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U.S., Israel and Hamas close in on hostage deal

Gaza's main hospital is now a "death zone," the WHO said, while dozens of premature babies were evacuated from Al-Shifa as Israeli forces continue to operate at the facility.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow live updates here.

U.S., Israeli and Hamas negotiators are closing in on a deal to release some of the hostages taken during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in exchange for a pause in fighting, sources familiar with the negotiations told NBC News, though they caution nothing has been finalized yet. The U.S. said work continued toward a deal.

Al-Shifa, once Gaza’s main hospital, has stopped functioning as a medical facility and is now a “death zone,” the World Health Organization has said. Officials were able to inspect the site, which has become a symbol of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli assault.

Thirty-one “very sick” premature babies have been evacuated from Al-Shifa, where a lack of fuel to power their incubators raised global alarm about their fate. Hundreds of patients and staff members have fled after Israel raided the hospital, but intense bombardment continues to hit southern Gaza as Israel prepares to press its offensive deeper into the enclave.

Video released by the IDF and the Shin Bet security agency shows part of a 55-meter-long tunnel used by Hamas under Al-Shifa hospital, the IDF said. NBC News could not independently verify the video, the details of what it was said to show or the IDF’s claims that Hamas operated a command center below the hospital, which both Hamas and hospital staff members have denied.

Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza.

15d ago / 6:00 AM UTC

31 babies evacuated from Gaza’s biggest hospital as 250 patients remain at Al-Shifa

TEL AVIV — The plight of 39 premature babies at Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, captured the world this month — and now, 31 of those infants have been taken to relative safety after they were evacuated from the besieged medical facility to a hospital in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, health officials told NBC News.

“They were 39. Eight of them died,” Dr. Muhammad Zaqout, the director general of hospitals for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said on the ground. He said two of the infants were pronounced dead before they could be rescued Sunday.

UNICEF representative Majed Altwal also said two of the babies had died before the rescue operation. “The lives of these newborn babies, very fragile babies, were at risk,” he said of those who survived. He said it was decided it was in the “best interest” of the infants to transfer them to the hospital in Rafah.

In video captured by NBC News’ crew at the Emirates hospital in Rafah, babies lie side by side, some crying out, while others lie sleeping on their backs or curled up in the fetal position. Some appear to be connected to oxygen tubes, with a number of them appearing emaciated, the outlines of their ribs visible as doctors and nurses move around them, giving them milk and medicine.

Read the full story here.

15d ago / 4:35 AM UTC

Militants believed to be Houthi rebels use helicopter to seize Japanese tanker in Red Sea

Militants believed to be Iranian-backed Houthi rebels used a helicopter raid to seize a Japanese cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, three U.S. officials said.

According to the officials, at around 1 p.m. today local time, a helicopter hovered over the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-owned and Bahamian-flagged ship, and several armed people rappelled down to the deck.

The attack off Yemen comes just days after the Houthis issued a graphic with captions in Hebrew, Arabic and English that said, “We will sink your ships.” The graphic showed an Israeli commercial ship on fire.

The Houthis have been fighting the Yemeni military for more than a decade with Iranian backing. Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas, another Iranian proxy, the Houthis have been launching drones and missiles northward.

Read the full story here.

15d ago / 3:27 AM UTC

Macron plans chartered aircraft for medical supplies for Gaza

French President Emmanuel Macron said today that he plans to charter a new aircraft that will transport 10 tons of medical supplies for Gaza.

Macron noted that flights carrying more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid have already been delivered to Egypt, which borders Gaza. The new flight, he wrote on X, will include “two mobile medical units to treat approximately 500 severely injured individuals each.”

He added that an amphibious helicopter carrier will arrive in Egypt “in the coming days” and will have 40 beds to treat severe injuries and facilitate the transfer of injured civilians to nearby hospitals if necessary. In addition, he said, France is prepared to transport up to 50 injured or sick children to French hospitals.

Macron also said the release of hostages, including eight French citizens, remains a priority, but he stressed the need for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants.

15d ago / 1:50 AM UTC

An inside look at U.S. drone operations amid search for hostages held by Hamas

Since Oct. 7, unarmed U.S. drones have been flying above Gaza. They are using cameras to search for more than 200 hostages who were taken into the enclave by Hamas over a month ago.

Col. Nicholas Pederson told NBC News he thinks the Air Force's work "could play a critical role if we get to that area."

“Hunters,” as the pilots and their crews are called, operate the drones and cameras from mobile containers in the Nevada desert. The remote pilots get an exact view of what the drone camera sees, tracing targets for days to years.

The cameras "can collect data from a forest fire or pinpoint a high-value target," streaming back to the U.S. base by satellite. The drones can also be lethal.

"We're watching a lot of these targets. We watch them do horrendous acts against people. We focus more on the mission aspect of it and our 'why' and really just look at the big picture of the impact we are having," one pilot said.

15d ago / 12:13 AM UTC

Thousands of religious party supporters rally in Pakistan against Israel’s bombing in Gaza

LAHORE, Pakistan —Tens of thousands of supporters from Pakistan’s main religious political party rallied in the eastern city of Lahore today against Israel’s bombing of Palestinians in Gaza and what it said is the world’s failure to protect Gazans.

Amid anti-Israeli and anti-American slogans, the emotionally charged crowd also called for jihad, or holy war.

Jamaat-e-Islami held massive rallies this month in the port city of Karachi and the capital, Islamabad.

Thousands of supporters from Pakistan’s main religious political party take part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Lahore.
A pro-Palestinian rally in Lahore today.K.M. Chaudary / AP

Supporters, including women and children, marched for several miles to reach the location of the rally, holding banners and posters with slogans opposing Israel and the U.S. and in support of the Palestinians.

Senator Sirajul Haq, the JI chief, said the ongoing rallies in support of Palestinians around the world awaken world governments and give a voice to the innocent.

He said that the resolutions and words issued by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation will not work and that Muslim rulers have to rise and to stop the hand of the aggressor.

15d ago / 9:30 PM UTC

Republicans face risks in picking off voters disaffected with Biden on Israel

Since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out last month, Muslim and Arab American voters in key swing states have suggested they will never back President Joe Biden again, while the president’s support among younger voters appears to be taking a hit. There has even been a movement to leave the top of the ballot blank in 2024 as a protest against the president, whom they see as being too uncritical in his backing of the Israeli government as casualties mount in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian protesters call for a cease-fire outside the White House.
Pro-Palestinian protesters call for a cease-fire outside the White House on Nov. 4.Jose Luis Magana / AP file

In turn, Republicans see an opportunity to take advantage of new divisions among elected Democrats, left-wing activists and core Democratic constituencies — but not by making direct appeals to voters who want to see Biden soften his stance.

That’s “because they’re so far-left on this issue,” one national GOP strategist told NBC News. “And Republicans, I just don’t even see how you could possibly maintain your pro-Israel stance while appealing to them. We could do as much as we could to throw some gas on the flames. But if their issue with Biden is they think he’s too close, I don’t see how Republicans can circle all the way around.”

Read the full story here.

15d ago / 9:00 PM UTC

Hunter College criticized for canceling screening of film critical of Israel

PEN America, an organization committed to free expression, said it was a "worrying decision" that Hunter College in New York City decided to cancel the screening of a film critical of the state of Israel.

Hunter College President Ann Kirschner announced last week that the school would not proceed with the screening of “Israelism,” a film about two American Jews who change their view on Israel after learning about the treatment of Palestinians. Kirschner said the decision was made as police were investigating swastikas that were drawn on posters around campus.

"The antidote to political tension and disagreement is more speech, more listening, and more dialogue; this film screening and conversation offered the opportunity for just that," said Kristen Shahverdian, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America.

Sam Eilertsen, one of the "Israelism" filmmakers, told the Forward that the Kirschner statement was offensive.

"Obviously that’s extremely offensive and hurtful to us as Jews, to have us compared by an institution to someone painting swastikas," Eilertsen said.

15d ago / 8:31 PM UTC

'A two-state solution is the only way': European Commission president

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Oct. 27.Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP - Getty Images file

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, posted on X today following her meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

According to von der Leyen, the two discussed working to ensure humanitarian aid to Gaza and condemned violence against Palestinians by settlers in the West Bank.

"We agree that the cycle of violence needs to be broken," she wrote. "A two-state solution is the only way to achieve peace."

15d ago / 8:01 PM UTC

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez call for aid to Israel to be conditional

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have separately called for aid to Israel to be conditional, premised on a change in the country’s military and political positions.

"The U.S. provides $3.8 billion a year in aid to Israel and the Biden administration wants $14.3 billion more," Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement posted to X. "The Netanyahu government, or hopefully a new Israeli government, must understand that not a penny more will be coming from the U.S. unless there is a fundamental change in their military and political positions," he said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., outside the Capitol.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., outside the Capitol in 2019.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

Sanders called for conditions on aid to include an end to the bombing of civilians, the right of Gazans to return to their homes, no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza, an end to settler violence, and peace talks for a two-state solution.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reposted Sanders' statement, and added in a separate post on X that conditioning aid to Israel was a "responsible course of action."

"The United States has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that public resources do not facilitate gross violations of human rights and international law," she said.

15d ago / 7:47 PM UTC

Photos: A funeral for two Palestinian journalists

Friends and colleagues mourn the deaths of Hasouna Slim and Sari Mansoor, two Palestinian journalists killed in an Israeli strike, during their funeral in Deir al-Balah.
Bashar Taleb / AFP - Getty Images
People hold a man as he sobs during the funeral of two Palestinian journalists who were killed in Deir al-Balah.
Bashar Taleb / AFP - Getty Images

In Deir al-Balah today, loved ones and colleagues of Hassouneh Salim and Sari Mansour gathered to mourn their deaths. Salim and Mansour were journalists, and their deaths bring the number of journalists confirmed to have been killed in the conflict to 48, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since the start of the war, 43 of the dead were Palestinian, four were Israeli and one was Lebanese.

15d ago / 7:30 PM UTC

IDF say video shows hostages were brought to Al-Shifa hospital

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari presented what he said was security video dated Oct. 7 that the IDF obtained from outside and inside Al-Shifa hospital at a news conference. NBC News has not independently verified the video or Hagari's characterizations.

Hagari said images from outside the hospital show stolen IDF vehicles being driven to Al-Shifa after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack. He also showed video from inside the hospital in which a group of men wearing civilian clothing, at least two of them with guns, bring two injured people into the hospital.

Hagari described the armed men as Hamas militants and the injured men, whose faces were blurred, as hostages. One of the purported hostages, who is held on either side by men, is wearing a blue shirt with what appear to be bloodstains. The other purported hostage, who is shirtless, is wheeled on a stretcher holding his abdomen, where it appears that he is bleeding.

"We have not yet located both of these hostages and rescued them. ... We do not know where they are," Hagari said.

Hamas said in a statement about Hagari's news conference that it was not news that it took hostages to be monitored and treated. It went on to say hostages were "returned" to their detentions, indicating that they were not kept at Al-Shifa. Hamas has also denied using Al-Shifa as a command central, as the IDF has alleged.

15d ago / 7:02 PM UTC

Health of premature babies 'was rapidly deteriorating,' UNICEF says

UNICEF described the 31 premature babies who were transferred from Al-Shifa hospital today as "clinging to life" before the international agency could evacuate them so they could receive proper neonatal care.

"The newborns’ condition was rapidly deteriorating, and follows the tragic death of several other babies, and total collapse of all medical services at Al-Shifa," the organization said in a statement.

All of the infants were taken to Rafah today, where they are expected to cross the border into Egypt tomorrow. They are being cared for at a local hospital in the interim, under United Nations supervision.

15d ago / 6:30 PM UTC

IDF releases footage it says shows tunnel under Al-Shifa hospital

The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security agency released new footage tonight that they say shows part of a tunnel system used by Hamas underneath Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital.

The footage captured by two devices appears to show an outdoor tunnel shaft and part of a tunnel structure, which the IDF said is 55 meters long and 10 meters deep.

“The tunnel shaft was uncovered in the area of the hospital underneath a shed alongside a vehicle containing numerous weapons including RPGs, explosives, and Kalashnikov rifles,” the IDF said. It said its forces were continuing to uncover the route of the tunnel. Earlier in the day, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari had said special forces were operating in a “shaft that we discovered last night” at the hospital.

NBC News could not independently verify the footage or the details of what it was said to show.

The IDF has maintained that Hamas was operating a command center under the medical facility. NBC News has not been able to independently verify that claim, which both Hamas and hospital staff have strongly denied.

Al-Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital, has stopped functioning as a medical facility amid Israel’s offensive, with the World Health Organization saying it has been turned into a “death zone” as a result of the war.

15d ago / 5:59 PM UTC

Nearly 800 people evacuate through Rafah crossing

Two young Palestinian girls look out from the windows of a van as they cross from Gaza into Egypt.
Evacuated Palestinians with dual nationality cross from Gaza to Egypt today.Amr Nabil / AP

Almost 800 people traveled through the Rafah crossing out of Gaza and into Egypt today.

A total of 790 people evacuated, including at least 63 medical patients, while 40 aid trucks departed to help with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

15d ago / 5:29 PM UTC

U.N. secretary-general 'deeply shocked' over attacks on schools

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Sunday he was “deeply shocked,” by strikes on two UNRWA schools in less than 24 hours.

“Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians are seeking shelter at United Nations facilities throughout Gaza due to the intensified fighting,” Guterres said in a statement. “I reaffirm that our premises are inviolable.”

Two young Palestinian boys look up at the walls and ceiling of a room pockmarked with holes in a United Nations-run school being used as a shelter in Al-Maghazi, Gaza.
A damaged UNRWA school in Al-Maghazi, Gaza, on Oct. 18.Majdi Fathi / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

The strikes killed and injured dozens of people, many of them women and children according to the U.N.

“This is yet another proof that no one, and nowhere is safe in Gaza,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “Once again, shelters meant to provide safety and protection to civilians have been hit, killing many people, including children. These acts not only blatantly contravene the rules of war, they also show a total disregard for humanity.”

15d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Canadian university fires director of sexual assault center over open letter

The University of Alberta, Edmonton, terminated the director of its sexual assault center yesterday after the employee signed an open letter that disputed reports that women were raped during Hamas' Oct. 7 attack.

Bill Flanagan, the university president, said in a statement yesterday that the letter "raised understandable concerns" and that a new interim director was appointed effective immediately.

"I want to be clear that the former employee’s personal views and opinions do not in any way represent those of the University of Alberta," Flanagan wrote.

The letter demanded that Canadian Parliament call for a cease-fire but also included a line criticizing New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh for repeating the "unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence." Israeli police said they were opening an investigation into crimes committed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, including allegations of sexual violence.

15d ago / 4:30 PM UTC

Congressional leaders aiming to pass Israel supplemental aid before Christmas

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WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders are hoping to muster a supplemental package to aid the war efforts in Ukraine and Israel, as well as make improvements to the U.S. immigration system, by the end of the year, according to multiple people involved in discussions.

The ambitious timeline would mean striking a deal that satisfies the funding requested by the Department of Defense to aid conflict zones, while simultaneously crafting an immigration package that not only provides resources for border security but includes a suite of policy changes to appease conservatives without alienating progressive Democrats.

The Republican-led House has already passed an aid bill for Israel, but it includes hefty cuts to the IRS and excludes humanitarian assistance — both items that the White House and Senate Democrats find untenable. The question is how the next stage of negotiations will proceed.

Read the full story.

15d ago / 4:05 PM UTC

More than 170 people killed in UNRWA shelters since beginning of war, commissioner says

Schools run by the United Nations that are used as shelters for internally displaced Palestinians are being hit “constantly,” the commissioner-general of the U.N.’s Refugee and Works Agency for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Philippe Lazzarini, said in a statement today.

Eighty-five incidents have struck 67 structures so far, including 17 direct hits, he added, killing at least 176 people and injuring 800 more. All the facilities were clearly marked as U.N. buildings, the coordinates of which have been shared with both Hamas and Israel.

“The large number of UNRWA facilities hit and the number of civilians killed cannot just be ‘collateral damage,’” Lazzarini said, adding that over half the facilities hit were south of the Wadi Gaza, inside the zone where Israeli forces have told Palestinians to evacuate.

Almost 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced across Gaza since the start of the war, according to the UNRWA, with 900,000 living in UNRWA facilities and temporary shelters.

15d ago / 3:40 PM UTC

31 premature babies arrive in Rafah in the hopes of crossing tomorrow

Palestinian medics care for premature babies evacuated from Al Shifa hospital to the Emirates hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian medics care for premature babies evacuated from Al-Shifa hospital to the Emirates hospital in Rafah today.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

More than 30 premature babies in desperate need of medical care arrived at Rafah today, but are not expected to cross the border into Egypt until tomorrow.

The babies were taken to Al Sultan Hospital in Rafah under the supervision of the United Nations' refugee agency. The decision was made to delay their journey due to their poor health condition.

Premature babies evacuated from Al Shifa hospital receive care at the Emirates hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Premature babies at the Emirates hospital in Rafah today.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images
15d ago / 3:30 PM UTC

'How many more civilians will be killed?' U.N. high commissioner asks

Jamil al-Agha and his wife cry as he holds the body of one of their two children killed in Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, Gaza.
Jamil al-Agha and his wife cry as he holds the body of one of their two children killed in Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis today.Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images

Events in Gaza over the last 48 hours “beggar belief,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a strongly worded statement Sunday, in which he added that attacks on schools and mass internal displacement were actions that “fly in the face of the basic protections civilians must be afforded under international law.”

Those in Khan Younis could not obey IDF orders to travel to “recognized shelters” as it continued to strike Gaza, he said, adding: “Irrespective of warnings, Israel is obliged to protect civilians wherever they are.” Images purportedly taken after an attack on Al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia refugee camp were "horrifying," he added.

“How much more violence, bloodshed and misery will it take before people come to their senses? How many more civilians will be killed?” he asked, reiterating calls for a cease-fire.

15d ago / 3:21 PM UTC

In a Washington Post op-ed, President Joe Biden has again called for a two-state solution in the Middle East, pledging steadfast support for Israel and saying the Palestinian people deserve their own country free from Hamas.

15d ago / 3:06 PM UTC

Ministers from Arab countries to travel to China to push for an end to the war

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in New York.
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, in New York on Oct. 24.Lev Radin / Sipa USA via AP file

Ministers from across the Arab and Islamic worlds will begin an international tour tomorrow, with the aim of drumming up international support for ending Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza.

The tour will be the first step in carrying out decisions reached at a joint Arab and Islamic summit held in Riyadh earlier this month, officials said.

"The first stop will be China," Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in a video posted to the Foreign Ministry's account on the social media site X. He add they would then move on to "a number of capitals" with the message that "there must be a ceasefire immediately," as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid.

15d ago / 2:51 PM UTC

Pro-Palestinian protester interrupts Cricket World Cup final

A pro-Palestinian protester broke through security cordons and briefly stopped play in the Cricket World Cup final in front of some 130,000 fans in Ahmedabad, India today.

The protester wore a mask depicting the Palestinian flag and a T-shirt that read "Stop Bombing Gaza." Photos of the pitch invasion showed the protester attempting to embrace India's star batsman Virat Kohli, and carrying what appeared to be a Pride flag in his hand.


The protester was apprehended and escorted off the pitch by security, and play between Australia and India resumed.

15d ago / 2:39 PM UTC

Israeli president tells Jews around the world 'Israel is here for you'

President Isaac Herzog expressed solidarity in a speech directed to Jewish communities around the world, saying that Israel is fighting the war for the entire "civilized world."

In his speech, which was posted to the social media site X, Herzog told Jewish communities that "Israel is here for you" as the war continues into its second month. He also noted the rise of antisemitic incidents all over the world, stating that there was a "close link" between anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism.

But communities are also thriving, Herzog said.

"Israelis of every background are showing up for each other in remarkable ways," Herzog said. "Jewish communities across the world, are mobilizing an unprecedented energy."

15d ago / 2:26 PM UTC

New poll finds Biden’s standing at new lows amid Israel-Hamas war

President Joe Biden’s approval rating has declined to the lowest level of his presidency — 40% — as strong majorities of all voters disapprove of his handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll.

What’s more, the poll finds Biden behind former President Donald Trump for the first time in a hypothetical general-election matchup, although the deficit is well within the poll’s margin of error for a contest that’s still more than 11 months away.

The erosion for Biden is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza, and among voters ages 18 to 34, with a whopping 70% of them disapproving of Biden’s handling of the war.

Read the full story.

15d ago / 2:17 PM UTC

'Closest they've been' to a hostage deal, says national security official

Current talks for the release of several hostages in exchange for a multiday pause in fighting are the closest officials have been to any form of agreement, Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer told NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning.

More than 12 hostages could be released in exchange for a cease-fire, Finer said, although he added that nothing has been finalized.

Finer did not confirm whether the hostage deal was centered on women and children only, or if it would be American hostages who would be released. There are around 240 hostages currently believed to be held in Gaza.

15d ago / 1:55 PM UTC

Militants seize a cargo ship in the Red Sea

Militants seized a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea this morning, according to three U.S. officials.

The ship is called the Galaxy Leader. It’s Bahamian flagged but owned by a Japanese company.

The officials believe the Houthis, Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, are behind the attack. Early reports are that a helicopter hovered over the ship and several armed individuals rappelled down to the deck.

This comes just days after the International Maritime Security Construct issued an advisory to all mariners in the area because of a threat from the Houthis to attack international shipping. The group has also launched a number of drone and missile attacks toward southern Israel during the war with Hamas.

The Israeli military said in a statement that "the hijacking of the cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very serious event on a global level." The ship had "an international civilian crew, with no Israeli crew members on board," IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a post on X. A spokesperson for the U.S. naval forces in the region referred to the Pentagon for comment, and NBC News has reached out.

Read the full story here.

15d ago / 1:48 PM UTC

Growing optimism that a hostage deal could be close

TEL AVIV — There is "growing confidence" from Qatar, seen as a key intermediary in the negotiations, that a deal for the release of some hostages held by Hamas can be reached.

15d ago / 1:27 PM UTC

31 'very sick' babies were evacuated from Al-Shifa, WHO says

Thirty-one "very sick" babies were transported from Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City to Al-Helal Al-Emairati Maternity Hospital in the southern part of the strip, director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on X.

The premature babies, who have survived several days without incubators, exposing them to infection and cold, are receiving urgent care in neonatal intensive care units, Ghebreyesus said.

Six health workers and 10 family members were also evacuated in the mission, he added, with more evacuation missions from the besieged hospital planned in coming days. More than 290 patients and 25 health workers remained in Al-Shifa, the WHO and U.N. agencies said in a joint statement earlier this morning.

15d ago / 1:19 PM UTC

Hezbollah and IDF continue to clash on border

The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said in a statement Sunday that it had achieved a “direct hit” on the al-Marj site in northern Israel, where IDF forces were carrying out maintenance work.

The statement did not say how the attack was carried out or using what weapons. NBC News could not independently confirm the attack.

An IDF statement in response said that “interceptors were launched toward several suspicious aerial targets that crossed from Lebanon toward the area of the Upper Galilee in northern Israel.” Other launches from Lebanon toward northern Israel were also detected, the statement said, adding that no injuries had been reported.

Tension has been mounting between Israel and Hezbollah in recent days. In remarks to the press on Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel was ready “on land, in the air and at sea” if Hezbollah “makes a mistake.”

15d ago / 12:55 PM UTC

Chilly temperatures and rain make a difficult situation worse

RAMALLAH, West Bank — It’s a chilly day here in the occupied West Bank, where temperatures have dipped to around 57 degrees Fahrenheit amid heavy rain.

“The atmosphere is very cold,” Hassan Al-Dreemli, a Gazan worker who is staying at a makeshift shelter in Ramallah until he can return home, says in a text. “But we are better than others in Gaza. There, they could not sit in a place, even for shelter.”

Rain in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, on Sunday.
Rain in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, on Sunday.Chantal Da Silva / NBC News

The rainy season is also underway in Gaza, where cooling temperatures and heavy rains bring fresh concerns for the thousands of Palestinians displaced amid Israel’s offensive in the enclave.

Rain is expected across parts of enclave today and tomorrow. Temperatures are also predicted to dip to just below 61 degrees this evening, creating a difficult night for many.

15d ago / 12:24 PM UTC

No Arab troops will go to Gaza, Jordan's foreign minister says

Jordan’s foreign minister said that no Arab troops would enter Gaza and strongly criticized Israel on Saturday.

Speaking at the IISS Manama Summit in Bahrain, Ayman Safadi said that Arab governments were in agreement that their troops would not enter the besieged coastal enclave to “come and clean the mess after Israel,” adding, “We’re not going to be seen as the enemy.”

Clashing with U.S. envoy Brett McGurk, who said that Hamas must release hostages for any progress on a cease-fire and to unlock greater levels of international humanitarian aid, Safadi later said “Israel is taking 2.3 million Palestinians hostage.” Israel did not immediately respond to any of Safadi’s comments.

The current conflict is exposing cracks in Israel's regional peace efforts, with recognition deals splintering with major regional players such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. On Thursday, Jordan said it would not sign a deal providing Israel with energy in exchange for water. Jordan and Israel first brokered peace in 1994.

15d ago / 11:50 AM UTC

Premature babies evacuated from Al-Shifa hospital

Dozens of premature babies have been evacuated from Gaza’s main hospital and will be transferred to facilities in Egypt, the territory’s health ministry and the Palestine Red Crescent Society have said.

"Today, PRCS emergency medical services teams, in coordination by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), successfully evacuated 31 premature babies from the Al-Shifa Hospital," the Red Crescent said in a post on X.

Medhat Abbas, a spokesman for the ministry, confirmed the evacuation in a phone call with The Associated Press this morning.

Fears had mounted for the babies' health after the hospital ran out of fuel, shutting down incubators and forcing doctors to take emergency steps to keep the babies warm. Hundreds of patients and staff who were able to flee left the facility yesterday after it was raided by Israeli forces, but many of the most vulnerable remained.

Premature babies in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Nov. 12, 2023.
Dr. Marawan Abu Saada via AP
15d ago / 11:49 AM UTC

Doctors Without Borders condemns 'deliberate' attack that killed one in convoy

The relative of a Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) worker was killed and another injured in an attack on a convoy evacuating 137 people from premises near Al-Shifa hospital on Saturday, a statement from the humanitarian organization said.

Two of five of the MSF cars in the convoy were “deliberately” hit, the statement said, as it traveled back toward the MSF offices after being forced to turn away from the final checkpoint in Gaza’s south due to overcrowding, extreme wait times and the sounds of gunfire nearby.

MSF had informed both the Israeli army and Hamas of its evacuation plans prior to the journey, the statement said, and was traveling along the Salah al-Din route marked safe by the IDF. It added that 65 children were in the convoy at the time it was attacked.

16d ago / 11:24 AM UTC

Israel says residents of four Gaza neighborhoods must leave by 4 p.m.

The IDF has told residents of Daraj, Tuffah and Shejaiya in Gaza City and Jabalia in the north of the strip that they must evacuate as soon as possible or by 4 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) today “because you staying there is dangerous.”

In a statement released on X, IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee said that residents should travel south via the Salah al-Din road, and that the military would pause fighting between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to facilitate travel.

Jabalia is home to the Jabalia refugee camp, where thousands of people already internally displaced by Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas are living alongside long-term internal refugees. Despite the south of Gaza being designated as the evacuation zone for Gaza civilians, it has also come under heavy bombardment in recent days.

16d ago / 11:02 AM UTC

Smoke from airstrikes in Gaza visible from Israel

Images taken from southern Israel show the scope of damage from the airstrikes hitting besieged Gaza. Smoke billowed above buildings in the area on Sunday.

16d ago / 10:57 AM UTC

Israel says it located Hamas tunnel shafts in Gaza neighborhoods

Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza City found 35 tunnel shafts on Sunday, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a series of posts on X.

Hagari said that paratroopers, operating alongside armor, engineering and the air force located the tunnels in the southern Sheikh Ijlin and central Rimal neighborhoods.

In a separate statement, the IDF also said that it raided the residences of senior Hamas officials in Rimal, an area of Gaza City that contained “military posts” and “terrorist infrastructure.” Though both statements claimed to have "eliminated" Hamas militants, they did not suggest how many.

NBC News is unable to independently verify these reports. Hamas did not immediately confirm the deaths of combatants.

16d ago / 10:41 AM UTC

Negotiators are closing in on a deal to release hostages, sources say


American, Israeli and Hamas negotiators are closing in on a deal to release some hostages taken during the Oct. 7 terror attack in exchange for a pause in fighting, sources familiar with the negotiations told NBC News.

These sources caution nothing has been finalized yet, and the U.S. insisted overnight that work toward a deal was continuing.

A senior Israeli official also said that “as the military pressure increases, the chances of a release of hostages grows because Hamas is desperate for a cease-fire.” This official also stressed that no deal has been finalized.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council made a similar statement last night.

"We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal," spokesperson Adrienne Waston posted on X in response to a Washington Post report about a possible agreement.

16d ago / 10:10 AM UTC

IDF continues operations in north Gaza and at Al-Shifa hospital

Israel's military says it is continuing its pursuit of Hamas in northern Gaza.

"Even at this hour, special forces are operating in the shaft that we discovered last night at the Shifa hospital," said Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari. "We will distribute the visual documentation from there, in the near future," he said.

He did not address reports of attacks that hit cities in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, including in Khan Younis.

The IDF has said that Hamas was operating a command center under the hospital, showing images of weapons and a tunnel to substantiate its claim. NBC News has not been able to independently verify the claim and staff at the hospital have strongly denied it.

16d ago / 10:06 AM UTC

More than two dozen babies among those left at Al-Shifa

More than two dozen babies in "extremely critical condition" and 291 patients are left at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, according to a joint statement from the WHO and U.N. agencies following a visit to the hospital.

Workers at the hospital have previously said that the lack of fuel and electricity prevented them from running incubators for premature babies, whom they were forced to put together in ordinary beds, lying side by side for body heat and exposed to infection and temperature changes.

Gaza's health ministry said Friday that the number of babies who have died at the hospital had risen to four.

16d ago / 10:04 AM UTC

In the West Bank, Gazan workers wait to return home

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Weeks have passed since Israel sent scores of Palestinian workers back into Gaza, but in the occupied West Bank, many remain — some grief-stricken as they absorb devastating news from back home.

Sitting outside a community center in Ramallah, where dozens of makeshift beds have been set up for Gazan workers, Hassan Al-Dreemli, a 32-year-old construction worker and father of two, told NBC News he found out today that his sister-in-law and young nephew were killed in an airstrike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Hassan Al-Dreemli says he has just received the news that his sister-in-law and young nephew have died in an airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza.
Hassan Al-Dreemli says he has just received the news that his sister-in-law and young nephew have died in an airstrike in Khan Younis, Gaza. Chantal Da Silva

“They slaughtered us. They killed us,” he said, holding his head in one hand and his phone in the other as he listens to voice notes from loved ones updating him on his brother’s condition. His relatives have told him his brother survived the airstrike, but was injured.

Having yet to hear from his sibling himself, he said he’s worried they might be lying to him to protect him from a harder truth.

Al-Dreemli said he worries constantly for his family, including his wife and two young children. He said his son is just 2 months old and he has yet to meet him in person. But until it is safer to return home, he said, all he can do is wait and hope to have that chance.

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

Al-Shifa hospital is a 'death zone,' says World Health Organization

A joint team of United Nations and World Health Organization workers on an “assessment mission” to Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City called the hospital a “death zone” and said the situation is “desperate,” according to a statement released by the WHO Saturday.

The humanitarian team found a mass grave at its entrance, which they were told contained the bodies of 80 people. The hospital, which has been without clean water, fuel, food or medical supplies for the past six weeks, also contained signs of shelling and gunfire, according to the statement.

Some are unable or unwilling to leave Al-Shifa: 291 patients and 25 health workers remain. Damage and a lack of key resources at the hospital had caused it to “essentially stop functioning as a medical facility,” the WHO statement said, adding that medical and solid waste piled in the corridors. Many injured patients' wounds were severely infected due to the absence of sanitation and infection control measures at the hospital, it said.

The statement added that evacuation plans for patients to hospitals in the south are being “urgently developed” by humanitarian organizations, but the ability to carry them out is “pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict.”

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

Grief in southern Gaza after more airstrikes

Image: As Gaza's Humanitarian Crisis Deepens, Calls Grow For Pause In War
Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Palestinians mourn as they collect the bodies of those killed in airstrikes today in the city of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

U.N. relief chief: People were killed while sheltering at Al-Fakhoura school


People were killed while sheltering at Al-Fakhoura school in northern Gaza, said Martin Griffiths, the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

“Shelters are a place for safety. Schools are a place for learning,” Griffiths wrote on X. “Civilians cannot and should not have to bear this any longer. Humanity needs to prevail.”

The bodies of dozens of people who were killed in the attack on the school arrived at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza today, said Dr. Ahmed Al-Kahlout, the hospital’s director.

The number of fatalities has not been released.

An official statement from Hamas blamed Israel for the strike and said it would be “held accountable.”

NBC News could not immediately verify the source of the blast.

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

WHO plans evacuation of patients, workers at Al-Shifa hospital

The World Health Organization said today that the agency and its partners are making plans to evacuate the remaining 25 health workers and 291 patients at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, where conditions continue to deteriorate.

The hospital is no longer operational, no longer admitting new patients and has become what a United Nations humanitarian assessment team called a “death zone,” the WHO said.

“Over the next 24–72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict, additional missions are being arranged to urgently transport patients from Al-Shifa to Nasser Medical Complex and European Gaza Hospital in the south of Gaza,” the WHO said. However, the organization stressed that the latter two hospitals are also overwhelmed, and an influx of patients will “further strain overburdened health staff and resources.”

The WHO called for immediate efforts to restore functionality at Al-Shifa and other hospitals to provide urgently needed services in Gaza. “The extreme suffering of the people of Gaza demands that we respond immediately and concretely with humanity and compassion,” the WHO said.

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

Hundreds flee on foot from Al-Shifa hospital

Hundreds fled on foot from Al-Shifa hospital toward the southern Gaza Strip amid conflicting reports from health officials and the Israeli Defense Forces about who ordered an evacuation. Some rode in horse-drawn carts while others were pushed in wheelchairs.

Dr. Ramez Radwan described seeing bodies in the streets as they walked on the road leading from the hospital through Gaza City.

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

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

16d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

Israel's information missteps have led to weakened credibility

Alongside its fight with Hamas, Israel is fighting another battle: to convince the world, and chiefly the United States, that this is a just war.

Israel’s public-relations machine has gone into overdrive in recent weeks to make the case that its pummeling of Gaza has been necessary and conducted in a way meant to minimize civilian deaths. It has allowed journalists, including those from NBC News, to embed with its soldiers in Gaza, maintained a steady drumbeat of social media posts, and made Israeli representatives available for TV appearances.

But in its recent outreach to global allies, Israel has released several pieces of inaccurate or disputed information including claiming that an Arabic calendar was a shift schedule for Hamas kidnappers, and using curtains as evidence that hostage videos had been filmed in a hospital.

The widespread reaction calling out these questionable pieces of evidence has weakened Israel’s credibility, according to some experts, and could lead to a boy-who-cried-wolf situation unless concrete evidence for a Hamas headquarters is found beneath Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, one of Israel’s key contentions at this stage of the war.

“The irony is they might find something and nobody is going to believe them,” said H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C., think tank. “At this point their credibility is shot.”

Read the full story.