Israel’s defense minister said the authorities would block deliveries of food, water and fuel into the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops were still fighting Palestinian militants in border areas, two days after an invasion that has left hundreds dead.
Here’s the latest on the fighting.
Israel’s defense minister ordered a “complete siege” of the long-blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, as battles to drive Palestinian militants out of southern towns near the border stretched into a third day after a stunning incursion that has killed hundreds and provoked furious Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” would be allowed into Gaza, in effect cutting off a territory already under a 16-year blockade, as Israeli airstrikes continued to pound the tiny coastal strip.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht of the Israel Defense Forces told a briefing on Monday morning that troops were in some places still fighting militants who began their assault on Israel on Saturday. “We thought by this morning we’d be in a better place,” he said.
Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, later declared that the army had regained control of the border communities but acknowledged that “there may still be terrorists in the area,” as exchanges of fire between soldiers and military were heard in Kfar Azza, an Israeli village near the border.
More than 700 people have been killed in Israel. And Israel has struck hundreds of targets in Gaza, leveling whole buildings that officials say are linked to Hamas, the militant group that controls the territory. United Nations and Gazan officials said a mosque, a marketplace, homes and multistory buildings have been hit, adding to a soaring number of civilian casualties. At least 493 Palestinians have been killed, according to authorities in Gaza, and at least 2,751 others have been injured.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to destroy Hamas and 300,000 reservists were mobilized, Israeli troops and tanks were being sent to the south to prepare for what military officials said would be the next stage of the war, which analysts said could involve a ground invasion of Gaza. But such an operation seemed unlikely to begin until Israel secures its own territory, and its timing and scale remained unclear because Hamas and other militants are holding at least 150 Israelis hostage.
Here’s what else to know:
Hamas’s armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, said that four Israelis being held by the militants were killed in an Israeli bombardment overnight, along with the Palestinians holding them captive. The claim could not be independently verified.
The Pentagon on Sunday announced it was sending additional munitions to Israel and moving more Navy warships, including an aircraft carrier, and combat aircraft closer to Israel in a show of support. The United States is working to fulfill several specific requests from Israel for military assistance, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, without providing details.
Israel appears to be nowhere closer to answering key questions about how it was caught unawares by the attack on Saturday despite having some of the most extensive and sophisticated intelligence, missile defense and spying networks in the world.
Schools remain closed in much of Israel, airlines have curtailed flights to Tel Aviv’s main airport, and volunteers are donating blood and food.
Israeli security officials said up to 109 people were believed to have been killed at a music festival early Saturday when militants swept into the concert site three miles from the Gaza border. Videos show panicked concertgoers fleeing south into the desert and more than 100 abandoned vehicles on the side of the road.
Russia, caught in its own war, takes a neutral stance on Israel and Gaza.
In Russia, the Kremlin adopted a neutral line in its first comments on the conflict in Israel and Gaza — a sign of how Moscow’s relationship with Israel has deteriorated since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters on Monday that Russia was “extremely concerned” and called for an immediate halt to the fighting. “The continuation of this round of violence, of course, is fraught with further escalation and an expansion of this conflict,” Mr. Peskov said.
He did not condemn the attack by Hamas or offer condolences to the victims, even though the Kremlin often made statements of condolence after attacks in Israel in years past. Mr. Peskov said that Mr. Putin did not have immediate plans to speak to Israeli or Palestinian leaders — a striking departure from past Middle East crises in which Mr. Putin cast himself as a regional power broker.
The Kremlin’s distant stance appears to reflect the geopolitical shifts amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a war that has brought Russia closer to Iran, a key backer of Hamas. Iran has emerged as crucial to Russia’s war effort by providing armed drones and support in evading international sanctions.
Russian officials have also voiced anger at Israel and at Jewish organizations for not supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, citing Mr. Putin’s false narrative that Ukraine is run by Nazis. That frustration also represents a shift for Mr. Putin, who long promoted Jewish life in Russia and closer ties to Israel, and built a close relationship with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry has denied that Tehran was involved in Hamas’s attack on Israel, according to the IRNA state news agency. It reported that Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman, dismissed such speculation as a “political” attempt to justify support for Israel.
Iran is a longtime backer of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.
The military wing of Hamas, Al Qassam Brigades, said in a statement posted on Telegram, the social media app, that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza overnight had killed four Israeli prisoners in addition to the Palestinians who were holding them captive. The claim had not been independently verified.
European Union foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation in Israel, said the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles.
Israel has called up 300,000 reservists, Israel’s top military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said. It is not clear how many will be mobilized to the border, or to bases for training.
Israeli airstrikes hit a mosque this morning as the muezzin was beginning the dawn call to prayer, according to the Gazan authorities. They said the strike on the Sharqia mosque in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the already crowded enclave, killed a number of worshipers and injured many others.
Israel hit a marketplace in northern Gaza, killing and wounding an unknown number of people, according to the Palestinian Interior Ministry. Video from the scene in the Jabalia refugee camp showed bodies on the ground and people rushing to find and carry survivors.
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, just said that he has ordered a “complete closure” of the Gaza Strip. “No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” will be allowed into the coastal enclave, Gallant said.
Gazans have lived under a stifling Israeli-Egyptian blockade for at least 16 years that already placed heavy restrictions on the entry and exit of goods and people. Israel’s main electricity provider supplies much of Gaza’s electricity and permits shipments of fuel for its only power plant.
Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, declared that Israeli forces had regained control of all the communities along the Gaza border. But shortly after Hagari spoke, the military said soldiers and armed militants were exchanging gunfire in Kfar Azza, an Israeli village near the border. Hagari called the clashes “isolated” pockets of confrontation. He added: “There may still be terrorists in the area.”
Television images showed plumes of smoke rising in the wooded hills around Jerusalem struck by rockets, or parts of rockets that had been intercepted in the sky. One house suffered a direct rocket hit in Sderot, a city near the Gaza border. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Moshe Lion, the mayor of Jerusalem, says there are no reports of casualties from the rocket fire that was directed at Jerusalem.
The military wing of Hamas said it fired the latest rockets that reached deep into Israel in retaliation for Israel’s air strikes on houses with civilians inside.
At least 12 Thai nationals have died in Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee said. Eleven others have been kidnapped and nine Thai nationals were wounded. Jakkapong told reporters that the government expects to repatriate the first group of injured on Wednesday and that the government was scrambling to find commercial flights to help other Thai nationals leave.
Loud booms were audible in Jerusalem. It was not immediately clear if they were caused by rocket strikes or the Iron Dome antimissile defense system.
Sirens are sounding in central Jerusalem, warning of incoming rocket fire.
Isabel KershnerReporting from Jerusalem
Palestinian militants are also firing barrages of rockets at the Tel Aviv area, setting off sirens in much of central Israel.
Yoni Asher’s nightmare began early on Saturday morning during a phone call with his wife, Doron Asher Katz.
Whispering down the phone line, Ms. Asher Katz, 34, said that she, her mother, and their two small daughters were trapped inside her mother’s safe room in a village near the Gaza border.
“She told me, ‘There are terrorists inside the house,’” Mr. Asher said in an interview.
Then came worse news: Ms. Asher Katz’s mother’s life partner, Gadi Moses, had left the safe room to reason with the intruders.
“She said they left — and they took him with them,” Mr. Asher said.
Mr. Asher, 37, hoped that his spouse and children were safe, at least. But then the phone lines went dead.
It was the last time Mr. Asher heard from his wife.
Tracking her phone remotely, he saw that the device was taken on Saturday to Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza, suggesting that she, too, had been kidnapped.
Then a video circulated on social media of abducted Israelis being driven through the territory, bundled into the back of a pickup truck. In the video, a gunman attempts to spread a kind of blindfold over a woman’s head.
Mr. Asher recognized the woman. It was Doron.
He said his daughters, Raz and Aviv, 5 and 3, and his mother-in-law, Efrat Katz, 67, were squashed alongside her.
Mr. Asher’s mother-in-law, Efrat Katz, and Gadi Moses, her life partner.Credit…via Yoni Asher
They are now among an estimated 150 hostages inside Gaza, according to the Israeli authorities, most of them captured from small Israeli border towns on Saturday morning.
His family intended to return home to central Israel on Saturday evening, after a short visit to their grandmother’s village. Instead, it isn’t clear when, or if, he’ll see them again.
“I can’t sleep — I’m living outside my own body,” Mr. Asher said.
“I have two little babies, two little girls,” he added. “These little babies should not be held or kept by terrorists.”
China is “deeply concerned about the increase in tension and the escalation of violence,” Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, told a regular news briefing, while refraining from offering any direct support for Israel. China is still determining whether any of its nationals have been harmed in the attacks, she said.
Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, will meet with Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, on Monday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, according to Chinese state media network China Central Television. Schumer is in China leading a bipartisan congressional delegation. Earlier on Monday he told Wang Yi, the foreign minister, that he was “very disappointed” by China’s lack of sympathy for Israel in its official response to the attack by Hamas on Israel.
The death toll in Gaza has risen to 493, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry there. At least 2,751 others have been injured, the ministry said.
Poland has evacuated the first group of its citizens out of Israel, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on X. The group included students from a music school in Chełm, according to Jakub Banaszek, a local politician, who also posted on X.
Hungary evacuated 215 people from Israel at dawn on Monday, its foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said in a Facebook post.
The Israeli Air Force said it has struck over 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, including seven command centers belonging to Hamas.
After a surge this summer when oil prices approached $100 a barrel, the cost of crude was tumbling again. Now a Middle East war has sent it right back up.
Traders drove up the price of oil as much as 5 percent as fighting escalated between Israel and Hamas after the terrorist group attacked the Jewish state from Gaza over the weekend.
No oil is produced in the Gaza area, and Israel produces only a small amount of oil for its own use, energy analysts noted. But experts warned that prices could go higher if the fighting were to spread around the region, especially if Iran becomes actively involved in the war.
“Any expansion of battles will have potential repercussions on oil markets,” according to a note released on Sunday by Citi investment research.
Energy prices had been slumping over the last week in part because of recent unexpectedly strong growth in the output of oil from several countries, including some in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the oil cartel. Two main reasons were that economic growth in China remains weak, and high interest rates have spurred concerns over growth in Europe and the United States.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States on Sunday dropped more than a penny to $3.70, 11 cents below a week ago, according to the AAA motor club.
But that relief for drivers is now in jeopardy following a stunning geopolitical event, much as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent oil and natural gas prices skyward last year.
“War in the Middle East can be generically bullish for crude,” said Clearview Energy Partners, an analytics firm, in a research note on Sunday night, especially if the conflict is prolonged.
Global oil benchmarks rose a little over 5 percent when markets opened after the weekend, with the West Texas Intermediate oil price rising to $87 a barrel, a relatively modest jump when war is breaking out in the oil-rich Middle East. The increase followed several days when prices slumped on the expectation that demand for oil was waning. The inventories of American gasoline climbed last week to above the five-year average for this time of year. Only two weeks ago, many analysts were predicting a surge to $100 a barrel oil.
One reason oil prices had softened in recent days was growing speculation that Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel were closing in on a political deal that could lead to an eventual Saudi recognition of Israel. There were hopes that Saudi Arabia might increase oil output to cut gasoline prices to help the Biden administration sell any deal to the U.S. Congress.
Saudi Arabia has insisted that Israel make major concessions to the Palestinians, but the conflict is likely to complicate the chances of any deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Even though American, Canadian, Brazil and Guyanese oil production has ramped up in recent years, the Persian Gulf remains a key source and transit point for nearly one in every five barrels of global oil supplies, especially to Asia. Iran is still one of the biggest oil producers in the Middle East, despite Western sanctions in recent years.
Any indications that Hamas attacked Israel following prodding, financing and planning by Iran could escalate the conflict beyond Israel’s borders.
The Biden administration has softened sanctions on Iran in recent months, in part to encourage Iran to slow its nuclear program, allowing Tehran to export more oil into tight global markets. But pressure is likely to grow now to tighten sanctions again, as the Biden administration provides more aid to Israel.
Israel’s central bank said it would step in to shore up its currency, the shekel, after it fell to a seven-year low against the dollar on Monday. The Bank of Israel said it would sell up to $30 billion in foreign currency and said it would continue to monitor markets and use “the tools available to it as necessary,” according to a statement.
Flight disruptions to Israel continued on Monday. 87 flights were cancelled and 14 were delayed, according to FlightAware. Multiple airlines, including United, Air Canada, Delta and American Airlines have cancelled all flights to Ben Gurion International Airport.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said he was “very disappointed” by China’s response to the attacks by Hamas, adding that it “showed no sympathy or support for Israel during these troubled times.” Schumer made the comment during a meeting with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, in Beijing on Monday.
The ongoing events in Israel over the past few days are horrific. I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn these cowardly and vicious attacks. 250 young people gathered at a dance, and the Hamas terrorists took machine guns and shot them all dead. I was very disappointed, to be honest, by the Foreign Ministry statement that showed no sympathy or support for Israel during these troubled times.
Once Israel has regained full control of its territory in the south, Colonel Hecht said the military would move to the next phase, which will involve more than the usual tit-for-tat cross-border rocket fire into Israel and Israeli air strikes in Gaza. “We are in a different game here,” he said. “We are at war with Hamas.”
Israeli forces on Monday were still fighting to repel armed Hamas militants from several residential communities along the Gaza border, according to Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesman for the military. Briefing reporters, Colonel Hecht said there was still one Israeli family being held hostage in a border village. “We are still fighting. We thought by this morning we’d be in a better place,” he said.
Colonel Hecht said that the Israeli military was using special forces to try to dislodge the militants from a complicated civilian area. And he added that all the breach points in the border fence had not yet been fully closed and more militants could still be crossing into Israeli territory from Gaza.
A former Israeli military spokesman paints a grim picture of the fighting ahead.
A former spokesman for Israel’s military gave a blunt assessment of the situation in Israel on Sunday, warning that it would take hours or longer to reclaim all the towns in southern Israel where the military was still battling Hamas militants.
“The picture and the situation in Israel is a dire one,” the former spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Hours later on Monday morning, Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, declared that Israeli forces had regained control of the communities along the Gaza border even as he acknowledged that there were still “pockets” of fighting.
Mr. Conricus, a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces, has been actively updating Israelis about the war and the IDF account has been reposting information from him. In one video statement on Sunday that the IDF reposted, he claimed that the military had sent at least 100,000 reservists to the southern border and he appeared to suggest they were preparing for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. That posting by the IDF called Mr. Conricus a spokesman, without explaining if that was now an official role.
His claim about the exact size of the force in the south could not be confirmed, but Mr. Hagari had earlier said that the number of soldiers in the Gaza region stood at “tens of thousands.”
When Mr. Conricus was an official spokesman in 2021, he released a statement, which turned out to be false, about the start of a ground invasion of Gaza. He later called it an honest mistake but acknowledged that the military had been seeking to deceive fighters in Gaza.
On Sunday he said that “our job is to make sure that at the end of this war, Hamas will no longer have any military capabilities to threaten Israeli civilians with.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Israelis to prepare for a long war that will shift to “offensive” operations soon, a reference some have taken to mean that the military will send ground troops into Gaza.
On Sunday Mr. Conricus said that “our job is to make sure that at the end of this war, Hamas will no longer have any military capabilities to threaten Israeli civilians with.”
But he also acknowledged the difficulties Israel faces as it moves forward. “Unfortunately, and this is the probably the most dominant factor that will shape the activities for the future, there is a very large amount of Israeli civilians and soldiers held inside Gaza,” he said.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, says he told the U.S. military to give Israel “everything they need” after being briefed by senior national security and State Department officials. The Democrat from New York said that he expects the number of Americans who have been killed in the attacks to rise, and that the Biden administration plans to keep a close eye on Iran to make sure the fighting does not expand.
The Chinese embassy in Israel said that a woman abducted by militants on Saturday was born in China and had a Chinese parent. In a post on its official Weibo account on Sunday, the embassy wrote “Noa was born in Beijing and is Chinese-Israeli.” It added that she had been attending a music festival before she was forcibly taken from Israel to Gaza.
A couple traveled to Israel for their anniversary. Their plans were quickly upended.
Jay Izso and his wife, Linda Craft, wanted to commemorate their 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to Israel. The couple from Raleigh, N.C., hired a tour guide and built a three-week itinerary centered on renewing their vows in Tiberias and getting baptized in the Jordan River, with stops in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, as well as Petra in Jordan.
After a year of meticulous planning, they arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday morning — just hours after militants from Gaza launched a deadly incursion and fired thousands of rockets into Israel.
The couple’s plans were quickly upended. A hotel they planned to stay at in Tiberias closed. They were told they would not be able to reach Bethlehem. Their hotel in Tel Aviv told them services may be limited because staff members were being called up as reservists. Then they had to shelter in the hotel after hearing rocket sirens.
Despite the chaos, Mr. Izso, 59, and Ms. Craft, 69, held out hope that they would be able to continue with some parts of their trip.
“We’re not afraid, we’re not living in fear,” Mr. Izso said by phone on Sunday.
But on Sunday, their tour was canceled. The couple is currently trying to find a flight out of Israel later in the week, potentially to Greece, though many airlines have canceled flights.
“Maybe we’ll pick another quiet country nearby, and we’ll go do something else for a few days,” Mr. Izso said.
They are trying to make the most of their trip while they figure out their next steps. They spent Sunday walking across Tel Aviv. When they spotted people collecting household items including toilet paper, shampoo and canned goods for Israeli soldiers, they went to a nearby store and purchased items for donation as well.
The couple hopes to visit Israel again at some point to finally renew their vows. “There’s unfinished business here,” Mr. Izso said.
“At some point, we’ll return,” he added. “Even if it’s our 26th, 27th or 28th anniversary, we’ll renew our vows.”
Oil prices rose about 5 percent as energy markets opened with global benchmarks approaching $89 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate rising to about $87. No oil is produced in the Gaza area, and Israel produces only a small amount of crude for its own use. But analysts warned that any spread of the fighting could drive oil prices far higher, especially if Iran becomes actively involved in the war.
Drone footage shared on Telegram and verified by The New York Times shows the aftermath of an attack at a music festival where Israeli security officials said up to 109 people were killed and others were abducted. More than 100 vehicles are seen abandoned on the side of the road near the festival grounds. Some of the cars are flattened and many are missing windows.
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In Gaza, residents reacted to the unfolding events in Israel with a great deal of shock and surprise. Amid the rubble of buildings hit by retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, some Palestinians described Hamas’ attack as “unimaginable” and “unprecedented” in its strength.
‘Everyone Was Surprised’: Palestinians in Gaza React to Conflict
While recovering from Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes, Gaza residents expressed surprise and shock at the brazen attack by Hamas on Israeli soil.
01:34-01:38 What forced us to flee was the intensity of the bombing, 01:38-01:39 which was unlike anything in the past. 01:39 The bombing did not spare any tree or home or person; it targeted all. Israeli forces bombarded Central Gaza with retaliatory airstrikes following a surprise Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 6. Amid the ruins, Palestinian residents in Gaza City expressed surprise at the forcefulness of the Hamas attack on Israeli soil. 00:00-00:05 We woke up yesterday to the sound of rockets launched from [Gaza] 00:07-00:09 No one understood what was going on 00:18-00:29 You know how in the past it was a big deal if we our side managed to capture one [Israeli] soldier. Now imagine an entire settlement. 00:23-00:39 An unprecedented occurrence in the span of the palestinian issue CUT OUT from 1948 until 2023, an unprecedented operation by the resistance factions, one that is unimaginable and one that no political or security expert could have predicted. Everyone was surprised by the attack of the [Palestinian] resistance. It was strong. 00:44-00:49 We’re used to the pounding and the blasts and the horror and the fear in our children. 00:49-00:51 We’re used to that stuff. Tens of thousands of people are seeking shelter at schools across Gaza amid ongoing attacks. More than 1,100 people have been killed in the ongoing escalation.
While recovering from Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes, Gaza residents expressed surprise and shock at the brazen attack by Hamas on Israeli soil.
The United Nations humanitarian agency said in a statement that 123,538 Palestinians had been displaced in Gaza since the fighting began on Saturday. Israeli airstrikes had targeted houses and apartment complexes, some of which were struck before notice to the residents, the statement said. The Gaza Power Plant is currently the only source of power and could run out of fuel within days, the U.N. said.
Airlines cancelled at least 226 flights at Ben Gurion International Airport, located just outside Tel Aviv, on Saturday and Sunday, including more than a dozen headed to the United States, according to FlightAware, a tracking site. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines cancelled all flights at the airport until further notice. A few carriers, including Austrian Airlines and Wizz Air, drastically reduced flights.
But Israel’s El Al and a couple others continued to operate, including flights to New York and Los Angeles. Nearly 50 percent of El Al flights from the airport were delayed on Sunday.
Foreigners are among those kidnapped, killed and missing in Israel.
Lists of missing people have flooded social media.
Nations worldwide were scrambling on Sunday to find citizens who may have been killed or taken hostage when militants from Gaza surged across the Israeli border on Saturday. Lists of missing people have flooded social media.
Several American citizens were killed and injured in Israel, a National Security Council spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed on Sunday evening. The spokesperson, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said officials continued to monitor the situation closely.
On Sunday morning, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told CBS News that the State Department was also aware of unconfirmed reports of American citizens taken hostage by Hamas. The agency was working to “find out if those reports are accurate,” he said.
France’s foreign ministry said a French woman had died in Israel following Hamas’ assault, but it did not elaborate on the circumstances. There were still French citizens unaccounted for on Sunday, the ministry said, but it did not provide further information.
Two Thai nationals were killed, Thailand’s prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, said on Sunday. The Foreign Ministry of Thailand said that Hamas took 11 Thai citizens hostage.
Two citizens of Ukraine were among those killed in Israel, President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed on Sunday.
Two Mexican nationals were believed to be among the hostages taken by Hamas, Mexico’s foreign minister, Alicia Bárcena, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
At least four Nepali students who were studying in southern Israel, near Gaza, were injured, Nepal’s foreign minister, Narayan Prakash Saud, said on X. The status of additional 11 students was unclear.
The Israeli Embassy in London confirmed that two British citizens — Dan Darlington and Jake Marlowe — were missing. The embassy also confirmed that Nathanael Young, a British man serving in the Israeli military, was killed on the Gaza border on Saturday.
German-Israeli citizen Shani Louk was abducted by Hamas militants while attending an open-air music festival, German officials said.
A National Security Council spokesperson who spoke on condition of anonymity says “several” U.S. citizens have been killed in the fighting and others were injured. The spokesperson, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said officials continued to monitor the situation closely.
Trump falsely suggests U.S. money funded attacks by Hamas.
“Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden administration.”
— Former President Donald J. Trump in an Oct. 7 statement
This is false.
Soon after the Hamas attacks on Israel, former President Donald J. Trump and other Republicans tried to cast blame on President Biden — saying that a recent deal brokered to secure the release of five Americans detained in Iran helped to finance the assault. Iran is a longtime backer of Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
As part of the deal in question, the U.S. facilitated the transfer of $6 billion of Iranian profits from oil sales from banks in South Korea to Qatar so that Iran could use it for food and other humanitarian purposes.
But that $6 billion is not U.S. taxpayer money, as Mr. Trump and others, including Vivek Ramaswamy, another of the Republican presidential candidates, falsely stated. Nor is there evidence that the money, which officials have said is subject to Treasury Department oversight, was used to finance the attacks.
In fact, the White House National Security Council said the money in question hasn’t been accessed by Iran.
“Not a single cent from these funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people,” a spokeswoman for the N.S.C., Adrienne Watson, said in a statement on Saturday. “These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today and this is not the time to spread disinformation.”
The $6 billion was already technically usable by Iran for humanitarian purposes, but it was essentially frozen in South Korea because banks there were reluctant to disburse it and run afoul of U.S. rules, said Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He said that the Trump administration had similarly tried to find a way to set up a channel for the money to be provided for humanitarian purposes, but was unsuccessful.
Even with rules in place limiting how the money may be used, Mr. Clawson said critics of the Biden administration may well argue that providing Iran with access to the $6 billion effectively freed up other money that the Iranian government could then use to fund Hamas and therefore support such attacks.
“Money is fungible,” he said.
Videos verified by The New York Times show a woman — an attendee at a music festival that fliers said celebrated “free love” — being kidnapped by what appear to be militants on Saturday during a wave of ground incursions into Israel from Gaza.
The footage, which was posted to Telegram, showed a group of men driving away on a motorcycle with 25-year-old Noa Argamani in their custody. The video then pans to another group of militants holding Ms. Argamani’s boyfriend, Avinatan Or, with an arm pinned behind his back.
A family member of Ms. Argamani confirmed to The Times that the video shows both her and Mr. Or. Moshe, Mr. Or’s brother, also shared screenshots of the video on Instagram, identifying both his brother and Ms. Argamani.
The weekend-long event, billed as a “psy trance music festival,” was attended by about 3,500 people near Re’im, Israel, three miles from the border with Gaza. Israeli security officials said up to 109 people were believed to have been killed at the festival.
The festival’s organizer, Nimrod Arnin, told The Times that around 6:30 a.m. Saturday, a rocket barrage from Gaza began, prompting an evacuation of the festival. Videos show concertgoers walking to their cars as puffs of black smoke rose in the sky.
Militants soon swept into the area, turning what had been a calm evacuation into a scene of panic and sprinting. Videos showed attendees fleeing south over fields and into a valley and a wooded area.
Mr. Or and Ms. Argamani had been trying to hide from the militants before being taken hostage. According to WhatsApp messages posted on Facebook, Mr. Or shared his location with a friend and pleaded for Israeli soldiers to come rescue them.
“Me and Noa are hiding here,” Mr. Or wrote. “Tell them there’s a gang of 20 men that are finding people who are hiding and lynching them.” He stopped responding around 10 a.m., the messages show.
Ravid Ohad, Ms. Argamani’s cousin, told The Times that family members were able to trace her location to Gaza, as of around noon on Saturday, using the Find My iPhone application, but haven’t received further information about her location or her captors.
“It’s still not too late to save my brother and Noa,” wrote Mr. Or’s brother Moshe in an Instagram post. “Israel state must act! Fast!”
Another video that surfaced online Saturday showed Ms. Argamani purportedly in captivity in Gaza wearing the same clothes she had on when she was abducted. A family member confirmed it was her in the video. The Times could not independently verify her location.
Appeals posted on social media asked people who attended the festival to report sightings of loved ones who have been out of touch since the attack.
In a statement posted on Instagram, the festival organizers said they were doing “everything in their power to assist the security forces.” They added that festival staff members are carrying out “scans and searches in order to locate the missing.”
Dahlia Kozlowsky contributed reporting from New York. (NYT)