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Israel-Gaza live updates: Netanyahu video was ‘perplexing,’ ‘disappointing,’ US says

Written by on June 21, 2024

(NEW YORK) — As the Israel-Hamas war continues, negotiations are apparently stalled to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist organization, and Israeli forces continue to launch incursions in the southern Gazan town of Rafah ahead of a possible large-scale invasion.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 20, 5:59 PM
Flow of aid resumes at temporary Gaza pier: Pentagon

The flow of aid through a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza has resumed after it was preemptively detached from the beach to ride out rough seas, the Pentagon confirmed.

“I can confirm that U.S. Central Command personnel re-anchored and re-established the temporary pier to the Gaza beach yesterday,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Thursday. “As has been the case in the past, Israeli Defense Force engineers provided all the necessary support to ensure the safe and placement of the pier on the beach. And there were no U.S. boots on the ground during the reestablishment of the pier.”

Since resuming overnight, more than 1.4. million pounds of humanitarian assistance has flowed from Cyprus to Gaza, he said.

Overall, more than 9.1 million pounds have been delivered through the corridor since May 17, he said.

Ryder stressed that no end-date has been established for the pier mission.

“We’ll continue to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian aid via the maritime corridor and as always take necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of the personnel operating the pier to include adjusting to sea states in the eastern Mediterranean Sea,” he said.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jun 20, 1:56 PM
White House: Netanyahu video was ‘perplexing,’ ‘disappointing’

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the video released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming the U.S. had paused weapons shipments was a surprise.

The video was “perplexing to say the least” and “certainly disappointing, especially given that no other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself,” Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

Netanyahu said in a video Tuesday, “It’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

Asked if the administration had any sense of why Netanyahu felt it was necessary to release the video, Kirby reiterated their frustration.

“No idea. You’d have to talk to the prime minister about what prompted him to do that. Again, it was vexing and disappointing to us — as much as it was incorrect. So difficult to know exactly what was on his mind,” he said.

Kirby was also asked about efforts behind the scenes to get an apology from Netanyahu over the video. Kirby said, “I think we’ve made it abundantly clear to our Israeli counterparts from various vehicles our deep disappointment in the statements expressed in that video and our concerns over the accuracy in the statements made.”

Netanyahu said in response Thursday, “I am ready to suffer personal attacks provided that Israel receives from the U.S. the ammunition it needs in the war for its existence.”

Kirby also confirmed that national security adviser Jake Sullivan was still holding a meeting on Thursday with high-level Israeli officials.

Kirby said the “wide-ranging meeting” will include “everything that’s going on with the Gaza war, with our support to Israel, with our efforts to get a better sense of how they’re continuing to prosecute operations against Hamas, as well as continuing to talk about the importance of closing on this deal.”

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Michelle Stoddart

Jun 20, 12:02 PM
Netanyahu meets with families of hostages declared dead in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with the families of hostages declared dead in Gaza.

Netanyahu met with rescued hostages right away but has received criticism for not meeting with the families of the dead until now.

“We are committed to returning all of them, all 120 abductees — the living and the victims alike,” Netanyahu said to the families. “We will not give up on anyone.”

The Hostage Center is holding another large rally on Saturday calling for the government to reach a cease-fire deal and bring the rest of the hostages home.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jun 19, 7:39 PM
Temporary pier to resume flow of aid

The temporary pier (JLOTS) off the coast of Gaza has been reattached to the beach, according to two defense officials. Aid should begin flowing soon says one of the officials.

Since the pier first became operational on May 7, more than 3,500 metric tons of humanitarian aid have been transported to that beach for distribution inside Gaza.

But the pier has had two lengthy breaks in service, the first time when rough seas broke off sections of the pier, and this latest preemptive move to the port of Ashdod so it could ride out rough seas to avoid a repetition of the first break in service.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jun 19, 4:32 PM
Top Israeli officials meeting with US on Thursday

Top Israeli advisers Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer are traveling from Israel to meet with national security adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House on Thursday, senior administration officials told ABC News.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will also meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the coming days.

But another high-level meeting focused on Israel’s security, including Iran, has been canceled by the U.S., according to administration officials. The U.S. is looking to reschedule it.

While administration officials said the high-level meeting was never fully finalized on the schedule, other sources inside the White House said there was frustration over Netanyahu’s video claiming the U.S. had paused weapons shipments, which did impact the decision not to hold the meeting.

-ABC News’ Selina Wang

Jun 19, 2:09 PM
IDF spokesman: Hamas is an ‘idea,’ can’t be eliminated

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said in an interview with Channel 13 in Israel that “Hamas is an idea,” adding, “Whoever thinks that it can be eliminated is wrong.”

“The notion that it is possible to destroy Hamas, to make Hamas disappear, is simply to mislead the public,” Hagari said.

This contradicts statements from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has said destroying Hamas is the war’s key objective.

Following Hagari’s interview, the IDF said in a statement that it’s “committed to achieving the goals of the war as defined by the cabinet, has been working in this way throughout the war day and night and will continue to do so.”

“The commanders of the IDF and those who serve fight with determination and persistence to destroy the military capabilities and the governmental and organizational infrastructure of Hamas in Gaza, a distinct military goal,” the IDF said. “In his words, the IDF spokesman referred to the destruction of Hamas as an ideology and an idea, and the words were said by him in a clear and explicit manner. Any other claim is taking things out of context.”

In response to Hagari’s comments, the prime minister’s office said, “The political and security cabinet headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu defined as one of the goals of the war the destruction of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities. The IDF is of course committed to this.”

Jun 19, 11:42 AM
Hezbollah leader says they’re not ruling out sending forces into Israel

As tensions between Israel and Lebanon escalate, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah once again threatened to enter Israel with Hezbollah forces.

Speaking at a memorial service for a Hezbollah commander who was killed by the Israeli military, he said entering Galilee in northern Israel “remains on the table if the confrontation develops.”

Nasrallah also claimed Hezbollah has obtained new weapons.

Jun 19, 11:36 AM
Biden’s team enraged, frustrated by Netanyahu’s video: US official

President Joe Biden’s team is enraged and frustrated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s video that criticized the U.S. for withholding certain weapons, a U.S. official told ABC News.

U.S. officials have made clear to the Israelis that Netanyahu’s video is inaccurate and out of line, the official said.

Jun 19, 11:32 AM
US-Israel meeting canceled after Netanyahu criticizes US

A meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials set for Thursday to discuss Iran has been canceled in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Tuesday that criticized the U.S. for withholding certain weapons, according to an Israeli source familiar with the discussions.

A specific time had not been finalized for the meeting at the time of the cancellation, two U.S. officials told ABC News.

One official said national security adviser Jake Sullivan had been traveling and was looking to reschedule. The U.S. is working with Israeli counterparts to find a different time for the meeting.

Netanyahu said when he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel recently, he told Blinken, “It’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

“Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” Netanyahu said. “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew told Netanyahu Tuesday that the ammunition and weapons that he referred to are in the process of being delivered to Israel, according to the prime minister’s office.

“With the exception of ongoing discussion regarding large diameter munitions, other items are either delivered or in the process of being delivered, or in the normal review process,” the embassy said.

Two U.S. officials involved in approving arms transfers to Israel told ABC News Tuesday that shipments continue to be greenlit as the administration executes on both longstanding orders in the pipeline as well as new requests made after the onset of the war.

The sole exception, the officials said, is the frozen shipment of the 2,000-pound bombs. The officials said the decision to pause that delivery was made by the White House and that, if it’s ultimately lifted, they expect that order will come from the White House, too.

-ABC News’ Selina Wang and Michelle Stoddart

Jun 19, 11:06 AM
Netanyahu tells coalition partners to ‘get a hold of themselves’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is criticizing members of his coalition in a new statement. There have been reports of increased infighting since the war cabinet’s dissolution on Monday.

“We are fighting on several fronts and face great challenges and difficult decisions. Therefore, I demand that all coalition partners get a hold of themselves and rise to the importance of the hour,” Netanyahu said.

“This is not the time for petty politics or for legislation that endangers the coalition, which is fighting for victory over our enemies,” he said. “We must all focus solely on the tasks at hand: Defeating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and returning our residents securely to their homes, both in the north and the south.”

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jun 19, 10:35 AM
US-Israel meeting canceled after Netanyahu criticizes US

A meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials set for Thursday to discuss Iran has been canceled in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Tuesday that criticized the U.S. for withholding certain weapons, according to an Israeli source familiar with the discussions.

Netanyahu said when he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel recently, he told Blinken, “It’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

“Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” Netanyahu said. “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew told Netanyahu Tuesday that the ammunition and weapons that he referred to are in the process of being delivered to Israel, according to the prime minister’s office.

“With the exception of ongoing discussion regarding large diameter munitions, other items are either delivered or in the process of being delivered, or in the normal review process,” the embassy said.

Two U.S. officials involved in approving arms transfers to Israel told ABC News Tuesday that shipments continue to be greenlit as the administration executes on both longstanding orders in the pipeline as well as new requests made after the onset of the war.

The sole exception, the officials said, is the frozen shipment of the 2,000-pound bombs. The officials said the decision to pause that delivery was made by the White House and that, if it’s ultimately lifted, they expect that order will come from the White House, too.

Jun 18, 4:59 PM
Pentagon says US withheld 1 shipment to Israel, defensive security assistance will continue

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday that the U.S. continues to withhold a single shipment of heavy bombs to Israel and that a final decision on that shipment hasn’t been made.

Ryder declined to address Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusation that the U.S. is slowing weapon shipments to Israel in general.

“We are absolutely committed to Israel’s inherent right to defend itself,” Ryder said. “Since Hamas’ vicious attack on Oct. 7, we’ve rushed billions of dollars in security assistance to Israel to enable them to defend themselves. And we are going to continue to provide them the security assistance they need for defense.”

Two U.S. officials involved in approving arms transfers to Israel told ABC News that shipments continue to be greenlit as the administration executes on both longstanding orders in the pipeline as well as new requests made after the onset of the war.

The sole exception, the officials said, is the frozen shipment of the 2,000-pound bombs. The officials said the decision to pause that delivery was made by the White House and that, if it’s ultimately lifted, they expect that order will come from the White House, too.

While the process of actually delivering approved transfers happens across a wide network, including the Department of Defense and private companies, the officials said they weren’t aware of any other holdups that might be perceived as a bottleneck.

In the first weeks and months of the conflict, the Biden administration worked to speed up deliveries to Israel. On two occasions in December, Secretary Antony Blinken invoked an emergency authority to expedite arms sales to Israel, bypassing congressional approval.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty and Shannon Crawford

Jun 18, 3:02 PM
Biden’s special envoy calls Hezbollah-Israel conflict ‘urgent’

The Israel Defense Forces said on Tuesday that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated, and decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field.”

White House officials are worried about a second war front opening between Israel and Lebanon at Israel’s northern border, dispatching a top aide to President Joe Biden to the region.

Amos Hochstein, a special envoy and deputy assistant at the White House, met Tuesday with Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to resolve it quickly and diplomatically. That is both achievable and it is urgent,” Hochstein said, according to a transcript provided by the White House.

When asked if the two countries are on the brink of war, Hochstein said he believes a diplomatic solution is possible, adding, “But this is a very serious situation that we are in.”

This meeting followed Hochstein’s in-person meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials on Monday.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby confirmed on Monday that the administration was concerned about the war in Gaza widening to Lebanon.

“If we weren’t concerned about the possibility of escalation and a full blown, second front there, to the north, we wouldn’t still be involved in such intense diplomacy that Mr. Hochstein is over there right now,” Kirby told reporters in a press call.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty

Jun 18, 2:21 PM
Netanyahu criticizes US for withholding certain weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday criticized the U.S. for withholding certain weapons.

Netanyahu said when he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel recently, he told Blinken, “It’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

“Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” Netanyahu said. “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.”

Netanyahu then quoted former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“During World War II, Churchill told the United States, ‘Give us the tools, we’ll do the job,'” Netanyahu said. “And I say, give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Blinken declined to relate exactly what was said in private diplomatic conversations and did not deny that he had assured Netanyahu that the U.S. was working to remove bottlenecks inhibiting the supply of American arms and ammunition to Israel.

Blinken did repeatedly underscore the Biden administration’s commitment to Israel’s defense.

“It’s very important to remember that our security relationship with Israel goes well beyond Gaza. Israel is facing a multiplicity of threats and challenges including in the north, from Hezbollah, from Iran, from the Houthis in the Red Sea, from various groups that are aligned against Israel and in many cases beholden to Iran,” Blinken said.

President Joe Biden “will do everything he can to make sure that Israel has what it needs to effectively defend itself against these threats,” Blinken said. “And a big part of that, as well, is making sure that in providing that assistance to Israel, it has a strong deterrent, which is the best way to avoid more conflict, to avoid more war, to avoid what we’re already seeing in Gaza spreading to other areas.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration is surprised by Netanyahu’s claim of the U.S. withholding weapons.

“We generally do not know what he’s talking about,” she said Tuesday.

Jun 18, 11:12 AM
Netanyahu criticizes US for withholding certain weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday criticized the U.S. for withholding certain weapons.

Netanyahu said when he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel recently, he told Blinken, “It’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

“Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” Netanyahu said. “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.”

Netanyahu then quoted former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“During World War II, Churchill told the United States, ‘Give us the tools, we’ll do the job,'” Netanyahu said. “And I say, give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster.”

Jun 17, 2:58 PM
End of Rafah operation weeks away: IDF

The Israeli military is “weeks” away from wrapping up the main part of its controversial ground invasion in and around Rafah in southern Gaza, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told ABC News.

“We are there to dismantle the military framework of the [Hamas’] Rafah Brigade,” Hagari said on Monday.

“We are weeks now just from achieving this goal,” he said.

The Israeli military now controls over 60% of the Rafah area, Israeli defense officials told ABC News on Monday.

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge, Hugo Leenhardt and Dana Savir

Jun 17, 1:49 PM
Israeli forces kill ‘key’ Hezbollah operative in southern Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces said Monday that its soldiers have killed Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub, describing him as a “key operative” in Hezbollah’s rocket and missile department in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah confirmed Ayoub’s death in a brief statement.

Jun 17, 8:54 AM
Israeli war cabinet disbanded, official says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disbanded his war cabinet, the small group of government officials who had been tasked with overseeing decisions about the war against Hamas, a spokesperson said.

The prime minister said there was “no more need for an extra branch of government,” the spokesperson said.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti

Jun 17, 6:37 AM
Netanyahu’s security cabinet to handle war decisions, Israeli official says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government’s security cabinet will now make decisions about the war against Hamas, an Israel official told ABC News.

Netanyahu is now expected to make critical decisions on the war during small ad hoc meetings while seeking final approval from the wider security cabinet.

The decision came about a week after one of three core members of Netanyahu’s war cabinet’s said he would resign from the influential body.

Israeli minister Benny Gantz on Sunday, June 9, said he would resign from both the coalition government led by Netanyahu and the prime minister’s war cabinet.

The war cabinet had been formed on Oct. 11, in the days following the Oct. 7 surprise terrorist attack by Hamas militants.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti and Kevin Shalvey

Jun 16, 6:41 PM
Israeli security cabinet discusses steps to ‘strengthen’ West Bank settlements

The Israeli political security cabinet “discussed steps to strengthen settlements in the West Bank, among other things, in response to countries that unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state after October 7,” in a meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Spain, Ireland and Norway recognized Palestine as a state at the end of May. Separately, 143 of the 193 members in the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution stating that Palestinians qualify for full-member status at the United Nations at the beginning of May, according to the New York Times.

The cabinet also discussed “a series of reactions against the Palestinian Authority following its actions against Israel in international bodies,” the statement added.

The Israeli minister of defense and the deputy prime minister “requested an additional period of time to make their comments,” the statement says, and then the prime minister will “bring all the proposals to a vote at the next cabinet meeting.”

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Jun 16, 4:35 PM
Biden cites pain of Muslims in Gaza in Eid al-Adha holiday statement

President Joe Biden issued a statement Sunday commemorating the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha in which he acknowledged the pain and suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza.

“In Gaza, innocent civilians are suffering the horrors of the war between Hamas and Israel.,” Biden said. “Too many innocent people have been killed, including thousands of children. Families have fled their homes and seen their communities destroyed. Their pain is immense.”

Biden added that his administration is working to end the war and make progress toward a two-state solution.

“And I strongly believe that the three-phase ceasefire proposal Israel has made to Hamas and that the U.N. Security Council has endorsed is the best way to end the violence in Gaza and ultimately end the war,” Biden said.

Biden also cited the conflict in Sudan as well as the targeting of Muslim communities in Burma and China.

He used the holiday to celebrate the contributions of the Muslim community in America and also to say that he is committed to fighting Islamophobia in the United States.

“Hate has no place in America, whether it is targeted at American Muslims, Arab Americans including Palestinians, or anyone else,” Biden said.

He added, “In the spirit of Eid al-Adha, let us all renew our commitment to values that unite us — compassion, empathy, and mutual respect — which are both American and Islamic.”

ABC News’ Michelle Stoddart

Jun 16, 5:49 AM
Netanyahu not briefed before ‘tactical pause’ announcement, Israeli official tells ABC News

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heard the reports on Sunday about a daily “tactical pause” along an aid route, he contacted his military secretary and made it clear that this was unacceptable to him, an Israeli official told ABC News.

After an inquiry, the prime minister was informed that there was no change in Isreal Defense Forces policy and that the fighting in Rafah would continue as planned, the official said.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari released a statement in Hebrew shortly after announcement saying the pause will affect a single aid route.

“There is no cessation of fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, and the fighting in Rafah continues,” Hagari said. “Also, there is no change in the introduction of goods into the Gaza Strip.”

-ABC News Jordana Miller, Victoria Beaule and Kevin Shalvey

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