US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Israel on Monday following a whirlwind round of talks across the region aimed at heading off a widening of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Blinken met in Riyadh on Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The US also said it has held talks with Iran, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations, through back-channels – warning Tehran against escalating the conflict.
(Bloomberg) — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Israel on Monday following a whirlwind round of talks across the region aimed at heading off a widening of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Blinken met in Riyadh on Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The US also said it has held talks with Iran, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations, through back-channels – warning Tehran against escalating the conflict.
Rockets were fired at Tel Aviv and southern Israel overnight, and the Israel Defense Forces attacked targets in and around the northern part of Gaza. One Israeli died on Sunday in a Hezbollah attack on Israeli army posts as clashes intensified near the border with Lebanon.
Moroccans took to the streets to demand the kingdom cut ties with Israel, which were restored in 2020, and bank shares led a slide in the Israeli stock market to multi-year lows.
(All timestamps are Israeli time)
Increased Cross-Border Fire Seen in Israel’s North (2:50 p.m.)
Israeli artillery responded to at least five separate incidents of cross-border fire from Lebanon, reflecting increased tensions on the Israel’s northern border as the army prepared for a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip. It was the highest number of events in the north since the current conflict began on Oct. 7. One man was killed. Army spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel was holding Lebanon responsible.
US Has Held Back-channel Talks with Iran: Sullivan (3:55 p.m.)
The US has held back-channel talks with Iran to warn against escalating the conflict in Israel, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.
“We have means of communicating privately with Iran, and we have availed ourselves of those means over the past few days,” Sullivan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Iran’s Raisi Warns Macron on Widening Conflict (3:53 p.m.)
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict with French President Emmanuel Macron in a call on Sunday.
Raisi was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency as warning that “the scene will expand” if Israel’s siege of Gaza doesn’t stop.
Blinken Will Return to Israel on Monday (2:45 p.m.)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Israel on Monday for further consultations with senior officials there, his spokesman said.
The top US diplomat was previously in Israel on Thursday as part of a frenetic tour of the region that included stops in Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia, as the Biden administration tries to limit the threat of a spreading conflict in the Middle East.
Blinken Meets With Saudi Crown Prince (2 p.m.)
Blinken traveled to Riyadh on Sunday for an hour-long talk with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the top US diplomat deemed “very productive.”
MBS highlighted Riyadh’s diplomatic outreach “to calm the situation,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Israeli Shares Down 3% As War Enters Second Week (1:45 p.m.)
Israel’s TA-35 stock index fell sharply on Sunday as Israel continues to strike back against Hamas targets and tensions rise on the northern border with Hezbollah. The index was down 3.3% in early afternoon, having reached the lowest levels since mid-2021.
Banking stocks led the decline. The sector was down 12.3% last week “on account of volatility concerns,” the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said.
Other Middle Eastern markets were narrowly mixed.
Egypt Looks to Host Regional Summit on Palestine Issue (1:40 p.m.)
Egypt has sent invitations for a proposed regional summit to address the Palestinian issue, its presidency said Sunday. The statement provided no details on who was invited or potential dates.
Egypt’s government is intensifying communications with regional and international relief organizations in order to deliver the aid needed in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement.
Moroccans Push to Sever Israel Ties in Mass Protest (1:30 p.m.)
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Rabat, Morocco’s capital, demanding King Mohammed VI to severe ties with Israel which were restored in 2020.
The marchers denounced as “barbaric” ongoing military intervention by Israel in Gaza and demanded the closing of its liaison office in the Moroccan capital.
Abbas Stresses Need for Humanitarian Corridor in Biden Call (1:20 p.m.)
In a phone call with US President Joe Biden late Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed the urgent need for humanitarian corridors to be opened in the Gaza Strip so that basic materials and medical supplies such as water, electricity and fuel, can be delivered to civilians.
Abbas also told Biden he rejected the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and affirmed his rejection of the killing or abusing of civilians on both sides, calling for the release of civilians, prisoners and detainees.
UK Foreign Minister Urges Israel to Show Restraint (11:30 a.m.)
James Cleverly called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza and respect international law in any military operations against Hamas, saying his “strong advice” was being offered from a position of friendship.” It’s in Israel’s interest to avoid civilian casualties because Hamas wants to turn the conflict “into a wider Arab-Israeli war, or indeed a war between the Muslim world and and the wider world,” the UK foreign minister said on Sky News.
His comments came hours after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK stood unequivocally with Israel, making no mention of the plight facing Palestinian civilians.
Hezbollah Claims Missile Strike on Israel (11 a.m.)
Hezbollah claimed a missile strike on Israel near the Lebanese border that Israel’s rescue service said killed one Israeli and wounded three.
Hezbollah says it fired guided missiles toward an Israel army post in Shtula from Lebanon, according to the militant group’s Al-Manar TV. The Israeli military said earlier it was targeting southern Lebanon after initial report of a shooting near the Lebanese border.
Gaza Death Toll Reaches 2,300 (9:00 a.m.)
The number of people killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza has reached more than 2,300, local authorities said, with thousands more wounded in the past eight days.
This now outnumbers the death toll of the 51-day Israel-Hamas war of 2014, according to Ashraf Al-Qedra, a spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry.
The 2014 war killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, according to UN figures. At the time it was the deadliest and most destructive violence since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip.
IDF Announces Evacuation Window in Gaza (8:48 a.m.)
The Israel Defense Forces said it wouldn’t hit targets in parts of Gaza between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm to allow residents of Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip to leave the area and head to Khan Yunis and areas located south of the Gaza Valley.
The IDF provided two evacuation corridors yesterday and said that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had left northern areas.
US to Ship Out Some Citizens From Israel (8:14 a.m.)
The US government is assisting US nationals and their immediate family members with a valid travel document to depart Haifa via sea for Cyprus on Oct. 16, according to a statement on the US Embassy in Israel website.
Israel Says it Killed Hamas Military Leader (7:36 a.m.)
The Israeli military said on Sunday its fighter jets killed the Hamas military leader responsible for the attack on one of Israel’s communities last Saturday, Kibbutz Nirim. In a statement, the military said this occurred Saturday night during operations that also took out Hamas rocket launchers.
It said the man was commander of the Nukhba forces in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Nukhba are the elite Hamas military unit that Israel says trained and led the October 7 attack. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist group by the US and the European Union.
Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv, Southern Israel (7:00 a.m.)
Rockets were fired at Tel Aviv and southern Israel overnight, Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said in a briefing on X. The IDF is still attacking Hamas targets in and around the northern part of the Gaza Strip, he said.
Israeli forces are deployed along the Gaza Strip and preparing for the next stage of operations, the spokesman said. There will be “significant military activity” in the northern part of the strip, he said, reiterating a call for civilians to move to the south.
“The next stage of operations will be enhanced operations against Hamas,” Conricus said.
Blinken Urges China to Use Its Influence (8:25 p.m.)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Beijing to use its influence to prevent other state or non-state actors from attacking Israel and widening its war with Hamas, the State Department said.
Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Wang Yi before departing from Riyadh, where the top US diplomat was attempting to shore up support for Israel among Arab nations, said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. He met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the State Department said.
Israel Acknowledges Reports of Gaza Activity (8:18 p.m.)
Israel confirmed for the first time that there were intelligence indications of something happening in Gaza two hours before the attacks last week. The head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, spoke with military personnel about the reports, said Tzachi Hanegbi, head of Israel’s National Security Council.
“Both sides assessed that this is something other than it turned out to be,” he said.
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