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Israel and Hamas at war: Latest news By Reuters

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© Reuters. A woman cooks as Palestinians, who fled their houses amid Israeli strikes, shelter at a United Nations-run school, after Israel’s call for more than 1 million civilians in northern Gaza to move south, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 14,

(Reuters) – Israel’s military prepared for ground operations in Gaza to root out the Hamas militant group, whose deadly rampage through Israeli border towns last week stunned the nation.

Israel urged Palestinians to evacuate to the southern area of the enclave, which hundreds of thousands have done after leaving Gaza City, home to about half the region’s more than 2 million people. Hamas has asked them to stay put.

CONFLICT

* Iran warned Israel of escalation if it failed to end aggressions against Palestinians. Its foreign minister said other parties in the region were ready to act, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

* Palestinians are desperate to find a safe hiding place, but the journey to the south is also fraught with risks. Hamas has told people not to leave and says roads out are unsafe. It says dozens of people were killed in strikes on cars and trucks carrying refugees on Friday, which Reuters could not independently verify. Israel says Hamas is preventing people from leaving in order to use them as human shields, which Hamas denies.

* The expected Israeli ground offensive and air strikes have raised fears of unprecedented suffering in the narrow, impoverished Gaza Strip, one of the most crowded places in the world. One example: Um Mohammad Al-Laham’s 4-year-old granddaughter Fulla Al-Laham lay in a Gaza hospital. She said an air strike hit the family home, killing 14 people including Fulla’s parents, siblings and members of her extended family.

* Gaza health officials are storing the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes in ice-cream freezer trucks because moving them to hospitals is too risky and cemeteries lack space.

* Military forensic teams in Israel examined the bodies of victims of last week’s Hamas attack on communities around the Gaza Strip and found multiple signs of torture, rape and other atrocities, officers said.

MEETINGS

* Egypt said it stepped up diplomatic efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel’s bombardment was disproportional.

* Blinken will return to Israel on Monday, a senior State Department official said, extending his Middle East shuttle diplomacy by a day. He arrived in Israel on Thursday and has since visited six Arab countries.

* A group of U.S. senators will travel to the Middle East to encourage Israel and Saudi Arabia to continue talks on normalizing relations, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

MONEY

* The war will have an impact on Israel’s budget, but it will be manageable since it entered the conflict with a solid fiscal position, Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said. It is difficult to put exact numbers on how the budget may be affected, he told a G30 panel.

* Geopolitical risks for financial markets are rising while investors wait to see if the conflict draws in other countries, with the potential to raise oil prices and deal a fresh blow to the world economy.

* The backlog of ships is growing at Israeli ports amid preparations for Israel’s ground assault.

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