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Israel says it has regained control of towns outside Gaza

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Israel’s military said it had regained control of towns bordering the Gaza Strip on Monday, and declared a “complete siege” of the Palestinian territory two days after an unprecedented attack by Hamas.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari told reporters that fighting in neighbouring towns had concluded, with “control” achieved in all communities, though Gaza militants could still be in the area.

He added that Israel had called up 300,000 reservists, although not all would be sent to the border with the Mediterranean enclave. “We have never drafted so many reservists on such a scale,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “We are going on the offensive.”

“I have given an order — Gaza will be under complete siege,” said Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister. “There will be no electricity, food or fuel [delivered to Gaza]. We are fighting barbaric [terrorists] and will respond accordingly.”

Chevron said on Monday it had been instructed by Israel’s energy ministry to halt production at its offshore Tamar gasfield in the Mediterranean but would continue to supply its customers in Israel.

The IDF press department told the Financial Times that the border with Gaza was “not fully sealed yet, which means the terrorists still have the ability to invade this country”. It added there had been 22 breaches in the fence since Saturday.

More than 1,100 people have died since Hamas’s surprise attack, with Israel saying more than 700 civilians and troops have been killed and what health officials in Gaza say are 493 deaths in the enclave.

Phone footage showing the moment Hamas paragliders attacked a desert festival in Israel on Saturday

At least 100 people have also been abducted in the deadliest conflict inside Israel since 1948.

Israel said on Monday it bombed more than 1,000 targets in Gaza overnight, deployed four military divisions in the south and took steps to secure its northern border with Lebanon, where militant group Hizbollah fired mortars at an Israeli military base in the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday.

Richard Hecht, another IDF spokesperson, had said earlier in the day that there were seven or eight places in Israel’s southern border area with Gaza “where we have still warriors fighting terrorists”.

He also referred to Israel’s lack of preparedness as a “failure”. Hamas entered Israel through the high-tech border fence on foot, in vehicles and paragliders in the early hours of Saturday, when some Israeli soldiers had gone home to celebrate the Jewish Simchat Torah holiday.

Israel said that since Saturday Gaza-based militants had fired more than 4,500 rockets indiscriminately at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod and other cities.

UN officials said more than 123,000 people had been displaced in Gaza as of Saturday night following Israeli air strikes, some of which hit residential buildings. The UN agency for Palestine refugees estimated that more than 73,000 people were sheltering in 64 schools in Gaza.

Germany and Austria have suspended all aid to Palestine — worth a combined total of €144mn — in response to the Hamas attack. Other EU states are pushing the bloc as a whole to take such a step, officials briefed on the discussions told the FT.

Israel has fought wars in Gaza since Hamas gained control of the territory of 2mn in 2007. In 2021, an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas sparked communal violence between Jewish and Palestinian groups within Israel and spread to the West Bank, where protesters clashed with Israeli security forces.

European gas futures rose around 13 per cent after the news that Israel had ordered the suspension of production from the Tamar field.

Oil prices rose about 3 per cent on Monday to just under $87 a barrel, after previously going as high as $89 on concerns that fallout from the conflict could widen across the region.

“Obviously everyone’s reaction was to buy oil given the heightened political risk,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, adding that there were concerns that Iran’s potential involvement in planning the Hamas attack could lead to stronger US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

Several international airlines — including Cathay Pacific, easyJet and Lufthansa — have suspended flights to Israel following the outbreak of the conflict, with 23 per cent of flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport cancelled on Monday, according to data from FlightRadar 24.

Asked on Monday about whether Iran had provided Hamas support for its lightning attack, Hecht said the Iranians were likely to have been involved but “we are not focusing on that right now”.

“We are fighting against Hamas,” he said, adding that “we are making sure that our northern border is secured and ramped up”.

Iran denies any role in the surprise attack and the foreign ministry said on Monday that it would respond to any threats and accusations about its alleged involvement.

The US on Sunday said it would move an aircraft carrier strike group and fighter jets into the eastern Mediterranean and supply Israel with munitions to support the IDF’s efforts to restore control over the area.

The Bank of Israel on Monday announced a plan to sell up to $30bn in foreign exchange to stabilise volatility in the shekel exchange rate and provide liquidity “for the continued proper functioning of the markets”.

Additional reporting by Neri Zilber in Tel Aviv and Henry Foy in Brussels

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