Sunday marks the ninth day since the start of the most recent Israel–Hamas war on Oct. 7.
Here are the latest updates on the war:
Cross-Border Attacks Intensify Between Israel and Lebanon
An Israeli drone fired two missiles late Sunday evening at a hill west of the town of Kfar Kila in south Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. There were no casualties reported in the strikes, which hit near a Lebanese army center.
The Israeli army said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it had hit Hezbollah targets but did not specify what they were.
Cross-border clashes between armed factions in Lebanon and Israel intensified Sunday, with the Hezbollah terrorist group firing rockets and Israeli forces responding with shelling. The Israeli army also reported a shooting at one of its border posts. The fighting has killed at least one person on the Israeli side and wounded several on both sides of the border.
Hezbollah said in a statement on Sunday that it had fired rockets towards an Israeli military position in the northern border town Shtula in retaliation for Israeli shelling that killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah on Friday and two Lebanese civilians on Saturday.
UN Chief Warns of Disaster; Pleads for Water, Food, and Medicine for Gaza
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Sunday that the Middle East is “on the verge of the abyss” and repeated his entreaties for the Hamas terrorist group to release hostages and for Israel to allow humanitarian aid and workers into besieged Gaza, which the Hamas terror group oversees.
“Each one of these two objectives are valid in themselves. They should not become bargaining chips,” the U.N. chief said in a statement.
He said the U.N. has food, water, fuel, and medical and other supplies stockpiled in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel, ready to be mobilized to Gaza if it can be done safely.
The goods can be dispatched within hours, he said.
US Senate to Prepare Package of Wartime Aid to Israel
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he would work with Senate Republicans in the coming weeks to assemble a “generous” package of wartime aid for Israel.
“America will stand with its ally Israel,” he said at a news conference in Israel that capped a visit by a bipartisan group of senators. “I, along with my colleagues here, will lead the effort in the United States Senate to provide Israel with the support required to fully defend itself from this monstrous attack.”
Mr. Schumer, a Democrat who is the highest-ranking Jewish official in the United States, said he openly wept when he heard from the families of people taken hostage by Hamas. The group of senators also met with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz, who have formed a wartime Cabinet.
“We will work to move this aid through the Senate ASAP, and the Israeli leaders made it clear to us they need the aid quickly,” Mr. Schumer said.
The Senate leader said he would not wait for the House to consider an aid package because it is facing its own political crisis as Republicans struggle to unite around a speaker. The chamber is practically paralyzed from advancing legislation while lawmakers work to elect a new speaker, but Mr. Schumer said he hoped a bipartisan effort out of the Senate would push the House to act.
Mr. Schumer has said he expects any package should include aid for Israel and Ukraine, along with possible aid for Taiwan as it faces threats from Beijing and money to secure the U.S. border. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also indicated that he wants war aid for Israel and Ukraine tied together, instead of being considered separately, along with aid for Taiwan.
FBI Notes Increase in Threats Against Jewish, Muslim Communities
FBI officials say they’ve noticed an increase in threatening rhetoric targeting both the Jewish and Muslim communities in the week since the brutal Hamas attacks in Israel.
Director Chris Wray said on a call with reporters on Sunday that the FBI is moving quickly to mitigate the threats and that the FBI does not discount the possibility that Hamas and other groups could exploit the conflict in the Middle East to call for or plot terrorist attacks in the United States.
Besides responding to an escalating number of threats, Mr. Wray said the FBI was also working through its legal attache office in Tel Aviv to do what it can to locate and identify Americans who remain unaccounted for after last weekend’s attacks.
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France Says 19 of Its Citizens Were Killed in Hamas Attack on Israel; 13 Missing May Be Held Hostage
France says it now counts 19 of its citizens who were killed in Hamas’ assault on Israel just over a week ago, with no news of 13 others who are missing and who, in some cases, may be held hostage.
The latest tally was given by France’s foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, on a visit Sunday to Israel. She vowed that “everything will be done” to free the hostages.
Ms. Colonna also urged that the United Nations be allowed to organize deliveries of food and other essentials to displaced people in southern Gaza “who are lacking everything.”
Israel is entitled to defend itself against “the monstrosity of Hamas and the danger it represents,” Ms. Colonna said after talks with Israeli officials but she also appealed for civilians to be safeguarded.
She urged Israel to abide by “international law, in particular international humanitarian law” and preserve Gaza’s civilian population.”
Ms. Colonna will also be traveling to Egypt and Lebanon in an effort to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spreading to other parts of the region.
Iran Warns It Will Act If Israel Invades Gaza to Remove Hamas
Iran has warned Israel that it would respond to an anticipated Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to remove the Hamas terrorist group.
“If the Zionist regime’s crimes against the Palestinian people and citizens continue, no one can guarantee that the situation in the region will remain the same,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in a statement on Oct. 14, according to Iranian state media. The warning came as Mr. Amir-Abdollahian met with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar, over the weekend.
Mr. Amir-Abdollahian also told The Associated Press that Israel’s operations could cause fighting to expand across the Middle East, triggering a “huge earthquake.” He didn’t elaborate.
“I know about the scenarios that Hezbollah has put in place,” he stated, referring to the Shia Lebanese political party and State Department-designated terrorist group backed by Iran. “Any step the resistance [Hezbollah] will take will cause a huge earthquake in the Zionist entity.”
Amir-Abdollahian continued, “I want to warn the war criminals and those who support this entity before it’s too late to stop the crimes against civilians in Gaza because it might be too late in a few hours.”
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US Embassy Issues Urgent Warning for American Citizens in Gaza Move South
The U.S. Embassy in Israel on Sunday issued a security alert telling Americans to immediately evacuate south if they are in Gaza ahead of an anticipated Israeli ground action in the Hamas-controlled region.
“U.S. citizens who can do so safely are advised to move to southern Gaza, south of Gaza Valley towards Khan Younis now,” the U.S. Embassy stated on Sunday morning. “We are working on potential options for departure from Gaza for U.S. citizens.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday said that no American citizens have been able to leave Gaza as Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes on the territory since the Hamas group’s attack last week.
“So far, we have not been able to get American citizens through the border crossing, and I’m not aware of anyone else being able to get out at this time, though I cannot fully confirm that because it’s a dynamic situation,” Mr. Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
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Rafah Crossing Will Be Open, US Secretary of State Says After Meeting With Egypt’s President
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised Sunday that “Rafah will be open” after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
“Rafah will be open,” he said. “We’re putting in place with the UN, with Egypt, Israel, with others, the mechanism by which to get the assistance in and to get it to people who need it.”
Mr. Blinken also announced President Joe Biden’s appointment of David Satterfield, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, to help coordinate aid efforts. Mr. Blinken said Mr. Satterfield will be in Israel on Monday to begin coordinating.
“He will be here on the ground tomorrow to work out all the practical details so we can move this forward,” Mr. Blinken said of Mr. Satterfield.
Israeli Fighter Jets Strike Hezbollah Military Infrastructure in Lebanon, IDF Says
Fighter jets have struck Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon, Israel Defense Forces said in an update Sunday.
Earlier, the IDF said it was responding to fire coming from Lebanon.
“At the same time, a report was received regarding a shooting toward IDF soldiers along the border of Lebanon,” it said, adding IDF soldiers in the area were “responding with live fire.”
Israelis Turn on Water Pipes in Southern Gaza: US National Security Adviser
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a CNN interview on Sunday that Israeli officials have informed him that water pipes in southern Gaza have been turned back on.
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) October 15, 2023
Biden Says US Can Support Both Israel and Ukraine: ‘We Have the Capacity to Do This and We Have an Obligation’
President Joe Biden said the United States can provide support to Israel and Ukraine while still maintaining “our overall international defense” in an interview excerpt aired Sunday morning.
“We have the capacity to do this and we have an obligation to, we are the essential nation,” President Biden said on CBS News, paraphrasing a famous quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
“We’re the United States of America for God’s sake, the most powerful nation in the history—not in the world, in the history of the world. The history of the world. We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense,” President Biden said, when asked if the United States could take on both wars at the same time. “And if we don’t, who does?” the president noted.
Schumer and Visiting US Senators Rushed to Tel Aviv Shelter During Hamas Rocket Attack
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on social media that a bipartisan group of senators visiting Israel was rushed to a shelter in Tel Aviv on Sunday to wait out a rocket attack from Hamas. Schumer posted a photo of himself and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) in the shelter.
“It shows you what Israelis have to go through. We must provide Israel with the support required to defend itself,” Mr. Schumer said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Mr. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, took the trip to show support for Israel ahead of an expected request from President Joe Biden for Congress to approve wartime funding for Israel as well as Ukraine. Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, has said he would also hold discussions with Israeli officials about what kind of support the country would need for both military and humanitarian operations.
Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) of Arizona were also on the trip.
Israelis in the Southern City of Sderot Near Gaza Board Buses to Escape Hamas’s Rockets
Residents of the southern Israeli city of Sderot boarded buses for other parts of the country on Sunday to escape the rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel on a rampage that killed more than 1,300 people more than a week ago have also bombarded the country with thousands of rockets. Sderot, a city of about 34,000 people located about a mile from the Gaza border, has been a frequent target.
One of the residents, Yossi Edri, told Channel 13 before boarding a bus that “children are traumatized, they can’t sleep at night.”
Thousands already left the city last week under a state-sponsored program that puts them up in hotels elsewhere as a respite from the violence. The program in Sderot was expanded Sunday.
“There is no reason to return to Sderot,” Mayor Alon Davidi told Army Radio. “It’s on the front line.”
Germany Warns Against All Travel to Israel, Palestinian Territories, and Lebanon
The German government has issued a travel warning for Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Lebanon. Sunday’s warning is a big step up from previous longstanding partial travel warnings for the Gaza Strip and some areas of Lebanon.
The German foreign office said in a statement that “due to the escalation of violence in the region in connection with the massive terrorist attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7, we are warning against traveling to the countries and areas mentioned.”
The government also called on all German citizens affected by the warning to register on its crisis precaution list where it provides information on departure options.
In recent days, the German government has helped with the evacuation of more than 2,800 German citizens and their family members from Israel. On Saturday evening, the German army started using military airplanes for evacuations.
More than 100,000 residents of Israel hold dual German and Israeli citizenship.
Blinken Meets With Saudi Crown Prince
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh.
Mr. Blinken and the crown prince spoke Sunday for a little less than an hour at his private farm outside the capital, U.S. officials said. Asked how the meeting went, Blinken replied “very productive,” but there were no other immediate details. The meeting, which had been expected late Saturday night but never materialized, was closed to media.
The talks came just hours after the Israeli military warned that a full-scale assault on Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip would begin soon.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement after the meeting: “The Secretary highlighted the United States’ unwavering focus on halting terrorist attacks by Hamas, securing the release of all hostages, and preventing the conflict from spreading. The two affirmed their shared commitment to protecting civilians and to advancing stability across the Middle East and beyond.”
Prince Mohammed is the sixth Arab leader Mr. Blinken has seen in person since he arrived in the Middle East on Thursday, stopping first in Israel to reaffirm the Biden administration’s pledge to stand with and support Israel. From Israel, Mr. Blinken has traveled throughout the region meeting the leaders of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. He plans to visit Egypt later Sunday.
Palestinian Deaths Surpass 2,300
The Gaza Health Ministry says 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the latest fighting erupted, making this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for Palestinians. The IDF has said that terrorists are included in this death toll, while urging civilians who remain in the north of Gaza to evacuate south.
The death toll on Sunday surpassed that of the third war between Israel and Hamas, in the summer of 2014, when 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, were killed, according to U.N. figures.
That war lasted six weeks, and 74 people were killed on the Israeli side, including six civilians.
The current war erupted a week ago when Hamas terrorists stormed into southern Israel in a shocking surprise attack. More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed in the initial, wide-ranging assault and in rocket attacks from Gaza. The overwhelming majority were civilians.
For Israel, this is the deadliest war since the 1973 conflict with Egypt and Syria.
Iran Trying to Deploy Arms In or Through Syria: Israeli Official
A senior Israeli official accused Iran on Sunday of trying to open a second war front by deploying weapons in or through Syria as Israel steps up a counter-offensive in Gaza to the south.
Responding to a post of the X social-media platform that posited such a scenario, Joshua Zarka, head of strategic affairs for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said: “They (Iranians) are.”
The original post also said “the Israelis are determined to prevent” such developments. To that, Zarka responded, “We are.”
Syria accused Israel of carrying out strikes against Damascus and Aleppo airports last week. The Syrian defence ministry reported another air strike on Aleppo airport late on Saturday.
Israel’s military said on Saturday its artillery had struck Syrian areas from which two rockets were fired toward Israeli territory, falling in open areas.
One Killed, 3 Wounded in Cross-Border Hezbollah Attack on Northern Israel
Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon launched a missile at an Israeli northern border village on Sunday, killing one person and wounding three others, the terrorist group and Israeli medics said.
The medics had initially said two people were wounded in the attack on Shtula, a farming community that abuts the border fence, opposite the Lebanese community of Ayta a-Shab.
The Israeli military said it was striking in Lebanon in retaliation and it declared a zone within 2 miles of the Lebanese border off-limits to public access.
Hezbollah on Saturday targeted five Israeli outposts in the disputed Shebaa Farms area on the Lebanese-Israeli border with guided missiles and mortars shells at 3:15 p.m., the militia group also said in a statement.
US to Evacuate Americans in Israel by Sea
The United States will evacuate Americans from Israel to Cyprus by sea, according to the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
“The situation in Israel is still unpredictable; mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning. The U.S. government is facilitating transportation for U.S. citizens to leave Israel by air or sea,” the embassy said on X, formerly Twitter.
Americans and their immediate family members are eligible for transportation. They must fill out a crisis intake form.
“Chartered transportation will be to nearby safe locations, not back to the United States,” the embassy noted in its announcement. “You will not be able to choose your destination or mode of transportation—we will assign you to the next available departure.”
The embassy said in a separate announcement there is a ship to depart from Haifa, Israel for Cyprus on Monday, with boarding at 8 a.m. local time. The trip is expected to take 10-12 hours with food and wifi provided.
“U.S. citizens must arrive at Haifa port passenger terminal no later than 0900 AM local time. Boarding will proceed in order of arrival and is on a space limited basis,” the announcement reads.
US to Send a Second Carrier Strike Group to Support Israel
The Biden administration is sending the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to support Israel.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the additional carrier was being sent “as part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”
The Eisenhower will join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which is already sailing near Israel, to bolster U.S. presence there with a host of destroyers, fighter aircraft and cruisers.
The Eisenhower deployed from its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday. Having two carriers in the region can provide a host of options.
They can disperse and serve as primary command and control operations centers, to cover a wide swath of area. They can conduct information warfare. They can launch and recover E2-Hawkeye surveillance planes that provide early warnings on missile launches, conduct surveillance and manage the airspace.
Both ships carry F-18 fighter jets that could fly intercepts or strike targets. They also have significant capabilities for humanitarian work, including an onboard hospital with medics, surgeons and doctors, and they sail with helicopters that can be used to airlift critical supplies in or victims out.
US, Israel, Egypt, Qatar Negotiating Re-Opening of Southern Egypt-Gaza Rafah Border Crossing
According to initial reports, the U.S. State Department has said that the United States, Egypt, and Israel have agreed to allow Americans to travel through the only remaining route out of the Gaza strip in the ongoing war, and that negotiations for the passage of other peoples continue.
Reports also indicate that Egyptian officials have said that negotiations have included allowing aid into Gaza through the border crossing, amid concerns about Hamas getting access to the aid.
The Egypt-Gaza Rafah crossing has been kept closed by Egypt for days after an initial period of opening followed by chaos at the crossing with reported bombings nearby. The initial wave saw over 200 Palestinians enter North Sinai before the Egyptian authorities shut down the crossing on Oct. 8 until further notice.
The U.S. government has told American-Palestinians in Gaza to make their way toward the crossing.
“We have informed U.S. citizens in Gaza with whom we are in contact that if they assess it to be safe, they may wish to move closer to the Rafah border crossing,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said, Reuters reported. “There may be very little notice if the crossing opens and it may only open for a limited time.”
It is unclear if Hamas terrorists will let civilians leave through the crossing if it is reopened.
Egypt has repeated its opposition to Palestinians from Gaza being resettled in the Sinai, and joined Hamas in urging Palestinians to stand firm and remain on their land.
IDF Says Hamas ‘Actively’ Blocking Civilians From Evacuating
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in an update Sunday morning at 7 a.m. local time, citing intelligence information, that Hamas is “actively” blocking Gaza civilians from evacuating northern Gaza.
“We have called upon the civilian population in Gaza City and the northern part of the Gaza Strip to evacuate south of the Gaza,” he said.
“Hamas has both issued warnings to their civilians not to evacuate, and when people didn’t listen to those warnings of Hamas, they have actually stopped civilians and they have stopped convoys of Gazan civilians trying to flee from the situation and listening to our warnings, knowing they are much better off south of the Gaza river than staying in the northern part.”
“If that isn’t the most sinister and vile use of civilians during war, I don’t know what is. But it again goes to show the lack of any value for human life with the terrorist organization Hamas,” Mr. Conricus added.
Separately, he warned: “Any information coming out of the Gaza Strip and authorized by Hamas should be treated with caution and suspicion because it serves their propaganda purposes.”
There are over 2 million Palestinians and Gazans living in the Gaza Strip. The U.N. said Israel’s evacuation call for civilians to move south affects about 1.1 million people.
The spokesperson also provided an update of the IDF’s current movements. “We are deployed along the Gaza Strip with our ground forces and we are preparing ourselves for the next stage of operations,” he said.
“We again call on the people of northern Gaza, Gaza city, and all the northern environment … to go south, listen to our warnings,” he added. “We are saying that there’s going to be significant military activities here [in northern Gaza] and we urge civilians to evacuate for their own safety.”
“The Palestinian civilians in Gaza are not our enemies. We don’t assess them as such, and we don’t target them as such.
“We are trying to do the right thing, and the next stage of operations will be enhanced operations against Hamas until we will dismantle Hamas and its military capabilities.”
While welcoming the order, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell asked Israel to give people more time to leave northern Gaza. “You cannot move such a volume of people in [a] short period of time,” he said.
Summary of Events So Far
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), early Friday, had ordered hundreds of thousands of civilians living in northern Gaza to evacuate as it vowed to annihilate the terrorist group Hamas in response to its unprecedented attack on Oct. 7. Hamas is an Iran-backed Islamist terrorist group that took charge of the Gaza strip from rival Palestinian group the secular Fatah, in factional fighting that started in 2007.
The Fatah in 2023, unlike Hamas, largely supports peaceful negotiations for a two-state solution to secure Palestinians’ territorial claims, whereas Hamas does not acknowledge Israel’s right to existence and resorts to armed violence.
Some 1,300 people in Israel were killed in the surprise attack, which shook the country because of horrifying mobile phone video footage and reports from medical and emergency services of atrocities potential war crimes in the towns and kibbutzes that were overrun.
The Israeli Defense Forces swiftly announced “Operation Swords of Iron,” which aims to eliminate the Hamas terror group so it can never again attack Israel.
Israel formally declared war on the Hamas Islamists on Oct. 8 and eased its gun license standards to enable more citizens to arm themselves. Israel’s prime minister called on Gazan civilians to evacuate the region on Oct. 8, which was followed by a campaign of mass text messages urging civilians to evacuate before the planned assault on Hamas was well and truly underway.
Hamas terrorists in Gaza are holding an estimated 100 to 150 hostages taken from Israel in its Oct. 7 assault, and on Oct. 9, threatened to kill the hostages if Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza civilians “without warning.” The IDF had noted on Oct. 10 that Hamas terrorists have embedded themselves in civilian buildings and as such, made those structures valid military targets. It blamed Hamas for intentionally building its operation centers next to key civilian institutions, like hospitals and schools, to maximise international condemnation of any Israeli attempts to fight back against the terrorists.
On Oct. 11, Israel established an emergency government and a special war cabinet to oversee its military response. It has also called up some 360,000 army reservists who have since gathered along the Gaza border.
Israel’s military said it planned to target Hamas’s sprawling network of tunnels built under Gaza City—protected by a layer of Palestinian civilian buildings on the surface. Meanwhile, the Hamas terrorist group has vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and has told Gazan residents to stay.
Hamas has said it wants to end the “Israeli occupation” of Palestinian terroritories, and that the attack was in retaliation for Israel’s “desecration of the Al-Aqsa” mosque in East Jerusalem, which is overseen by the Jordan-run Jerusalem Awqaf and Aqsa Affairs Department. Israel has been accused of interfering in its operations, including on April 8 when Israeli police were seen at the mosque with the Israeli Foreign Ministry saying that people who “barricade themselves inside [the al-Aqsa mosque] are a dangerous mob, radicalized and incited by Hamas and other terror organizations.”
While entry to the Al-Aqsa mosque is reserved for Muslims, the Al-Aqsa compound, known as the Temple Mount by the Jews, is also home to two Jewish temples. However, entry to Al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli police has been restricted to older worshipers visitors from time to time, with the Israeli government citing security reasons during clashes often surrounding religious holidays or during its anti-terrorism raids on terrorist targets in the West Bank.
Tens of thousands of people in Gaza are estimated by the United Nations to have fled south since Israel’s warning.
Israel has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity, and medicine into Gaza as it called for Palestinian civilians to evacuate ahead of its planned military bombardment to rid Hamas from the Gaza Strip.
The United States began charter flights out of Israel on Friday to evacuate Americans from the region. President Joe Biden on Oct. 11 said the U.S. government is working with the Israelis to rescue the Americans taken hostage by Hamas. But the administration has told reporters that it has no plans to send troops to Israel, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Oct. 12.
At least 29 Americans have died and 15 Americans are unaccounted for since the start of the war, the State Department confirmed on Saturday.
Iran has warned of “far-reaching consequences” if Israel’s targeted airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza does not stop. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has assured Israel: “We have your back.”
See the previous day’s updates here.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.