Israel’s military said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and hit Hezbollah assets in response to fire from Lebanon, where the Iran-backed group is based.
(Bloomberg) — Israel’s military said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and hit Hezbollah assets in response to fire from Lebanon, where the Iran-backed group is based.
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.
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, has again called for a ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday, the most important day of prayer for Muslims.
(All timestamps are Israeli time)
EU Leaders Expected to Attend Cairo ‘Peace Summit’ (10:20 a.m.)
European Union Council President Charles Michel and the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, are expected to take part in a “Summit for Peace” hosted by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Saturday, according to a person familiar with the planning.
Several leaders from the Middle East, as well as the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK, are also likely to attend, said the person.
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.
It’s their first public encounter in over three years, in what appeared 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 Over 100 Hamas Targets Overnight and Hezbollah Assets (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.
Shekel Steadies, While Investors Keep Buying Gold (8:40 a.m.)
The shekel was little changed, trading near an eight-year low of 4.05 per dollar early on Friday. The currency has weakened 1.8% this week, even with the Bank of Israel trying to support it.
Worst-Case War Scenario Could Mean $140 Oil, Says Allianz Trade
Signs of an intensifying conflict in the Middle East continue to send investors to the safety of gold. The haven metal was near a 13-week high on Friday at $1,978.55 an ounce. Oil also rose.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Pledges More Gaza Aid Before Trip to Israel (8:20 a.m.)
Germany Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will hold talks on Friday with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv before heading to Beirut.
After a visit to Jordan on Thursday, she called on “all parties” to open the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt as soon as possible and said Germany will increase its humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza by €50 Million ($53 million). She called the situation there “dire.”
UK’s PM Rishi Sunak Visits Egypt (8:05 a.m.)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will travel to Egypt on Friday as he urges leaders in the Middle East to avoid regional escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Sunak will have further meetings with counterparts from the region, his office said in an emailed statement Friday, without specifying. On Thursday, he visited Israel where he told premier Benjamin Netanyahu: “We want you to win.” He then went to Saudi Arabia, where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
US Estimates 100-300 killed in Hospital Blast: AFP (5 a.m.)
US intelligence estimates 100 to 300 people were killed in an explosion at the Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday, AFP reported, citing excerpts of a document its reporters say. That’s fewer than the nearly 500 deaths Palestinian health authorities in the Hamas-ruled enclave originally said had died.
Hospital Blast Kills Hundreds as Israel, Hamas Trade Blame
Biden Casts Hamas, Russia as Parallel Threats to Democracy (4 a.m.)
Joe Biden appealed directly to the American people to support funding for Israel and Ukraine’s war efforts, warning that Hamas and Russia’s Vladimir Putin present parallel threats to American democracy.
Biden’s prime-time speech on Thursday night from the Oval Office preceded a formal White House request that Congress provide roughly $100 billion in resources for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and the US southern border.
“I know these conflicts can seem far away, and it’s natural to ask why does this matter to America?” he said. “Hamas and Putin represent different threats. They share this in common: they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy completely.”
Drones Target US Bases in Syria, Iraq (11:30 p.m.)
There’s been uptick in drone attacks targeting US bases in Syria and Iraq. So far, they have resulted in minor injuries, but prompted fresh concerns that Israel’s war with Hamas may spark a bigger conflict and pull in the US. The Pentagon is also sending more forces to the region, including fighter jets.
“We’re taking them seriously and responding appropriately,” Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Thursday. “Our focus is on deterring a broader regional conflict, and right now this conflict is contained between Israel and Hamas.”
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