Israel Latest: US Carries Out ‘Self-Defense Strike’ in Syria

(Bloomberg) -- US fighters fired upon a weapons depot in Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, adding that the “self-defense strike” was in retaliation for attacks on American forces in Iraq and Syria.

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Israel said about 50,000 Palestinians fled to southern Gaza as the army pushed deeper into Hamas strongholds in the north of the territory. The Israeli military said it’s been enacting limited pauses in the offensive to allow Gazans to escape the north and aid to arrive.

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, the route for humanitarian aid to enter and civilians to leave, was closed again because of a security incident, according to the US. Benny Gantz, a senior member of Israel’s war cabinet, said there’s no time limit for the offensive to destroy Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union, and attacked Israel a month ago.

For more stories on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

Israel, Hamas, Discuss Hostage Release for Pause, NYT Reports (2 a.m.)

Israel and Hamas have been negotiating for the release of as many as 15 hostages in exchange for a brief suspension in the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said that CIA Director William Burns had been helping with the talks. The pause would last three days and give time for shipments of humanitarian aid to reach the strip, according to the Times report.

US Fighters Hit Target in Syria (1 a.m.)

The US military carried out the “self-defense strike” on an installation in eastern Syria that was used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to store weapons, Austin said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

He said that the attack by two F-15 warplanes was “a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria” by Iranian-backed forces. Austin added that President Joe Biden “has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.”

US Drone Shot Down Off Yemen Coast (1 a.m.)

An American MQ-9 military drone was shot down by Houthi militants off the coast of Yemen, a US official said Wednesday evening. The official did not provide additional details. The Houthis, a clan from Yemen’s northwest whose uprising against the government in 2014 triggered a civil war, are supported by Iran.

They launched missiles and drones toward Israel on Oct. 19 and Oct. 31 and threatened further attacks unless Israeli forces end their campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Although Israel and Yemen are about 1,000 miles apart at their narrowest point, the involvement of the Houthis has raised concerns about that the Israel-Hamas conflict could spread.

Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Kill Hezbollah Fighters (11:30 p.m.)

Israel carried out airstrikes in the area around the Syrian capital Damascus, killing three Hezbollah fighters, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Israeli strikes also targeted air defenses in southern Syria, the group said.

Brazil Arrests Two in Hezbollah-Linked Plot, Mossad Says (10:45 p.m)

Brazil’s Federal Police arrested two subjects allegedly linked to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah who were seeking to carry out attacks on Jewish and Israeli communities in the country, according to Israel’s intelligence service Mossad.

The arrests were part of a multi-state operation to prevent a terrorist plot and “obtain evidence of possible recruitment of Brazilians to carry out extremist acts in the country,” Brazil’s Federal Police said in a statement Wednesday. Brazilian authorities did not mention Hezbollah.

Israel Says 50,000 Gazans Moved to South on Wednesday (9:00 p.m.)

About 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza moved on Wednesday from the north of the territory, where most Hamas fighters are based and the heaviest fighting is taking place, to the south, army spokesperson Daniel Hagari told reporters.

Israel is enacting limited pauses in its attacks to enable people to leave northern Gaza, and there’ll be another opportunity for them to do so on Thursday, said Hagari. Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said there have been “small tactical pauses” lasting an hour or so to allow aid to be brought in.

US Says Rafah Border Crossing Closed Again (8:00 p.m.)

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza was closed on Wednesday due to an unspecified “security circumstance,” the US State Department said, without providing further details. The crossing has opened sporadically in recent days, with aid deliveries entering from Egypt and some wounded Gazans and dual-nationals able to leave the territory.

Gantz Says ‘No Limitations’ to Length of Offensive (7:40 p.m.)

“There are no limitations” to the duration of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza as it seeks to destroy Hamas, said Benny Gantz, a top member of the country’s war cabinet and a former army chief.

“The war here is for our existence and for Zionism, and so I can’t provide an estimate of the length of each stage in the war,” he told reporters. “It will take some time and there will be casualties though we are trying as much as possible to move Gazan people south.”

Yemen’s Houthis Say They Shot Down US Drone (6:39 p.m.)

Yemen’s Houthis said their forces shot down a US drone over Yemeni waters, according to a statement from the group.

The Houthis, a Shiite militia that’s backed by Iran, have previously claimed responsibility for launching attacks toward Israel to support Palestinians in Gaza. The US said earlier in the conflict that it intercepted some missiles fired by the group.

Hezbollah Says Targets Israeli Infantry Near Shomera Base (1:08 p.m.)

The militant group said they attacked Israeli infantry near Shomera Base, located close to the border with Lebanon, with “appropriate weapons,” according to its Al Manar TV.

Lebanese state-run National News Agency also said that Israel shelled some border villages in Lebanon.

G-7 Foreign Ministers Call for ‘Pauses’ in War (11:15 a.m.)

Group of Seven Foreign Ministers agreed on the need for humanitarian “pauses” in Israel’s war with Hamas, according to a joint statement issued after the group met in Tokyo.

“We support humanitarian pauses and corridors to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement, and the release of hostages,” the ministers said. “All parties must allow unimpeded humanitarian support for civilians.”

US President Joe Biden has also urged Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a three-day pause in fighting to allow progress in releasing some of the hostages held by Hamas, Axios reported, citing unnamed US and Israeli officials.

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