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Israel-Hamas war: 5,000 killed in Gaza, Health Ministry says

Published October 23, 2023last updated October 23, 2023

Israel has said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza on Monday as well as thwarting a Hezbollah strike from Lebanon. Meanwhile, Gaza's Hamas-run Health Ministry says the death toll has passed 5,000.

Palestinians look for survivors of the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah
Israel has continued strikes against Gaza as it prepares for a ground invasionImage: Hatem Ali/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • More than 5,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry
  • US President Joe Biden has discussed the Israel-Hamas war with leaders of major Western powers
  • Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to keep aid moving to Gaza
  • Israel strikes targets in Gaza and Lebanon
  • EU foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the situation in Israel and Gaza
Skip next section This live blog is now closed
October 23, 2023

This live blog is now closed

For all the latest developments concerning the Israel-Hamas war, please visit Tuesday's live blog.

Skip next section Red Cross confirms two hostages released by Hamas
October 23, 2023

Red Cross confirms two hostages released by Hamas

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has facillitated the release of two more hostages that were held by Islamist group Hamas, "transporting [the two] out of Gaza this evening."

"Our role as a neutral intermediary makes this work possible [and] we are ready to facilitate any future release."

In a statement earlier, Hamas said it had released the two female hostages for humanitarian reasons.

Israel has demanded the unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union, the United States and others.

The Israeli military on Monday said at least 222 people were captured and taken back to Gaza, including foreigners. 

Mother of sons kidnapped by Hamas speaks out

Skip next section EU top diplomat Borrell calls for 'humanitarian pause' in Gaza
October 23, 2023

EU top diplomat Borrell calls for 'humanitarian pause' in Gaza

European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell says he believes the bloc's leaders would back a call for a "humanitarian pause" to allow more aid to enter the Gaza Strip.

EU leaders are set to discuss the issue at a summit on Thursday.

"I believe that the idea of a humanitarian pause to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian aid, which would allow displaced persons to find shelter, is something that the leaders will support," Borrell said after speaking with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

He said that such a move would amount to a less ambitious objective than a "humanitarian cease-fire," called for by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Several EU foreign ministers have called for a humanitarian cease-fire, while other ministers, as well as the US and Israel, have so far voiced their opposition.

Skip next section Gaza hospitals running low on fuel for generators — agencies
October 23, 2023

Gaza hospitals running low on fuel for generators — agencies

News agencies report that neonatal wards in two hospitals in the Gaza Strip are concerned about the lack of access to electricity.

Iyad Abu Zahar, director of the al-Aqsa hospital in the city of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, told the Associated Press that he feared that babies at the neonatal ward could perish once generators stop.

"The responsibility on us is huge," Abu Zahar said.

"We call on everyone to send the necessary medical supplies for this critical department or else we face a huge catastrophe," Reuters cited doctor Nasser Bulbul of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, which is the enclave's largest city, as saying.

Aid workers said that at least 130 premature babies are at "grave risk" across six neonatal units.

Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, said hospitals were running out of fuel and "just at the bottom of tankers."

"We have switched the fuel to the most essential life-saving services, including the incubators, but we don't know how long this will last," he said. "We are appealing for the whole world to help with fuel. We have even asked our public and private petrol stations to donate whatever they can save of fuel to help save lives in hospitals."

At least 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza are unable to access essential health services, and some 5,500 are due to give birth in the coming month, according to the World Health Organization.

At least seven of the territory's almost 30 hospitals have been forced to stop working since early October, when Israel started the siege on the Gaza Strip as a response to Hamas terror attacks on Israel on October 7.

Skip next section Almost 20,000 people displaced within Lebanon — UN agency
October 23, 2023

Almost 20,000 people displaced within Lebanon — UN agency

Almost 20,000 people have been internally displaced in Lebanon since early October, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration.

The organization said that most of those fleeing were from southern Lebanon but departures were also reported in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have been evacuating dozens of communities in the north of Israel.

Israel has been exchanging fire across the border with the Hezbollah Islamist militant group.

Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist organization by the Israel, the United States and a number of other countries, while the European Union deems its military wing to be a terrorist group.

Skip next section Israeli activist says Hamas cannot be defeated 'through military force alone'
October 23, 2023

Israeli activist says Hamas cannot be defeated 'through military force alone'

Israel cannot defeat Hamas "through military force alone," said Benzi Sanders, Jerusalem program director at EXTEND, a human rights NGO working in the region.

Speaking to DW on Monday, Sanders stressed that he is not a pacifist. He argued, nevertheless, that even though Israel needs to "fight and defend itself against Hamas and against terrorism," that was not enough.

"I think that in order to defeat Hamas, we need to create hope for a future where Palestinians and Israelis live together side by side," he said.

Sanders argued that the current Israeli government, as well as previous governments, "have been completely committed to the idea that there will be no coexistence between Israel and Palestinians in a Palestinian state or Palestinians with equal rights."

"They want to prevent the Palestinian state, and we've turned our backs on Palestinians who are willing to make compromises, who are willing to work toward the future," he said.

Sanders reminded that Israeli authorities had in recent years designated Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. He claimed that for the past years, Israeli authorities have been "facilitating the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Hamas."

The human rights activist argued that the success in rooting out Hamas was up to activists, the Israeli public as well as the international community.

"Is the international community going to just say this is just about defense and not hold, and demand that Palestinians are granted rights and create hope for the Palestinian people?" he asked.

Skip next section Baerbock stresses Hamas 'terror' must be fought
October 23, 2023

Baerbock stresses Hamas 'terror' must be fought

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stressed on Monday the need to fight the "terror" of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, designated as a terrorist group in Germany, the US and the European Union.

"There can be no security with Hamas terror, neither for Israel nor for the Palestinians," Baerbock said in statements ahead of her visit to New York.

She accused Hamas of aiming to "drive a wedge of hatred" into societies worldwide, not only in the Arab world. 

She cited recent demonstrations in Germany, London and Paris, where she said slogans chanted by those protesting "no longer have anything to do with sympathy for the real suffering of women and children in Gaza, but instead question Israel's existence and call for violence against Jews."

Germany's top diplomat also stressed that help for Gaza's civilians should continue to flow, via the United Nations. She called for "enabling" the UN humanitarian workers to provide humanitarian aid to the strip.

Baerbock also said that only a "negotiated" two-state solution could achieve peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Even if this seems far away in the face of violence, we must look at this horizon right now," she said.

Skip next section More than 5,000 killed in Gaza, Hamas-run Health Ministry says
October 23, 2023

More than 5,000 killed in Gaza, Hamas-run Health Ministry says

At least 5,087 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched retaliatory air strikes in Gaza on October 7, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said.

Of those, 2,055 were children, and 1,119 were women. Another 15,273 people were wounded in the strikes, the ministry said.

The numbers of dead and injured from Gaza cannot be independently verified

Israel declared war on Hamas after the militant group broke through border defenses and killed more than 1,400 people in Israel on October 7.

Israel says it only strikes Hamas militants in the densely populated Gaza Strip. Civilians caught in the crossfire, however, have borne the brunt of the war.

Palestinians have been cut off from food and water. EU foreign ministers are meeting Monday to discuss the situation as much-needed aid slowly trickles into Gaza.

Skip next section Israeli military says 222 people abducted by Hamas
October 23, 2023

Israeli military says 222 people abducted by Hamas

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have updated to 222 the number of people held hostage by the militant group Hamas since its deadly October 7 attacks.

IDF chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announced the new figure in a televised briefing on Monday.

The Israeli army radio (GLZ) cited Hagari as saying that the updated number came from Israeli intelligence.

Finding out the number of foreign nationals among the hostages had been trickier, he said. Germans are among those being held captive.

He added that the relatives of the abductees had been informed.

Skip next section Third convoy of aid enters Gaza
October 23, 2023

Third convoy of aid enters Gaza

A third convoy of humanitarian aid entered Gaza on Monday via the Rafah crossing from Egypt.

French news agency AFP reported that more than a dozen trucks were in the convoy.

The crossing was opened for the first time on Saturday, though just 20 trucks carrying supplies like food and medicine were allowed in.

Another 14 trucks entered Gaza on Sunday, but the number of trucks still remains insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the enclave, according to aid workers.

The UN has said that at least 100 trucks are needed daily to meet the needs of Gaza's 2.4 million inhabitants, more than half of whom have been forced to flee their homes.

Before the crossing opened Saturday, more than 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid had been waiting nearby for days.

Meanwhile, Gaza's Hamas-run authorities have continued to report heavy airstrikes across the territory overnight into Monday.

Skip next section German FM urges 'fight against terrorism' as EU ministers meet
October 23, 2023

German FM urges 'fight against terrorism' as EU ministers meet

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said it would not be possible "to contain the humanitarian catastrophe if the terrorism from Gaza continues like this."

Her comments came as several EU foreign ministers called for a humanitarian cease-fire.

However, Baerbock appeared to disagree, instead prioritizing the "fight against terrorism," which she said had "brought so much suffering to the people of Gaza."

There will be "no security and no peace for either Israel or the Palestinians" if the conflict keeps escalating. It was essential to "square the circle," she said before the EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

Hamas, labeled a terrorist organization by the EU, US and Israel, among others, killed more than 1,400 people in Israel on October 7.

Israel responded to the attack by declaring war on the group and by carrying out airstrikes against Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israel also ordered a complete siege of the enclave, cutting its more than 2 million residents from water, food and fuel. Trucks carrying aid finally entered the enclave on the weekend.

Baerbock talking to the press before the Council on Foreign Relations meeting
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is attending a meeting with her EU counterparts in LuxembourgImage: Thomas Koehler/photothek/IMAGO
Skip next section EU ministers meet to discuss vital aid into Gaza
October 23, 2023

EU ministers meet to discuss vital aid into Gaza

European Union foreign ministers are meeting to discuss ways to help get vital aid into Gaza, particularly fuel, after two convoys entered over the weekend.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the few dozen trucks that had entered the besieged strip were "not enough" and that ministers would discuss a humanitarian cease-fire.

UN agencies, including the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization, have called for de-escalating conflict as the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens.

"Personally, I think that a humanitarian phase is needed in order to allow the humanitarian support to come in and be distributed, seeing that half of the population of Gaza has been moving from their houses," Borrell told reporters in Luxembourg, where the meeting is taking place. 

New aid convoy enters Gaza

Borrell said the emphasis must be on getting power and water-providing desalination plants running again.

"Without water and electricity, the hospitals can barely work," he said. Ministers would also look at ways to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people in the long term.

"The great powers have forgotten about the Palestinian issue, thinking it was going to be solved alone, or it doesn't matter. Yes, it matters," Borrell said.  

Skip next section Israel continues strikes against Gaza overnight
October 23, 2023

Israel continues strikes against Gaza overnight

The Israeli military struck targets across Gaza overnight and early on Monday, including in areas where Palestinian civilians have been told to seek refuge.

Prominent Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israeli forces struck more than 320 Hamas targets overnight, citing a statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Shin Bet security service.

The targets included Hamas tunnels, dozens of the organization's headquarters, military compounds and observation posts.

Gaza: More casualties as Israeli airstrikes intensify

Hamas authorities said that some 60 people had been killed, including 17 who were killed in a strike on a house in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, French news agency AFP reported.

A separate statement, also reported by AFP, said another 10 people had been killed on Monday morning, bringing the total death toll in Gaza since Sunday night to 70.

More than 4,650 Palestinians are believed to have been killed since Israel launched its bombing campaign following Hamas' October 7 terror attacks.

Israel is widely expected to launch a ground offensive into Gaza. Tanks and troops have been amassed at the Gaza border, and Israel says it has stepped up airstrikes to reduce the risk to troops in the next stages. 

Skip next section German minister urges passing of law against antisemitism
October 23, 2023

German minister urges passing of law against antisemitism

German Interior Minister Nany Faeser has called for the urgent adoption of the Democracy Protection Act to protect citizens amid a rise in hate crimes against Jews in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

She told Rheinische Post newspaper in remarks published on Monday that Germany ought to "strengthen the initiatives that protect and support Jews right now."

"That is why we now need the Democracy Protection Act, which Family Minister Lisa Paus and I introduced to the Bundestag months ago," she said.

The act is meant to bolster democracy, combat hate crimes, and strengthen civil society. Faeser said the law could promote action against antisemitism with stronger initiatives.

German leaders have strongly denounced a rise in antisemitism in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel.

An attack at a synagogue in Berlin last week drew widespread outrage from German leaders, while thousands of people also gathered at a demonstration in Berlin on Sunday to show opposition to antisemitism and support for Israel.

German police have increased security at Jewish institutions in Berlin and nationwide.

"We cannot lead the fight against antisemitism only with strong security authorities, but we must also strengthen our social forces," Faeser told the newspaper.

"We must take away the space for hatred — everywhere, whether in social media, in schools, or on the streets," she added. 

Germany intensifies security around Jewish institutions

Skip next section Israel military says it foiled attack by Hezbollah militants
October 23, 2023

Israel military says it foiled attack by Hezbollah militants

Israel's military said it foiled an attack by Hezbollah militants on Monday. 

The Israel Defense Forces said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that they struck "Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon, including a military compound and an observation post. [Four] Hezbollah terrorist cells operating on the border with Lebanon were struck."

The IDF said the terrorist cells had planned to fire an anti-tank missile at the Israeli town of Shlomi, on the border with Lebanon. The alleged plan could not be independently verified.

The Hezbollah group is designated a terrorist organization by many countries, including Germany and the US. It has fought numerous wars with Israel, and there has been a steady increase in the exchange of fire on the border between Israel and southern Lebanon since the October 7 massacre carried out by Palestinian Hamas militants.

Israel and the US have warned Hezbollah against launching attacks against Israel as it responds to the assault from Hamas in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if Hezbollah were to get more deeply involved, it would be the "mistake of its life."

"We will strike it with a force it cannot even imagine, and the significance for it and the state of Lebanon will be devastating," Netanyahu said on Sunday, as diplomacy to keep the Israel-Hamas conflict from spreading continues on many fronts.

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