Here is the situation on Thursday, October 12, 2023:
- Israel’s military said it was conducting a “large-scale strike” on targets belonging to Hamas in Gaza on Thursday. It did not provide details.
- Israel has placed Gaza under a “total siege,” stopping food and fuel from reaching the enclave of 2.3 million people, many of whom are poor and dependent on aid. Hamas media said electricity was cut after the only power station stopped working.
- Israeli shelling hit southern Lebanese towns in response to a new rocket attack by Hezbollah.
- Governments around the world have arranged repatriation flights from Tel Aviv as the war escalates.
- Hamas fighters holding Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage have threatened to execute a captive for each home in Gaza hit without warning. There was no indication Hamas had carried out its threat.
- Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades released a video appearing to show the release of a female hostage and two children.
- British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was seen running into a building in Israel as a siren sounded, in a video clip posted on social media platform X by the Israeli foreign ministry.
- “We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has told soldiers, in another indication that a ground offensive in Gaza will come.
Crucial life-saving supplies – including fuel, food and water — must be allowed into Gaza.
We need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access now.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) October 11, 2023
- Israel has formed an emergency unity government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sitting in a war cabinet with centrist former defence minister Benny Gantz.
- The move came as the Israeli military pounds Gaza to root out the Palestinian group Hamas.
- The Palestinian Ministry of Health says the death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,200, with about 5,600 wounded. The number of people killed in Israel has risen to 1,300, with more than 3,300 injured.
- Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced that another citizen from his country has died, bringing the total number to 21 Thai nationals killed following the Hamas attack in Israel.
- Eleven workers with the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) have been killed in Israeli air attacks on Gaza, and five members of the ICRC, the organisations said. “Some were killed in their homes with their families.”
- Israeli schools, which have been shuttered, will shift to remote learning on Sunday. The online studies “will focus first and foremost on emotional and social aspects, in order to strengthen resilience”.
- Israeli volunteers helped gravediggers at Israel’s main military cemetery as burials began for slain soldiers. “I decided that I’m going to do something for the people of Israel,” one volunteer said.
Diplomacy and international reaction
- Initial US intelligence reports show that key Iranian leaders were surprised by the unprecedented attacks on Israel by Hamas, according to a report by Reuters.
- A surge in doctored images, mislabelled videos and graphic online violence related to the Israel-Hamas conflict prompted the EU to urge Big Tech to remove illegal content or risk legal penalties.
- Pope Francis called for the release of all hostages taken by Hamas fighters. He said Israel has a right to defend itself after seeing “a feast day turn into a day of mourning” but was “very worried by the total siege in which Palestinians live in Gaza.”
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Israel on Thursday, in a show of solidarity.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel’s response to Hamas’s attack was disproportionate by “preventing people meeting their most fundamental needs and bombing housing where civilians live”.
- EU humanitarian support to the Palestinian people “is not in question,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, but the bloc must review its financial assistance.
Market and business
- Oil prices fell as fears of disruption to supplies due to conflict in the Middle East receded a day after top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia pledged to help stabilise the market.
- Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said he would extend his five-year term “given the emergency situation and the challenges to the Israeli economy at this tough time”, the central bank said.
- The cost of insuring Israel’s debt against default surged to the highest level since 2013.
- International airlines have suspended hundreds of flights to and from Tel Aviv following the attack. Here’s a list.
- US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stuck to her view that the American economy is headed for a soft landing. “Of course the situation in Israel causes additional concerns. I’m not saying soft landing is an absolutely sure thing. But I continue to think it’s the most likely path.”