Israel Latest: Gaza Aid Called Inadequate as New Convoy Arrives

A second convoy of trucks carrying aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip crossed through the Rafah border point on Sunday, even as Israel stepped up airstrikes on Gaza, including one it said killed the deputy head of the Hamas regional artillery array.

(Bloomberg) — A second convoy of trucks carrying aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip crossed through the Rafah border point on Sunday, even as Israel stepped up airstrikes on Gaza, including one it said killed the deputy head of the Hamas regional artillery array. 

Israel’s military warned that Iran-backed Hezbollah risks dragging neighboring Lebanon into war and said it responded after anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon. Israel also struck Aleppo and Damascus airports, Syrian state-run media reported, after drone attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria last week. An airbase in Iraq that hosts US and international forces was targeted overnight by rockets in an ongoing escalation of hostilities drawing in regional militia. 

Israel’s military said it would embark on the next phase of the Gaza campaign, without giving a time-frame for its widely expected ground invasion against Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and EU. 

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

UN in Gaza Says Aid Convoys ‘Far From Enough’ (2:53 pm)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency serving Palestinian refugees said it would “run out of fuel, critical for our humanitarian response across the Gaza Strip” in three days and that the aid convoys rolling into Gaza were “far from enough,” according to a statement. 

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini called on all parties to immediately allow fuel supplies into Gaza. “Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance,” he said. The agency is currently hosting more than half a million people out of nearly 1 million displaced across the Gaza Strip. 

Second Aid Convoy Crosses Rafah to Gaza (2:39 p.m.)

A second convoy of trucks carrying aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip crossed through the Rafah border point Sunday, according to footage on Egypt’s ExtraNews TV. Local media had reported earlier that 17 trucks were being prepared to cross the border.

The trickle of aid that’s entered Gaza this weekend falls — 20 trucks on Saturday and an estimated 17 on Sunday — for short of meeting the needs of the territory’s 2.3 million residents. 

Israel Says Hezbollah Dragging Lebanon Toward War (2:48 p.m.)

Israel said Hezbollah risks dragging Lebanon into a wider regional war after another night of intense cross-border fire with the Iran-backed militant group.

In one of its most serious warnings yet, the military said Hezbollah was “playing a very, very dangerous game” and “dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from but stands to lose a lot.” 

More than 60,000 people in Israel have been evacuated along the border with Lebanon, and residents of an additional 14 communities are set to leave, according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. 

Read more: Israel Says Hezbollah Dragging Lebanon Toward War as Towns Empty

Israeli Stocks Fall Again Amid Fears of Widening Conflict (1:25 p.m.)

Israel’s benchmark TA-35 Index fell again on Sunday as increasing attacks from Iran-backed Hezbollah militants prompted a warning from Israeli authorities that neighboring Lebanon could be pulled into the war. The decline was broad-based and led by Nova Ltd, a maker of measurement systems for the chip manufacturing industry. The gauge has fallen more than 10% since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas and is down almost 9% for the year to date. 

Russia’s Lavrov Will Visit Iran on Monday (12:30 p.m.)

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Iran on Monday, ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova told reporters. The main purpose of the trip will be the Armenian-Azerbaijani “normalization process,” with ministers from Turkey and Georgia also on hand. 

Israel Army Says Intercepts Unmanned Aircraft From Lebanon (11:56 a.m.)

The Israeli military said that anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon and that it intercepted a drone from its northern neighbor. Israel Defense Forces responded with fire to an attempted missile launch. Israel said its aircraft struck earlier in the day a cell planning to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon.

Army Says Next Steps in Gaza Await Government Guidance (11:30 a.m.)

Israel’s defense force awaits guidance from the government before embarking on the next phase of the military campaign in Gaza, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a briefing. 

In the meantime, the army has stepped up its aerial strikes over the Gaza Strip in what it describes as “part of the preparations for the next phase,” which is widely expected to include a ground invasion. 

“Overnight, dozens of terrorists were killed, including the deputy commander of the Hamas rocket fire array,” Hagari said in a televised statement.  

Cathay Pacific Suspends Flights to Tel Aviv for Rest of 2023 (11:16 a.m.)

Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said it has canceled all flights between the Asian financial hub and Tel Aviv for the rest of this year, citing “the ongoing situation in Israel.” 

The company first stopped flights there earlier this month, along with many other airlines, after Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Cathay Pacific until then offered three flights a week to Hong Kong, according to the flight data company Cirium. 

Rockets Target Iraq’s Ain Al-Asad Air Base, Reuters Says (10:24 a.m.) 

Katyusha rockets targeted the base, which hosts US and international forces, and one blast was heard inside the base, Reuters reported, citing army officials it didn’t identify. 

On Saturday, defense systems at the base in the western Anbar province intercepted and shot down two drones. 

India Sends Humanitarian Aid for Gaza (8:07 a.m.)

An Indian Air Force flight carrying nearly 6.5 tons of medical aid and 32 tons of disaster relief material departed for Egypt, according to a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi.

The supplies include life-saving medicines, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, sanitary utilities, water purification tablets and other items, Bagchi said in a post on X.

Syria Says Israel Attacks Airports (7:57 a.m.)

Israel conducted simultaneous airstrikes at 5:25 am local time, targeting Damascus and Aleppo airports and putting them out of service, Syria’s state-run Sana news agency reported. Both facilities had been hit earlier in the Israel-Hamas war.

Al Jazeera reported Syria was diverting flights to the airport at its Mediterranean city of Latakia.

Israel to Evacuate More Communities in the North (7:45 a.m.)

Israel will evacuate 14 additional communities that are close to its northern border following exchanges of fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to the Ministry of Defense.

Israel already evacuated 50,000 residents from about 30 communities along the border last week, including Kiryat Shmona, the area’s largest city and service hub.

In southern Israel, 70,000 residents have already been evacuated from communities following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

Israel Says Hezbollah Playing ‘Dangerous Game’ (7:29 a.m.)

Israel’s military accused Hezbollah of playing a “very, very dangerous game” that risked “dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from, but stands to lose a lot,” as the Lebanese group continued to fire rockets at Israeli army posts near the border.

In a briefing on X, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Lebanese needed to ask themselves whether the price of supporting Hamas in Gaza was worth paying. Hezbollah, a militant group and political party, runs a vast network of schools, hospitals and social services in Lebanon.

US Strengthens Mideast Defense Posture (5:20 a.m.)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he had taken steps to strengthen the department’s posture in the Middle East after talks with President Joe Biden.

The government will add more Patriot battalions to locations in the region and activate a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery to increase protection for US forces. Additional staff have been placed on “prepare to deploy orders” to increase readiness, Austin said in a statement.

The US “will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary,” Austin said.

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