Israel Latest: Biden Urges ‘Pause’ So Hostages Can Leave Gaza

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(Bloomberg) -- US President Joe Biden said Israel and Hamas militants ought to “pause” fighting in order to allow time to free hostages being held in the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of supporting a full cease-fire.

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Biden earlier credited “intense and urgent American diplomacy” with the opening of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, allowing an initial group of refugees – including some Americans – to flee fighting in Gaza. A Qatar-mediated deal allowing the departures required agreement between Hamas, Egypt and Israel.

Jordan said it has recalled its ambassador to Israel in a protest of the war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and Latin America’s leftist leaders are reevaluating their relations with Israel. Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations, and the hard-left government of Bolivia cut off diplomatic relations with Israel altogether.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Biden Pushes ‘Pause’ to Free Hostages (2:25 a.m.)

Biden took credit for getting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow time to “get the prisoners out” before launching a ground invasion, and for persuading Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to let foreigners and wounded Palestinians leave Gaza through this country.

Progressive groups, as well as Muslim and Arab Americans, have criticized Biden over his support for Israel’s campaign against Hamas that has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza. A protester interrupted Biden at a Minneapolis political fundraiser, saying “I need you to call for a cease-fire right now.”

Biden Says Qatar Played Key Role in Opening Rafah Crossing (10:34 p.m.)

Biden said he “personally spent a lot of time” speaking with the leaders of Israel, Egypt and others “to make sure that we could open this access for people to get out” through the Rafah crossing.

Speaking at an event in Minnesota, Biden singled out Qatar, which he said “worked so closely with us to support negotiations to facilitate the departure of the citizens.” The president also said humanitarian aid flowing into Gaza was increasing significantly but that relief efforts had “a long way to go.”

On the diplomatic front, the State Department said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel and Jordan on Friday.

Israel Says It Killed Hamas Anti-Tank Missile Unit’s Head (7:32 p.m.)

The Israeli Army says it killed Muhammad A’sar, the head of Hamas’s anti-tank missile unit in the Gaza Strip, in an aerial attack by fighter jets.

“A’sar was responsible for all of Hamas’s anti-tank missile units throughout Gaza and commanded numerous anti-tank missile attacks that were carried out against civilians” and Israeli soldiers, the army said in a statement. Hamas didn’t immediately comment on the claim.

Leftist Latin American Leaders Pull Their Israel Envoys (6:40 p.m.)

Latin America’s leftist leaders are reevaluating their relations with Israel over its offensive in the Gaza Strip, highlighting the diplomatic risks posed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to eradicate Hamas.

On Tuesday, Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations in protest. The hard-left government of Bolivia cut off diplomatic relations with Israel altogether, accusing it of “crimes against humanity.”

Israel’s attacks on Gaza “don’t respect the fundamental rules of international law,” Chilean President Gabriel Boric said in a post on X. Colombia President Gustavo Petro, an outspoken critic of Israel in the past, called the offensive “a massacre.”

Read more: Leftist Leaders Pull Israel Ambassadors in Latin American Rebuke

Five French Nationals Cross Into Egypt, Foreign Ministry Says (6:18 p.m.)

Five French nationals crossed into Egypt from Gaza, the French Foreign Ministry said, in another sign that a number of foreigners are being allowed to pass through Rafah.

Jordan Recalls Envoy to Condemn Israel’s Gaza Push (4:23 p.m.)

Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel “in rejection and condemnation of the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza,” Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in an emailed statement. He said Israel will be told not to return its ambassador, who had left Jordan earlier.

Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, making it the second Arab state to do so after Egypt.

Israel Strikes Cell in Lebanon Trying to Launch Missiles (2:17 p.m.)

An Israeli tank struck a group attempting to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon into Israeli territory, the Israel Defense Forces said.

In a separate incident, militants opened fire from Lebanon toward Israel, and Israeli forces responded to the shooting.

Israel Strikes Residential Area in Jabaliya Camp a Second Time (1:32 p.m.)

Israeli military struck a residential area in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip for a second day in a row, causing “dozens” of deaths and injuries, according to Palestine TV.

The army had hit the refugee camp overnight, with the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory saying it killed and wounded hundreds of people. Israel said Hamas was using Jabaliya as a training center and the strike killed militants and destroyed infrastructure used by the group.

WHO Reports Attacks On Gaza Health Facilities (11:00 a.m.)

The World Health Organization said there’d been three attacks affecting health facilities in Gaza over 24 hours. One resulted in the destruction of a primary-care clinic, alongside damage to two hospitals.

One of the buildings sustaining damages was the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, the main cancer treatment center in Gaza city, which was hit for the second night in a row, a report on the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. All 13 hospitals that are still operational in Gaza city and northern Gaza have received repeated Israeli evacuation orders, it said. Thousands of patients and medical staff, as well as about 117,000 displaced people are staying in these facilities, and for some it is impossible to move, it added.

Israel Says More Soldiers Killed in Gaza Clashes (10:21 a.m.)

Israel said 13 more of its soldiers died in clashes in Gaza as it steps up efforts to wipe out Hamas. The Israeli military made the announcement on Wednesday morning, without disclosing when the troops died. They were all men and ranged in age from 19 to 24, according to a list published by the Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF has now announced it’s suffered 15 fatalities since ground operations in the Gaza Strip started over the weekend. Infantry troops are battling militants and are being supported by tanks and armored vehicles.

Iran’s Khamenei Calls for Oil Embargo Against Israel (10:00 a.m.)

Iran’s supreme leader called on Muslim nations to impose an embargo on oil exports to Israel. “Channels for exports of oil and goods to Israel should be cut off,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech in Tehran on Wednesday.

His comments echoed a call by the country’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Oct. 18 for halting oil exports to Israel. Khamenei also urged Muslim nations to “stop economic cooperation with and rally against Israel.”

Since mid-May, Israel has imported about 220,000 barrels a day of crude, of which about 60% came from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, according to data from analytics firm Kpler. West African producers, primarily Gabon, are other big suppliers.

Read: Where Does Israel Get Its Oil From?

UN Says Ground Operation Is Largest to Date (9:00 a.m.)

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs said the Israeli ground operation in Gaza was the largest to date. It cited fighting primarily in northern Gaza and the outskirts of Gaza city, alongside intense bombardment. It said 216 Palestinians had been killed, citing Gaza Health Ministry figures. The total number of reported fatalities since the start of the hostilities is 8,525, of whom 67% are children and women, the UN said.

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