“We said that if our troops were attacked, we would respond. We responded. If they're attacked again, we will respond again,” Jake Sullivan said Sunday, two days after US forces hit pro-Iranian proxies in Syria.
Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
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Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023
9:00 pm: Hezbollah leader to speak Friday
Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah will deliver a speech on Friday, the group's news outlet Al-Manar said.
Nasrallah has refrained from commenting publicly on the war since Oct. 7. He met senior leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad last week, and a 10-second video featuring him next to the group's flag emerged on Sunday.
The video and the increasing clashes on the Lebanon-Israel border have heightened concerns of Hezbollah entering the Hamas-Israel war.
Hezbollah is a heavily armed Iran-backed group based in Lebanon with a presence in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It fought a war against Israel in 2006 that saw heavy Israeli bombardment of Beirut.
4:20 pm: Blinken speaks with Turkey’s Fidan
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, on Sunday on the need to engage regional leaders to prevent the Israel-Hamas conflict from expanding, secure the release of hostages and facilitate humanitarian aid for Gaza, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
“The Secretary shared President Biden’s announcement that the United States will provide $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank,” Miller added.
12:35 pm: Parts of Gaza’s Al-Quds hospital damaged in Israeli strikes, says Red Crescent
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Israeli airstrikes on Sunday had caused “significant damage” to parts of Al-Quds hospital, which currently has more than 400 patients and is sheltering an additional 12,000 displaced civilians.
Israel continues “to launch rockets directly near Al-Quds hospital in #Gaza to force medical staff, displaced individuals, and patients to evacuate the hospital. This has caused significant damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation,” the Palestine Red Crescent Society wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The strikes came after reports that the society had received “serious threats” from the Israeli army to evacuate the hospital.
12:30 pm: Suspected Hezbollah rocket hits Kiryat Shimona
A rocket suspected to have been fired by Hezbollah hit a residential home in Kiryat Shimona in northern Israel. No casualties were reported.
10:00 am: US asks Netanyahu to rein in settlers, warns Iran
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Iran against any direct or indirect attacks targeting American troops in the region, saying Washington will respond. Sullivan also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "rein in" settlers.
On Iran, and following US strikes in Syria on Friday targeting Iranian proxies, Sullivan said that Washington will respond again if attacks continue on its forces. “We said that if our troops were attacked, we would respond. We responded. If they're attacked again, we will respond again,” Sullivan said on "Face The Nation."
"We are vigilant, because we are seeing elevated threats,” he added.
At least 24 US troops in Iraq and Syria have been injured since Oct. 17.
The senior US official also urged Netanyahu to do more about rising Israeli settler violence and incitement in the West Bank.
"Netanyahu has a responsibility to rein in the settlers," he said. "This is an ongoing challenge. We expect over time to see the Israeli government step up on this. We expect accountability for extremist settlers who engage in this kind of violence,” he said.
7:00 am: Gaza death toll surpasses 8,000
The death toll in Gaza since Oct. 7 has risen to 8,005 — including 2,062 women and 3,342 children — the Hamas-run Health Ministry announced Sunday. Israel carried out 450 strikes in the enclave overnight, its military said, adding that it hit a Hezbollah target in south Lebanon as well.
5:05 am: Despite incendiary rhetoric, Iran walks tightrope to avoid Israel war
As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth week, Iran has adhered to a strategy of avoiding direct engagement, its threats translating to limited attacks on US bases through its proxies. While Iran has issued stern threats in recent days, hidden in its rhetoric is concern about an existential threat to the proxies it has nurtured for decades, our correspondent in Tehran writes.
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