Troops Exit Gaza Strip After Another Limited Raid

(Bloomberg) — Israel said it sent troops on a limited raid into Gaza for the second night running, as preparations for a more extensive ground offensive continue.

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The US said it bombed sites in eastern Syria it believes were used by Iran and its allied groups. The “self-defense strikes” caused oil futures to rise and followed repeated attacks on US bases in the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7.

Aid continued to move into Gaza from Egypt, but in much smaller volumes than the United Nations says is needed. European Union leaders are calling for pauses in the fighting to ensure more supplies get in and to help hostage negotiations with Hamas.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Oil Gains After US Strikes in Syria (8:32 a.m.)

Brent crude jumped above $89 a barrel, paring its weekly loss, as US strikes in Syria increased investor concerns that the Israel-Hamas war may spark a wider conflict and disrupt crude supplies from the Persian Gulf.

The 10-year US Treasury yield rose slightly, but gold edged close to $2,000 an ounce as investors sought havens ahead of the weekend. European stocks fell.

Iran Holds Army Drills to Deter Threats (8:01 a.m.)

Iran is holding two days of army drills to increase its “level of deterrence against potential threats” and the “capabilities and battle readiness of the ground forces,” state TV reported, without specifying the threats.

Iran has criticized the US for sending more troops to the Middle East since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Iran denies having a direct role in them.

Israel Says Soldiers Carry Out Another Raid in Gaza Strip (7:40 a.m.)

Israeli soldiers carried out another raid in Gaza overnight that lasted several hours, Army Radio says in a post on X.

From Oct. 26: Israel Army Says Attacks Cells Inside Northern Gaza

Soldiers from the 36th division entered the Gaza Strip and attacked Hamas targets. They are “expected to leave soon.”

The Israel Defense Forces later announced the raid and said the soldiers had exited Gaza with no injuries reporting. The military also said it continued its airstrikes on Gaza, attacking dozens of Hamas targets including sites for launching missiles.

US House of Reps May Consider Ukraine, Israel Aid Separately (6:40 a.m.)

The US House of Representatives will consider new military assistance for Ukraine and Israel as separate measures, the newly-installed speaker said Thursday, complicating President Joe Biden’s attempts to secure support for both US allies.

“Our consensus among House Republicans is that we need to bifurcate those issues,” Speaker Mike Johnson told Fox News.

The White House has asked Congress for $106 billion in emergency spending for Ukraine, Israel and other foreign assistance, hoping a package deal would help it to secure the full amount. But more support for Ukraine was one of the more contentious issues in the party’s three-week struggle over who would lead the chamber, which culminated in Johnson’s election Wednesday.

India to Bolster Drone-Defense Network (6:350 a.m.)

India is setting up a surveillance system with drones across its borders to wade off surprise attacks like the one from Hamas in Israel, according to people familiar with the matter.

India Ramps Up Border Drone Defense After Hamas Attack on Israel

The country’s defense officials met with six home-grown vendors of surveillance and reconnaissance drones over the past week and an order is expected to be announced as soon as next month, the people said, asking not to be named as the information isn’t public. The military is looking to have the system up and running across some areas as early as May, the people added.

Austin Says US Struck Two Facilities in Eastern Syria (5:12 a.m.)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said President Joe Biden ordered “precision self-defense strikes” against two facilities in eastern Syria that were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups. The move was in response to attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, Austin said.

Israel’s Hostage Crisis Bodes Terror for the US: Andreas Kluth

“The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop,” Austin said. “We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict.”

Rocket Hits Egyptian Border Town, Reports Say (4:21 a.m.)

A rocket came down on the Egyptian town of Taba, which borders Israel on the Gulf of Aqaba, causing several injuries, according to multiple reports in local media. It wasn’t clear where the rocket was launched from. Egyptian authorities have begun an investigation, Al Arabiya said, citing local media.

Taba is more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Gaza.

US Is Sending 900 Troops to Bolster Deployments (11:15 p.m.)

The US is deploying 900 more troops to the Middle East. Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said the personnel include Thaad and Patriot air-defense operators. None of the troops, which are already deployed or are being sent, are going to Israel, Ryder added.

He also disclosed what he called an unsuccessful attack Thursday aimed at US forces at the Erbil air base in Iraq, which he said resulted in no casualties.

US and coalition forces were attacked 12 times in Iraq and four times in Syria from Oct. 17 through Oct. 26, he said. US personnel “received minor injuries due to drone attacks at Al-Asad air base in Iraq and Al-Tanf garrison in Syria,” he said. These included traumatic brain injuries, although all of the people have returned to duty.

Yellen Says US Weighing Further Hamas Sanctions (9:43 p.m.)

The US is weighing additional sanctions on Hamas as part of efforts to constrain the militant group’s ability to access money, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

“We are certainly looking at further opportunities we see,” Yellen said in an event at Bloomberg’s Washington office on Thursday. “We’re all over this and are likely to do more.”

US Presses Gulf Allies to Help Stem Fresh Fundraising for Hamas

Iran Says Hamas Ready For Prisoner Swap (9:17 p.m.)

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Hamas is prepared to swap civilian hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

“According to our negotiations, Hamas is ready to release civilian prisoners,” he said in an address to the United Nations in New York. “On the other hand, the world should support the release of 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.”

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