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FirstFT: Israel tells 1.1mn people to leave northern Gaza

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Israel told the UN early today that about 1.1mn people in the northern Gaza Strip should relocate to the enclave’s south within 24 hours, the international body said, warning that the move could result in “devastating humanitarian consequences”.

Israel has cut off water, power and fuel supplies and launched air strikes on the Hamas-controlled territory after the militant group killed more than 1,200 Israeli civilians and soldiers and kidnapped dozens more. Palestinian officials said 1,417 people had been killed by the strikes on Gaza.

UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement that Israeli military liaison offices had called for the entire population north of Wadi Gaza to relocate, equivalent to about half of the territory’s 2.3mn residents.

“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded, avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” he added.

This latest development comes as various countries have stepped up diplomatic efforts over fears that the war, now into its seventh day, could spiral into a broader regional conflict.

The US and the UK have both urged Israel to take precautions against harming civilians, while Saudi Arabia spoke to Iran in an effort to “end the current escalation”. Here are the latest updates from the war.

In response to Israel’s call for evacuation, Hamas has told Gazans to stay in their homes. One member of their political bureau, Izzat al-Reshiq, said on X: “We remain in our land, homes and cities . . . There will be no displacement or evacuation.”

  • Blinken’s mission: The diplomat’s potentially conflicting goals in Israel amid regional sabre-rattling have been described as a “mission impossible”.

  • Gaza on the brink: The territory’s residents are seeking shelter from bombardment, with food and water running out and hospitals at breaking point.

  • ‘Start-up nation’ at war: Israel’s tech community has estimated that up to 15 per cent of its workforce was among the 360,000 reservists that have been called up, presenting a test for an important driver of the economy.

  • Regional support: The crisis has elicited solidarity with Palestinians and support for Hamas in the Arab world despite the group’s atrocities.

    Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today and over the weekend:

  • Economic data: University of Michigan publishes the results of its US consumer sentiment survey.

  • Elections: Poland’s opposition leader Donald Tusk has made a last-ditch attempt to win over female voters ahead of polarising polls on Sunday. Ecuador will have a run-off vote for its presidential election on the same day. On Saturday, New Zealand will hold its general election.

  • Results:  BlackRock, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Financial Services, UnitedHealth and Wells Fargo all report today.

One more thing: Our new Central Banks newsletter launches next Tuesday. Chris Giles will use nearly 20 years of experience as the FT’s economics editor to provide weekly insights on interest rates and monetary policy. Sign up here if you’re a premium subscriber or upgrade your subscription.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

Five more top stories

1. Steve Scalise drops out of US House Speaker race in a surprise move that underscores the chronic dysfunction in the Republican party. The announcement raised questions about whether Republicans would be able to come together around a new Speaker after the dramatic ousting of Kevin McCarthy last week.

2. Exclusive: The EU has opened a probe into Elon Musk’s X over misinformation on the Israel-Hamas war. Officials have sent a series of questions that the social media platform must answer by next week, in the first investigation under the bloc’s Digital Services Act. Javier Espinoza has more details from Brussels.

  • UK military: Britain will deploy a Royal Navy task group to the eastern Mediterranean and will conduct military surveillance missions in the region from today in a show of support for Israel.

  • German aid: Germany is in discussions to send lethal military aid to Israel to help it crack down on Hamas and deter an “apocalyptic” intervention by other hostile regional powers.

3. China proposes a stock stabilisation fund to lift economic confidence as a new release of data showed that the recovery in the world’s second-largest economy remains fragile. Two people familiar with the proposal said the programme would need to raise at least Rmb1tn ($137bn) to be effective. Regulators have discussed the idea of a stabilisation or intervention fund since 2015, but the proposal gained new ground this year.

4. Australia’s ‘Voice’ campaigners make a final push ahead of an indigenous referendum that will ask Australians to decide whether to amend the constitution to recognise the country’s original inhabitants. However, the latest polling by Roy Morgan, an Australian research group, suggests the referendum, known as “the Voice”, is set to fail, with 54 per cent expected to vote against it and 46 per cent in support.

5. Senior US officials have vowed to stop $6bn in Iranian funds from being transferred to Tehran after a bipartisan backlash. The money, agreed as part of a prisoner swap deal made last month, is currently held in a Qatari account. The transfer has turned into a political vulnerability for the Biden administration following Hamas’s attacks on Israel, as Qatar has close ties to both Iran and the militant group.

Visual investigation

Photos from surveillance video of Hamas’s attack on Be’eri

A community in southern Israel became the scene of an atrocity this week. The Be’eri kibbutz, only 5km from the Gaza border, witnessed some of the most horrific violence carried out by Hamas militants. The FT verified evidence from the town’s surveillance system, mobile phone footage and witness testimony to reveal how gunmen took control of the town for about 17 hours from early Saturday morning, murdering at least 110 of its 1,200 residents.

We’re also reading . . . 

Chart of the day

The World Meteorological Organization predicts that the world will experience an “increasingly erratic” water cycle as climate change drives new patterns of both extreme flooding and drought across the globe.

Map showing that climate change driving erratic water patterns around the world

Take a break from the news

The Tutti is crisp, juicy and heat resistant — the first apple designed to be grown in very hot weather. But the pace of climate change has outstripped expectations, leaving growers to wonder: does its arrival mark the start of a new era for the apple industry, or the beginning of the end?

The Tutti apple
The Tutti apple © William Mullan

Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm and Tee Zhuo

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