Israel Latest: Biden to Make His Request for More Aid Next Week

President Joe Biden will make his formal request for additional foreign aid next week, including aid for Israel and Ukraine.

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden will make his formal request for additional foreign aid next week, including aid for Israel and Ukraine.

The US reached an informal understanding with Qatar to hold off distributing $6 billion in oil revenue that Iran was allowed to access under a prisoner exchange, as the Biden administration probes Tehran’s potential involvement in last week’s Hamas attack against Israel.

Israel carried out air strikes on the main airports in Damascus and Aleppo on Thursday afternoon, putting them out of service, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA said. Israel hasn’t confirmed the report. Israeli jets hit more targets in Gaza as the nation vowed to wipe out Iran-backed Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group by the US and EU. 

For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Biden to Release Budget Request for Added Aid Next Week (10:49 p.m.)

President Joe Biden will make his formal request for additional foreign aid next week, the White House said. The document is expected to lay out how much funding the US is seeking for the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel – although some lawmakers have proposed also including assistance for Taiwan and the southern US border to help smooth passage.

“Next week, he’s going to put forth a supplemental plan on additional funding that he’s going to be asking for,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday.

Administration officials have so far declined to say how comprehensive the ask will be. The pathway for a funding bill could be treacherous with stark divisions among House Republicans, after a faction of hardline defectors last week ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Most Internet Connectivity in Gaza Is Down, Analyst Says (10:42 p.m.) 

Gaza is experiencing widespread Internet outages that began on Oct. 7, according to an analysis by Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at cyber firm Kentik.

An engineer at an internet service provider in Gaza told Madory that he assumed “80 to 90%” of internet connectivity in Gaza is down due to a lack of power and damage to infrastructure.

“No Power. No Fuel. Fiber Cut due to air strikes. Destroyed homes. And more,” the engineer wrote in an email to Madory.

Hamas Calls for a ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday (10:17 p.m.)

The Islamic militant Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip called for a “Day of Rage” and mass protests on Friday. In response, Israel’s National Security Council and Foreign Ministry warned Israelis and Jews around the world to be vigilant and stay away from the demonstrations.

France’s Macron Supports Israel Hitting Back at Hamas (10:13 p.m.)

In his first formal speech since Hamas attacked Israel, French President Emmanuel Macron said Israel had the right to “eliminate terrorist groups, including Hamas, with targeted actions, while protecting civilians.”

France, which has Europe’s biggest Jewish community and almost 200,000 of its citizens living in Israel, will expand the presence of police and other forces to prevent anti-Semitic acts, said Macron, who also urged national unity.

US Defense Chief Austin to Visit Israel, Pentagon Says (9:40 p.m.)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is heading to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other governemtn officials, a Pentagon official told reporters.

The list of officials making trips to Israel to show support now includes the foreign ministers of Germany, Canada, Italy and the EU Parliament.

US Gives Israel Iron Dome Interceptors, Pentagon Says (9:34 p.m.)

The Pentagon has transferred to Israel the first missiles in US inventories for the Iron Dome air-defense system to intercept Hamas rockets, according to a US defense official.

The initial Tamir interceptors — owned by the US military but located in Israel — will be followed by more from American inventories elsewhere to ensure that Israel has the capabilities to sustain its air-defense systems, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public. 

US and Qatar Will Hold Off Giving Iran $6 Billion in Funds (9:28 p.m.)

The US reached an informal understanding with Qatar to hold off distributing $6 billion in oil revenue that Iran was allowed to access under a prisoner exchange, as the Biden administration probes Tehran’s potential involvement in last week’s Hamas attack against Israel.

A person familiar with the matter said the Treasury Department has a tacit agreement with Qatar, which was charged with distributing the money, not to approve applications for funds, which Iranian organizations were meant to be able to spend on medicine and humanitarian goods. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo briefed congressional Democrats on the move earlier Thursday, the person said.

Read more: US and Qatar Will Hold Off Giving Iran $6 Billion in Funds

Biden Meets With Advisers on Risks to US Homeland (8:30 p.m.)

President Joe Biden met with national security officials including Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss efforts to protect the US homeland after the Hamas attacks in Israel.

The group examined efforts to safeguard “the people of the United States, including Jewish, Arab, and Muslim communities,” the White House said in a statement. Earlier in the week, the White House said it requested state and local law enforcement step up patrols of Jewish religious and community centers over concerns that the violence in Israel could be mirrored.

US To Offer Charter Flights From Israel as Death Toll Rises (8:26 p.m.)

The US government will launch charter flights beginning Friday to provide transportation for US citizens and their immediate family seeking to depart Israel, the White House said Friday.

In addition to flights to Europe, the US is examining land and sea evacuations for Americans seeking to leave. The administration doesn’t currently have an estimate of how many US citizens are seeking to leave, but those in Israel who want assistance with evacuation can fill out an intake form on the State Department website.

The move comes as the confirmed death toll of US citizens killed in the Hamas attack on Israel over the weekend has risen to 27, while 14 Americans remain missing, the White House said.

Two Wounded in Shooting Attack at Jerusalem Police Station (8:23 pm)

An armed assailant with a submachine gun opened fire toward police officers at the entrance to a Jerusalem police station, a police spokesman said. Two police officers were injured, one seriously. The attacker was “neutralized,” the spokesman said.

Israel Moves to Provide War-Risk Insurance for Airlines (8:08 p.m.)

Israel’s parliamentary finance committee approved a $6 billion government guarantee to back war-risk insurance for Israeli airlines. Due to the outbreak of war, companies that insure Israeli airlines are entitled to cancel their insurance policies within seven days of notification. The government guarantee would allow a state-owned insurer to cover the airlines if their policies are cancelled. 

The committee members asked the government to consider insurance assistance for any foreign airlines that are interested in continuing to fly to Israel.

Israel Crisis Punctuates DC Political Paralysis (7:45 p.m.)

Washington lawmakers’ demands for a forceful US response to the Hamas attacks are colliding with the bitterly split House Republican caucus, according to Henrietta Treyz, director of economic policy research at Veda Partners LLC. Senators are working on a bipartisan condemnation of Hamas, she said, but the House is paralyzed as the GOP struggles to settle on a successor to Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s backing for Israel is unfolding across two dimensions, Treyz said. First, there’s the rush to send additional arms. In the longer term, the White House’s positioning creates leeway to urge restraint later if an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza proves as brutal as expected, she said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s Surveillance.

UK to Send Two Ships to the Mideast, Times Says (7:56 p.m.)

Britain will send two Royal Navy ships to the eastern Mediterranean and begin surveillance flights over Israel in a show of support, the Times of London reported.

Blinken Expands Mideast Trip to Include Other Allied Nations (7:27 p.m.)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he’ll travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other allied nations in the Middle East as part of US efforts to keep the Israel-Hamas conflict from spreading further.

Addressing reporters in Tel Aviv, Blinken said he’ll visit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar. He arrived in Israel early Thursday on a trip to demonstrate US support for Israel and get other nations on board. Blinken also said the US reserves the right to reimpose a freeze on $6 billion in Iranian funds but stopped short of saying it would take that action.


China Has Its First Talk With Israel Since War Began (6:55 p.m.)

China made its first public contact with Israel since last weekend’s attack by Hamas, hours after the Israeli ambassador called on Beijing to engage in talks about the conflict. Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy on Middle East issues, said the country condemns actions that lead to the death of civilians, according a Foreign Ministry statement on his call with an Israeli foreign ministry official. 

China is also willing to work with the international community toward peace talks, it said. Earlier Thursday, Irit Ben-Abba, Israel’s ambassador to China, said in an interview on Bloomerg Television that “we really hope China can be much more involved in talking to its close partners in the Middle East and particularly Iran.”

Palestinian Leader Abbas Demands End to Israeli Attacks (5:46 p.m.)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanded an immediate end to what he called the “comprehensive aggression against our people,” and appealed for humanitarian aid and corridors to Egypt.

In statement before talks set for Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Abbas blamed “both sides” in the conflict for killing civilians, a position that’s likely to win little support from Israel’s allies.

Abbas is based in the West Bank. He and the PA have little authority in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

White House, DeSantis Assail Trump’s Remarks on Attack in Israel (5:19 p.m.)

Donald Trump drew criticism from the White House and Republican presidential rival Ron DeSantis over comments criticizing Israel days after the deadly attack by Hamas.

Trump late Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for not joining him in a 2020 drone strike in Iraq that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and called Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US, “very smart.”

White House spokesman Andrew Bates on Thursday called Trump’s statements “dangerous and unhinged.”

Germany’s Scholz Sees ‘Mediation Role’ for Qatar (5 p.m.)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosted Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and they discussed the fate of hostages taken by Hamas in Israel, including some German citizens, the government in Berlin said in an emailed statement.

“We must prevent a conflagration in the Middle East,” Scholz wrote on social media. “In coordination with Israel, we are talking to Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and also Qatar, which has a mediating role. It would be irresponsible in this situation not to use all the contacts that can help.”

The Emir earlier met with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who said in a post on X that “Qatar is an important player and mediator in the region.” Baerbock will travel to Israel on Friday, her ministry said, as Deutsche Lufthansa AG began flights to evacuate German citizens from the country.

Iran Says Hamas Operation ‘Entirely Palestinian’ (3:16pm)

“The act of resistance was spontaneous and entirely Palestinian,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state TV.

Iran backs Hamas with funds and training but has repeatedly denied involvement in the group’s latest attacks.

“We are trying with the necessary measures to provide the conditions for non-combatants to leave Gaza,” he added.

Iran May Have Known About Hamas Attack, Israel Minister Says

Syrian Media Reports Israeli Strikes (3:07 pm)

Israel carried out air strikes targeting Aleppo and Damascus airports at about 1:50 pm local time, damaging runways and putting them out of service, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported. 

The report hasn’t been confirmed by Israel.

‘How Israel does this matters,’ Blinken says. (2:30 p.m.)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that Israel has the right to defend itself following Hamas’s devastating attacks on the country, but cautioned that “how Israel does this matters.”

Speaking alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Blinken said the Biden administration would work with Congress to make sure Israel had the weapons it needs to defend itself. But he also issued a carefully-worded warning.

“We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard, even when it’s difficult, and holding ourselves to account when we fall short,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians. And that’s why we mourn the loss of every innocent life — civilians of every faith, every nationality who have been killed.”


More Than 1,300 Killed in Gaza (1 p.m.)

Retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza have killed 1,354 people and wounded thousands, health authorities in Gaza said.




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