Israeli airstrikes hit a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip early Sunday, killing dozens of people, health officials said. The strikes came as the U.S. is urging Israel to take a humanitarian pause from its relentless bombardment of Gaza and rising civilian deaths.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Ramallah in the West Bank for a previously unannounced meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Blinken on Saturday met with Arab foreign ministers in Jordan, after holding talks in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who insisted there could be no temporary cease-fire until all hostages held by Hamas are released. President Joe Biden suggested Saturday that progress was being made on the humanitarian pause.
The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war reached 9,448, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 140 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 242 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group.
Roughly 1,100 people have left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing since Wednesday under an apparent agreement among the United States, Egypt, Israel and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas.
1. Blinken meets Palestinian leader in West Bank, stepping up Mideast diplomacy as Gaza war escalates.
2. Protest marches from U.S. to Berlin call for immediate halt to bombing.
3. These numbers show the staggering toll of the Israel-Hamas war.
4. Israel deports thousands of Palestinian workers back to Gaza’s war zone.
5. A U.N. official says the average Palestinian in Gaza is living on two pieces of bread a day.
6. 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:
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, addressing the combatants in the Israel-Hamas war, prayed that “in the name of God, you will stop and will cease fire.”
“I hope that all possible paths are pursued so an enlargement of the conflict can absolutely be avoided,’’ Francis told the public gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.
A cease-fire would “allow the wounded to be assisted” and aid to arrive to alleviate “a very grave humanitarian situation,’’ Francis said.
“Free all the hostages, immediately. Among them are also so many children. May they return to their families,’’ the pontiff continued in an appeal he delivered from his studio window. “Yes, let’s think of children, of all the children caught up in this war, as well in Ukraine and in other conflicts. They’re killing their future this way.”
He invited prayers so “they’ll have the strength to say ‘enough!’”
CAIRO — The head of the U.N. food agency has pleaded for expanded humanitarian access to the besieged Gaza Strip as food supplies are running low.
“Right now, parents in Gaza do not know whether they can feed their children today and whether they will even survive to see tomorrow,” said Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Program. She called for scaling up the delivery of aid to Gaza to align with “the catastrophic conditions facing families there.”
“The crisis in Gaza is not just a local tragedy, it’s a stark reminder that our global food crisis is worsening. Not only does this crisis threaten regional peace and stability, it undermines our collective efforts to combat hunger worldwide,” she said.
McCain visited Saturday the Egyptian side of Rafah crossing point, the sole entry of aid to Gaza, and met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo.
BEIRUT — An Israeli drone struck near two ambulance on their way to pick up casualties from overnight strikes in southern Lebanon, wounding four paramedics, local officials told The Associated Press.
The civil defense unit of a scouts group affiliated with Lebanon’s Amal Movement, a political party allied with Hezbollah, said that the drone “directly targeted” their two ambulances. They were heading south to save several people wounded in an Israeli strike that hit a house overnight.
Local and medical officials told AP that the Lebanese army and the Red Cross transported the wounded paramedics to a hospital in Tyre, as Israeli strikes reportedly did not stop. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
There were reports that the paramedics were on their way to collect two slain Hezbollah militants.
Israeli army Arabic language spokesman Avichay Adraee said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that Israeli forces had launched strikes on a “terrorist cell” that was attempting to fire missiles toward Israel from the Ras Naqoura area in south Lebanon. He said two cars had arrived at the scene during the strikes but that the cars were not the intended target.
Israeli troops and Hezbollah militants and their allies along the tense Lebanon-Israel border have been clashing for almost a month since the start of the Hamas-Israel war. While clashes remain largely contained to areas near the border, they have increased in intensity as Israel continues its ground incursion into Gaza.
— By Associated Press writer Kareeem Chehayeb
JERUSALEM — Israel’s minister of Jewish heritage, Amihai Eliyahu, said that dropping an atomic bomb on the Gaza Strip is a possibility. His comments were immediately denounced by other Cabinet members.
Eliyahu, a junior minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau’s Cabinet, made the comment in an interview with Kol Beramah radio. He later tried to walk it back, saying, “Anyone reasonable would understand that the comment was metaphorical. But we definitely need to respond powerfully and disproportionately to terrorism.”
Army Radio cited Netanyahu as saying that the remark was “divorced from reality.”
“Israel and the IDF operate according to the highest standards of international law to avoid hurting non-combatants — and will continue to do so until we achieve victory,” he was quoted as saying.
The radio said Netanyahu suspended Eliyahu from Cabinet meetings until further notice, a move that has no practical effect.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also criticized Eliyahu, saying, “It’s a good thing that people like this are not in charge of Israel’s security.”
Meanwhile, Giora Eiland, an adviser to Gallant, said Israel is far from vanquishing Hamas.
“We don’t see hundreds of people starting to surrender,” Eiland, a reserves general and former head of the National Security Council, told Army Radio. “You see very, very sophisticated attacks from the other side involving the successful coordinated use of paragliders, antitank missile fire and mortar fire. This requires a high degree of coordination among forces and they do it well.”
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israeli warplanes struck the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza early Sunday, killing at least 40 people, according to health officials.
The camp is located in the evacuation zone where Israel’s military had urged Palestinian civilians in Gaza to seek refuge as it focuses its military offensive in the northern areas. Despite such appeals, Israel has continued its bombardment across Gaza, saying it is targeting Hamas fighters and assets everywhere in the besieged enclave. It has accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields.
Critics say Israel’s strikes are often disproportionate, considering the large number of women and children killed in such attacks.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched through the center of Indonesia’s capital on Sunday, calling for an end to Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The demonstrators, many wearing scarves with the words “Save Palestine” on them, chanted slogans denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza as they filled the National Monument park in central Jakarta, waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags.
It was the biggest protest yet in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation since the Israel-Hamas war began last month.
Several cabinet ministers and politicians, including Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and House speaker Puan Maharani, attended the protest organized by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s most influential Islamic body.
Indonesia has long been a strong supporter of Palestinians and has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Firefighters sprayed jets of water across twisted metal and jumbled concrete as flames roared from homes destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the Jabaliya refugee camp.
The escalating bombardment comes as Israel’s military said it had encircled Gaza City, the initial target of its offensive to crush Hamas.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were killed or wounded in the strike late Saturday in the northern Gaza Strip. Rescuers shouted to each other as they tried to pull people from the wreckage.
Associated Press video showed a man, barefoot and with blood soaking through his clothes, being carried on a stretcher through the concrete skeleton of a damaged building.
“Careful, careful!” someone called out as they staggered across the rubble. Others used a bed sheet to haul a dead body from the scene. Inside a bouncing ambulance driving away, a rescuer wearing black latex gloves patted the head of a young boy cradled in his lap. A man screamed off-camera.
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — President Joe Biden suggested Saturday there have been some advances in U.S. attempts to persuade Israel to pause military strikes on Gaza for humanitarian reasons.
In a brief exchange with reporters as he left St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Biden was asked if there was progress, and he responded, “Yes,” but did not share specifics.
This comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Arab counterparts Saturday. He disagreed with them on the need for an immediate cease-fire and made clear the furthest he would go was backing a pause for aid to reach civilians in Gaza. Blinken said a cease-fire would leave Hamas in place.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Thousands of people have joined a demonstration in Tel Aviv organized by families of some 240 hostages being held in the Gaza Strip.
“Now!” the crowd chanted repeatedly, calling for hostages to be freed without delay after nearly a month in captivity. Many held pictures of the hostages, who include children and older people.
Hadas Kalderon of Kibbutz Nir Oz whose two children were kidnapped, ages 16 and 12, called for a cease-fire in exchange for the return of the hostages.
Hamas militants abducted the hostages in an Oct. 7 cross-border raid that triggered the latest Israel-Hamas war. The plight of the hostages and their families has captured the nation’s attention.
Ella Ben-Ami, a 23-year-old Israeli whose parents were abducted, said she held Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible.
She called for a halt in all humanitarian aid to Gaza until the hostages are freed.
WASHINGTON — Thousands of mostly young people filled the streets of downtown Washington D.C. on Saturday afternoon to protest the Biden administration’s support of Israel and its continued military campaign in Gaza.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” chanted demonstrators. They wore black and white keffiyehs as an enormous Palestinian flag was unfurled by a crowd that filled Pennsylvania Avenue, the street leading up to the White House.
Dozens of small white body bags with the names of children killed lined the street and demonstrators held signs calling for an immediate cease-fire.
BEIRUT — The U.S. Central Command says the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Middle East and the CENTCOM area of responsibility as part of the increase in regional posture.
The Eisenhower sailed into the Mediterranean last Saturday as the American forces expand their presence in the Middle East to deter Iran and its proxy militant groups from trying to widen the Israel-Hamas war.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its strike group had moved through the Strait of Gibraltar earlier this week, putting two American carriers in the Mediterranean Sea, a rare sight in recent years.
The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is already in the eastern Mediterranean, part of a buildup of forces as the U.S. supports Israel in its war against Hamas.