MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 30 OCTOBER 2023
Israel ‘hits hundreds of Hamas targets’; ‘limited’ internet and phone coverage restored to Gaza
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 has stoked concerns of a broader Middle Eastern conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Saturday of a ‘long and difficult’ war as the ground invasion of Gaza got under way. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among those condemning the escalation. JPMorgan says Israel’s economy may shrink by 11% this quarter.
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 was in the thousands and continued 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 7 October, killing some 1,400 people and taking scores hostage. Israel is still working with partners to release the captives.
- Israel deepens a war with Hamas that has no end in sight
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- Oil and gas markets eye risk of escalation as Gaza war deepens
- How the Israel-Hamas war differs from previous conflicts
- Amid Gaza bloodletting, some see path to change: Marc Champion
Israel says Hamas militants attempt attack using tunnel
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 defences and a third landed in an unpopulated area, the military said.
JPMorgan says Israel’s economy may shrink by 11% this quarter
Israel’s economy may shrink by 11% on an annualised basis in the final three months of the year, JPMorgan Chase 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 a note dated 27 October.
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.
Greece explores sea corridor for essential goods
Greece was exploring the possibility of a humanitarian sea corridor to transport essential goods to the Israel-Gaza region, a Greek diplomat said on Sunday.
Talks were under way with directly interested parties as well as with European partners and international organisations, the diplomat said.
UK, France will work together on aid
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.
Threat of war spillover remains elevated, says US
The US saw an “elevated risk” of regional spillover from the war between Israel and Hamas and would keep responding to any attacks on its troops by Iranian proxies, US National Security Adviser Jake 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”.
Israel drops flyers in Gaza calling on Hamas militants to surrender
Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip calling on Hamas militants to turn themselves in, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Israel’s prime minister, said in a post on X.
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
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 had been on alert for signs that the conflict could expand.
The near-term probability of an escalation severe enough to destabilise global financial markets remained low, Tom Holland and Yanmei Xie of Gavekal Research said in a note to clients.
Israel’s TA-35 stock index was 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 7 October and has fallen about 9.5% for the year to date.
Israel says it strikes Hamas missile-launch posts
Israeli ground operations in the northern Gaza Strip were continuing, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 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, the IDF said.
Egypt calls for coordinated action on truce
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed the need for coordinated action to implement an immediate humanitarian truce and to avoid further civilian casualties in Gaza under what he called the “false justification” of the right of self-defence 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.
Three Palestinians killed in West Bank, says ministry
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 7 October, according to the local Health Ministry, which gave no details on the latest casualties.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on 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 Organisation 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.
Israel says aid allowed into Gaza will increase
Israel in the coming week would “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 centres 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.
Warehouses in Gaza raided, says UN
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
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested the war plan should include establishing a 2km 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 ‘strikes 450 Hamas targets’
Israel said fighter jets struck more than 450 military targets belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the past day. They included operational command centres, 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
Iranian 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. DM
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