Israeli’s armed forces have told the United Nations to evacuate its personnel from northern Gaza, indicating a ground operation could be coming soon in retaliation for an attack by the militant group that killed at least 1,200 people.
(Bloomberg) — Israeli’s armed forces have told the United Nations to evacuate its personnel from northern Gaza, indicating a ground operation could be coming soon in retaliation for an attack by the militant group that killed at least 1,200 people.
Israel’s military has positioned about 300,000 personnel outside Gaza and signaled a major ground offensive could be imminent as it seeks to “wipe out” the militant group for the attack.
US President Joe Biden will make a request for additional foreign aid next week, including 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 Washington probes Tehran’s potential involvement in the Hamas attack, 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)
Israel Warns UN to Evacuate Staff (5:51 a.m.)
Israel’s military told the UN to evacuate its staff and notify Palestinians living north of Wadi Gaza that they should head south within the next 24 hours, the UN said in an emailed statement.
More than 1.1 million Palestinians live in the area flagged by Israel, it said, adding, “The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.”
US House Eyes Aid Package (3:09 a.m.)
Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican, said the House might need to grant legislative powers to Patrick McHenry, the speaker pro tem, so the chamber can act on a national security package for Israel. Doing so would almost certainly require some Democratic support.
Another Republican, David Joyce of Ohio, told reporters he’s contacted Democrats about expanding McHenry’s authority for a limited period and that Democrats have been amenable to that approach to act on issues like Israel. But Representative Steve Scalise abandoned his short-lived campaign to become speaker, which has only deepened divisions within the party and prolonged the House’s inability to respond to the Middle East war.
Read: GOP Hawks Call for Bipartisan Speaker Deal to Speed Israel Aid
EU Probes Musk’s X Over Violent Posts (2:50 a.m.)
Elon Musk’s X faces further intense scrutiny in the EU after regulators demanded answers over concerns about “illegal” and even “terrorist” content on the social media platform. The European Commission said it had sent the company a formal request for information under its strict new digital content management rules following indications about the potential terrorist and violent content.
Von Der Leyen to Visit Israel on Friday (2:50 a.m.)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will be in Israel on Friday with the president of the European Parliament, Robert Robert Metsola, the EU said.
The visit is intended to “express solidarity with the victims of the Hamas terrorist attacks, and meet with Israeli leadership,” according to a news release. The two leaders will also make a call to establish humanitarian corridors to Gaza, according to a person familiar with the trip.
Egypt’s President Calls for Humanitarian Aid to Gaza (11:55 p.m.)
Gazans must “stay steadfast and remain on their land,” Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told a military graduation ceremony in a televised speech, as he called for the urgent delivery of international humanitarian assistance to the besieged territory.
Egypt, which in 1980 became the first Arab country to normalize relations with Israel, has mediated between the warring sides during previous conflicts in Gaza. The US has said it’s in talks with Egypt, which shares the Rafah border point with Gaza, to provide safe passage for civilians trying to flee Israeli airstrikes.
Read: Gazans Trying to Flee War Have Egypt Weighing Aid and Security
Biden to Release Budget Request for Added Aid (10:49 p.m.)
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.
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.
Hamas Calls for a ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday (10:17 p.m.)
Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” and mass protests 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, Macron said.
US Defense Chief Austin to Visit Israel, Pentagon Says (9:40 p.m.)
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is heading to Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government 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, the person said.
Read: 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.)
Biden met national security officials including Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss efforts to protect the US homeland. The White House has requested state and local law enforcement step up patrols of Jewish religious and community centers over concerns the violence in Israel could be mirrored.
US To Offer Charter Flights From Israel (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.
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.
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 canceled.
The committee members asked the government to consider insurance assistance for any foreign airlines that are interested in continuing to fly to Israel.
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 Bloomberg 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 Blinken, Abbas blamed “both sides” in the conflict for killing civilians, a position 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 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 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.”
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.
Read: 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.
Blinken Says Israel Has Right to Defend Itself (2:30 p.m.)
Blinken reiterated Israel has the right to defend itself following, but cautioned that “how Israel does this matters.”
Speaking alongside Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Blinken said the Biden administration would work with Congress to make sure Israel had the weapons it needs. 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.
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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