Israel Latest: US Strikes Two Iran-Linked Facilities in Syria

(Bloomberg) -- The US said it hit two facilities in eastern Syria it believes were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other groups, in what it called “self-defense strikes” following repeated attacks on US forces in the region. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that further action could come if “attacks by Iran’s proxies” continue.

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Israel’s military said it had killed Hamas’s deputy head of intelligence, who it accused of being responsible for helping plan the Oct. 7 attacks that killed some 1,400 people. The army overnight also made a limited ground raid into northern Gaza with infantry and tanks.

A small number of humanitarian aid trucks reached Gaza Thursday but there have been no indications of fuel being supplied. The United Nations has said the fuel shortages risk it halting relief operations. In Washington, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Biden administration is weighing additional sanctions on Hamas to hamper its ability to access money.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Austin Says US Struck Two Facilities in Eastern Syria (5:12 a.m.)

Defense Secretary Austin said President Joe Biden ordered “precision self-defense strikes” against two facilities in eastern Syria that were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups. The move was in response to attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, Austin said in a statement.

“The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop,” Austin said. “We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict.”

Rocket Hits Egyptian Border Town, Reports Say (4:21 a.m.)

A rocket came down on the Egyptian town of Taba, which borders Israel on the Gulf of Aqaba, causing several injuries, according to multiple reports in local media. It wasn’t immediately clear where the rocket was launched from. Egyptian authorities have begun an investigation, Al Arabiya said, citing local media.

Taba is more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Gaza.

US Is Sending 900 Troops to Bolster Deployments (11:15 p.m.)

The US is deploying 900 troops to the Middle East as regional tensions grow amid the Israel-Hamas war. Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said the personnel include Thaad and Patriot air defense operators. None of the troops, which are already deployed or are being sent, are going to Israel, Ryder added.

He also disclosed what he called an unsuccessful attack Thursday aimed at US forces at the Erbil air base in Iraq, which he said resulted in no casualties. Overall, US and coalition forces have been attacked 12 times in Iraq and four times in Syria from Oct. 17 through Oct. 26, he said. He said US personnel “received minor injuries due to drone attacks at Al-Asad air base in Iraq and Al-Tanf garrison in Syria.” This included traumatic brain injuries, although all of the personnel have returned to duty, Ryder said.

Yellen Says US Weighing Further Hamas Sanctions (9:43 p.m.)

The US is weighing additional sanctions on Hamas as part of efforts to constrain the militant group’s ability to access money, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

“We are certainly looking at further opportunities we see,” Yellen said in an event at Bloomberg’s Washington office on Thursday. “We’re all over this and are likely to do more.”

Yellen declined to comment on specific measures but said the US has taken several steps over the last year to cut Hamas’s ability to access money. She said that Treasury officials are traveling this week to work with European and Middle East allies and look for new ways to target the group, which has been under severe sanctions since the US designated it a terrorist organization in 1997.

Iran Says Hamas Ready For Prisoner Swap (9:17 p.m.)

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Hamas is prepared to swap civilian hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

“According to our negotiations, Hamas is ready to release civilian prisoners. On the other hand, the world should support the release of 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons,” he said in an address to the United Nations in New York.

UN Says It’s Rationing Fuel Supplies to Gaza Facilities (9:04 p.m.)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is trying to stretch its existing fuel reserves in Gaza. “We are rationing the outgoing amounts and prioritizing hospitals, bakeries and water filtering stations,” Adnan Abu Hassna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency, told Bloomberg.

“If fuel doesn’t enter in the coming hours or two days, Gaza will not only run out of fuel, but will run out of life,” he said. In addition to the halting of vital services, he pointed out that UNRWA’s trucks won’t be able to distribute aid shipments that trickle in from the Egyptian border. Stéphane Dujarric, spokeswoman for the UN secretary general, said in a briefing Thursday that UNWRA’s fuel supplies are expected to last only a “very short amount of time.”

Separately, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, Richard Hecht, said in a briefing that there is fuel in Gaza and it’s up to Hamas to decide whether it wants to use it for its own operations or give it to hospitals.

Israel Says It Killed Key Planner of Oct. 7 Attacks (6:28 p.m.)

The Israeli military said it killed in an air strike Thursday the deputy head of the Hamas intelligence directorate, Shadi Barud. It said in a statement that he was responsible for the planning of Oct 7 attacks with Yahya Sinwar, the top Hamas leader in Gaza. Hamas hasn’t publicly commented on the claim.

Israel also said it killed three commanders from the Daraj Tuffah Battalion of Hamas’s Gaza City Brigade, who it said also had significant roles in the Oct. 7 attacks.

Israel Is Using Spyware to Track Hostages (3:45 p.m.)

Israel is asking for the help of spyware companies, including the maker of the controversial Pegasus software, to track hostages in the Gaza Strip, people familiar with the matter said.

NSO Group and Candiru, both blacklisted by the US, are among several companies asked to quickly upgrade their spyware capabilities to meet needs laid out by the country’s security forces. They, together with several other software firms, are collaborating on the requests.

Read: Israel Is Using Pegasus Spyware Maker to Track Hostages in Gaza

Turkey’s Erdogan Steps Up Rhetoric Against Israel (2:38 p.m.)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out against Israel Thursday for “carrying out a cruel massacre” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as part of a speech where he also targeted the EU and the UN Security Council.

“How many more children should die for the EU Commission to urge a ceasefire? How many more tons of bombs should be dropped on Gaza for the UN Security Council to act?”

Erdogan had also criticized Israel on Wednesday, when he said he was canceling a planned visit to the country later this year and put energy cooperation on pause. He has also slammed the US, a NATO ally, for the deployment of warships to the eastern Mediterranean.

EU Leaders Seek Unity to Call for ‘Pauses’ in the War (2:15 p.m.)

EU leaders are moving closer to calling for a humanitarian pause that would allow aid to reach Gaza in bigger quantities. Member states wrangled over the wording of a joint statement due to be signed off by the leaders, according to people familiar with the issue.

The latest version calls for “continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses,” according to a text seen by Bloomberg.

Read: EU Leaders Seek Unity on Urging Aid ‘Pauses’ in Israel-Hamas War

Israel Says 60 Arrests Made in the West Bank (1:05 p.m.)

Israeli defense forces said that more than 60 arrests were made in the West Bank last night, according to a post on X. It added that 46 of those detained were Hamas operatives, bringing the total number of arrests in the area, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority, to over 1,000 since the war started.

Some Aid Trucks Enter Gaza (1:02 p.m.)

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it received 12 trucks of aid from its Egyptian counterpart, according to a post on X. The trucks, which entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, contained water, food and and medical supplies. Fuel has not been allowed to enter yet.

The UN has also warned that its shelters are overwhelmed by almost 600,000 Palestinians fleeing their homes, and that it might have to halt humanitarian operations if no fuel is delivered. A total of 74 aid trucks have been allowed into the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, short of the circa 100 trucks of humanitarian supplies per day a UN official estimated last week were needed.

Israel Says 309 Soldiers Killed in Conflict So Far, 224 Hostages Held in Gaza (11:50 a.m.)

The families of 309 soldiers have been notified by the Israel Defense Forces that they were killed since the Oct. 7 infiltration by Hamas, spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement. The military also updated the number of hostages who are believed to be held in Gaza to 224.

Police said that 808 civilians who died following the attack by Hamas have been identified, or 84% of the bodies that were recovered.

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