Israel Latest: US Citizens Might Be Allowed to Leave Gaza

American citizens in the Gaza Strip may be allowed to leave on Saturday, according to a US official with knowledge of the situation.

(Bloomberg) — American citizens in the Gaza Strip may be allowed to leave on Saturday, according to a US official with knowledge of the situation.

Still, while Israel and Egypt have said they can exit via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, it’s unclear if Hamas will agree to that, said the official, who declined to be identified discussing private talks. It’s also unclear if other foreigners would be allowed to leave. 

Israel is widely expected to launch a ground invasion of Gaza as it looks to wipe out Hamas, which is backed by Iran and designated a terrorist group by the US. Overnight, Israel continued airstrikes on Gaza, which have killed more than 1,900 Palestinians in the past week. Hamas’s incursion into southern Israel last weekend killed 1,300 Israelis.

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(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Americans Might Be Allowed to Leave Gaza (12:30 p.m.)

American citizens in the Gaza Strip may be allowed to leave on Saturday, according to a US official with knowledge of the situation.

Americans May Leave Gaza on Saturday, Says US Official

Still, while Israel and Egypt have said they can exit via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, it’s unclear if Hamas will agree to that, said the official, who declined to be identified discussing private talks.

Water Running Out in Gaza, Says UNRWA (12:05 p.m.)

Across the Gaza Strip, more than 2 million people are at risk as water runs out, said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which serves Palestinian refugees.

People are now forced to use dirty water from wells, increasing risks of waterborne diseases, it said.

“We need to truck fuel into Gaza now,” said Juliette Touma, a UNRWA spokesperson. “Fuel is the only way for people to have safe drinking water. If not, people will start dying of severe dehydration, among them young children, the elderly and women.”

Israel Says Won’t Delay Operations Against Hamas (11:45 a.m.)

The Israeli military said it knows that evacuating the northern Gaza strip will take time. Still, “we will not withdraw our operations against” Hamas, Richard Hecht, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, said in a briefing.

The IDF will eventually operate in the south of Gaza — “slowly but surely” — and there is a military plan coming together for that, he said. “We will act everywhere based on intelligence only. There will not be carpet bombing anywhere.”

Some 120 people are confirmed to have been taken hostage by Hamas last weekend when its militants stormed into southern Israel, he said.

IDF Allows Some Safe Movement in Gaza to Allow Evacuation (10 a.m.)

The Israeli military said it’d allow safe movement to Gaza residents on several major roads between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time on Saturday. It wants civilians to move from Gaza City in the north to the south of the territory.

“Take advantage of this short time to move south — from Beit Hanoun to Khan Yunis,” a spokesperson said in Arabic on X.

UN Calls Israel Army’s Evacuation Order in Gaza ‘Impossible’ 

The military blamed Hamas for trying to prevent civilians leaving Gaza City and said the group was trying to use them as “human shields.” The UN has said an evacuation of northern Gaza would mean the movement of 1.1 million people and is “impossible.”

Israel Says It Kills Senior Hamas Commander (8:15 a.m.)

Israel said it killed Hamas’s head of aerial systems for Gaza City, Merad Abu Merad, in an airstrike. He was, Israel says, in large part responsible for directing last Saturday’s attacks.

The Israel Defense Forces said he was killed when jets struck operational headquarters used by Hamas. The group hasn’t confirmed his death.

Overnight, Israeli fighter jets conducted wide-scale strikes throughout the Gaza Strip, the IDF said.

Israeli Military Focuses on Gaza City (7:05 a.m.)

“Gaza City is where the focus and the hub of Hamas activities are,” Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, said, referring to the urban area in the north of the Gaza Strip. “That’s where most of their commanders are.”

Troops, he said, are “all around the Gaza Strip” and preparing for whatever orders come next. He reiterated that Israel’s order for civilians to evacuate from the north of Gaza to the south was to get them out of danger.

“We’ve seen a significant movement of Palestinian civilians toward the south,” he said. “We’ve seen people listening to our warning. They’re doing the clever thing, moving out of a dangerous area.”

The situation on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon — where Hezbollah, another Iran-funded militant group, is based — remains “very tense,” Conricus said.

Oil Posted Large Weekly Gain, Shekel Fell (7 a.m.)

Oil posted its biggest weekly gain in a month after Iran said a new front in the conflict between Israel and Hamas was possible. Traders also covered bearish bets ahead of a widely expected invasion of Gaza.

Oil Jumps $5 in Volatile Week as Risk of War Engulfs Middle East

West Texas Intermediate climbed above $87 a barrel, cementing a $5 weekly gain. Brent rose to just below $91.

The shekel fell 3.3% over the week to 3.976 per dollar, its weakest on a closing basis in more than seven years. The currency’s drop came despite a huge support package the central bank announced on Monday.

Israel at War Transmits Market Risk Across Skittish Middle East

China, EU Discuss Middle East Tensions (5:30 a.m.)

The Middle East was one of the most important topics in the latest talks between the European Union and China, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said Saturday at the end of his trip to the Asian nation.

Talk of War Dominates Annual Gathering of Global Finance Chiefs

Both sides agreed the only long-term solution to the Palestinian issue is a two-state plan, Borrell said. While Israel has a right to defend itself, “like any right, it has a limit,” which in this case is international humanitarian law, he said.

It is “utterly, utterly impossible to implement” an evacuation of Gaza, he added.

Israel Hits Hezbollah Sites in Lebanon (3:50 a.m.) 

Israel said strikes had been carried out on Hezbollah posts in southern Lebanon in response to “unidentified” objects that had entered northern Israeli airspace hours earlier.

Israeli Poll Shows Netanyahu’s Popularity Drops as Gantz Surges

The objects were shot down by unmanned Israeli aircraft, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Friday night. Hezbollah, a militia and political party that is backed by Iran, said earlier that it was prepared to act against Israel over its war in Gaza. The US designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Biden Says US Will ‘Surge’ Humanitarian Aid to Gaza (10:32 p.m.)

President Joe Biden said the US is coordinating with Arab countries and the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza as Israel has warned Palestinians to flee ahead of an expected ground attack.

Biden said officials were communicating with the governments of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, among others, to “surge support” and humanitarian assistance.

“The overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas, and Hamas’s appalling attacks, and they’re suffering as a result as well,” Biden said.

Foreigners May Be Allowed Brief Window to Leave Gaza, Canada Says (10:05 p.m.)

Foreign citizens in Gaza may have a brief window to leave through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Saturday, a Canadian government official said. 

Julie Sunday, a foreign affairs department official, told reporters there is a potential departure window between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time, and said the Canadian government is working with Israel and Egypt to get individuals approved to leave.

She emphasized it is not yet guaranteed the crossing will be open, and said people should not go there until they are told they have clearance. Canadian officials said about 150 people in Gaza have registered with the government, though some are of mixed families.

Israel Army Carries Out Local Raids in Gaza (7:21 p.m.)

Israel’s army said it has carried out local raids in Gaza in the past 24 hours in an effort to locate hostages and eliminate threats.

In a statement, Israel Defense Forces said they searched and collected evidence that would assist in the effort to locate hostages. Soldiers also thwarted cells and infrastructure in the area.

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