Israel Latest: Minister Warns of Long War as Biden Weighs Visit

Israel’s defence minister told the US to brace for a “long war” against Hamas, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel for further talks amid a global push to prevent the conflict from spreading. President Joe Biden is also considering a visit.

(Bloomberg) — Israel’s defence minister told the US to brace for a “long war” against Hamas, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel for further talks amid a global push to prevent the conflict from spreading. President Joe Biden is also considering a visit. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a call with the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Iran and the Palestinian Authority to discuss the war, and the Kremlin said there was a “unanimous opinion” on the need for an urgent cease-fire. Putin spoke separately by phone with Netanyahu to brief him on the conversations.  

Israel says it’s keeping open an internal corridor for evacuation of the northern Gaza Strip, with more than 600,000 people having already left for the south. The Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union — have killed at least 1,400 Israelis. Palestinian officials say Israel airstrikes have killed more than 2,700 people in Gaza. 

(All timestamps are Israeli time)

Hamas Says Up to 250 Captives Held in Gaza (10:05 p.m.)

Hamas and other groups may be holding as many as 250 prisoners in Gaza, a spokesman for the organization’s armed wing said on Al Jazeera TV. Hamas itself has about 200 captives including people from “different nationalities,” said the spokesman, Abu Ubeida. He said about 22 prisoners have been killed during Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Netanyahu, Blinken Take Shelter as Sirens Sound in Tel Aviv (8:48 p.m.)

Netanyahu and Blinken briefly took shelter when sirens sounded in Tel Aviv to warn of a rocket attack, interrupting their meeting with senior Israeli officials. “They sheltered in a bunker for five minutes,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. 

Israel’s Gallant Warns Blinken to Brace for ‘Long War’ (8:30 p.m.) 

Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant told Blinken that Israeli forces were preparing for a long and costly war but that Israel would win.

“This will be a long war, the price will be high,” Gallant told Blinken, who was visiting Tel Aviv for the second time on an extended trip through the region. “But we are going to win for Israel and the Jewish people, and for the values that both countries believe in.”

Gaza Close to ‘Breaking Point,’ EU Official Says (7:30 p.m.)

The humanitarian situation is “about to reach breaking point” in Gaza, warned the EU’s commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic. 

Lenarcic said the EU is launching an air bridge operation, with the first two flights due  this week. He called for the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt to be opened immediately, and said relief workers must be allowed to their jobs.

Biden Receives Israel Briefing as He Weighs Trip (7:22 p.m.)

President Joe Biden received a briefing from national security officials as he considers traveling to the country. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns led the briefing. Biden scrapped a planned trip to Colorado on Monday in order to remain in Washington to monitor the situation.

Putin Holds Calls With Netanyahu, Regional Leaders (6:55 p.m.)

Putin held a call with four Middle Eastern leaders — the presidents of Egypt, Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority — to discuss the Israel-Hamas war, the Kremlin said.

“There was a unanimous opinion on the need for an urgent cease-fire and the establishment of a humanitarian truce,” the Kremlin said in the statement. Russia said it’s ready to coordinate efforts to stop the hostilities. Putin held a separate phone call with Netanyahu and communicated details of the earlier conversations.

1,200 Palestinians Believed Trapped Under Gaza Rubble (6:00 p.m.)

Gaza’s Health Ministry says at least 1,200 Palestinians have been trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

“We hope some of them may still be alive,” ministry spokesman Asjraf Al-Qidra told reporters, noting that those trapped include about 500 children. He said the death toll, which stands at 2,778, covers only those who arrived at hospitals and were identified by families. About 9,940 Palestinians have been wounded.

Israeli Currency Falls Past 4 Per Dollar (5:33 p.m.)

Currency traders pushed the shekel to an eight-year low and briefly past the symbolic threshold of 4 per dollar, testing the central bank’s resolve to contain market fallout from Israel’s war with Hamas.

The session on Monday is shaping up as the worst day for the currency since the immediate aftermath of the attack by Hamas on Israel. The shekel weakened as much as 0.6% to 4.0014 against the dollar for a sixth day of declines.

Netanyahu Warns Against Opening New Fighting Fronts (4:25 p.m.)

“Don’t test us in the north,” Netanyahu said in a speech to parliament, a warning to Iran and the militant group Hezbollah to not open a new fighting front along the border with Lebanon. 

Earlier, Israel’s army said it’s evacuating residents close to the border with Lebanon to allow for potential military action. The evacuation of Israelis living within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of the border aims to reduce the risks and allow more freedom for a potential operation against Hezbollah, said Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari.

Iran Says Time For Political Solutions Is Running Out (3:10 p.m.)

“The time for political solutions is running out and the possible expansion of the war on other fronts is approaching the inevitable stage,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian wrote on X.

Earlier, Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the opening of new fronts in the war may not be limited to a single border and “could be as broad as Palestine’s geography.” Iran doesn’t recognize Israel, which borders Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt as well as the Palestinian Territories.

Read More: Iran Warns Expansion of Israel-Hamas War Becoming ‘Inevitable’

France in Contact With Israel to Allow Gaza Aid (12:40 p.m.)

France is in contact with Israeli officials to ensure the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza, Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during a press conference with her Egyptian counterpart in Cairo. She added the country is allocating EU10 million ($10.5 million) for humanitarian work in Gaza.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that, while Cairo has been looking to allow aid in to Gaza, Israel hasn’t “taken a stand” that would allow his country to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza.


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