FirstFT: Israel regains control of border

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

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

More than 700 Israelis were killed, 2,000 injured and 100 more taken hostage in Saturday’s attack by Palestinian militants, the deadliest inside Israel since the country’s creation in 1948. Militants crossed the border by air, sea and land in a wave of attacks that has shocked the country and led to comparisons with 9/11 in the US.

In response, Israel bombed more that 1,000 targets in Gaza overnight as it deployed reinforcements to fight the militants in the south and increased defences around its northern border with Lebanon, where militant group Hizbollah fired mortars at an Israeli military base in the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday.

Gaza health officials said today that 493 people had been killed in the enclave, home to 2.3mn people, and 2,751 injured. UN officials said more than 123,000 people had been displaced in Gaza as of Saturday night following Israel’s air strikes, some of which hit residential buildings.

The US yesterday 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 its control over the area and stop the conflagration spreading across the region.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jewish state faced a “long and difficult” conflict with the militants after his security cabinet formally declared war. Read the full story.

We have more coverage and analysis of the attack here:

Our commentary on the escalating conflict:

  • The FT View: The bloody assault opens the most dangerous chapter yet in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writes the Financial Times editorial board.

  • Blame game: The inquest into what went wrong ahead of Hamas’s attack could lead Israel down a dangerous path, writes Gideon Rachman.

  • Pivotal moment: Middle East editor Andrew England explains the conflict’s security and political implications for Israel and the Middle East.

And here’s what I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • IMF and World Bank: Annual meetings for both organisations begin in Marrakech, Morocco. Read our special report on investing in the country.

  • Economic data: The IMF will also publish its latest World Economic Outlook, while Opec releases its annual World Oil Outlook.

  • Nobel Prize: The Riksbank announces the winner of its Nobel memorial award in economic sciences today.

  • Columbus Day: The US bond market will be closed today for the Columbus Day national holiday, but the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be open.

Five more top stories

1. Germany’s centre-right opposition won regional elections in Hesse and Bavaria yesterday, while the three parties in chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition saw their share of the vote shrink in both states. The far-right Alternative for Germany party also gained support to register its best result in a west German state. Guy Chazan has more details from Berlin.

2. Metro Bank has struck a financing deal with investors after a weekend of negotiations that should give the UK challenger bank some breathing space. The package announced last night includes £325mn of new capital and £600mn of new debt financing. The deal is expected to give Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski Bacal ultimate control of the bank. Read more on the rescue of one of the UK’s newest lenders.

3. More US law firms are asking staff to come into the office four days a week as the recruitment market for lawyers cools and firms suffer a sharp decline in dealmaking because of the uncertain economic outlook. Ropes & Gray has asked lawyers to be in the office four days a week from early November following Weil, Gotshal & Manges, which asked its staff to return to the office for 80 per cent of the time last month. Here’s more on the back-to-the office trend among law firms.

4. Momentum in advanced and emerging markets has slowed towards its weakest levels since the world emerged from the Covid-19 lockdowns, with the US standing as one of the few economic bright spots as rising interest rates take their toll elsewhere, according to the twice-yearly Brookings-FT Tracking Index for the Global Economic Recovery or Tiger. Here’s more on the survey’s results.

5. Six Colombians suspected of assassinating Ecuadorean presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio have been murdered in prison. Prison authorities said the murders took place on Friday night in the notorious Litoral prison in Guayaquil, which has been the site of numerous massacres in recent years as drug-gangs jostle for control of different wings. Read more on the killings.

  • More on Ecuador: Relatives of Daniel Noboa, the centre-right surprise frontrunner in Ecuador’s election, are engaged in a messy court battle over the family bananas-to-banking conglomerate.

The Big Read

© FT montage/AFP/Getty Images

Joseph Safra helped build a $25bn global empire of banks, property and agribusiness based in Brazil. Now his 2020 death is part of a multi-jurisdictional legal battle, playing out in offices and courtrooms from New York to Switzerland via São Paulo and London. The affair has shone a rare spotlight on a brand comparable to the Rothschilds or the Lazards and famed for its discretion.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • ‘Even with a weak economy, Xi is feeling emboldened’: The former Donald Trump adviser and China expert Matt Pottinger talks to Henry Mance.

  • Future of work: The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a move to greener, better equipped and more central offices.

  • Goldman Sachs: As pressure continues to pile on chief executive David Solomon, Patrick Jenkins writes that an idea thrown out by the Wall Street rumour mill deserves consideration: co-CEOs.

Chart of the day

Working one day less a week without a pay cut sounds tempting. The potential benefits of a four-day week for businesses can include better staff satisfaction, reduced sickness and easier recruitment, argue advocates. But a failed trial by a UK web hosting company has highlighted the difficulties for customer-facing businesses.

Take a break from the news

Dumb Money is a new type of underdog story, but the film industry’s obsession with finance — and “finance bros” — isn’t. The 1987 drama Wall Street, particularly its ruthless villain, has for more than three decades served as a touchstone for young men in finance. Soraya Roberts examines why the movies never got over Gordon Gekko.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in ‘Wall Street’
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in ‘Wall Street’ © Allstar Picture Library/Alamy

Additional contributions from Tee Zhuo and Benjamin Wilhelm

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