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Israel Latest: Army Says Offensive May Extend to Southern Gaza

(Bloomberg) -- Israel’s military said its offensive in the Gaza Strip may extend to the south of the territory, where many Palestinians have sought refuge from heavy fighting in the north.

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The telecom operator in Gaza said it was able to restore services to part of the strip, ending a communications blackout, after Israel eased curbs on delivery of fuel needed for generators. Israel said it will allow two tankers a day to enter Gaza.

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US President Joe Biden spoke to the ruler of Qatar, which has mediated in hostage talks with Hamas, about the latest push to get more captives held in Gaza released. Officials from Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union — said the death toll in Gaza has passed 12,000.

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

White House Offers Condolences Over UN Deaths (12:35 a.m.)

A White House national security advisor offered condolences to the head of a United Nations relief agency over the deaths of 103 staff since the war began on Oct. 7.

Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer, in his call with Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, also discussed the situation in Gaza and the “critical importance of protecting civilians, including UN staff and other aid workers, and continuing to mitigate any potential aid diversion to Hamas,” according to a White House statement on Friday.

Telecoms Restored in Part of Gaza as Fuel Arrives (10:15 p.m.)

The main telecommunications provider in Gaza said it was able to restore services in part of the strip, after receiving a delivery of fuel from the UN aid agency that was permitted by Israel. Internet and mobile services had been down since Thursday, effectively leaving Gazans in a total communication blackout, as the operator said it ran out of fuel.

Israel’s war cabinet earlier approved the entry of two diesel tankers a day into Gaza, saying the aim is to support the water and sewage system to prevent the outbreak of disease. Far-right parties in the government criticized the decision. Israel has been reluctant to allow fuel in because it says Hamas hoards it.

Israel Says Offensive May Extend to Southern Gaza (9:15 p.m.)

Israel’s army spokesman said the military could extend its attack on Hamas to southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled from the current fighting that’s mostly confined to the northern part of the strip.

Efforts to destroy Hamas “will happen every place where Hamas is, and Hamas is also in the south of Gaza,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a briefing. Army radio said five Israelis were wounded in a barrage of rockets fired from southern Gaza at Tel Aviv and surrounding areas.

Biden Discusses Hostage Efforts With Qatar Ruler (8:40 p.m.)

US President Joe Biden spoke with Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as the countries race to broker a deal for the release of hostages in Gaza. The leaders discussed that effort as well as a push to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance and fuel to Palestinians, the White House said.

Qatar has hosted the political leadership of Hamas and was involved in negotiations that led to the release of a few hostages earlier in the conflict.

Gaza Death Toll Passes 12,000, Hamas Officials Say (8:10 p.m.)

The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza said more than 12,000 Palestinians have been killed in the territory since Oct. 7.

In a press briefing, the agency said 3,750 people are also reportedly stranded under the rubble of destroyed buildings, or are missing. Because of a communication blackout and logistical difficulties, the health ministry in Gaza has been unable to update the death toll for five days.

Israel Says No Food Shortage in Gaza, More Aid to Come (7:45 p.m.)

Gaza’s food reserves are “sufficient for the near-term” and Israel will let more aid in when needed as requested by the UN, Col. Elad Goren – an official at the Defense Ministry unit that coordinates civilian issues with the Palestinian leadership — told reporters. Israel assesses the food situation in Gaza daily or even hourly, Goren said, adding that 140 aid trucks entered the strip on Thursday.

Aid agencies have warned that Gaza’s population faces severe food shortages. The UN’s World Food Program has said that civilians in Gaza are facing “the immediate possibility of starvation.”

Gaza Health-Care System Has Collapsed, Red Crescent Says (6:30 p.m.)

Gaza’s healthcare system has collapsed with 26 of the strip’s hospitals completely out of service, the Palestinian Red Crescent told Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV.

About nine medical facilities are still operating partially with some surgeons relying for light on the torches of mobile phone, the Red Crescent said. Communications with medical teams have been cut off and only five ambulances continue to operate in the northern parts of the strip, it said.

Hezbollah Claims New Attacks on Israeli Military (5:15 p.m.)

Hezbollah caused casualties after shelling a mechanized unit of Israel’s special forces near Menara northeast of Israel, Al-Manar television reported. The Lebanese armed group also targeted Israeli soldiers gathered near Metulla, near the Lebanese border, Al-Manar said.

Israel’s military said four civilians were injured from anti-tank missiles fired near Kibbutz Manara along the border with Lebanon. It also said it downed a drone from Lebanon near Metulla.

Gaza Hospital Says 40 Patients Died Since Israeli Takeover (4:30 p.m.)

The fatalities include all patients who were in intensive care, Al Hadath reports citing Mohamed Abu Selmia, director of Al Shifa Hospital. No deaths were reported among infants under the hospital’s care, Al Hadath added.

Israel Confirms Body of Second Hostage Found (3:50 p.m.)

The body of a female Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 was found adjacent to the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said in a post on social media site X. It is the second such discovery, Israeli media reported.

Israel Says Two Diesel Shipments Can Enter Gaza Per Day (1:50 p.m.)

Israel’s war cabinet approved the entry of two diesel tankers a day into Gaza, complying with a US request, an Israeli official said. Coordinated with the UN, the tankers will pass through the Rafah crossing to the civilian population in the southern Gaza Strip, provided that the fuel does not reach Hamas, the Israeli official added. The aim is to support the water and sewerage system to prevent the outbreak of disease.

Israel has been reluctant to allow fuel into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt because it says Hamas hoards it from the civilian population. UN organizations have warned that hospitals in the enclave have closed down or operate at a very limited level, in part because of a lack of fuel. They have asked that fuel supplies be allowed in at much higher volumes.

Far-right parties in Israel’s government opposed the move. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called it a significant error, “like giving oxygen to the enemy.”

Hezbollah Targets Israeli Positions on Border (1 p.m.)

Hezbollah said it targeted two Israeli military positions in separate attacks as well as a post on the border with Lebanon. The attacks took place in the morning on Friday.

Israel’s army said earlier it hit Hezbollah targets including a weapons warehouse and a military building.

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