Israel Latest: Hezbollah Fires Missiles as Leaders Head to Cairo

There are fresh concerns that Israel’s war with Hamas will spark a wider conflict in the energy-producing Middle East, as leaders from around the region prepare to gather in Cairo for a summit on the crisis. Germany and China are also sending envoys to the meeting.

(Bloomberg) — There are fresh concerns that Israel’s war with Hamas will spark a wider conflict in the energy-producing Middle East, as leaders from around the region prepare to gather in Cairo for a summit on the crisis. Germany and China are also sending envoys to the meeting.

Israel’s military said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and responded to fire from Lebanon by hitting Hezbollah assets. The Iran-backed militant group said it fired guided missiles at several Israeli sites. The US, meanwhile, said its military bases in Iraq and Syria are increasingly under attack. 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 and European Union, again called for a ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday, the most important day of prayer for Muslims.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

China to Send Envoy to Cairo Summit on Gaza (6:00 p.m.)

China will send its Middle East envoy Zhai Jun to the summit scheduled in Cairo Saturday on the Israel-Hamas war, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China reiterated that it’s willing to work with other nations to push for a Gaza ceasefire, avoid humanitarian disaster and resume peace talks. China has stepped up its involvement in Middle East diplomacy this year by brokering a detente between longtime rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hezbollah Says It’s Targeting Sites in Israel (4:21pm)

Iran-backed Hezbollah said it targeted multiple sites in Israel with guided missiles, according to the militant group’s Al Manar TV. The Israeli military reported about 20 launches into Israel from Lebanon, as well as several anti-tank missiles fired at military posts near the border. It reported no casualties and responded with artillery fire.

Stocks Sink as Oil Surpasses $90 (2:46 p.m.)

Stocks fell, Treasuries rose and oil topped $90 a barrel on concern the war between Israel and Hamas may widen to a regional conflict. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index dropped 1%, while the S&P 500 also declined. Gold approached $2,000 an ounce. The Israeli shekel weakened for a 10th day.

“The risk premium in crude has shot up again,” said Vandana Hari, founder of consultancy Vanda Insights. “As long as the Israel-Hamas tensions run high, crude will remain susceptible to further spikes on signs of an escalation.”

Defense Minister Outlines Objectives (2:30 p.m.)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the country aims to eliminate Hamas and destroy its military and governing capabilities, remove Israel’s responsibility for running the Gaza Strip and create a “new security reality” in the region. He was speaking with the foreign affairs and defense committee at the ministry in Tel Aviv.

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.

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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