Israeli government "unanimously approved the widening of the ground invasion" says Netanyahu: Day 22 of Israel-Hamas war

What you need to know

Israeli fighter jets struck 150 "underground targets" in northern Gaza, the Israeli army said Saturday.

Since Oct. 7, the death toll has reached 7,703 people, including over 3,500 children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the “protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations,” which Israel and the US voted against.

Israel's military says one of its drones struck a "terrorist cell" in Lebanon that tried launching anti-tank missiles at Israel.

22:27 Beirut Time

Thanks for following our LIVE blog on day 22 of the Israel-Hamas war. We will be back with more news updates tomorrow.

21:47 Beirut Time

Israeli Minister of Communications Shlomo Khari said Israel will “use all means at its disposal to fight” Elon Musk’s satellite internet company Starlink, which Musk said would help aid groups access the internet in Gaza.

Posting on X (formerly Twitter), Shlomo Khari said “Hamas will use it for terrorist activities."

Earlier, Musk offered the use of Starlink in Gaza, although no details about this were given.

21:13 Beirut Time

Key points from Israeli war cabinet member, Benny Gantz:

• The ground operation can help bring back hostages.

• There is no diplomatic ticking clock on the operation.

21:12 Beirut Time

Key points from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press conference tonight:

• The government "unanimously approved the widening of the ground invasion."

• The ongoing ground operation in Gaza is the second stage of the war, with "very clear objectives."

• Israel will exert "every effort to return hostages."

• "Those accusing us of war crimes are hypocrites."

• He has called on the civilian population of Gaza to move to safe areas.

• The war inside the Gaza strip will be "difficult" and 'long."

20:58 Beirut Time

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the ongoing ground operation in Gaza is the second stage of the war, with "very clear objectives."

He stated that additional Israeli ground forces had gone in to the strip to dismantle Hamas and bring hostages home.

20:49 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has begun to speak at a press conference, after he met representatives of the families held hostage.

More updates to follow.

20:23 Beirut Time

The Israeli Army bombed the village of Aita al-Shaab in the Bint Jbeil district of South Lebanon this evening, as reported by the official National News Agency (NNA).

Earlier, a rocket fired from Israel fell near a house in the village, without causing any injuries, NNA added.

In the early evening, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a rocket launch targeting the Zar'it post in Israel.

19:55 Beirut Time

The spokesperson for the Israeli Army said an "alert has been activated in Margaliot," in northern Israel, near the Lebanese border.

Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that "rocket sirens" are sounding in Israeli communities near the Lebanese border.

19:52 Beirut Time

Hamas's armed wing said Israel "stalled" on possible deal over hostages.

Hamas was about to reach an agreement with Israel over the hostages held by the Palestinian militant faction but Israel had "stalled" on that possibility, a spokesman for the group's armed wing said on Saturday.

Abu Obaida, the spokesman for al-Qassam Brigades, also said in a video speech that the group would only release all the hostages if Israel freed all Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas can also hold talks over a "partial" agreement over the captives, he added.

19:24 Beirut Time

Secretary-General of the United Nations once again called for a humanitarian ceasefire, along with the "unconditional release" of hostages, according to a post on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

He said aid is needed "at a level corresponding to the dramatic needs of the people in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes."

He also expressed his "surprise" at an "unprecedented escalation of bombardments, undermining humanitarian objectives," after previously feeling "encouraged" by what he describes as "a growing consensus for the need of at least a humanitarian pause in the Middle East." 

19:08 Beirut Time

At least 110 people working as medical staff in Gaza have been killed since Oct. 7, according to Gaza Health Ministry figures reported by Al Jazeera. The ministry added that over 100 other medial personnel have been injured while 12 hospitals and 46 primary healthcare clinics have shut down because of damage from bombing or lack of fuel.

19:00 Beirut Time

Israeli diplomats in Turkey have been ordered to return for a “reassessment of Israel-Turkey relations,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier today that he would declare Israel as a “war criminal" and refused to call Hamas a “terrorist organization.”

18:54 Beirut Time

Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi said that the objectives of the war "necessitate a ground operation in Gaza, as reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"IDF ground forces are conducting a significant and complex operation ... To expose the enemy, to destroy it, there is no choice but to enter forcefully into their territory. This operation serves all the goals of the war," he added.

18:52 Beirut Time

Hamas demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners in order to free hostages, according to a Hamas spokesperson quoted by AFP.

18:47 Beirut Time

Thousands of people in Paris peacefully participated in a banned protest in support of the Palestinian people, AFP reported.

Protesters chanted "Gaza, Gaza, Paris is with you."

18:47 Beirut Time

A protester (left) holds a placard saying "The law of 1905 is also the separation of Zionism and State" during a demonstration in support of Palestinians in central Paris, on Oct. 28, 2023.

(Credit: Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AFP)

18:30 Beirut Time

The Israeli military said it was retaliating at areas in Lebanese territory where it detected launches which fell in Zerait, northern Israel, the military's spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

Hagari said the strikes did not cause any casualties or damage.

Around the same time, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that rocket sirens sounded near the Lebanese border.

18:17 Beirut Time

A shell struck the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) headquarters in Naqoura causing property damage, the organization's spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told AFP.

The UNIFIL is working to identify the source of the strike. It is the second time since Oct. 7 that the peacekeepers’ base comes under fire.

18:10 Beirut Time

European Union (EU) Chief Diplomat Josep Borell called for a "pause to hostilities" to allow aid to enter Gaza, AFP reported.

Borell posted on his X (formerly Twitter) account that "Gaza is in complete blackout and isolation while heavy shelling continues. United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warns about the desperate situation of Gaza people without electricity, food, water. Far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is against International Humanitarian Law."

17:58 Beirut Time

United Relations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini accused Israel of trying to "impede the humanitarian response" to people in Gaza by cutting communications across the strip, according to an open message to his staff posted on UNRWA's X (formerly Twitter) account.

Lazzarini said, "I am constantly hoping that this hell on earth will soon come to an end and that you and your families are safe."

Since the communication was cut by Israel on Friday, Lazzarini said he was only able to contact "a few colleagues who are at the UNRWA base in Rafah via satellite phone communication," but that he remains "without contact with the vast majority of [his] team across the Gaza Strip."

At least 53 UNRWA members in Gaza have been killed since Oct. 7. The agency on Thursday said dwindling fuel supplies amid an Israeli blockade have forced it to limit its life-saving work.

17:45 Beirut Time

Hezbollah said it has carried out an artillery attack on Al-Marj and Burket Risha in northern Israel, at 2:30 this afternoon, according to a statement. The party also said it damaged equipment with a targeted rocket strike on Ibad.

A statement from earlier today by Israeli Army spokesperson Avichy Adraee said all recorded attacks from Lebanon during the day fell in open areas.

17:13 Beirut Time

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel an “occupier” during a pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul, telling thousands of demonstrators that he does not consider Hamas a “terrorist organization.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry earlier called on Israel to "cease its attacks, and give peace a chance.”

17:12 Beirut Time

People at a rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 28, 2023.

(Photo credit: Dilara Senkaya/Reuters)

17:12 Beirut Time

People at a rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 28, 2023.

(Photo credit: Dilara Senkaya/Reuters)

17:10 Beirut Time

The past three weeks of the Israel-Hamas war have been the deadliest period on record for journalists covering conflict since the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) started tracking in 1992, the organization said in a statement.

Since Oct. 7, at least 29 journalists have been killed during the war between Hamas and Israel, according to the CPG.

The organization called for journalists and media workers as well as their facilities to be “respected and protected,” citing instances of harassment, detentions and other reporting obstructions in areas that include the West Bank and Israel.

The CPJ said it was “highly alarmed” by the communications blackout in Gaza which can lead to “deadly propaganda, and misinformation." 

17:00 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a video released by his office that the war against Hamas has "entered a new phase."

"Yesterday, the ground in Gaza shook," Gallant added.

16:55 Beirut Time

People walk in a street in Gaza after Israeli airstrikes on Oct. 28, 2023.

Israeli airstrikes destroyed hundreds of buildings in the Gaza Strip overnight, Gaza's civil defense service said on Oct. 28.

(Photo credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)

16:44 Beirut Time

TESTIMONY: Mamoun Malak, one of the demonstrators at "anti-war" protest in Beirut today, told our reporter on the scene Mohammad Yassine that the protesters are "here to say that the Palestinian cause is not only an Arab or Muslim cause. It’s the cause of an entire people who were driven from their land and whose land was violated by an enemy who is also the enemy of all monotheistic religions."

"We’re also here to say 'no to war in Lebanon, yes for security and peace in Lebanon,' a country that is the pearl of the orient and that has paid a heavy toll for the Palestinian cause. Lebanon can’t take much more of this. Just as Gaza is encircled by the Zionist enemy who cuts off its water and electricity, so too is Lebanon encircled and occupied by the Iranian occupier. We have no water, electricity, education or healthcare," she added.

Edmond Rabbat, another demonstrator on the scene, said, "You have to have the courage to stand with the Palestinian people, while opposing Hamas and Hezbollah."

Nelly Kandil, a third demonstrator on the scene, said, "We're also here to say that we're committed to the state, which alone must be able to decide on war or peace in Lebanon."

16:38 Beirut Time

An “anti-war” protest in Beirut

During a demonstration this afternoon outside the National Museum of Beirut, several protesters rallied under the slogan “National unity first … Muslims and Christians, we protect Lebanon by avoiding war," Oct. 28, 2023.

(Photo credit: Mohammad Yassine)

16:25 Beirut Time

The Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry said it condemns any Israeli ground operation that may threaten the lives of Palestinian civilians, according to Reuters.

16:24 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the Israeli operation in Gaza "will continue until a new order," according to Reuters.

This comes as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed fears that a ground invasion of Gaza will cause thousands of additional civilian deaths.

16:20 Beirut Time

The union of South Lebanon flour distributors denied "unfounded rumors" of an impending interruption to flour shipments and that flour stocks have been depleted, according to Reuters.

16:14 Beirut Time

The Israeli military reissued a call to northern Gaza residents to evacuate ahead of an impending Israeli operation, Reuters reported.

16:10 Beirut Time

Protesters hold placards and wave Palestinian flags as they walk over Westminster Bridge with the Palace of Westminster, home of the Houses of Parliament, behind them during a 'March For Palestine' in London on Oct. 28, 2023. The protest is a call for ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. (Credit: Henry Nicholls/AFP)

15:58 Beirut Time

The Israeli Army confirmed that a number of mortar and anti-tank shells were fired from Lebanon towards Israeli towns and military sites on the border ten to 20 minutes ago, according to spokesperson Avichay Adraee. They reportedly fell in open areas.

Israel's armored and artillery forces responded by bombing Hezbollah infrastructure in South Lebanon, he added.

15:48 Beirut Time

Israeli shelling hit near Naqoura in southern Lebanon today at noon, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) spokesperson Andrea Tenenti confirmed to L’Orient Today.

Videos circulating on social media show smoke rising in the areas struck. One image shared by state-run National News Agency (NNA) shows an unexploded Israeli shell in the courtyard of a Naqoura resident’s house.

Israel also shelled the outskirts of Houla, southern Lebanon, in retaliation to rocket launches targeting Ibad, security sources told L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the area. Our correspondent also reported shelling near Mais al-Jabal and Markaba.

The NNA reported attacks to the south of Naqoura and on the outskirts of Marwahine with incendiary weapons.

14:36 Beirut Time

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Saturday that at least 7,703 people have been killed in the war with Israel that erupted on Oct. 7.

More than 3,500 children were among the dead, the ministry added.

The ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel has caused the highest number of fatalities in Gaza since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the territory in 2005.

13:41 Beirut Time

A senior Hamas official, Moussa Abou Marzouk, on a visit to Moscow, said on Saturday that the Palestinian movement was trying to determine the whereabouts of eight hostages with dual Russian and Israeli nationality in order to free them, AFP reported.

"We are now looking for the people who have been reported by the Russian side. It's difficult, but we're looking. And as soon as we find them, we will release them," said the official, quoted by the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.

13:17 Beirut Time

Israel's military says one of its drones struck a "terrorist cell" in Lebanon that tried launching anti-tank missiles at Israel.

12:56 Beirut Time

Hamas and the Islamic Group in Lebanon called for a protest on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the Azariyye Square in Downtown Beirut "in support of the resistance and its rights to liberate the land and sacred places." 

12:51 Beirut Time

"Hundreds of buildings and houses were completely destroyed [overnight] and thousands of other homes were damaged," said Mahmud Bassal, a spokesman for the Gaza Civil Defence.

The intense bombardments had "changed the landscape" of northern Gaza, he told AFP.

Witnesses said most of the bombing was concentrated in areas around two hospitals — Al-Shifa and the so-called Indonesian hospital — located in Jabaliya district of northern Gaza.

The strikes left wide craters in the streets and flattened many buildings in the area.

12:49 Beirut Time

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday urged all to respect Egypt's sovereignty and position in the region following incidents on Friday where drones fell on two Egyptian Red Sea towns.

Egyptians should feel safe and the army is able to protect the country, Sisi said at a manufacturing expo in Cairo.

He also emphasized that Egypt would continue to play a positive role in the Israel-Hamas conflict and did not want it to expand regionally.

12:11 Beirut Time

Residents of southern villages in Sour district told L'Orient Today they heard and saw an explosion in the sky but could not identify its cause.

12:02 Beirut Time

Lebanese authorities issued precautionary guidance for evacuating Beirut International Airport and its surrounding facilities in case of emergency, as tensions rise on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

12:00 Beirut Time

Israel's military said Saturday it had stopped a surface-to-air missile fired from Lebanon at one of its drones and was responding by striking the launch site.

"The [Israeli army] thwarted a surface-to-air missile that was fired from Lebanon toward a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). In response, the [army] is striking the origin of the missile's fire," it said. 

11:58 Beirut Time

Hundreds of Gaza buildings "completely destroyed" in Israel overnight strikes, according to rescue services.

11:31 Beirut Time

The US deployed its second aircraft carrier strike group — the USS Eisenhower — in the Mediterranean, further bolstering its military presence amid concerns of an escalating conflict with Iran and Hezbollah, according to open-source information.

11:19 Beirut Time

CORRECTION: Hezbollah called for a "denunciation and anger march" in Saida on Saturday in solidarity with the "Palestinian resistance."

The march is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. and will travel from Martyrs Square to Nejme Square.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the march was scheduled to take place in Beirut. It has been updated to reflect that the march will take place from Martyrs Square to Nejme Square in Saida.

10:58 Beirut Time

The Israeli military says its soldiers are still on the field, but that Israel will allow trucks with food, water and medicine to enter Gaza on Saturday.

10:56 Beirut Time

The Israeli military says it entered northern Gaza and expanded its ground operations in Gaza overnight, reports Reuters.

10:54 Beirut Time

Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza on Saturday demanded an immediate government explanation about the fate of the captives after the army intensified strikes on the Palestinian territory.

The main group representing more than 220 people believed abducted in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas sought an immediate meeting with ministers.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a statement that relatives were angry over the "absolute uncertainty regarding the fate of the hostages held [in Gaza], who were also subject to the heavy bombings."

10:50 Beirut Time

Turkey's Erdogan says Israel must stop "madness" and end Gaza strikes, reports AFP.

10:40 Beirut Time

The World Health Organization (WHO) is out of touch with its staff and health facilities in Gaza, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote in a post on social media platform X.

"The blackout is also making it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured," Tedros said. "The evacuation of patients is not possible under such circumstances, nor to find safe shelter."

10:31 Beirut Time

A protest will take place in front of the National Museum under the slogan "National unity first: Muslims and Christians to defend Lebanon by neutralizing it from war," the state-run National News Agency reported, without specifying the organizers of the protest.

The country's southern borders with Israel have experienced almost daily skirmishes since Oct. 7.

09:43 Beirut Time

Hezbollah called for a "denunciation and anger march" in Saida on Saturday in solidarity with the "Palestinian resistance."

The march is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. and will travel from Martyrs Square to Nejme Square.

09:06 Beirut Time

Israeli fighter jets struck 150 "underground targets" in northern Gaza during an intense night of raids, the Israeli army said Saturday.

A military statement said the sites hit included "terror tunnels, underground combat spaces and additional underground infrastructure. Furthermore, several Hamas terrorists were killed."

08:58 Beirut Time

An Israeli warplane struck a Hezbollah structure last night in response to rockets launched from Lebanon that landed in Syria, Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee posted on X, along with a video of the strike.

08:55 Beirut Time

Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued on Saturday morning, according to AFP journalists stationed in the area.

No casualties were yet reported, but medical sources in the Palestinian territory told an AFP journalist they feared a large number of casualties and extensive damage as a result of the bombardments.

Sporadic explosions were still being heard Saturday morning by an AFP journalist inside the Gaza Strip, coming from Israeli fighter planes, artillery and the sea.

The intensity of air strikes and artillery fire had lessened compared with the night, according to the journalist.

08:42 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that it assassinated the head of the Hamas air force in the Gaza Strip in an airstrike last night. According to the report, Atsam Abu Raffa was one of the planners of the attack against Israeli communities on October 7, the Israeli army said on X.

The statement added that Abu Raffa directed the Hamas militants who infiltrated Israeli territory on paragliders and the drone attacks that hit Israeli army positions.

08:39 Beirut Time

The American Embassy in Beirut recommends that "all US citizens in Lebanon leave now,"  due to the unpredictable security situation, echoing their statements from earlier in the week. 

"There is no guarantee the US government will evacuate private US citizens and their family members in a crisis situation," the embassy tweeted Saturday morning on X.

08:35 Beirut Time

We are receiving very little information from the Gaza strip this morning, due to the internet and communication blackout enacted by Israel yesterday evening 

"This information blackout risks providing cover for mass atrocities and contributing to impunity for human rights violations,” Deborah Brown, Human Right Watch's technology and human rights researcher, said in a statement.

08:23 Beirut Time

Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshal said on Al Arabiya TV channel that the Oct. 7 operation was meant to destabilize normalisation efforts between Arab states and Israel. 

07:58 Beirut Time

Here's what you need to know about what happened yesterday

07:58 Beirut Time

Good morning, 

We are back with our live coverage of the Hamas-Israel war, which enters its 4th week. 

Gaza's communication was cut off yesterday at night, and the Strip was heavily bombed. 

Many international news outlets and agencies lost contact with their correspondents and staff. 

L'Orient Today is not able to reach its contacts in the Gaza Strip.