Israel Latest: Netanyahu Vows End to Hamas in New Stage of War

(Bloomberg) -- Israel has begun a “second stage” of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after vowing to destroy the militant group, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in news conference. He said one aim is to return all hostages taken after the Oct. 7 attack in which Hamas killed 1,400 people in Israel.

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“We have one main goal to beat the enemy and guarantee our existence,” he said.

He spoke as Israeli troops were pursuing operations inside the northern Gaza Strip, a day after authorities said they would extend ground activities in the Palestinian enclave.

Israel has effectively started its ground offensive in Gaza, though it’s not a “full-scale” attack, said Amos Yadlin, a former director of military intelligence. The Gaza Strip has lost internet and telephone service amid the stepped-up offensive, and international agencies lost contact with staff there.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Netanyahu Says ‘Second Stage’ of War Has Begun (9:05 p.m.)

Israel has begun a “second stage” of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after vowing to destroy the militant group, countering an attack that killed more than 1,400 Israelis in an unprecedented attack in early October.

“We have one main goal to beat the enemy and guarantee our existence,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a press conference on Saturday. One aim is to return all hostages taken by Hamas after the Oct. 7 incursion, he said.

Netanyahu Speaks With Families of Hostages (8:13 p.m.)

Prime Minister Netanyahu met Saturday afternoon with the families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas, some of whom have criticized the decision to expand ground operations in Gaza that could endanger their loved ones.

Netanyahu said one of the goals of the war is to free the hostages — and that the ground operation make this more likely.

“If I were to say what’s the key, the key is the degree of pressure” on Hamas, according to a statement from PM Netanyahu’s office. “The greater the pressure, the greater the chances.”

Israel in ‘Low-Intensity’ Ground War, Says Ex-Intel Chief (6.30 p.m.)

Israel has effectively started its ground offensive in Gaza, though it’s not a “full-scale” attack, said Amos Yadlin, a former director of military intelligence.

“It’s a low-intensity conflict. It is not a blitzkrieg, it’s inch by inch, meter by meter,” Yadlin told reporters on a conference call.

UN’s Guterres ‘Surprised’ by Israel’s Escalation (5:50 p.m.)

The UN Secretary-General said he was “surprised” by the “unprecedented escalation” of Israel’s bombardments of Gaza overnight and their “devastating impacts” at a time he perceived growing consensus toward “at least a humanitarian pause.”

“This situation must be reversed,” Antonio Guterres said in a statement from Doha.

Gaza Strikes Breach Humanitarian Law, EU’s Top Diplomat Says (5 p.m.)

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, said Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza and the heavy death toll among civilians, including children, “is against international humanitarian law.”

“A pause of hostilities is urgently needed to enable humanitarian access,” Borrell said on X, formerly Twitter. “We condemn all attacks against civilians, including continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel, and we ask the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

Erdogan Brands Israel as ‘War Criminal’ at Rally (4:55 p.m.)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s ramped up his rhetoric in recent days, called Israel an “occupier” as he addressed a large pro-Palestinian rally at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on Saturday.

“We are working to present Israel as war criminal to the world,” Erdogan said, without specifying any action he might take. He earlier said Israel must stop the “madness” in Gaza.

Erdogan was accompanied by local political allies at the rally, with Yusuf Islam, the British-born musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, also delivering a speech.

Saudi Arabia Condemns Israel’s Ground Operations (4:02 p.m.)

Saudi Arabia condemned Israel’s ground operations in Gaza, saying they threaten the lives of civilians. Riyadh called on the international community to stop the military operation in accordance with the UN General Assembly resolution released on Friday.

The Kingdom “warns of the danger of continuing to carry out these blatant and unjustified violations” and the repercussions on regional and global stability, state-run Saudi Press News said.

Italy Prepares for Humanitarian Support (4:30 p.m.)

Italy is ready to provide humanitarian support to “the population affected by the ongoing conflict,” according to a government statement.

A patrol vessel has been rerouted to Cyprus that could quickly reach the waters off Israel and Gaza, ready to take on board humanitarian aid materials from a UN logistics base in southern Italy. Navy frigates are already in the area and an amphibious ship is approaching for the possible humanitarian evacuation of personnel as well as for the transport of relief materials.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah Claims Israel Attacks Near Border (4:18 p.m.)

Hezbollah said it attacked multiple areas in Israel near the Lebanese border, the militant group’s Al Manar TV reported.

The group said it targeted around four areas, using artillery shells, guided missiles and other weapons.

Defense Minister Vows Israel’s ‘Operation Will Continue’ (3 p.m.)

“We moved to a new stage of the war,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. “The ground in Gaza shook. We attacked above ground and below ground, we attacked terrorist operatives at all levels, in all places.”

Amid the UN’s call for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” in the conflict, Gallant vowed Israel’s “operation will continue until a new order” is made.

Musk Says SpaceX Will Support Comms From ‘Aid Organizations’ (2:50 p.m.)

Israeli public broadcaster Kan News reported an official with the Palestinian Authority saying they’re in discussions with Elon Musk’s Starlink to provide internet service to Gaza, which was knocked out Friday by Israeli bombardment.

Musk said earlier in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “no terminals from Gaza have attempted to communicate with our constellation” and that SpaceX will support links with “internationally recognized aid organizations.” It’s not clear who has authority for ground links in Gaza, Musk said.

Hamas Says Israeli Strikes Kill More Than 7,700 (2:09 p.m.)

The number of Palestinians killed since Israel started air strikes on Gaza after Oct. 7 has risen to 7,703, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

Among the dead, 3,585 are children. Another 19,734 people have been injured, it said.

Iran’s Raisi, Qatar’s Emir Discuss Conflict (2:10 p.m.)

Iran’s president discussed the conflict with Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in a phone call on Saturday, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

“The Palestinian nation needs the effective unity of the world, and especially Muslim countries, to stop Israel’s war machine,” Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as saying by IRNA. Raisi said Israel has a “green light” from US and its Western allies to attacks Gaza.

Hamas Promises to Release Russian-Israeli Captives (2.03 p.m.)

Hamas has promised Moscow it will release hostages who have Russian citizenship, a senior member of the Palestinian militant group said in an interview with RIA Novosti. No time-frame was given.

Russia has identified eight dual Israeli-Russians believed to be held captive in Gaza, Moussa Abu Marzouk told the Russian state news service. Hamas is holding 229 Israeli hostages, some of whom hold various dual citizenships, that it seized during a mass attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Israeli Strike Kills Three Generations of One Family (1:08 p.m.)

An Israeli air strike late Friday destroyed a house in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, killing 18 residents and a number of members of an extended family who were sheltering there.

A list compiled by relatives showed that the dead included three generations of the same family. An additional 18 members of the family were trapped under the rubble and their fate is unknown.

Israel Pursues Gaza Ground Operation, Army Radio Says (9 a.m.)

Troops are pursuing operations inside the northern Gaza Strip, a day after Israel said it would extend ground activities in the Palestinian enclave, Israel Defense Forces Radio reported, without giving further details. The IDF didn’t respond to a request for comment on the current presence of ground forces in Gaza.

Iran Begins Military Exercises (8 a.m.)

Iran’s army is carrying out military drills, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. The two-day “offensive” exercises started on Friday in the central Isfahan province and involved more than 200 helicopters as well as missiles, drones and artillery, according to Tasnim.

Israel Says It Killed Head of Hamas’s Aerial Array (7:38 a.m.)

The Israeli military said its jets struck overnight and killed the head of Hamas’ Aerial Array, who was responsible for the organization’s drones, paragliders, aerial detection and aerial defense. He took part in planning killings in communities surrounding the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. He directed those who infiltrated Israel on paragliders and was responsible for drone attacks on military posts, according to a statement.

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