Crude prices jump after Israeli strike on Gaza

World oil prices surged on Wednesday after Israel killed a top Hamas commander in an air strike, stoking geopolitical tensions in the crude-rich Middle East region.

Flat in early trade, prices immediately pushed higher after news of the attack, which Israel said marks the start of a new operation against Palestinian militants.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for December delivery, gained 94 cents from Tuesday's close, finishing at $86.32 a barrel.

In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for December spiked $1.35 to $109.61 per barrel.

Traders pointed to the reactions in the Middle East from the attack, which included reprisal threats from Palestinians, Egypt's recall of its ambassador to Israel, and the Arab League calling an emergency meeting of foreign ministers.

"The Middle East is sure getting tense... there is still a tremendous amount of instability, which put some pressure on crude oil prices," said James Williams of WTRG Economics.

In fact, he added, "I have been surprised that crude as been as weak as it is, given all these rockets coming from Israel into Gaza."

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said Israel's attack "reignited the geopolitical risk premium trade over supply concerns in the event of an escalation, as talk of an Israeli ground operation gains traction."

In earlier deals on Wednesday, the oil market had support as dealers took their direction from the weaker dollar, but sentiment remained cautious over fears surrounding the US and eurozone economies, analysts said.

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