Israel is escalating its bombardment of targets in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion against Hamas militants. The war is rapidly raising the death toll in Gaza, and the U.S. fears the fighting could spark a wider conflict in the region.
Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been running out of food, water and medicine since Israel sealed off the territory following the Hamas attack on Israeli towns on Oct. 7. The aid convoys allowed into Gaza so far have carried a fraction of what’s needed, and the U.N. said distribution will have to stop if there’s no fuel for the trucks.
The war, in its 18th day Tuesday, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed and 16,297 wounded. In the occupied West Bank, 96 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since Oct. 7.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage. In addition, 222 people including foreigners were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza, Israel’s military has said. Four of those have been released.
1. The U.S. Department of Defense is assisting Israel in its war planning by sending military advisers
2. 40 years after bombing that killed Americans in Beirut, US troops again deploy east of Mediterranean
3. The war is giving Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system its toughest challenge yet
4. Release of more hostages gives some hope to families of others abducted in the attack on Israel
5. Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
SEVERAL DOZEN GATHER IN LONDON TO REMEMBER PALESTINIAN CHILDREN KILLED IN GAZA
LONDON — Several dozen people held a vigil outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday to remember the thousands of Palestinian children killed by Israeli airstrikes.
The group, organized by the Medical Aid for Palestinians charity, had written the names of dead children on their palms and held a minute of silence.
“There has been an outpouring, justifiably, for those Israeli citizens who have been taken hostage,” said Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, who has family in Gaza. “I think it’s also equally important to show the depths of humanity for all those affected. … We’re going to be writing the names of one of the children on our hands to mark our respects for not just the children, but everyone who was an innocent civilian who has died in this conflict.”
More than 40% of the 5,700 reported killed in Gaza have been children.
The vigil was held the same day families of Israelis killed or taken hostage by Hamas militants in Oct. 7 raids spoke at the Israeli Embassy in London.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians who died in the rampage and more than 220 were captured and taken back to Gaza.
SAUDI ARABIA EVACUATES EMBASSY STAFF AND FAMILIES OF DIPLOMATS IN BEIRUT, AIRPORT OFFICIALS SAY
BEIRUT — Lebanese airport officials say Saudi Arabia has evacuated the families of its diplomats and employees at the embassy in Beirut on two military planes that left Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday.
There was no official announcement from Saudi authorities, but the move came days after Saudi Arabia urged its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately.
The Saudi embassy did not respond to calls for comment.
The officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations said Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari as well as the military attache and other diplomats and staffers did not leave the country.
The officials said about 65 people left Lebanon Tuesday afternoon.
It was not immediately clear if the embassy was still functioning as normal.
The departures come amid rising tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border where members of the militant Hezbollah group have been exchanging fire with Israeli troops on daily basis.
UNTOLD NUMBER OF CHILDREN AMONG THE DEAD IN GAZA
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The sharp increase in Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip and large death toll Tuesday included an untold number of child deaths.
Graphic photos and video shot by The Associated Press showed rescuers digging with their hands to unearth small bodies from the ruins of collapsed homes and buildings across Gaza.
Unconscious children were cradled in the arms of adults who ran from ambulances and cars into Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. A man used one hand to give light chest compressions to a small child on the hood of an ambulance.
A lifeless child who was dug out of the dirt from beneath concrete and a web of rebar where a house was destroyed in Khan Younis was wrapped in a blanket and laid on the side of a road next to an adult’s body.
The body of an older boy on a stretcher was passed between anguished men along the edge of a large crater where a bomb had landed and destroyed buildings in Rafah.
A father also knelt on the floor of the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah next to the bodies of three dead children cocooned in bloodied sheets with their faces showing.
WHO CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE, SAYS HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IS ‘DESPERATE’
CAIRO — The U.N. health agency on Tuesday called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza to be able to distribute fuel and essential, life-saving health supplies, including to major hospitals in the strip’s northern half.
“For people in the Gaza Strip, the situation is desperate. It will become catastrophic without the safe and continuous passage of fuel and health supplies, and additional humanitarian assistance,” the World Health Organization said in a statement.
The organization said some health facilities in northern Gaza, including the territory’s largest Shifa hospital, were waiting for WHO’s supplies and fuel. Among them is the Indonesian hospital, which suffered a brief power outage and was forced to shutter some critical services due to lack of fuel.
Gaza’s only oncology hospital, the Turkish Friendship Hospital, remains partially functional, putting around 2000 cancer patients at risk, the agency added.
Supported by U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, the health agency said it delivered 34000 litres (8981.85 gallons) of fuel Monday to four major hospitals in southern Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent. Such an amount was only enough to keep ambulances and critical hospital functions running for a little over 24 hours.
It also distributed medicine and other supplies to key hospitals in southern Gaza, as well as the Palestine Red Crescent.
PREGNANT WOMAN SURVIVES AIRSTRIKE IN KHAN YOUNIS, DELIVERS HEALTHY BABY
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Navine Abu Owdah’s apartment in Khan Younis was hit by an airstrike on Tuesday, badly injuring the heavily pregnant 30-year-old. Owdah was quickly rushed to the nearby hospital of al-Amal where thankfully doctors managed to deliver a healthy baby girl.
“A cesarean section was performed in the emergency department, and her baby girl, who is in good condition, was delivered,” doctor Salim Saqer said, speaking to The Associated Press from just outside the operating room.
Navine, who suffered multiple fractures and has abdominal bleeding, remains under observation and is receiving treatment.
TOP HAMAS OFFICIAL CALLS DEATHS IN GAZA UNPRECEDENTED
BEIRUT — A top Hamas official says the killings that people are being subjected to in Gaza are unprecedented.
Ghazi Hamad told reporters in Beirut that Israel is carrying out “brutal and savage acts against people” adding that in addition to the more than 5,700 people killed, more than 17,000 people have been wounded so far.
“The death toll is changing every second,” Hamad said. “The counter is rising amid killings, destruction and revenge.”
He said that among the dead were 57 doctors, nurses and paramedics, and that 27 ambulances were destroyed.
Hamad said 122 entire families were killed, meaning that the parents were killed along with their children with no one left alive.
Another senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, also told reporters that the U.N. should allow aid and fuel to enter Gaza saying that the amount of aid brought into the area so far is too little.
MILITANT GROUP CRITICIZES ISRAEL OVER ONGOING BOMBARDMENT OF GAZA
BEIRUT — The spokesman of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group says Israel is acting in a way that shows it does not care about the lives of hostages held by militants in the Gaza Strip.
Abu Hamza said in a statement released by the group Tuesday that the ongoing bombardment of Gaza indicates the Israeli government “does not want the prisoners (hostages) to see sunlight.”
His comments came a day after the militant Hamas group released two Israeli women who were held hostage. Last week, Hamas released an American woman and her teenage daughter as part of a mediation by Qatar.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are holding abut 220 hostages that were captured on Oct. 7, when militants stormed southern Israeli towns.
The Oct. 7, attack left more than 1,400 Israelis dead and since then Israel launched a bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 5,700 Palestinians.
ERDOGAN CRITICIZES UN, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR SITUATION IN GAZA
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday criticized the United Nations and the international community for failing to stop what he described as “massacres reaching the level of genocide” in Gaza.
In a message released to mark the U.N.’s 78th anniversary, Erdogan said the international community had scored poorly in the face of “Israel’s unlawful and boundless attacks” toward civilians.
He also criticized the U.N. Security Council saying it had rendered other U.N. agencies operating in the Palestinian territories “dysfunctional.”
The council’s monthly Mideast meeting on Tuesday was turned into a high-level event with more than a dozen foreign ministers flying to New York.
UN CHIEF SAYS SITUATION IN MIDDLE EAST IS GROWING ‘MORE DIRE,’ CALLS AGAIN FOR CEASE-FIRE
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is warning that “the situation in the Middle East is growing more dire by the hour,” with the risk of the latest Israel-Hamas war spiraling through the region as tensions threaten to boil over.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and appealed “to all to pull back from the brink before the violence claims even more lives and spreads even farther.”
He told the U.N. Security Council’s monthly Middle East meeting — which has been turned into a high-level event with more than a dozen foreign ministers flying to New York — that the rules of war must be obeyed.
Guterres said the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify “the horrifying and unprecedented Oct. 7 acts of terror” by Hamas in Israel, and he demanded the immediate release of all hostages.
He also stressed that “those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” He called Israel’s constant bombardment of Gaza and the level of civilian casualties “alarming,” stressing that their protection in conflict is paramount.
ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES KILLED 704 IN THE PAST DAY, HAMAS-RUN HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip have killed at least 704 people in the past day, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said Tuesday.
That represented a massive increase in the death toll amid widening Israeli bombing attacks in the territory.
Israel has been bombing Gaza since Hamas militants attacked southern Israeli towns on Oct. 7.
That has brought the death toll from the war to 5,791, including 2,360 children, ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement. At least 16,297 others were wounded, he said.
He said they have received 1,550 reports of missing people, including 870 children, suggesting that those missing could still be under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
The World Health Organization said 12 hospitals out of a total of 35 in Gaza were not functioning as of Monday. It said 46 out of 72 health care facilities across Gaza, or 64%, were not operating, mostly in Gaza city and northern Gaza.
Al-Qidra said the health facilities went out of service because of the attacks or because of a lack of fuel to keep them operating. “The Health Ministry announces a total collapse of hospitals in Gaza Strip,” he said.
A Health Ministry report issued Tuesday said 61 Palestinian medical workers and professionals have been killed since Oct. 7.
Al-Qidra called for the Egyptian government to open the Rafah crossing point and ensure the delivery of medical supplies and fuel to Gaza and allow the wounded to be treated in Egypt. Egypt says it didn’t close the crossing, but Israeli airstrikes on its Palestinian side forced its closure.