Food and medical supplies began crossing into Gaza from Egypt for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war erupted two weeks ago, addressing a key demand of US, European and Arab leaders as the humanitarian situation in the besieged territory worsens. Opening the border may allow foreigners to leave the enclave, although the US embassy earlier warned conditions would be “chaotic.”
(Bloomberg) — Food and medical supplies began crossing into Gaza from Egypt for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war erupted two weeks ago, addressing a key demand of US, European and Arab leaders as the humanitarian situation in the besieged territory worsens. Opening the border may allow foreigners to leave the enclave, although the US embassy earlier warned conditions would be “chaotic.”
Dozens of leaders and senior officials from the Middle East, Europe and Africa converged on Cairo, searching for ways to prevent the Israel-Hamas war becoming a wider conflict. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he’d agreed with US President Joe Biden that the Rafah crossing should be open “sustainably.”
The gathering follows 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.
(All time stamps are Israeli time)
Israel Says Responding to Lebanon Launches With Live Fire (2 p.m.)
The Israeli Defense Force said it was responding with live fire on Saturday to a number of launches made toward Israel by Lebanon.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported earlier that Israel’s military struck a village near the countries’ border.
Israel said Friday night that it struck a Hezbollah post, adding that a “target” headed toward Israel’s airspace from Lebanon was intercepted before crossing. Israel fired several flares and launched strikes on multiple southern Lebanon villages around midnight, according to the NNA.
Swiss Probe Recent Alleged Payments to Hamas (2 p.m.)
Switzerland’s top prosecutor announced the start of a criminal investigation into alleged payments made to Hamas weeks before the attacks on Israel, the Swiss public broadcaster reported on Saturday.
Attorney General Stefan Blaettler said the accusation centers on financial support to a terrorist organization, while declining to say who the proceedings are directed against.
Arab Leaders Repeat Calls for De-Escalation at Summit (1 p.m.)
Egypt opened its crisis summit in Cairo with the leaders of Italy, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and South Africa among those on hand, as well as senior officials from the EU, Turkey, Russia and China.
Many of the Arab officials reiterated calls for de-escalation as Israel continues airstrikes on Gaza and prepares for an expected ground offensive. No senior officials from Israel or the US were expected to attend. Neither were any from Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and EU.
Israel Arrests More Palestinians in the West Bank (11 a.m.)
Israeli security forces arrested about 110 people in the West Bank overnight, according to Palestinian officials, as tensions in the territory rise.
Israel has imprisoned about 1,000 people from the West Bank since Oct. 7, amid an increase in protests in support of Gazans. Unlike Gaza, which is run by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has control over Palestinians in the larger West Bank.
Aid Flows Into Gaza for First Time Since War Began (10:18 a.m.)
About 20 trucks carrying aid for Gaza began crossing the Rafah border point, the only non-Israeli border crossing that Gaza has, the Egyptian TV channel Extra News reported on Saturday.
The head of the UN’s World Health Organization said supplies would include “trauma and chronic disease medicines, and basic essential medicines.” The UN’s World Food Program said the convoy also included 60 tons of emergency food supplies, including canned tuna, wheat flour, pasta, canned beans and canned tomato paste.
US Says Unclear How Long Border Would Stay Open (8:40 a.m.)
The US embassy in Israel said it was unclear how long the Rafah crossing would remain open for foreign citizens to depart Gaza.
Egypt’s Leader Says Israel Should Take In People Fleeing Gaza
“We anticipate that many people would attempt to cross should the border open, and US citizens attempting to enter Egypt should expect a potentially chaotic and disorderly environment on both sides of the crossing,” the embassy said.
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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