Israel-Hamas war live updates: France's Macron calls for cease-fire; U.S. reportedly discussing pause in fighting with Israel, Qatar

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, meets with the Syrian foreign minister in Damascus on June 26, 2023. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP) (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images)

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The current conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas is a “wildfire that could completely consume the entire region,” U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths warned during a Paris humanitarian conference for the Gaza Strip, according to a CNBC translation.

Describing the situation in the Gaza enclave as “unbearable” and “inconsolable,” he urged all parties to the war to respect “international rights and humanitarian dignity” in order to protect civilians.

The conflict has already scaled up tensions between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Yemeni Houthis, and the Syrian administration of Bashar al-Assad. There have also been calls for Arab countries to unite in an embargo against Israel from Iran, which supports all three actors inimical to Israel, and Hamas.

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The World Health Organization said the increasing cases of infectious diseases in the Gaza Strip are “very concerning” and pose an added danger to the people currently living in the enclave.

It described the situation as particularly worrying for the 1.5 million Palestinian people who have been internally displaced since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in early October, as many are living in overcrowded shelters.

“Lack of fuel has led to the shutting down of desalination plants, significantly increasing the risk of bacterial infections like diarrhea spreading as people consume contaminated water,” the WHO said in a release Thursday.

“Lack of fuel has also disrupted all solid waste collection, creating an environment conducive to the rapid and widespread proliferation of insects, rodents that can carry and transit diseases.”

The WHO said over 33,550 cases of diarrhea had been reported since the middle of last month, with over half of the cases occurring among children under the age five. For comparison, there were on average 2,000 cases among young children over the previous two years.

“The current disease trends are very concerning,” WHO added.

— Katrina Bishop

The Israel Defense Forces said it has killed another senior commander and taken control of a stronghold of Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The military said on social media that it killed Ibrahim Abu-Maghsib, head of Hamas’ anti-tank missile unit in the Central Camps Brigade, during a fighter jet strike. In a separate Google-translated update, it said it had taken a Hamas outpost near Jabalia, where the IDF previously hit a refugee camp.

CNBC could not independently confirm developments on the ground.

The IDF has reported killing several senior Hamas military figures and assuming control of the group’s positions since the early-October start of its aerial and land campaign in the Gaza Strip. It says it is exclusively targeting Hamas and its military posts.

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French President Emmanuel Macron.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a cease-fire in Israel’s war with Palestinian militant group Hamas, citing humanitarian grounds.

“Today the situation is severe, and it deteriorates more every day. Therefore, immediately, it is toward the protection of civilians that we must work. We must … impose a very rapid humanitarian pause and we must open a cease-fire,” Macron said at the start of a humanitarian aid conference for Gaza in Paris, according to a CNBC translation.

He recognized Israel’s “right to defend itself and the duty to protect its citizens,” while stressing the country also has “an eminent responsibility, which is that of all democracies: respecting the law and protecting civilians.”

He added: “Civilians must be protected, it is absolutely indispensable. It is not negotiable. It is an immediate necessity and, on the longer term, it is also a condition for the efficacy of our fight against terrorism.”

The French leader further noted the need to create safety conditions for humanitarian workers to continue working in the Gaza Strip.

His comments build on increasing international pressure — including calls from Israel’s long-term ally the U.S. — for a humanitarian pause to the conflict, to allow aid to be delivered and discuss the potential release of hostages held by Hamas.

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BERLIN, GERMANY – JANUARY 06: The lettering Israel is seen on a 10 agorot coin stands on a table on January 06, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The currency of the State of Israel is called New Israeli Shekel (NIS). The shekel consists of 100 agorot. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

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Israel’s economy took a weekly hit of $2.3 billion shekels ($596 million) in the three weeks following the Oct. 7 terror attacks carried out by Palestinian militant group Hamas, the Israeli bank said in a Google-translated report on Thursday.

Israel launched a war campaign targeting Hamas following the attacks.

“The absence of workers resulted from the complete closure of educational institutions (1.25 billion NIS), evacuations of residents from areas that were damaged or are at high risk of being damaged (0.6 billion NIS) and extensive recruitment of reserve personnel (0.5 billion NIS),” the bank said, referring to the New Israeli Shekel.

The bank said this does not reflect the total impact of the war on the labor market and overall economy. In addition to these losses, the institution noted costs resulting from a decline in demand and the absence of Palestinian and foreign workers.

The damage to the labor market is expected to decrease as education facilities reopen, employees adapt to activity from evacuation zones, and the threat of missiles lowers.

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The al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City has received its second delivery of medical supplies and medicines since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the World Health Organization and U.N. Agency for Palestine Refugees said in a joint statement Wednesday.

A first bath of medical supplies was delivered to the hospital — the largest in the Gaza Strip — on Oct. 24, the agencies said. They described conditions at the medical facility as “disastrous,” with “overflowing” emergency wards, depleting supplies and almost two patients for every bed available.

“The northern areas of Gaza cannot and should not be isolated nor deprived of the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Patients there cannot be denied the health care to which they are entitled and urgently need,” the agencies said, stressing the need for additional fuel deliveries to operate medical equipment and desalinate water.

WHO and UNRWA further called for the protection of medical facilities and personnel, unimpeded passage of supplies and for the medical evacuation of the critically sick and injured.

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The Israel Defense Forces has announced another evacuation window for Palestinian civilians to leave Gaza City and head southward.

In a Google-translated social media post, Avichay Adraee, IDF spokesperson for Arab media, said the Israeli military will allow free movement through the main Salah al-Din road between 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time.

Roughly 50,000 residents of the northern Gaza Strip headed south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands on Wednesday, the spokesperson said. CNBC could not independently verify these numbers.

The humanitarian corridors come amid increasing fears that the Israeli military is preparing to storm Gaza City.

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The U.S. is in talks with Israel and Qatar over a proposed pause in the hostilities in the Gaza Strip of up to three days, in exchange for the potential release of some hostages held by Palestinian militant group Hamas, NBC News reports two foreign diplomats and a U.S. official as saying. The news organization did not name its sources.

The pause would allow the delivery of further humanitarian aid and create opportunities for the safe passage of Palestinian civilians looking to flee the north of the Gaza Stirp southward.

A final agreement has yet to be brokered. Qatar, which hosts the Hamas political bureau on its territory, has been in talks with the Palestinian militant group over the past two weeks over the proposal, NBC News says.

“We are at a critical stage of the negotiations,” a senior Arab source told NBC News.

Israel has previously said it is unwilling to pause its offensive in the Gaza Strip until hostages are released and Hamas is fully demilitarized. An official of the Palestinian militants has meanwhile said that captives will not be returned before a cease-fire is instituted. Hamas has only released four of the over 200 hostages it took captive on Oct. 7, with another rescued by the Israel Defense Forces.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration has been facing increasing pressures from the international community over the exacerbating humanitarian crisis for civilians stranded in the Gaza Strip, with even close ally U.S. President Joe Biden now floating the possibility of a humanitarian pause.

CNBC has reached out to the Israeli prime minister’s office, IDF, U.S. State Department and Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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A World Health Organization truck at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

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The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Wednesday that it received 106 trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent branch that delivered humanitarian aid, along with five ambulance vehicles from Kuwait.

The latest trucks carried food, water and medical supplies.

The organization said 756 trucks — or about 39 trucks per day — have entered the resource-deprived and besieged Gaza enclave since Oct. 21, when humanitarian deliveries started. No fuel has been allowed in so far, the PRCS says.

Israel sealed the Gaza Strip off from its own supplies of water, food, fuel and electricity in the early days of the conflict, and the Israeli military has repeatedly accused the Palestinian militant group Hamas of denying stocks of fuel to the population and rerouting them toward its war efforts.

The Gaza Strip received roughly 500 trucks of supplies per day before the conflict, the U.N. noted in the past.

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The Israel Defense Forces said in a social media update they have discovered water and oxygen storage in the wide-spanning tunnel network beneath the Gaza Strip, which “indicates Hamas’ preparations for prolonged stays underground.”

This comes after the Israeli military on Wednesday announced it had destroyed 130 tunnel entrances, amid a broader refocus on eliminating Hamas’ underground infrastructure. CNBC could not independently confirm this figure.

A key advantage in the Gaza territory in the event of a ground incursion, the tunnel network can facilitate transport, weapons and explosives storage and ambushes for Hamas operatives.

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Israel carried out an aerial attack targeting military sites in southern Syria leading to some material losses, Syrian state media said on Wednesday, citing a military source.

The source quoted by state media said missiles flying over Lebanon’s Baalbek region had targeted several sites, but it did not identify them.

Israel has for years carried out attacks on what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that started in 2011.

The strikes are believed to have targeted Syrian army air defence base and a radar station in Tel Qulaib and Tel Maseeh in the Sweida province in southwestern Syria, according to two Syrian military defectors familiar with the matter.


KHAN YUNIS, GAZA – NOVEMBER 8 : A Palestinian child receives treatment after Israeli air raids at Nasser Medical Hospital on November 8, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. Heavy fighting rages in the northern Gaza Strip as Israel encircles the area, despite increasingly pressing calls for a humanitarian truce. The leaders of the main UN agencies issued a rare joint statement to express their indignation. More than 40 per cent of the dead in Gaza after nearly four weeks of war are children. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

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The U.N. human rights chief said collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians and their forced evacuation, as well as atrocities committed by Palestinian armed groups on Oct. 7 and their continued holding of hostages, amount to war crimes.

Volker Türk, standing in front of Egypt’s Rafah border crossing into Gaza, told reporters Wednesday: “These are the gates to a living nightmare.”

“We have fallen off a precipice. This cannot continue,” he said later in Cairo.

Türk said international human rights and humanitarian law must be respected to help protect civilians and allow desperately needed aid to reach Gaza’s beleaguered population of some 2.3 million people.

He said the U.N. rights office received reports in recent days about an unspecified orphanage in northern Gaza with 300 children who need urgent help, but communications were down and access were impassable and unsafe, so “we cannot get to them.”

I feel, in my innermost being, the pain, the immense suffering of every person whose loved one has been killed in a kibbutz, in a Palestinian refugee camp, hiding in a building or as they were fleeing,” Türk said. “We all must feel this shared pain — and end this nightmare.”

GAZA CITY, GAZA – NOVEMBER 8: Palestinians who left their houses and live at the Nassr hospital, are trying to feed their children during food shortages as the Israeli attacks continue in Gaza City, Gaza on November 8, 2023. (Photo by Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

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A newborn is seen at Nasser Hospital, born after his mother was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis, Gaza on October 24, 2023. The Palestinian doctor said the baby is now in a stable condition. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu via Getty Images)

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Hospitals in Gaza are nearing collapse under Israel’s wartime siege, which has cut power and deliveries of food, fuel and other necessities to the territory.

Inside the maternity department at Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, the workload has doubled because of the mass displacement from Gaza’s north. That’s according to neonatal specialist Dr. Asaad al-Nawajha, who said Wednesday his team has seen an increase in premature births as the monthlong war intensifies.

Shouq Hararah is one of those mothers. She says her delivery took place with “no proper birth procedures, no anesthesia, painkillers or anything.”

“I gave birth to twins. The boy was discharged, but the girl remains in the maternity ward,” she said.

Standing before a row of beeping incubators, al-Nawajha emphasized the war’s life-threatening consequences.

“All of our work depends on electricity; all the machines you see here rely on it,” the doctor said. “When the electricity is cut, these devices stop working, and all the babies will face certain death.”

Associated Press

A U.S. military MQ-9 drone was shot down on Wednesday by Yemen’s Houthis, two U.S. officials and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement said.

While U.S. drones have been shot down by Houthis in the past, this incident comes at a particularly tense time in the region.

Washington is on heightened alert for activity by Iran-backed groups as regional tensions soar during the Israel-Hamas war.

The U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the drone, made by General Atomics, had been brought down off the coast of Yemen. They did not say if it was taken down in international airspace.

In a statement, a Houthi military spokesperson said they shot down the drone in airspace over Yemeni territorial waters.

In 2019, U.S. drones were brought down on two separate occasions by the group in Yemen.

The Pentagon has surged thousands of troops to the region to try and contain the conflict, including two aircraft carriers. Some of those troops have been in the Red Sea aboard military vessels.

Last month, a U.S. Navy warship intercepted four cruise missiles and more than a dozen drones launched by the Houthis from Yemen headed toward Israel.


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