Hezbollah is playing a ‘very dangerous game,’ IDF warns
“Hezbollah is playing a very dangerous game,” IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus warned in a social media update.
Residents in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona have already been asked to evacuate for their own safety as violence at the Israel-Lebanon border flares up.
Overnight, Israel said it struck Hezbollah military targets belonging to the Iran-backed group in Lebanon and one of its soldiers was killed by an anti-tank missile. “The IDF will not stand by as its soldiers and civilians are attacked,” the IDF said.
Hezbollah lost six of its fighters in the cross-border fighting, Reuters reported.
— Joanna Tan
Gaza residents who don’t evacuate won’t be considered terrorists, IDF says
A young girl stands amidst the building rubble that was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.
Mohammed Zanoun | Afp | Getty Images
The Israel Defense Forces said it has “has no intention of considering those who have yet to evacuate as a member of a terrorist group.”
There were reports Israel will consider residents in Gaza who choose not to evacuate, but to remain in the north, as associates of terrorist organizations.
“The translation from Arabic that has now spread across platforms is imprecise,” the IDF said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
The IDF reiterated that “for the safety of Gazan civilians,” residents should evacuate to the south of Wadi Gaza. “All those who remain are endangering themselves due to the Hamas’ terrorist activities within civilian areas.”
— Joanna Tan
Israel did not strike Gaza hospital, Canada says
A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023.
Ali Jadallah | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Canada’s National Department of Defence said on Saturday that Israel was not behind the Al-Ahli hospital strike in Gaza on Oct. 17.
“Analysis conducted independently by the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command indicates with a high degree of confidence that Israel did not strike the Al-Ahli hospital on 17 October 2023,” it said in a statement.
The strike was more likely caused by an errant rocket fired from Gaza, the defense department said based on analysis of open source and classified reporting.
Israel will step up attacks on Hamas in north Gaza: IDF spokesman
Israel will increase attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in the next stage of the war, a spokesman for the Israeli military said.
“We will intensify the attacks on Hamas’ strongholds in the north of Gaza Strip,” Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for Israel Defense Forces told reporters, according to an NBC News translation.
“We’ll continue attacking targets that can be a threat to our ground forces in the following stages of the war,” he added.
As of Saturday, more than 700,000 residents from northern Gaza Strip have evacuated and moved to the south side of the Gaza Stream, he added.
— Joanna Tan
‘Far from enough’: UN agencies call for more humanitarian supplies into Gaza
Aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 21, 2023.
Belal Al Sabbagh | AFP | Getty Images
U.N. agencies welcomed the delivery of a 20-truck convoy carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza, but said it is “far from enough.”
The agencies called for a humanitarian cease-fire, “immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza,” and for humanitarian aid to be at scale and sustained.
“We call for safe and sustained access to water, food, health – including sexual and reproductive health – and fuel, which is necessary to enable essential services,” the statement said.
Health facilities are running on small amounts of fuel secured locally, which is “expected to run out in the next day or so,” they said. “Vulnerable people are at greatest risk and children are dying at an alarming rate.”
“Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities. It is now catastrophic. The world must do more,” the U.N. agencies said in a joint statement.
— Joanna Tan
Netanyahu dismisses Hamas claims of releasing more hostages as ‘propaganda’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as “propaganda” claims by Hamas that they offered to release two more hostages.
According to media reports, the spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Ubaida, claimed to have informed Qatar of the intention to release the two other hostages the same day Americans Judith and Natalie Ranaan were released.
In a later statement, Abu Ubaida claimed the militants were prepared to free two more people on Sunday “using the same procedures” involved in the release of the Ranaans, Reuters reported.
“We will not respond to false propaganda by Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to do everything necessary to bring all the captives and missing back home.”
“Hamas has been trying to present itself as a humanitarian organization to the world, after the release of the two hostages,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“Don’t fall for their trap,” the post said.
— Joanna Tan
U.S. to deploy additional military assets, air defense systems to the Middle East
A view of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford, the ‘world’s largest warship.’
Andrew Matthews – Pa Images | Pa Images | Getty Images
The U.S. will be deploying additional military assets to the Middle East amid escalating tensions by Iran and its proxy forces across the region, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin announced late Saturday.
“Today I directed a series of additional steps to further strengthen the Department of Defense posture in the region,” he said in a statement.
The U.S. will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as well as additional Patriot air defense missile system battalions to locations throughout the Middle East. Additional forces are also on standby, ready to be deployed in case there’s a need to respond quickly, Austin said.
“These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel.”
— Joanna Tan
Doctors Without Borders warns that the humanitarian aid delivered so far is ‘totally insufficient’
The entry of humanitarian aid arrives through the Rafah land crossing into the Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023 in Rafah, Gaza.
Ahmad Hasaballah | Getty Images
The delivery of aid through the Rafah crossing is “totally insufficient” warned the Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders in a statement.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” the group wrote following reports that the first 20 trucks carrying aid arrived in Gaza.
“Food, water, and medicine are still desperately needed. It is critical that fuel be allowed into Gaza, as this is essential for lifesaving hospital operations as well as the availability of clean water,” the group said, calling for sustained humanitarian deliveries to civilians in Gaza.
— Amanda Macias
Hezbollah official says his group already ‘is in the heart’ of Israel-Hamas war
Lebanon’s Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem.
Aziz Taher | Reuters
A top official with Hezbollah vowed that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”
The comments by Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, came as Israel shelled and made drone strikes in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah fired rockets and missiles toward Israel.
For Hezbollah, heating up the Lebanon-Israel border has a clear purpose, Kassem said: “We are trying to weaken the Israeli enemy and let them know that we are ready.” Hamas officials have said that if Israel starts a ground offensive in Gaza, Hezbollah will join the fighting.
There are concerns that Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has a weapons arsenal consisting of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, as well as different types of drones, might try to open a new front in the Israel-Hamas war with a large-scale attack on northern Israel.
Kassem said his group, which is allied with Hamas, already was affecting the course of the conflict by heating up the Lebanon-Israel border and keeping three Israeli army divisions tied up in the north instead of preparing to fight in Gaza.
“Do you believe that if you try to crush the Palestinian resistance, other resistance fighters in the region will not act?” Kassem said in a speech Saturday during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter. “We are in the heart of the battle today. We are making achievements through this battle.”
— Associated Press