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Live updates | Israeli warplanes strike targets as US seeks more time to free hostages

An Israeli woman cries as she holds a photo of a woman who was kidnapped, during a rally calling for the return of more than 200 people captured by Hamas militants, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. On Oct. 7, the militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack that killed over 1,400 and captured more than 200. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Original Publication Date October 23, 2023 - 1:01 AM

Israeli warplanes are striking targets across Gaza as the U.S. advised Israel that a delay in its expected ground offensive in the besieged Hamas-ruled territory would allow more time to negotiate the release of hostages. Fears of a widening war have grown as Israel struck targets in the occupied West Bank, Syria and Lebanon and traded fire with Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group.

Two aid convoys arrived in the Gaza Strip over the weekend through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, and a third arrived Monday. Israel said the trucks carried food, water and medical supplies. Israel has not allowed in fuel, which is critically needed for water and sanitation systems and hospitals.

The war, in its 17th day Monday, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said Monday that at least 5,087 Palestinians have been killed and 15,270 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 into southern Israel. 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, a mother and daughter on Friday and two more on Monday.

Currently:

    1. A third convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed aid reaches Gaza

    2. The U.S. Department of Defense is assisting Israel in its war planning by sending military advisers to the country

    3. The release of two more hostages gives some hope to the families of others abducted during the attack on Israel

    4. Premature babies hooked up to incubators are at risk of dying because of dwindling fuel in the Gaza Strip

    5. Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

1. A third convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed aid reaches Gaza

2. The U.S. Department of Defense is in its war planning by sending military advisers to the country

3. The release of two more hostages to the families of others abducted during the attack on Israel

4. Premature babies hooked up to incubators are at risk of dying because of in the Gaza Strip

5. Find more of AP’s coverage at

Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:

15 PALESTINIANS FROM THE SAME FAMILY BURIED IN MASS GRAVE IN GAZA AFTER KILLED BY ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip – Fifteen members of the same family were among at least 33 Palestinians buried in a mass grave at a Gaza hospital on Monday after they were killed by Israeli airstrikes.

A harried-looking doctor in green scrubs walked past as bodies in white sheets were loaded into the back of a pickup truck. Men discussed where to fit the shrouded corpse of a small child between two adults.

Side-by-side, the bodies were laid to rest in a shallow, sandy grave in the courtyard of al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, an ambulance parked nearby. “Bring them all,” a gravedigger called out.

Israel said Monday it struck 320 militant targets throughout the besieged Gaza Strip over the last 24 hours. The military says it does not target civilians. Over 5,000 Palestinians, including some 2,000 minors, have been killed since the war began, Gaza’s Health Ministry said.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed — mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack.

ITALY CONFIRMS DEATH OF 3RD ITALIAN-ISRAELI CITIZEN MISSING IN HAMAS ATTACK

ROME — Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani said the last of three Italian-Israeli citizens who had been missing in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel is also dead.

“Unfortunately, also Nir Forti is deceased,’’ the minister wrote late Monday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Forti had been attending the music festival that Hamas attacked.

“To die at 29, barbarously killed by terrorists, is deeply unjust,’’ Tajani wrote on X.

Only hours earlier Tajani had announced the death of another Italian-Israeli woman, whose husband's death had been confirmed last week.

ISRAEL MUST PROTECT CIVILIANS IN ITS WAR ON HAMAS, UN INVESTIGATOR SAYS

UNITED NATIONS — A United Nations special investigator said while Hamas’ attacks on Israel at a minimum constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, Israel in its response is required under international law to protect civilians and is banned from targeting schools, hospitals and people fleeing harm.

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, told a U.N. news conference Monday that when these rules of international humanitarian law are breached, “we are also in the territory of war crimes.”

She stressed that under the Geneva Conventions governing the conduct of war, it isn’t only Israel and Hamas that must respect international humanitarian law. Those “with influence” over the parties also have an obligation to ensure the rules of war are respected — and to remind the parties to comply.

Ní Aoláin, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said Israel should avoid making the same “mistake” the United States did following 9/11, when “egregious and systematic violations of human rights" were committed.

She also echoed U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s view that Israel’s order for 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to move to the south “will have devastating consequences.”

Ní Aoláin, said she and many others in the U.N. system joined the secretary-general in condemning this, “as well as being clear that the cutting off of water and electricity, which indiscriminately and excessively harm civilians, may constitute a war crime.”

US PUSHING FOR UN RESOLUTION CONDEMNING ATTACKS IN ISRAEL, VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday is turning into a high-level event, with ministers flying to New York and the U.S. pushing for adoption of a resolution that would condemn the Hamas attacks in Israel and violence against civilians, and reaffirm Israel’s right to self-defense.

The new U.S.-drafted resolution was still being negotiated late Monday afternoon, but a recent draft obtained by The Associated Press also demands the immediate release of all hostages, urges respect for international laws on conducting war and protecting civilians, urges all countries to intensify efforts to prevent a spillover, and demands immediate humanitarian access to Gaza.

Among those expected at Tuesday’s meeting are the foreign minister of Israel, the Palestinians, Iran, Jordan, France and Brazil, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of any announcement.

A resolution proposed by Russia, which called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” and would strongly condemn all violence and acts of terrorism didn’t mention the Hamas attacks. It failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes needed for approval by the 15-member council.

Diplomats said one issue in the U.S. draft resolution is Russia’s demand for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

IRAQI MILITIAS SAY THEY ATTACKED 2 US BASES IN SYRIA

BEIRUT — Iran-backed militias in Iraq on Monday said they attacked two U.S. bases in eastern Syria, their fourth attack in one day.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iranian-backed militias, said two drones attacked U.S. military bases by the Al-Omar oil field in Deir el-Zour province and in al-Shaddadi further north. Officials in Washington did not immediately comment on the attack.

The attack came hours after the group claimed responsibility for drone attacks on the al-Tanf garrison near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders, and a stone’s throw away from the desert Rukban camp home to tens of thousands of Syrians.

There have been a string of similar attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria over the past week. In one attack, the same group attacked two U.S. bases in Iraq with drones, causing minor injuries among U.S. forces.

INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS CONFIRMS RELEASE OF 2 MORE HOSTAGES

JERUSALEM — The International Committee of the Red Cross says Hamas militants have released two hostages who had been held captive in the Gaza Strip.

It was the second time the group has freed hostages seized in its bloody Oct. 7 cross-border incursion into Israel.

The hostages were identified by Israeli media as Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper of the Israeli kibbutz of Nir Oz.

In a statement, Hamas said it had released them for humanitarian reasons.

Israel has demanded the unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas.

The Islamic militant group is believed to be holding over 200 people, including an unconfirmed number of foreigners and dual nationals.

Hamas released two other hostages — an American mother and daughter — on Friday.

___

This item has been updated to correct the last name of one of the freed hostages: Yocheved Lifshitz, not Lipshitz.

HAMAS SAYS IT HAS FREED 2 MORE HOSTAGES

JERUSALEM — Late Monday, Hamas announced that it had freed an additional two hostages on humanitarian grounds. Israeli media, citing an anonymous official, confirmed the release, but there was no formal announcement from the Israeli side.

The Associated Press could not independently confirm the release.

FRANCE'S MACRON TO VISIT ISRAEL, MEET WITH NETANYAHU AND OTHERS

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is traveling Tuesday to Israel to show France’s solidarity with the country and further work on the release of hostages who are being held in Gaza, according to the French presidency.

Macron will have talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also meet with Israeli-French nationals who have lost loved ones, as well as families of hostages.

Macron may also seize the occasion to have talks with some Arab partners in the region, the French presidency said, without providing further details.

AID SHIPMENTS NOT ENOUGH TO MEET W

ORSENING CRISIS, AID WORKER SAYS

CAIRO — Mahmoud Shalabi, an aid worker with the Medical Aid for Palestinians group, said the aid shipments that Israel allowed to cross into Gaza were a “drop in the ocean of the needs” required to address the rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis there.

Speaking to The Associated Press Monday evening from his home in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, Shalabi said that the aid had not arrived in the northern part of the strip, which Israel wants to empty ahead of its looming ground invasion.

He said the supplies in the first convoy on Saturday were distributed only to bakeries in the southern parts of Gaza, leaving the northern half struggling amid extremely dire conditions.

“The north didn’t receive anything. It’s like a death sentence for the people in the north of Gaza there,” he said.

AIRSTRIKES LEAVE HOSPITAL OVERRUN WITH PATIENTS

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A hospital in Gaza City was overrun with patients from airstrikes Monday with people lying on a blood-covered floor and two children at a time being treated on exam tables.

While a girl stared up at the ceiling from a table at Shifa Hospital, a boy who appeared to be unconscious lay at her feet with an IV drip in his arm and gauze wrapped around his head.

An older child and a man wearing oxygen masks lay on their backs on the floor below as a fifth person in a bright striped top was spread out on the floor nearby.

Medics also worked on a boy covered in gray soot whose legs were splinted and who lay at the foot of another child covered partly with a sheet.

Several other children and adults lay on a tile floor in another area of waiting for care.

THIRD CONVOY OF HUMANITARIAN AID ARRIVES IN GAZA, UN CONFIRMS

CAIRO — A third small aid convoy from Egypt has entered Gaza, where the population of 2.3 million has been running out of food, water and medicine under Israel’s two-week seal.

Juliette Touma, director of communications for the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency, confirmed the arrival of the convoy “with 20 trucks” in Gaza on Monday to The Associated Press, but provided no other details.

HOSPITAL RUNS OUT OF BURIAL SHROUDS AND ROOM IN MORGUE, OFFICIAL SAYS

CAIRO — Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital, in Rafah, registered 61 deaths since Monday morning following a day of intense airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip.

Talaat Barghout, the hospital’s spokesperson, said there is no room in the morgue for all the bodies, and a lack of Islamic burial shrouds — known as the Kafan — to give the dead a proper burial.

“More than half of them are lying on the (hospital) ground,” he said.

Barghout also said the hospital lacks an intensive care unit and does not have the facilities to treat burns. There is only enough fuel to keep the basic hospital going for two more days, he added.

US ADVISES ISRAEL THAT DELAY IN GROUND OFFENSIVE COULD ALLOW RELEASE OF MORE HOSTAGES

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has advised Israel that a delay in its possible ground offensive in Gaza would allow more time for the U.S. to work with its regional partners to release more hostages seized by Hamas, according to a U.S. official familiar with the Biden administration's thinking on the matter.

The official, who requested anonymity to discuss the private discussions, said it was unclear how much the argument will “move the needle” on Israeli thinking.

The official noted that Qatar's help in mediating with Hamas was able to win the release of two captives, Judith and Natalie Raanan. The process that led to their release — just two of the more than the 222 people believed taken hostage in Israel in the Oct. 7 attacks — started soon after the Hamas operation. The official said arranging for the release of the Raanans “took longer to come together than folks really realize.”

___

Reporting by Aamer Madhani.

ACTIVISTS DENOUNCE NETANYAHU AT INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch authorities detained 19 activists who occupied the entrance to the International Criminal Court on Monday, denouncing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s actions during the war with Hamas.

Activists from the Extinction Rebellion group took over a bridge in front of The Hague-based court just after noon, carrying a banner that read “Netanyahu is a war criminal.” The Dutch branch of the activist group, which was originally set up to campaign against climate change, has staged several other pro-Palestinian actions since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

An ICC spokesperson said the demonstration did not disturb the court's normal activities.

After police released the 19 following a brief detention, they joined a small pro-Palestinian protest outside the ICC’s grounds.

The demonstration took place as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrived in the Middle East to meet with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

News from © The Associated Press, 2023
The Associated Press

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