Clear
91.8 ° F
Full Weather
Sponsored By:

The Latest | Israeli troops launch attacks in central Gaza, possibly widening their offensive

Sponsored by:

The Israeli military said it has “operational control” over two areas of central Gaza as it carries out ground incursions and airstrikes in a possible broadening of its monthslong war against Hamas. The army said Wednesday its was fighting “above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and the built-up Bureij refugee camp.

In Jerusalem, thousands of mostly ultranationalist Israelis marched through a sensitive Palestinian area of the city, with some stoking already surging wartime tensions by chanting “Death to Arabs.”

The eight-month war in Gaza has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians who are facing widespread hunger.

The Biden administration has launched an intense drive to persuade Hamas and Israel to accept a new cease-fire and hostage release proposal, which has raised hopes of ending the war. CIA Director Bill Burns was in Doha consulting with Qatar’s prime minister about the ongoing negotiations, said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Around 80 hostages captured on Oct. 7 are believed to still be alive in Gaza, alongside the remains of 43 others.

Currently:

— Famine is possibly underway in northern Gaza despite recent aid efforts, a new report warns.

— As the Gaza hostage crisis drags on for Israel, here’s what we know.

— In a West Bank refugee camp, Israel’s raids fuel the militancy it tries to stamp out.

— Gunman captured after shootout outside U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.

— Rights group claims Israel has hit residential buildings with white phosphorous in Lebanon.

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

Here’s the latest:

U.N. CHIEF, JORDAN AND EGYPT WILL HOST CONFERENCE NEXT WEEK

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief, Jordan’s king and Egypt’s president are co-hosting an emergency “call for action” to world leaders to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza on Tuesday in Jordan.

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that the focus of the conference will be the welfare of the Palestinian people.

“It’s not a conference about politics,” he said. “It’s a conference about people.”

Griffiths said he expects the participants to look at bottlenecks to aid delivery including supply chains, the power supply and obstacles to protecting aid workers and convoys.

It’s going to be “a very practical conference,” said Griffiths, and it’s going to be “a call to action because at this stage, it has never been so bad as it is now in Gaza.”

He said he didn’t know whether Israel has been invited to attend the conference.

He expressed hope that the Jordan conference would also give Palestinians hope for the future.

“It should also speak to the essential requirement for the people of Palestine for statehood, for a pathway towards it, for them to be able to realize that they will rule themselves in freedom,” Griffiths said. “And in that freedom, we’ll find security for Israel and for the other countries in that region.”

EXPLOSIVE DRONE STRIKE FROM LEBANON WOUNDS 11 PEOPLE IN NORTHERN ISRAEL

JERUSALEM — A drone strike from Lebanon on a village in northern Israel on Wednesday wounded 11 people, including one critically, Israeli authorities said.

Eli Bin, director of Israel’s Magen David Adom paramedic service, told Israeli Channel 12 News that the 11 were wounded in Hurfeish, a village close to Israel’s border with Lebanon.

The Israeli military said two explosive drones fired from Lebanon struck the area. It said air raid sirens did not go off ahead of the strike.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it launched an explosive drone toward a gathering of military officials, which it said was in response to an earlier Israeli attack.

The Israeli military said “a number of launches that were identified from Lebanon fell in the area,” without saying what exactly was fired or hit. It said air raid sirens did not go off ahead of the strike.

Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire daily since a day after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, which set off the war in Gaza. The deadly fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border and sparked fears of a wider regional war.

The strike on Hurfeish came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured a separate area of the border, promising to restore calm to the north.

U.S. MILITARY HOPES TO REINSTALL GAZA AID PIER LATER THIS WEEK

The U.S. military hopes to reinstall a pier for ferrying food aid into Gaza later this week and have the aid moving again days after that, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Wednesday.

The causeway leading to the dock onshore broke apart May 25 as heavy winds and high seas hit the area. Large sections were then disconnected and moved to an Israeli port for repairs. Singh said no modifications to the pier were being made.

The pier broke apart just a week after it became operational, the pier project has faced criticism that it hasn’t lived up to its initial billing or its projected $320 million price tag.

Singh said Wednesday the project has come in at $230 million, much less than estimated due to contributions from Britain and because the cost of contracting trucks and other equipment was less than expected.

NETANYAHU SAYS ISRAEL IS PREPARED FOR ‘INTENSE ACTION’ ON LEBANESE BORDER

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is “prepared for very intense action” along its northern border with Lebanon, where its has traded fire for months with the militant group Hezbollah.

Netanyahu visited the area Wednesday to receive briefings from military officials. He said: “One way or another, we will restore security to the north.”

Hezbollah began attacking Israeli positions on Oct. 8, a day after Hamas launched its surprise attack that sparked the ongoing war in Gaza. Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged fire since the war began, stoking fears of a wider regional war.

Netanyahu has come under pressure to tackle the violence in the north. The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

More 400 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including more than 70 civilians and noncombatants. In Israel, 15 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed since October.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006. The group is believed to have tens of thousands of rockets at its disposal which could reach deep into Israel, and Israelis fear militants in the north could stage a cross-border raid similar to Hamas.

THOUSANDS OF ISRAELI NATIONALISTS MARCH IN JERUSALEM, SOME CHANTING ‘DEATH TO ARABS’

JERUSALEM — Thousands of mostly ultranationalist Israelis were taking part in an annual march through a sensitive Palestinian area of Jerusalem on Wednesday, with some stoking already surging wartime tensions by chanting “Death to Arabs.”

Thousands of Israelis, including many ultranationalists, were participating in the “Jerusalem Day” march. The annual event marks Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 Mideast war.

The marchers also chanted anti-Islamic slogans outside of Damascus Gate, a central gathering place for Palestinians in east Jerusalem.

The march in the past has helped fuel violence, including helping to set off an 11-day war with Hamas three years ago.

Palestinians view the annual march as provocative.

As buses bringing young Jewish men in for the march thronged around the Old City’s centuries-old walls, Palestinian shopkeepers closed down in the Muslim Quarter in preparation.

The police stressed that the march would not enter the sprawling Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. The hilltop on which it stands is the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the Jewish temples in antiquity.

EXPLOSION NEAR COMMERCIAL SHIP IN RED SEA, U.K. MILITARY SAYS

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An explosion struck in the Red Sea on Wednesday a short distance from a commercial ship that sustained no damage, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed the attack late Tuesday, part of a series of assaults on ships amid the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis also claimed another attack in the distant Arabian Sea that was unreported by either authorities or shipping firms. The Houthis have exaggerated some of their claims in the past.

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS SAYS AT LEAST 70 KILLED IN CENTRAL GAZA SINCE TUESDAY

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Doctors Without Borders says at least 70 bodies and 300 wounded people, mostly women and children, have been brought to a hospital in central Gaza since Tuesday after a wave of Israeli strikes.

The international charity said Wednesday in a post on X that Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah is struggling to treat “a huge influx of patients, many of them arriving with severe burns, shrapnel wounds, fractures, and other traumatic injuries.”

The Israeli military said earlier that it had launched new air and ground operations in central Gaza focused on the eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and the built-up Bureij refugee camp.

Karin Huster, a medical adviser with Doctors Without Borders, said “the odour of blood in the hospital’s emergency room this morning was unbearable.”

“There are people lying everywhere, on the floor, outside … bodies were being brought in plastic bags. The situation is overwhelming,” she said.

Israel says it tries to avoid harming civilians and blames Hamas for their deaths because the militant group places fighters, tunnels and rocket launchers in dense, residential areas. The military rarely comments on individual strikes, which often kill women and children.

U.N. AGENCIES WARN THAT OVER 1 MILLION PALESTINIANS COULD FACE STARVATION

CAIRO — United Nations agencies are warning that over 1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could experience the highest level of life-threatening starvation by the middle of next month if hostilities continue.

The World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a joint report Wednesday that hunger is worsening because of heavy restrictions on humanitarian access and the collapse of the local food system because of the nearly eight-month Israel-Hamas war.

It says the situation remains dire in northern Gaza, which has been surrounded and largely isolated by Israeli troops for months. Israel recently opened land crossings in the north but they are only able to facilitate a few dozen truck loads each day for hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel’s incursion into Rafah has meanwhile severely disrupted aid operations in the south. Egypt has refused to open its Rafah crossing with Gaza since Israeli forces seized the Gaza side of it nearly a month ago, instead diverting aid to Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing nearby.

The Israeli military says it has allowed hundreds of trucks to enter through Kerem Shalom in recent weeks, but the U.N. says it is often unable to retrieve the aid because of the security situation. It says distribution within Gaza is also severely hampered by ongoing fighting, the breakdown of law and order, and other Israeli restrictions.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, the world authority on determining the extent of hunger crises, said in March that around 677,000 people in Gaza were experiencing Phase 5 hunger, the highest level and the equivalent of famine.

The two U.N. agencies said in their report Wednesday that that figure could climb to over 1 million — or nearly half of Gaza’s total population of 2.3 million — by the middle of next month.

JERUSALEM MARCH SET TO PROCEED DESPITE TENSIONS

JERUSALEM — Thousands of Israelis, including large crowds of ultranationalists, are expected to take part in an annual march through dense Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem’s Old City in an event that often sees racist chants and brawls.

Jerusalem, the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been mostly calm throughout the Israel-Hamas war, but Wednesday’s march could ignite widespread tensions, as it did three years ago, when it helped set off an 11-day war in Gaza.

The annual march commemorates Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital, but its annexation of east Jerusalem is not internationally recognized. The Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, see the march as a provocation.

In past years, police have forcibly cleared Palestinians from the parade route, and large crowds of mostly ultranationalist youth have chanted “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn.” The police say they are deploying 3,000 security personnel to ensure calm.

At the insistence of Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the march will follow its traditional route, entering the Muslim Quarter through Damascus Gate and ending at the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray.

The police stressed that the march would not enter the sprawling Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. The hilltop on which it stands is the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the Jewish temples in antiquity.

Perceived encroachments on the site have set off widespread violence on a number of occasions going back decades.

Counterprotests were planned throughout the day. An Israeli group, Tag Meir, sent volunteers through the emptying city streets ahead of the march to distribute thousands of flowers to Christian and Muslim residents of the Old City.

ISRAEL’S COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY WILL TRY TO EXTEND AL JAZEERA SHUTDOWN

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Communications Ministry says it will try to extend its order to shut down the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera news network.

The announcement on Wednesday came after a court upheld the existing order but said it would expire on Sunday, 10 days earlier than expected.

Israel ordered the closure of Al Jazeera’s local offices on May 6, escalating a long-running feud between the broadcaster and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government, which accuses it of inciting violence and being a “Hamas mouthpiece,” allegations the network denies.

The extraordinary order, which includes confiscating broadcast equipment, preventing the broadcast of the channel’s reports and blocking its websites, is believed to be the first time Israel has ever shuttered a foreign news outlet operating in the country.

Last month, Israeli officials seized equipment belonging to The Associated Press, accusing the news organization of violating the law by providing images to Al Jazeera. The Qatari satellite channel is among hundreds of clients that receive live video feeds from the AP and other news organizations. The equipment was returned hours later, and the AP resumed broadcasting live from southern Israel.

Al Jazeera has reported on the Israeli-Hamas war nonstop since the militants’ initial cross-border attack Oct. 7 and has maintained 24-hour coverage in the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s grinding offensive, which has killed and wounded members of its staff.

The network has provided on-the-ground reporting on the war’s casualties while also airing, in their entirety, videos released by Hamas and other armed groups showing Israeli hostages and attacks on Israeli troops.

NETANYAHU SAYS ISRAEL WILL RESTORE SECURITY ALONG THE LEBANESE BORDER

TEL AVIV, Israel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will restore security in the north “one way or another” during a tour of the border with Lebanon.

His visit on Wednesday came a day after after large brush fires ignited by Hezbollah rocket attacks burned in a number of locations. At a meeting with soldiers and firefighters, Netanyahu said Israel is “prepared for very strong action in the north.”

“Yesterday the land was burning here, and I’m glad you put it out, but the ground was also on fire in Lebanon,” he said.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group began launching rockets at Israel a day after the war in Gaza broke out with Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. Since then, Israel and Hezbollah have been trading fire daily in violence that has pushed the region to the brink of a wider war.

Israel’s national parks authority says a total of nearly 40,000 dunams (9,900 acres) have burned since the end of May in multiple brush fires, many of which were started by rockets and other projectiles fired from Lebanon. It says it could take years to rehabilitate the area.

GUNMAN CAPTURED AFTER SHOOTOUT OUTSIDE U.S. EMBASSY IN BEIRUT

BEIRUT — A gunman was shot and captured by Lebanese soldiers after a shootout outside the U.S. Embassy outside Beirut on Wednesday morning, the military said.

The attack took place as tensions continued to simmer in the tiny Mediterranean country, where months of fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops has displaced thousands along the border, following years of political deadlock and economic hardship.

The Lebanese military in a statement said that soldiers shot an assailant, who they only described as a Syrian national. The gunman was wounded and taken to a hospital.

The shooter’s motives were not clear. However, Lebanese media have published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.”

Local media reported that there was a gunfight involving at least one attacker lasting almost half an hour. A video that surfaced on social media showed a gunman in a parking lot across the embassy’s entrance shooting with what appears to be an assault rifle.

ISRAEL SAYS IT HAS STARTED ‘OPERATIONAL ACTIVITY’ IN 2 AREAS OF CENTRAL GAZA

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it has “started operational activity” in two areas of central Gaza in a possible broadening of its monthslong ground offensive against Hamas.

The military said Wednesday that forces were operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and Bureij, a built-up Palestinian refugee camp dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. It said the operation began with airstrikes on militant infrastructure, after which troops began a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

Israel has routinely launched airstrikes in all parts of Gaza since the start of the war and has carried out massive ground operations in the territory’s two largest cities, Gaza City and Khan Younis, that left much of them in ruins.

The military waged an offensive earlier this year for several weeks in Bureij and several other nearby refugee camps in central Gaza.

Troops pulled out of the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza last Friday after weeks of fighting caused widespread destruction. First responders have recovered the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed during the battles.

Israel sent troops into Rafah last month in what it said was a limited incursion, but those forces are now operating in central parts of Gaza’s southernmost city. More than 1 million people have fled Rafah since the start of the operation, with many heading toward central Gaza.

ISRAEL OVERHAULS SHADOWY MILITARY PRISON SYSTEM

JERUSALEM — Israel says it is overhauling the operations of a shadowy military prison used to hold Palestinian detainees after outcry over conditions over the facility.

The Sde Teiman facility has served as the main holding place for the thousands of detainees Israel has rounded up in Gaza during an eight-month offensive. The facility has raised concerns of human rights abuses.

State attorneys said during a Supreme Court hearing Wednesday that over the next week the government will transfer 500 of 700 detainees currently held there to the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank. They pledged to move the remaining 200 at a later date and use the prison only as a short-term holding facility.

The state lawyers also said the facility’s medical center would be improved and eventually replaced by a new hospital.

Rights groups had asked the Supreme Court to close the facility, alleging poor conditions and a lack of oversight.

Detainees can be held there pre-trial and without access to an attorney for over a month, under a wartime revision to Israeli law.

Based on interviews with Palestinian detainees held there and soldier whistleblowers, rights groups have said the detainees are shackled and blindfolded in pens inside warehouse-like structures under harsh floodlights.

Doctors working at the medical facility there have raised concerns to The Associated Press that patients are treated while cuffed and blindfolded and surgeries are conducted without adequate painkillers.

Israel says it has detained about 4,000 Palestinians during its Gaza offensive, saying the detentions are necessary to gather intelligence. It has released 1,500 after deeming them unaffiliated with Palestinian militant groups.

By The Associated Press

Feedback

  Fire Alert