News

The Latest | Israel will send cease-fire negotiators to Cairo for more talks, Netanyahu says

Israel will send a delegation to Cairo for further talks with mediators on a proposed deal with Hamas for a cease-fire and hostage release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Thursday.

Israel has been pressing ahead with a fresh offensive across the north, south and center of the Gaza Strip in recent days, which could be aimed at increasing pressure on Gaza’s Hamas militant group during cease-fire negotiations.

Palestinians returned to breathtaking scenes of destruction in the Gaza City district of Shijaiyah after Israeli troops withdrew following a two-week offensive there. Civil defense workers said that so far they had found the bodies of 60 people in the rubble.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,300 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Most of Gaza's 2.3 million people are crammed into squalid tent camps in central and southern Gaza. Israeli restrictions, fighting and the breakdown of law and order have limited humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top United Nations court has ordered Israel to take steps to protect Palestinians as it examines genocide allegations against Israeli leaders. Israel denies the charge.

Currently:

— Israeli army acknowledges Oct. 7 failures, including slow response times and disorganization.

— 'We have nothing': Palestinians return to utter destruction in Gaza City after Israeli withdrawal.

— The U.S. says the end of its pier for Gaza aid is coming soon.

— A boy in Gaza was killed by an Israeli airstrike. His father held him and wouldn't let go.

— Head of US aid agency says Israel has pledged to improve safety for humanitarian workers in Gaza.

Yemen's Houthi rebels fired an Iranian missile at ship, debris analyzed by US shows.

— Follow AP's coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here’s the latest:

President Biden acknowledges disappointments, missteps and frustrations with Israel’s hard-right government

WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden acknowledged disappointments, missteps and frustrations with Israel’s hard-right government Thursday, but pointed to increased hopes now of a cease-fire to end the Israel-Hamas war devastating the lives of Gaza’s people.

Biden looked back over the course of his efforts in Israel’s war against Hamas during a much-watched press conference at the site of the just ended NATO summit.

He called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government the most conservative Israeli administration he had experienced, and said he had urged Israeli leaders not to follow the example that the U.S. set against al-Qaida and other extremist militant groups. “’Don’t think that’s what you should be doing, doubling-down,”’ he recounted telling them.

He said he had been “disappointed” his order for the U.S. military to build a pier to bring aid by sea to Gaza, along with some other efforts, “have not succeeded as well.”

But Biden said Israel and Hamas had now both agreed to the broad terms of a deal to pause fighting and free hostages, and said that made prospects brighter now. Mediators were helping work on gaps in agreement, he said.

Head of US aid agency says Israel has pledged to improve safety for humanitarian workers in Gaza

ASHDOD, Israel — The head of the U.S. agency overseeing American humanitarian assistance worldwide says Israel has agreed to use an improved system across the Gaza Strip to ensure humanitarian workers and aid can more safely move around.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that Israel has also taken new steps to increase the flow of aid through its port of Ashdod, just north of Gaza. The move could give donors a new option for delivering aid as the U.S. shutters its troubled maritime pier off Gaza's coast.

“We have not seen the kind of humanitarian system to this point that has allowed humanitarians to move efficiently and safely to the degree that we need,” Power said. “This week and through this visit, we have secured an agreement.”

“My whole career has been working in and around conflict areas,” said Power, a former war correspondent and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “I have never seen a more difficult conflict environment for humanitarians to work in.”

Humanitarian workers have complained throughout the war that the system by which the Israeli military assures safe passage to aid has been a failure. Power said a system by which the U.N. and Israeli military communicate more closely will be extended across Gaza.

A main hospital reopens in northern Gaza, days after patients were evacuated ahead of Israeli ground operation

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — One of the main hospitals in Gaza City partially resumed operations on Thursday, days after evacuating its patients and staff in the face of an Israeli military assault in the area.

Al-Ahli Hospital was vacated on Monday after the Israeli military issued evacuation orders for central and eastern parts of Gaza City ahead of an offensive. Staff rushed patients to the Indonesian Hospital in another part of northern Gaza.

The Episcopal Church in the Middle East, which operates Al-Ahli, said the hospital was "compelled to close by the Israeli army" after the evacuation orders and a wave of nearby drone strikes on Sunday.

The military later said it told hospitals and other medical facilities in Gaza City they did not need to evacuate. But hospitals in Gaza have often shut down and moved patients at any sign of possible Israeli military action, fearing a repeat of destructive raids that troops have launched on multiple hospitals.

On Thursday, staff reopened the emergency ward and were admitting new patients, though the rest of the facility was still not functioning.

Mohammed al-Sheikh, a nurse in the emergency department, said the hospital was resuming primary care “because the danger still exists, and the area is still under fire and under bombing, and injuries are still arriving,” referring to Israel’s continued military offensive in Gaza City.

With Al-Ahli’s reopening, 14 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are partially functioning, according to U.N. figures, while the rest have been shut down because of damage to facilities, lack of fuel, supplies or staff or because of nearby fighting.

US says the end of its pier for Gaza aid is coming soon

WASHINGTON — Battling rough seas around Gaza, the U.S. now is considering abandoning efforts to reinstall the pier that has been used to get badly needed humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians, two U.S. officials said Thursday.

The initial plan earlier this week had been to reinstall the pier for a few days to move the final pallets of aid onto the shore and then permanently remove it, but rough seas have prevented the reinstallation.

The White House and the Defense Department both said the pier will cease operations "soon" but would not specify timing. Other U.S. officials said the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command were actively discussing an early end to pier operations because weather and some maintenance problems make it far less desirable to reconnect it for just a short time.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said there is no final decision yet and that if the weather calms for a bit, there is a slim chance they could reattach it for a short time.

Across Washington, officials were signaling the end of what has been a mission fraught with weather and security problems, but which also has brought more than 19.4 million pounds (8.6 million kilograms) of aid to starving Palestinians in Gaza.

“Look, I see any result that produces more food, more humanitarian goods, getting to the people of Gaza as a success,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Thursday. ”It is additive. It is something additional that otherwise we would not have gotten there when it got there. And that is a good thing.”

Some aid still remains offshore and in Cyprus, but officials said they are looking at alternative plans to take the aid to the Israeli port at Ashdod. The port has been eyed as a likely replacement option for the movement of supplies from Cyprus to Gaza.

The continuing weather problems have forced the military to temporarily remove the pier three times since it was installed in May. And the project has also been hampered by security threats that prompted aid agencies to halt distribution of the food and other supplies into Gaza.

The aid groups have said that while any amount of food for Gaza is welcome, many have criticized the project as a costly distraction, saying the U.S. should concentrate on pressuring Israel to allow more aid through land borders, which have long been considered the most productive option.

The U.N. suspended all World Food Program deliveries from the the pier after a June 8 Israeli military raid that saved four Israeli hostages but killed hundreds of Palestinians, citing concerns that troops used an area near there for flying out the rescued hostages by helicopter.

Israeli assault on Gaza City leaves behind scenes of complete destruction

SHIJAIYAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinians returned to breathtaking scenes of destruction in the Gaza City district of Shijaiyah after Israeli troops withdrew, ending a two-week offensive there. Civil defense workers said that so far they had found the bodies of 60 people in the rubble.

Families who had fled the assault ventured back into Shijaiyah to see the condition of their homes or salvage whatever they could.

Nearly every building was flattened to rubble for block after block, leaving giant piles of concrete and twisted rebar. Here and there, a few stories of gutted concrete frames still stood. People on bicycles or carts made their ways down dirt paths where the streets had been bulldozed away.

Sharif Abu Shanab found his four-story family building collapsed. “I can’t enter it. I can’t take anything out of it, not even a can of tuna. We have nothing, no food or drink,” he said.

Since fleeing the district, his family sleeps in the streets, he said. “Where do we go and to whom? … We have no home or anything,” he said in despair. “There’s only one solution, hit us with a nuclear bomb and relieve us of this life.”

The Israeli military has invaded Shijaiyah several times in the 9-month-old war to battle Hamas militants. Its latest assault began in late June, when it said it was pursuing militants who had regrouped in the district. The assault sent some 80,000 people fleeing Shijaiyah, most into nearby areas, and it is not known how many people remained in the district during the fighting.

The Israeli military said in a statement Wednesday evening that its operations in Shijaiyah had ended. It said its troops had killed dozens of militants and destroyed eight tunnels in the area. Those claims could not be independently confirmed.

Gaza’s Civil Defense organization said that during Israel’s offensive, its emergency crews had largely been unable to respond to calls for help from residents in destroyed buildings. After the Israeli withdrawal, its crews entered and recovered 60 bodies, it said, adding that the search was ongoing. More bodies were believed buried under rubble, but the organization has little heavy equipment to clear debris.

Israel's Netanyahu heckled with chants of “shame” during military graduation ceremony

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday was interrupted by hecklers during a military graduation ceremony in southern Israel when he vowed to continue the war against Hamas “until victory.”

“There are some who ask how long the campaign will last, and I answer in two words: Until victory. Until victory, even if it takes time” he said.

As he spoke, a small crowd began to chant: “Shame.”

Netanyahu has said he will press ahead with the nine-month offensive until Hamas is destroyed and all the hostages it is holding come home. Large parts of the Israeli public want Netanyahu to reach a cease-fire deal to free the hostages, even if the other goals aren’t met.

During the same military ceremony, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said a broad government investigation is needed into the nation’s leaders, including Netanyahu.

“We require a probe at the national level, a probe that will clarify the facts, allow the drawing of conclusions and lead to the assimilation of correct lessons,” he said. “It needs to check me, minister of defense. It needs to check the prime minister.”

Israeli military releases the results of its first investigation into failures during Oct. 7 attack

The Israeli military released on Thursday the results of its first investigation into failures during the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that triggered the nine-month war in Gaza.

The military said Israeli hostages held in a home that was struck by tank fire on Oct. 7 were likely killed by Hamas militants, not Israeli shelling.

While the army appeared to clear itself in the tank strike — one of the most high-profile episodes of Oct. 7 — it acknowledged a string of errors that day in its core mission of protecting the country’s citizens, including slow response times and disorganization during the standoff at Kibbutz Be’eri.

“The fighting in the area in the first hours was characterized by a lack of command and control and a lack of coordination and order between the various forces,” the report said. “This caused a number of incidents in which security forces gathered at the entrance to the kibbutz and did not engage in immediate combat.”

Be'eri was the scene of one of the most high-profile incidents of Oct. 7 – a standoff in which militants held a group of hostages inside a home. Survivors said that during the standoff a tank fired at the home, raising concerns that the 13 hostages inside were killed by friendly fire.

In its investigation, the army said the kibbutz was overrun by about 340 Hamas fighters and that militants killed most of the hostages, though it was unclear how it reached that conclusion, and the report called for additional tests.

The Israeli army has come under heavy criticism from Palestinians and human rights groups, who say its investigations rarely result in punishment.

Kibbutz residents gave the report a mixed reception, expressing anger over the army’s failures that day but also appreciation that it was taking responsibility.

The surprise cross-border raid killed some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took 250 others hostage, in the deadliest attack in Israel’s 76-year history.

The army has launched multiple investigations into the failures of Oct. 7, and the head of military intelligence has resigned. Several other commanders have apologized and taken responsibility for their failures. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected repeated calls for an official state investigation, saying the country is focused on its war against Hamas.

US imposes new sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is imposing new sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers who it accuses of undermining peace and stability in the occupied West Bank by encouraging or participating in violence against Palestinian civilians.

The departments of State and Treasury announced Thursday they were targeting three Israeli individuals and five groups with which they are affiliated for involvement in violence or threats of violence targeting civilians, seizure of property or other actions that threaten security in the West Bank.

“The United States remains deeply concerned about extremist violence and instability in the West Bank, which undermines Israel’s own security,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. “We strongly encourage the Government of Israel to take immediate steps to hold these individuals and entities accountable. In the absence of such steps, we will continue to impose our own accountability measures.”

The sanctions freeze any assets held by those targeted in U.S. jurisdictions and block Americans from doing business with them.

The targets of Thursday’s sanctions are Isachar Manne, Reut Ben Haim, Aviad Shlomo Sarid, three settlement outposts, Manne Farm, Meitarim Farm, Hamahoch Farm, Neriya’s Farm; and Lehava, an umbrella group for settlers.

In an escalation over past months, West Bank settlers have carried out more than 1,000 attacks on Palestinians, causing deaths, damaging property and in some cases prompting Palestinians to flee villages.

Israel has built well over 100 settlements scattered across the West Bank. Settlers also have built scores of tiny unauthorized outposts that are tolerated or even encouraged by the government. Some are later legalized.

Israel will send cease-fire negotiators to Cairo for more talks, Netanyahu’s office says

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says Israel will send a delegation to Cairo for further talks with mediators on a proposed deal with Hamas for a cease-fire and hostage release.

U.S., Egyptian and Qatari mediators are making a new push to seal the agreement, as Hamas and Israel have come the closest yet to narrowing the gaps between them after months of negotiations.

But obstacles still remain. Hamas agreed to relent on its key demand that Israel commit to ending the war as part of any agreement. But it still wants mediators to guarantee that talks will go on until a permanent cease-fire is reached, in return for a full release of hostages held by Hamas.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, says he won’t sign any deal that would force Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza before Hamas is eliminated.

Netanyahu’s office said Israel’s negotiating team returned from meeting with mediators in the Qatari capital Doha, without giving details on the results of the talks. The team was heading Thursday evening to Cairo for continuing discussions, it said.

US announces $100 million additional aid for Palestinians

JERUSALEM — The United States announced Thursday that it is providing $100 million dollars in additional aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

A statement from USAID said the funding would assist the United Nations’ World Food Program. It also said that through the funding, it would provide “logistics support for the safe and efficient delivery of lifesaving humanitarian aid across Gaza,” without elaborating. Aid agencies have complained that goods are not reaching people in Gaza because of the dangerous security situation and growing lawlessness that is complicating aid delivery.

A statement from the U.S. aid agency said the additional funding brings U.S. contributions to the Palestinians since the war began to more than $774 million.

The war in Gaza, sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border raid, has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza that has led to widespread hunger.

A boy in Gaza was killed by an Israeli airstrike. His father held him and wouldn’t let go

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — He wouldn't let go. Nael Al-Baghdadi held his 12-year-old son, Omar, and held him tight. But it was already too late. Omar, who was playing outside near his home, had been killed Tuesday in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli airstrike.

In the photo made by Associated Press photographer Abdel Kareem Hana after the strike, al-Baghdadi’s eyes are shut. He holds his son, whose small body rests limply in his arms. His right hand and right shirt sleeve are streaked with blood. Grief is etched upon the father’s face, but more than that there is an expression of deep love for the child he has just lost. So much love that he insisted on holding Omar, uninterrupted, until the child could be shepherded hours later to his grave.

Omar and his three friends were playing soccer in the street near their house in the Bureij refugee camp around noon Tuesday, under a blistering sun, when the Israeli airstrike hit and sent the street into a swirl of dust, blood and chaos. Al-Baghdadi was already in nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah with his injured brother. His cousin ran toward the wreckage, found Omar and took him to an ambulance.

From there, he called the father and broke the news: His son had been killed; be ready to receive him. According to al-Baghdadi, he met the ambulance when it rolled into the hospital, picked up his son’s body and carried it to the morgue, weeping all the way.

He refused to put his son on the ground inside the morgue, holding him gently until he was shrouded and the funeral prayer was performed before a quick burial.

One image, one moment — a child lost, a father’s grief, an excruciating goodbye.

Yemen's Houthi rebels fired an Iranian missile at Norwegian-flagged ship, debris analyzed by US shows

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Houthi rebels likely fired an Iranian-made anti-ship cruise missile at a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea in December, an assault that now provides a public, evidence-based link between the ongoing rebel campaign against shipping and Tehran.

A report by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released Wednesday linked the attack on the Strinda, which set the vessel ablaze, to Tehran, the Houthi’s main backer in Yemen’s nearly decadelong war.

The findings correspond with those of a Norway-based insurers group that also examined debris found on the Strinda. It comes as the Houthis continue their monthslong campaign of attacks over the Israel-Hamas war targeting ships in the Red Sea corridor, disrupting the $1 trillion flow of goods passing through it annually.

Houthi attacks on ships have rapidly escalated since November, as the group says it aims to pressure Israel and the international community to halt the war against Hamas in Gaza.

Very little aid is getting to Palestinians due to lawlessness and combat in Gaza, UN says

UNITED NATIONS -– The United Nations is stressing that very little aid is getting to Palestinians from the Kerem Shalom border crossing because of lawlessness, ongoing fighting, and the lack of effective coordination with Israeli forces in Gaza.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric was responding Wednesday to the head of the Israeli military body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs who told reporters at Kerem Shalom earlier that the United Nations needs to step up its ability to receive and distribute aid in Gaza.

Col. Elad Goren, head of the body known as COGAT, said it has facilitated the entry of more than 40,000 trucks to Gaza but the U.N. has only received and distributed aid from 26,000. He called for the U.N. to increase trucks, manpower and warehouses.

Dujarric said the U.N. is trying its best to get to people in need, especially in central and southern Gaza, but “you have utter lawlessness, plus you have continuing conflict.”

Some U.N. and private sector trucks are trying to pick up aid from Kerem Shalom, “often at great cost, because they are being either looted or attacked by criminal elements,” he said, adding that “we’ve had convoys also being fired on by Israeli forces.”

As a result, very little is getting through, Dujarric said.

“We’re discussing with various parties, but the facts on the ground remain the facts on the ground, unfortunately,” the U.N. spokesman said.

“Unless there is a cease-fire which allows for full and unfettered humanitarian access, which will see the release of the hostages, will see an end to the fighting, every day is a challenge to get aid and to deliver it,” Dujarric said.

US sends hundreds of bombs to Israel after pausing shipment over concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza, officials say

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has agreed to send Israel hundreds of 500-pound bombs from a shipment that the Biden administration withheld because of concerns about Israeli operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, according to three U.S. officials.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced in May that he would not supply offensive weapons that Israel could use to launch an all-out assault on Rafah over concern for the well-being of hundreds of thousands civilians sheltering there.

The White House announced at the time that they were holding up a shipment of 1,800 of the larger 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) bombs and 1,700 of the relatively smaller 500-pound (225-kilogram) bombs because of the president’s concerns.

The officials, who were not authorized to comment on the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration had been more concerned about the use of the larger bombs and recently agreed to fulfill Israel’s request for the 500-pound bombs in the shipment.

The U.S. is continuing to hold up the 2,000-pound bombs, the officials said. One of the officials said the U.S. remains concerned about how these bombs could be used in Gaza.

One of the officials said the shipment of the 500-pound bombs is still being processed and the bombs have not yet arrived in Israel.

Israel says it has nearly defeated Hamas forces in Rafah after two months of fighting there. Before Israeli troops invaded, the city had sheltered most of Gaza's more than 2 million people. Today it is a dust-covered ghost town.

___

Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Lolita C. Baldor contributed.

United Nations says Israel's operations in Gaza City will fuel mass suffering for Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations is warning that Israel’s order for Palestinians to leave Gaza City will fuel mass suffering and is insisting that civilians must be protected and their needs must be met whether they flee or stay.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Wednesday that this warning from the U.N. humanitarian office means that all parties involved in the conflict in Gaza must respect international humanitarian law at all times. Protection of civilians and the infrastructure for their survival are key requirements of the law.

“The level of fighting and destruction that we are seeing in recent days, as the cease-fire talks are ongoing, is truly shocking,” Dujarric said.

He said Muhannad Hadi, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, briefed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday about his visit into the Gaza Strip a day earlier and the dire situation there.

“He saw firsthand the consequences of the breakdown in public order and safety as he entered and exited Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing,” Dujarric said.

“He saw groups of men with sticks waiting for trucks to leave the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza,” the U.N. spokesman said. “All the trucks that he passed were badly damaged, with broken windshields, mirrors and hoods.”

Hadi also saw bags of fortified flour from the U.N. World Food Program and the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, scattered on the side of the road coming out of the crossing, Dujarric said.

In Khan Younis, Hadi reported that the southern city “has largely been reduced to sand and rubble,” the spokesman said. “Every building that he saw had been damaged in some way, shape or form.”

Hadi also met with women’s groups at a U.N. guesthouse who told him about harrowing conditions at sites for displaced Palestinians, he said.

“Many women have cut off their hair due to lice and difficulties in accessing the necessary hygiene products such as shampoo, and because of the lack of privacy at sites for displaced people,” Dujarric said.

He said “others voiced despair over their inability to provide for their families, in particular for relatives living with disabilities and those who are sick and cannot get treatment,” and for having to send their children to bed without eating and drinking.

“One woman said that living with many different families in the same room meant that she wasn’t removing her hijab for days and that she couldn’t brush her hair or change clothes without being watched,” Dujarric said. “Others told him that overcrowding, despair and the breakdown in public order and safety is leading to an increase in sexual and gender-based violence.”

USAID leader will meet with Israeli officials about security of aid workers in Gaza

TEL AVIV, Israel — A United States official says the head of the agency overseeing American foreign humanitarian and development aid will visit Israel on Thursday to address security concerns around aid workers and aid distribution in Gaza.

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power will meet with Israeli officials to discuss improving communication and coordination to protect humanitarian workers in the ongoing Gaza war. She was last in the region in March, when she visited Israel, Jordan, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The United Nations chief has said "total lawlessness" and chaos in Gaza prevents the distribution of desperately needed humanitarian aid in the enclave. Humanitarian conditions are dire as many families are displaced multiple times. According to the U.N., more than 200 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the war began.

Ahead of Power's visit, the Israeli military asserted that the U.N. must step up its ability to receive and distribute aid in Gaza. “Even if we will bring 1,000 trucks today, there’s nowhere to put it on the Palestinian side, that’s the main problem,” said Col. Elad Goren, the head of the civilian department at the Israeli defense body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs, during a press conference.

USAID has said thousands of tons of food, medicine and other aid are piled up uncollected on a beach near the U.S.-built pier because of the lawlessness on the ground.

0
Comments on this article
0

Listen

news

weather

traffic

mobile apps

Everything you love about wsbradio.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!