UNITED STATES NEWS

Live updates | Limited telecom services return to Gaza, but the UN lacks fuel for aid delivery

Nov 17, 2023, 12:18 AM | Updated: 10:24 pm

Limited phone and internet services began working again Friday across Gaza after fuel was delivered to restart generators that power the networks. Israel announced that it will allow two tanker trucks of fuel into Gaza each day for the United Nations and communication systems. That amount is half of what the U.N. said it needs for lifesaving functions including powering water systems, hospitals, bakeries and the trucks delivering aid.

A pro-Palestinian demonstration Friday in Michigan led to the involvement of a half-dozen police agencies after protesters forced their way into a building. Clashes over Israel-Hamas war have shattered students’ sense of safety on U.S. college campuses, which have seen numerous protests in the weeks since the war began.

At least 11,470 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have been killed since the war began, according to Palestinian health authorities, who do not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths. About 2,700 people are reported missing.

Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas after the militant group launched its Oct. 7 incursion. Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the initial attack, and around 240 were taken captive by militants.

Currently:

— Thousands of bodies lie buried in rubble in Gaza. Families dig to retrieve them, often by hand

— As the battle for Gaza rages, families of hostages wait with trepidation

— At a Global South summit, India’s Modi urges leaders to unite against challenges from the Israel-Hamas war

— Under a communication blackout, Gaza’s 2.3 million people are cut off from each other and the world

— A 9-year-old girl whose mother died of breast cancer is believed to be a hostage in Gaza

— 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:

PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS FORCE THEIR WAY INTO A UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN BUILDING

Forty people were arrested Friday night and two police officers were injured after a group of pro-Palestinian protesters forced their way into a building on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, police said.

Video posted on social media showed protesters pushing past police into the Ruthven Administration Building, which houses offices for school President Santa Ono. An estimated 200 people then entered the building, university Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton said.

Once inside, protesters chanted, called for the university to divest from Israel and waved Palestinian flags, as seen on the video. About 10 police agencies, including state police, assisted campus officers.

Around 7:30 p.m., officers began warning protesters to leave or be subject to arrest, Overton said, adding that those arrested were processed at the scene and then released.

No details were given on the injuries to the two officers.

A TANZANIAN STUDENT BELIEVED KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS HAS DIED, HIS COUNTRY’S FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS

Tanzania’s Foreign Ministry on Friday announced the death of Clemence Felix Mtenga, 22, one of two Tanzanian agriculture interns believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7.

The statement did not provide details on how the Tanzanian government had learned of his death or the location of his remains.

Clemence and 21-year-old Joshua Loitu Mollel were working on cow farms not far from the Gaza Strip — Clemence had been placed at Nir Oz and Joshua was living at Nahal Oz. They had arrived in Israel in mid-September.

LIMITED INTERNET AND PHONE ACCESS RETURNS IN GAZA AFTER GENERATORS GET FUEL

The Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said Friday that phone and internet services were partially working again across Gaza, after fuel was delivered to restart generators that power the networks.

NetBlocks, a group tracking internet outages, confirmed that “internet connectivity is being partially restored” in the Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, Paltel announced that all communication services, including landline connection, mobile network and Internet connection, dropped due to a lack of fuel.

The next day, Israel agreed to allow two tanker trucks of fuel, equaling 60,000 liters (15,850 gallons), into the Gaza Strip each day.

A U.S. State Department official said 10,000 liters of the daily intake will be used to power the enclave’s communications network.

Before this week, Israel had completely prohibited fuel from entering Gaza, fearing that inbound fuel could be commandeered by Hamas and used against them.

ISRAEL SAYS ‘DIRE’ CONDITIONS IN SHIFA HOSPTIAL AS TROOPS STILL SEARCHING FOR ALLEGED HAMAS COMMAND CENTER

JERUSALEM — More than two days after Israeli soldiers stormed Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, doctors said they were amputating limbs to avoid infection and spoke of wounds festering with maggots, while Israel’s military said it was still searching for evidence to back up its allegations that Hamas used the hospital as a command center.

Hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmia told Al Jazeera television that 52 patients have died since fuel ran out — up from 40 reported dead before Israeli troops entered the compound on Wednesday. More patients were on the verge of death as their wounds are “open with maggots coming out of them,” another doctor, Faisal Siyam, told the Qatar-run TV network.

The doctors’ accounts could not be independently verified.

Abu Selmia said Israeli troops should either bring them fuel to power equipment or allow an evacuation.

Israel has delivered food and water to patients, said Col. Elad Goren, the head of civil affairs at COGAT, the defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs. Abu Selmia said the amount was far too little for the nearly 7,000 people in the compound.

The Israeli military said Friday that it was searching the hospital for Hamas infrastructure, but acknowledged it was taking a long time and that patients in the hospital were suffering.

“We’re aware that the situation is dire,” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesperson, told reporters Friday.

Since entering Shifa earlier this week, the Israeli army said it has found weapons and military equipment hidden around the hospital and in a vehicle outside, as well as the laptop it says belonged to a Hamas militant. It also released videos of what it says is a tunnel, which is still being studied. The military’s claims could not be independently verified.

But Israel has yet to present proof of a Hamas command and control center it previously said is underneath the hospital.

GENERATORS FOR GAZA TELECOMS CAN’T BE RESTARTED WITHOUT REGULAR FUEL DELIVERIES, TOP OFFICIAL SAYS

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Mobile phone and internet services in Gaza can only be restored if sufficient quantities of fuel start entering the enclave on a regular basis, the general manager of the Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said Friday.

Abdulmajeed Melhem did not disclose how much fuel was needed to power the network each day but warned against a stop-start process.

“We cannot run the generators for an hour and then stop them because this will lead to great damage to the generators and devices as a whole,” he told The Associated Press.

Experts say frequently turning generators on and off wears them down, and can also lead to power spikes.

“They are fuel based, so it’s like old cars where start/stopping too much would cause deposits to form on the spark plugs etc. messing up timing and efficiency,” said MVS Chandrashekhar, an electrical engineering professor at the University of South Carolina, said via email.

“For the electrical systems, constant surges from power/no-power can cause spikes that could damage equipment,” he said.

FUNERAL HELD FOR 19-YEAR-OLD ISRAELI SOLDIER WHO WAS AMONG HAMAS HOSTAGES

MODI’IN, Israel — The funeral of 19-year-old Israeli soldier Noa Marciano, who was kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, was held Friday after Israeli forces in Gaza recovered her remains.

Hundreds of mourners, many carrying Israeli flags, paid their respects to Marciano in her home town of Modi’in.

Her coffin, draped in the blue-and-white Israeli flag, was carried beside large photos of a smiling Marciano. In one photo, she wears a graduation cap and gown.

“Our Nooni, in a normal, just world, we shouldn’t be standing here right now. But we are not in a just world. You were only 19 when you died,” Adi Marciano, her mother, said during the funeral service.

“We tried everything – 40 days in which we turned over every stone, searched every path and climbed every tree — and today, we ask for your forgiveness,” she said. “Sorry we didn’t make it. You guarded us but we didn’t guard you.”

RESIDENTS VOW TO REBUILD ISRAELI TOWN ATTACKED ON OCT. 7

NETIV HAASARA, Israel — Residents of an Israeli town on the border with Gaza vowed Friday to rebuild homes destroyed in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants.

Netiv HaAsara, which is just 300 meters (yards) from the Gaza border, was attacked and 20 residents were killed, after the gunmen passed over the concrete border wall using paragliders, according to Israeli military officials.

Resident Hila Fenlon, 46, pointed toward her neighbor’s home which was gutted in the attack.

“Obviously, there was no escape from this house,” she said.

“It is a symbol to people who woke up one Saturday morning and vicious terrorists (came) and started to burn everything, to burn their lives down, and our victory will be to rebuild it. Our victory will be to make sure it won’t stay burnt.”

Moments after she spoke an air raid siren rang out and visiting residents dropped to the ground as rockets fired from Gaza were visible in the sky.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT IS GATHERING INFO ON ALLEGED CRIMES DURING ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan says that his office has received “a significant volume of information and evidence” about alleged crimes committed during the Israel-Hamas war.

Khan did not elaborate on the nature of the information his office has received.

He made the comment in a written statement Friday confirming that South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti had made official state referrals to the court about the “Situation in the State of Palestine,” which his office has been investigating since March 2021. South Africa announced the referral on Thursday.

The ICC investigation dates back to the last major Israel-Hamas war in 2014 but also includes the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Khan says his prosecution office “will continue its engagement with all relevant actors, whether national authorities, civil society, survivor groups or international partners, to advance this investigation.”

He also says he will “continue my efforts to visit the State of Palestine and Israel in order to meet with survivors, hear from civil society organisations and engage with relevant national counterparts.”

MILITANTS ATTACK 3 US BASES IN IRAQ AND SYRIA, 1 SOLDIER WOUNDED

WASHINGTON — Militants attacked U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria on Friday, conducting three strikes on facilities using one-way attack drones that wounded one soldier, two U.S. officials said on the condition of anonymity to provide sensitive details of the strikes.

The attacks have been launched almost daily since Oct. 17, the day a blast at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds and sparked protests across the region. The U.S. has repeatedly warned the groups to desist and avoid escalating the war between Israel and Hamas into a wider conflict.

The three additional attacks on U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Syria on Friday bring the total number of attacks on U.S. and coalition military facilities in Iraq and Syria to at least 60 since Oct. 17. At least 59 service members have been wounded, but the Pentagon has said all were minor injuries and those troops were able to return to duty.

On Friday a one-way drone targeted Al Harir air base in Erbil, with no casualties reported, but a damage assessment was still ongoing. Multiple one-way drones attacked Al Asad air base in Iraq but caused no injuries or infrastructure damage, and another multiple one-way drone attack at Tall Baydar, Syria, resulted in minor injuries to one service member who was able to return to duty, one of the defense officials said.

ROCKETS FIRED FROM GAZA ARE INTERCEPTED OVER TEL AVIV

Israel’s missile defense systems were activated over Tel Aviv late Friday to intercept rockets fired by militants in Gaza. The city skyline was lit up as the interceptions occurred that could be heard across the city.

No injuries were reported.

ISRAEL WILL ALLOW 140,000 LITERS OF FUEL INTO GAZA EVERY 48 HOURS, US OFFICIAL SAYS

WASHINGTON — A U.S. State Department official said Friday that Israel has agreed to allow 140,000 liters (36,984 gallons) of fuel into Gaza every 48 hours through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

The first deliveries are expected Saturday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic conversations between the U.S. and Israel.

The fuel will be delivered to the fuel depot in the Gaza side of the border and distributed from there. The official said 120,000 liters (31,700 gallons) will be reserved for U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees trucks carrying humanitarian aid, as well as water desalinization, well and sewage pumping, solid waste disposal, bakeries and hospitals. The other 20,000 liters will be for generators used by Palestinian telecoms provider Paltel in order to restore communications networks.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Israeli Cabinet Minister Ron Dermer and told him that a “major catastrophe” was imminent without Israel following through on the agreement in principle to send fuel to southern Gaza that had been forged during Blinken’s last meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war cabinet. Dermer told Blinken that the war cabinet would vote shortly.

On Thursday, Blinken called Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s War Cabinet, to repeat the message of urgency.

MARCHERS TREKKING TO NETANYAHU’S OFFICE CARRY IMAGES OF HOSTAGES

JERUSALEM — Thousands of marchers embarked Friday on their fourth leg of a five-day walk from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, calling on the Israeli government to bring some 240 hostages abducted by Hamas back home.

The marchers, who included relatives of more than 50 hostages, are traversing the 70 kilometers (roughly 45 miles) to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, calling on him and Israel’s War Cabinet to do more to rescue their loved ones. They expect to complete the march on Saturday.

The families have called upon the War Cabinet for more information on the whereabouts of their loved ones and to consider a cease-fire deal or a prisoner exchange to free their loved ones.

Hamas has offered to release all the hostages in exchange for some 6,000 Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails, but the Cabinet has rejected the proposal. The Cabinet has also been adamantly opposed to any cease-fire agreement.

Four hostages have have been released through international diplomacy involving Qatar, while a fifth was rescued by Israeli troops. Israel has confirmed the deaths of two hostages.

ISRAELI OFFICIAL SAYS ‘VERY MINIMAL’ AMOUNT OF FUEL APPROVED FOR GAZA

JERUSALEM — Israel’s national security adviser says the country’s War Cabinet has agreed to allow two tanker trucks of fuel to enter the Gaza Strip each day, a quantity he described as “very minimal.”

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Tzachi Hanegbi said the fuel would be allowed for Gaza’s communications system and water and sewage services. He said the deliveries are intended to prevent the spread of disease without disrupting Israel’s ability to continue its war against the Hamas militant group.

“We don’t want diseases that could harm the civilians who are there and our forces. If there are diseases, the fighting would be halted. We cannot continue fighting in the event of a humanitarian crisis or an international outcry,” Hanegbi said.

Hanegbi said the fuel amounted to roughly 2% to 4% of the normal quantities of fuel that entered Gaza before the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7.

The office of Israeli lawmaker and former defense minister Benny Gantz, a member of the three-person War Cabinet, said the agreement would allow 60,000 liters (15,850 gallons) of fuel to enter Gaza over the next 48 hours.

Hanegbit said the War Cabinet “agreed to a special request by the United States to supply two tankers per day” for Gaza. .

The War Cabinet says it agreed to the U.S. request on the recommendation of the Shin Bet internal security agency and the army.

ISRAEL’S WAR CABINET APPROVES SMALL FUEL SHIPMENTS INTO GAZA

JERUSALEM — Israeli officials say the country’s War Cabinet has unanimously approved small shipments of fuel for humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip.

The officials said they would allow two tanker trucks of diesel fuel each day for the United Nations to support water and sewage infrastructure in the besieged territory.

Israeli officials have all but banned fuel shipments into Gaza since the Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas that triggered Israel’s latest war with the Islamic militant group.

The Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement, said the decision had come in response to a request from the United States.

A lack of fuel has caused communications systems in Gaza to collapse, forcing aid agencies to halt cross-border deliveries of humanitarian supplies.

Israel says the restrictions are needed to prevent Hamas from using fuel for military purposes.

— By Joe Federman

BATTLE IN THE WEST BANK LEAVES AT LEAST 3 DEAD AND 15 WOUNDED

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops and Palestinian militants exchanged fire in the town of Jenin in the occupied West Bank during an army raid and at least three Palestinians were killed, the Palestinian health ministry said Friday.

Jenin has long been a flashpoint, and the military has carried out near-nightly operations there since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza six weeks ago.

Gunbattles erupted in several locations, also drawing in fighters from Hamas, the militant group battling Israeli forces in Gaza. At one point, an Israeli aircraft targeted militants who threw explosives toward Israeli forces, the Israeli military said. The military said it killed five militants in the raid and arrested 15 Palestinians.

Airstrikes were once a rare attack mode in the West Bank but have grown increasingly common since war began.

Israel said its forces unearthed explosives under some streets and confiscated weapons, ammunition and surveillance equipment from a vehicle and two militant command centers.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that once at the hospital, Israeli forces detained and searched paramedic crews. Videos posted to social media by the organization showed Red Crescent paramedics with their hands raised in surrender, leaving the hospital building and walking slowly to stand in front of several Israeli military trucks lined up outside the hospital.

Palestinian health officials, who do not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths, said that 15 Palestinians were injured in the raid, four of them seriously.

DOZENS ARE KILLED OR INJURED FROM STRIKES OVERNIGHT IN SOUTHERN GAZA

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israel bombarded two homes in southern Gaza late Thursday and Friday morning, according to survivors accompanying those killed and wounded in the strikes to the main hospital in Khan Younis.

An Associated Press journalist witnessing the arrivals said he saw three dead and dozens injured, including babies and young children, from Friday’s strike. The attack late Thursday killed 11 members of a family who had fled the main combat zone in Gaza City in the northern part of Gaza earlier in the war.

The strikes hit Bani Suheila, an area east of Khan Younis, located in the southern half of Gaza. Early in the war, now in its sixth week, Israel told civilians to flee the north and head south for their safety.

On Wednesday, Israel dropped leaflets over Bani Suheila and other nearby areas, calling on residents to leave yet again and seek shelter elsewhere. The leaflets triggered fears that Israel is expanding its offensive, which is currently focused on northern Gaza. The south of Gaza is already crammed with hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians who have nowhere else to go.

The Israeli army rarely comments on individual airstrikes but says the attacks are aimed at Hamas operatives and targets.

Mohammed Zaqout, the head of Gaza’s hospitals, said a total of 35 people were killed in airstrikes in Khan Younis and the nearby town of Rafah overnight.

AFGHANISTAN DENOUNCES ISRAEL’S ONGOING STRIKES IN GAZA

ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration denounced the ongoing Israeli strikes in Gaza, including the raid on Shifa Hospital. In an overnight statement, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Israeli forces were continually breaking all rules of war.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan called on the United Nations and other human rights bodies, saying that “if they genuinely believe in their stated values, they must prevent the ongoing brutalities by adopting an honest, transparent & just position vis-a-vis crimes against humanity carried out by the zionists against the people of Gaza,” the statement read, referring to Jews who seek to regain and retain their biblical homeland.

It also asked Arab and Islamic countries “to respond to the cries of the oppressed Muslims of Gaza, & to fulfill their religious & human responsibility through effective & meaningful positions & steps.”

The Taliban-led administration seized power in 2021, and since then the U.N. and other human rights groups have blamed it for human rights violations.

In September, the U.N. said it documented more than 1,600 cases of human rights violations committed by authorities in Afghanistan during arrests and detentions of people. At the time, it urged the Taliban government to stop torture and protect the rights of detainees. The report by the mission’s Human Rights Service covered 19 months — from January 2022 until the end of July 2023 — with cases documented across 29 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. It said 11% of the cases involved women.

SEVERAL ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES HIT NEAR DAMASCUS, SYRIA’S STATE NEWS AGENCY SAYS

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s state news agency says Israel’s military has carried out strikes that hit several posts near the capital, Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties.

SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles before they reached their targets early Friday.

There has been no confirmation from the Israeli military.

In the weeks since the latest war between Israel and Hamas broke out, Syria reported Israeli airstrikes that hit the international airports in Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, damaging their runways and putting them out of service.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, including attacks on the Damascus and Aleppo airports, but rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.

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Live updates | Limited telecom services return to Gaza, but the UN lacks fuel for aid delivery