FirstFT: Israeli forces widen Gaza ground offensive in push to destroy Hamas

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Good morning. Israel has widened its ground offensive in Gaza as its military made an “urgent appeal” to Palestinians living in the north of the territory to evacuate to the south, away from the centre of the fighting.

The call came as international aid groups stepped up their demands for a pause in the fighting, amid increasing alarm at the heavy toll Israel’s bombardment is inflicting on the civilian population of the strip.

Daniel Hagari, Israel Defense Forces spokesman, said Israel was “advancing through the stages of the war, according to our plan” and “gradually expanding our ground operations”. He also repeated earlier calls for the population to evacuate to areas closer to the border with Egypt.

But aid groups say the movement of thousands of people from their homes is exacerbating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis. UNRWA, the main UN agency providing relief in the territory, said thousands of desperate Palestinians were breaking into its warehouses to seize wheat flour and other staples, in a sign that civil order was starting to break down in the enclave. Read the full story on Israel’s widening offensive in Gaza.

Here’s more coverage of the conflict:

  • Airport mob: Angry crowds stormed the main airport in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, brandishing Palestinian flags and reportedly searching for Israeli passengers from a flight that had landed from Tel Aviv.

  • Israeli PM apologises: Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to apologise after a furious backlash over his claim that Israel’s security establishment had not warned him of Hamas’s plan to attack the country.

  • Starlink: Elon Musk has become embroiled in a bitter row with the Israeli government after offering to provide satellite internet to Gaza.

  • ‘People are really fearful’: Palestinian-Israeli citizens claim they are being punished for their views on the Gaza war.

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

  • Apple: The tech giant hosts its “Scary Fast” product-launch event, where it is widely believed the company will unveil new iMacs.

  • Results: HSBC, McDonald’s and Mitsubishi Motors report earnings.

Five more top stories

1. A record number of companies have dropped plans to list on Shanghai’s tech-focused stock market, with regulators raising the bar for initial public offerings in order to pick out domestic champions that can help Beijing’s drive towards technological self-sufficiency. The growing regulatory scrutiny amounts to a radical reversal in China’s approach to encouraging innovation.

2. The world’s most indebted property developer Evergrande faces its biggest legal test so far in its slow-motion collapse, two years after its first default. Today, a Hong Kong court will address a winding-up petition, brought by offshore investor Top Shine Global, against Evergrande, in a case that could be a further blow to any hopes of a restructuring deal between the company and its international bondholders.

3. Artificial intelligence start-ups are overvalued and most will fail to make money, according to Vinod Khosla, an early OpenAI backer, in a warning to investors who are pouring billions into the buzzy sector. Many later entrants were “investing because everybody else is investing, that is what’s happening in AI”, Khosla said. Read the full interview.

4. A major European aluminium producer has warned that the increasing numbers of imported electric cars from China could have a big impact on regional demand. “That is a threat that we are following: if European automakers start reducing their demand [for aluminium] because they are outcompeted,” Norsk Hydro chief executive Hilde Merete Aasheim told the FT.

5. An educational technology empire rapidly assembled by Byju’s during a pandemic funding boom is set to be dismantled, as what was once India’s most valuable start-up looks to asset disposals to settle its pressing debts. A lawyer familiar with the situation said he expected “Byju’s to drive a lot of M&A in the coming months”

The Big Read

Bangladesh may yet regret its dash for gas © FT montage/Dreamstime

Bangladesh is one of a growing number of developing countries in Asia and beyond to have bet heavily on natural gas as a “transition fuel” — a reliable, affordable and cleaner alternative to coal or oil that helps reduce carbon emissions while they develop more renewable energy capacity. But a surge in the price of liquefied natural gas has put a substantial bump in the road. Will Bangladesh come to regret its dash for gas?

We’re also reading . . . 

  • Oligarchs: Today’s super-rich govern countries, set agendas — and thrive in times of turmoil. Here’s Simon Kuper on the making of modern-day oligarchs.

  • A threat to Indian democracy: A little-known mechanism is being used to channel funds to political parties — but we don’t know who the donors are, writes Nitasha Kaul.

  • Artificial intelligence: To prepare the workforce for the future, AI policymaking must include business leaders, writes Kathryn Parsons.

Chart of the day

Plunging foreign direct investment into China is adding to pressure on Beijing and local governments as they seek to counter an economic slowdown. FT calculations based on official statistics show that FDI fell 34 per cent to Rmb72.8bn ($10bn) year on year in September, the biggest decline since monthly figures became available in 2014.

Take a break from the news

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde sits down for Lunch with the FT to discuss steep learning curves, managing shocks — and taking deep breaths.

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde
© Ciaran Murphy

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