Oct 11 (Reuters) – Israel vowed to escalate its response to an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas with a ground offensive, while U.S. President Joe Biden pledged support for Israel and issued a warning to anyone seeking to take advantage of the situation.
Hamas militants holding Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage have threatened to execute a captive for each home in Gaza hit without warning, but despite Israel razing sections of Gaza and more airstrikes overnight there was no indication Hamas had carried out its threat.
* The Israeli military said dozens of its fighter jets struck more than 200 targets overnight in a neighbourhood of Gaza City.
* Gaza’s health ministry said at least 950 people have been killed and 5,000 wounded in the crowded coastal enclave. Israel’s military says death toll in Israel now 1,200 and 2,700 wounded.
* “We have sustained extremely heavy casualties,” military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said in a video briefing on X, formerly known as Twitter.
* Saturday, Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip rampaged through parts of southern Israel, in the deadliest Palestinian militant attack in Israel’s history.
* “Hamas wanted a change and it will get one. What was in Gaza will no longer be. We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground,” said Israeli Defence Minister Yoavv Gallant, speaking to soldiers near the Gaza fence.
* Israel has called up an unprecedented 300,000 reservists, as Israeli airlines added flights to bring reservists back to the country.
* The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Israeli strikes had since Saturday destroyed more than 22,600 residential units and 10 health facilities and damaged 48 schools.
* At least 1,000 gunmen who had infiltrated from Gaza had been killed, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported. Two members of Hamas’ political office were killed in an air strike in Khan Younis, a Hamas official said. They were the first senior Hamas members killed since Israel began pounding the enclave.
* On Israel’s northern border, a salvo of rockets was fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel, prompting Israeli shelling in return, three security sources said. More shells launched from Syrian territory landed in open areas in Israel, prompting Israel to return fire, the military said, further raising fears that the violence could lead to a wider war.
* President Joe Biden called the attacks by Hamas “an act of sheer evil” and at least 14 U.S. citizens were killed. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Israel on Thursday, in a show of solidarity.
* Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal called for protests across the Arab world on Friday in support of Palestinians, in a recorded statement seen by Reuters. “(We must) head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday, the Friday of Al Aqsa Flood,” said Meshaal, who is currently the leader of Hamas’s diaspora office.
* Egypt moving to prevent a mass exodus south from the Gaza Strip, as Israeli bombardments halted crossings.
* Top US diplomat Antony Blinken heads to Israel to deliver “a message of solidarity and support,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington was talking also with Israel and Egypt about the idea of creating a safe passage for civilians out of Gaza.
* Iran’s top authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran was not involved in the Hamas attack, though he “kissed the hands” of those doing damage to Israel.
* A 21-year-old Israeli woman said she had “no tears left” after her father, sister, grandmother and cousin went missing on Saturday and video showed her 12-year-old brother being taken by gunmen.
* Gazan rescuers pulled the body of a 4-year-old girl and other dead from the rubble of a municipal building where she and many others were sheltering. “They tried to escape death only to find it,” said volunteer Mohammad al Najjar.
* The distraught parents of a Thai seized in Israel sent a plea: “Help the hostages as soon as possible.” His parents recognised their son in a photo shared on social media of hostages sitting with hands seemingly tied behind their backs. “He was going to play soccer with his friend. Then he hung up the phone,” his mother said.
* How a secretive Hamas commander masterminded the attack on Israel. A survivor of seven Israeli assassination attempts, the most recent in 2021, Mohammed Deif rarely speaks and never appears in public so when Hamas’s TV channel announced he was about to speak on Saturday, Palestinians knew something significant was afoot.
* Hamas attack turned an Israeli kibbutz “paradise” into hell
* Hamas waged a campaign of deception to pull off its stunning attack.
* Biden finds himself thrust into a crisis likely to reshape his Middle East policy, and into an uneasy alliance with far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
* Palestinian statehood, Jerusalem and refugees lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
* Biden pledging aid to Israel raised questions about whether Washington can ramp up defense aid to Israel without jeopardizing aid for Ukraine, especially since Congress controls spending and the House is in limbo without a speaker to put legislation to a vote.
MARKETS AND BUSINESS
* Oil edged higher as investors grappled with the prospect of supply disruptions due to the Middle East turmoil. “There is still a risk that this escalates, particularly if there is any Iranian involvement. Under this scenario, stronger enforcement of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil would tighten up the oil market through 2024,” said Warren Patterson and Ewa Manthey, analysts from ING bank, in a note to clients.
* World Bank chief Ajay Banga said the Gaza conflict is an economic shock ‘we don’t need’.
(Editing by Stephen Farrell, Gerry Doyle, Andrew Cawthorne, Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry)