Israel Latest: Biden, Netanyahu Plan to Talk Within Hours

(Bloomberg) -- Israel said it had hit hundreds of Hamas targets and also responded to rocket launches from Lebanon tied to Iran-backed Hezbollah, in an operation that’s stoked concerns of a broader Middle Eastern conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Saturday of a “long and difficult” war as the ground invasion of Gaza got underway. Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden will speak on Sunday.

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Limited internet and phone coverage were restored to Gaza on Sunday, with the local telecommunications ministry saying about a third of relevant infrastructure had been destroyed by Israel. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among those condemning the escalation. Iran, which backs Hamas and other regional militant groups, said Israel’s recent moves “may force everyone to take action,” without elaborating.

The Palestinian death toll from Israel’s strikes on Gaza is in the thousands and continues to mount, according to authorities in the besieged Hamas-run territory. Designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union, Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,400 people and taking scores hostage. Israel is still working with partners to release those captive.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Israel Says Hamas Militants Attempt Attack Using Tunnel (5:18pm)

The Israeli army said Hamas militants exited a tunnel and opened fire on Israeli troops near the Erez Crossing that connects Gaza and southern Israel. Israeli soldiers killed several militants in the ensuing gunfight, the military said. Separately, Israel’s army said that several Hamas members were killed in two other airstrikes on Gaza.

In the north, Israel and Hezbollah exchanged tit-for-tat fire throughout the day across the Lebanese border. Israel’s army said it carried out strikes in Lebanon that targeted weapons and military infrastructure of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, in response to rocket fire. In one incident, two rockets were intercepted by Israel’s air defenses and a third landed in an unpopulated area, the military said.

Greece Explores Sea Corridor for Essential Goods (5 p.m.)

Greece is exploring the possibility of a humanitarian sea corridor to transport essential goods to the Israel-Gaza region, a Greek diplomat said Sunday.

Talks are underway with directly interested parties as well as with European partners and international organizations, the diplomat said.

UK, France Will Work Together on Aid (4 p.m.)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to work together to get “food, fuel, water and medicine to those who need it” in Gaza, and to get foreign nationals out of the territory, according to a Downing Street statement.

The leaders, in a call, expressed their shared concern at the risk of escalation, in particular in the West Bank, Downing Street said.

Biden, Netanyahu to Talk on Sunday (3:15 p.m.)

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will talk within hours, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. He called on Israel to use “every means available” to protect “innocent civilians” in its war with Hamas. Negotiations to release the more than 200 Israelis being held hostage by Hamas are “ongoing,” he said.

Threat of War Spillover Remains Elevated, US Says (3:10 p.m.)

The US sees an “elevated risk” of regional spillover from the war between Israel and Hamas and will keep responding to any attacks on its troops by Iranian proxies, Sullivan said.

Sullivan, one of Biden’s top aides, renewed US requests to Israel to protect the lives of innocent civilians as its war against Hamas enters the “second stage.”

Read more: Threat of Israel-Hamas War Spillover Remains Elevated, US Says

Israel Drops Flyers in Gaza Calling on Hamas Militants to Surrender (2:39 p.m.)

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip calling on Hamas militants to turn themselves in, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israel’s prime minister, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The flyers instruct Hamas members who want to surrender to remove all their military gear, put their hands up and wave a white cloth if they can.

Markets Price Low Probability of Wider War (2:30 p.m.)

Middle Eastern markets that opened on Sunday showed little sign of panic in trading a day after Israel started its ground invasion of Gaza. The ground operation had been widely expected, and investors have been on alert for signs that the conflict could expand.

The near-term probability of an escalation severe enough to destabilize global financial markets remains low, Tom Holland and Yanmei Xie of Gavekal Research said in a note to clients.

Israel’s TA-35 stock index is on track for its first gain in three trading days. The index is down nearly 11% since Israel declared war after the Hamas infiltration on Oct. 7 and has fallen about 9.5% for the year to date.

Israel Says It Strikes Hamas Missile-Launch Posts (2:15 p.m.)

Israeli ground operations in the northern Gaza Strip are continuing, the Israel Defense Forces said. Israeli aircraft, guided by troops, struck Hamas military structures, some of which contained Hamas operatives. The aircraft also targeted missile-launching posts, observation posts, and military infrastructure.

Hamas operatives who shot at the soldiers were killed, as were militants on the coastline in the Gaza Strip near Israel.

Egypt Calls for Coordinated Action on Truce (1:30 p.m.)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed the need for coordinated action to implement an immediate humanitarian truce and avoiding further civilian casualties in Gaza under what he called the “false justification” of the right of self defense or eliminating terrorism.

Shoukry, meeting with US special envoy David Satterfield, reinforced the need to remove obstacles placed by Israel to the flow of aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Satterfield expressed the US’s appreciation for Egypt’s role in facilitating the entry of humanitarian assistance, the foreign ministry said said.

Three Palestinians Killed in West Bank, Ministry Says (12:30 p.m.)

Three Palestinians were killed in confrontations with Israel’s military around the cities of Nablus, Tubas and Ramallah, raising to 115 the number of fatalities in the West Bank since Oct. 7, according to the local Health Ministry, which gave no details on the latest casualties.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late Saturday called on the world to pressure Israel to stop the bloodshed and confront what he called a “criminal” war. Gaza will remain an integral part of the Palestinian state, Abbas said after a meeting with the Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee.

Abbas warned that the Gaza conflict may lead to a “regional and global war” at a meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani in Ramallah on Sunday, according to a statement from his office.

JPMorgan Says Israel’s Economy May Shrink 11% This Quarter (12:15 p.m.)

Israel’s economy may shrink 11% on an annualized basis in the final three months of the year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said, as the country’s war with Hamas escalates.

The bank’s initial projections on the economic impact of the conflict were “too optimistic,” analysts including Nicolaie Alexandru-Chidesciuc wrote in note dated Oct. 27.

The assessment was published roughly 24 hours before Israel began a widely-expected ground invasion of Gaza, which Hamas rules, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “long and difficult” campaign.

Israel Says Aid Allowed Into Gaza Will Increase (11 a.m.)

Israel in the coming week will “increase dramatically” the amount of aid allowed into Gaza, the army said. “The amount will be much higher in the next few days,” Colonel Elad Goren told reporters on a conference call.

The aid is being inspected by Israel and allowed through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt for delivery to UN distribution centers in southern Gaza, he said.

State broadcaster Kan News reported that the goal is to allow as many as 100 aid trucks a day into Gaza via the Rafah border with Egypt.

UN Says Warehouses Raided in Gaza (9.50 a.m.)

The United Nations said that thousands of people broke into its warehouses in Gaza, taking wheat, flour and other basic necessities.

UNRWA, the world body’s agency for Palestinian refugees, described it as a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and siege. One of the warehouses was storing supplies that came from aid convoys sent through Egypt.

Ex-Israel PM Suggests Permanent Buffer Zone (9:00 a.m.)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested the war plan should include establishing a 2-kilometer (1.2 mile) permanent buffer zone inside Gaza and attempts to suffocate Hamas fighters inside the territory’s tunnels.

Israel should block all fuel supplies for Gaza to deprive tunnels of ventilation and light and avoid a deeper ground incursion, Bennett, who is not part of Netanyahu’s so-called war cabinet, said in a post on X.

Israel Says Strikes 450 Hamas Targets (8:50 a.m.)

Israel said fighter jets struck over 450 military targets belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the past day. They included operational command centers, observation posts, and anti-tank missile launch posts, the military said in a post on X.

As part of the expansion of ground activities, combat forces struck cells that planned to carry out anti-tank missile launches, it said. Ground forces directed Israeli military aircraft toward targets.

Iran Says Israel Moves ‘May Force’ Action (4:57 a.m.)

President Ebrahim Raisi said unspecified moves by Israel had “crossed the red lines” and may “force everyone to take action.”

“Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel,” he said in a post on X, in the latest escalation of rhetoric from the Islamic Republic, a sworn enemy of Israel.

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