Israel Latest: Hezbollah Warns on Escalation, US Deploys Drones

(Bloomberg) -- Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that “all possibilities” are open as clashes intensify on Israel’s northern border, and said escalation will depend on developments in Gaza and Israel’s behavior toward Lebanon.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Iran-backed Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces across the border on a near-daily basis since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. In his first public statement on the war — delivered via video link — Nasrallah said “no one knew” beforehand about the Palestinian group’s plans. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are classified as terrorist organizations by the US.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to the region and met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, as Israeli troops encircle Gaza City and carry out intense aerial bombardments of the Hamas-run territory. Gaza health officials said one airstrike hit near the territory’s main hospital, and the Israeli military said it targeted an ambulance used by Hamas militants. The US said it’s flying drones over Gaza to help with hostage rescue efforts.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Japan’s Foreign Minister Visits West Bank, Offers Aid (2:55 a.m.)

Yoko Kamikawa, Japan’s foreign affairs minister, met with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki during a visit on Friday to the West Bank and said her nation was prepared to offer $65 million of humanitarian aid and relief supplies through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. That assistance would be in addition to the already-decided $10 million in emergency aid.

US Discusses a Hostage Release Framework (1:30 a.m.)

The US is discussing a framework agreement that would see a significant pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas if the Palestinian group decided to release an estimated 200 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack, a senior US official said Friday night.

The temporary ceasefire when two American women were freed by Hamas last month was a template for a longer one, the official said, while cautioning that there was no current timeline for a mass hostage release and significant impediments to negotiations.

Blinken also raised the prospect of pauses to allow additional humanitarian assistance to flow into Gaza during his conversations with Netanyahu earlier Friday, but the Israeli leader has rejected any brief cessation of hostilities unless hostages are freed.

Israel Says It Struck Ambulance Used by Hamas (8:30 p.m.)

Israeli planes bombed an ambulance that was identified as being used by Hamas militants, killing a number of them, the military said. It said the area where the airstrike was carried out is a “battle zone” and civilians have been repeatedly urged to evacuate toward southern Gaza.

Earlier, health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza said two ambulances that were part of a convoy carrying wounded people to the Egyptian border were hit by Israeli strikes.

Israel Warns Citizens Over Foreign Travel Risk (7 p.m.)

Israel’s government told citizens to exercise caution when traveling abroad anywhere – not just in the usual high-risk countries — citing a surge in anti-Semitic attacks and threats.

“These incidents are occurring in numerous countries worldwide,” the National Security Council and Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The agencies said that if Israelis must travel, they should avoid displaying overtly Jewish symbols, and assess the state of anti-Israel protests in whichever country they plan to visit.

Macron Plans Aid Conference in Paris Next Week (6:30 p.m.)

French President Emmanuel Macron said he plans to organize a conference on Nov. 9 in Paris on humanitarian aid for the civilian population of Gaza.

After reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself, Macron said: “We have to give a political outlet to the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people. It can’t be simply a security response.”

Deadly Strike Hits Near Main Gaza Hospital (5:15 p.m.)

A deadly strike hit near the main hospital in the Gaza Strip, residents said, killing and wounding dozens of people. The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said 13 people were killed and 26 wounded, blaming an Israeli airstrike. It was not immediately possible to verify the claim.

Israel says Hamas uses the hospital as its military command and control center. Thousands of people have sought shelter in the hospital’s yards, interior wards and the surroundings of the medical complex since the conflict erupted.

US Flying Drones Over Gaza To Help Recover Hostages (5:00 p.m.)

The US military has deployed unarmed drones over the Gaza Strip since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas to support hostage-recovery efforts, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said.

The US is also “providing advice and assistance” for Israel’s push to free the hostages, Ryder said. The acknowledgment about the drones — the first time the US has done so — highlights a growing American involvement in the conflict.

France Asks Israel to Explain Strike Against French Institute (4:55 p.m.)

The French ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement it has urged Israel to provide “tangible” reasons why the French institute in Gaza has been hit in a strike. No worker or French national was in the building when it was hit, the ministry said, without giving further details.

Netanyahu Says No Cease-Fire Without Hostage Release (4:34 p.m.)

The Israeli Prime Minister again rejected a cease-fire with Hamas that doesn’t include the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza.

Netanyahu also used his televised address to warn Hezbollah not to open a second front against Israel. The Iran-sponsored militia has been firing on the north of the country but has avoided attacking central Israel with its massive arsenal of precision-guided missiles.

“Don’t try us. A mistake will cost you dearly,” Netanyahu said of Hezbollah. “A mistake will cost you a price you can’t even imagine.”

Hezbollah Chief Says Border Attacks on Israel ‘Won’t Be Enough for Us’ (4:10 p.m.)

Cross-border attacks on Israel are “very big from our side and very important,” the Hezbollah leader said in his video speech, adding “it won’t be enough for us anyway,” without giving further details. He said Israel would make the “biggest mistake” if it went to war with Lebanon.

Nasrallah said his group is ready for “all possibilities,” and that escalation of the conflict on the Lebanese border would depend on developments in Gaza as well as Israel’s behavior toward Lebanon. He also called on Arab nations to sever ties with Israel.

Blinken Says His Focus Is Protecting Civilians (3:55 p.m.)

The US Secretary of State said more must be done to protect Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire between Hamas and Israel, a shift in focus that highlights growing US concerns about the fallout from Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The US is providing Israel “advice that only the best of friends can offer” on how to proceed while protecting civilians, Blinken said at a briefing in Tel Aviv. He reiterated calls for humanitarian pauses in fighting to help the flow of aid and allow foreign citizens to leave Gaza. Israel has said repeatedly that a cease-fire is off the table.

Blinken Shifts Focus to Protecting Civilians on Israel Trip

Nasrallah Says ‘No One Knew’ of Hamas Plan (3:35 p.m.)

The Hezbollah leader said in his address the Hamas attack on Israel was plotted and executed by Palestinians. Spot gold pared most of its post-US jobs report gains after the comments, with Brent crude oil and West Texas Intermediate falling 1% to session lows.

Nasrallah also praised “martyrs” in Lebanon and elsewhere who have been killed in fighting against Israel since the Israel-Hamas war began. Thousands of people showed up at various sites in Lebanon for public screenings organized by Hezbollah of the address.

Hezbollah Chief Lauds ‘War Martyrs’, Said Didn’t Know Hamas Plan

UN Says Retrieved Last Fuel Available in Gaza Depots (3:22 p.m.)

The United Nations organization operating in Gaza has retrieved the last available fuel held in depots next to the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, Director of Communication at UNRWA Juliette Touma said by phone. The agency expects the fuel to last two to three days, and there’s been no looting from those warehouses, she added.

Israel has said it does not want to allow fuel in out of concern it could be used by Hamas for military operations. It has also said the group - designated a terrorist outfit by the US and European Union - is not allowing fuel retrieval from depots.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.