Israel Latest: UK’s Sunak Vows to Support Israel for Victory

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak underlined Britain’s support for Israel by saying “we want you to win,” as part of a broader diplomatic push to contain the conflict with Hamas and provide vital humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

(Bloomberg) — UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak underlined Britain’s support for Israel by saying “we want you to win,” as part of a broader diplomatic push to contain the conflict with Hamas and provide vital humanitarian supplies to Gaza. 

Earlier, US President Joe Biden said trucks loaded with supplies are ready to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, and that he would ask Congress for “unprecedented support” for Israel. Despite the country’s ground offensive seemingly on hold amid visits by dignitaries including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Rafah crossing remains shut and Israel says it will only allow aid into Gaza if nothing is diverted to Hamas.

In contrast to Sunak’s full backing for Israel, Chinese President Xi Jinping took a more neutral stance, calling for an immediate ceasefire in his first comments on the Israel-Hamas war. In global markets, investors continued to seek haven assets amid concern of escalation.

Hamas Calls for ‘Day of Rage’ Protests Against Israel (2:20p.m.)

Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” across the Islamic world, encouraging Muslims to stage mass protests against Israel on Friday.

Last week, following a similar call by the militant group, thousands took to the streets in the Middle East and other countries for demonstrations in support of Palestinians living in Gaza.

Sunak Tells Netanyahu ‘We Want You to Win’ (2:15 pm)

The British prime minister told Benjamin Netanyahu that the UK “will stand with your people and we also want you to win.” The Israeli premier compared Hamas’s attacks to action by the Nazis in World War II.

Speaking alongside his counterpart, Sunak commended Israel for “taking every precaution to avoid harming civilians” and echoed British wartime leader Winston Churchill’s famous comment that the UK was facing its darkest hour in 1940. 

“I am proud to stand here with you in Israel’s darkest hour as your friend,” said Sunak, who will head to Saudi Arabia later on Thursday. 

UK, Egypt Discuss Stalled Gaza Aid (1:50 p.m.)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his visiting UK counterpart James Cleverly discussed ways to contain the conflict and allow urgent access of aid through the Egypt-Gaza border.

As they spoke in Cairo, aid workers at Egypt’s Rafah crossing with the besieged territory said they were trying to prioritize which assistance could be transported first. More than 100 vehicles have been waiting near the border.

“Anything is better than nothing,” Mohsen Sarhan, head of the Egyptian Food Bank non-governmental organization, said by phone from Rafah. “We are now trying to prioritize the items especially medical supplies. We’re moving cargoes from one truck to another to be ready when the crossing open.”

Meta, Tiktok Added to EU Illegal Content Probe (1:46 p.m.)

The European Commission sent formal requests for information to ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Meta Platforms Inc., further escalating EU attempts to rein in harmful content on social media a week after it asked Elon Musk’s X for similar answers.

The EU gave Meta and TikTok until Oct. 25 to respond about how they’re tackling election disinformation and the spreading of “terrorist and violent content and hate speech” respectively, following the Hamas-Israel conflict. X’s answers were due Wednesday.

Bank of Israel to Update Forecasts (1:19 p.m.)

Israel’s central bank Governor Amir Yaron is scheduled to present updated macro-economic forecasts on Monday, indicating for the first time the costs of the war with Hamas and its impact on the local economy.

The projections will be released immediately after the central bank announces its interest-rate decision at 4 p.m. local time. It already signaled earlier this week that there will be no sharp decrease of the key interest rate, if any at all, citing its efforts to stabilize the shekel and other markets.

“The forecasts and the governor’s statement should give investors a signal on whether the central bank is possibly headed towards a policy shift favoring expansion,” said Ronen Menahem, chief markets economist at Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.

China’s Xi Calls for Ceasefire (1:04 p.m.)

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, his first public comments since the conflict broke out on Oct. 7.

China is willing to step up coordination with Egypt and other Arabic countries “to push for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue as soon as possible,” Xi told visiting Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly in Beijing Thursday, according to a transcript from the foreign ministry. 

China has been facing increasing pressure for failing to condemn Hamas, which Europe and the US have designated a terrorist group. There was also pressure on Beijing to provide assistance, especially as Xi seeks to play global peacemaker.

Israeli Strike Kills Gaza Security Chief, Hamas Says (1:58 p.m.

Israeli bombing killed the head of Gaza’s Hamas-led security forces, the militant Palestinian group said. Jihad Muheisen, commander of the National Security Forces, and his family died in the air strike on his house, Hamas said.

Israeli Army Makes More West Bank Arrests (12:55 p.m.)

The Israeli army said it apprehended 80 Palestinian suspects overnight in the West Bank and confiscated numerous weapons in what it said was a counter-terrorism action. Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, 524 people have been apprehended in the sector.

Bets Against Shekel Jump (12:40 p.m.)

Traders are adding to their bearish wagers on the shekel, defying the Bank of Israel’s resolve to defend the currency.

In the derivatives market, the extra cost to protect against shekel declines in the coming month — versus hedging against gains — rose to 1.5 percentage points, compared with less than 1.4 percentage points on Wednesday. The one-month risk reversals contract stood around 1 percentage point before Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

The currency was little changed at 4.03 per dollar. It’s weakened 4.6% in the past eight days.

German Foreign Minister Heads to Middle East (11:20 a.m.)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will visit Jordan, Israel and Lebanon on Thursday and Friday for talks that’ll focus on attempts to free the hostages held by Hamas, the humanitarian situation and getting German citizens out of Gaza.

“The humanitarian situation for hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Gaza is catastrophic,” Baerbock said in a statement. “Ensuring that international aid, food, water, and medical supplies reach the people of Gaza quickly and without hindrance is essential.”

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius made a surprise trip to Lebanon to visit Bundeswehr troops based there as part of a long-standing UN peacekeeping mission. Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited on Tuesday.

Biden to Address Nation on Thursday (12:15 a.m.)

Biden will deliver a speech from the Oval Office Thursday at 8 p.m. Washington time “to discuss our response to Hamas’s terrorist attacks against Israel and Russia’s ongoing brutal war against Ukraine,” the White House said.

Biden returned to Washington after a visit to Israel on Wednesday lasting about eight hours. He is considering a supplemental request to Congress of about $100 billion that would include defense assistance for Israel and Ukraine, along with border security funding and aid to nations in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, according to people familiar with the matter.

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