NATO “strongly condemned Hamas’s indefensible attacks on civilians and called for the immediate release of all hostages,” the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
(Bloomberg) — NATO “strongly condemned Hamas’s indefensible attacks on civilians and called for the immediate release of all hostages,” the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
Meanwhile, 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 has not 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. There’s a widespread expectation that Israel is preparing a ground assault on Gaza, a territory ruled by Hamas, which would likely lead to huge casualties.
For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.
(All time stamps are Israeli time)
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, De Santis 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.
NATO Allies Urge Immediate Release of Hostages (4:40 p.m.)
NATO “strongly condemned Hamas’s indefensible attacks on civilians and called for the immediate release of all hostages” after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefed the alliance’s defense ministers, the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
“No nation or organization hostile to Israel should seek to take advantage of the situation or to escalate the conflict,” Stoltenberg said.
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.
UK Plans Flights to Get British Nationals Out (3 p.m.)
The UK government said it is arranging flights to get British nationals out of Israel, the Foreign Office said in an emailed statement. The first flight is expected to leave Tel Aviv Thursday with further flights over the coming days, it said, subject to the local security situation. The UK has also sent a team to Israel to assist British citizens on the ground.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, offered full-throated support to the Jewish community and a fiery denunciation of those offering justification for the bloody attacks by Hamas, saying it was “unconscionable” to downplay the atrocities.
‘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.”
UK Offers to Help Egypt Manage Rafah Crossing (1:27 p.m.)
On a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday offered to help manage the situation at the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip, “and keep the route open for humanitarian and consular reasons, including for British nationals,” 10 Downing Street said in an emailed readout of the call.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said the crossing is ‘open for business’ but that it was Israeli shelling on the Gaza side that interrupted its normal operations, according to the state-run MENA news agency.
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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