Israel Latest: Leaders to Meet in Cairo After Hostage Release

Leaders and senior officials from the Middle East and Europe will meet in Cairo on Saturday in a bid to ensure aid supplies get into Gaza and prevent the Israel-Hamas war becoming a wider conflict.

(Bloomberg) — Leaders and senior officials from the Middle East and Europe will meet in Cairo on Saturday in a bid to ensure aid supplies get into Gaza and prevent the Israel-Hamas war becoming a wider conflict.

The gathering — hosted by Egypt’s president and expected to include the leaders of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as European foreign ministers — will follow Hamas’s release of two American hostages from Gaza late on Friday. It also comes as Israel and the US begin planning for how the Palestinian territory will be run, and by who, after a widely expected Israeli ground invasion.

The US embassy in Israel said the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt may open at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday, potentially allowing foreigners to leave the enclave. Still, it warned the situation at the border would be “chaotic.”

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

US Says Rafah Crossing May Open on Saturday (8:40 a.m.)

The US embassy in Israel said the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt may open on Saturday at 10 a.m. local time.

Egypt’s Leader Says Israel Should Take In People Fleeing Gaza

“If the border is opened, we do not know how long it will remain open for foreign citizens to depart Gaza,” the embassy said. “We anticipate that many people would attempt to cross should the border open, and U.S. citizens attempting to enter Egypt should expect a potentially chaotic and disorderly environment on both sides of the crossing.”

US Treasury Targets Hamas Financial Lifelines (7:30 a.m.)

A top Treasury Department official is heading to Saudi Arabia and Qatar next week to intensify US efforts to cut off financial lifelines to Hamas and discuss humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Brian Nelson, under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, will help lead a session in Saudi Arabia of the Executive Committee of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, the Treasury Department said.

Israel’s Iron Dome Is Outstanding But Not Enough: Tobin Harshaw

Qatar hosts some Hamas political leaders and the US has encouraged the small Persian Gulf country to act as a liaison with the group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union, including over the release of hostages.

US, Israel Plan a Future Gaza Without Hamas (6:40 a.m.)

US and Israeli officials looking to the future of the Gaza Strip after dislodging Hamas have begun discussing possibilities, including potentially installing an interim government backed by the United Nations and with the involvement of Arab governments, people familiar with US government deliberations said.

Israel Says It Plans to Disentangle From Gaza After War on Hamas

The discussions are still at an early stage and hinge on developments yet to unfold, not least of which would be a successful Israeli ground assault, according to the people. Any decision would likely need buy-in from Arab nations around the region.

Biden Says Attack Intended to Disrupt Pact (1:50 a.m.) 

Biden said Hamas attacked Israel in part to stymie its efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, his most illuminating comments yet on that issue.

Biden Says Hamas Attack Was to Halt Israel-Saudi Arabia Thaw

“One of the reasons why they acted like they did, why Hamas moved on Israel, is because they knew I was about to sit down with the Saudis,” Biden said on Friday at a campaign fundraiser in Washington. “Because the Saudis wanted to recognize Israel and that would in fact unite the Middle East.”

Macron Says Seven French Likely Among Hostages (11:15 p.m.)

President Emmanuel Macron said six French citizens missing since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack are likely being held hostage, in addition to one French national who’s been shown to be in captivity in videos released by Hamas.

US Must Pressure Iran or a Mideast War Will Spread: Hal Brands

France hopes that other hostages, including its own citizens, will be released in the coming days via the same channels that resulted in the freeing of two American captives on Friday, Macron told reporters. The president said he’d consider a visit to the region if he felt he would be able to accomplish something useful.

Two US Hostages Released by Hamas (10:30 p.m.)

Hamas released two US citizens — a mother and her daughter — who’d been held hostage in Gaza. They were met at the border by Israeli security forces, who took them to a military base where family members were waiting, Netanyahu’s office said. Hamas said it released the captives after mediation by Qatar. 

US Presses Israel to Delay Gaza Invasion to Get Hostages Out

US and European governments have been putting pressure on Israel to delay its ground invasion of Gaza to buy time for secret talks under way to win the release of hostages, according to people familiar with the efforts. The US and EU classify Hamas as a terrorist group.

Gaza Church Says 18 Dead in Israeli Strike (6:10 p.m.)

Members of the small Christian community in Gaza held a funeral for 18 Christian Palestinians killed at a church as a result of an Israeli airstrike, according to church officials and the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the territory.

Church leaders and witnesses said more than 400 Christians, close to half the Christian population of Gaza, were sheltering at the church when it was struck Thursday night. The Israeli military said it had targeted a Hamas control-center nearby, and the church was not the target.

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

The United Nations is “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, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

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

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