Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of the severe impact of a ground incursion in the Gaza Strip, amid mounting fears that Israel is preparing such an offensive following evacuation orders.
“A ground operation in the Gaza Strip and the use of heavy equipment in residential areas are fraught with serious consequences for all parties,” Putin said Friday, in Google-translated comments carried by Russian state news agency Tass.
“Civilian losses in the event of a ground operation in the Gaza Strip will be unacceptable,” he added.
Reuters reports that the Russian leader urged a peaceful resolution to the conflict sparked by terrorist attacks from Palestinian militant group Hamas over the weekend.
This pool photograph distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attending a meeting with Azerbaijani President in Bishkek on October 12, 2023.
Pavel Bednyakov | Afp | Getty Images
Russia’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict has been muted, as Moscow seeks to maintain both its interests in Israel and its allegiance to Hamas-supporting ally Iran.
Putin was speaking from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where he is attending a meeting of the council of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an Eurasian international organization. This is Putin’s first trip abroad since the issuance of an International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest on the grounds of unlawfully deporting children from occupied Ukrainian territories into Russia.
The Israel Defense Forces criticized the response of the political wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas for rejecting its calls for the civilians of Gaza City to evacuate south.
“Hamas is telling Gaza residents to ignore our safety instructions,” the IDF said in a social media post.
The Israeli military issued the evacuation instructions overnight, mounting fears of a potential Israeli ground incursion against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. Gaza is currently under total siege by Israel, following Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Saturday. The U.N. said the IDF gave a 24-hour deadline for the evacuation to take place.
Hamas accused Israel of “psychological warfare” and said: “We are fixed on our land, in our homes, and in our cities … and there is no displacement or deportation,” according to a NBC News translation.
— Ruxandra Iordache
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin gives a press conference during the NATO Council Defence Ministers Session at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 12, 2023.
Simon Wohlfahrt | AFP | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel on Friday, to “demonstrate that America’s support for Israel’s security is ironclad,” he said on social media.
He will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense counterpart Yoav Gallant over the course of the day to discuss defense needs.
His trip follows the Thursday visit to Tel Aviv of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who reassured Netanyahu of Washington’s solidarity and ongoing assistance. Blinken has since left for Jordan.
U.S. President Joe Biden has already pledged to provide “surging additional military assistance, including ammunition, and interceptors to replenish Iron Dome” to Israel, following the terrorist offensive of Palestinian militant group Hamas over the weekend.
The Israeli Defense Forces on Thursday said that the first plane carrying U.S. arms landed in southern Israel.
— Ruxandra Iordache
The al-Qassam Brigades, the armed unit of Palestinian militant group Hamas, said that 13 of its hostages were killed in the past 24 hours in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. The toll includes foreigners, al-Qassam said in a Telegram post translated by NBC News.
CNBC could not independently verify the reports.
Hamas took civilian captives during a multi-pronged attack carried out over the weekend, which has sparked retaliatory offensives from Israel. Analysts have noted that holding hostages gives Hamas a significant bargaining chip in the event of an Israeli incursion into Gaza.
— Ruxandra Iordache
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks past Kyrgyz honour guards during a welcoming ceremony prior to talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart in Bishkek on October 12, 2023.
Vyacheslav Oseledko | Afp | Getty Images
Russia may find itself in a position to benefit from the escalating crisis in the Middle East, analysts told CNBC.
They cited how the Israel-Hamas war may help to distract from the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, boost Russia’s oil-exporting status and provide Moscow with an opportunity to mediate between disparate regional parties.
However, one geopolitical analyst warned it is also a “very, very nervous moment for Moscow,” particularly if the Israel-Hamas conflict spills over and Russia sees its influence, interests and assets damaged in the Middle East.
Read the full story from CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt.
— Sam Meredith
Israeli Army Spokesperson for International Media, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.
Jalaa Marey | Afp | Getty Images
The aim of the Israeli campaign in the Gaza Strip is to “take all of Hamas’ military abilities and strip them away” to avoid further Israeli civilian casualties, Jonathan Conricus, spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, said in a video update released early Friday.
“That is the purpose of what we are doing now inside the Gaza Strip. That is why the Israeli air force has been delivering significant amounts of ordinance of bombs on the Gaza Strip. And that is what we will continue to do as this war unfolds and as we will deal a decisive blow to Hamas,” he added.
Hours prior, the IDF told roughly 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate southwards of the Wadi Gaza wetlands.
“This evacuation is for your own safety. You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it is made,” the IDF said in the message it distributed on Telegram, which it said it communicated to the civilians of Gaza City. The instruction to evacuate has bolstered concerns that Israel, which has amassed forces on the border with Gaza, is preparing a ground incursion.
The Telegram post did not reference a 24-hour deadline — a timeframe that the U.N. said the IDF supplied them for the operation.
“We understand that this will take time,” Conricus said in the video update. “It’s not an easy process.”
— Ruxandra Iordache
The U.N. Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has relocated its central operations in Gaza to the south of the territory as it continues with its local humanitarian work.
In a post update on the X social media platform, previously known as Twitter, it urged Israeli authorities to protect all civilians who take cover in its shelters, including schools.
Earlier in the week, the U.N. said that schools and premises of the UNRWA were among the sites hit in Israeli retaliatory air strikes that followed a terrorist attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas at the weekend. Twelve UNRWA staff members have been killed since the start of the conflict, the agency said Thursday.
Its operational relocation south takes place as the U.N. said Israel has supplied a 24-hour deadline for the roughly 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate south.
— Ruxandra Iordache
Smoke rises as the Palestinian Foreign Ministry claimed that Israel used phosphorus bombs in its attacks on populated areas in Gaza City, Gaza on October 11, 2023.
Ali Jadallah | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Israel’s use of white phosphorus in military operations in Gaza and Lebanon puts civilians in danger as it exposes them to severe and long-lasting injuries, Human Rights Watch warned.
“White phosphorus, which can be used either for marking, signaling, and obscuring, or as a weapon to set fires that burn people and objects, has a significant incendiary effect,” the non-governmental organization said, noting it can burn people and objects, as well as set on fire structures and fields in the vicinity.
Human Rights Watch said the rights group witnessed videos taken in Lebanon and Gaza this week that showed a number of airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorous over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border.
Using the substance violates international humanitarian law which prohibits putting civilians at unnecessary risk, HRW said.
“Any time that white phosphorus is used in crowded civilian areas, it poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering,” said Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
— Charmaine Jacob
Israel Defense Forces confirmed it has ordered civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate south “for their own safety.”
“Gaza City is an area where military operations are taking place,” IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“This evacuation is for your own safety,” he said, adding that residents will only be able to return when another announcement permitting them to do so is made.
He repeatedly warned that they should not approach the border with Israel.
“Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City, inside tunnels, underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gaza civilians,” Conricus said, calling on Palestinians to distance themselves from the militants who are using them as human shields.
— Joanna Tan
The latest figures show further increases in the total number of people killed following Palestinian militant group Hamas’ multi-pronged attack last Saturday and Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
At least 1,300 people have been killed in Israel since the hostilities, according to official figures, with another 3,300 wounded.
A combined 1,568 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank over the same period, official figures show.
It should be noted that there can be discrepancies between the figures reported by various official sources, as events continue to develop on the ground.
— Ruxandra Iordache
Israel has called for the evacuation of 1.1 million residents in north Gaza to move south in the next 24 hours, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, confirmed with NBC News.
“The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” the statement said.
The move suggests that Israel could be moving to proceed with its ground offensive into the Palestinian enclave to pursue Hamas militants that the Jewish nation has pledged to wipe out.
The entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza was ordered to relocate to southern Gaza “within the next 24 hours,” the Israeli military informed the UN and the Department of Safety and Security in Gaza before midnight local time.
That’s 1.1 million people — about half the size of Gaza Strip’s population.
The same order was given to all of UN’s staff and those taking refuge in UN facilities, such as schools, medical centers and clinics.
— Joanna Tan
White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby joins White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 12, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
The White House said there was no “direct evidence” that Iran was a participant in the surprise terror attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel.
“We’re still looking into this but again, no direct evidence that Iran was a participant in these attacks,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.
“But again, we’re still we’re still monitoring it,” Kirby added.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden warned Iran to “be careful” as tensions in the region soar.
— Amanda Macias
Israeli tanks move near Gaza border as Israeli army deploys military vehicles around the Gaza Strip, Israel on October 12, 2023.
Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that while the U.S. will continue to evolve its strategic planning around the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, there are no plans to put American servicemembers on the ground in Israel.
“There are no intentions, no plans to put American troops on the ground in combat,” Kirby told reporters at the White House during a press briefing. “There is no interest from the Israelis,” he added.
A senior Defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity per ground rules established by the Pentagon, echoed Kirby’s remarks in a separate briefing with reporters.
“We are consistently and continuously consulting with them on their needs. What they have asked of us is to expedite security systems so that they are able to defend themselves,” the official said.
— Amanda Macias