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As the war entered its 27th day and with Gaza still in dire need of humanitarian aid, Dick Durbin of Illinois became the first US senator to call for a cease-fire.

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BEIRUT, GAZA STRIP, TEL AVIV, WASHINGTON — The Pentagon voiced its opposition to a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on Thursday, as the death toll in Gaza exceeded 9,000 people.

“We do not support a cease-fire in that that gives Hamas time to regroup, which is something that would put Israeli citizens and others in danger,” Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said.

Instead, the Pentagon and the White House now favor a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid into Gaza. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) became the first member of the US Senate on Thursday to call for a cease-fire.

Also on Thursday, Germany announced a total ban on Hamas’ activities in the country. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stated that Hamas’ activities had been “completely banned” and that the German wing of the pro-Palestinian organization Samidoun would be disbanded.

The news comes amid a reported uptick in fighting in northern Gaza and Gaza City and as the United States has increased its military presence in the Middle East. The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan was spotted in the Red Sea on Wednesday following drone attacks from Yemen’s Houthis on the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.


Live updates (all times EDT):

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023

4:57 pm: US senator says Israel’s campaign causes “unacceptable level” of civilian harm

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on Israel on Thursday to rethink its campaign to destroy the threat posed by Hamas in Gaza amid mounting killing and maiming of civilians.

Israel’s military effort in Gaza “is causing an unacceptable level of civilian harm,” Murphy said in a statement. The senator stopped short of calling for a cease-fire but urged Israel “to shift to a more deliberate and proportionate counterterrorism campaign” against the Palestinian militants.

4:00 pm: Pentagon does not support a cease-fire in Gaza

The Pentagon does not support a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas at this stage, its spokesperson, Pat Ryder, said on Thursday. “We do not support a cease-fire in that that gives Hamas time to regroup, which is something that would put Israeli citizens and others in danger,” Ryder said. Instead, the Pentagon and the White House now favor a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid into Gaza.

President Joe Biden said earlier he would support a “humanitarian pause” to let additional aid into the Palestinian enclave and to “give time to get the prisoners out.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) became the first in the US chamber on Thursday to call for a cease-fire.

2:39 pm: After Israel attack, US follows Hamas trail of money

As the war deprives Hamas of a key source of income, the US government is ramping up its efforts to cut off the militant group’s access to the international financial system and other revenue streams. In recent weeks, the Treasury Department has imposed two rounds of sanctions, including on Hamas members managing assets in a secret portfolio of real estate and other investments worth an estimated $500 million or more, with companies operating in Sudan, Algeria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Read Elizabeth Hagedorn’s report here.

11:48 am: Durbin first US senator to call for cease-fire

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is the first US senator to call for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Asked by CNN whether it’s time for a cease-fire, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat said, “I think it is,” adding that the release of hostages should be part of any arrangement. “That should be the beginning of it,” Durbin said. “An effort should be made to engage in conversation between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Biden administration has proposed a more limited “humanitarian pause” to allow for aid deliveries and evacuations. Despite growing calls from progressive Democrats and Arab governments, the administration has stopped short of calling for a cease-fire, which it says would only benefit Hamas.

11:17 am: Cross-border fire escalates between Israel and Hezbollah

Israel carried out airstrikes and shelled several areas in southern Lebanon, including near Naqoura, the official National News Agency reported. The outlet also reported that two missiles were fired from Wadi Khansa.

The Israeli military said in a post on X that it struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon following several launches from the country toward Israeli territory. Earlier, Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone near Malkia in northern Israel, the group’s affiliated news outlet Al-Manar reported.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is expected to make a first address about the war on Friday at 3 pm Beirut time.

10:45 am: Bahrain has not recalled ambassador to Israel, say diplomatic sources

Bahrain has not recalled its ambassador to Israel, two diplomatic sources have told Al-Monitor. The Bahraini parliament issued a statement on Thursday saying, “The Israeli ambassador to the kingdom of Bahrain has left Bahrain, and the kingdom of Bahrain decided to recall the Bahraini ambassador from Israel to the country.”

But two diplomatic sources have confirmed to Al-Monitor that the ambassador was not recalled and the parliament’s statement was not on behalf of the government in Bahrain.

One source said that Bahraini Ambassador to Israel Khaled Yousef Al-Jalahma is in Manama now for a personal engagement and not because of a recall. “There has been no recall of ambassadors and no cutting of ties,” the source added.

6:50 am: Gaza death toll breaks 9,000

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said the number of people killed in the enclave has risen to 9,061, including 3,760 children. Another 32,000 people have been injured, the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency reported.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Wednesday that more than 1.4 million people in Gaza have been displaced, more than half the population. OCHA added in its press release that Gaza City and northern Gaza have been “largely cut off” from the rest of the Strip as a result of Israeli ground operations and clashes with Palestinian militants.

6:20 am: Saudi king, crown prince order relief campaign for Palestinians in Gaza

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the creation of a national fundraising campaign for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. On the X platform, the center said that the king and crown prince have donated 50 million riyals (about $13 million) and 20 million riyals (around $5 million), respectively.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has reached catastrophic levels amid intense Israeli airstrikes and an ongoing blockade. Saudi Arabia and Israel had been in US-mediated talks on a deal to normalize relations before the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war.

5:38 am: Germany bans pro-Hamas activities, networks

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said she was immediately banning activities supporting Hamas, which the European Union had already designated as a terrorist group. Faeser also ordered the dissolution of the German branch of Samidoun, “which describes itself as a network of solidarity for Palestinian prisoners.”

1:30 am: Egypt to help evacuate 7,000 foreigners stranded in Gaza

Egypt is working to facilitate the evacuation of about 7,000 foreigners and dual nationals from the Gaza Strip, the Foreign Ministry said. In a meeting with foreign diplomats, Assistant Foreign Minister Ismail Khairat said the concerned authorities in Egypt are preparing “to facilitate the reception and evacuation of foreign citizens from Gaza through the Rafah crossing.” A small number of US citizens trapped in Gaza have managed to escape to Egypt after the Rafah border crossing was opened on Wednesday, the first time civilians have been able to flee the Palestinian territory since Israel began its bombing campaign more than three weeks ago.


Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023

8:50 pm: Hezbollah says it downed Israeli drone over Lebanon border

Hezbollah claimed on Wednesday to have shot down an Israeli drone using a surface-to-air missile in southern Lebanon, Al-Manar reported.

8:30 pm: Power outage at Gaza’s Indonesian hospital

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza announced late on Wednesday that the generator at the Indonesian Hospital had ceased to function, endangering the lives of hundreds of patients. The ministry warned of a catastrophe if fuel is not provided to medical facilities.

3:38 pm: Pentagon chief vows ‘US commitment’ to defend Saudi Arabia

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “emphasized US commitment to the territorial defense” of Saudi Arabia during a meeting with the kingdom’s defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, at the Pentagon on Wednesday, according to a US readout of the call.

The meeting comes a day after the Saudi defense chief met with President Joe Biden’s top aide, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, at the White House amid fears that Iran and its proxies could launch an overwhelming array of cruise missiles and drones toward US- and Israel-aligned states in the region.

White House National Security Council strategic coordinator John Kirby told reporters following Prince Khalid’s meetings on Tuesday that Riyadh is still interested in normalizing ties with Israel.

2:45 pm: Iran’s Khamenei urges sanctions on Israel, FM says Hamas ready for more ‘surprise’ attacks

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, censured the West for supporting Israel while Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned that more “surprise” attacks would be in the offing should Israel refuse to halt its bombardment of Gaza. Our correspondent in Tehran reports.

2:30 pm: Amphibious assault ship USS Bataan spotted in Red Sea

The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan was spotted in the Red Sea on Nov. 1, stationing itself in waters south of Israel.

The Bataan and the USS Carter Hall are expected to remain in the Red Sea rather than head to the eastern Mediterranean, USNI News reported Monday, amid attempted long-range cruise missile attacks on Israel by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Israeli navy also said it bolstered its presence in the Red Sea on Wednesday amid the attacks from Yemen. Video released by the IDF showed Sa’ar-class corvettes patrolling off the port of Eilat.

The buildup follows the Pentagon’s dispatch of two US aircraft carrier strike groups, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the USS Gerald R. Ford, to Mediterranean waters. The United States also sent a pair of B-1B bombers to the Incirlik air base in Turkey on Tuesday for brief exercises that US European Command said had been “long-planned.”

2:20 pm: First group of US citizens leave Gaza

A small number of US citizens trapped in the Gaza Strip have escaped into Egypt, marking the first time that civilians have been able to flee the Palestinian territory since Israel began its bombing campaign more than three weeks ago, Elizabeth Hagedorn reports.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said a “number of Americans” crossed into Egypt via the Rafah crossing, and more departures from the Hamas-run territory are expected in the coming days. The State Department is in contact with some 400 US citizens who wish to depart Gaza with their family members, a total of roughly 1,000 people.

1:54 pm: Turkey, Iran FMs warn against Israel’s expansion of Gaza war

The top diplomats of Turkey and Iran on Wednesday aired a joint warning against the expansion of the Israel-Hamas war at a press conference in Ankara. “Now, as a region, we share concerns over the spread of the conflict,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

Echoing a call by Iran’s supreme leader for Muslim countries to halt trade with Israel, including oil exports, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also called for cutting diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Ezgi Akin reports.

12:15 pm: What is behind US deployment of B1 bombers to Turkey?

The United States deployed a pair of B-1B Lancer bombers to Turkey’s Incirlik air base this week as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to reshape the Middle East’s geopolitical landscape. Al-Monitor’s Jared Szuba explains the significance of the deployment.

12:00 pm: Chile, Colombia, Jordan recall Israel ambassadors over Gaza war

Chile, Colombia and Jordan announced Wednesday that they are recalling their respective ambassadors to Israel for consultations over Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. This comes one day after Bolivia cut diplomatic ties with Israel over the war in Gaza. Rina Bassist reports.

10:40 am: Jordan recalls ambassador to Israel over Gaza war, humanitarian crisis

Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel due to Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday. Amman said the diplomatic pause will remain in effect until both the war and humanitarian crisis end and told Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, who left the country in recent weeks amid security concerns, not to return.

8:00 am: Gaza deaths approach 8,800

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said 8,796 people have been killed in Israeli strikes, including 3,648 children. Another 22,219 have been wounded, the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency reported.

The rising death toll comes as Israel steps up ground operations against Hamas in Gaza.

4:40 am: Rafah border crossing opens for severely injured, foreigners

The Rafah crossing linking Egypt to the Gaza Strip opened to allow foreign nationals and the severely injured to leave the Palestinian enclave. Dozens of foreign passport holders could be seen entering the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. AFP footage from the scene showed ambulances that were reportedly carrying wounded people out of the Gaza Strip.

2:44 am: Israel says that by cutting diplomatic ties, Bolivia is aligning with Iran, Hamas 

“Bolivia’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Israel is a surrender to terrorism and to the ayatollahs’ regime in Iran,” said Israel’s Foreign Ministry, adding, “The Bolivian government is aligning itself with the Hamas terrorist organization.”

1:16 am: 11 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza Tuesday, total now 13

The IDF said that 11 soldiers were killed Tuesday in different ground Gaza operations. Seven were killed when an anti-tank missile hit an armored vehicle, two when their vehicle went over an explosive device and two in other incidents. The IDF also said that since the beginning of the ground fighting, the combined forces of the army attacked more than 11,000 targets of Hamas and other Gaza organizations.


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