Israel Latest: US Determines Israel Wasn’t Behind Hospital Blast

(Bloomberg) -- US intelligence officials have concluded with “high confidence” that Israel wasn’t behind an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City last week that killed as many as 300 people, the Washington Post reported.

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Israel’s credit outlook was cut to negative by S&P Global Ratings, which cited risks that the war with Hamas could spread more widely and have a more pronounced effect on the country’s economy than expected.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza at the Security Council, saying that “clear violations” of international law are ongoing. Israel’s ambassador to the UN demanded that Guterres resign over his comments. President Joe Biden said humanitarian aid isn’t getting into Gaza fast enough — the Red Crescent said eight aid trucks arrived late Tuesday after delays.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

US Determines Israel Didn’t Cause Hospital Blast (3:44 a.m.)

US intelligence officials have determined that Israel wasn’t behind a large explosion at a hospital in Gaza last week that killed as many as 300 people, the Washington Post reported, citing three officials it didn’t identify.

While analysts weren’t able to determine who launched the rocket that caused the Oct. 18 blast, they were able to use video from four locations to track the trajectory of the weapon, which showed it was fired from within Gaza and malfunctioned. Other intelligence, including intercepted communications and a review of the damaged hospital, helped officials conclude with “high confidence” that Israel wasn’t responsible.

Israeli officials previously said they have evidence that the errant rocket was fired by the group Islamic Jihad.

S&P Cites Risk That War Could Spread (1:40 a.m.)

S&P Global Ratings affirmed Israel’s rating at AA-, the fourth highest score. Last week Moody’s Investors Service put Israel’s debt rating on review for downgrade and Fitch Ratings placed the nation’s credit score on negative watch, both citing the conflict.

“The Israel-Hamas war could spread more widely or affect Israel’s credit metrics more negatively than we expect,” analysts Maxim Rybnikov and Karen Vartapetov wrote. “We currently assume the conflict will remain centered in Gaza and last no more than three to six months.”

Israel Calls for Resignation of UN Chief Guterres (1:25 a.m.)

The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations demanded that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres resign for saying Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel didn’t happen in a vacuum, capping a day of heated exchanges at the Security Council over violence that threatens to spark a regional war.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan was responding to Guterres’s speech at the the opening of a Security Council meeting to discuss the Israel-Hamas war in which the world body’s leader said no Palestinian grievances can justify the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, which killed about 1,400 people.

Red Crescent Says Eight Aid Trucks Enter Gaza (11:45 p.m.)

Eight aid trucks carrying water, food and medicine entered Gaza from Egypt, the Red Crescent said late Tuesday. The delivery came after United Nations officials said that scheduled aid deliveries had been unable to cross the border earlier in the day.

The UN’s aid agency in Gaza said it will run out of fuel by the end of Wednesday and will be forced to halt operations including delivery of aid. Israel says it won’t allow fuel to be delivered because Hamas uses it for operational infrastructure.

Pentagon Sending Iron Dome Batteries to Israel (11:00 p.m.)

The Pentagon is sending Israel the US Army’s two batteries of Iron Dome radar, command posts and interceptors to boost the nation’s air defense, according to a defense official, who didn’t disclose how soon it would arrive.

One missile battery of three to four launchers and radar can defend almost 60 square miles. The batteries are mobile, and as of mid-2021 Israel had 10 of them deployed throughout the country, according to Raytheon Technologies.

Biden Talks to Saudi Prince About Stabilization, Gaza Aid (10:00 p.m.)

Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman agreed to pursue diplomatic efforts to maintain stability across the Middle East and keep the conflict between Israel and Hamas from expanding, the White House said Tuesday.

The leaders also discussed efforts to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, and resuming broader peace talks once the immediate crisis subsides. Biden has said he believes that Hamas launched the Oct. 7 attack against Israel in part to disrupt US-backed talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia aimed at normalizing relations.

US Working on Evacuation Plans for Americans (9:30 p.m.)

The US is “actively trying to get Americans out of Gaza” and also “thinking through a broad range of contingencies” for evacuation of its citizens from the wider Middle East if the conflict escalates, White House spokesman John Kirby said. He said the plans are “not at a point of execution right now.”

Israel Strikes Hamas Divers Trying to Enter From Sea (8:40 p.m.)

The Israeli military said its naval forces targeted Hamas divers trying to enter southern Israel by sea, and the air force hit the military compound in the Gaza Strip that they had left from. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the US and European Union.

Macron Says Nothing Justifies Suffering of Civilians in Gaza (8:25 p.m.)

French president Emmanuel Macron said nothing can justify the suffering of civilians in Gaza and stressed that “a Palestinian life equals a French life which equals an Israeli life.” He spoke after talks with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Hours earlier, after meeting Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Macron called for an international coalition against Hamas on the lines of the one that fought Islamic State, and told the Israeli premier that France’s priority “is to defeat these terrorist groups with you.”

Israel Says It Returned Fire Across Lebanon, Syria Borders (8:20 p.m.)

The Israeli military said it responded with artillery after two projectiles were fired across the border from Syria, landing in an open area.

The military earlier said it struck Hezbollah positions on the border with Lebanon, after they launched rockets and mortar shells toward Israeli territory. Hezbollah said it struck struck an Israeli post near the border with guided missiles, according to the militant group’s Al-Manar television channel.

Biden Says Humanitarian Aid to Gaza Too Slow (8:10 p.m.)

Biden said humanitarian aid to Gaza isn’t getting in fast enough. He was speaking in response to a question at a White House event.

Biden held talks last week with Israeli and Egyptian leaders, and said afterward that arrangements were in place to let some aid in. The United Nations said that three convoys with a total of 54 trucks reached Gaza in the three days through Monday.

Blinken Backs ‘Humanitarian Pauses’ for Gaza Aid (8:00 p.m.)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for humanitarian pauses in the fighting between Israel and Hamas so that people in the Gaza Strip can get aid, and said Israel must “take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians.”

“It means food, water, medicine and other essential humanitarian assistance must be able to fall into Gaza and to the people who need it,” he said. “It means civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way. It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes.”

Blinken also warned Iran that if its proxies attack Americans then the US will respond “decisively,” after a spate of drone and rocket attacks that targeted US forces in Iraq and Syria.

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