Nearly half a million Israeli people displaced, military says
Roughly half a million Israeli people have been internally displaced, largely “at their own merit and at their own initiative” to avoid civilian damage in the ongoing conflict with Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said during an overnight press update.
“We’ve evacuated all of southern Israel close to the border, close to Gaza. Most of Sderot has been evacuated, parts of Ashkelon has been evacuated, and those are cities with tens of thousands of people,” he said, noting that official evacuation instructions have now been sent to Sderot and other communities near the Gaza Strip , while the residents of more than 20 Israeli settlements in the north have been displaced.
Israel’s Ministry of Defense on Monday said it would evacuate civilians from 28 communities near northern Israel up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the Lebanese border to state-funded guesthouses.
The internal Israeli displacements come amid an anticipated Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, along with ongoing fire exchanges with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah since last week.
They also come around the same time as evacuations in the embattled Gaza Strip, where more than 1 million people — or nearly half the local population — were internally displaced, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said in its latest report on Monday.
The U.N. expressed alarm at the Israeli military’s evacuation directive to the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza and warned it was “impossible” for such a human movement to take place without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
— Ruxandra Iordache
Iran warns of potential ‘pre-emptive action’ from resistance groups
Iran’s foreign minister on Monday evening warned that “pre-emptive action” from so-called resistance forces could be imminent against Israel in the short term.
“The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy [Israel] … in the coming hours, we can expect a pre-emptive action by the resistance front,” Hossein Amirabdollahian said on state TV without supplying further details, in comments reported by Reuters.
“All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza,” he added.
Striking a discordant note, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi earlier on Monday said that the alleged resistance group active against Israel are independent and make their own decisions, in Google-translated comments reported by Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
Iran has historically backed Hamas and has celebrated but denied involvement in the Palestinian militant group’s terrorist attacks of Oct. 7. Like many Arab countries in the Middle East region, Tehran has supported the cause of the Palestinian people, and it has repeatedly called for aid and relief for the civilians of the besieged Gaza Strip enclosure.
Iranian officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility that the Israeli-Hamas hostilities could spill over into the Middle East, amid increasing fire exchanges between Israel and the Tehran-supported Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon. Like close ally Russia, Iran has attributed the current conflict between Israel and Hamas to a failure of Western — and particularly U.S. — diplomacy.
— Ruxandra Iordache
Biden says he will travel to Israel to ‘stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack’
President Joe Biden said he will travel to Israel on Wednesday to “stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack.”
“I’ll then travel to Jordan to address dire humanitarian needs, meet with leaders, and make clear that Hamas does not stand for Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” Biden wrote on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.
— Amanda Macias
Israel’s Gaza operation to happen ‘when the timing suits the goal’
Israeli Army Spokesperson for International Media, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.
Jalaa Marey | Afp | Getty Images
Israel’s military continues to prepare for an “enhanced military operation in Gaza” and is monitoring the evacuation of civilians from the northern part of the Gaza Strip south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said in a press update.
Israel declared full siege of the Gaza Strip at the start of last week, depriving it of Israel’s water, electricity, food and fuel supplies within two days of a multi-pronged terrorist attack delivered on Oct. 7 by Palestinian militant group Hamas. The timing of Israel’s anticipated ground incursion remains under question.
“As always military activity is timed according to many variables, some of them physical, some of them related to humanitarian constraints, some of them related to the state of your enemy and the state of your own readiness. But the bottom line is that we will commence the enhanced military activities when the timing suits the goal,” Conricus said, stressing that the “aim of this war is to completely dismantle Hamas and their military capabilities.”
Several human rights organizations have decried the imminent offensive and Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, citing concerns over a worsening humanitarian crisis.
In addition to combating Hamas, Conricus said that the IDF has been carrying out military responses “in kind” to attacks coming from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, with which it has been exchanging fire since last week. Hezbollah has expressed its readiness to get involved in the Israeli-Hamas hostilities, amid growing fears that the conflict will engulf the broader Middle East.
“Our message to Hezbollah is that any aggression, any escalation to the situation would not serve the purposes neither of Hezbollah and definitely not those of Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” Conricus said.
— Ruxandra Iordache
Arab leaders urge the U.S. to do something about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza
Every Arab leader who met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the last few days highlighted the importance of dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a senior State Department official told NBC News.
The official said President Joe Biden told Blinken to return to Tel Aviv, Israel following his whirlwind trip through the six Arab countries: Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
After nine hours of negotiations with Israel, Blinken announced that both sides “agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multi-lateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza — and them alone.”
The new U.S. envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, David Satterfield, is set to meet Israeli officials on Tuesday to see if they can get the plan worked out, the official added.
— Joanna Tan
Senior U.S. general flies into Israel as its war with Hamas deepens
The top U.S. general overseeing American forces in the Middle East made an unannounced trip to Israel on Tuesday, saying he hoped to ensure its military has what it needs as it fights a deepening war against Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The trip by Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, is the latest by a senior U.S. official to Israel ahead of an expected ground assault by Israel’s military in Gaza. It comes a day before a planned visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to the country.
The U.S. military is increasing its firepower in the region, aiming to prevent Iran and other Iran-backed groups from getting involved in the conflict as international fears of a wider, regional war grow.
The Pentagon is also rushing weaponry, including air defenses and munitions, to Israel.
“I’m here to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict,” Kurilla told Reuters, which is traveling with him, in brief remarks before landing.
A U.S. official told Reuters Kurilla was scheduled to hold high-level meetings with Israel’s military leadership, ensuring a clear understanding of the close U.S. ally’s defense requirements.
Israel hits back at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in retaliation for Monday’s strikes
The Israel Defense Forces claims to have struck unspecified Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon early Tuesday local time, in response to earlier strikes by the Iran-backed militia group, the IDF said in an update on its official Telegram channel.
Hezbollah reportedly targeted five Israeli outposts in its Monday strikes, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported, citing a Hezbollah statement.
— Clement Tan
Satellite images show crowds on Gaza side of border crossing into Egypt
New satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies show crowds of people and vehicles gathering on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
Crowds of people and vehicles form on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt in this Maxar satellite image taken on Oct. 16, 2023.
Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies
A Maxar satellite image focuses on the southern border of Gaza and the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Oct. 15, 2023.
Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies