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Israel-Hamas war updates and latest news on Gaza conflict

U.S. could tighten sanctions on Iran crude oil amid Israel-Gaza conflict: RBC

Israel’s long-anticipated ground incursion into Gaza could set the tone for a Western response against Hamas-backing Iran and spell consequences for the oil market, said Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Speaking to CNBC’s Dan Murphy in Saudi Arabia, she said, “It certainly looks like the United States is trying to delay an Israeli ground operation because they want to get out the hostages, they want to get out the hundreds of Americans that are trapped in Gaza, but the question is, is this going to be postponed indefinitely, but I think people are bracing for some type of escalation in Gaza.”

Describing the oil price reaction to the Israel-Hamas war as “sanguine” so far, she nevertheless said that “a lot’s going to hinge on what does a potential ground incursion look like” and that a widening of the conflict into the broader Middle Eastern region could affect the crude supplies of OPEC member Iran. Brent futures with December delivery were trading at $87.78 per barrel at 7:34 a.m. London time, down 29 cents per barrel from the Tuesday settlement.

Tehran has historically financially supported Hamas and has praised the Palestinian militant group’s multi-pronged terror attacks of Oct. 7 against Israel — but has denied involvement.

The Biden administration is desperate to contain the Israel-Hamas war, strategist says

Croft said the West and U.S. President Joe Biden would, “at a minimum,” consider a retaliatory gesture of curbing Iranian exports, which she estimates have climbed near levels seen before 2018, when Donald Trump’s administration reimposed sanctions against Tehran’s crude.

“The argument is, can you continue to allow Iran to keep the bank open for groups like Hamas? So I think the Biden administration is going to have to tighten those sanctions.”

She expects such measures to come into effect soon, amid rising bipartisan U.S. congressional pressure to cut off the availability of Iranian financing for groups like Hamas.

Ruxandra Iordache

Eight Syrian soldiers killed in Israeli airstrike, state-run Syrian media says

Eight Syrian soldiers were killed and seven others injured following an Israeli strike in Daraa, in southwest Syria, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said Wednesday, according to a Google translation.

The Israeli offensive targeted a number of Syrian military positions in the Daraa countryside, a military source told SANA.

The Israel Defense Forces said early Wednesday on social media that its fighter jets struck military infrastructure and mortal launchers belonging to the Syrian army, in response to rocket launches from Syria on Tuesday. The IDF did not mention any casualties in its report.

Israel and the Iran-backed Syrian regime of Bashar Assad have been inimical and repeatedly exchanged fire since the start of Israel’s war with Palestinian militant group Hamas. This and Israeli hostilities with neighboring Lebanon have bolstered fears of the Israel-Hamas conflict spilling into the broader Middle East.

Ruxandra Iordache

UN resumes calls for civilian safety in Israel-Hamas conflict, fuel for Gaza

The situation in the Middle East is “growing more dire by the hour,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned overnight, urging respect for civilian lives as the Israel-Hamas conflict unfolds.

“The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the horrific attacks by Hamas. Those horrendous attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he said on the X social media platform, previously known as Twitter.

Guterres has repeatedly pleaded for the safety of civilians across both Israel and the Palestinian territories, requesting a humanitarian pause to the hostilities to allow the delivery of aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media, after visiting the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, as Egyptian Red Crescent members coordinate aid for Gaza,at Al Arish Airport, Egypt, October 20, 2023. 

Amr Abdallah Dalsh | Reuters

U.N. relief chief Martin Griffiths reiterated that call, stressing on social media, “The aid delivered to Gaza so far is barely making a dent. We need more, and we need it now. We need it to include fuel.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has previously noted it would be unable to carry out aid operations after Wednesday night, if it does not receive fuel supplies necessary for transport, water desalination and running medical equipment

The Israel Defense Forces insist that fuel is present in Gaza, but monopolized by Hamas:

“These fuel tanks are inside Gaza,” the military said on social media in response to UNRWA, alongside a wide-shot picture of what could be tanks. “They contain more than 500,000 liters of fuel. Ask Hamas if you can have some.”

CNBC could not independently verify what area the IDF picture featured.

Ruxandra Iordache

U.S. intel: Gaza hospital blast caused by Palestinian rocket that broke apart due to engine failure

A girl tries to collect usable belongings amid wreckage of vehicles after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. 

Ali Jadallah | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Intelligence officials told reporters that U.S. spy agencies believe the blast at a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds a week ago was caused by a Palestinian rocket that suffered engine failure and broke apart into two pieces, NBC News reported.

“We assess with high confidence that Israel was not responsible for the explosion at the hospital and that Palestinian militants were responsible,” an intelligence official said. “We assess with low confidence that Palestine Islamic Jihad was responsible for launching the rocket that landed on the hospital.”

Read the full NCB News story here.

Riya Bhattacharjee

GOP lawmakers push to rename ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ in D.C., saying the group praised Hamas terrorism

A group of more than two dozen Republican lawmakers urged the mayor of Washington, D.C., to rename “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” claiming that the group for which the plaza is named has voiced support for Hamas following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel.

The lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Florida’s Marco Rubio, also argued that the street painting reading “Black Lives Matter” should be scrubbed from the plaza due the group’s “celebration of violent antisemitic terrorism.”

The plaza, a two-block-long pedestrian zone just north of the White House, got its name in 2020 amid the rapid rise of Black Lives Matter, the political movement that emerged in response to the killings of Black Americans.

In a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the group of eight senators and 17 House members cited a handful of posts from BLM chapters and entities that expressed support for Palestine, criticized Israel or “cast doubt” on the Oct. 7 attacks.

“These posts are meant to delegitimize Israel and rationalize brutal attacks on the Jewish people,” the letter read. “It is hard to escape the conclusion that these statements are motivated by an ugly animus against the Jewish people.”

“America must clearly affirm its stance against antisemitism, wherever it appears. We therefore urge you to immediately rename the Black Lives Matter Plaza, to remove the associated street painting in the plaza, and to end the city’s celebration of this terrorist sympathizer group.”

BLM and Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the letter.

Kevin Breuninger

Scene in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip

People gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 24, 2023. 

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa | Reuters

Crowds of people gather to assess residential damage in the southern Gaza Strip after an Israeli strike on Tuesday. Israel has been launching hundreds of airstrikes daily while demanding that Hamas release its remaining 222 hostages.

Correction: The Reuters photo above was taken on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The day of the week was misstated in an earlier version.

— Elisabeth Cordova

Columbia University postpones fundraising event as campus tensions rise over Israel-Hamas conflict

Columbia University in New York City

Barry Winiker | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Columbia University postponed a major annual fundraising event this week as the campus grapples with fallout triggered by the ongoing Israel and Hamas conflict.

After careful consideration and consultation with University and alumni leadership, we decided that this is not the appropriate time to move forward with Columbia Giving Day. It is postponed for the time being, and a decision on rescheduling will be made in the near future,” said Samantha Slater, a university spokeswoman, in a statement.

Last year, Columbia Giving Day raised almost $30 million in about 24 hours, according to The New York Times.

— Amanda Macias

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