(Reuters) – Israel has formed an emergency unity government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sitting in a war cabinet with centrist former defence minister Benny Gantz.
The move came as the Israeli military pounds Gaza to root out the Palestinian militant group Hamas, ahead of a possible ground offensive in the Palestinian coastal strip.
Most of the 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip have no electricity and no water and 340,000 are now homeless. And, with hundreds of Israeli strikes raining down on their tiny enclave, they have nowhere to run. With the strip’s only other border blocked by Egyptian authorities, the people said they were trapped.
* Addressing American Jewish community leaders at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden called the Hamas attack on Israel “the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.”
* U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Israel on Thursday, in a show of solidarity.
* The UN Security Council will meet on Israel, Gaza on Friday.
* Israeli schools, which have been shuttered, will shift to remote learning on Sunday. The online studies “will focus first and foremost on emotional and social aspects, in order to strengthen resilience.
* Israeli shelling hit southern Lebanese towns in response to a fresh rocket attack by Hezbollah.
* Governments around the world have arranged repatriation flights from Tel Aviv as the war escalates.
* Hamas militants holding Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage have threatened to execute a captive for each home in Gaza hit without warning. There was no indication Hamas had carried out its threat.
* In Israel, one woman is still searching for news of six missing family members. “There’s a 9-month-old baby and a 3-year-old child. And my aunt has Parkinson’s disease….”I want them back. We all want our family back.”
* Gaza’s 75 years of woe from the end of British rule to the present day – a brief history.
* On the grass of the kibbutz in Beeri, Israel, bodies in white body bags were laid out in rows. “I thought I’d seen enough but nothing could prepare me for what happened there. The smell of bodies – as many times as I’ve showered this week – I can’t get that smell out,” a first responder said.
* “There are no wreaths left in Israel anymore,” said one of the many volunteers working to prepare funeral flowers for more than 1,200 Israelis killed since Hamas gunmen burst into Israel.
* Gazan rescuers pulled the body of a 4-year-old girl and other dead from the rubble of a municipal building where she and many others were sheltering. “They tried to escape death only to find it,” said volunteer Mohammad al Najjar.
* Israeli volunteers helped gravediggers at Israel’s main military cemetery as burials began for slain soldiers. “I decided that I’m going to do something for the people of Israel” said one.
* Hundreds of cars lie abandoned in the scramble to flee a massacre at an Israeli music festival where Hamas gunmen killed 260 people and took captives back into Gaza. The scene underlines the scale of the deadliest attack on Israel in decades.
* How a secretive Hamas commander masterminded the attack on Israel. A survivor of seven Israeli assassination attempts, the most recent in 2021, Mohammed Deif rarely speaks and never appears in public so when Hamas’s TV channel announced he was about to speak on Saturday, Palestinians knew something significant was afoot.
* Hamas waged a campaign of deception to pull off its stunning attack.
* What’s the Israel-Palestinian conflict about? The fighting between Israel and Hamas is the latest in seven decades of war and conflict. Here’s how it all got started.
* Initial U.S. intelligence reports show that key Iranian leaders were surprised by the unprecedented attacks on Israel by Hamas, according to a source.
* A surge in doctored images, mislabelled videos and graphic online violence related to the Israel-Hamas conflict prompted the EU to urge Big Tech to remove illegal content or risk legal penalties.
* Pope Francis called for the release of all hostages taken by Hamas militants. He said Israel has a right to defend itself after seeing “a feast day turn into a day of mourning” but was “very worried by the total siege in which Palestinians live in Gaza.”
MARKETS AND BUSINESS
* Oil prices fell as fears of disruption to supplies due to conflict in the Middle East receded a day after top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia pledged to help stabilise the market.
* Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said he would extend his five-year term “given the emergency situation and the challenges to the Israeli economy at this tough time,” the central bank said.
* The cost of insuring Israel’s debt against default surged to the highest level since 2013.
* International airlines have suspended hundreds of flights to and from Tel Aviv following the attack. Here’s a list.
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stuck to her view that the American economy is headed for a soft landing. “Of course the situation in Israel causes additional concerns. I’m not saying soft landing is an absolutely sure thing. But I continue to think it’s the most likely path.”
(Editing by Stephen Farrell, Gerry Doyle, Andrew Cawthorne, Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry)