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Blinken raises concerns about civilians caught in Gaza fighting

The secretary of state met with Israeli leaders this morning as the U.S. pushes for pauses in the fighting to allow for hostages to be released and humanitarian relief to get into Gaza.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday and pressed the case for preventing escalation and protecting civilians, but to no avail. 

“It is very important that when it comes to the protection of civilians who are caught in the crossfire of Hamas’ making, that everything be done to protect them,” he said as he stood before reporters in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu said in a statement after the meeting that Israel will refuse any temporary cease-fire proposals made in the absence of the release of hostages taken in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden called for a “pause” in warfare to negotiate for the release of hostages, which include Americans. 

The U.S. has been flying unarmed MQ-9 Reaper drones over Gaza to help recover hostages, Pentagon officials confirmed. There are 241 hostages, according to the IDF.

Hassan Nasrallah, a leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group aligned against Israel, made no promises to back off in the group’s ongoing skirmishes with Israeli forces along Israel’s northern border.

In a highly anticipated speech, Nasrallah said the extent of Hezbollah’s involvement in the war depends on how Israel behaves. “All options are laid out and we can adopt any at any point of time,” he said.

He was deliberate in saying Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 was “100% Palestinians in terms of execution” and that Hamas kept it a secret. And he urged an end to the war. But he also committed to continuing attacks along Israel’s northern boundary.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said it was ready for anything launched by Hezbollah.

An exodus from Gaza continued amid Israeli forces’ encircling of Gaza City and the continuation of a ground incursion throughout the north. 

One hundred U.S. citizens and their family members left Gaza through the Rafah border crossing Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. More than 360 Americans were on a list of those who would be allowed to pass through the boundary Friday, according to the Gaza Crossings and Borders Authority.

Palestinian workers who crossed into Israel each day from Gaza are apparently being shut out after Netanyahu’s office said it was “severing all contact” with the enclave. Some workers who were stranded in Israel walked back into Gaza on Friday, with no prospects for their immediate return.

The home they find will not be the same. More than 1.4 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say at least 9,200 have been killed. Israel says more than 1,400 have been killed.

What we know

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli leaders this morning at a crucial moment, with the U.S. pushing for a pause in fighting to allow hostages to be released and humanitarian relief to get into Gaza as a worsening civilian toll fuels mounting concerns.
  • The IDF says one of its aircraft struck an ambulance it believes was being used by Hamas in Gaza after Hamas accused Israel of targeting the Al Shifa, Al Quds and Indonesian hospitals. The Palestine Red Crescent Society released images it says are of one of its ambulances, blood-stained and damaged in a strike.
  • The U.S. military is flying unarmed drone flights over Gaza to help with hostage recovery, the Pentagon confirmed. Israel continues to bombard the densely populated Palestinian enclave, but is also pushing forward with its ground assault against Hamas and claims to have encircled Gaza City in the north.
  • 100 U.S. citizens and their family members left Gaza through the Rafah border crossing on Thursday and received assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the White House said. More than 1.4 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say more than 9,200 have been killed. Israel says 1,400 people were killed in the Hamas attack, and 241 are being held hostage.
  • The leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah broke his silence for the first time since Oct. 7 in a hotly anticipated speech that comes amid mounting concerns the conflict could trigger a wider war in the Middle East.
  • NBC News’ Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Kelly Cobiella, Josh Lederman, Matt Bradley, Ellison Barber, Meagan Fitzgerald, Jay Gray, Hala Gorani, Chantal Da Silva and Alexander Smith are reporting from the region.

Palestinian journalists and digital creators document Gaza strikes see surge in followers

Before early October, Motaz Azaiza’s Instagram account documented life in Gaza to about 25,000 followers with a mix of daily life and the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

That began to change in the days after Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel and the retaliation on Gaza. Since then, more than 12.4 million people have begun following Azaiza’s feed, which has become a daily chronicle of Israeli strikes.

Many other journalists, digital creators and people active on social media based in the region have seen a similar uptick in followers. Plestia Alaqad, a journalist whose work has been featured by NBC News, has gained more than 2.1 million, according to the social media analytics company Social Blade. Mohammed Aborjela, a digital creator, gained 230,000.

The unfiltered coverage, as seen in the Instagram post below, adds a unique element to the broader journalistic efforts to capture what’s happening in Gaza.

Read the full story here.

NBC News’ Jay Gray got a rare look at the “Oasis of Peace,” a small village in central Israel — about 30 miles from Gaza — where Israelis and Palestinians have lived side-by-side for decades.

One woman who lives in the community said there have been open discussions about the Israel-Hamas conflict among Jews and Arabs alike.

As the war continues, "Oasis of Peace" members are worried about how the conflict could challenge the core principles of the community's mission.

Above all else, though, "We have to be the bridge between the ugly reality and the future that we wish for our kids," one "Oasis of Peace" member told Gray.

Honduras recalls ambassador to Israel, condemns situation in Gaza

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations today as it condemned what it called “genocide and other serious violations of international law” in the Israel-Hamas war.

The Central American country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina wrote on X that President Xiomara Castro had decided to immediately recall the ambassador in light of “the serious humanitarian situation the civilian Palestinian population is suffering in the Gaza Strip.”

The Foreign Affairs Ministry added in a statement that “Honduras energetically condemns the genocide and serious violations of international humanitarian law that the civilian Palestinian population is suffering in the Gaza Strip.”

Castro, a leftist who took office in January 2022 as the first female president in Honduras, has sought to align with other leftist governments in the hemisphere like Venezuela and Cuba, but without completely alienating the United States.

Roberta Elliott and Tahija Vikalo are part of the leadership of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an organization that works to build trust and respect between Muslim and Jewish women.

They told NBC News' Blayne Alexander how their friendship and the sisterhood has helped them as the war rages on, a situation that is personal for both women.

Elliott, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, has a friend who is being held hostage. Vikalo, who grew up in war-torn Bosnia, has friends living in Gaza.

"That is the importance of the interfaith work that we're doing right now, is that we're building bridges across tribes and just seeing humanity in each other," Elliott said.

German Chancellor and King of Jordan agree on necessity of a "two-state solution"

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke on the phone with the King of Jordan, Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein, about the Israel-Gaza war. They agreed it is important to prevent the conflict from spreading regionally, and that a "two-state solution" is the only way that Israel and Palestine can live in peace.

Scholz reiterated that Germany is committed to protecting civilians and ensuring safe access for humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. He said the German government has expanded its humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Palestine Red Crescent Society says at least 15 killed in shelling of ambulance

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said in a statement Friday that more than a dozen people were killed when a caravan of ambulances was shelled near the entrance of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza, where many people have sought sanctuary. 

The caravan set off for the Rafah crossing from Al Shifa but turned back a little more than 2 miles away after drivers concluded the only road there was blocked by rubble created by shelling, the PRCS said. 

Less than a mile away, the lead ambulance in the caravan was struck by shelling, it said. Those inside, including patients, were injured but survived, the PRCS indicated in its statement.

Then, the PRCS' own ambulance was struck by a missile fired by Israeli forces, it said. That attack killed at least 15 people and injured more than 60, including many who were seeking refuge from the war, the PRCS said.

Among the injured was the vehicle’s driver and a medic, it said. The fate of the patient inside, described as having shrapnel injuries and needing treatment in Egypt, wasn’t clear. The attacks happened about 4:30 p.m. Gaza time, the PRCS said earlier.

Four Red Crescent medics have been killed in the warfare and 21 medics and volunteers have been injured, the humanitarian group said. It characterizes the targeting of ambulances as a violation of the Geneva Conventions on warfare.

Israel Defense Forces said one of its aircraft struck an ambulance it claimed was being used by Hamas and was near a stronghold for the militant group. It said Hamas fighters were killed, and it has evidence Hamas uses ambulances to transport combatants and weapons.

NBC News has not independently verified the Palestine Red Crescent’s casualty numbers for the attack Friday, nor IDF’s statements on who was killed or its claim about Hamas’ use of ambulances.

Protesters calling for cease-fire blocked entrances to federal building in Seattle

SEATTLE — A couple hundred people calling for a cease-fire as Israel continues its bombardment of the Gaza Strip blocked entrances to a federal building in downtown Seattle today where U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has an office.

Protesters, many wearing black sweatshirts that said “Cease Fire Now,” sang songs about freedom and chanted while one person climbed a ladder and hung a banner on the building that said: “Murray: Ceasefire Now!”

Participants linked arms, blocking the building’s entrances for several hours despite attempts by federal and other law enforcement officers to shove them away.

Advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace organized the demonstration, one of several similar events that have happened across the United States in recent days.

Murray, who is president pro tempore of the Senate, yesterday called for a “humanitarian pause” in the war to “allow critical humanitarian aid to reach innocent civilians in Gaza.” She also reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism.

KFAR SABA, Israel — There was an empty chair at the Sabbath table when Evyatar David’s family sat down to dinner after sundown Friday.

It was the fourth time since the 22-year-old Israeli was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 that those who love David the most had to break bread without him.

And even though on this night the traditional Jewish meal was held at the home of David’s uncle, the ache was the same.

“His energy is missing,” David’s 18-year-old sister, Ye’ela, said.

“That’s exactly what I was going to say,” David’s mother, Galia, 56, replied.

Read the full story here.

White House provides insight to Rafah crossing negotiations

During negotiations on opening the Rafah crossing, Hamas said it would allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza if "a number of" wounded Palestinians could leave as well. But upon vetting the list, officials discovered that about a third of the people listed as wounded Palestinians were Hamas fighters, according to a senior administration official.

Originally, Hamas would not allow anyone to leave Gaza, the official added.

“Until that arrangement was, was worked out — and again, the list of wounded that Hamas handed over originally had about a third of people that were actually Hamas fighters, which was not going to be part of the deal,” the official said. “So that’s what kind of complicated and took a while for it to get worked out.”

The official said that the U.S., Egypt and Israel rejected that Hamas fighters be allowed to pass through the crossing, pointing to countering Hamas’ demand as a reason for the timing of getting foreign nationals and wounded Palestinians out of Gaza.

Wounded Palestinian civilians who were ultimately able to leave Gaza were not Hamas fighters, the official said, adding later that Qatar and Egypt were "critical" in making this happen.

The official also said that there are negotiations on a "larger package" of hostages through the same channels that resulted in the release of the American mother and daughter, appearing to refer to Judith and Natalie Raanan.

The official addressed the possibility of a “pause” in the fighting.

"When you heard the president say the other night, talking about a pause in the context of a prisoner release — releases to get the hostages out and the numbers that we’re talking about, it would take a very significant pause in the conflict, in the fighting to be able to do this,” the official said. “It is something that is under very serious and active discussion.”

17 injured Palestinians arrive in Egypt

Seventeen injured Palestinians arrived and were treated in Egypt today, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Health said in a statement.

In total, 28 injured Palestinians were expected to arrive, the statement said, adding that 11 of that total were unable to make it due to unspecified "events in Gaza."

Additionally, 448 foreign nationals received medical exams in Egypt including 96 kids who received vaccines, according to the health ministry.

Palestine Red Crescent receives 47 trucks of humanitarian aid at Rafah crossing

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it received 47 humanitarian aid trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent at the Rafah border crossing today.

The trucks contain water, relief supplies, medicine and medical equipment, as well as blankets, food items, tents and mattresses.

In total, the Palestine Red Crescent said they have received 421 trucks, but fuel is still not allowed to enter into Gaza.

Israel encircled Gaza City. Here’s what we know about its ground assault.

TEL AVIV — The Israeli military is thrusting deeper into the Gaza Strip in a ground assault that has encircled the Palestinian enclave’s biggest city and cut off the main roads connecting its north and south, Israeli officials and Western military analysts said.

The campaign has been shrouded in mystery, with growing numbers of Hamas fighters and Israeli soldiers reported dead, but without a clear, publicly stated plan from Israel about how this campaign might end — or, in fact, a statement that it had even begun. Experts have been forced to read between the lines of nonspecific military briefings, satellite imagery and shaky footage from the battlefield.

On the other hand, the mounting Palestinian civilian death toll is more than apparent. Israel blames Hamas for using people as human shields, but international organizations and even the United States are becoming increasingly alarmed at the civilian cost of Israel’s intensifying operation in the densely populated enclave.

Read the full story here.

Kamala Harris: 'Palestinians deserve equal measures of safety and security'

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a message Friday afternoon that Muslim Americans and others sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians have been looking for from the White House for weeks.

“There must be no conflation between Hamas and the Palestinians. Palestinians deserve equal measures of safety and security, self-determination, and dignity,” Harris wrote on the social media platform X.

Without mentioning Israel by name, she added, “We have been very clear that the rules of war must be adhered to and that there be humanitarian aid that flows.”

The message comes as a growing number of Democratic lawmakers express concern about Israel’s intensifying response in Gaza to Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack, and as the White House tries to recalibrate its message to address those concerns.

IDF says more than 400 Israeli soldiers, police and intelligence agents have died in the war

As Israeli forces deepen their ground invasion into Gaza, the death toll is rising on the battlefield. IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said 341 IDF soldiers, 58 Israeli police and 10 members of Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet have died during the conflict.

"Just moments ago I spoke with some of the commanders in the field and I wish to convey to you: Morale is high; they are strong; they are determined; they are prepared; they know what they are fighting for," Hagari said.

He said this evening, IDF troops and commanders will have Shabbat dinner on the battlefield.

Hagari also reported that 10 members of Hamas with a rank equivalent to battalion or brigade commander have been killed. In the north, the IDF struck Hezbollah anti-tank firing positions and a Hezbollah military post in response to missiles fired from Lebanese territory, Hagari said. He added that anyone trying to approach the northern border fence "will be eliminated."

Graphic: 36 journalists killed in Israel-Hamas war

Of the 53 journalist fatalities this year, 36 have happened in the Israel-Hamas war. Twelve of those have been reported killed in the past eight days.

Hundreds of Hamas tunnels in the Gaza Strip pose special problems

Built over decades, hundreds of Hamas tunnels built below the Gaza Strip pose problems for Israeli forces fighting in the enclave. Promoted by the militant group on social media, they hide fighters, weapons and hostages.

Israel has built underground walls to try to neutralize them and used radar to try to map out what Hamas claims is over 300 miles of tunnels, crossing just 25 miles of territory.

Israeli officials recommend those traveling abroad avoid 'openly displaying Israeli and Jewish symbols'

In a joint statement, the National Security Council in the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel encourage the public to "avoid openly displaying Israeli and Jewish symbols and features" when traveling abroad.

This comes as the NSC and MFA report a significant rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel incidents, warning the public that Jewish communities and establishments are "key targets" for protests and attacks.

The statement also suggests checking for anti-Israel protests when traveling and avoiding going to countries for which travel warnings have been issued, "especially Arab and Middle Eastern countries, the North Caucasus and countries bordering Iran."

IDF: Airstrike hits ambulance 'used by a Hamas terrorist cell'

The Israel Defense Forces says one of its aircraft struck an ambulance it believes was being used by Hamas and close to one of the group's positions "in the battle zone."

Earlier, Hamas accused Israel of targeting Al Shifa, Al Quds and Indonesian hospitals in its airstrikes. Reuters also released video appearing to show a damaged and blood-stained ambulance in front of Al Shifa hospital, which is holding thousands of displaced people.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society also accused Israeli forces of launching an airstrike on ambulances. The PRCS released an image it says shows one of its ambulances, blood-stained and damaged, in front of Al Shifa hospital.

“A number” of Hamas members were killed in the strike, according to the IDF, which added that it had evidence that Hamas uses ambulances to move its fighters and weapons.

NBC News was not able to confirm this account. The IDF promised to release more information on the incident.

Palestinians check the damages of an ambulance convoy
A damaged ambulance outside Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Friday.Mohammed Al-Masri / Reuters

100 U.S. citizens and their families left Gaza on Thursday through Rafah, White House says

One hundred U.S. citizens and their family members left Gaza through the Rafah border crossing Thursday and received assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing today.

Jean-Pierre added that the citizens included in the White House's count are only those who sought consular assistance, which means the real number of Americans that departed is likely higher.

“We continue to be focused on getting as many Americans out as quickly as possible and we expect more Americans to depart over the next several days, but of course this is a fluid situation,” Jean-Pierre said.

Palestinian Red Crescent accuses Israel of launching airstrike on ambulances

The Palestine Red Crescent Society accused Israeli forces of launching an airstrike on a group of ambulances, one of which belonged to PRCS, that were returning from a mission to transport injured individuals to the Rafah border crossing.

The PRCS, which is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, posted footage of ambulances with shattered windscreens on X. The humanitarian group said the ambulances were traveling on Rashid Street in western Gaza when the strike happened around 4:30 p.m. Gaza time, but said the PRCS members were not injured.

Another post by the PRCS accused Israeli forces of a strike on one of their ambulance vehicles outside of Al Shifa hospital, also saying their colleagues were not injured.

The IDF told Reuters that it is looking into the report.

Hamas demands Egypt completely open the Rafah crossing after Al-Shifa hospital strike

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of the Hamas movement, released a statement saying, "We demand that the brothers in Egypt completely open the Rafah crossing."

Haniyeh cited the "systematic targeting of hospitals comes, the last of which was the targeting of the wounded and the injured at the gate of Shifa Hospital today, simultaneously with the targeting of the surroundings of Al-Quds Hospital and the Indonesian Hospital."

He called on Egypt's "national responsibility towards their brothers" and for "the delivery of all their humanitarian needs."

The IDF told Reuters that it is looking into the report of the hospital strikes.

Palestinians facing settler violence and militarized police in West Bank, U.N. says

The situation in the West Bank is “alarming and urgent” as Palestinians face both violence from settlers and a militarized police presence, Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said during a news briefing today.

“We have documented that, in many of these incidents, settlers were accompanied by members of the Israeli forces, or the settlers were wearing uniforms and carrying army rifles,” Throssell said. “Along with the near total impunity for settler violence, we are concerned that armed settlers have been acting with the acquiescence and collaboration of Israeli forces and authorities.”

Throssell said that Israeli forces, using increasingly military-like tactics, have arrested almost 2,000 Palestinians. This is in addition to attacks from settlers, including repeated incidents in which Palestinians are told to either leave their homes or be killed, she added.

“Many communities are essentially in lockdown, with roads and checkpoints closed and their freedom of movement restricted,” Throssell said.

First groups of American citizens from Gaza arrive at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo

The first groups of American citizens that departed from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing were welcomed "with gratitude" by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo this afternoon.

The embassy posted a photo of a woman and two children standing in front of the American flag, thanking Egyptian authorities for their partnership in the transfer of the citizens. Embassy consular officers are assisting the new arrivals through the process of their arrival in Egypt and their return home.

Royal Caribbean removes Israel from 2024 cruise itineraries due to 'uncertainty' in the region

The Royal Caribbean Group released a statement today announcing that future itineraries will be changed "due to the continued uncertainty" and "evolving situation" in Israel.

Some trips are canceling the stops in Israel altogether, while others are replacing them with stops in Greece. The statement noted that guests on these affected cruises will be notified directly.

IDF on high alert with Lebanese border

The IDF said today that it is prepared to respond firmly to any attack on its state as it continues to exchange fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"We are at a high level of readiness, both defensive and offensive, with a high level of vigilance to react to any events that happen on the northern border today and in the coming days," IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said today.

The remarks came as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech to his followers in Lebanon, honoring those Hezbollah militants who were killed in its fight with Israel.

Hamas accuses Israel of targeting Al-Shifa, Al Quds and Indonesian hospitals in Gaza, striking ambulances

Hamas accused Israel of targeting Al-Shifa, Al-Quds and Indonesian hospitals in its airstrikes and said it holds the U.S. and the international community responsible for its "shameful silence" and support of Israel.

In a statement on its website, Hamas said ambulances carrying the wounded were bombed in front of Al-Shifa Hospital's gate, claiming that Israel is targeting Gaza's medical sector.

Video obtained by Reuters appeared to show a damaged and blood-stained ambulance in front of Al-Shifa Hospital. The IDF said it was investigating, Reuters reported.

NBC News has not independently verified the claims.

An injured Palestinian boy is carried following a strike outside of the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Nov. 3, 2023.
An injured Palestinian boy is carried as other injured lay on the ground outside of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.Abed Khaled / AP

Turkish president calls for humanitarian cease-fire

Turkey's priority is the declaration of a humanitarian cease-fire as soon as possible in Gaza, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a speech today.

"There are no words that can justify what we have been witnessing since Oct. 7," Erdogan said. "To be clear, crimes against humanity have been being committed in Gaza for exactly 28 days."

A cease-fire will first pave the way for permanent peace, he added.

Erdogan made the remarks at the Summit of the Organization of Turkic States, according to a summary provided by his office. He noted that the country has sent 10 planes of humanitarian aid to Gaza and will continue to do so "as circumstances on the ground allow."

UNRWA criticizes damage to buildings sheltering civilians

Almost 50 buildings belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency have been damaged, affecting their ability to offer shelter to hundreds of thousands of civilians, the agency said in a statement today.

“Across the Gaza Strip, these shelters should be a safe haven, under the flag of the United Nations,” the statement said. “International humanitarian law leaves no doubt that civilians and civilian facilities must be protected.”

Some of the damage has been caused by direct hits, UNRWA said, including the attacks on Jabalia Refugee Camp and two schools turned into shelters at the Al Bureij Refugee Camp.

UNRWA said that 72 of its own staff have been killed in the bombardment on Gaza, most recently a young software developer named Mai. She was displaced from her home and sheltering with her family at the Jabalia camp, where they died, the agency said.

Israeli military video said to show Hamas tunnels in Gaza Strip

The Israeli military released video today that it says showed its forces uncovering and destroying tunnels that belong to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The vast labyrinth has been used for smuggling, holding hostages and military operations over the years, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Netanyahu rules out cease-fire until Hamas frees hostages

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a temporary cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, saying today he will press ahead with a military offensive until hostages held by the Hamas militant group are released.

Netanyahu spoke shortly after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who pressed Israel for a temporary pause in its offensive to improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

Blinken also urged Israel to do more to protect civilians from its attacks.

In a statement, Netanyahu said Israel is continuing with “all of its power” and “refuses a temporary cease-fire that doesn’t include a return of our hostages.”

Hamas kidnapped about 240 people in its Oct. 7 cross-border attack that triggered the Israel-Hamas war.

Pentagon confirms U.S. is conducting unarmed drone flights over Gaza

The U.S. military confirmed today it has been flying unarmed drones over Gaza to help with hostage recovery efforts and provide advice and assistance to Israel.

"In support of hostage recovery efforts, the U.S. is conducting unarmed UAV flights over Gaza, as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts," Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement to NBC News.

"These UAV flights began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel," Ryder said.

The drones are MQ-9 Reapers, two U.S. officials told NBC News yesterday. The officials would not say where the drones are flying out of, citing operational security.

'A horror movie in real time': American describes life in Gaza

Emilee Rauschenberger, left, with her husband, Mohammad Abuhamad, and five children.
Emilee Rauschenberger, left, with her husband, Mohammad Abuhamad, and five children.Meagan Ftizgerald / NBC News

CAIRO — The situation in Gaza is like living “a horror movie in real time,” according to one American citizen who was freed yesterday.

Emilee Rauschenberger told NBC News she was visiting family, but was trapped in the enclave with her husband, Mohammad Abuhamad, and their five children — Noora, 15; Tariq, 12; Adam and Zaid, both 10; and 4-year-old Maryam — after Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. She added that they rented an apartment away from the heavy fighting in northern Gaza but there were still airstrikes near them.

Before they left, Rauschenberger said, her family lived off of pita bread and jam, with the occasional macaroni or rice for dinner. In their final days, she added that her children became sick with inexplicable illnesses.

“It is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. ... It’s just so isolating and barbaric really, because you’re just struggling so much,” Rauschenberger said.

Hezbollah will continue to attack Israel despite U.S. warplane threat, leader says

Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group raise their fists and cheer as Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appears via a video link in Beirut on Nov. 3, 2023.
Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group raise their fists and cheer as Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appears via a video link in Beirut on Nov. 3, 2023.Hussein Malla / AP

A further escalation along the Lebanese border between Hezbollah and Israel is contingent on Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip, the militant group's leader said today.

Hassan Nasrallah told a crowd in Beirut that Hezbollah would “continue to infiltrate Israel,” even through it had “received a threat that U.S. warplanes will bombard Lebanon.”

“The future of this front will evolve according to the development of the situation in Gaza,” he said. “All scenarios are open on the southern front. All options are laid out and we can adopt any at any point of time,” he added.

Palestinian president speaks with Pope Francis

Pope Francis spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late Thursday afternoon, according to Vatican News, the official news outlet of the Vatican.

Vatican News, citing Palestinian news agency Wafa, said Abbas thanked the pope for his efforts in rebuilding peace among Palestinians and Israelis, while also stressing the “vital importance” of the Vatican's continuing efforts to advocate for a cease-fire.

Blinken stresses need to ‘prevent escalation’ of the Israel-Hamas war

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the need to "prevent escalation" of the war between Israel and Hamas in a speech in Tel Aviv today.

He added that more needed to be done "to protect Palestinian civilians," because it was "the right thing to do."

Family of Scottish first minister evacuated out of Gaza

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said today that his in-laws left Gaza this morning through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

The last four weeks have been “a living nightmare for our family,” Yousaf said in a joint statement with his wife, Nadia El-Nakla.

“Although we feel a sense of deep personal relief, we are heartbroken at the continued suffering of the people of Gaza,” the statement posted on X said. “We will continue to raise our voices to stop the killing and suffering of the innocent people of Gaza.”

The statement did not say whether Yousaf's brother-in-law, a doctor who was working at a Gaza hospital, has left the Palestinian enclave.

Israel attack was '100% Palestinian,' Hezbollah leader says

The crowds were waving Palestinian, Lebanese, Hezbollah and, tellingly, Iranian flags — but Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has sought to distance Tehran and its allied forces from the Hamas attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

In a hotly anticipated speech, Nasrallah praised Hamas' "glorious operation," but he insisted that the surprise attack was "100% Palestinians in terms of execution" and that Hamas "kept it secret even from other factions in Gaza."

Nasrallah urged an end to the war, blaming the U.S. for failing to secure a cease-fire.

U.N. estimates aid needs in Gaza and West Bank at $1.2 billion

The U.N. humanitarian office said today it would cost an estimated $1.2 billion to meet the needs of 2.3 million people in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip and the 500,000 people in the West Bank until the end of the year.

Aid supplies to Gaza have been choked since Israel began bombarding the densely populated enclave in the wake of attacks by Hamas gunmen in southern Israel on Oct. 7, with aid organizations saying it is nowhere near matching the needs of its residents.

“There’s been a high number of casualties reported, as well as the reported use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in some of the most densely populated areas in Gaza,” said Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“We have serious concerns that the principles of distinction and proportionality are not being respected by both sides.”

Hezbollah leader begins hotly anticipated speech

BEIRUT — At a massive Hezbollah rally in Dahiyeh, a neighborhood of south Beirut, thousands have gathered to listen to a hotly anticipated speech from Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed militant group.

A boy waves the Hezbollah party flag during a rally prior to a speech by the leader of the party in Beirut's southern suburb
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP - Getty Images

Nasrallah is speaking now in a televised address, breaking his silence for the first time since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The stage is set with a rousing martial video display blaring Hezbollah songs set to slick music videos showing Hezbollah soldiers chanting and marching. On either side of the stage are pictures of the “martyrs” that have died fighting against Israel.

The speech will be closely watched from Washington to Tel Aviv as Hezbollah and Israel continue to exchange fire over the border and concerns mount over whether the war might expand. The address has been previewed with a number of slick videos posted on social media to build anticipation.

Eneryone here and in the entire region is waiting for more — some kind of indication of where Nasrallah will lead his powerful army in the coming days and weeks. Until now, his silence has been deafening and whatever he says will be crucial to the next stage of this conflict.

Blinken returns to Israel to show support and push for a pause

JERUSALEM — President Biden's top diplomat arrived in Israel this morning on a mission to slow this war down, pushing for humanitarian pauses to allow more aid into Gaza, buy time for more hostages to be released by Hamas and maybe for cooler heads to emerge.

The timing is critical: The Israeli military says its forces are finished encircling Gaza City and are in street battles. A push into the city could be extraordinary violent. Israel is already losing troops and has outlined no long-term exit plan. Hamas seems happy to pull Israel into a long-term guerilla war, while the people of Gaza face the brunt of the consequences.

Hospital forced to ration power as generator runs out of fuel

WEST BANK — The Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City has had to turn off power to some departments in order to conserve electricity for those in need of critical care, like babies in the neonatal unit.

The main power generator has run out of fuel, Dr. Marwan Abu Saadah told NBC News last night. “We are reducing the consumption of electricity so we can keep the hospital running for another few days and so,” he said.

He said that it was too dangerous to try to transport any fuel from south Gaza to the north of the of Palestinian enclave, adding that the Israeli army cut off access to the main road this week.

“We bid on the international community to act on Israel,” Saadah said. “First of all, to stop its aggression on Gaza. Second, to allow humanitarian corridor and especially the fuel to enter Gaza.”

Hostages' families say any cease-fire deal must include release of their loved ones

ASHDOD, Israel — As Blinken met with Netanyahu and his war Cabinet today, some families of those taken hostage by Hamas gathered outside the country’s military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Their message was simple: No cease-fire without the return of their relatives.

In a news release, they said they would stand at the entrance to the Israeli parliament, or HaKirya, for “as much time as needed to cry out: ENOUGH!”

They planned to demonstrate "until it is assured to us that the cease-fire without the return of the hostages is not on the table," the release added.

Blinken emphasizes protection of civilians after meeting with Israeli leaders

Blinken emphasized the need to protect civilians while Israel wages war against Hamas following a private meeting with Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv today.

“It is very important that when it comes to the protection of civilians who are caught in the crossfire of Hamas’ making, that everything be done to protect them and bring assistance to those who so desperately need it — and who are not in any way responsible for what happened on Oct. 7,” Blinken told reporters while standing next to Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Blinken's remarks were made over the shouts from hostages' families just outside the building.

More than 100 aid trucks entered Gaza yesterday, Red Crescent says

TEL AVIV — The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it received 102 trucks carrying aid yesterday from the organization's Egyptian counterpart at the Rafah crossing, including supplies of water.

Palestinians loot a truck with humanitarian aid near the Rafah border crossing
Palestinians unload a truck with humanitarian aid near the Rafah border crossing in Gaza, on Thursday. Hatem Ali / AP

The convoy included 46 trucks carrying food, 11 water trucks, 15 trucks carrying medicine and medical supplies, it said in a statement. Fuel, crucial to hospitals in enclave after Israel cut off power, was not delivered

“As of now, a total of 374 trucks have been received,” the organization said of its total aid deliveries. “But there hasn’t been permission to bring in fuel yet.”

Trucks carrying aid enter through the Rafah crossing
The trucks were carrying food, water and medical equipment, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said. Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Gaza death toll reaches 9,227, Health Ministry says

At least 9,227 have been killed in Gaza since the war began last month, the Gaza Health Ministry reported today.

A man reacts next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip
A man grieves next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip today.. Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Of those killed, 3,826 are children, it said in a statement. More than 23,500 people have also been reported injured, it said.

NBC News has not been able to independently verify these numbers.

Iran-backed Iraqi militias announce expanded attacks on U.S. bases

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed Iraqi militias, announced today that it will launch a more “intense and expansive” phase of operations against U.S. bases in the region starting next week.

It said the escalation is “in support of our people in Palestine and to avenge the martyrs” in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The group has launched a string of attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks, some of which have injured U.S. personnel. As of Tuesday, the Pentagon said, there had been 27 rocket and drone attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria and that the U.S. was deploying an additional 300 troops to the Middle East to bolster those already there.

Israeli military says it killed Hamas battalion commander

A senior Hamas battalion commander was killed in fighting overnight, the Israeli military said on X this morning.

The Israel Defense Forces said Mustafa Dalul “directed combat,” against its forces “and held key positions in Hamas’ Gaza City Brigade.”

Separately, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in his daily briefing that Israeli troops discovered grenades, explosives, protective equipment, communication equipment and maps in Hamas strongholds today.

More than 360 Americans on list of foreign nationals allowed to leave Gaza today

More than 360 Americans will be allowed to leave Gaza today, according to a new list released today by the Gaza Crossings and Borders Authority.

The names of more than 550 foreign nationals are on the list, including 367 under the "USA" section. Citizens from Mexico, Italy, France, Indonesia, Germany and the United Kingdom are also down to leave.

NBC News has not verified the names on the list, and yesterday's contained the names of some people who had already been allowed to leave the enclave.

Palestinian workers return to Gaza as Israel severs 'all contact' with the enclave

WEST BANK — Palestinian laborers from Gaza were pictured walking into the enclave through the Kerem Shalom border with Israel today, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it was “severing all contact” with the enclave.

“There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza,” his office said in a statement.

Kerem Shalom, the commercial crossing between Gaza, Israel and Egypt has been closed for weeks, meaning the workers were stranded in Israel.

Palestinian day laborers in Israel arrive in the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom crossing today. Hatem Ali / AP
The laborers have been stranded in Israel since the Oct. 7 attacks.SAID KHATIB / AFP - Getty Images
A group of workers prayed as they returned to the enclave.SAID KHATIB / AFP - Getty Images

Blinken meets with Netanyahu

Blinken met with Netanyahu for a private discussion today.

He flew into Israel as the U.S. called for a “pause” in the war with Hamas. Blinken will meet later with Israel's war Cabinet.

Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu told Blinken that it was always good to see him “even on the hard days.”

IsraeliPM via X

Palestinian journalist Mohammad Abu Hatab killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Palestinian TV correspondent Mohammad Abu Hatab was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his home in Khan Younis last night, according to the official Palestinian news agency.

His wife, son and brother were also among the 11 family members killed, the WAFA news agency reported today.

Journalists, relatives and friends pray over the body of Palestinian TV journalist Mohammad Abu Hatab. MAHMUD HAMS / AFP - Getty Images
Rescuers and people search Hatab's home, where his wife, son and brother were among the 11 family members killed. MAHMUD HAMS / AFP - Getty Images

Reporting on his colleague's death shortly afterward, Salman al-Bashir discarded his press vest and helmet and fought back the tears as he explained Hatab was just on air about a half-hour before he was killed.

Will the Israeli-Hamas conflict spark a wider regional war, pulling in the U.S.?

The conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza has set off a chain reaction in the Middle East, and Western officials are increasingly concerned that it could trigger a wider war that draws in more nations.

Growing outrage in Middle Eastern capitals and much of the world over the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza is adding more fuel to an already volatile mixture that has seen violence spread to the West Bank, Israel’s northern border, the Red Sea and to Iraq and Syria, where U.S. forces have come under repeated drone and rocket fire from Iran’s proxies.

Whether the conflict in Gaza expands will hinge in large part on Iran and the militant groups it has armed across the region, with Western officials watching to see how far Tehran is willing to go in using its proxies against Israel and the U.S. So far, U.S. and Western intelligence officials say Iran does not appear to be gunning for a direct war with the U.S., and instead is using its partners to undermine Israel and pressure the West.

Read the full story here.

Israel should not discuss cease-fire, senior lawmaker tells NBC News

TEL AVIV — Danny Danon, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and a senior lawmaker, told NBC News yesterday that Israel should not even discuss a cease-fire. 

“We appreciate the support we received from the U.S., but I don’t understand why we need a cease-fire or pause right now,” Danon said. He spoke ahead of Blinken’s visit to Israel today and after President Joe Biden called for a “pause” in hostilities.

Danon, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said Israel respects its allies but is “fighting for our lives” and knows that “we have to go all the way.”

As Hassan Nasrallah prepares to give a speech at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m.ET) today, Danon issued a start warning to the Hezbollah leader “not to gamble, because we will bury Hezbollah under the rubble of Lebanon if he will attack us.”

Sisters reunite on TV after ‘unbearable’ situation in Gaza

Hours after American citizen aid worker Maha Elbanna passed through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt from her “unbearable” situation in Gaza, she saw her sister in New Jersey for the first time on “Hallie Jackson NOW.”

“Hi, honey!” sister Summer Elbanna said, blowing a kiss to Maha. “I just want to give her a big hug and I cannot wait for her to take a nice long hot shower,” Summer told Jackson. Maha laughed onscreen, nodding her head.

A long pause followed Jackson’s introduction, when Summer could be seen welling up with the emotion of seeing her sister, with whom she had primarily communicated with via WhatsApp because of poor internet service.

“It was definitely that roller coaster of emotions, you know all day, I couldn’t really sleep, I couldn’t eat. It felt selfish to enjoy life here knowing that they’re all suffering there,” Summer added.

What will Hezbollah's leader say?

TEL AVIV — While Israel presses ahead with its military campaign in Gaza, many here are nervously eyeing the country’s northern border today.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed militia group Hezbollah, is making a much-anticipated speech at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) — which some fear could mark a dramatic escalation in the war.

The address has been previewed with a number of slick videos posted on social media, featuring foreboding electronic music and graphics, interspersed with shots of Nasrallah penning his address.

Hezbollah and Israel have already traded dozens of rockets since the Hamas attacks Oct. 7, but this represents just a fraction of Hezbollah’s missile arsenal, the largest of any non-state entity in the world. U.S. officials have said they haven't seen evidence of a planned escalation.

Image: A Hezbollah supporter smokes water pipe as he watches the speech of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
Wael Hamzeh / EPA

U.S. citizen details crossing Rafah border into Egypt

Hours after crossing the Rafah border from Gaza into Egypt, American citizen aid worker Maha Elbanna spoke to “Top Story” anchor Tom Llamas about her 12-hour journey to Cairo, and the uncertainty waiting at the border for her name to be on a piece of paper allowing her to leave.

She woke up at 5 a.m. to see if she was among the list of names, she said. She shared a picture of it with her daughter back in the U.S. and confirmed she was on the list. “I didn’t go back to sleep afterwards,” she said.

For Elbanna, the decision to leave Gaza wasn’t easy. To pass into Egypt meant she would be leaving behind 12 immediate family members.

“But I don’t think I could have handled anymore time there,” Elbanna said. She believes that Gaza, with no electricity and poor sources of “salty water,” has been pushed back “hundreds of years,” and without support from other countries, will remain that way.

Videos appear to show Israeli soldiers abusing detained Palestinian men

Several videos have emerged on social media appearing to show Israeli troops abusing bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainees.

Read the full story here.

Blinken arrives in Israel amid mounting U.S. concerns over the war

TEL AVIV — Secretary of State Antony Blinken has just landed for his second trip to Israel during its almost monthlong war in the Gaza Strip.

Blinken arrives amid growing White House concern about Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, where Israel says it is targeting the militant group Hamas but has also killed thousands of civilians, many of them children, according to Palestinian health officials.

During his trip, Blinken will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, posting on X before he left the United States that the administration was “focused on two states and broader peace and security in the region.”

After arriving in Tel Aviv at 8:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET), he stepped out into the already warm November day and shook hands with the U.S.’ newly sworn-in ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, as well as other American and Israeli officials on the tarmac.


Catch up with NBC News’ latest coverage of the Israel-Hamas war