Israel-Hamas war live updates: Hamas leader says 'we are close to reaching a truce agreement’ with Israel

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak speaks during a press conference on July 25, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel constructed bunkers beneath the Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip decades prior, when his country occupied the enclave.

Asked by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour whether Israel had provided sufficient proof that a Hamas command center existed within or beneath the medical complex, Barak said, “It’s already known for many years that they have, in the bunkers, that originally was built by Israeli constructors underneath Shifa, [that the bunkers] were used as a command post of the Hamas and a kind of junction of several tunnels, part of this system.”

He added, “I don’t know to say to what extent it is a major [Hamas commander center]. It’s probably not the only kind of command post, there are others under other hospitals or in other sensitive places. But it’s for sure [it] has been used by… by Hamas, even during this conflict. “

Asked whether he had misspoken by attributing the construction to Israeli engineers, Barak said, “No, no, some, you know, decades ago, we were running the place so we helped them. It was decades. Many decades ago, maybe five, four decades ago, that we helped them to build these bunkers in order to enable more space for the operation of the hospital within the very limited size of this compound.”

Israeli military has cited a potential Hamas command post sitting beneath or within Al-Shifa as its reason for raiding the medical facility and has met international pressure to prove its assumption. The Israel Defense Forces have released footage showing alleged tunnels on the premises of Al-Shifa, citing them as discoveries that proved the presence of Hamas at the hospital. CNBC was unable to independently verify the videos.

The IDF have been approached for comment.

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Lebanese state media outlet Al Mayadeen said that two of its journalists — correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Al-Me’mari — were killed in a strike in southern Lebanon, which the agency attributed to Israel.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

The Israel Defense Forces earlier in the day said that they were retaliating after mortar shells were fired from Lebanon at one of their posts. It is unclear if the two incidents are related.

Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire since the early days of Israel-Hamas conflict, with the Lebanese militant group citing solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people.

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The Israel Defence Forces struck roughly 250 Hamas targets over the last day, including operatives, rocket launchers and infrastructure of the Palestinian militant group, Israeli military said in a Telegram update.

The IDF said it also struck a rocket launch post and located a weapons stockpile.

In a separate update, the military said it hit three armed cells by the border with Lebanon, as well as an additional unspecified number of Hezbollah targets in the Middle Eastern country. The IDF further said that Lebanese operatives fired mortar shells at a military post in northern Israel, and that the IDF is retaliating toward the source of the attack.

News flashes from the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar TV outlet reported Israeli aerial attacks on several Lebanese municipalities.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

A combined 1,353 of trucks — or 42 trucks per day — carrying humanitarian deliveries have reached the Gaza Strip since Oct. 21, when aid flows resumed into the enclave, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said on social media.

This is less than 10% of the daily truck arrivals logged prior to the Israel-Hamas conflict, when the U.N. estimated the Gaza Strip would receive an average 500 trucks of supplies each day.

Deprived of Israel’s own resources within days of the Oct. 7 terror attacks, civilians in the Gaza Strip struggle with shortages of fuel, electricity, clean water, food and medical supplies.

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Israel’s military has completely encircled the area of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, and “vandals were eliminated and infrastructure destroyed,” an Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson for Arab media said.

The IDF attacked “terrorist targets” with the help of aircraft and drones, as well as “three underground holes” where enemies were present, Avichay Adraee said in a Google-translated post on X, formerly known as Twitter. IDF tanks and ground forces were also deployed.

“During the activity, the fighters eliminated saboteurs with air support, and seized enemy weapons in several places, including residential homes and children’s rooms, and destroyed tunnel openings,” according to the update.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground. According to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, Jabalia holds the largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps.

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Israeli Army spokesperson for international media, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

Jalaa Marey | Afp | Getty Images

An Israel Defence Forces spokesperson supplied further commentary on the military’s findings at the raided Al-Shifa hospital.

In a video update, the IDF’s Jonathan Conricus played footage appearing to show a tunnel shaft on the premises of what he said was the Al-Shifa medical complex, as well as replaying clips alleging to show Hamas taking hostages into the facility. CNBC could not independently verify the video.

“Shifa is an important part, even a vital part of Hamas military infrastructure, both above ground and below ground. They have controlled that area for many years,” Conricus said, stressing it is unlikely Hamas only took hostages to the hospital for treatment, as one featured captive was being frogmarched and there were several other medical facilities that could assist closer to the Israeli border.

He said that there were several “no-go” areas in the hospital and that medical staff were aware of a Hamas presence on the premises.

Medical staff and Hamas have previously denied that the Palestinian militant group carries out operations at Al-Shifa. Israel has faced considerable international pressure to produce evidence of Hamas presence at the hospital and justify its ground incursion against a civilian site.

Ruxandra Iordache

Hamas and Israel are “close to reaching a truce agreement” despite ongoing hostilities, the Palestinian militant group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

While Haniyeh supplied no further details, a Hamas official, Izzat al-Rishq, said that ongoing talks focused on an equal exchange of women and children. He added that Qatari mediators will announce any final agreement.

Hamas took nearly 240 captives during the terror attacks of Oct. 7, of whom 237 remain alive.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinian militant group have been stymied by largely conflicting starting positions: Israel has previously mandated a cease-fire can only happen once the captives held by Hamas are released, while Hamas has required a truce to return back its hostages.

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Palestinians carry a person injured in an Israeli strike in Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on November 20, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

In central Gaza, mourners recited funeral prayers as they stood over dozens of bodies recovered after a barrage of Israeli airstrikes that hit two refugee camps Monday.

The bodies, wrapped in white sheets and makeshift plastic body bags, were laid on the ground in the city of Deir Al Balah. Medics said dozens more remain unaccounted for and are believed to be trapped or buried under the rubble of multiple collapsed buildings.

At the scene of the bombing, residents sat in small groups in the rubble next to mangled steel reinforcement bars. The recovered bodies were placed in a truck to be buried nearby.

Palestinians search through the rubble of a collapsed building searching for survivors and victims following the Israeli bombardment of Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on November 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
(Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

About 200 people have been evacuated from a northern Gaza hospital that was caught up in fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants on Monday.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesperson for Hamas’ Health Ministry, said the evacuees from Indonesian Hospital were taken to southern Gaza in a rescue effort coordinated by the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross. Many of the injured evacuees are being treated at al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, he said.

Between 400 and 500 more wounded people remain at Indonesian Hospital, al-Qudra said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.

The evacuations came after 12 people were killed when a shell struck the second floor of the hospital, according to the Health Ministry and a medical worker at the hospital. Both blamed Israel, which denied shelling the hospital, saying its troops returned fire on militants who targeted them from inside the 3.5-acre compound.

Associated Press

Israeli soldiers detain blindfolded Palestinian men in a military truck while watching Palestinians (not pictured) fleeing the fighting in war-torn Gaza walk by on a road in the Zeitoun district of the southern part of the Gaza Strip on November 19, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Hamas movement continue. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

Mahmud Hams | Afp | Getty Images

Israeli soldiers detain blindfolded Palestinian men in a military truck while watching Palestinians (not pictured) fleeing the fighting in war-torn Gaza walk by on a road in the Zeitoun district of the southern part of the Gaza Strip on November 19, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Hamas movement continue.

Mahmud Hams | Afp | Getty Images

Israeli soldiers transfer detained Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip on November 20, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Hamas movement continue.

Gil Cohen-magen | AFP | Getty Images

— Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 20: President Joe Biden addresses reporters after pardoning turkeys, Liberty and Bell, from Willmar, Minn., during the National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, November 20, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

President Joe Biden, at today’s White House turkey pardoning ceremony, was asked by a reporter if a deal is near to release hostages taken by Hamas.

“I believe so,” he said.

When asked again if he believes so, Biden responded by crossing his fingers and said, “Yes.”

NBC News

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