden and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas discussed implementing a two-state solution to achieve peace in the region, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

In a phone call this evening, Abbas talked about allowing humanitarian corridors in the Gaza Strip to provide vital supplies to people in the area.

Abbas thanked Biden for the administration's efforts and said he is ready to engage in peace talks if Palestinian people are given their rights.

29 Americans killed in Israel-Hamas conflict, State Department says

Twenty-nine U.S. citizens were confirmed dead in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, a State Department spokesperson said Saturday afternoon.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and to the families of all those affected,” the spokesperson said, adding the department would not comment further on the identities of those killed or the circumstances of their deaths.

The spokesperson said the department was also aware of 15 U.S. citizens who are unaccounted for, as well as one lawful permanent resident. 

“The U.S. government is working around the clock to determine their whereabouts and is working with the Israeli government on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to advise the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts.”

Mother of son assumed kidnapped by Hamas: ‘He’s my universe’

Rachel Goldberg, whose 23-year-old son is assumed to have been kidnapped by Hamas after he attend a music festival, told NBC News, “We feel like we’re in a parallel universe.”

Goldberg said she last saw her son Friday of last week. He then left with his best friend to go to the Supernova music festival near the Gaza border, where 260 people were killed.

Goldberg said that the next morning, when she heard sirens and knew something was going on, she checked her phone and saw two texts from her son, one reading “I love you” and another saying “I’m sorry.”

“I immediately knew something horrible was in the process of happening or about to happen,” she said.

Goldberg said that she did receive confirmation that her son is assumed to have been kidnapped and that the last signal from his cellphone was picked up on the border of Gaza. She said eyewitnesses said that her son and others ended up in a bomb shelter, that it appeared her son’s arm may have been blown off with a tourniquet around it and that he was taken away with a few other young men.

“He’s my universe. He’s my whole life. He’s the most important thing to me,” she said, adding that she was also aware that her family’s suffering is “one small part” of a much larger, terrible event.

Israeli Iron Dome air defense systems intercept a rocket in Ashkelon

Israeli Iron Dome air defense systems intercept a rocket, in Ashkelon, Israel
Tsafrir Abayov / AP

President Biden addresses families of missing Americans following Hamas attacks in Israel

Lori Rampani

“The families of unaccounted for Americans following the terrorist attack on Israel are going through the unthinkable. I gave them my word: We are not walking away from them,” President Biden posted on X today, together with a video from the Oval Office.

“I know from experience there’s not a single thing more and more worrisome than to have someone you love, someone you adore, adores you, and not knowing their fate,” Biden said in the video.

Pro-Palestinian protests continue around U.S.

Pro-Palestinian protesters held rallies across the U.S. and in Europe today.

The protesters held demonstrations in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston, multiple cities in California and elsewhere.

In Houston, there were well over 1,000 protesters about an hour into a demonstration this afternoon. Some held posters saying “Stand With Gaza,” “Occupation is a Crime” and “Free Palestine.” 

In Chicago, protesters chanted “Palestine will be free” and “Free Free Palestine, Ethnic cleansing is a crime.”

In Washington, several thousand rallied at a hourslong protest, some holding pro-Palestinian posters, flags and umbrellas in the rain, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the occupation’s got to go” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

World Health Organization: Evacuation orders 'are a death sentence for the sick and injured '

Ian Sherwood

Mirna Alsharif and Ian Sherwood

The World Health Organization condemned Israel's orders to evacuate "22 hospitals treating more than 2,000 inpatients in northern Gaza" in a statement today.

"The forced evacuation of patients and health workers will further worsen the current humanitarian and public health catastrophe," the statement read, adding that "the lives of many critically ill and fragile patients hang in the balance," including those of patients who rely on life support, newborns in incubators and pregnant women with complications.

The organization said health facilities in northern Gaza are receiving an influx of patients and "are struggling to operate beyond maximum capacity."

"Forcing more than 2000 patients to relocate to southern Gaza, where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence," the WHO said.

Israel's evacuation order has put hospital directors and health care workers in a position to choose between abandoning sick patients amid airstrikes or putting their own lives in danger while remaining on site to treat them, according to the WHO.

"WHO calls for Israel to immediately reverse evacuation orders to hospitals in northern Gaza, and calls for the protection of health facilities, health workers, patients, and civilians," it said.

President Biden speaks with Israeli PM Netanyahu for the fifth time

Lawahez Jabari

Syedah Asghar and Lawahez Jabari

Netanyahu spoke with Biden and thanked him for the "deep and unconditional American support," the prime minister's office said today on X.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Israel this week and reaffirmed U.S. support for its right to defend itself.

In the call, Netanyahu discussed his visit today to the Israeli-Gaza border, where he met with IDF troops and saw the aftermath of the Hamas attack.

Barrages of artillery rounds pierce night sky in Gaza's north

Cheryll Simpson

NEAR THE ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER — Three barrages of artillery rounds just pierced the skyline from Israel into Gaza’s north. The bombardments lasted over five minutes and followed a barrage about 90 minutes ago.

IDF launches broad attack against thousands of targets in Gaza: 'Whoever reaches the fence to enter Israel will die'

The Israel Defense Forces have launched a "broad attack against thousands of targets in Gaza," killing Hamas militants, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on X.

Hagari said the destruction of anyone who was part of the attack on Israel "is a top priority" and continued to urge Gaza City residents to evacuate to the south.

“The IDF has a very large presence in the north. Whoever reaches the fence to enter Israel will die," Hagari continued. "Every incident is the full responsibility of the state of Lebanon and it will bear the cost. We are in a broad logistical operation aimed at ensuring the readiness of the forces and responding with protective equipment to those fighting in all sectors, according to the prioritization of combat — Gaza first.”

Israeli troops include U.S. citizens

Josh Lederman

NORTHERN ISRAEL — Among the Israeli forces defending the northern border with Lebanon are a number of troops originally from the U.S.

At an encampment in northern Israel, NBC News met troops born in Florida, New York and Pennsylvania who had joined the Israel Defense Forces. 

Harrison Schwartz, 24, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, joined Israel’s military six years ago. After having completed his service he returned to Pennsylvania to study business while remaining in the reserves. He got an email after the terrorist attack calling him back to service and booked a flight to Israel.

“These are all my friends. These are my family,” Schwartz said, gesturing to his fellow troops. “I probably couldn’t forgive myself if I just stayed home, if I just went to work, if I was doing something else rather than being here.”

Concert survivor on how life has changed since the Hamas attacks

Yasmin Vossoughian

Millet Ben Haim reflected on how life has changed for her since Hamas militants attacked the Nova music festival, which she attended.

"It's really hard, honestly," Ben Haim told MSNBC’s Yasmin Vossoughian.

"I think everybody who went to this party lost friends," she said.

18-year-old in Gaza: ‘No place is safe’

An 18-year-old Palestinian in Gaza described to NBC News what life was like after being displaced from his home and fleeing to a UNRWA school with his family as the combat rages on.

“It’s a difficult place, not safe as we thought at first,” ​​Hasan al Attar said of living at the school. “We live here without water, electricity and internet.”

“We have a lot of rockets above us and no place is safe in Gaza right now,” he said, adding, “There is a lot of people still here like us because there is no safe ground. They kill a lot of people.”

The young man said he had been studying German so that one day he could reunite with his brother in Germany and attend university there.

“But because of the war, I can’t leave Gaza,” he said, adding that he thinks his education and “my life too” will be destroyed “because I can’t do anything.”

12 American relatives, including four children, stuck in Gaza

Jake Lubbehusen

Jake Lubbehusen and Mirna Alsharif

Twelve American citizens, including four children, who are members of the same family are stuck in Gaza.

Brothers Hesham Kaoud, Jamal Kaoud, Esam Kaoud, Nezam Kaoud, Mohammad Kaoud, along with Esam's son 20-year-old son, Ameer Kaoud, were in north Gaza visiting from California and Texas since September. They were meant to return home on Oct. 21.

From left: Hesham Kaoud, Jamal Kaoud, Ameer Kaoud, Esam Kaoud and Nezam Kaoud.
From left: Hesham Kaoud, Jamal Kaoud, Ameer Kaoud, Esam Kaoud and Nezam Kaoud.Courtesy Helal Kaoud

A cousin of the Kaoud family, Sarah Elnajjar, is also in northern Gaza with her husband and their four children, the youngest of which is two years old.

Then the war started.

"The minute the war began on Saturday morning we began trying to contact the U.S. embassy here as well as in Jerusalem," Shamiss Kaoud, Jamal's daughter, told NBC News, adding that her family members have filled out contact forms, gotten in touch with U.S. representatives and the U.S. Consulate, as well as the State Department.

Shamiss says her father, his brothers and Ameer were told by the State Department yesterday to head to the Rafah Crossing ahead of its potential opening for a few hours only to be turned away when they got there.

"They quickly rushed to the border to be there on time and were turned away because the agents at the border never received the OK to open it," Shamiss said.

Al Najjar and her family were advised by the U.S. Embassy to go south, but don't feel safe leaving their home.

Now, Shamiss' family members are waiting for additional updates from the U.S. Consulate as the Israel Defense Forces have announced a plan to implement “a wide range of offensive operative plans,” which will include “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

Esam Kaoud with his wife, some of his children, and grandson.
Esam Kaoud with his wife, some of his children, and grandson.Courtesy Helal Kaoud

Israel says foreign nationals from 43 countries are murdered or missing

Raf Sanchez

Raf Sanchez and Daniella Silva

The Israeli government said Saturday evening there were murdered and missing people from 43 different countries following the Hamas attacks. Israel said there were a total of 152 foreign nationals killed and 141 still missing as of Saturday evening.

That included 19 Americans killed and 18 missing.

A fireball erupts during Israeli bombardment in northern Gaza

A fireball erupts during Israeli bombardment in the northern Gaza Strip
Aris Messinis / AFP via Getty Images

IDF attacks several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces attacked several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

"Aircraft, artillery and tanks of the IDF attacked earlier today several military infrastructures of the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanese territory," Hagari wrote on his X account.

The attack was in response "to launches towards the territory of the State of Israel earlier today," he said.

Biden consistently briefed on Israel-Hamas war


Allie Raffa

Molly Roecker

Allie Raffa, Molly Roecker and Monica Alba

Two White House officials tell NBC News that President Joe Biden was consistently updated throughout the day yesterday on the situation in the Middle East and is continuing to be briefed throughout the day today.

Rockets fired in Gaza's direction

Ellison Barber

Cheryll Simpson

Ellison Barber and Cheryll Simpson

NEAR THE ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER — A volley of rockets fired in the direction of Gaza just streaked across the sky to the north of Gaza here.

The streaks almost sound like a storm moving in, with a steady flow of thunder-like booms followed by a siren and more booms in the sky.

There is notably increased activity in this region compared to yesterday, including more checkpoints on the roads. Many roads are now blocked off.

The Israeli military said all other roads in this area toward Gaza are fully closed to nonmilitary. There are no civilians in this area, just IDF troops.

There are a number of military tanks and vehicles in this area — stopping for fuel and then heading out in the direction of Gaza.

Israeli soldier directs armored vehicle near the Gaza border

An Israeli soldier directs an approaching Puma APC moving near the Gaza border in southern Israel on Saturday.
An Israeli soldier directs an approaching Puma APC moving near the Gaza border in southern Israel on Saturday.Aris Messinis / AFP via Getty Images

Hamas leader says people of Gaza ‘are committed to their homeland’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the people of Gaza “are committed to their homeland.”

Haniyeh said the Israeli military has “resorted to massacres, genocide and burning land attempts to displace our people and families in Gaza.” 

“The Gaza people are rooted in their land. They are committed to their homeland,” he said, speaking on the Lebanese station Al Manar TV.

“No migration from Gaza, no migration from the West Bank. No migration from Gaza to Egypt,” he said.

Gaza journalist says ‘ongoing bombardment is unprecedented’

A Gaza journalist said the Gaza Strip is in “an unprecedented crisis” as he reported from outside the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, which has also seen an “unprecedented” influx of the injured and the dead.

“The level and magnitude of the ongoing bombardment is unprecedented. Whole blocks were wiped out,” he said.

The journalist said people in Gaza do not have food and energy supplies and “are facing a real risk of starvation” if the blockade continues.

After civilians in the northern Gaza Strip were ordered to evacuate south by Israeli forces yesterday, he said, the south of Gaza is now full of “people who are sleeping in the streets” and people sleeping in open areas.

IDF: Hamas is obstructing safe routes, blocking Gaza residents from fleeing

Lawahez Jabari

Hamas militants are obstructing safe routes, preventing residents of the Gaza Strip from moving south following Israel's evacuation order, the Israel Defense Forces said.

NBC News did not independently verify the IDF's statement.

The IDF warned over 1 million people living in northern Gaza to evacuate to the south ahead of “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land" in the area.

Israeli American was days away from getting married when attacks began

Israeli American Alec Burkin was days away from getting married when Hamas attacked.

Burkin and his fiancée canceled their wedding, scrambled to get 50 of their guests out of the country and are now raising thousands of dollars for Israeli reservists sent to the front lines. 

“We have many friends that have been called up,” he said. “They have been taken away from their children, from their loved ones and called up in order to defend us. This is a way that I can play my small role.”

Blinken visits Arab nations to ensure cooperation

Abigail Williams

Mirna Alsharif and Abigail Williams

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Arab nations in an effort to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from expanding.

Blinken met with Foreign Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman Al Saud in Saudi Arabia and headed to the United Arab Emirates where he sat down with President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Blinken also intends to preserve a previous deal to stabilize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which was recently put on hold by Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian health minister: 15 medical centers damaged, 2 hospitals stopped providing service and 28 health staff killed

Lawahez Jabari

Lawahez Jabari and Mirna Alsharif

Fifteen medical centers have been damaged, two hospitals have stopped providing service, and 28 health staff have been killed and dozens more injured, according to Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila.

The two hospitals that stopped providing service are Beit Hanoun Hospital and Al-Durrah Children’s Hospital, Al-Kaila said.

"The Israeli occupation forces daily threaten to evacuate hospitals in the Gaza Strip, which is a clear threat to the lives of hundreds of sick and wounded people, including Al-Durrah Hospital for Children, which was evacuated yesterday after being bombed with internationally banned white phosphorus bombs, and before that, Beit Hanoun Hospital, which also stopped working as a result of the Israeli bombing," Al-Kaila said. He added that 23 ambulances were also damaged and out of service.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces has denied claims that the country is using white phosphorus munitions in Gaza.

IDF preparing to expand attack in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday evening it was preparing to implement “a wide range of offensive operative plans,” which will include “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

The IDF said that in recent days soldiers have been fighting to regain control of towns and outposts, capturing “many weapons that were in the possession of the terrorists, while evacuating the wounded who were hit.”

Now, those forces “backed by an extensive logistical effort and by completing the reserve mobilization of hundreds of thousands of servicemen,” were preparing to expand their attack, the IDF said.

Israel’s national security adviser: ‘Hamas will not rule Gaza’

Israel’s national security adviser said Saturday that it needs to “eliminate” Hamas and its “military and governmental capabilities” so that “there is no way for them to resurrect from it.”

“It will take months before we can say how this will happen, but Hamas will not rule Gaza,” Tzachi Hanegbi said.

Speaking of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza, he said, “We won’t stop until we know what happened to them and do whatever we can to bring them back.”

Hanegbi also said that when it came to its intelligence failure ahead of the attacks and protecting its citizens, “We failed and no one thinks differently, and it will be investigated, but all efforts now are for war.”

Drones readied at the Israeli border with Gaza

Max Butterworth

Israeli soldiers prepare armed drones stationed close to the Gaza Strip, from a field near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Saturday.

Thousands of Palestinians fled on Oct. 14, to southern Gaza seeking refuge after Israel warned them to evacuate before an expected ground offensive against Hamas in retaliation for the deadliest attack in Israel's history.
Thomas Coex / AFP - Getty Images

Hezbollah says it attacked Israeli outpost in Shebaa Farms

Mustafa Kassem

Mustafa Kassem and Daniella Silva

Hezbollah’s military media in Lebanon said that on Saturday afternoon it attacked a “surveillance and monitoring center belonging to the occupation forces” in the disputed area of Shebaa Farms along the border with Israel.

Hezbollah said that the “center was hit and a large part of its technical equipment was destroyed.”

NBC News could not immediately independently verify the claim.Shebaa Farms was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, but Lebanon claims the area as Lebanese.

Head of Gaza's largest hospital says 35,000 people taking shelter inside ahead of expected Israeli ground operation

Wajjeh Abu Zarifa

Wajjeh Abu Zarifa and Mirna Alsharif

There are 35,000 people taking shelter inside of Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital ahead of Israel's expected ground operation, according to Mohammed Abu Selmeia, the head of the hospital.

Al-Shifa is Gaza's largest hospital.

Families who fled their homes take refuge in Al-Shifa Hospital
Families who fled their homes take refuge in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, on Friday.Boaa Albaz / Anadolu via Getty Images

Israeli troops recover civilian bodies from Gaza

Raf Sanchez

TEL AVIV — Israeli troops have recovered the bodies of a number of civilians that were strewn in open areas of Gaza, an Israeli military spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told NBC News that Israeli units operating inside Gaza have retrieved the bodies of a number of civilians. "These were people they killed on the way and dropped." The bodies were lying in fields on the Gaza side of the border.

While dead bodies are not as valuable to Hamas as live hostages, the group has been known to use dead Israelis as bargaining chips. Before Saturday's attack, Hamas was holding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014.

Saudi Foreign Minister and Blinken discuss need to protect civilians

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams and Minyvonne Burke

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the two countries should work together to "continue their cooperation towards regional security" amid concerns about the number of civilians at risk from the war.

"It’s a disturbing situation. It’s a very difficult situation. And, you know, the primary suffer of this situation are civilians and civilian populations on both sides are being affected," the foreign minister said Saturday. "It’s important, I think, that we all condemn the targeting of civilians in any form at any time, by anyone."

Israeli soldiers walk near houses that were destroyed during a Hamas attack on the kibbutz
Israeli soldiers walk near houses that were destroyed during a Hamas attack on the kibbutz in Be'eri, Israel, on Saturday.Amir Levy / Getty Images

The foreign minister said priority needs to be placed on stopping "further civilian suffering."

"We need to find a way to quickly de-escalate the situation to quickly bring back peace," he said.

Blinken agreed that civilians need to be protected. "We’re working together to do exactly that," he said. "In particular, working on establishing safe areas in Gaza, working on establishing a corridor so that humanitarian assistance can reach people who need it."

"None of us want to see suffering by civilians on any side, whether it’s in Israel, whether it’s in Gaza, whether it’s anywhere else, and we’re working together to do our best to protect them," he continued.

Blinken also called Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss the ramifications of the war.

Smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah
Smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday.Said Khatib / AFP via Getty Images

"Wang reiterated that China opposes all acts that harm civilians and condemns all practices that violate international law," Chinese Embassy Spokesperson Liu Pengyu posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that "safeguarding one’s security cannot be realized at the expense of harming innocent civilians."

Israeli military shoring up defenses on Lebanon border 

Josh Lederman

NEAR ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER — The Israeli military is preparing for a potential second front in the war on the Israel-Lebanon border — this one with Hezbollah.

The buildup includes Merkava battle tanks and armored personnel carriers just a few miles from Lebanon in northern Israel, shown to NBC News on Saturday by the Israeli military.

As soldiers conducted maintenance on their vehicles, the sounds of small-arms fire could be heard in the distance. Smoke rose from the mountaintops from what Israel’s military says were roughly 30 mortar shells fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory. Israeli forces responded by shelling the site from which the mortars were fired.

In the afternoon sun, a group of religious troops observing the Sabbath took a break from conducting maintenance on their vehicles to pray under a tent with a Torah scroll brought to their encampment.

Israeli tanks are stationed near the border with Lebanon
Israeli tanks are stationed near the border with Lebanon, on SaturdayPetros Giannakouris / AP

22 hostages, including foreigners, killed in Israeli bombing of Gaza, according to Hamas military wing

Lawahez Jabari

Lawahez Jabari and Mirna Alsharif

The Al-Qassam Brigades announced the deaths of 22 hostages, including foreigners, as a result of the Israeli airstrikes in places where they were being held.

The group announced nine deaths today that occurred during the past 24 hours following Israeli airstrikes. Yesterday, 13 hostages were killed, mostly in Gaza, following airstrikes, according to the Qassam Brigades. This includes at least four foreigners.

Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip
Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, on Saturday.Ariel Schalit / AP

Mood in Jerusalem somber as conflict escalates

Shira Pinson

JERUSALEM- Jerusalem this afternoon seems quieter than usual. Few places are open. Even fewer people are walking the streets in the golden light. The mood is somber. 

Like everywhere across the country, everyone here knows someone who was kidnapped, killed or otherwise affected.

Three young men sit in “The Sira,” one of the only few bars in town open on a Saturday. They say they are "depressed, scared, anxious, all of the above.”

"You need to understand," one of the men says, "We have a friend whose been kidnapped and many who are dead. We’ve been holding it together all week. Now, we just want to let go. We want to try and relax. "

Up the road, a young woman is bathing in the fading light. She’s a USAID worker. She arrived here a month ago, but her work changed overnight. “I’m here to stay,” she says. She adds that the mood in Jerusalem has changed. The morale is low. The streets, she says, are empty. She only walks the 200 meters road up from the hotel every day to her sunny spot. More than that, doesn’t feel safe. 

65-years-old Miami resident Ingrid Fremin—Rodriguez came to Jerusalem as a tourist. This is not the vacation she and her husband had in mind, but they are trying to make the most of it. Yesterday, they visited the Mahneh Yehuda food market. Today they ventured out to the old city. Shops were open she said, but the tourists are nowhere to be seen.

Prime Minister Netanyahu visits Israeli infantrymen

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Israeli infantrymen during a tour Saturday of Kibbutz Bari and Kibbutz Kfar Gaza.

He met with several fighters, including Col. Ami Biton, a commander of the Parachute Brigade (35th Battalion). Biton told Netanyahu that he was among the hundreds of fighters who arrived within the first hours to fight.

Gov. DeSantis says U.S. shouldn't accept refugees from Gaza

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that the U.S. should not accept refugees from Gaza.

"If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all anti-Semitic. None of them believe in Israel’s right to exist," he said during opening remarks at a meet-and-greet event in Creston, Iowa.

The governor said "Arab states" should be taking them in instead.

"You don't fly people and import them into the United States of America, so we're going to be very strong on that," he continued. "And I think about our country, you see these demonstrations supporting Hamas in the United States of America. ... My view is very simple, if you don't like this country, if you hate America, you should not come to this country."

When NBC News later asked DeSantis about his comments, the governor defended his remarks.

"There’s a lot of toxicity. I mean, they elected Hamas," he said. "Let’s just be clear, it’s not like Hamas is some junta that came in and just seized power. They elected Hamas. There is definitely hatred of Israel. There’s definitely anti-Semitism."

NBC News

Hezbollah TV reports exchange of fire with Israeli troops

The Associated Press

Hezbollah’s TV station has reported an intense exchange of fire along Lebanon’s border with Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Al-Manar TV reported that Hezbollah fighters pounded Israeli positions in the Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba hills area on Saturday.

It was the latest exchange of shelling between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters since last Saturday following Hamas’ attack on southern Israel.

Israel’s military said that it was striking Lebanon after coming under fire from Hezbollah. Chebaa Farms was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war, but Lebanon considers it and the nearby Kfar Chouba hills as Lebanese territories.

The Golan Heights were annexed by Israel in 1981.

Rescuers look for survivors among the rubble of a collapsed building following an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip

NBC News

Palestinians look for survivors among the rubble of a collapsed building
Mahmud Hams / AFP via Getty Images

NBC News

Reporting from Israel, near the border of Gaza, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel says many in Gaza there are reluctant to leave, while those who do still face danger from the continuing bombing.

Congregants at a synagogue in Tel Aviv talk about life on hold

Ed Flanagan

TEL AVIV — About 10 to 12 congregants attended Shabbat morning service at the Beit Daniel Synagogue on Saturday. They sang, chanted and read from the Torah.

Rabbi Meir Azari said that he was supposed to be officiating four bar mitzvahs on Saturday, three weddings this week and four next week — but all of them have been canceled given that so many young people have been mobilized to join the war.

"People have had to stop everything in their life," said Azari, who has led the congregation for 33 years. "We saw grief and an anger through the years, but this is something very different. That reminded me of my youth as a young teenager, during Yom Kippur War."

Lauren Freedman, 62, has lived in Israel for 31 years and said that both Israeli and Palestinians just want to live normal lives.

"I think about the store where I buy fruits and vegetables — most of the workers there are Palestinians," she said. "So when I went in this week, all of the Palestinians were gone. And it was just the Israeli Jews. And I think about these people who are coming to work every day simply to earn a living. And there's good partnership and cooperation between them and the Israeli employees. And [what's happening] is just so sad."

Louvre Museum closes doors for security reasons

Leila Sackur

Home to the Mona Lisa and a world-renowned tourist destination, Paris' Louvre Museum of art remained shuttered today, citing security concerns.

"For security reasons, the Musée du Louvre is closing its doors today, Saturday, October 14. Those who have booked a visit during the day will be reimbursed," the gallery posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Police officers stand guard outside the Louvre Museum
Police officers stand guard outside the Louvre Museum as visitors are evacuated in Paris, on Saturday. Thomas Padilla / AP

The closure comes after Macron called for the mobilization of 7,000 soldiers for increased security patrols after a teacher was fatally stabbed and two more people injured in an Islamist attack on a school in Arras, northern France.

France, which has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe, banned pro-Palestinian protests earlier this week over concerns that they would generate "disturbances to the public order," according to Reuters.

U.S. government working to secure safe exit for U.S. citizens trying to leave Gaza

Kate Brannelly

Kate Brannelly and Minyvonne Burke

The U.S. is working to secure a safe border exit for U.S. citizens trying to leave Gaza, a Department of State spokesperson said.

"We have informed U.S. citizens in Gaza with whom we are in contact that if they assess it to be safe, they may wish to move closer to the Rafah border crossing," the spokesperson said, adding that "there may be very little notice if the crossing opens and it may only open for a limited time."

State department authorizes evacuation of non-emergency embassy personnel

Abigail Williams

The State Department has updated its travel advisory for Israel to authorize the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel working at the embassy in Jerusalem and U.S. branch office in Tel Aviv, along with their family members.

The departure authorization was given on the grounds of the "unpredictable security situation" across Israel, the update said.

The department has advised Americans not to travel to Gaza, due to the threats of armed conflict, civil unrest and terrorism, and has also advised citizens to "reconsider travel" to Israel and the West Bank.

Thousands of people turn out at pro-Palestinian rally in London

Leila Sackur

Thousands of people have turned out to a protest in central London over the Israeli siege of Gaza.

The mood as crowds gathered outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House was sombre and determined, attendees said. Many carried homemade signs with slogans such as “Stop the war” and “Free Palestine, shame on the U.K” as they walked through London’s crowded shopping district of Oxford Circus.

“I don’t normally come to protests, but I was moved by the horror unfolding in Gaza,” said Ben Stoll, 26, a doctoral student at London’s Royal Holloway University, who has family living in Israel.

People gather for the "March For Palestine" protest in London
People gather for the "March For Palestine" protest in London, on Saturday.Adrian Dennis / AFP via Getty Images

“The declaration of a total siege on Gaza is a war crime, and needs to be called out as such by our political leaders,” Stoll added.

Ahead of protests, the facade of the BBC's building was splattered with red paint overnight. London's police force warned on X last night that deviation from the planned route, towards the Israeli embassy in Kensington, West London, could result in arrest. Thousands of officers have been stationed across the capital to oversee the event, they added in a separate post.

Workmen clean off red paint from the windows at the entrance to the BBC
Workmen clean off red paint from the windows at the entrance to the BBC in London, on Saturday.Justin Tallis / AFP via Getty Images