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Israel Latest: US Sending Another 300 Troops to the Middle East

Israel Latest: US Sending Another 300 Troops to the Middle East
IDF, Israeli Defence Force artillery positions in southern Israel wait to fire on 29 October 2023. (Photo: Alexi J Rosenfeld / Getty Images)

The US is sending 300 more troops to the Middle East, the Defense Department said Tuesday. Hamas said it would release a number of foreign captives within days, as fighting escalated inside Gaza.

Dozens were reported killed and wounded at a Gaza refugee camp. Health officials in the Hamas-controlled territory said the Jabaliya camp was hit by a series of Israeli airstrikes. Israel’s military said it targeted Hamas infrastructure in the area and killed a senior leader of the group. It also said two soldiers were killed in fighting in northern Gaza.

The Rafah border crossing is set to open Wednesday to let some wounded Palestinians leave, and Egypt said it’s ready to allow more aid trucks in. The White House backed limited pauses in the fighting to help relief efforts. Authorities in Gaza say the death toll there since the war erupted on Oct. 7 — when the militant group killed 1,400 people in southern Israel — has surpassed 8,500. Hamas is designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union.

For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

300 More US Troops Will Be Sent to Middle East (11:10 p.m.)

The US is sending an additional 300 troops to the Middle East to assist with explosive ordinance disposal and communications, the Pentagon announced Tuesday. While the US isn’t disclosing where, exactly, the troops are headed, “they are not going to Israel,” Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters. The US had already announced that it was sending 900 troops to the region in response to tensions following the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by Hamas.

Ryder also said that there had been six more “small-scale” attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. There were no injuries or damage reported from these attacks, three of which occurred in Iraq and three in Syria, according to Ryder. The total number of attacks has now risen to 27 since Oct. 17, he added.

Bolivia Says It’s Breaking Off Relations With Israel (11:10 p.m.)

Bolivia announced Tuesday it’s cutting off diplomatic relations with Israel after the attacks against Gaza. The Israeli offensive has been “disproportionate” and threatens international peace and security, Bolivia’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Freddy Mamani told reporters in La Paz.

The leftist government of Bolivia has a long-history of strained relations with Israel, with then-President Evo Morales calling the country “a terrorist state” in 2014 after another military offensive in Gaza. Relations between both countries were restored during the brief government of Jeanine Áñez in 2019.

Top UN Human Rights Diplomat Resigns Over War (10:36 p.m.)

Craig Mokhiber, director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has resigned over the organization’s inability to stop the Israel-Hamas war.

Mokhiber, a lawyer who’s been at the UN for more than three decades and was previously based in the Gaza Strip, described the treatment of Palestinians by Israel as a “genocide” and called on the organization to abandon the “illusory two-state solution.” He also criticized the US and other Western countries, describing them as “actual parties to the conflict who are complicit with Israel in the violation of Palestinian rights.” In a letter dated Oct. 28 he wrote: “We are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it.”

Senate Confirms Lew as US Ambassador to Israel (9:15 p.m.)

The Senate voted to confirm Jack Lew, a former Treasury secretary, to be the US ambassador to Israel. He’s expected to play a key role in the Biden administration’s pledge to bolster Israel’s defenses and provide humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, as well as working on the release of US citizens held captive by Hamas.

White House Backs ‘Pauses’ in Gaza Not Cease-Fire (8:20 p.m.)

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it’s time for Israel and Hamas to consider limited pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and for people to be able to leave if they desire, but rejected calls for a “general cease-fire.”

“We’re continuing to work with partners in the region, including those who have a direct line of communication with Hamas, to see if that’s possible,” Kirby said during a Tuesday press briefing. He also said the US believes fuel supplies in Gaza could run out by Wednesday.

Israel Says It Hit Hamas Network at Jabaliya (7:30 p.m.)

The Israeli military said its ground and air forces targeted a network of Hamas militants in the Jabaliya area in northern Gaza that had taken control over civilian buildings, killing dozens of them including one of the group’s senior leaders. It said underground infrastructure used by the group collapsed after the strike.

Hamas Says It Will Release Foreign Captives (7:15 p.m.)

Hamas has told mediators it will release a number of foreigners in the coming days, the group’s spokesperson Abu Obaida said in televised comments. Earlier, the head of Israel’s national security council said there’s no deal in sight for the release of more hostages via mediation from Qatar.

Egypt Crossing to Open for Wounded Palestinians (7:08 p.m.)

Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza will open Wednesday to receive a number of wounded Palestinians, according to Wael Abu Mohssen, a Palestinian spokesman for the border post.

An Egyptian official told reporters Tuesday the North African country’s hospitals have capacity to treat some injured.

Israel Says Two Soldiers Killed in Gaza Fighting (6:57pm)

The Israel Defense Forces said two soldiers were killed in combat in the northern Gaza Strip. No further details were given about their deaths. The soldiers are the first Israeli fatalities reported inside Gaza since the army stepped up ground operations inside the territory late last week.

Deadly Strike Reported at Gaza Refugee Camp (6:45 p.m.)

Explosions at a crowded refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip left hundreds dead or wounded, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which said the area was hit by a series of Israeli airstrikes. Bloomberg was not able to verify the reports.

Television pictures showed a deep crater in Gaza’s most densely populated area, and Agence France-Presse said its initial footage showed at least 47 bodies being removed from rubble. There has been no immediate count of the victims.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry described the strike on the camp, where the United Nations registers refugees and provides services, as a violation of international law.

Blinken Sees Possible International Rule for Gaza (6:00 p.m.)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate that the US is examining a range of “possible permutations” for the future governance of Gaza, including “temporary arrangements” that might include other countries in the region or international agencies that could provide security in the strip before a longer-term solution is found.

Israel has said that Hamas’s continued rule in Gaza is unacceptable, but has also ruled out Israeli re-occupation of the territory, raising questions about who will govern the some 2 million inhabitants of the region. Ultimately, the US believes a two-state solution is necessary, Blinken reiterated.

Egypt Says Ready to Let More Aid Trucks Into Gaza (4:30 p.m.)

Egypt’s government is ready to allow thousands of aid trucks into Gaza, far more than the 250 that have been able to enter since the war started, and Israel is obstructing the process, said Diaa Rashwan, head of the country’s State Information Service, according to the official Middle East News Agency.

Rashwan cited the initial bombing of roads to the border crossing and Israeli inspection procedures that have slowed shipments. International organizations, warning of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, say aid delivered so far is far too little. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said Monday that aid deliveries should rise to 100 trucks per day by midweek.

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