Israeli military forces on Friday ordered 1.1 million people in Gaza to evacuate — a sign that Israel is setting up a ground operation against Hamas.
But a United Nations spokesperson said it's impossible to evacuate civilians “without devastating humanitarian consequences,” and said the U.N. “strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”
A Reuters journalist was killed on Friday when his crew was struck by Israeli shelling near the Lebanon border. More than 3,000 people in Israel and Gaza have been killed in the conflict, with thousands of others injured.
According to U.S. officials, at least 27 Americans are among those killed in Israel since Hamas launched its assault last weekend, and another 14 U.S. citizens remain missing. "Less than a handful" of Americans are believed to be held hostage by Hamas.
Our live coverage has ended for today.
• The Israeli military ordered more than 1 million Palestinians living in northern Gaza to evacuate on Friday to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours, a task the United Nations called "impossible" without "devastating humanitarian consequences."
• The death toll nearly a week into the conflict continues to rise. At least 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza, including 614 children, the Palestinian health ministry said Friday. Israel officials say at least 1,300 Israelis are dead. Thousands of others have been injured.
• At least 27 U.S. citizens are among those killed. Another 14 Americans remain missing.
• The Associated Press: What to know on the 7th day of Israel-Hamas war
• Parents.com: How to explain the Israel-Hamas war to your children
Elaborate network of Hamas tunnels will complicate Israel's ground assault
Members of Al-Quds Brigades, an armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, keep guard at tunnels on Gaza-Israeli border against a possible attack by Israeli forces in Gaza City, Gaza on March 30, 2023. (Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
"Hamas has spent two decades building a labyrinth of deep, defensive tunnels to resist any ground assault by Israeli troops, experts said.
The extensive network is believed to be as much as 100ft (30m) beneath the surface in some places and makes up a central part of defences the terrorist group has spent years preparing.
Tunnel entrances are hidden in the bottom floors of houses, mosques and schools ...
Dr Daphné Richemond-Barak, an expert on underground warfare at Reichman University in Israel... told the BBC: 'They are definitely equipped for a longer, sustained presence. The leaders are hiding there, they have command-and-control centres, they use them for transport and lines of communication. They are equipped with electricity, lighting and rail tracks. You can move around more and stand.'
Israel said it had already begun targeting the vast network as part of its bombing campaign in response to Saturday’s unprecedented incursion. ...
After the last flare-up of fighting between Israel and Hamas in 2021, the IDF claimed to have destroyed more than 60 miles of tunnels. Hamas, however, claimed at the time that only five per cent were damaged as it boasted that its underground infrastructure was at least 300 miles long, which makes it longer than the London Underground."
1st U.S. charter flight for Americans leaving Israel lands in Athens
The first U.S. State Department flight for Americans leaving Israel has landed in Athens, Greece, according to spokesperson Matt Miller.
"While many U.S. citizens are departing Israel on commercial transportation, @StateDept is chartering flights to provide additional options and capacity," Miller wrote Friday afternoon on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. "A big thank you to everyone involved in making this possible. Our work continues."
Earlier, White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters to expect "more flights ... to be departing in the coming days."
"The State Department will continue to organize these charter flights as long as there is a demand from U.S. citizens for departure assistance," Kirby said.
IDF has notified families of 120 people taken hostage by Hamas
The Israel Defense Forces has notified 120 families that one of their own was taken hostage during Hamas's surprise weekend attack, according to IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari.
"I can't even imagine the extent of the pain you feel," Hagari wrote Friday on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.
The IDF has also contacted the families of 265 people killed in the war.
"We have no choice but to fight," Hagari wrote. "This is our country, we know what we are fighting for and for whom."
Read more from Bloomberg: Trauma over hostages shapes Israel's unflinching Gaza response
Thousands of U.S. citizens in Israel have reached out to State Dept. for assistance
CNN and CBS are reporting that 20,000 U.S. citizens have reached out to the State Department about the crisis in Israel since last Saturday.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN that it has “sent messages to every U.S. citizen who contacted us to inform them that we will provide detailed information to any U.S. citizen who indicates interest in departure assistance.”
Jessica Nagar Zindani, a mother of three hiding in a bomb shelter in southern Israel, told "CBS Mornings" that it has been "a mess" trying to evacuate out of Israel.
Zindani said that while the State Department's STEP program helps American citizens on a vacation or trip, but "doesn't work" for residents like her.
"Not just a lack of information, but it's also really scary because just getting the kids in the car at this point is — it comes down to seconds," she told CBS.
"Basically we have had to facilitate calling the embassy, calling whomever we can to get any information, and usually that's none — that isn't any information," Zindani said.
U.S. citizens needing assistance are being asked to reach out to the State Department via its website.
Experts say Hamas and Israel are committing war crimes
"A United Nations Commission of Inquiry said it has been 'collecting and preserving evidence of war crimes committed by all sides” since the violence started last week. ...
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch, pointed to Hamas 'shooting civilians en masse, taking hostages, including women and children — undeniably grave abuses of international law, for which there’s no justification.' ...
[At the same time], the International Committee of the Red Cross said [Israel's] order to leave [the northern Gaza Strip ahead of a feared ground offensive] along with [its] siege [of the territory] 'are not compatible with international humanitarian law.'
Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, also called the order illegal. It is 'not an evacuation opportunity, it’s an order to relocate. Under humanitarian law, it’s called forcible transfer of populations, and it’s a war crime,' he said."
Death toll in Gaza rises to 1,900
At least 1,900 Palestinians in Gaza, including 614 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes since Saturday's deadly Hamas attacks, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Friday. More than 3,000 people have been killed on both sides in the last week.
'Where is humanity?': Scottish first minister's mother-in-law sends tearful video from Gaza
Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf shared a video Friday of his mother-in-law pleading from the Gaza Strip for the world to show some "humanity" as more than a million Palestinians struggle to evacuate ahead of Israel's expected ground operation.
"Everybody from Gaza is moving towards where we are," said a tearful Elizabeth El-Nakla, the mother of Yousaf's wife, Nadia. "One million people, no food, no water — and still they’re bombing them as they’re leaving. Where are you going to put them?"
“But my thought is: All these people in the hospital cannot be evacuated," El-Nakla continued. "Where is humanity? Where’s people’s hearts in the world, to let this happen in this day and age?"
El-Nakla, a retired nurse, traveled from her home in Scotland last week to visit family in Gaza. She has has since been “trapped” there following Hamas’s weekend attack on Israel.
In a post on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, Yousaf wrote that El-Nakla, "like the vast majority of people in Gaza, has nothing to do with Hamas."
Elsewhere, the Scottish leader — the first Muslim to serve as his country's first minister — has urged the international community to "step up" and stop the mass evacuation, describing it as "collective punishment."
Biden says he spoke to families of missing Americans
President Biden delivers remarks on clean energy at Tioga Marine Terminal in Philadelphia on Friday. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Biden said he spoke with family members of the Americans who are missing in Israel following Hamas's attack launched a week ago. He says they spoke on a Zoom call for over an hour on Friday morning.
"They're going through agony not knowing what the status of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, children are," Biden said while speaking at an event in Philadelphia. "It's gut-wrenching. I assured them my personal commitment to do everything possible, everything possible to return every missing American to their families."
The White House said earlier Friday that 14 U.S. citizens remain missing in Israel, and it's believed "less than a handful" of Americans were taken hostage by Hamas. Another 22 Americans have been killed.
Read more from The Hill: U.S. navigates choppy waters in freeing American hostages caught in Hamas attack
U.N. secretary-general says situation in Gaza has reached 'dangerous new low'
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Friday. (Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Friday that the situation in Gaza "has reached a dangerous new low."
He said Israel's call to evacuate more than 1 million people from the north of Gaza to in the midst of a densely populated war zone without basic human necessities is "extremely dangerous and in some cases simply not possible."
Guterres warned that the hospital system in Gaza is on the "brink of collapse," as the enclave "faces a water crisis, its infrastructure has been damaged, and there is no electricity to power pumps and desalinization plants."
He said the U.N. is "working around the clock to support the people of Gaza." Guterres said he has been in constant contact with leaders around the region to reduce suffering and further prevent dangerous escalation in the region.
Guterres said Friday he mourns the loss of 11 of his health care colleagues and said 34 health care facilities have been attacked. The U.N. previously reported the loss of 12 of its health care workers on Thursday.
Pro-Israel demonstrators show support in Washington, D.C.
A demonstrator at a Stand With Israel Rally in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., on Friday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Laura Fuentes, from El Salvador, at the rally. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
Cover thumbnail photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images