Israel-Hamas war updates and latest news on Gaza conflict

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Egypt says Israel has not allowed Rafah crossing to open from Gaza

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Monday said that Israel had yet to take a stance that allowed the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office appeared to deny reports of a humanitarian corridor that would facilitate the safe passage of foreign nationals through the Rafah crossing — the only exit point out of the Gaza Strip enclosure, which is otherwise bordered by Israel and the sea.

Fears have mounted over the possibility of a military Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, following an Israeli instruction for the residents of Gaza City to evacuate south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands. Israel has launched a complete siege that seals off Israel’s own supplies of water, electricity, fuel and food to Gaza, following a multi-pronged terrorist attack from Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.

Shoukry urged “joint efforts to calm down, reduce escalation, and address the crushing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip,” during a meeting with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, the Egyptian foreign ministry said Monday in a Google-translated post on social media.

Ruxandra Iordache

Intelligence failure of Hamas attack will reshape Israel’s political landscape: Editor-in-chief

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel will eventually result in a political reckoning, Avi Mayer, editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, told CNBC.

“This is a military and intelligence failure that is unprecedented in Israeli history,” Mayer said.

“Just as in the aftermath of that war [the 1973 Arab-Israeli war] there was a commission of inquiry that essentially brought down the rule of Golda Meir, I am absolutely certain that there will be a similar commission of inquiry once the dust settles, once things return to some sense of normalcy. I would not be surprised if blame were placed on the prime minister.”

Opinion polls show a majority of Israelis hold the government responsible for the “terrible failure,” he added.

“I am absolutely certain that there will be a re-shifting of the political map in Israel, I don’t know that Prime Minister Netanyahu will survive.”

— Jenni Reid

Israel to evacuate several settlements near Lebanese border

Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced it would implement a plan to evacuate residents of northern Israel living up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the Lebanese border to state-funded guesthouses.

The evacuation would involve 28 communities and will be overseen by the heads of local municipalities, the Ministry of Interior and the National Emergency Management Authority, according to a statement published by the Israel Defense Forces on social media.

The order comes after Israel last week exchanged fire on multiple occasions with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has stated its readiness to intervene in Israel’s conflict with Palestinian militant group Hamas.

On Sunday, Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al Manar said that the militant group launched strikes at the Israeli settlement of Shtula near the Lebanese border — one of the areas that Israel plans to evacuate. Hezbollah attributed the strikes to “retaliation for the aggression on Lebanon which killed three Lebanese in the last two days.”

Ruxandra Iordache

China, Russia foreign ministers meet, urge cease-fire

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his visiting Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Beijing and exchanged views on the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, China’s foreign ministry said, according to a Google translation.

China reiterated its condemnation of harm to civilians, with Wang Yi saying “the top priority is to cease fire and end the war, push both sides to return to the negotiating table, establish emergency humanitarian relief channels, and prevent greater humanitarian disasters,” according to the ministry.

China supports a two-state solution to the conflict between Israeli and Palestinian people, which would create an independent state of Palestine alongside that of Israel.

Both China and Russia have previously advocated a cease-fire of hostilities and denounced violence, without explicitly condemning Hamas.

Ruxandra Iordache

Secretary of State Blinken returns to Israel amid marathon Middle East trip

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel for a second time within five days, following stops in several Middle Eastern capitals, in an attempt to address the Israel-Hamas war and prevent broader regional spill-over. He first traveled to Israel on Thursday to express support for the country and its government, as it battles Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

“From here, we’re heading back to Israel,” Blinken said from Cairo on Sunday, in comments reported by NBC News. “I want an opportunity to share everything that I’ve heard, that I’ve learned over the last few days visiting with our other partners and to talk about the way forward with our Israeli allies and friends.”

“We stand with Israel as it defends itself,” Blinken posted on Monday morning on his official account on social media platform X, previously known as Twitter. “The United States is also actively working to ensure the people of Gaza can get out of harm’s way and the assistance they need — food, water, medicine — can get in. Hamas does not care if Palestinians suffer.”

— Natasha Turak

Israel appears to deny cease-fire to allow foreigners out of Gaza Strip

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to deny the existence of a humanitarian corridor allowing the passage of foreign nationals out of the Gaza Strip.

“There is currently no cease-fire and humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the expulsion of foreigners,” it said in a Google-translated statement.

Earlier on Monday, Reuters had reported, citing anonymous Egyptian sources, that the U.S., Egypt and Israel had agreed a ceasefire coinciding with the re-opening of the Rafah border into Egypt — the only crossing out of the besieged Gaza Strip enclosure, otherwise surrounded by Israel and the sea.

Netanyahu’s office did not clarify if the statement referred to this report, which CNBC could not independently verify.

An alert on the site of the U.S. embassy to Israel said, “According to media reports, the Rafah crossing will open at 9am local time on October 16.  We anticipate that the situation at the Rafah crossing will remain fluid and unpredictable and it is unclear whether, or for how long, travelers will be permitted to transit the crossing.”

The Israeli Defense Forces late last week urged the 1.1 million residents of the northern half of Gaza to evacuate south, stoking concerns over the possibility of an Israeli ground incursion into the region. Israel, which has amassed substantial troops at the border, said it exclusively targets Hamas military positions.

Humanitarian agencies have repeatedly warned that such a short window for evacuation in the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded on all sides and has been cut off from Israel’s electricity, water, food and fuel supplies, will compound the local civilian crisis.

Ruxandra Iordache

Biden warns Israel that re-occupying the Gaza Strip would ‘be a big mistake’

Re-occupying the Gaza Strip would “be a big mistake” for Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden said during an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday.

Asked by the interviewer during the program “60 Minutes” if Biden would support an Israeli occupation of Gaza, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.”

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel has triggered a ferocious Israeli response, with an aerial bombardment and full siege of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. To date in the conflict, officials say that 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, and 2,750 have been killed in Gaza. 

Israel has mobilized more than 300,000 reservists and amassed a large number of troops near the Gaza border, suggesting a possible ground invasion of the battered enclave.

Many military analysts say a re-occupation of Gaza by Israel would create an immediate disadvantage for Israeli troops who are not familiar with the lay of the land and would be fighting a deeply embedded enemy waiting to ambush them.

— Natasha Turak

Biden says effort to normalize Saudi-Israel relations still ‘alive’

The latest hostilities triggered by the terrorist attacks of Palestinian militant group Hamas have not ended efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a TV interview with CBS News.

Saudi Arabia and a spate of other Arab nations have historically supported the Palestinian people, refusing diplomatic ties with Israel on that account. The U.S. has been pushing for a normalization of relations between its two key allies in the Middle East, Riyadh and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli administration.

“Saudis and Emiratis and other Arab nations understand that their security and stability is enhanced if there is normalization of relations with Israel,” Biden said. “And so I think that it’s still alive, it’s going to take time. Look, this [is] going to take time to get done. It’s going to take time, but the direction, the moving into normalization, makes sense for the Arab nations, as well as Israel.”

Israel made significant inroads in reconnecting with the Arab world through the September 2020 Abraham Accords brokered by the government of former U.S. President Donald Trump. The agreement re-established relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with Sudan and Morocco also recognizing Israel in the years since.

In March this year, a China-mediated deal pushed long-feuding arch-rival Iran — which has backed Hamas — and Saudi Arabia to rekindle diplomatic ties, raising questions over the future of Riyadh’s relations with Israel.

Ruxandra Iordache

UNRWA says staff are ‘no longer able’ to provide humanitarian aid in Gaza

The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency said its staff are “no longer able to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

“Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life,” the commissioner-general of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said in a statement Sunday, warning they will soon run out of food and medicine too.

“There is not one drop of water, not one grain of wheat, not a litre of fuel that has been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the last eight days,” said Philippe Lazzarini. “An unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding under our eyes.”

In a statement to CNBC, Israel’s Defense Forces said: “Israel has no legal obligation to supply Gaza with electricity, fuel or goods. Gaza is independently capable of generating electricity and supplying water.”

The IDF claimed that “90% of Gaza’s water is sourced within the Gaza Strip,” and blamed Hamas militants for destroying the infrastructure at crossings “through which goods pass through everyday.”

The IDF also claimed the militants were diverting resources in Gaza for their own use.

The UNRWA has lost 14 of its staff members and said most of its 13,000 staff in the besieged enclave are now displaced or out of their homes.

“Unless we bring now supplies into Gaza, UNRWA and aid workers will not, be able to continue humanitarian operations,” Lazzarini said.

Joanna Tan, Natasha Turak

Death toll in Gaza rises to nearly 2,700; Israel’s hostage count jumps to 155

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 2,670 and 9,600 people have been wounded, according to Gaza’s health ministry, as Israel continues its offensive against Hamas militants in the besieged enclave. Deaths in the occupied West Bank also climbed, with 55 people killed and 1,200 others injured.

In Israel, more than 1,400 people have died while 3,500 were wounded, according to the government press office.

The number of hostages believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza jumped to 155, according to IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagar, who did not confirm if it was due to an increase in civilian abductees or combined military-civilian hostages.

Joanna Tan

Senate leader Schumer says chamber will rush through military aid to Israel

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that the senate would push through a military aid package to help Israel in its war against the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

“We will work to move this aid through the senate ASAP, and the Israeli leaders made it clear to us they need the aid quickly,” said Schumer during a trip to Israel.

He said among Israel’s requests are additional interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been operating non-stop shooting down Hamas rockets from Gaza, and precision munitions.

Reuters

China says Israel’s actions have ‘gone beyond self defense’ in Gaza

China urged Israel to heed calls from the international community to end its collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel’s actions have gone beyond self-defense and it should heed the call of the international community and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to stop its collective punishment of the people in Gaza,” China Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly told his Saudi Arabia counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in a call on Sunday.

Wang’s comments came during a series of calls over the weekend, as world leaders worked to prevent an escalation of the Israel-Hamas war into a broader Middle East crisis.

Read more here.

— Clement Tan

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