October 19, 2023

Israel Hamas live updates: Drones attack US troops in Iraq as fury erupts across Middle East after Gaza hospital blast; Biden urges Israel to not be consumed by rage

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‘All out war’ last red line to be crossed: expert

By Latika Bourke

I have just been in contact with Kawa Hassan, a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Centre’s Middle East & North Africa program.

A Palestinian boy sits on the rubble of the building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Bureij refugee camp Gaza Strip.Credit: AP

He has painted a very bleak outlook for how the Israel-Hamas conflict may unfold.

“One of the hard lessons of October 7 was the sense of sham stability in Middle East, and the failure of imagination and how the lack of a solution to the Palestinian cause could bring the region to the brink of an abyss,” Hassan said.

Israeli soldiers patrol next to houses damaged by Hamas militants in Kibbutz Kfar Azza, Israel.Credit: AP

Hassan pointed to comments made by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan who said just two weeks ago that the Middle East region was quieter today than it has been in two decades.

Hassan said the destruction of Gaza could be a godsend for terrorist organisations.

“Should the doomsday scenario of a regional confrontation come to pass, it will spell geopolitical and humanitarian disasters for the Middle East and beyond,” Hassan said.

Hezbollah supporters chant slogans against US and Israel while carrying the coffin of a Hezbollah militant killed on Tuesday during clashes against IDF in the southern border of Lebanon.Credit: Getty Images Europe

“The euphoria of the blitzkrieg and destruction of Gaza will almost certainly radicalise new generations in the region and in the West.

“This dynamic is a godsend for terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and new iterations of violent extremism.”

Hassan said Russia would also benefit from an overstretched US and her allies as they would be less equipped to continue supporting Ukraine militarily and financially.


Israel’s President complains to Sunak about BBC

By Latika Bourke

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has complained about the BBC’s coverage of the Hamas terrorist attack at a meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Herzog said the BBC, which broadcasts around the world and is funded by taxpayers, but is not government-controlled, was not describing Hamas as a terrorist organisation in its coverage.

“We feel that the way the BBC characterises Hamas is a distortion of the facts,” he said.

But he said he understood that in modern democracies, political leaders, could not directly intervene in media coverage.

“But because the BBC has a certain linkage and it is known as Britain as such all over the world,

“There has to be an outcry so that there will be a correction and Hamas will be defined as a terror organisation.”

Sunak agreed.

’To your last point we should call it what it is, an act of terrorism perpetrated by an evil terrorist organisation,” Sunak told Herzog.


Union boss backs Labor Ministers supporting Palestine

By Latika Bourke

Cabinet ministers Ed Husic and Anne Aly have won the support of union boss Sally McManus who has called for the “collective punishment” of Palestinians to stop.

In a further sign of divisions within the Labor movement over the Israel-Hamas conflict, the ACTU boss posted a media statement on X a short time ago, calling for a ceasefire and for the Australian government to use its influence to get Israel to stop its assault on Gaza.

Israel is seeking to destroy the leadership of the terrorist organisation Hamas which sparked the current conflict with its deadly attacks and massacres of Israeli civilians, including babies and children on October 7.


UK deploys foreign minister to meet regional leaders

By Latika Bourke

As we have previously reported, the UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has landed in Tel Aviv on a solidarity visit.

Now Britain has announced that Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who was the first figure from a foreign government to visit Israel immediately after the October 7 attack, will return to the region for talks with the leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Qatar.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, October 19, 2023. Credit: AP

The UK said the meetings were aimed at preventing spillover violence which would devastate the wider region.


Nationals whip joins Labor ministers in supporting Palestine

By Natassia Chrysanthos and Angus Thompson

Two federal government ministers say civilians in Gaza are being subjected to collective punishment by Israel, exposing tensions within the Albanese government over its position on the unfolding war, as a federal Labor senator called for landmarks to be lit in the colours of the Palestinian flag.

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic and Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth Dr Anne Aly at question time on Thursday.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Industry Minister Ed Husic and Early Childhood Education Minister Anne Aly, who are the only Muslims in federal cabinet, on Thursday called for Australia to step up support for Palestinians facing a humanitarian crisis.

They said Palestinian-Australians felt their lives mattered less in the unfolding political reaction to the Israel-Hamas war.

Read the full story here.


Israel says Hamas is holding 203 hostages

By Latika Bourke

The Israel Defence Forces says Hamas is holding 203 people as hostages in Gaza.

This figure has been increasing over the last few days from initial estimates of around 150.

Hamas is refusing the pleas of Israel and world leaders to release the civilians immediately.

People in Tel Aviv look at photos of Israelis held captive in Gaza.Credit: AP


Israeli currency plummets, ASX falls

By Latika Bourke

Hello Latika Bourke here logging on from London to take you through this evening’s developments.

One of the lesser-noticed topics discussed in the Israel-Hamas conflict has been what economic impact the new war might have on the global economy which is already reeling from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.


Israel’s currency, the Shekel, is bearing the immediate brunt, dropping this week to four against the US dollar for the first time since 2015.

Today the ASX plunged lower than 7000 amid investor fears that the Israel-Hamas violence might turn into a wider regional conflict.

The benchmark index on Thursday closed down 96 points, or 1.36 per cent, to a 10-day low of 6981.6, while the broader All Ordinaries dropped 93 points, or 1.28 per cent, to 7172.7.


This afternoon’s headlines

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Thank you for joining me on the blog this afternoon. I am Caitlin Fitzsimmons and I am now handing over to Latika Bourke for the rest of the evening.

For those just catching up, here are the main headlines:

Developments in Israel and Gaza, and reaction around the world, has continued to be dominated by the recriminations over the deadly explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital yesterday.The US has reviewed its intelligence over the blast and backed Israel’s claim that it was not responsible, and the cause of the explosion was instead a Palestinian rocket aimed at Israel that misfired. Foreign Minister Penny Wong deferred to US intelligence on the matter. Britain said it would investigate independently.President Joe Biden is returning to the US after his trip to Israel. He appears to have secured Israeli support for allowing some humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Egyptian border.British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has landed in Israel for a visit, and will also visit other countries in the region.In Australia, there was much political debate about comments by Labor ministers Ed Husic and Anne Aly that Palestinians were being “collectively punished” for the actions of Hamas.Twenty NSW MPs, including 12 from the Labor state government, signed a statement of support for Palestine.Australian Jewish leaders have called for unity on the release of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas. Our reporting team Matthew Knott and Kate Geraghty are in the Middle East and have filed a report on Israeli families of hostages.


British PM lands in Israel

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has landed in Israel, beginning a visit in which he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog before travelling on to other regional capitals.

His office said Sunak would share his condolences for the loss of life in Israel and Gaza as a result of the October 7 attack on Israel by Gaza-based Palestinian Hamas gunmen, and warn against further escalation of conflict in the region.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv today.Credit: AP

“Every civilian death is a tragedy. And too many lives have been lost following Hamas’ horrific act of terror,” Sunak said in a statement ahead of his visit.

He said the Gaza hospital blast earlier this week should be “a watershed moment for leaders in the region and across the world to come together to avoid further dangerous escalation of conflict”, pledging Britain would be at “the forefront of this effort”.

Sunak will also urge the opening up of a route to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt as soon as possible, and to enable British nationals trapped in Gaza to leave.

Alongside Sunak’s visit, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who visited Israel last week, will travel to Egypt, Turkey and Qatar over the next three days to discuss the conflict and seek a peaceful resolution.



US blocks UN resolution condemning all violence against civilians in the Israel-Hamas war

The US has vetoed a United Nations resolution to condemn all violence against civilians in the Israel-Hamas war and to urge humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, saying it was too early to craft an appropriate Security Council response to the crisis.

The resolution sponsored by Brazil had wide support and would have condemned all violence against civilians, including “the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas” against Israel. The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 12 votes in favour and the US against, with Russia and Britain abstaining.

A United Nations flag at a camp for displaced Palestinians in western Khan Younis, Gaza.Credit: Bloomberg

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the council needs to allow current diplomatic efforts, including by US President Joe Biden, to unfold, and more time to gather the facts on the ground.

Thomas-Greenfield and Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward both criticised the measure for failing to underline Israel’s right to self-defence following Hamas’ surprise attacks on October 7.

Brazil, the current council president, plus France, China, the United Arab Emirates and several other council members expressed regret and disappointment at the US veto.

The voting and debate came after the deadly blast at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza earlier this week.

Council members rejected two proposed Russian amendments to the resolution. One called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” and the other would condemn indiscriminate attacks on civilians and “civilian objects” in Gaza, which include hospitals and schools.

Supporters of the defeated Brazil draft could go to the UN General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, to win approval for a resolution on the Israeli-Hamas war. But unlike a vote in the Security Council, this would not be legally binding.


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