Live updates | Relief operations in Gaza in jeopardy as Israeli airstrikes increase

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An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position near the Israel-Gaza border, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says its relief operations across the Gaza Strip will need to be sharply curtailed amid crippling Israeli airstrikes.

Hospitals in Gaza are doing their best to provide treatment to the wounded, but with rapidly dwindling resources.

The war, in its 19th day, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said Wednesday that at least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed and 17,439 others wounded. In the occupied West Bank, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since Oct. 7.

The Health Ministry said airstrikes killed more than 750 people over the past 24 hours, without saying how many were militants.

The Associated Press couldn’t independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, according to Israeli officials, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage. Israel’s military on Wednesday raised the number of remaining hostages in Gaza to 222 people, including foreigners believed captured by Hamas during the incursion. Four hostages have been released.

U.S. and other officials fear the fighting could spill over into a wider regional conflict.

Currently:

1. Russia maneuvers carefully over the Israel-Hamas war as it seeks to expand its global clout.

2. Leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah holds talks with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad figures.

3. France’s Macron seeks international support for his proposal to build a coalition against Hamas.

4. Israel accuses UN chief of justifying terrorism for saying Hamas attack ‘didn’t happen in a vacuum.’

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

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

IRAQI MILITANT GROUP SAYS IT ATTACKED BASE HOUSING US FORCES IN SYRIA

BAGHDAD — An Iranian backed group in Iraq claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base housing U.S. forces in eastern Syria Wednesday, as a string of attacks targeting U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Syria persist.

The Islamic Resistance group in Iraq, an umbrella organization for several Iran-backed militias, said in a statement Wednesday that it had struck the Kharab al-Jir base in the northeastern Hassakeh province with rockets. They said they hit their target, without making any mention of casualties.

Washington did not immediately comment on the attack. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani, urged Sudani “to pursue those behind the attacks and fulfill Iraq’s commitment to maintain the security at these installations,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Tuesday.

The past week has seen a spate of more than a dozen attacks on US military facilities in Iraq in Syria, most of them claimed by the same group, which has said it is retaliating against America’s backing of Israel in its war with Hamas.

BIDEN CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON PALESTINIANS BY ISRAELI SETTLERS IN THE WEST BANK

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday said there is no going back to the “status quo” in Israel and the region following the deadly attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.

“When this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next,” Biden said during a press conference at the White House with the Prime Minister of Australia. “And in our view, it has to be a two-state solution.”

Biden said again that he believed the Israelis had the right — the “responsibility” — to respond to the attack. “The anger, the hurt, the sense of outrage that the Israeli people are feeling” following the attack is “completely understandable,” he said.

But he also decried the attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, and said it must stop and “stop now,” and he said he remained focused on humanitarian aid into Gaza.

AIRSTRIKE IN GAZA CITY KILLS MORE THAN 2 DOZEN AND INJURES OVER 100, HAMAS SAYS

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Wednesday killed at least 26 people and injured more than 100, Hamas’ Interior Ministry said.

Bodies of dead men and women were scattered in streets that had relatively little damage while a block of buildings lay in ruins with people searching among the damage for survivors.

Two wounded young boys embraced each other and appeared to be crying as a first responder and three other men carried them to safety on a stretcher.

A man with blood running from his scalp into his eye and down his cheek looked stunned as he sat on what remained of a sofa propped in the rubble while a girl, who was also wounded, hugged him.

MACRON ANGLES FOR INTERNATIONAL COALITION TO FIGHT HAMAS

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is promoting, with little success so far, the creation of an international coalition to fight the armed Palestinian group Hamas.

He pitched the idea during a two-day trip to the Middle East that started in Israel.

Leaders he met with in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt didn’t publicly address the issue.

The first response to the devastating Israel-Hamas war is “the fight against terrorism,” Macron said Wednesday after his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

“The right response is to cooperate, to draw lessons from the international coalition against the Islamic State group” that intervened in Iraq and Syria, he added.

Macron first proposed the idea Tuesday after his meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mentioning a “regional and international coalition” against the Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu did not specifically comment on the French offer.

US EMBASSY IN KUWAIT TO LIMIT ACTIVITY ON US MILITARY BASES AFTER IRAQI MILITIA’S THREATS

JERUSALEM — The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is acknowledging an Iraqi militia’s threat to target U.S. military bases in the Mideast nation over the Israeli airstrikes targeting the Gaza Strip in its war on Hamas.

In a statement to American citizens, the embassy identified the threat as coming from Awliya Wa’ad al-Haq, or “The True Promise Brigades.” That group, believed allied with Iran, has claimed an attack previously on the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

“As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is limiting its activity on U.S. military bases to essential and official events only,” the embassy said in an alert sent to Americans.

NETANYAHU SAYS HE WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR HAMAS’ ATTACK

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will be held accountable for the bloody Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas militants, but that will only come after Israel’s war against the Islamic militant group.

In a nationally televised address on Wednesday night, Netanyahu said that he was busy plotting a ground invasion of Gaza, though he refused to say when that might happen. He also expressed sorrow for the attack, which killed over 1,400 Israelis and saw over 200 others taken captive in Gaza.

“Oct. 7 is a black day in our history,” he said. “We will get to the bottom of what happened on the southern border around Gaza. This debacle will be investigated. Everyone will have to give answers, including me.”

ISRAEL’S UN AMBASSADOR CALLS AGAIN FOR RESIGNATION OF UN SECRETARY-GENERAL

UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s U.N. ambassador says it’s “a disgrace” that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres didn’t retract and apologize for his comments to the Security Council and is again calling for the U.N. chief’s resignation.

Gilad Erdan was responding to the U.N. chief’s comments earlier Wednesday saying he was “shocked” that parts of his council statement were misrepresented “as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas.”

“This is false. It was the opposite,” Guterres told reporters, reiterating his condemnation “unequivocally of the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel.”

Erdan countered that the secretary-general “once again distorts and twists reality,” pointing again to his statement Tuesday that the Oct. 7 massacres “did not happen in a vacuum.”

“Every person understands very well that the meaning of his words is that Israel has guilt for the actions of Hamas or, at the very least, it shows his understanding for the ‘background’ leading up to the massacre,” the Israeli ambassador said.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said anyone who listened to the secretary-general in the council Tuesday and earlier Wednesday knows that his position is “there is no justification for … the horrendous and abhorrent acts of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas on the seventh of October.”

Dujarric said Guterres stands by his words and “is not going to respond to one member state’s call to step down.”

FRANCE TO SEND NAVY SHIP TO BRING AID TO GAZA STRIP, MACRON SAYS

CAIRO — French President Emmanuel Macron said France is going to send a Navy ship to bring aid to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

The ship will leave the French military port of Toulon, in the Mediterranean Sea, within 48 hours, he said. He didn’t provide further details.

In addition, a French plane will arrive in Egypt Thursday to deliver medical equipment via a convoy to Gaza. “Others will follow,” Macron said, adding that France wants to provide Gaza’s civilian population access to medicine and medical care.

Macron’s visit to Egypt Wednesday comes as part of a two-day tour to the Middle East that started with a visit to Israel meant to show France’s support and solidarity following the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The trip included a stop in Ramallah, in the West Bank, to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and another stop Wednesday morning in Jordan to have talks with King Abdullah II.

Macron in Egypt said, “There’s no double standard … international law applies to everyone.”

“All victims deserve our compassion, our commitment toward a fair and sustainable peace in the Middle East,” he added.

UN’S GUTERRES CONDEMNS HAMAS ATTACKS AGAIN, SAYS HE’S SHOCKED BY MISINTERPRETATION OF HIS REMARKS

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is “shocked” at the misinterpretation of part of his statement to the Security Council “as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas.”

“This is false. It was the opposite,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Israeli officials vehemently protested Guterres’ comment that the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel “did not happen in a vacuum,” calling it justification for terrorism. Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan has called for the secretary-general’s resignation.

Guterres reiterated the start of his statement on Tuesday: “I have condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel. Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians — or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.”

The U.N. chief said he spoke of the grievances of the Palestinian people and also stated: “But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.”

Guterres ended his remarks to reporters saying, “I believe it was necessary to set the record straight — especially out of respect to the victims and to their families.”

TEDDY BEAR DISPLAY HIGHLIGHTS CHILDREN HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS

TEL AVIV, Israel — Nearly three dozen teddy bears with blindfolds were lined up near a fountain in Tel Aviv to draw attention to the plight of Israeli children being held hostage by Hamas militants.

Each of the brown and white stuffed animals featured a picture of one of the roughly 30 children, some as young as 9 months old, who were among the 222 people held hostage in Gaza by Hamas fighters following the militant group’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

The bears were dabbed with fake blood and some were tied together in an arresting display that left some passersby almost speechless.

“It’s just unbelievable. There’s like no words. Because, even with the blood on it you can see, and the blindfolds … it’s very symbolic for me of the captivity of innocent children,” Hilary Meyerov said. “It’s completely heartbreaking.”

Off-duty Israeli soldiers carrying rifles were among those who stopped to look and snap photos of the installation.

“Bring them back. Bring them back,” said Avigail Ben-Yosef. “I’m sending love to all the families, they are waiting for these children, and to all the other hostages.”

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