Israel Latest: Concern Over Wider Conflict Before Leaders Summit

Israel’s military said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and responded to fire from Lebanon by hitting Hezbollah assets, as leaders from around the region prepare to gather in Cairo for a summit.

(Bloomberg) — Israel’s military said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and responded to fire from Lebanon by hitting Hezbollah assets, as leaders from around the region prepare to gather in Cairo for a summit. 

There are fresh concerns that Israel’s war with Hamas will spark a bigger conflict in the energy-producing Middle East, after the US said its military bases in Iraq and Syria are increasingly under attack. An American destroyer also shot down cruise missiles and drones launched by Yemen-based Houthi militants toward Israel. Global stocks retreated and oil rose. 

The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed, even as the US and Europe push for it to open to allow humanitarian aid into the territory. Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the US, again called for a ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday, the most important day of prayer for Muslims.

(All timestamps are Israeli time)

Israeli Aircraft Strike Hezbollah Operatives (2:00 p.m.)

Israeli aircraft struck three Hezbollah operatives in the Lebanon border area, the Israeli military said. In addition, Israeli snipers opened fire toward gunmen in the border area.

UN Chief Working on Aid for Gazans (1:15 p.m.)

The United Nations is currently “engaging” all parties including Israel, the US and Egypt to clarify conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the 2 million people in Gaza, UN chief Antonio Guterres said at the Rafah Crossing.

“It is absolutely essential to solve these problems as soon a possible,” he said, as lines of trucks awaited on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. “Unfortunately this is not an ordinary humanitarian operation. It is an operation in a war zone,” he said.

Oil Tanker Owners Unmoved by Missiles (12:36 p.m.)

Officials at two of the world’s largest oil tanker companies said they saw no immediate market impact after Houthi rebels in Yemen launched drones and fired missiles toward Israel. The British navy’s UKMTO advised vessels in the area to exercise extreme caution for the next three days. 

In practice, the distance of the main trade routes from Yemen mean that merchant shipping may be difficult to attack. It’s also not clear that tankers would be targeted at this time.

Germany to Join Summit in Cairo (12:30 p.m.)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will extend her Middle East trip and fly to Cairo for a planned summit on Saturday. Leaders from several states of the Middle East will come together “to prevent a regional conflagration,” she told reporters in Tel Aviv after a meeting with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Abdullah II of Jordan and the foreign ministers from France and the UK are also expected to take part in the event hosted by Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi in Cairo on Saturday, according to people familiar with the planning.

Israel Evacuates Northern Residents (12:00 p.m.)

Israel announced on Friday it’s evacuating all 22,000 residents of Kiryat Shmona, which is a mile from the border with Lebanon. The town, one of the largest in the far north, has come under rocket and mortar assault from Hezbollah and Palestinian groups in southern Lebanon. Three people were wounded in one of the attacks. 

The inhabitants will go into government-subsidized guesthouses, part of a general order to move all those who live within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of the Lebanese border out of concern that the war in Gaza will inspire anti-Israel groups in Lebanon to attack in full force. The military also said the evacuation will allow it to operate more freely in the area.

Israel Moves to Shut Down Al Jazeera (11:50 a.m.)

The Israeli cabinet approved emergency regulations that will allow the government to shut down foreign broadcasters that it deems harm the security of the state during the war, including confiscating equipment and revoking journalist credentials.

The proposal to close Al Jazeera is expected to be approved at the next cabinet meeting, the Communications Ministry said. Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcasts propaganda in the service of Hamas in Arabic and English to viewers all over the world and also passes sensitive information to the enemy, the ministry said.

Stocks Retreat and Oil Rises (11:36 a.m.)

Equities fell as investors responded to the threat of a weekend escalation, driving oil and gold higher. Treasuries rose as yields at multi-year highs drew buyers. 

Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index slumped 0.6% to a seven-month low, while Asian stocks headed for their biggest weekly drop in two months. US equity futures steadied. 

Israel Dollar Bonds Rise, Shekel Falls (11:35 a.m.)

Some of Israel’s dollar bonds rose for the first time in more than a week, shrugging off the risk of a rating downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service. The securities recently slumped to record lows, trading like Israel’s debt rating has been cut already. 

The yield on the note due 2048 declined 9 basis points to 6.7%, while the 2043 security fell 8 basis points to 6.6%. In the currency market, the shekel weakened for a 10th day, its worst streak since March 2020. The currency fell 0.2% to 4.05 against the dollar.

Saudi Crown Prince Meets UAE President, Says Al Ekhbariya (10 a.m.)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with the United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed in Riyadh, ahead of a GCC-ASEAN summit, state-run Al Ekhbariya TV reported.

Saudi, UAE Leaders Hold Rare Talks as Israel-Hamas War Escalates

It was their first public encounter in over three years and appeared to be an attempt by the two regional heavyweights to overcome their disagreements to ensure Israel’s war with Hamas doesn’t morph into a wider conflict.

Israel Strikes at Hamas and Hezbollah (9:35 a.m.)

Israel’s military said it struck over 100 Hamas targets overnight and killed a naval operative from the militant group who took part in the Oct. 7 attacks. The targets included an underground tunnel, weapon warehouses and command centers, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF also said it struck several Hezbollah military assets in response to fire from Lebanon, where the Iran-backed group is based. An Israeli drone strike killed one militant in Lebanese territory.

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