Israel-Hamas war updates: First group of Canadians safely evacuate West Bank into Jordan

Israel-Hamas war updates: First group of Canadians safely evacuate West Bank into Jordan
  • People gather on the Gaza side of the closed Rafah border crossing with Egypt.SAMAR ABU ELOUF/The New York Times News Service

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Israel-Hamas war day 10

The brutal conflict in the Middle East has entered its 10th day. Israeli bombardments of Gaza intensified ahead of an expected ground invasion, as hopes for a brief ceasefire were dashed.

More than one million people – almost half the total population of Gaza – have been displaced, the United Nations said. Gaza has had no electricity for days, pushing vital services, including health, water and sanitation, to the brink. Food insecurity is also worsening.

The war has claimed more than 4,000 lives since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Follow our live coverage below

11:18 a.m. ET

Israel’s shekel hits 4 per USD for first time since 2015 amid Israel-Hamas war

Israel’s shekel weakened on Monday, briefly hitting the psychologically key level of four per U.S. dollar for the first time since 2015 on investor jitters over Israel’s war with Hamas.

Since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the shekel has weakened roughly 4 per cent against the greenback. It was last down 0.7 per cent at 3.9981 per dollar.

While the Bank of Israel has never stated a specific exchange rate level at which it would intervene in the market, market participants see four per dollar as a psychologically key threshold.

Part of the shekel’s weakness in recent days is due to investors starting to price in Bank of Israel interest rate cuts starting on Oct. 23.

Last week, the central bank said it would sell $30 billion of foreign currency to maintain financial stability and keep the shekel from weakening too much.

– Reuters

11:12 a.m. ET

Gold slips, but holds above $1,900 pivot on Israel-Hamas conflict

Gold prices fell on Monday after solid gains in the previous session, but the safe-haven metal held firm above key $1,900 per ounce level as escalating conflict in the Middle East kept investors on edge.

Spot gold was down 0.7 per cent to $1,917.59 per ounce by 10:49 a.m. ET, after hitting its highest since Sept. 20 in the previous session. U.S. gold futures was down 0.6 per cent to $1,930.30.

Gold, used as a safe investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, has risen more than $100 since falling to a seven-month low on Oct. 6, owing to safe-haven inflows as the Israel-Hamas conflict enters its 10th day.

– Reuters

11:10 a.m. ET

UK’s Sunak increases Palestinian aid, says at least 6 British citizens killed in Israel

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A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during a statement on the situation in Israel and Gaza in the House of Commons, in London, on October 16, 2023.-/AFP/Getty Images

The British government is increasing its aid to the Palestinian people by a third with 10 million pounds ($16.60 million) more in support, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday.

“We are increasing our aid by a third with an additional 10 million pounds of support. An acute humanitarian crisis is unfolding to which we must respond,” Sunak told lawmakers. “We must support the Palestinian people because they are victims of Hamas too.”

Sunak also said on Monday at least six UK citizens had been killed after Hamas militants attacked Israel nine days ago, characterising the incident as a “pogrom.”

“We should call it by its name. It was a pogrom,” Sunak said of the attack.

“The terrible nature of these attacks means it is proving difficult to identify many of the deceased but with a heavy heart I can inform the House (of Commons) that at least six British citizens were killed, a further ten are missing, some of whom are feared to be among the dead.”

– Reuters

10:39 a.m. ET

Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it targeted Israeli positions

Lebanon’s Hezbollah said it targeted five Israeli positions in northern Israel on Monday, as a security source in Lebanon and Hezbollah’s al-Manar television reported Israeli shelling into northern Lebanon.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire across the Lebanese-Israeli frontier for days, in violence touched off by the war between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas.

– Reuters

10:35 a.m. ET

Hamas armed wing says it fired a ‘barrage of missiles’ at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv

The armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Monday it fired a “barrage of missiles” on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Al Qassam Brigades said in a statement that its attack came in response to Israel’s “targeting of civilians.”

– Reuters

10:20 a.m. ET

Israel’s Netanyahu warns Iran, Hezbollah militants: ‘Don’t test us’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and their Iranian backers that they will pay a high price if they become involved in the war.

Speaking to the Israeli Knesset on Monday, Netanyahu warned Iran and Hezbollah, “Don’t test us in the north. Don’t make the mistake of the past. Today, the price you will pay will be far heavier,” referring to Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah.

With a ground invasion of Gaza expected, Israel is preparing for the potential of a new front opening on its northern border with Lebanon, where it has exchanged fire repeatedly with the Hezbollah. The military has ordered residents from 28 Israeli communities close to the border to evacuate.

– The Associated Press

10:20 a.m. ET

Trucks cross into Egypt to load up with fuel for Gaza

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Aid convoy trucks loaded with supplies are seen on October 16, 2023 in North Sinai, Egypt.Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images

Oil tankers bearing United Nations flags have crossed into Egypt from Gaza to pick up fuel supplies for the besieged enclave.

The trucks were led across the Rafah border by a U.N. escort vehicle as people stood in line in hopes of crossing.

Hospitals in Gaza are expected to run out of generator fuel in the next 24 hours, endangering the lives of thousands of patients, according to the U.N. Gaza’s sole power plant shut down for lack of fuel after Israel completely sealed off the 40-kilometer long territory following the Hamas attack.

– The Associated Press

10:15 a.m. ET

UN Security Council to vote on duelling proposed resolutions for Israel-Hamas war

The U.N. Security Council is set to vote Monday evening on duelling proposed resolutions on the Israel-Hamas war. A Russian proposal calls for a cease-fire while a Brazilian draft seeks “humanitarian pauses” to let aid flow and urges Israel to rescind its order for an evacuation of northern Gaza.

Either draft, if adopted, would mark the first collective statement on the war from the U.N.’s most powerful organ.

Both draft resolutions, obtained by The Associated Press, call for releasing all hostages. In somewhat different language, both also condemn violence toward civilians, express concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and seek the provision of food, fuel and other aid.

But the differences are significant. Ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive in response to Hamas’ attack earlier this month, Russia’s proposed resolution calls for a “humanitarian cease-fire.” The Brazilian draft instead calls for “humanitarian pauses” and encourages establishing aid corridors and a notification mechanism to protect U.N. facilities and humanitarian sites and aid convoys.

Brazil’s draft presses Israel to call off its evacuation order — which the U.N. and aid groups have said would cause immeasurable human suffering — while Russia’s proposal speaks of “creating conditions for the safe evacuation of civilians in need.”

The council has become increasingly divided on many issues amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia is a veto-wielding member. Brazil, a two-year member without a veto, currently holds the rotating presidency.

– The Associated Press

9:37 a.m. ET

Palestinians mourn relatives as Israeli airstrikes continue

More than a million people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israel invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas’ leadership after its deadly incursion. A week of blistering airstrikes have demolished neighborhoods but failed to stop militant rocket fire into Israel.

The Associated Press

9:30 a.m. ET

Russia’s Putin speaks to Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Syria and Egypt

Russian President Vladimir Putin entered the fevered diplomatic fray of the Middle East on Monday, speaking to five of the major players including Iran and leading Arab powers in an attempt to secure a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Russia, which has relationships with Iran, Hamas, major Arab powers as well as with the Palestinians and with Israel, has repeatedly said the United States and the West have ignored the need for an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

Putin spoke to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by telephone, the Kremlin said. He also plans to speak to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it said.

The results of the calls were unclear. TASS said Putin and Assad want humanitarian aid delivered to Gaza.

– Reuters

9:10 a.m. ET

First group of Canadians evacuate West Bank by bus to Jordan

The first group of Canadians evacuated from the West Bank just crossed into Jordan by bus, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced Monday.

“I am elated to announce that the first group of Canadians have now safely crossed from the West Bank into Jordan,” Ms. Joly said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Thank-you to our teams in Ramallah, Amman, Tel Aviv and Ottawa who worked around the clock to make this happen.”

I am elated to announce that the first group of Canadians have now safely crossed from the West Bank into Jordan. Thank-you to our teams in Ramallah, Amman, Tel Aviv and Ottawa, who worked around the clock to make this happen.

— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) October 16, 2023

The evacuation included 21 Canadian citizens, along with about 10 Australian and New Zealand citizens. About 100 Canadians living in the West Bank had registered with Ottawa and had been seeking assistance to get out, but not all of them chose to leave or were able to do so.

It was believed to be the first evacuation of foreign citizens from the West Bank to Jordan and required complex bureaucratic negotiations between Canada and the Jordanian government. It is expected to pave the way for further evacuations of citizens from other countries who have been stuck in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, there was no progress Monday on the estimated 300 Canadians who are trapped in Gaza. Officials had been hoping that the Rafah border crossing would open, allowing the Canadians to travel south into Egypt, but that did not happen. There is still a chance it could happen Tuesday.

Steven Chase, Geoffrey York

9 a.m. ET

Biden postpones Colorado trip to discuss Israel-Hamas conflict

U.S. President Joe Biden postponed a trip to Colorado on Monday to stay in Washington and focus on the growing conflict in the Middle East.

Biden had been heading to the district of Rep. Lauren Boebert, where he was to visit CS Wind, the world’s largest facility for wind tower manufacturing. But the White House said just a few hours before Biden was set to take off for the trip that it would be rescheduled.

Instead, Biden is expected to hold a series of high-level meetings with aides on Israel and the growing humanitarian concerns in Gaza. The Democratic president is weighing a decision to visit the region.

– The Associated Press

8:52 a.m. ET

Inside the Israel-Gaza war zone

In the latest episode of The Decibel, Mark MacKinnon, The Globe’s Senior International Correspondent, reports on the Israel-Hamas war. He’s been travelling through the region since the war began.

8:27 a.m. ET

Hezbollah destroys Israeli surveillance cameras along the Lebanese border

Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said Monday it has started destroying surveillance cameras on several Israeli army posts along the border.

Hezbollah’s military media arm released a video showing snipers shooting at and destroying surveillance cameras placed on five points along the Lebanon-Israel border, including one outside the Israeli town of Metula.

The militant group appears to want to prevent the Israeli army from monitoring movements on the Lebanese side of the border after days of fire exchange that left at least seven people dead, including four Hezbollah fighters, on the Lebanese side.

– The Associated Press

8:23 a.m. ET

Half of Israel’s hotel rooms filled with Gaza war evacuees

Half of Israeli hotel rooms are being used to house families evacuated from communities near the Gaza Strip, the head of the Israel Hotel Association said on Monday.

Israel has 56,000 hotel rooms and 28,000 are being provided to evacuees with the state footing the bill, said association chief executive Yael Danieli.

She told a parliamentary panel debating compensation for residents impacted by the war that an additional 27,000 from border towns near Lebanon were expected. The Israeli-Lebanon border has seen an increase in hostilities as the Gaza war rages.

The Dan Hotel chain said its hotels in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Herzliya were being used for evacuees while rival Isrotel said its hotels in the Red Sea resort of Eilat were housing displaced families.

– Reuters

8:15 a.m. ET

Boy killed and woman wounded in Illinois hate crime motivated by Israel-Hamas war, police say

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A family member of Wadea Al-Fayoume, 6, holds prayer beads at a news conference at the Muslim Community Center on Chicago’s Northwest Side on Oct. 15, 2023.Jim Vondruska/The Associated Press

An Illinois landlord accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy and seriously wounding his mother was charged with a hate crime after police and relatives said he singled out the victims because of their faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

In recent days, police in U.S. cities and federal authorities have been on high alert for violence driven by antisemitic or Islamophobic sentiments. FBI officials, along with Jewish and Muslim groups, have reported an increase of hateful and threatening rhetoric.

In the Chicago-area case, officers found the 32-year-old woman and boy late Saturday morning at a home in an unincorporated area of Plainfield Township, about 65 kilometres southwest of Chicago, the Will County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on social media.

Relatives and a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group identified the slain boy as the wounded woman’s son.

The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital. The woman had multiple stab wounds and was expected to survive, according to the statement. An autopsy on the child showed he had been stabbed dozens of times.

“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the sheriff’s statement said.

– The Associated Press

8 a.m. ET

Oil prices steady above $90 as investors assess Israel-Hamas war

Brent oil futures steadied above $90 a barrel on Monday after topping that level on Friday, as investors waited to see if the Israel-Hamas conflict escalates further.

Brent futures were down 4 cents, or 0.04 per cent, at $90.85 a barrel at 11:20 a.m. GMT (7:20 a.m. ET). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose by 12 cents, or 0.14 per cent, to $87.81 a barrel.

The war between Hamas and Israel poses one of the most significant geopolitical risks to oil markets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, analysts say.

– Reuters

7:52 a.m. ET

Canadians lend their efforts to help as humanitarian crisis grows dire

The conflict in the Middle East has galvanized Canadians into action with financial and material donations as calls grow for safe passage of aid and essential supplies into Gaza.

The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto said it raised more than $50-million in five days, a response that spokesperson Steve McDonald said reflected the horror of the situation and the close connection that the Toronto Jewish community has to Israel.

“If you look at so many different metrics, whether it’s Hebrew literacy in our community, whether it’s travel to Israel, family connections to Israel, we are one of the most deeply connected Jewish communities in North America to Israel,” he said.

Islamic Relief Canada, the country’s largest Muslim charity, launched a campaign over the weekend joining the calls for a humanitarian corridor in Gaza to deliver essential supplies as the situation on the ground grows more dire.

The Canadian arm of the organization has received more than $2.7-million in donations to its Palestine Emergency Appeal and is preparing to distribute medical supplies to hospitals and food to displaced families when able, chief executive Usama Khan said.

Andrea Woo

7:41 a.m. ET

Desperate crowds wait to escape at closed Rafah crossing

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Palestinians, some with foreign passports hoping to cross into Egypt and others waiting for aid wait at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza strip, on October 16, 2023.MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Crowds of Palestinian dual nationals waited anxiously at the still-closed Rafah crossing on Monday, sitting on their suitcases or crouching on the floor, comforting crying infants and trying to entertain bored children.

For many, the despair over the impasse was turning to outrage.

“They are supposed to be a developed country, talking about human rights all the time,” Shurouq Alkhazendar, a 34-year-old whose two children are American citizens, said of the United States.

“If you want to do one of the basic things that you are talking about you should protect your citizens first, not leave them all alone suffering and being humiliated in front of the crossing.”

Rafah, Gaza’s only connection to Egypt, was shut down nearly a week ago because of Israeli airstrikes. While people wait to leave on the Gaza side, aid supplies are stalled inside Egypt. Mediators are pressing for a cease-fire.

– The Associated Press

7:32 a.m. ET

Israel says 199 hostages are being held in Gaza

The Israeli military says Hamas and other Palestinian militants are holding 199 hostages in Gaza — higher than previous estimates.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a military spokesman, said Monday that the families have been notified. He did not specify whether that number includes foreigners, or say who is holding them.

– The Associated Press

7:30 a.m. ET

Blinken returns to Israel after tour of Arab states

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Israel for crisis talks, after a tour of Arab nations, at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv on October 16, 2023.JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to Israel for the second time in less than a week to consult with senior Israeli officials about discussions he had with Arab leaders over Israel’s war with Hamas.

Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday after a six-nation tour of Arab states during which he heard the concerns of Arab leaders about an impending Israeli ground invasion of Gaza causing a humanitarian catastrophe for Palestinians and possibly igniting a broader regional conflict.

His talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his national security team come as the White House is weighing a potential trip to Israel by President Joe Biden as early as this week. Blinken will also meet separately with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

– The Associated Press

7:09 a.m. ET

Gaza’s crowded hospitals near breaking point

Palestinians in besieged Gaza crowded into hospitals and schools on Monday, seeking shelter and running low on food and water.

Hospitals in Gaza warn they are on the verge of collapse, with emergency generators that power machines like ventilators and incubators down to about one day of fuel and supplies of medicine almost exhausted.

Hospitals are expected to run out of generator fuel in the next 24 hours, endangering the lives of thousands of patients, according to the U.N. Gaza’s sole power plant shut down for lack of fuel after Israel completely sealed off the 40-kilometer long territory following the Hamas attack.

The World Health Organization said hospitals are “overflowing” as people seek safety. “We are concerned about disease outbreaks due to mass displacement and poor water and sanitation,” it said. Four hospitals in northern Gaza are no longer functioning and 21 have received Israeli orders to evacuate. Doctors have refused, saying it would mean death for critically ill patients and newborns on ventilators.

The WHO said water shortages caused by Israel’s decision to cut off water supplies, combined with a lack of fuel for pumps and desalination stations, put thousands of hospital patients at risk.

– The Associated Press

5:59 a.m. ET

UN aid chief to travel to Middle East to assist in Gaza aid negotiations

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Monday he would be travelling to the Middle East to support negotiations on getting aid into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Griffiths said his office was in “deep discussions” with Israel, Egypt and other actors.

“I shall be going myself tomorrow to the region to try to help in the negotiations, to try to bear witness and to express solidarity with the extraordinary courage of the many thousands of aid workers who have stayed the course and who are still there helping the people in Gaza and in the West Bank,” he said in a statement.

The fate of aid deliveries and limited evacuations through the only entry to Gaza not controlled by Israel remains in doubt after Egyptian sources said a temporary truce was struck but Israel and Hamas said no deal was in place.

– Reuters

5:35 a.m. ET

Ceasefire plans stall as Israel intensifies strikes on Gaza

Hopes for a brief ceasefire in southern Gaza to allow foreign passport holders to leave the besieged Palestinian enclave and aid to be brought in were dashed on Monday, with Israeli bombardments intensifying ahead of an expected ground invasion.

Residents of Hamas-ruled Gaza said the overnight strikes were the heaviest yet in nine days of conflict. Many houses were flattened and the death toll rose inexorably, they said.

Diplomatic efforts have been underway to get aid into the enclave, which has endured unrelenting Israeli bombing since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants that killed 1,300 people – the bloodiest single day in the state’s 75-year history.

Israel has imposed a full blockade and is preparing a ground invasion to enter Gaza and destroy Hamas, which has continued to fire rockets at Israel since its brief cross-border assault. Israeli troops and tanks are already massed on the border.

Authorities in Gaza said at least 2,750 people had so far been killed by the Israeli strikes, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded. A further 1,000 people were missing and believed to be under rubble.

As the humanitarian crisis deepened, with food, fuel and water running short, hundreds of tons of aid from several countries have been held up in Egypt pending a deal for its safe delivery to Gaza and the evacuation of some foreign passport holders through the Rafah border crossing.

Earlier on Monday, Egyptian security sources had told Reuters that an agreement had been reached to open the crossing to allow aid into the enclave.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement: “There is currently no truce and humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out.”

Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq told Reuters that there was “no truth” to the reports about the opening of the crossing with Egypt or a temporary ceasefire.

Egypt has said the crossing remained open from the Egyptian side in recent days, but was rendered inoperable due to Israeli bombardments on the Palestinian side.

The situation remained unclear at the Rafah crossing, the only one not controlled by Israel. Reuters journalists said a small crowd of people had gathered there waiting to enter Egypt.

– Reuters

2:09 a.m. ET

Israel moves to evacute villages abutting Lebanon border

Israel has activated a plan to evacuate residents of 28 villages within 2 km of the Lebanese border, the military said on Monday following hostilities with Hezbollah in parallel to the spiralling war in Gaza.

One of the villages, Shtula, came under a Hezbollah missile attack on Sunday. Israeli media said a civilian was killed.

– Reuters

OCT 15 8:50 p.m. ET

Blinken plans return to Israel as U.S. vows to mitigate humanitarian crisis in Gaza

The U.S. government is scrambling in a bid to prevent Israel’s war with Hamas from expanding into a regional conflict, and vowing to help mitigate the escalating humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Israel for another round of meetings on Monday following a frantic tour around the Middle East in which he sat down with seven Arab leaders. His aim was to seek help ensuring Israel’s enemies, including Iran, Syria and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, do not get involved in the war.

“What I’ve heard from virtually every partner was a determination, a shared view, that we have to do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t spread to other places,” Mr. Blinken told reporters in Cairo.

Israel is girding for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip this week, aimed at destroying Hamas for its deadly rampage through southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has been hitting the enclave with air strikes, reducing city blocks to rubble, and blockading food, fuel, water and electricity. Gaza’s 2.3 million people can’t leave.

Iran-backed Hezbollah on Sunday fired missiles at Israeli army barracks and attacked a village in the country’s north, while Israel responded with artillery fire. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in Beirut that Hezbollah would cause “a huge earthquake” if Israel does not pull back from Gaza.

Such moves have raised fears of a second front opening up in the war, which both the U.S. and Israel are hoping to avoid.

Adrian Morrow


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