June 19, 2024

(Bloomberg) — The conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas entered its fourth day, with at least 1,500 fatalities.

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The US said security assistance and aid for Israel is on the way and it may announce more soon. President Joe Biden, who’s due to speak on Tuesday about the attacks from Gaza into southern Israel, said at least 11 Americans had died and others were likely being held hostage. Hamas said late Monday the militant group was prepared to kill hostages.

Overnight, Israel struck the Gaza Strip from the air and the sea, while the top US general warned Iran to stay out of the fight. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the response had “only started” and would be severe. While he didn’t announce a ground invasion of Gaza, many Israelis and Palestinians expect one.

All time stamps are for Israel

Oil and Shekel Stabilize (8:15 a.m.)

The Israeli shekel was little changed in early trading on Tuesday, rising to 3.94 per dollar. It slumped on Monday despite a huge support package announced by the central bank.

Israel’s $45 Billion Shekel Defense Is Tested in Market Showdown

Oil fell slightly, with Brent trading at $87.80 a barrel. It jumped a day earlier on fears the conflict could embroil major energy producers in the region such Iran and Saudi Arabia.

How Hamas Outmaneuvered Israel (7 a.m.)

Facing one of the most sophisticated surveillance states on the planet, Hamas simply went dark. The militant group’s attack on Saturday caught Israel’s national security apparatus completely off guard — a shocking fact given the scope of the incursion, which included attacks by sea, air and land, and pushed deep into Israeli territory.

While many questions remain unanswered, what’s clear is that Hamas went low-tech, avoiding Israel’s ability to tap its communications, and even, perhaps, exploiting the Israeli Defense Forces’ confidence that its missile attacks could be repelled or prevented.

Conflict Tests Musk’s X (6:23 a.m.)

Posts about the attack in Israel have led to confusion, misinformation and conflict on Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, exposing how his acquisition and policy changes have transformed the social media site into an unreliable resource during a time of crisis, researchers said. Mike Rothschild, a conspiracy theory researcher who has studied viral falsehoods on social media, said that news of the attack on Israel was “the first real test of Elon Musk’s version of Twitter, and it failed spectacularly.

Meanwhile, hacking groups — including some tied to Russia — are attacking Israeli government and media websites, allying themselves with the Palestinian military group Hamas that launched a series of deadly attacks on the country over the weekend.

Joint Ukraine, Israel Aid Package (6:09 a.m.)

Some US lawmakers have proposed the Biden administration pursue a joint aid package for Israel and Ukraine that would capitalize on broad bipartisan support for the Jewish state to overcome opposition from some Republicans to continued funding for Kyiv.

White House officials described the discussion as premature, noting that Biden could tap current authorizations to provide immediate aid. In addition, no aid package can advance until the House settles on a speaker.

US Warns Iran to Stay Out (5:14 a.m.)

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., warned Iran to “not get involved” in the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Financial Times reported. The US is sending the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster deterrence efforts. The group includes an aircraft carrier, a guided missile cruiser and guided missile destroyers.

Congress Aid Hinges on Speaker Selection (3 a.m.)

Key members of the US House of Representatives are considering ideas for assistance to Israel, but the process won’t advance until lawmakers agree on the next leader of the chamber. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul said Monday the lack of a House speaker plays into the hands of the country’s enemies.

The chamber cannot conduct much normal legislative business until then. McCaul said the first step would be a resolution condemning Hamas. Congress then, he added, should consider replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, as well as supplying precision munitions.

Israel Attacks Gaza From Air and Sea (12:10 a.m.)

The Israeli Defense Force said Monday night that attacks against the Gaza Strip were proceeding, from the sea as well as the air. Israeli aircraft hit a building where, according to an IDF statement, Hamas carried out operations within a mosque. Another mosque that concealed the militant group’s operations headquarters and a tunnel shaft were also targets of the latest Israeli attacks.

Two militants were killed when aircraft attacked what the IDF described as a weapons depot and meeting house of another group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Some Americans ‘Likely’ Abducted (11:35 p.m.)

Biden mourned the Americans killed in the attacks, and pointed out that others are missing. “The pain these families have endured, the enormity of their loss, and the agony of those still awaiting information is unfathomable,” he said.

On the possibility that some Americans had been abducted, the president said he had “directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on every aspect of the hostage crisis.”

US Lacks Evidence of Iran’s Direct Role (11 p.m.)

The US doesn’t have any specific intelligence or evidence that points to direct participation by Iran in the attacks against Israel, National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said on MSNBC.

Iran May Have Known About Hamas Attack, Israel Minister Says

“That said, of course, Iran has long supported Hamas and other terrorist networks throughout the region with resources capabilities training,” Kirby said. “And so in that regard, clearly, Iran is complicit here, but in terms of specific evidence on this on these sets of attacks, no, we don’t have anything.”

Hezbollah Strikes Targets in Israel (10:46 p.m.)

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon said it launched guided missiles and mortar shells into Israel, striking two targets after three of its members were killed in an Israeli attack earlier Monday. Israel said there were no injuries in the Hezbollah attack, to which it retaliated with artillery fire.

The exchange further escalated the possibility of a second conflict opening up along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

–With assistance from Gwen Ackerman, Alisa Odenheimer, Galit Altstein and Marissa Newman.

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