Israeli troops advanced further toward Gaza City on Thursday, battling with Hamas militants as the Palestinian death toll surged above 9,000. In the nearly four weeks since Hamas launched its deadly attack on Israel, U.S. and Arab leaders are ramping up pressure on Israel to at least briefly pause its attacks in order to aid civilians.
Israel has allowed more than 260 trucks carrying food and medicine through the crossing, but aid workers say it’s not nearly enough.
Roughly 800 people — including hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports and dozens of injured — have been allowed to leave the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing under an apparent agreement among the U.S., Egypt, Israel and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas.
The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 9,061, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 130 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, and around 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group.
1. More than 3,600 Palestinian children killed in 3 weeks of war.
2. Stay in Israel, or flee? Thai workers caught up in Hamas attack and war are faced with a dilemma.
3. Opposition mounts in Arab countries that normalized relations with Israel.
4. Netanyahu has sidestepped accountability for failing to prevent Hamas attack, instead blaming others.
5. Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s what is happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
BAHRAIN CONFIRMS ITS AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL HAS RETURNED TO BAHRAIN
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Bahrain’s government is acknowledging its ambassador to Israel has returned to the island nation as Israel continues its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The state-run Bahrain News Agency issued a statement late Thursday saying the ambassador “returned to the kingdom some time ago,” hours after the lower house of its parliament made a series of claims about relations between the two countries.
The Israeli Embassy in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, had evacuated in mid-October amid security concerns.
The Bahraini statement did not say that the country had severed diplomatic and economic ties despite an earlier assertion by Bahrain’s lower house of parliament. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “Relations between Israel and Bahrain are stable.”
Bahrain was one of several Arab nations that diplomatically recognized Israel in 2020. In the time since, Bahrain has heralded its ties to the country, despite protests. Those ties have been strained by the war.
Bahrain is also home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet and long has had tense relations with Iran, which has backed Hamas.
UN REPORT: ISRAEL USED DISPROPORTIONATE FORCE AGAINST PALESTINIANS IN WEST BANK IN RECENT YEARS
UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a new report that Israel used disproportionate force against Palestinians in the West Bank and that in some cases killings “appeared to amount to extrajudicial executions.”
In the report circulated Thursday, Guterres said Israeli forces have escalated the use of deadly force in recent years across the West Bank, while attacks by Palestinians also rose. He said Israeli security forces killed 304 Palestinians, including 61 boys and 2 girls, in the West Bank and east Jerusalem during the two-year period ending May 31.
In numerous instances monitored by the U.N. human rights agency, Guterres said “Israeli security forces apparently used force unnecessarily or in a disproportionate manner” that led to “a possible arbitrary deprivation of life,” which is prohibited under international humanitarian law.
The secretary-general said during the two-year period the number of Palestinians in Israeli detention increased considerably, and Israel continued restricting the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and to freedom of movement.
ISRAEL SAYS IT WILL BAR PALESTINIANS IN GAZA FROM WORKING IN ISRAEL
JERUSALEM — Israel will stop providing funding to the Palestinian Authority earmarked for the Gaza Strip and will bar Palestinians in Gaza from working in Israel, the country said in a statement.
Though Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, the PA has continued to pay tens of thousands of civil servants in the strip. The decision by Israel’s Security Cabinet on Thursday would punish the cash-strapped PA for continuing those salaries.
“Israel is severing off all contact with Gaza,” the government statement read.
Under interim peace accords from the 1990s, Israel collects tax funds on behalf of Palestinians and transfers the money to the PA each month.
The statement also said Israel was revoking permits for the roughly 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza who were allowed to work inside Israel. The jobs were highly coveted in Gaza, an impoverished territory with an unemployment rate of roughly 50%.
CHILEAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES ISRAEL’S RESPONSE IN GAZA AFTER MEETING WITH BIDEN
WASHINGTON — Chilean President Gabriel Boric said Thursday from outside the White House that the response from Israel has been “disproportionate and it is violating humanitarian international law.”
Boric’s administration recalled its ambassador to Israel earlier this week amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Boric was meeting with Biden in the Oval Office during his trip to the U.S. for the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit. The presidents did not speak about the conflict publicly during their remarks.
But after, Boric came outside and spoke in Spanish.
“What is happening in the Gaza Strip is simply unacceptable,” he said. “I want to be very clear: As president of Chile and my country, I have no hesitation in energetically and categorically condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas. And we demand the liberation of all the hostages.”
4 CIVILIANS KILLED IN ISRAELI BOMBARDMENT OF BORDER AREA IN SOUTHERN LEBANON, MEDIA REPORTS SAY
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says four civilians were killed Thursday afternoon in Israeli bombardment of a border area in southern Lebanon.
The agency said the four were killed in Israeli strikes on the Saluki Valley area.
Members of the Iran-backed Hezbollah attacked 19 Israeli posts along the border Thursday, including one that was struck with two suicide drones.
Israeli retaliated with airstrikes and artillery shelling.
The latest deaths raise to 10 the number of civilians killed on the Lebanese side of the border since tension began to rise along the Lebanon-Israel border following the Oct. 7, attack by the Palestinian militant Hamas group on southern Israel.
ROCKETS FIRED FROM LEBANON INJURE 2 IN NORTHERN ISRAELI TOWN
JERUSALEM — Two people were injured after rockets fired from Lebanon hit the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, Israeli medical services said.
Videos released by the fire department and circulating on social media showed a street ablaze, a wrecked car and a damaged building in the town that had been mostly evacuated at the beginning of the war.
The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said earlier on Thursday it had fired 12 rockets from Lebanon in retaliation for the “occupation’s massacres against our people in Gaza.”
The rocket fire came amid a major escalation along the Lebanon-Israel border with the militant group Hezbollah attacking Israeli positions with drones, mortar fire and suicide drones.
The Israeli military said it had retaliated with warplanes and helicopter gunships on Hezbollah command centers, arms depots and sites from where the rockets were fired.
A 4TH ROMANIAN-ISRAELI CITIZEN IS AMONG THOSE HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS, FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS
BUCHAREST, Romania — A fourth dual Romanian-Israeli citizen is among those currently held captive in the Gaza Strip, according to Romania’s foreign ministry.
The ministry previously said three dual citizens were being held hostage by Hamas militants in Gaza, but updated that number to four on Thursday.
Since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7, at least five Romanian citizens, all of whom resided in Israel and held dual Israeli citizenship, have been confirmed dead.
74 AMERICANS EVACUATED FROM THE GAZA STRIP ON THURSDAY
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday that 74 Americans with dual citizenship have been evacuated from the Gaza Strip.
“We got out today 74 American folks out that are dual citizens,” Biden said, calling the update “good news.”
His remarks came during a meeting with the president of the Dominican Republic in the Oval Office.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the 74 Americans who left Gaza on Thursday came on top of the five Americans who left on Wednesday.
“I want to stress that these numbers are changing in real time.”
He said the White House hopes the flow of evacuations continues “at a similar pace, if not better than what we’ve seen,” and he cautioned that it’s “a fluid situation.”
Kirby thanked Qatar and Egypt for their assistance with the arrangements.
UNWRA SAYS AIRSTRIKES DAMAGED 4 OF ITS SCHOOLS-TURNED-SHELTERS, REPORTEDLY KILLING 2 DOZEN PEOPLE
CAIRO — Philippe Lazzarini, General Secretary of UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said four of its schools-turned-shelters were damaged by airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, reportedly killing at least 24 people.
In a statement, Lazzarini said the four facilities that were struck were in the Jabalia Refugee Camp, The Beach Refugee Camp, and two in the Al Bureij Refugee Camp. He said 20 people were reported to have been killed in the strike on the school in Jabalia.
“How much more grief and suffering?” Lazzarini said. “A humanitarian cease-fire is overdue for the sake of humanity.”
HEZBOLLAH SAYS IT ATTACKED 19 ISRAELI MILITARY POSTS THURSDAY ALONG THE LEBANON-ISRAEL BORDER
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says its fighters carried out a simultaneous attack Thursday against 19 Israeli military posts along the tense Lebanon-Israel border.
It said the attacks in which mortar fire and antitank missiles were used coincided with the two suicide drones that Hezbollah targeted an Israeli post in the disputed Chebaa Farms area with.
The Israeli military later said warplanes and helicopter gunships retaliated by striking at Hezbollah’s command centers, arms depots and sites from where the rockets were fired.
HUNDREDS RALLY IN BUCHAREST IN SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
BUCHAREST, Romania — Around 200 people rallied in Romania’s capital on Thursday to pledge solidarity with Israel and the hostages being held by the Hamas militant group.
Held in central Bucharest, many attendees brandished placards depicting the faces of some of those kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, while others waved Israeli flags that read: “We stand with Israel.”
Israel’s ambassador to Romania, Reuven Azar, told the crowd that, “We are standing today here in solidarity with all the hostages” and referred to Hamas as a “force of barbarism.”
“They infiltrated our cities, they decapitated our people, our babies — they burned them alive,” he said. “They are the new ISIS, and ISIS must be eradicated, Hamas must be eradicated because Hamas is a threat to the entire world.”
Three dual Romanian-Israeli citizens are among those held captive in the Gaza Strip, according to Romania’s foreign ministry.
Since Hamas launched its attack on Israel nearly a month ago, at least five Romanian citizens, all of whom resided in Israel and held dual Israeli citizenship, have been confirmed dead.
NETANYAHU SAYS ISRAEL HAS NOT GIVEN APPROVAL FOR FUEL SHIPMENTS DESPITE COMMENTS FROM ISRAELI ARMY
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has not given approval for fuel shipments into the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu made the comments after Israel’s military chief said the army could agree to fuel shipments — if there are guarantees that they go only to hospitals and do not reach Hamas.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Netanyahu said there has been no decision on fuel imports.
“We are assisting with humanitarian aid, including food, medicine and water — that exists. There has been no decision on fuel.”
The United Nations and Gazan hospitals have warned that fuel supplies are quickly dwindling, threatening medical and humanitarian operations in the besieged area.
Israel has been conducting a fierce offensive in Gaza since a bloody, cross-border attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.
HAMAS SAYS IT FIRED 12 ROCKETS FROM LEBANON TOWARD NORTH ISRAELI TOWN
BEIRUT — The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas says it fired 12 rockets from Lebanon toward the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.
The Qassam Brigades said in a statement that Thursday’s rocket attack came in retaliation for the “occupation’s massacres against our people in Gaza.”
It was not immediately clear if the rockets fired from Lebanon hit the northern Israeli town.
The firing of the rockets came amid major escalation along the Lebanon-Israel border with Hezbollah attacking an Israeli army position with two suicide drones.
By sunset, Israel’s air force conducted airstrikes along the border area.