EU backtracks on Palestinian aid suspension, saying payments will continue

October 9, 2023 – Israel-Hamas war news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Ed Upright, Joshua Berlinger, Aditi Sangal, Dakin Andone, Maureen Chowdhury, Leinz Vales, Elise Hammond, Steve Almasy and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Updated

12:00 a.m. ET, October 10, 2023

14 hr 35 min ago

From CNN’s Radina Gigova and James Frater

EU Commission Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi addresses a press conference after the Informal meeting of the General Affairs Council at Arlanda Xpo, north of Stockholm, Sweden, on June 22, 2023.
EU Commission Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi addresses a press conference after the Informal meeting of the General Affairs Council at Arlanda Xpo, north of Stockholm, Sweden, on June 22, 2023. Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union clarified on Monday that aid payments for Palestinians will not be suspended, following comments by one of its officials, who said payments will be halted. 

Oliver Varhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, said in a series of posts on social media that the Commission is suspending all Palestinian funding until further review in light of the Hamas attack on Israel.

In a statement released after his remarks, the European Commission said it is “launching an urgent review of the EU’s assistance for Palestine,” but “this review does not concern humanitarian assistance provided under European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).”

“In addition to the existing safeguards, the objective of this review is to ensure that no EU funding indirectly enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks against Israel,” the Commission said, adding it “unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel over the weekend.” 

Following Varhelyi’s comments, Janez Lenarč, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, said humanitarian aid for Palestinians will indeed continue. 

“While I most strongly condemn the terrorist attack by Hamas, it is imperative to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law,” Lenarč said. “EU humanitarian aid to Palestinians in need will continue as long as needed.”

EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also reiterated on Monday that the review of the EU assistance for Palestine announced by the European Commission “will not suspend the due payments.” 

15 hr ago

Biden to deliver remarks Tuesday on Israel, official says

From CNN’s Arlette Saenz

President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the conflict in Israel on Tuesday, a White House official says. The address is expected to be around 1 p.m. ET.

This will mark the second time Biden will speak on camera about the attacks since Hamas launched its deadly assault Saturday. 

Earlier Monday: Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. The allies expressed “steadfast and united support” for Israel and “unequivocal condemnation” of Hamas and, “its appalling acts of terrorism,” the countries said in a joint statement.

The US president also said at least 11 Americans were killed in the Hamas attacks and others are likely being held as hostages.

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal contributed reporting to this post.

14 hr 32 min ago

Israel vows response “like never before” after Hamas kills hundreds in assault. Here’s what you need to know

From CNN staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday that the Israeli military would attack Hamas with a force “like never before,” more than 48 hours after the devastating surprise attack in Israeli territory.

“As the Prime Minister of Israel, I tell you frankly, difficult days are still ahead of us,” he said in a televised address.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza and said he would halt the supply of electricity, food, water and fuel to the Palestinian enclave.

Hours later, a spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing said it would begin killing civilian hostages and broadcasting the act if Israel targets people in Gaza without warning.

These are the key details you need to know:

  • Stunning attack on Saturday: The Islamist militant group launched a surprise assault early Saturday, firing thousands of rockets and sending armed fighters into Israel. At least 900 people died – including more than 260 attending a festival near the Gaza border – thousands were wounded and dozens were taken hostage, according to Israel’s Army Radio and officials.
  • Americans killed in assault: At least 11 Americans have been confirmed killed in the Hamas attack, US President Biden said Monday, and White House officials are bracing for that number to grow. Twelve Thai citizens, 10 Nepalis, two Ukrainians, two French nationals and one British citizen are among those killed, according to officials.
  • Official declaration of war: Israel on Sunday formally declared war on Hamas in response to the attack and Israeli jets bombarded Gaza with airstrikes. Gaza’s health ministry said Monday the death toll has reached 687 people, including 140 children.
  • Hostages in Gaza: More than 100 hostages are being held in Gaza, including high-ranking Israeli army officers, according to Mousa Abu Marzouk, chief deputy of Hamas’ political bureau. Videos on social media appeared to show militants capturing multiple civilians, including children. A White House official said the US believes Americans may be among those in captivity. On Monday, Hamas warned civilian hostages would be executed if Israel targets people in Gaza without warning.
  • Security lapse? Questions remain over how the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus appeared to be caught off guard in one of the country’s worst security failures. Fighting between the two sides has surged in the past two years. The violence has been driven by frequent Israeli military raids in Palestinian towns and cities, which Israel has said are a necessary response to a rising number of attacks by Palestinian militants on Israelis.
15 hr 19 min ago

US has no intention of putting troops on the ground in Israel, White House says

From CNN’s Nikki Carvajal

There is no intention to send US troops into Israel in the wake of the horrific attacks over the weekend, the White House said Monday.

“There’s no intention to put US boots on the ground,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters in a call Monday.

But, he said, Biden would “always make sure that we are protecting and defending our national security interests wherever those interests are, including, particularly in that part of the world. And I think I’ll leave it at that.”

Kirby added that the first tranche of additional US security assistance to Israel in response to the attacks was on the way as of Monday evening. 

“I don’t believe it’s actually made it to Israel yet, it’s making its way there,” he said. “We fully expect that there will be additional requests for security systems from Israel as they continue to expend munitions in this fight, and we will stay in lockstep with them.”

15 hr 30 min ago

White House will be lit white and blue tonight in support of Israel

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

The White House will be illuminated in white and blue tonight in honor of the Israeli flag, according to a National Security Council spokesperson.

“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israeli people in this moment of crisis for them,” John Kirby said.

15 hr 31 min ago

US not actively considering evacuating citizens from Israel, National Security Council says

From CNN’s Kayla Tausche

The United States government is not “actively considering” emergency evacuation of US citizens in Israel, a spokesperson for the National Security Council said.

In a statement earlier Monday, President Joe Biden said that the State Department is providing consular assistance and updated security alerts to keep Americans apprised of the situation as it evolves, but that Americans would need to arrange their own travel plans to leave the country. 

“For those who desire to leave, commercial flights and ground options are still available,” Biden said. 

The president said 11 Americans were among the casualties of Hamas-incited violence, with an untold number of Americans among the hostages the terrorist group had taken since its siege began early Saturday. 

US government planes evacuated American citizens from Afghanistan during the 2021 withdrawal of troops and from China in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak. During the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the US urged Americans located in the country to flee in the weeks leading up to — and immediately following — Russia’s invasion. 

Commercial options in Israel may become fewer as companies assess the danger of continuing to operate in the region. Delta Air Lines told CNN that it’s canceling all flights to and from Tel Aviv for the rest of the month, but that it will “work with the U.S. government as needed to assist with the repatriation of U.S. citizens who want to return home.”

Delta operates flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport from Atlanta, Boston, and New York’s JFK.

CNN’s Pete Muntean contributed reporting to this post.

15 hr 35 min ago

FBI personnel stationed in Israel working to locate and identify impacted Americans

From CNN’s Josh Campbell

FBI personnel assigned in Israel are working with local counterparts “to locate and identify any impacted Americans,” the bureau said in a statement Monday.  

“Reports of deceased, injured, or missing Americans are being treated with the utmost urgency and aggressively investigated,” the statement said. 

At least 11 American citizens have been confirmed to have been killed in Israel, President Joe Biden said in a statement. The White House said it was bracing for news that more Americans were killed over the weekend.

Experts with the FBI trained in crisis response measures are also being deployed to Israel to provide assistance to Israeli security forces working to locate numerous hostages, a law enforcement source familiar with the deployment tells CNN. 

Earlier Monday, the White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden:

“I have directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts.”

Regarding the security posture of law enforcement in the United States, the FBI said it was not aware of any specific nor credible threats to the homeland stemming from the Hamas attack against Israel. 

The agency said is it “closely monitoring unfolding events and will share relevant information with our state, local, federal and international law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security partners to ensure they are prepared for any impacts to public safety.” 

15 hr 49 min ago

2 Americans are stranded in Gaza, pediatrician confirms

From CNN’s Daniel A. Medina

Two Americans have been stuck in Gaza City since Friday, one of them confirmed in an interview with CNN.

Dr. Barbara Zind, a pediatrician from Grand Junction, Colorado, said she and another colleague arrived Friday for a weeklong mission organized by the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), an Ohio-based organization.

Zind was walking along the beach early Saturday with a local colleague when they saw the first rockets launched from Gaza into Israel. 

“We noticed the missiles and noticed Iron Dome missiles blocking them,” Zind told CNN, in reference to the Israeli air defense system. “So, we did see the start of” the war, she said.

Zind said they headed back to her hotel, where she has remained since. She said another US-based colleague is at the same hotel in central Gaza City.

She said she’s been in touch with the US State Department and the PCRF about tentative plans to exit Gaza, possibly later this week.

Zind said she’s been on more than a half-dozen medical missions to Gaza, but has never witnessed Israeli airstrikes until now. She said the area where she’s staying has not been directly hit but there are constant bombardments in adjacent neighborhoods.

15 hr 55 min ago

US offering Israel special operations planning and intel support for any hostage rescue effort, official says

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Alex Marquardt

The US is offering Israel special operations planning and intelligence support as part of the effort to rescue hostages taken by Hamas, a US defense official tells CNN.

The support would not entail US troops on the ground in Israel. Instead, the assistance would come in the form of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. 

The support would include help from US Central Command and US Special Operations Command, the official said, as well as Joint Special Operations Command, which is the command within the military that develops special operations tactics and plans. 

The topic also came up on a call between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, over the weekend, the official said. Afterward, Austin directed the JSOC team to “lean forward” with planning and intel support to the Israeli military.

Israel has not publicly stated how many hostages were taken in Hamas’s cross-border surprise attack from Gaza, but officials have acknowledged the number is significant. 

US authorities have been scrambling to establish how many Americans have been killed or taken hostage in the conflict.

“We have not seen any hard numbers because it is so fluid, and many are dual citizens. I think when the dust the settles the number will be significant,” a separate US official told CNN. 

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