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Live updates | Deluge of Israeli airstrikes destroy apartments in Gaza refugee camp

Oct 31, 2023, 12:32 AM | Updated: 6:54 pm

A deluge of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City demolished apartment buildings, leaving gaping holes where they once stood, while ground troops battled Hamas militants across northern Gaza. Buoyed by the first successful rescue of a captive held by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a cease-fire and again vowed to crush the militant group’s ability to govern Gaza or threaten Israel.

Though more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, several hundred thousand remain in the north, where Israeli troops and tanks have reportedly advanced on multiple sides of Gaza City.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 8,525, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 122 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them civilians slain in the initial Hamas rampage that started the fighting Oct. 7. In addition, around 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group. One of the captives, a female Israeli soldier, was rescued in a special forces operation.

Currently:

    1. A UN envoy says the Israel-Hamas war is spilling into Syria, adding to instability there.

    2. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim attacks on Israel, drawing their main sponsor Iran closer to Hamas war.

    3. An Israeli ministry proposes transferring Gaza civilians to Egypt’s Sinai.

    4. This war might hit Israel’s economy harder than past wars with Hamas.

    5. Biden’s Cabinet secretaries will push Congress to send aid to Israel and Ukraine.

    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:

THREE ARAB STATES DENOUNCE ISRAEL’S AIRSTRIKES ON REFUGEE CAMP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Three Arab states have strongly criticized Israel’s airstrikes on a refugee camp near Gaza City as its war on Hamas rages.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates each issued statements denouncing the strikes on the Jabaliya camp. The exact number of casualties was not immediately clear in the strikes, though one doctor said hundreds were killed and wounded.

Qatar, which as been mediating talks with Hamas over the more than 200 hostages it holds from its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, described the strike as “a new massacre against the defenseless Palestinian people, especially women and children.”

The country warned that “the expansion of Israeli attacks in (the) Gaza Strip … is a dangerous escalation in the course of confrontations, which would undermine mediation and de-escalation efforts.”

Saudi Arabia, which had been weighing a diplomatic recognition deal with Israel, said it “condemned in the strongest terms the inhumane Israeli occupation forces’ targeting of Jabaliya camp.”

“The dangerous humanitarian conditions resulting from the continuous escalation cannot be justified at all, and that sparing blood, protecting civilians, and stopping military operations are urgent priorities,” the kingdom said.

The UAE, which diplomatically recognized Israel in 2020, warned that “indiscriminate attacks will result in irreparable ramifications in the region.”

___

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell contributed.

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL ON FRIDAY

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced plans to travel to Israel on Friday to consult with Israeli officials about their ongoing war on Hamas.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Tuesday that Blinken would visit Israel “and then will make other stops in the region.” He did not identify the other planned stops.

Blinken made an urgent trip to the Middle East earlier this month, visiting Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

BOLIVIA SEVERS DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH ISRAEL AFTER REESTABLISHING THEM IN 2020

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia severed diplomatic relations with Israel Tuesday as it called for the country to end the military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The was “in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip,” Freddy Mamani, Bolivia’s deputy foreign minister, said at a news conference.

The Andean nation of 12 million, which is led by leftist President Luis Arce, has long been critical of Israel and had already severed diplomatic ties with the country in 2009 amid attacks on the Gaza Strip. Diplomatic relations were reestablished in 2020.

María Nela Prada, the minister of the presidency, called on Israel to “cease attacks in the Gaza Strip that have already resulted in thousands of civilian casualties and the forced displacement of Palestinians.”

Earlier in the day, Arce held a meeting with Palestinian Ambassador Mahmoud Elalwani.

WHITE HOUSE SAYS 66 TRUCKS OF HUMANITARIAN AID HAVE ENTERED GAZA STRIP OVER PAST 24 HOURS

WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday afternoon that 66 trucks of humanitarian aid have flowed into the Gaza Strip over the previous 24 hours—the highest single day delivery of aid since Hamas-launched attack triggered a massive Israeli military response.

“It’s a trickle compared to what needs to get in and we’re going to keep working that very, very hard,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Kirby added that a dozen more trucks with food, water and medicine are expected to clear at the Rafah crossing by the end of the day.

White House officials reiterated their concern that the fuel stock is perilously low in Gaza and the administration continues to try to “find some accommodations” with the Israelis “to get fuel in,” Kirby said.

He added, “We will and we have tried to make assurances to the Israelis that we will continue to monitor fuel should it go in with the same diligence that we have been monitoring and our UN partners have been monitoring the food and water” deliveries.

2 MORE ROMANIAN CITIZENS AMONG THOSE HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS, ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that two more Romanian citizens are among hostages being held in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of Romanian hostages to three.

The ministry said that Romania’s embassy in Tel Aviv and its consulate in Haifa are in contact with the Israeli authorities over the matter. All three hostages hold dual Romanian-Israeli citizenship.

Since Hamas launched its sprawling attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, at least five Romanian citizens, all of whom resided in Israel and held dual Israeli citizenship, have been confirmed dead.

PENTAGON TO SEND 300 TROOPS TO MIDEAST TO BOLSTER EXISTING OPERATIONS AFTER ATTACKS ON US BASES RISES TO 27

WASHINGTON — Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the total number of rocket and drone attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria has risen to 27, including 6 small scale attacks that have taken place since U.S. warplanes struck weapons storage areas for Iranian-backed militias in Syria last week.

In total there have been 16 attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and 11 in Syria.

In addition, Ryder said the Pentagon is sending an additional 300 troops to the Middle East who specialize in explosive ordinance disposal and communications. Those forces will be there to bolster U.S. troops already in the region, Ryder said.

UN CHIEF DEMANDS THAT BOTH SIDES IN ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR ABIDE BY INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says he’s “deeply alarmed” at the intensifying conflict in Gaza and escalating civilian casualties, demanding that Israel and Hamas abide by international humanitarian law which makes protecting civilians paramount.

In a statement Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres singled out “the expansion of ground operations by the Israel Defense Forces accompanied by intense air strikes, and the continued rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza.”

He expressed deep concern at the risk of a “dangerous escalation” beyond Gaza and called the level of aid getting into the Palestinian territory “completely inadequate.”

Guterres stressed that civilians “have borne the brunt of the current fighting from the outset.” He again condemned “the acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas” against Israel on Oct. 7, and also condemned the killing of civilians in Gaza, saying he is “dismayed by reports that two-thirds of those who have been killed are women and children.”

Declaring that the rules of international humanitarian law “cannot be ignored,” the secretary-general stressed, “It is not an a la carte menu and cannot be applied selectively.”

“All parties must abide by it, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution,” Guterres said.

He reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and for unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza.

FBI DIRECTOR WARNS OF INCREASED RISK OF TERROR ATTACKS IN WAKE OF ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that multiple foreign extremist groups have called for attacks against Americans and the West in the past few weeks and suggested Hamas’ attack on Israel could inspire threats like those motivated by the Islamic State group years ago.

“We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate years ago,” Wray testified before a U.S. Senate committee.

Wray said the FBI isn’t currently tracking an “organized threat” in the U.S., but law enforcement is concerned about the war unfolding in the Middle East inspiring individual people or small groups to attack Americans in their daily lives.

The FBI expects cyber targeting of American interests and infrastructure, as well as the threat of other attacks, to get worse as the conflict expands, he said.

“It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period,” Wray said. “We shouldn’t stop going out but should be vigilant.”

AIRSTRIKES NEAR JABALIYA REFUGEE CAMP INJURE LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE, INTERIOR MINISTRY SAYS

CAIRO — In the Jabaliya refugee camp on Gaza City’s outskirts, at least six airstrikes Tuesday leveled a number of apartment blocks in a residential area, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said. It reported a large number of casualties but did not immediately provide details.

Footage of the scene from Al Jazeera TV showed at least four large craters where buildings once stood, amid a large swath of rubble surrounded by partially collapsed structures. Dozens of rescue workers and bystanders dug through the wreckage, searching for survivors beneath the pancaked buildings. A group of young men pulled two children from the upper floors of a damaged apartment block, cradling them as they climbed down.

CYPRUS PROPOSES A SEA CORRIDOR TO DELIVER AID TO GAZA

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus is working out logistics with partners in the European Union and the Middle East to establish a sea corridor to deliver a stream of vital humanitarian aid to Gaza from the island’s main port of Limassol once the situation on the ground permits it, authorities said Tuesday.

A senior government official — who spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to publicly discuss details of the proposal — said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “wasn’t opposed” to the idea pitched by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides last week.

Gaza’s humanitarian needs have escalated since the Israel-Hamas war erupted following the Palestinian militant group’s surprise Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, which left nearly 1,400 Israelis dead and at least 240 taken hostage. Israel retaliated with a military operation that has so far left over 8,500 Palestinians dead.

The underlying premise of Cyprus’ proposal is to have a constant flow of large quantities of assistance delivered by sea during what the official called “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting to enable aid to reach those in need.

NATO CHIEF WARNS AGAINST ESCALATION OF MIDEAST TENSIONS

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that Iran, Hezbollah and other groups must not abuse the current situation and escalate the tensions in the Middle East.

“It is also important that this war does not escalate into a major regional conflict,” Stoltenberg said in Oslo, where he attended the annual meeting of the Nordic Council.

“The suffering we have seen in recent weeks reminds us once again that we must not give up the work for a lasting, peaceful political solution to the conflict,” he said.

The eight-member regional grouping includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, as well as the autonomous areas of the Aland islands, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland.

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Live updates | Deluge of Israeli airstrikes destroy apartments in Gaza refugee camp