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70 killed after convoys of evacuees in Gaza hit by Israeli airstrikes

Regarding the evacuation order, the United Nations said it was "impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences." Hamas urged residents to ignore the order.

What we know

  • Israel has ordered the entire population of northern Gaza to evacuate south, a warning that leaves more than 1 million people to decide whether to abandon their homes. Hamas urged Gazans to ignore it.
  • Following the order, 70 people — mostly women and children — were killed after Israeli airstrikes hit convoys of Palestinian evacuees heading south in Gaza.
  • Israel's military said the order, which has raised fears of an imminent ground offensive on the densely populated enclave, was intended to minimize civilian casualties in the war against Hamas. But the United Nations said it was "impossible" and risked a humanitarian disaster.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise statement on Israeli television tonight, saying the country's forces were preparing for another attack in Gaza and "our enemies have only started paying the price."
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the U.S. grapples with its response to the surprise Hamas attack and the fate of Americans, including some taken hostage.
  • At least 1,300 people — including 258 soldiers — have been killed in Israel and more than 3,300 have been injured. In Gaza, at least 1,900 people have been killed and more than 7,600 have been injured.
  • Tens of thousands of people protested across the Middle East after Friday prayers today.
  • NBC News’ Lester Holt, Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Kelly Cobiella, Matt Bradley, Ellison Barber, Chantal Da Silva and Josh Lederman are reporting from the region.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow the latest updates from NBC News here.

'A lot of people criticize us,' Israeli special police officer says

ASHDOD, Israel - "I've got a feeling we are all alone," an Israeli officer who identifies himself as a "fighter in a special police unit," said late Friday night. "A lot of people criticize us."

Noting criticism of Israel's order for the entire population of northern Gaza to evacuate south, as well as scrutiny of some of the country's response to Hamas' unprecedented attack one week ago, the officer, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said: "Seeing the people hating us, they're just ... using their strength for nothing."

The officer walked into the room in Ashdod carrying an Israeli flag on Friday.
The officer walked into the room in Ashdod carrying an Israeli flag on Friday. Chantal Da Silva / NBC News

The officer said he did not want to see "Palestinian people killed," but he said he felt Israel had to "strike back" at Hamas — even if it results in the death of civilians.

"We will never erase Gaza from the map. We will never kill 2.8 million people because that’s not us. We won’t do that," he said.

The left faces a reckoning as Israel divides Democrats

Joel Simonds, a Los Angeles-based rabbi involved in progressive causes, has always known that many of his ideological allies did not agree with him on Israel.  

But after this weekend’s terror attack, the worst killing of Jews since the Holocaust, Simonds said many liberal Jews feel abandoned by people they thought were friends, some of whom have expressed little sympathy for the Israelis killed while focusing instead on the plight of Palestinians.

American Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal, have often supported social justice movements. Simonds said while most progressive leaders have offered support, he feels betrayed by others on the left who have not.

Israel has been so fraught in some progressive circles that many preferred not to talk about it, enforcing a sort of strategic silence to avoid dividing the movement and distracting it from common ground issues.

That long-stifled debate is now spilling into public view in heated and sometimes ugly ways, dividing Democrats and exposing what some say is antisemitism that has been allowed to fester on the left for years. 

Read the full story here.

'Vengeance is not a strategy,' son of missing Israeli peace activist says

The son of Israeli peace and reconciliation activist Vivian Silver just wants what she would want: for the fighting to stop.

“We need to stop the violence now,” Jonatan Zeigen said today. “Vengeance is not a strategy. We need to negotiate, and we need to get the captives out.” 

His mother, 74, has been missing from her home on a kibbutz near Gaza since the Oct. 7 attack.

IDF spokesman defends order to evacuate north Gaza, which was criticized by U.N.

One week after Hamas terror attacks killed over 1,300 people in Israel and sparked retaliatory strikes in Gaza that have killed more than 1,900, a spokesman for Israel’s military sought to defend orders telling Palestinians to leave Gaza City.

Gaza City and northern Gaza are “an area where we plan to enhance our military operations,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus of the Israel Defense Forces said in a video livestream Saturday morning local time.

The United Nations and World Health Organization have said that moving over 1 million people in densely populated Gaza is impossible and puts lives at risk. The health care system is already at a breaking point and unable to deal with a transfer of patients, they said.

Israel has also enacted a “siege” on Gaza, with no water, fuel or food, and demanded the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Conricus on Saturday morning did not announce a ground assault by Israel into Gaza, but he said that ground forces were deployed around Gaza.

He said the military has been targeting Hamas, which has many commanders and officers and other materials in Gaza City.

“We want civilians not to be affected by the war. We didn’t put those civilians there. They are not our enemy. We are not trying to kill or injure any civilians. We are fighting against Hamas,” Conricus said.

The military arm of Hamas said that Israeli airstrikes had hit a column of evacuees from Gaza City on Friday. The Palestinian Health Ministry corroborated that claim, and NBC News crews met people in hospitals who lost family members from airstrikes while fleeing from the north. 

220 South Korean and other Asian nationals evacuate from Israel

A South Korean military plane evacuating 220 South Korean and other Asian nationals from Israel has departed Tel Aviv and was expected to land in South Korea later Saturday, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

The people transported on the KC-330 military transport plane included 163 South Koreans, 51 Japanese nationals and six Singaporean nationals, the ministry said.

South Korea had also sent a civilian plane earlier this week to evacuate 192 South Korean nationals. About 470 South Koreans remain in Israel, most of them long-term residents who have chosen to stay.

No South Korean casualties have so far been reported from the violence in Israel and Gaza.

Ori Arad, music festival bartender, saved lives, brother said

Ori Arad, a bartender at the Supernova music festival in southern Israel, called his father at 7:10 a.m. and said, “Listen, there is an ambush of dozens of terrorists, they’re blocking the roads. They’re shooting on is with machine guns.”

“I must do something ... I’ve decided to confront them,” his brother, Shay Arad told NBC News Now. The family found out three hours later that he was killed.

But on Israeli media, two girls were interviewed who said “an angel with curly hair” in a gray jeep found them on the road and saved them.

That was Ori, Arad said, and he drove his vehicle at attackers and to avoid ambushes, but was shot and the vehicle rolled over. Ori Arad lost consciousness and the two girls played head, Shay Arad said. Ori later regained consciousness and was found and shot dead, he said.

The name Ori means “my light” in Hebrew, and “Ori was a person that was full of light,” Shay Arad said.

“The way he acted during this terrorism is exactly what we knew he will do,” he said. “I believe he lost his life following his ideals.”

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

Republicans splinter over Israel politics

WASHINGTON — Republicans are divided over the U.S. response to terrorist attacks in Israel, both within the ranks of their own presidential primary and when it comes to President Joe Biden’s reaction.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to hit former President Donald Trump, a rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, over derogatory comments Trump made Wednesday night about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and praise for Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, as “very smart.”

DeSantis and several other Republican candidates have harshly criticized Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination and a longtime favorite of Israel hawks, since he made the remarks. 

The Republican infighting, coupled with pockets of GOP approval for Biden’s handling of the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, suggest that the domestic political turf has shifted as a result of the unfolding situation in the Middle East. What remains to be seen is how big the change is and if it will last.

It’s also not clear yet whether Trump’s comments will hurt him at all in a Republican primary that he has dominated, particularly given the bonds he built with conservatives by moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, negotiating the Abraham Accords peace agreements and giving full-throated support to Israel during his term as president. But Trump and his campaign have been engaged in a public cleanup operation since Wednesday night.

Read the full story here.

An inside look at the impossible position Gaza's hospitals are in

An NBC News camera crew gained access to the hospital on the brink of collapse, finding young children with bloody limbs and corridors lined with anxious family members awaiting updates about their loved ones. One woman sat on the floor, crying with her face in her hands — her legs covered by bloodied bedsheets and her feet coated in debris.

Read the full story here.

Medics push a wounded Palestinian into a hospital on a stretcher
Palestinians wounded in an Israeli strikes are taken into the Dar Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, on Friday.Ali Mahmoud / AP

‘We assume the plan is to bomb this, the city to dust,’ says U.S. translator in Gaza

Arabic-English translator Jason Shawa, his wife and two daughters fled their Gaza City home and are staying in a shelter after Israel’s military warned civilians to leave.

“When you say safe, it’s very relative,” Shawa, 55, who was born in Seattle but has spent most of his life in Gaza, told NBC News in audio messages over WhatsApp.

They are in a shelter in the center of the Gaza Strip, where around 45 to 50 other people are also staying. They left after the Israeli military said people should go south for their own safety. They are using a small battery-powered system to charge phones and there are a few light bulbs lit, he said.

“We assume the plan is to bomb this, the city to dust,” he said.

Smoke rises from an explosion after an Israeli airstrike
Smoke rises from an explosion after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Friday.Hatem Ali / AP file

There are around 19 children in the shelter and not enough blankets or mattresses, Shawa said.

“We gave priority to the children, we have them inside the structure,” he said. An elderly couple is also inside, and the rest of them are sleeping outside on the tiles, he said.

People at the shelter don’t know what will happen next, Shawa said. Some think they’ll be told to move again and be pushed to the Sinai Desert in Egypt.

“We have no idea, we just have no idea. Most of us believe that there will be nothing to get back to in a few days if we do actually live through it,” Shawa said.

WHO pleads with Israel to reverse evacuation decision

The World Health Organization today said it was “appealing to Israel to immediately rescind orders” telling people in north Gaza to head to the south, which it said involved over 1 million people.

“A mass evacuation would be disastrous — for patients, health workers and other civilians left behind or caught in the mass movement,” the WHO said in a statement posted to X. "With ongoing airstrikes and closed borders, civilians have no safe place to go."

An Israeli military spokesman early Friday ET said it has warned people in Gaza City and in northern Gaza to leave to the south within 24 hours, for what it says is the safety of civilians as it strikes Hamas.

“The Palestinian Ministry of Health has informed WHO that it is impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients without endangering their lives,” the WHO said in a statement.

What is Israel's plan for the tunnels that Hamas uses to move fighters and weapons? 

Israel’s air force is getting more U.S.-made bombs to help it destroy the labyrinth of tunnels used by Hamas militants in Gaza to conceal weapons, fighters and hostages. In the aftermath of Hamas’ surprise attack across Israel’s southern border, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment of Gaza to try to take out Hamas’ weapons stockpiles and its vast tunnel system. But Israeli ground forces likely will be needed to clear out the tunnel network known as “Gaza’s Metro,” according to former U.S. officials and military officers.

“Clearly, they want to put as many of these out of commission as possible,” said Matthew Levitt, a counterterrorism expert and former U.S. senior national security official.

The tunnels are a “critical” military objective for Israel as it seeks to degrade Hamas’ armed forces and dismantle the militants’ infrastructure, said Levitt, now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank.

The Biden administration said it is providing Israel with kits to convert unguided or “dumb bombs” into precision-guided munitions as well as small diameter bombs (SDBs) that experts say are effective weapons against underground targets. The weapons are supposed to enable Israel to target Hamas militants while minimizing harm to civilians, experts said, though humanitarian organizations have expressed concern over the plight of Gaza’s civilian population given the intensity of the Israeli air raids.

Read the full story here.

Canadians in Gaza may be able to leave into Egypt this weekend, official says

There may be a chance for Canadians in Gaza and their families to head into Egypt tomorrow, a Canadian Global Affairs assistant deputy minister Julie Sunday said.

“We learned this morning that there may be an opportunity for individuals to leave through the Rafah gate into Egypt tomorrow between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.,” the official said at a news conference today (ET).

“We are actively engaging with Egyptian and Israeli authorities to ensure that Canadians, permanent residents and their family members, will be able to leave,” she said.

There are 485 Canadians in the West Bank and Gaza registered with Global Affairs, which among other things provides consular assistance, she said.

Canadian Armed Forces flights have also been getting Canadians out of Israel. Yesterday and today, CAF flights have transported 496 people from the airport in Tel Aviv, Sunday said. Two flights happened today and had either landed or were en route to Athens.

The government is aware of three Canadians who have been killed and four who are missing, she said. The situation in Gaza is "very difficult" and a lack of electricity is making communication difficult, she said.

Families across Israel mourn loved ones, pray for missing

JERUSALEM — On the Jewish holy day of Shabbat, families across Israel were mourning loved ones and praying for those who remain missing.

At one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, the Western Wall, a mother of seven said that the “heart can’t contain this incredible sorrow.”

“Every time I look at my own baby I cry,” she said.

At a dinner table in a Jerusalem home, the mother of a missing 19-year-old woman described the “living hell” her family was enduring.

“I can’t help her,” said the mother, who believes her daughter was kidnapped Saturday morning from her safe room.

“We can’t sleep, we can’t eat,” she said. “I have no air. I can’t breathe.”

Trump falsely characterized Israel’s role in his administration’s assassination of Iran’s top general 

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump falsely characterized Israel’s role in his administration’s assassination of Iran’s top general during remarks this week, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the planning of the operation.

Trump said Wednesday that Israel planned to be part of the January 2020 operation that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani but abruptly backed out the night before it was to take place. In his remarks, delivered before an audience at his Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida, Trump sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for that decision after months of working with the U.S. on the operation. 

But the U.S. officials familiar with the planning said Trump’s comments are entirely false. “They were never on board with it,” said a former senior White House official, referring to the Israelis. “They always thought it was a dangerous and destabilizing idea.”

One former Trump administration official familiar with the planning said that in Washington, when Trump made the decision to go ahead with the Soleimani strike, the generals who were present seemed to collectively take a deep breath.

The CIA declined to comment. The Trump campaign, the U.S. military’s Central Command and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read the full story here.

U.S. has not asked Israel to delay ground operation

The U.S. has not urged Israel to delay its ground operation in Gaza until safe passage for Palestinians can be secured, a senior U.S. official told NBC News, denying a Fox News report

The U.S. believes Israel is trying to minimize harm to civilians but, given that rocket attacks from Gaza have continued for a week, Israel has a need, a right and an obligation to respond with the operations they deem necessary, a senior state department official said tonight.

Secretary Blinken said today that the U.S. was focused on creating safe zones in Gaza in coordination with international organizations and other countries, but acknowledged they were still working on the details.

“We’re very actively engaged with U.N. relief agencies, with the ICRC, with others to address the acute humanitarian needs of people in Gaza — to protect them from harm and make sure that they have the ability to get what they need,” he said.

There are 500 to 600 Americans living in Gaza, and the U.S. is continuing discussions with Israel and Egypt to ensure safe passage for those who want to leave. That safe passage hinges on Egypt agreeing to keep the Rafah crossing open, the only path into Sinai from Gaza. U.S. discussions with Egypt have focused on American citizens and other foreign nationals, a senior state department official said today, but have not involved the same push for safety for Palestinians.

"Any American citizen that’s in Gaza or in Israel, we certainly want to hear from them and we will do everything we can to help them leave if they want to leave,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said today. “Now, obviously, it’s different geography, different challenges, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t still committed to that and to make it work. And that includes the West Bank.”

Among those civilians in Gaza are believed to be American hostages.

“We are trying to secure the release of the hostages. Period. We recognize the brutality of the organization that has taken these hostages and are very clear-eyed about that, but we’re doing everything we can to secure their release, including asking other countries that have any leverage at all to bring that leverage to bear,” a senior state department official said today. “At the same time, we recognize that Israel has just very legitimate needs here.”

From downtown Miami, a show of support for Gaza

"Free Palestine" protesters occupied downtown Miami today.
"Free Palestine" protesters occupied downtown Miami today.Erika Angulo

MIAMI — Around 150 people assembled in downtown Miami today to protest Israel Defense Forces’ offensive in Gaza, chanting "Free Palestine" and waving Palestinian flags.

"We think Jewish lives are precious. We think Palestinian lives are precious," said Martha Schoolman, 53, from Coral Gables. “I’m horrified by the rush for revenge.”

Schoolman held a flag identifying herself as a member of “Jewish Voice For Peace,” which calls itself the “largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world.”

Jewish Anti-Zionist protesters from "Jewish Voice for Peace" stand with "Free Palestine" demonstrators.
Jewish Anti-Zionist protesters from "Jewish Voice for Peace" stand with "Free Palestine" demonstrators.Erika Angulo

Across the street, a small group of demonstrators protested Hamas. Some held signs comparing Hamas to the Nazi regime.

Miami Police arrested one man when he stepped out of the Palestinian protest area and appeared to try and enter the pro-Israeli demonstration section.

Miami Police arrest a man appearing to cross from the Palestinian side to the Israeli side of the protest.
Miami Police arrest a man appearing to cross from the Palestinian side to the Israeli side of the protest.Erika Angulo

‘Even wars have rules,’ U.N. secretary-general says, calls for humanitarian access

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that the conflict between Hamas and Israel “has reached a dangerous new low” and called for immediate humanitarian access into blockaded Gaza.

"Even wars have rules,” Guterres told reporters today. “International humanitarian law and human rights must be respected and upheld.”

The secretary-general said that “civilians must be protected, and also, never used as shields.” He also called for all hostages being held in Gaza to be released.

Guterres today repeated U.N.’s position that Israel’s warning for 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to leave for the south is impossible.

“Moving more than 1 million people across a densely populated war zone to a place with no food, water or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous and in some cases simply not possible,” he said.

Eerie calm as evacuation deadline for northern Gaza passes

ASHDOD, Israel — There was an eerie calm as Israel’s deadline for 1 million Palestinians to evacuate a large and densely populated section of northern Gaza passed today.

From just north of Gaza, it wasn’t clear if the calm signaled that Israeli forces had sufficiently softened Hamas targets within Gaza ahead of an anticipated ground offensive.

During an unscheduled speech on television, Benjamin Netanyahu did not mention the offensive but sought to rally the country behind his efforts to “smash” Hamas.

Earlier today, the Israeli military told reporters a covert special forces unit was in Gaza trying to find dozens of hostages who were taken by Hamas militants a week ago. 

The military did not provide additional details about the mission but said the unit was involved in firefights with militants.

Israel’s military told the United Nations on yesterday afternoon Eastern Time that the entire population north of Wadi Gaza had to evacuate within 24 hours, a U.N. official said.

State Dept. officials urged to stay away from 'de-escalation,' 'cease-fire' language

A small group of State Department officials involved in public messaging around the Israel-Hamas were advised today against using the phrases “de-escalation/cease-fire,” “end to violence/bloodshed” and “restoring calm.” The brief email was written to ensure State Department messaging is consistent and in line with that of both Secretary Blinken and President Biden, a U.S. official directly familiar with the email told NBC News.

The official said the guidance was forwarded and circulated beyond its intended recipients to a much larger group within the State Department. The email was first reported on by the Huffington Post.

A tweet from Blinken’s account was deleted the day after the Hamas attacks, and changed from saying he encouraged Turkey’s “advocacy for a cease-fire,” in a call with Foreign Minister Fidan to saying, “Israel has a right to defend itself, rescue any hostages, and protect its citizens.”

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller defended the decision to alter the tweet in a briefing Monday.

"After his call with Foreign Minister Fidan, we released a public readout that made clear that the Secretary, in his conversation, had reiterated what we have said publicly a number of times, which is: Hamas should cease its violent activities against Israel,” Miller said. “The tweet was unfortunately worded, did not capture that appropriately, so we pulled it down.”

Video shows Hamas rocket launches and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

'Free Palestine' and pro-Israel protesters flood Times Square

Mohamed Zano, 45, of Staten Island.
Mohamed Zano, 45, of Staten Island.Deon Hampton / NBC News

Hundreds of protesters assembled in New York City’s Times Square this afternoon. One side chanted "Free Palestine" and held signs calling for negotiations to prevent more civilian casualties in Gaza. Across the street, a smaller pro-Israel rally waved Israeli flags.

Hundreds of police officers and traffic separated the crowds as they marched down West 42nd Street. Buses and cars honked in support of both.

“The U.S. government has done nothing but destruction to the Middle East,” one speaker at the pro-Palestinian rally said before the crowd loudly booed Biden.

Rana Atari, a 39-year-old New Jersey resident who has family in the Palestinian territory, called on the world to open its eyes and “end all this cruelty.”

Standing amid a sea of signs telling the U.S. to end aid to Israel, Awad Ahmad, 30, of Queens, called for an end to the war and the killing of innocent civilians.

“There are millions of Palestinians in Gaza who don’t have food, water or electricity, he said. “You can’t ignore that.”

“Our people are suffering and their lives is very hard,” said Mohamed Zano, 45, of Staten Island, draped in a Palestinian flag. “Please stop the war.” War is not the solution. Israel needs to sit at the table and negotiate.

On the opposite side of the rally, some pro-Israel protesters decried the brutality.

“They support Hamas and they should be ashamed of themselves. And they laugh in our face," said Idan Naor, 39, of Queens. "They are proud that they kill Jews.”

Another Jewish supporter from Queens said he’d never be the same after the invasion.

“I’m not the same person, my perception of life and society has changed,” said Al Dro, 48, although he wasn’t sure if it was for better or worse.

Two hours into the protests, the Palestinian supporters de-escalated the situation by marching up 42nd Street past Bryant Park.

Palestinian doctor in Gaza describes the current situation amid Israeli airstikes

Palestinian plastic surgeon Mohamed Ziara described the situation in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza amid airstrikes from Israel.

"I'm trying to deal with patients, we have maybe 10 times the capacity of the hospital, overloaded with patients," the 37-year-old said in a video sent to NBC News.

“Patients are in the corridors, the streets, they are evacuating them because there is no other beds,” he said. “Any other casualties come to the hospital, they stay in the emergency department.”

“We tried to live in Gaza, but there is no hope now," Ziara said.

Florida lawmaker urges DeSantis to expel college students, fire faculty who participate in pro-Hamas rallies

A Florida state representative urged Gov. Ron DeSantis in a letter today to use state laws to expel college students and fire faculty who espouse antisemitic views and participate in pro-Hamas rallies.

“Since Saturday, there have been celebrations of Jewish death across Florida. In Fort Lauderdale and Tampa and Jacksonville. On our state University campuses in Boca and Tampa and Tallahassee and Gainesville and Miami,” Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican, said.

The letter added, “Any student organization that has attempted to ‘justify the killing of Jews’ which is chartered by any state college or university, must be expelled immediately, and any public funds be cut off.”

Fine also wrote: “Any faculty member who has propagated, excused, or encouraged this genocide must be fired. … There is no excuse for inaction, no equivocation.”

Biden promises to do ‘everything possible’ to locate missing Americans

France declares terrorist alert after teacher is fatally stabbed

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne declared a terrorist alert and mobilized the country's security forces after a teacher was fatally stabbed and two other people were wounded in the northern city of Arras.

The 20-year-old suspect, who is a former student of the Lycee Gambetta high school, where the attack happened, has been arrested and had been on a state watch list of people posing a potential security risk, officials said.

"Based on our intelligence, there is a link unfortunately between what is happening in the Middle East," Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on on TF1 TV.

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the attack as a “barbaric Islamic terrorism."

NYC councilwoman arrested after showing up at pro-Palestinian rally with gun

A New York City councilwoman was arrested and charged today with criminal possession of a firearm after images on social media showed her at a pro-Palestinian rally in Brooklyn yesterday with a gun appearing to protrude from her waistband, police said.

Inna Vernikov, 39, represents the 48th District in Brooklyn, according to a council website. Vernikov, a Ukrainian-born lawyer and Republican who serves as the minority whip, is a leading voice against antisemitism, according to the council website.

Vernikov could not be immediately reached for comment. She had repeatedly denounced pro-Palestinian rallies on her X account.

“It is unacceptable and unlawful for a civilian to ever bring a firearm to a rally or protest, and especially important for elected officials to model a respect for the law that is expected of all New Yorkers," New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said in a statement.

Photo: Israel delivers presentation at the U.N. on Hamas kidnappings

People watch footage on a screen as Israeli representatives deliver a presentation at the United Nations on Oct. 13, 2023, on the kidnappings by Hamas.
People watch footage on a screen as Israeli representatives deliver a presentation today at the U.N. on the kidnappings by Hamas. Kena Betancur / AFP - Getty Images

Israel used white phosphorus weapons in Gaza, human rights watchdog says

A human rights watchdog says that it's verified that Israel used white phosphorous weapons in Gaza, which can cause severe burns and are considered particularly dangerous for civilians due to their indiscriminate nature.

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch published a report saying that it verified the use of the munitions in Gaza and Lebanon through videos and interviews.

Amnesty International's weapons investigator agreed with Human Rights Watch's assessment in an emailed statement and said that his team had verified that white phosphorus munitions were spotted on Israeli planes that were conducting air attacks.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces called the accusation "unequivocally false."

Smoke fills the air after Israeli aircraft bombed the area west of Gaza City on Oct. 11, 2023.
Amhad Hasaballah, the photographer of this Oct. 11 image, told NBC News that he believed this was white phosphorus smoke.Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

In interviews with NBC News, a photographer said that he believed he witnessed and photographed an air attack using white phosphorus weapons. A surgeon told NBC News that she witnessed wounds that she said were consistent with white phosphorus injuries.

White phosphorus is allowed by international law in certain uses, such as for creating light or a smoke screen. But airdropping white phosphorus weapons is prohibited by international law, according to human rights groups, though Israel is not a signatory to that law.

Read the full story here.

‘Rescue Gaza!’: Desperate plea as Palestinians struggle to find safety

Gaza City residents were ordered to evacuate ahead of the IDF's ground offensive and are fleeing with their belongings — many by car, others on foot and some by horse-drawn wagon.

"I don’t know where I can go now," Gaza resident Mazen Saidam said. "Egypt or Jordan or Syria or Lebanon? You can't go to any place now. [There's] no transportation.”

He called on the people of the world to help Gaza as the city is being shelled.

“Now I am waiting to dead. All the people in Gaza, waiting to dead,” Saidam said.

Michigan man arrested after allegedly threatening Palestinian Americans online

A Michigan man was arrested yesterday after police learned of a “credible threat” made on social media proposing violence against Palestinian American residents.

On Wednesday, police became aware of the threat against Palestinian Americans in Dearborn, Michigan, and then received a copy of the social media post from an anonymous tip, according to a statement yesterday from Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin.

Dearborn is home to a large Muslim and Arab population.

The suspect behind the alleged threat, who was not identified in Thursday’s statement, was arrested at his residence about 1 p.m. in Farmington Hills on “probable cause of using a computer or electronic device to commit a crime,” Shahin said.

Doctors Without Borders said Israel gave Gaza City hospital only two hours to evacuate

Doctors Without Borders said Israel gave Al-Awda Hospital in Gaza City just two hours to evacuate.

"We unequivocally condemn this action, the continued indiscriminate bloodshed and attacks on health care in Gaza," Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) wrote on its X account. "We are trying to protect our staff and patients."

In an update posted an hour later, the group said Israel extended the evacuation order until 6 a.m. local time.

Videos from Al-Shifa Hospital, also in Gaza City, showed an overwhelmed hospital system with bloodied patients, including children, on the floor after convoys transporting evacuees were hit by airstrikes.

In one video, an ambulance driver can be seen exiting the vehicle before falling to the ground, overwhelmed with emotion.

Israeli artists raise global awareness through 'Kidnapped From Israel' campaign

A campaign called "Kidnapped From Israel" is encouraging people to post signs in public places to raise awareness of those kidnapped by Hamas.

A total of 39 posters in six different languages on the campaign's website feature the names and ages of people abducted by Hamas, ranging from 77-year-old Ophelia Roitman to a 9-month-old Kfir.

“On October 7th, nearly 200 innocent civilians were abducted from Israel onto the Gaza strip,” the posters say. "Take a photo of this poster and share it. Please help bring them home alive."

A poster on a mail box in London  shows an Israeli man believed to be kidnapped by Hamas.
A poster on a mailbox in London shows an Israeli man believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas.Jonathan Brady / PA via AP

According to the campaign's website, the initiative was started by Israel-based grafitti artist Dede Bandaid, New York-based mixed-media artist Niftan Mintz and Israel-based designer Tal Huber.

New York-based radio station 1010 WINS said the posters were found all over Manhattan, from Soho to the Upper West Side. A U.K.-based Jewish news outlet reported that the posters were seen all over London.

Dozens of students at Columbia held up posters from the campaign during a protest on the university's campus yesterday. X users also posted images of the campaign on street posts in Israel.

A person hangs posters outside the Synagogue Fraenkelufer in Berlin  on Oct. 13, 2023, with photos of people who went missing following the Hamas attacks in Israel.
A person hangs posters outside the Synagogue Fraenkelufer in Berlin today with photos of people who went missing following the Hamas attacks in Israel.John MacDougall / AFP - Getty Images

Netanyahu: ‘Our enemies have only started paying the price’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this evening that "this is only the beginning" of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and "our enemies have only started paying the price."

He said Israeli forces "are taking off for another attack in Gaza."

"A disaster has happened to us, we are making every effort, with a great sense of mission and mutual guarantee of a society that needs to be strong in its difficult time," Netanyahu said, addressing the nation in an unexpected statement at around 9:30 p.m. local time.

He said he had spoken today to a few families who have lost loved ones.

"Today we all understand we’re fighting for our home, and we’re fighting like lions," he said.

Netanyahu said Israel will "never forget the atrocities that have been done to us and we’ll never forgive."

"We’re hitting our enemy with unprecedented force," he said. "Our enemies have only started paying the price. This is only the beginning."

Israeli strikes on evacuee convoys in Gaza kill 70, Hamas says

The Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, said three convoys carrying evacuees toward the southern Gaza Valley were hit by Israeli strikes. 

As many as 70 people, most of them women and children, were killed in the strikes and more than 200 were injured. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza corroborated Hamas’ statement, and NBC News crews in the field met people in hospitals who lost family members from airstrikes while fleeing from the north. 

Harvard president condemns Hamas but will not punish students for statement

Harvard University President Claudine Gay reiterated the school's condemnation of Hamas' attacks on Israel but said she does not plan to punish students for expressing other views.

"Our university embraces a commitment to free expression," she said in a video address last evening. "That commitment extends to views that many of us find objectionable — even outrageous."

The video was Gay's third statement this week about Harvard's stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, following a controversial letter co-signed by a coalition of student groups. The statement said its signatories hold Israel "entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

At least nine of the student groups that initially signed on had withdrawn their endorsement by last evening, according to the Harvard Crimson. On Wednesday and yesterday, a billboard truck drove through streets near Harvard’s campus displaying the names and faces of students allegedly affiliated with the groups that signed the statement, calling them antisemites.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Gay said the student organizations behind the letter did not speak for Harvard.

In her video statement, she said Harvard students face a choice: Fan the flames of division, or be a force for something better.

“We can inflame an already volatile situation on our campus, or we can focus our attention where it belongs: on the unfolding tragedy thousands of miles away," Gay said.

Netanyahu to give unexpected statement soon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give a special unexpected statement this evening.

Blinken on Gaza: ‘Our focus is on helping to create safe zones’ 

Blinken said that when it came to civilians in Gaza, “our focus is on helping to create safe zones” as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues. 

He said that when it came to “ensuring that they can be out of harm’s way and that they can have access to the support that they need, the humanitarian assistance, the food, and medicine, to water,” the U.S. was focused on creating such “safe zones” in Gaza.

Speaking during a news conference in Doha, Qatar, Blinken said the U.S. was engaged with Israel, as well as working with other countries on that process, adding he thought it was the best way to make sure civilians caught in the “crossfire of Hamas” can “be safe and receive the assistance they need.”

Gaza residents desperately seek safety but options are dire

The leaflets gently floated from the sky early today, but the message for Palestinians living in Gaza City couldn’t have been more forceful. 

“Gaza City has turned into a battlefield,” they said in Arabic. “You have to leave your homes immediately and head south of Wadi Gaza,” they added, referring to the small river which bisects the Gaza Strip. “For your safety: Don’t return to your homes until further notice from the Israel Defense Forces.”

As fears grew about an imminent Israeli ground invasion, residents scrambled to gather what they could and leave. 

“We’re just going, if you have a car just run. No one knows where we’re going, but we’re all evacuating,” Salma Shurrab, a 22-year-old dental student from Gaza City, told NBC News in a series of video diaries, shortly after the order was issued. “Just pray for us and hopefully we’ll come back home.”

Read the full story here.

Israeli town near border with Lebanon evacuated but IDF says there is no security incident

The small Israeli town of Metula, located near the Lebanese border, was evacuated earlier today and declared a closed military zone, meaning entry is prohibited.

However, IDF spokesperson Brigadier General Daniel Hagari clarified in a statement that there is no security incident in Metula, which has a population of fewer than 2,000 and is the northernmost town in Israel.

“The IDF continues with a strong deployment of forces along the entire northern border; we are on full vigilance and readiness,” Hagari said.

The IDF also announced earlier today that an explosion at the security fence adjacent to Hanita, a kibbutz near the Lebanese border southwest of Metula, caused light damage. Israeli forces responded with artillery fire toward Lebanon. They have also been searching the Hanita area following an alert that it may have been infiltrated.

Israeli soldiers patrol the Israeli village of Metula near the border with Lebanon on October 13, 2023.
Israeli soldiers patrol the Israeli village of Metula near the border with Lebanon today. Joseph Eid / AFP - Getty Images

Watch: NBC News crew takes cover during rocket fire near Israel border

Dramatic video shows NBC News Correspondent Ellison Barber and crew took cover during rocket fire while reporting from the Israel-Gaza border.

"This is what you do when you hear something like this is you get as low as possible and seek some shelter nearby," Barber said while taking cover. "We all have our protective equipment on — we are as flat as we can possibly be on the ground here as we wait for this to clear."

The horizon lit up red when rocket fire hit Gaza, while Barber and NBC's crew stayed on the ground for several minutes to avoid any potential shrapnel coming in their direction.

Barber said the rockets flying overhead are a reminder of how quickly the situation can change, and of the everyday reality for civilians living in Gaza.

IDF tells Gaza City residents to evacuate via a safe route until 8 p.m.

The IDF told Gaza City residents to evacuate to the south via a route that the Israeli army "will refrain from touching" until 8 p.m. local time, according to a statement.

"We called on you this morning to leave Gaza City to the south of Wadi Gaza, for your safety," an IDF spokesperson said in a post on X. "I would like to inform you that the Israeli army will refrain from touching the route marked on the map until 20:00 hours."

"If you care about yourself and your loved ones, you should head south according to our instructions," the spokesperson wrote. "Be sure that Hamas leaders only care about protecting themselves in preparation for strikes in the area."

The IDF plans to publish additional information about available security routes later, the spokesperson wrote.

Biden speaks with families of the Americans still unaccounted for

President Joe Biden on Friday spoke with the family members of some Americans believed to be held hostage in the Gaza Strip, according to a White House official.

In a call, Biden spoke with family members of the 14 Americans still unaccounted for in the Israel-Hamas war, the White House said, including some believed to be held hostage by Hamas

He was joined on the call by national security adviser Jake Sullivan; Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs; Undersecretary of State for Management John Bass; and Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East, according to the White House.

The call lasted more than an hour and was on-camera for participants via Zoom, two people familiar with the conversation told NBC News. 

Israel has estimated that 150 people were taken to Gaza to be held hostage during Hamas’ terrorist attack last Saturday. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed on Thursday that the number of American hostages is believed to be less than a handful.

Read the full story here.

IDF has been conducting raids in Gaza over the past day 

The Israel Defense Forces have been conducting localized raids on the ground in the Gaza Strip over the past day “in an effort to eliminate the threat of terrorists and weapons in the area and locate hostages,” the IDF said in a statement Friday evening local time.

The raids do not represent the start of a ground offensive. Instead, IDF soldiers searched for and collected evidence to “assist in the effort to locate hostages,” the statement said.  

“In addition, IDF soldiers thwarted terrorist cells and infrastructure located in the area, including a Hamas cell that fired anti-tank missiles toward Israeli territory,” the statement said.

The IDF added that the Israeli air force also continued its airstrikes “on Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip, as well as strikes on anti-tank missile launchers immediately after they attacked Israel.”

Family gathers for Shabbat dinner and hope for son's return

HERZLIYA, Israel — For Amit Shemtov, 24, it's hard to believe that just a week ago, his family was together for a Shabbat dinner. Tonight, they gather again, but one important person is missing from the dinner table: His younger brother, Omer.

Omer Shemtov was one of the people taken hostage Saturday at the musical festival where at least 260 others were killed. As the attack unfolded, he was frightened as he called his father, saying he was going to try to come back home. The family was able to track his phone's location until it crossed the border into Gaza, his older brother said.

At first, Amit Shemtov said, he was in denial about what might have happened to his brother, thinking: "I bet he's just hiding in some bushes just waiting to be rescued."

When they didn't hear from the 20-year-old, however, they panicked. The family's fears were confirmed when government officials visited their house Monday to say that "Hamas has him," Amit Shemtov said.

As the family gathered for Shabbat dinner without his younger brother, Amit Shemtov said: "It's not going to be easy ... But we're going to do it for him."

Reuters videographer killed, two other journalists injured in Lebanon

Civil Defense workers and a Lebanese security officer carry a journalist who was injured by Israeli shelling at Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon Oct. 13, 2023.
Civil Defense workers and a Lebanese security officer carry a journalist Friday who was injured by Israeli shelling at Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon. Hassan Ammar / AP

The news agency Reuters said today that videographer Issam Abdallah was killed and two other journalists were injured in an incident in southern Lebanon. Reuters said Abdallah was part of a crew that was providing a live signal as part of ongoing coverage.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that our videographer, Issam Abdallah, has been killed,” the news agency said in a statement. “We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region, and supporting Issam’s family and colleagues. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time.”

Reuters journalists Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh have also sustained injuries and were seeking medical care, the statement said.

The Associated Press said it had a photographer at the scene and confirmed the Reuters journalist was killed in an Israeli shelling.

Reuters' journalist Issam Abdallah while working in Maras, Turkey in February.
Issam Abdallah, seen here in Turkey, was killed in an incident in southern Lebanon.Reuters

22-year-old Gaza City resident prepares to leave her home after Israel issues evacuation order

Salma Shurrab, a 22-year-old dental student living in Gaza City, prepared to leave her home after Israel issued an evacuation order for northern Gaza.

“As you can see, all Gaza citizens are just preparing themselves to leave and no one has a place right now,” Shurrab said in a video she shared with NBC News. “We’re just going, if you have a car, just run. No one knows where we’re going, but we’re all evacuating."

Yesterday, the Israeli army has ordered more than 1 million people in northern Gaza to leave their homes within 24 hours and move south, amid growing concerns of a ground offensive.

Blinken: U.S. and Qatar working together to secure release of hostages

Hezbollah leader: 'When the time comes for any action, we will carry it out'

During a protest in support of Palestinians in Lebanon, Hezbollah Deputy Chief Naim Qassem said the group is prepared to get involved in the conflict despite calls from Arab nations and others not to do so.

"The behind-the-scenes calls with us by great powers, Arab countries, envoys of the United Nations, directly and indirectly asking us not to interfere in the battle will have no effect," he said.

Qassem said Hezbollah will contribute to the war.

“We as Hezbollah contribute to the confrontation, and will contribute to it within our vision and our plan," he said. "We follow the moves of the enemy, and we are fully ready. When the time comes for any action, we will carry it out."

Israeli Embassy employee is stabbed in Beijing

An employee of the Israeli Embassy in Beijing was hospitalized today after a stabbing attack, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The employee is in stable condition, the ministry said. It said the attack did not take place on the embassy grounds and that the motive was being investigated.

Beijing Police confirmed in a statement that "a family member (male, 50) of an Israeli diplomat was stabbed by a foreigner in front of a supermarket."

A 53-year-old male suspect has been arrested, and the case is under further investigation, Beijing police said.

Photos: Mourners in Gaza and Israel

People mourn by the wrapped bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli airstrike during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 13, 2023.
People mourn by the wrapped bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli airstrike, during their funeral today in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Said Khatib / AFP - Getty Images
Mourners attend the funeral of Israeli soldier Abraham Cohen at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023.
Mourners attend the funeral of Israeli soldier Abraham Cohen at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem yesterday.Francisco Seco / AP

Austin urged supporters of Hamas to not get involved

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged supporters of Hamas not to get involved in the war and reiterated American support for Israel during a news conference held with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, in Tel Aviv.

Terrorists target civilians but “democracies don’t,” Austin said, adding that this is a time for “resolve and not revenge.” 

When asked if the U.S. can support both Ukraine and Israel at the same time, Austin said the country “can walk and chew gum at the same time.” 

In response to a question about how can Israel destroy Hamas without killing civilians, Austin said he'd leave that to Israeli operations.

Gallant, meanwhile, said Israel expectd to receive a second plane from the U.S. carrying essential munitions for the IDF today, but he did not say which specific munitions would be delivered. 

“Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas is one axis — an axis of evil," he said.  

Pro-Palestinian protests banned in France and Germany

Authorities in France and Germany have moved to ban pro-Palestinian protests and warned of security risks today amid fears of violence spreading beyond Israel and Gaza.

Authorities in Berlin banned a gathering called “Solidarity with the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip” at Brandenburg Gate yesterday, and said all "alternative events" have also been canceled until Wednesday for the same reasons.

The German Interior Ministry said today that it must assume "an increased risk situation," adding that "all police options must be used to take immediate action if Hamas’ terror is glorified."

In France, meanwhile, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin banned pro-Palestinian protests, saying they were "likely to generate disturbances to public order," AFP reported yesterday. President Emmanuel Macron also urged France's residents to remain united, in a special address to the nation.

Israeli president says Gazans 'could have risen up' against Hamas

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said yesterday that civilians in Gaza “could have risen up” and “fought against” Hamas in the days since the group's unprecedented attack — comments that appeared to lay partial blame on Gazans for the current conflict.

During a news conference, Herzog was asked what measures Israel was taking to not harm civilians in Gaza. He replied: “It’s an entire nation that is out there that’s responsible. It’s not true, this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true.”

“They could have risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup ‘d état,” Herzog added.

The comments came before Israel ordered the entire population of northern Gaza to evacuate south, a directive Hamas urged Gazans to ignore.

Gaza City residents flee south after Israel’s warning

Residents of Gaza City packed their belongings and squeezed into their vehicles to head south today, after Israel’s military called for all civilians to “evacuate your homes immediately.”

Death toll rises to 1,843 in Gaza and West Bank, at least 1,300 in Israel

The death toll in the conflict between Israel and Hamas has risen to 1,843 people killed in Gaza and the West Bank and at least 1,300 in Israel.

Almost 1,800 of the Palestinian deaths were in Gaza, including 351 women and 583 children, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The area continues to face an onslaught of airstrikes from Israel. Another 7,388 people have been injured in Gaza since the conflict began.

In Israel, 3,300 people have been wounded, the Israeli public broadcaster Kan said. According to the Israel Defense Forces, 258 soldiers have been killed.

Some Jewish schools are closed across the world as protests loom

Four Jewish schools in London are not open today due to safety concerns for students, according to Sky News. The list includes Ateres Beis Yaakov Primary School, Menorah High School and Torah Vodaas Primary School in North London, as well as a fourth unnamed school identified by Sky News.

In a letter to parents, Torah Vodaas said "there is not specific threat to our school" but that students would learn remotely.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said there has been a "disgusting" rise in antisemitic incidents in the past week, according to Reuters.

Worldwide protests are expected today after former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal called a global day of “anger” in support of Hamas' attack on Israel and for demonstrations to send a “message of rage to Zionists and to America.”

At least three Amsterdam-based Jewish schools have also closed for the day, according to NL Times.

Yesterday, Columbia University closed its campus to the public after hundreds of protesters clashed over the war. Passionate student protests have taken place at other colleges across the country, as well.

Photo: Israel stores bodies for identification at military base

A refrigerated container holding the bodies of Israeli citizens killed during the recent attacks by Hamas is opened during a tour of the facility on Oc. 13, 2023 in Ramla, Israel.
A refrigerated container holding the bodies of Israeli citizens killed during the recent attacks by Hamas is opened during a tour of the facility today in Ramla, Israel. Leon Neal / Getty Images

IDF says Gaza evacuation 'must be carried out as soon as possible'

The evacuation in northern Gaza must be carried out as soon as possible, the IDF told NBC News when asked about the 24-hour deadline issued by the Israeli army late yesterday.

The U.N., World Health Organization and numerous humanitarian groups have called on Israel to rescind the order, raising concerns about the injured who can't be moved and lack of safe areas in the densely populated enclave that more than 2 million people call home.

“The IDF issued an evacuation warning," a spokesperson said. "The evacuation must be carried out as soon as possible for their safety.”


U.N. Security Council to meet later today

The U.N. Security Council will meet in New York City for a second time to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas.

Brazil, which holds the council’s monthly rotating presidency, said in a statement released by its Foreign Ministry on Wednesday that Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira was interrupting a trip to Asia to attend the meeting Brazil had called.

The 15-member council did not release any joint statement after a previous emergency meeting Sunday, the day after Hamas launched its surprise attack. It is unclear whether the meeting later today will be held in public.

Protests across the Middle East in support of Palestinians

Tens of thousands of people protested across the Middle East in support of the Palestinians and in condemnation of Israel.

In Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was expected to be a focus of demonstrators' attention and a possible flashpoint.

From Amman, Jordan, to Yemen’s capital, Muslims poured out onto the streets after weekly Friday prayers. Tens of thousands of Iraqi protesters also gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today, burning the Israeli flag, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-American slogans.

Authorities in the U.S., throughout Europe and elsewhere were on alert after a former leader of Hamas called for a global day of “rage” today. Such calls in the past have led to sizable demonstrations and unrest.

Israel expresses ‘deep disappointment’ over China’s response to Hamas attack

The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry said that it expressed “deep disappointment” in a call with the Chinese envoy to the Middle East over Beijing’s failure to explicitly condemn the terrorist attacks by Hamas.

“The ambassador expressed Israel’s deep disappointment with Chinese announcements and statements about the recent events in the south, where there was no clear and unequivocal condemnation of the terrible massacre committed by the terrorist organization Hamas against innocent civilians and the abduction of dozens of them to Gaza,” the statement said.

In his call Thursday with Israeli Foreign Ministry official Rafi Harpaz, China’s first public contact with Israel since the attack, Middle East envoy Zhai Jun said Beijing condemns actions that harm civilians and calls for a cease-fire and the resumption of peace talks based on a two-state solution, according to a readout published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Also Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made his first public comments on the Israel-Hamas war, saying that the Palestinian issue is at the core of Middle East affairs, and that “the crux of the matter is that justice has not been done to the Palestinian people.”

Hamas' hostages claim adds to families' anguish

TEL AVIV — For Israeli families desperate to be reunited with their loved ones who were taken hostage by Hamas, the militant group's claim today that 13 hostages died in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip comes as a new and devastating blow. NBC News has not verified Hamas' claim.

"I feel horrible," said Liel Fishbien, 25, whose younger sister, Tchelet Fishbien, 18, and her boyfriend, whom she had recently started dating, are believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas when it ambushed Be'eri on Saturday. "Horrible doesn’t even begin to describe it," he said.

He said he has not had any word about his sister since he last lost contact with her around 11:30 a.m. Saturday. He survived the incident after hiding with his grandmother at her home, but his sister and her boyfriend, who were at another residence, are believed to have been taken by Hamas.

Orly Chen
Orly ChenChantal Da Silva

Orly Chen, the aunt of Itay Chen, a 19-year-old believed to have taken hostage Saturday while on active duty for the Israeli military, said she hadn't heard about Hamas' claim. "I don't even know what to say. I don't know," Chen, 56, said. "It’s not easy. We’re not sleeping ... I don’t even know what’s going on. I just want my nephew."

Humanitarian group calls Israeli evacuation order 'outrageous'

The international charity Doctors Without Borders has accused Israel of launching “an attack on medical care and humanity” by giving residents of northern Gaza an order to leave their homes, land and hospitals.

Meinie Nicolai, director general of the charity also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, said in a statement that Israel’s evacuation order was “outrageous” and condemned it “in the strongest possible terms.”

“‘Unprecedented’ doesn’t even cover the medical humanitarian impact of this,” she said. “Gaza is being flattened, thousands of people are dying, this must stop now.”

Putin says Gaza ground assault would lead to 'unacceptable' civilian deaths

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a possible ground operation by Israel in the Gaza Strip would led to "absolutely unacceptable casualties."

"We hear now about preparing a ground operation. We understand how it will go. How do I put it? In a semi-professional style, use of heavy equipment in residential areas is hard to execute. This may lead to grave consequences for all the sides," Putin said.

“The most important thing is that losses among civilians will be absolutely unacceptable," he added. "There are almost 2 million people living there.”

Putin's own war in Ukraine has led to hundreds of thousands of military and civilian casualties and obliterated entire cities, to little gain for Russia's army.

Biden to speak with families of Americans believed held hostage in Gaza

President Joe Biden is expected to speak with the families of some of the Americans believed to be held hostage in Gaza today, according to a White House official.

He addressed the scheduled call with the family members in a clip released from his interview with "60 Minutes" that's airing Sunday on CBS.

"Why do you feel so strongly about speaking to these families personally?" asked "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley. Biden responded, "Because I think they have to know that the president of the United States of America cares deeply about them, deeply."

"We have to communicate to the world this is critical. This is not even human behavior. it’s pure barbarism, and we’re going to do everything in our power to get them home, if we can find them," he added.

Israel drops leaflets urging Gaza City residents: 'Leave your homes immediately'

Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City telling residents to evacuate and move south. It came after it earlier issued the same warning to the United Nations and online.

"Gaza city has turned into a battle field," the leaflet read in Arabic, according to a translation by Reuters. "You have to leave your homes immediately and head south of Wadi Gaza. For your safety: Don’t return to your homes until further notice from the Israeli Defence Forces."

Wadi Gaza is the river that bisects the narrow strip of land.

Israel criticizes U.N. response to northern Gaza evacuation order

The Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, criticized the world organization for its response to the evacuation order this morning.

"The UN’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza is shameful! For many years, the UN has turned a blind eye to the arming of Hamas and its use of the civilian population and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip as a hiding place for its weapons and murder. Now, instead of standing by Israel, whose citizens were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists and who tries to minimize harm to those not involved, it preaches to Israel," Erda said in a statement.

"It is better for the UN to focus now on returning the hostages, condemning Hamas, and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself," he added.

Tanks amass along the Gaza border

Israeli tanks head toward the border with Gaza in southern Israel last evening.

Israeli tanks on the Palestinian border in Gaza
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

IDF confirms 750 airstrikes on northern Gaza overnight

The IDF said it struck 750 military targets in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, as Israel continues its bombardment and blockade of the enclave.

Among the targets hit, the IDF said, were underground Hamas terror tunnels, military compounds and weapons storage warehouses.

But the U.N. has warned that Israeli airstrikes have hit residential infrastructure, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands more.

'Just run': Gaza residents flee south after Israeli order

As the Israeli military orders residents of northern Gaza to move south, many say they have nowhere to go but were leaving anyway in the face of an expected ground offensive.

“We’re just going, if you have a car just run. No one knows where we’re going, but we’re all evacuating,” Salma Shurrab, a 22-year-old dental student living in Gaza City, told NBC News.

Shurrab said all her neighbors had already left. “No one is left but us and we’re ready to run.” But it remains unclear where they can go, with airstrikes hitting almost every part of the tiny blockaded enclave.

"Just pray for us and, hopefully we’ll come back home," said Shurrab, who was due to graduate this year, as she packed her bags. "We will come back home."

Israel says families of 120 hostages notified so far

The Israeli military said today it has confirmed that at least 120 people were taken as hostages during the bloody incursion by Hamas, and their families have been notified — a significant increase in the confirmed number of those taken prisoner by the militants.

Rescind Gaza evacuation order, humanitarian groups urge Israel

A number of humanitarian organizations are calling for Israel to reverse its order for people in northern Gaza to evacuate, raising the alarm about the potential for devastating humanitarian fallout.

The United Nations said early today it was impossible for such a movement to take place "without devastating humanitarian consequences."

The Palestine Red Crescent Society called Israel's evacuation warning "alarming and horrifying," saying that 1.2 million civilians in northern Gaza are "facing the threat of losing their lives with nowhere to go."

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned that the Israeli order, absent of any guarantees of safety or return, would amount to the war crime of forcible transfer. "It must be reversed," Secretary General Jan Egeland said in a statement today.

Missile strikes continue in southern Gaza after Israel orders residents to evacuate

An injured woman is helped in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, this morning, as people search through the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike. The IDF has ordered residents of northern Gaza to evacuate south.

Thousands of people, both Israeli and Palestinians have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants entered Israel in a surprise attack leading Israel to declare war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip enclave on October 8.
Said Khatib / AFP - Getty Images

'I can't feel sorry for them,' Israeli woman says of Gaza residents

HERZLIYA — Noy Fliker, 27, says she wishes that all “good” people could be safe — but over the past seven days, she has been telling herself she “can’t feel sorry” for what is happening to people in Gaza, including innocent civilians.

“A lot of us in Israel, we love life and we just want to live our life. I don’t like politics, I don’t like to speak about it,” said Fliker. Her close family friend was taken hostage by Hamas at the music festival that was ambushed Saturday and her brother is serving with the Israeli military in the south. “Now, after what they’ve done to us you can’t feel sorry for them. I’m sorry but you just can’t,” she said of people in Gaza.

Israel Declares War Following Large-Scale Hamas Attacks
Israeli soldiers search for belongings among discarded tents at the Supernova Music Festival site in Kibbutz Reim yesterday.Leon Neal / Getty Images

Asked if she recognizes the difference between civilians and Hamas militants, Fliker, a pilates teacher who lives in the coastal city of Herzliya, said that she does, but that her feelings about that distinction have changed.

With Israel giving an order for all civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate south, Fliker said: “Of course, I wish God would come here and say, ‘he’s evil’ and ‘he’s good,’ but we can’t know that.”

“Now it’s different, she said. “You’re just scared for your life.”

Austin lands in Israel

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has landed in Tel Aviv in the latest show of U.S. support for Israel.

He posted on social media that he would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Austin's Israeli defense counterpart, Yoav Gallant.

The trip is intended "to demonstrate that America’s support for Israel’s security is ironclad" and to talk to Israeli officials "face-to-face about their defense needs," he wrote on the social media platform X.

IDF scorns Hamas for telling Gazans to ignore evacuation order

The Israeli military said Hamas was telling Gaza residents "to ignore our safety instructions" after the militant group called for people in northern Gaza to reject Israel's evacuation order and termed it "psychological warfare."

Some Gaza City residents flee after Israeli order

Palestinians carry their belongings as they attempt to flee Gaza City today. The Israeli military has ordered residents of northern Gaza to evacuate south.

Israel has called for the immediate relocation of 1.1 million people in Gaza amid its massive bombardment in retaliation for Hamas's attacks, with the United Nations warning of "devastating" consequences.
Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

Blinken meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan as part of his visit to the region after the Hamas attack.

Abbas heads the Palestinian Authority, which partially administers the occupied West Bank. His Fatah movement has long been opposed to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

Abbas condemned violence against civilians yesterday in the wake of the bloody attack by Hamas militants on Israel and the bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israel.

Hamas claims 13 hostages, including foreigners, killed in Israeli airstrikes

Hamas claimed early today that 13 hostages, including foreigners, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours.

NBC News has not verified the claim.

Hamas is holding dozens of people, both military and civilians including Americans, after taking hostages during its bloody incursion into Israel last weekend. Many of them are believed to have been taken into Gaza.

Hamas tells Gazans to reject Israel's evacuation order

Hamas has called on residents of Gaza to reject Israel's warnings to evacuate south from the northern part of the densely populated enclave.

It comes after Israeli armed forces confirmed the order to evacuate northern Gaza within 24 hours that was shared by the U.N. late yesterday.

In a statement released today, the political wing of Hamas told the people of Gaza to ignore the warnings to leave their homes and move south, accusing Israel of using "psychological warfare" against Gazans.

Meanwhile, Gaza's Ministry of Interior and National Security also told residents "not to respond to the audio recordings that the occupation randomly distributes to mobile numbers." It told people who feel in direct danger of airstrikes to "move to an alternative home or go to the nearest shelter center to your place of residence until the danger passes."

Israeli military orders northern Gaza residents to evacuate south

The Israeli military has ordered all residents of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south of the densely populated enclave, a move that will raise fears of an imminent ground offensive in the war against Hamas.

The United Nations said it had been told that the warning, which it said covered some 1.1 million people, needed to be carried out within 24 hours. It was "impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general.

The order, which includes Gaza City, was delivered in order to "minimize the damage to civilians,", Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in a video livestream. He did not provide a time frame for the order to be carried out. 

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