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What you need to know right now By Reuters

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© Reuters. An Israeli soldier directs an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) at the Israeli side of the Gaza border, as violence around the nearby Gaza Strip mounts following a mass-rampage by armed Palestinian infiltrators, October 9, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

(Reuters) – Israel has formed an emergency unity government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sitting in a war cabinet with centrist former defence minister Benny Gantz.

The move came as the Israeli military pounds Gaza to root out the Palestinian militant group Hamas, ahead of a possible ground offensive in the Palestinian coastal strip.

“We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has told soldiers.

CONFLICT

* Gaza’s southern neighbour Egypt has discussed letting humanitarian aid across the border but is against creating safe corridors for fleeing Palestinian refugees, Egyptian security sources said. Egypt rejected safe corridors to protect “the right of Palestinians to hold on to their cause and their land,” one of the sources said.

* Eleven workers with the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) have been killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, and five members of the ICRC, the organisations said. “Some were killed in their homes with their families.

* Israeli schools, which have been shuttered, will shift to remote learning on Sunday. The online studies “will focus first and foremost on emotional and social aspects, in order to strengthen resilience.

* Israeli shelling hit southern Lebanese towns in response to a fresh rocket attack by Hezbollah.

* Governments around the world have arranged repatriation flights from Tel Aviv as the war escalates.

* Hamas militants holding Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage have threatened to execute a captive for each home in Gaza hit without warning. There was no indication Hamas had carried out its threat.

HUMAN IMPACT

* Gaza’s 75 years of woe from the end of British rule to the present day – a brief history.

* On the grass of the kibbutz in Beeri, Israel, bodies in white body bags were laid out in rows. “I thought I’d seen enough but nothing could prepare me for what happened there. The smell of bodies – as many times as I’ve showered this week – I can’t get that smell out,” a first responder said.

* “There are no wreaths left in Israel anymore,” said one of the many volunteers working to prepare funeral flowers for more than 1,200 Israelis killed since Hamas gunmen burst into Israel.

* Gazan rescuers pulled the body of a 4-year-old girl and other dead from the rubble of a municipal building where she and many others were sheltering. “They tried to escape death only to find it,” said volunteer Mohammad al Najjar.

* Israeli volunteers helped gravediggers at Israel’s main military cemetery as burials began for slain soldiers. “I decided that I’m going to do something for the people of Israel” said one.

* Hundreds of cars lie abandoned in the scramble to flee a massacre at an Israeli music festival where Hamas gunmen killed 260 people and took captives back into Gaza. The scene underlines the scale of the deadliest attack on Israel in decades.

INTERNATIONAL REACTION

* Initial U.S. intelligence reports show that key Iranian leaders were surprised by the unprecedented attacks on Israel by Hamas, according to a source.

* A surge in doctored images, mislabelled videos and graphic online violence related to the Israel-Hamas conflict prompted the EU to urge Big Tech to remove illegal content or risk legal penalties.

* Pope Francis called for the release of all hostages taken by Hamas militants. He said Israel has a right to defend itself after seeing “a feast day turn into a day of mourning” but was “very worried by the total siege in which Palestinians live in Gaza.”

* U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Israel on Thursday, in a show of solidarity.

* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Israel’s response to Hamas’s attack was disproportionate by “preventing people meeting their most fundamental needs and bombing housing where civilians live”.

* EU humanitarian support to the Palestinian people “is not in question,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, but the bloc must review its financial assistance.

INSIGHTS/EXPLAINERS

* How a secretive Hamas commander masterminded the attack on Israel. A survivor of seven Israeli assassination attempts, the most recent in 2021, Mohammed Deif rarely speaks and never appears in public so when Hamas’s TV channel announced he was about to speak on Saturday, Palestinians knew something significant was afoot.

* Hamas waged a campaign of deception to pull off its stunning attack.

* Biden finds himself thrust into a crisis likely to reshape his Middle East policy, and into an uneasy alliance with far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

* Palestinian statehood, Jerusalem and refugees lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

MARKETS AND BUSINESS

* Oil prices fell as fears of disruption to supplies due to conflict in the Middle East receded a day after top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia pledged to help stabilise the market.

* Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said he would extend his five-year term “given the emergency situation and the challenges to the Israeli economy at this tough time,” the central bank said.

* The cost of insuring Israel’s debt against default surged to the highest level since 2013.

* International airlines have suspended hundreds of flights to and from Tel Aviv following the attack. Here’s a list.

* U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stuck to her view that the American economy is headed for a soft landing. “Of course the situation in Israel causes additional concerns. I’m not saying soft landing is an absolutely sure thing. But I continue to think it’s the most likely path.”

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