Israel Latest: Army Says Hamas Officials Dead; Over 600,000 in Gaza Flee South

US President Joe Biden may visit Israel soon, adding to the US diplomatic push after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Arab leaders about the Israel-Hamas conflict and efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

(Bloomberg) — US President Joe Biden may visit Israel soon, adding to the US diplomatic push after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Arab leaders about the Israel-Hamas conflict and efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

Blinken is scheduled to return to Israel on Monday for the second time since last weekend’s attacks by Hamas, which the EU and US have designated a terrorist organization, to coordinate efforts on the military response. The US said it held talks with Iran through back-channels — warning Tehran against escalating the conflict. 

Israel’s military said a few officials from Hamas have been killed. The exchange of fire grew more intense on Israel’s border with Lebanon, with Israeli army jets striking Hezbollah military infrastructure. The army estimated more than 600,000 people left Gaza City and its surroundings for southern Gaza. 

(All timestamps are Israeli time)

Hamas Officials Killed, Israel Military Says (4:10 a.m.)

Several Hamas officials, including those in the military and financial sectors, have been killed, Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus said in a session with journalists on the X social media platform.

Conricus said Hamas is trying to hide behind civilians as Israel hunts its commanders. “We are not trying to kill civilians. We are at war with Hamas,” he said. 

One Israeli civilian was killed by anti-tank missiles fired across the border from Lebanon, he said. 

Biden Is Considering Visit to Israel (3:01 a.m.)

Biden is considering a trip to Israel after being invited in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to two people familiar with the internal discussions.

No decision about whether to travel to Israel has yet been made, the people said. Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in a statement the White House did not have travel to announce. 

Read: Biden Is Considering Visit to Israel In Coming Days

Markets on Edge to Start Week (3:00 a.m.)

Efforts by the US and its allies to prevent the conflict from engulfing the wider region helped keep financial markets stable, if nervy, at the start of the trading week. Haven assets such as the dollar, US Treasury bonds and gold held most of their gains after surging on Friday on concern a ground invasion was imminent. Crude oil was little changed after Brent jumped above $90 a barrel Friday.

Asia’s markets may nevertheless come under pressure Monday. Japanese stocks slumped more than 1% in early trading while Australian shares slipped. Equity futures in China and South Korea pointed to early losses after stocks on Wall Street slumped on Friday.

Colombia’s Petro Threatens to Suspend Relations With Israel (2:15 a.m.)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who compared remarks by Israel’s defense minister to Nazism, has threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Israel after it called his comments antisemitic. He called for other Latin American countries to express solidarity with Colombia.

Thirty US Citizens Confirmed Dead (12:09 p.m.) 

The State Department confirmed the deaths of 30 US citizens since the violence started and another 13 American nationals remain unaccounted for, according to a spokesperson. 

The government is working to determine the whereabouts of the missing Americans and is advising the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts. 

Biden Meets National Security Team on Israel Conflict (11:00 p.m.)

Biden spoke with Blinken as his top diplomat met with Arab leaders about the Israel-Hamas conflict and efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients were also on the call, and Biden received additional updates from his national security team throughout the day, the White House said in a statement.

US Senators to Receive Briefing on Gaza (10:52 p.m.)

US senators will receive a classified briefing from senior Biden administration officials regarding the conflict on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the plans. Participants include Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General C.Q. Brown.

Israel Criticizes Vatican For Comparing Israeli, Palestinian Victims (8:42pm)

Israel’s foreign minister said he expects a stronger condemnation from the Vatican following the Hamas massacre. In a conversation with his counterpart in the Holy See, Eli Cohen said “there’s no room for absurd comparisons” between Hamas’ attacks on civilians and Israel’s retaliation. 

“It’s unacceptable that a statement will be released that primarily expresses worry for residents of Gaza while Israel buries 1,300 murder victims,” he said, according to a readout from his office, following the call with Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister.

Israel Says More Than 600,000 Gazans Have Moved South (8:30 pm)

More than 600,000 Gazans from Gaza City and its surroundings have relocated southward, following instructions from the Israeli Defense Forces, IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari says. 

This is despite efforts by Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, to keep them in the north to serve as human shields, he said. Hagari urged those remaining in the north to evacuate for their safety.

EU Calls for Israel to Let Humanitarian Aid Through (7:45 p.m.)

The European Union asked Israel to open the borders to Gaza for humanitarian aid to civilians, calling out the “rapidly deteriorating” situation. “Supplies from outside urgently needed,” foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

US Senate Leader Vows Quick Israel Aid (7:25 p.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’ll ensure the chamber passes a US aid package for Israel as soon as possible, while the Republican-led House deals with an impasse over its next speaker.

Schumer, who led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel that met with officials including Netanyahu, said his group urged them to minimize civilian casualties in the offensive against Hamas.

No Gaza Occupation Planned, Israeli Diplomat Says (7:15 p.m.)

Israel has “no desire” to occupy or reoccupy Gaza, Michael Herzog, its ambassador to the US, said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We want people to be able to go back to their homes,” he said. “Our enemy is Hamas, not the Palestinian people.”

Blinken Confident Egypt’s Gaza Border Will Be Opened for Aid (6:34 p.m.)

The US is confident Egypt’s border with Gaza will be opened to allow in crucial humanitarian aid, Blinken told reporters in Cairo. 

“Rafah will be open,” the top US diplomat said after meeting President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. “We’re putting in place with the United Nations, with Egypt, with Israel a mechanism by which to get assistance in.” A US envoy, David Satterfield, will be in Israel on Monday to work out practical details. 

Biden Says Not an Either/Or Choice on Israel, Ukraine (5:30 p.m.)

Biden said the US has the “capacity” and “obligation” to provide assistance to both Ukraine and Israel, as the White house prepares to roll out a supplemental funding package with aid for both nations in the coming week.

“We’re the United States of America for God’s sake,” Biden said in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that will air in full later on Sunday. “We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense.”  

Israel Says It Can Weather Economic Impact of War (4:19 p.m.)

While there’s no target exchange rate for the Israeli central bank’s program to sell up to $30 billion in foreign exchange, the bank will aim to make sure there’s “no unnecessary fluctuations or overshooting,” said Governor Amir Yaron.

Addressing the G-30 forum in Marrakech, Yaron said that while every war “has a considerable economic dimension,” with appropriate budget adjustments, “there should be no major changes to Israel’s fundamental fiscal position,” Yaron added.  

Read more: Israel Hopes It Will Avoid Rating Cut on War, At Least for Now

(An earlier version was corrected after US official clarified the location of envoy)

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