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Israel Latest: Blinken Returning to Israel; Refugee Camp Hit

(Bloomberg) -- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to head back to Israel after dozens were reported killed and wounded at a Gaza refugee camp, stoking concerns about the mounting toll from weeks of fighting.

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Health officials in the Hamas-controlled territory said the Jabaliya camp was hit by a series of Israeli airstrikes. Israel’s military said it targeted Hamas infrastructure in the area and killed a senior leader of the organization, which is designated as a terrorist group by the US and European Union.

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to allow for more aid to make its way into Gaza, calling current levels “completely inadequate.” The Rafah border crossing is set to open Wednesday to let some wounded Palestinians leave and Egypt said it’s ready to allow in more aid trucks.

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

(All time stamps are Israeli time)

White House Threatens to Veto Israel Bill (2:25 a.m.)

US President Joe Biden has threatened to veto the standalone Israel aid bill if it were to be presented, according to an Office of Management and Budget statement, arguing it would “create a dangerous precedent by demanding partisan poison pill offsets in return for meeting core national security needs of the US.”

Senators and Biden administration officials warned the Republican gambit to push through Israel aid and hold off on assistance for Ukraine threatens to stymie urgently needed funding to two US allies.

Read: Speaker Johnson Hits Early Hurdle in Standalone Israel Aid Bill

Blinken Heads Back to Israel on Friday (12:30 a.m.)

Blinken will travel to Israel on Friday, and after meeting with Israeli officials, will then “make other stops in the region,” according to department spokesman Matthew Miller. Blinken visited Israel twice in the days after the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas and also went to other countries in the region for shuttle diplomacy.

Blinken spoke separately with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to reiterate “US support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism,” and spoke about increasing the volume of humanitarian aid entering Gaza for distribution to Palestinian civilians, the department said in a statement.

Israeli Military Describes Attack on Refugee Camp (12 a.m.)

The Israeli military said the attack on the Jabaliya refugee camp had “eliminated many terrorists and destroyed terror infrastructure.” Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the armed forces, added the assault had also “caused the collapse of adjacent buildings” because of Hamas installations underground: Another military spokesman said dozens of militants had died.

Hagari said the camp had been a Hamas stronghold, which served as a training center for the Oct. 7th massacre.

300 More US Troops Will Be Sent to Middle East (11:10 p.m.)

The US is sending an additional 300 troops to the Middle East to assist with explosive ordinance disposal and communications, the Pentagon said. While the US isn’t disclosing where, exactly, the troops are headed, “they are not going to Israel,” Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters. The US had already announced that it was sending 900 troops to the region in response to tensions.

Ryder also said there had been six more “small-scale” attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and there were no injuries or damage reported from these attacks. The total number of attacks has now risen to 27 since Oct. 17, he added.

Bolivia Breaking Off Relations With Israel (11:10 p.m.)

Bolivia is cutting off diplomatic relations with Israel after the attacks against Gaza. The Israeli offensive has been “disproportionate” and threatens international peace and security, Bolivia’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Freddy Mamani told reporters in La Paz.

The Latin American left-wing governments of Gustavo Petro in Colombia and Gabriel Boric in Chile have recalled their ambassadors to Israel, with the latter saying the offensive on Gaza violates international law.

Senate Confirms Lew as US Ambassador to Israel (9:15 p.m.)

The Senate voted to confirm Jack Lew, a former Treasury secretary, to be the US ambassador to Israel. He’s expected to play a key role in the Biden administration’s pledge to bolster Israel’s defenses and provide humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, as well as working on the release of US citizens held captive by Hamas.

White House Backs ‘Pauses’ in Gaza Not Cease-Fire (8:20 p.m.)

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it’s time for Israel and Hamas to consider limited pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and for people to be able to leave if they desire, but rejected calls for a “general cease-fire.”

“We’re continuing to work with partners in the region, including those who have a direct line of communication with Hamas, to see if that’s possible,” Kirby said during a Tuesday press briefing. He also said the US believes fuel supplies in Gaza could run out by Wednesday.

Hamas Says It Will Release Foreign Captives (7:15 p.m.)

Hamas has told mediators it will release a number of foreigners in the coming days, the group’s spokesperson Abu Obaida said in televised comments. Earlier, the head of Israel’s national security council said there’s no deal in sight for the release of more hostages via mediation from Qatar.

Egypt Crossing to Open for Wounded Palestinians (7:08 p.m.)

Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza will open Wednesday to receive a number of wounded Palestinians, according to Wael Abu Mohssen, a Palestinian spokesman for the border post.

An Egyptian official told reporters Tuesday the North African country’s hospitals have capacity to treat some injured.

Israel Says Two Soldiers Killed in Gaza Fighting (6:57pm)

The Israel Defense Forces said two soldiers were killed in combat in the northern Gaza Strip. No further details were given about their deaths. The soldiers are the first Israeli fatalities reported inside Gaza since the army stepped up ground operations inside the territory late last week.

Deadly Strike Reported at Gaza Refugee Camp (6:45 p.m.)

Explosions at a crowded refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip left hundreds dead or wounded, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which said the area was hit by a series of Israeli airstrikes. Bloomberg was not able to verify the reports.

Television pictures showed a deep crater in Gaza’s most densely populated area, and Agence France-Presse said its initial footage showed at least 47 bodies being removed from rubble. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry described the strike on the camp, where the United Nations registers refugees and provides services, as a violation of international law.

Blinken Sees Possible International Rule for Gaza (6:00 p.m.)

Blinken told the Senate the US is examining a range of “possible permutations” for the future governance of Gaza, including “temporary arrangements” that might include other countries in the region or international agencies that could provide security in the strip before a longer-term solution is found.

Israel has said that Hamas’s continued rule in Gaza is unacceptable, but has also ruled out Israeli re-occupation of the territory, raising questions about who will govern the some 2 million inhabitants of the region. Ultimately, the US believes a two-state solution is necessary, Blinken reiterated.

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