Israel Latest: Hamas Leaders Targeted as Ground War Looms

Israel targeted Hamas commanders and vowed to wipe the group “off the face of the Earth” as its new unity government signaled a major ground offensive soon in retaliation for an attack by the militant group that killed at least 1,200 people.

(Bloomberg) — Israel targeted Hamas commanders and vowed to wipe the group “off the face of the Earth” as its new unity government signaled a major ground offensive soon in retaliation for an attack by the militant group that killed at least 1,200 people.

“I say here, to everyone — we will wipe out this thing called Hamas,” Defense Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The address came hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to Israel in a push to show US support. Israel has cut electricity to the Gaza Strip, where airstrikes continued. Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union, is holding an unknown number of Israelis hostage and officials suggested the invasion would start before they had been brought to safety. 

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

All time stamps are Israeli time.

Israel Targets Hamas Leaders, Infrastructure (4:45 a.m.)

Israeli Defense Forces are prioritizing strikes on Hamas commanders and officials as well as its intelligence and financial infrastructure within the Gaza Strip, spokesman Jonathan Conricus said in a video briefing on the X social media platform. 

He added there are about 300,000 members of Israel’s ground forces positioned nearby and they are “making preparations for the next stage of the war, which will come when the timing is opportune and fit for our purposes.”

There are “extensive” attacks currently happening on many Hamas locations, the IDF also said in a separate social media post.

China Envoy Expected to Speak to Israel (4:40 a.m.)

China’s special envoy on Middle East issues is expected to speak Thursday with Israeli officials, according to Israel’s Ambassador to China. 

China has so far avoided blaming any party for the violence and repeated its support for independent Palestinian statehood as part of a two-state solution. Beijing said it’s a friend to both sides, but its refusal to condemn the violence from Hamas risks upsetting Israel, a key trade and technological partner. 

Read: China Middle East Envoy Expected to Speak to Israel on Thursday

Iran Knew of Attack Plans But Not Timing, WSJ Says (3:03 a.m.)

A preliminary unclassified assessment by US intelligence agencies shows Iran had some indication Hamas was planning an attack against Israel but Tehran didn’t know the timing or scale of the assault, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The assessment also said US intelligence agencies have not yet reached a definitive conclusion on whether some in Iran may have been aware of what was being considered or helped direct the assault, the paper reported. 

Iran likely knew Hamas was planning the attacks, but the US has no confirmation Tehran was involved in the preparations, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a White House briefing. “Hamas wouldn’t have been able to function at all had it not been for propping up by the Iranian regime,” he added.

Biden Condemns Hamas in Call With UAE Leader (1:05 a.m.)

President Joe Biden condemned “Hamas’s terror” and warned against “anyone who might seek to exploit the current situation in Israel” during a call with United Arab Emirates leader Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the White House said. 

The two leaders also spoke about “the importance of ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches those in need.” The UAE signed the Abraham Accords with Israel in 2020. 

Biden has conducted a series of calls with leaders in Europe and the Middle East seeking to rally support for Israel in response to last weekend’s deadly attacks.

Netanyahu Says Every Hamas Member is a ‘Dead Man’ (12 a.m.)

Netanyahu described the horror of the weekend attack, saying people had been beheaded and women had been raped. He vowed to “crush and destroy” Hamas.

Opposition leader Benny Gantz foreshadowed the looming ground campaign, as officials said all Israelis are soldiers now.

“There is a time for war and time for peace,” Gantz said. “Now is time for war.”

Blinken Heads to Israel With Fate of Hostages Uncertain (9:45 p.m.)

Blinken took off for Tel Aviv, saying the point of his trip, which may include other stops in the region, is to show the US has Israel’s back at a time of crisis.

The US is also investigating the fate of the at least 17 Americans who remain unaccounted for following the Hamas attack in Israel. The White House is only aware of a “very small” number who are believed to be hostages, spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

The US has not received proof of life regarding the suspected hostages and does not know where they are, Kirby added. 

Israel Says Reports of Intrusion Were ‘False Alarm’ (8:30 p.m.)

Air-raid sirens sounded in northern Israel and local residents were told to go to bomb shelters, but authorities later said reports of an “airspace intrusion” from Lebanon were a false alarm.

Israelis have been on high alert for any sign Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north might step up attacks after Hamas’s deadly attacks from Gaza in the south over the weekend. 

About 90 minutes after the first report of an intrusion in the north, the Israel Defense Force said, “a suspected infiltration has been ruled out.” It blamed “human error” for an earlier alert telling residents across the country to remain in shelters. 

Biden Speaks to Netanyahu as US Death Toll Rises (7:21 p.m.)

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Netanyahu “to discuss ongoing US support for Israel as Israel defends itself and protects its people,” the White House said in a statement. 

Around the time of the call, the State Department said the death toll among US citizens rose to at least 22. It’s still not clear how many Americans are being held hostage by Hamas.

Israel Engaged in ‘War of Extermination,’ Palestinian Official Says (7:15 p.m.)

The Palestinian people are facing a “war of extermination” by Israel, the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said, adding that Israel is heading toward an option of “total destruction” of Gaza.

“We have repeatedly warned about the danger of the continued occupation of our land and the Israeli violations,” Malki told an Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.

Malki detailed what he said were Israeli transgressions, including using illegal weapons in a blitz aimed at destroying Gaza’s infrastructure and its ability to support its residents.

Shale Boss Warns of Oil-Market Peril If Iran Is Swept Into War (6:38 p.m.)

Oil prices will surge if the Israel-Hamas war escalates to include Iran, shale magnate Scott Sheffield told Bloomberg Television.

The founder and chief executive officer of Pioneer Natural Resources Co. issued the warning during an interview on Wednesday, hours after Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to buy the shale giant for $59.5 billion.

“If Iran gets involved, [the war is] going to get bigger and bigger and it’ll significantly affect oil prices,” he said.

US to Send Iron Dome Interceptor Missiles, Other Munitions (6:12 p.m.)

The US is sending interceptor missiles for Israeli’s Iron Dome air-defense system, as well as other munitions as part of initial support, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Brussels.

The first munitions arrived Tuesday and the interceptors will be sent soon, Austin said, speaking after a meeting of the contact group supporting Ukraine. He said the US will keep supporting Ukraine and Israel.

“We’re going to do what’s necessary to help our allies and partners and we’re going to also do what’s necessary to make sure that we maintain the capability to protect our interests and defend our country,” Austin said.

Israel Forms Rare Emergency Government (5:30 p.m.)

Israel formed a rare emergency government with some opposition members on Wednesday to see the country through its war with Hamas.

A “war management cabinet” will be established with three members, according to Netanyahu’s office. They are Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and ex-Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who now heads an opposition party.

Gaza Runs Out of Power After Plant Stalls (4:02 p.m.)

Electricity went out in Gaza after its only power plant stopped working. The station is unable to receive additional fuel after Israel cut off supplies in the wake of the Hamas attack. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said hospitals in Gaza will soon be without power. Hospitals are using backup generators to provide “reduced” emergency services, it said.

–With assistance from Nurin Sofia.

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