UNITED STATES NEWS

Mediator says talks on Gaza not ‘progressing as expected’ after momentum in recent weeks

Feb 17, 2024, 4:36 AM

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Talks on a potential cease-fire deal in Gaza “have not been progressing as expected” in the past few days after good progress in recent weeks, key mediator Qatar said Saturday, as Israel’s prime minister accused the Hamas militant group of not changing its ”delusional” demands.

Speaking during the Munich Security Conference, Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al Thani, noted difficulties in the “humanitarian part” of the negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under pressure to bring home remaining hostages taken in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, said he sent a delegation to cease-fire talks in Cairo earlier in the week at U.S. President Joe Biden’s request but doesn’t see the point in sending them again.

Hamas wants a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and the release of Palestinians held by Israel.

Netanyahu also pushed back against international concern about a planned Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, a city on southern Gaza’s border with Egypt. He said “total victory” against Hamas requires the offensive, once people living there evacuate to safe areas. Where they will go in largely devastated Gaza is not clear.

New airstrikes in central Gaza on Saturday killed more than 40 people, including children, and wounded at least 50, according to Associated Press journalists and hospital officials. Israel’s military said it carried out strikes there against Hamas.

Five people were killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a house outside Khan Younis in the south, according to health officials, and another five people, including three children, were killed in an airstrike on a building north of Rafah. Dr. Marwan al-Hams, director of Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital, said other bodies were being pulled from the rubble.

Israel’s air and ground offensive was triggered by the Oct. 7 attack that killed some 1,200 people in Israel and took 250 others hostage.

The Gaza Health Ministry on Saturday raised the overall death toll in Gaza to 28,858, saying the bodies of 83 people killed in Israeli bombardments were brought to hospitals in the past 24 hours. The count does not differentiate between combatants and civilians, but the ministry says two-thirds of those killed are women and children.

The war also has caused widespread destruction, displaced some 80% of Gaza’s population and sparked a humanitarian crisis in the Hamas-run enclave.

EGYPT CONCERNED ABOUT SPILLOVER

More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, which Israel portrays as the last significant stronghold of Hamas fighters.

Biden has urged Israel not to carry out an operation there without a “credible” plan to protect civilians and to instead focus on a cease-fire. Egypt has said an operation could threaten diplomatic relations.

Israel has said it has no plans to force Palestinians into Egypt. New satellite photos, however, indicate that Egypt is preparing for that scenario. The images show Egypt building a wall and leveling land near its border with Gaza.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who also spoke at the Munich Security Conference, said “it is not our intention to provide any safe areas or facilities, but … we will provide the support to the innocent civilians, if that was to take place.”

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi affirmed during a call with France’s leader that Egypt categorically rejected “the displacement of Palestinians to Egypt in any way, shape or form,” according to el-Sisi’s office.

Two senior Egyptian officials said Egypt is building additional defensive lines in an existing buffer zone that extends 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the border. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details with the media.

The buffer zone, built as part of Egypt’s battle against an Islamic State group insurgency, was meant to prevent weapons smuggling to and from Gaza.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE TO AID

Israel has not presented specific evidence for its claim that Hamas is diverting U.N. aid, and its targeted killings of Gaza police commanders guarding truck convoys have made it “virtually impossible” to distribute the goods safely, a top U.S. envoy said in rare public criticism of Israel.

David Satterfield, the Biden administration’s special Middle East envoy for humanitarian issues, said criminal gangs are increasingly targeting the convoys following the departure of police escorts after Israeli strikes.

“We are working with the Israeli government, the Israeli military in seeing what solutions can be found here because everyone wants to see the assistance continue,” Satterfield told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Friday. A solution “is going to require some form of security escorts to return.”

Satterfield said Israeli officials have not presented “specific evidence of diversion or theft” of U.N. assistance, but that the militants have their own interests in using “other channels of assistance … to shape where and to whom assistance goes.”

Israel has alleged repeatedly that Hamas is diverting aid, including fuel, after it enters Gaza, a claim denied by U.N. aid agencies. Last week, an Israeli airstrike on a car killed three senior police commanders in Rafah. Two officers were killed in another strike.

Satterfield also addressed challenges for the main U.N. agency aiding Palestinians in Gaza, whose director accused Israel in remarks published Saturday of trying to “destroy” the organization and warned that its operations will halt in April without more support.

ISRAELI TROOPS ENTER A HOSPITAL

In recent weeks, Israel’s military has focused on Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city and a Hamas stronghold.

The army said Saturday that it had arrested 100 suspected Hamas militants at the city’s Nasser Hospital. Israel’s defense minister has said at least 20 of those detained were involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

The Health Ministry said troops turned the hospital into “military barracks” and detained a large number of medical staff. Israel says it does not target patients or doctors, but staff say the facility is struggling under heavy fire.

Nour Abou Jameh was among the thousands sheltering at Nasser Hospital who were forced to leave in the past week. “Shooting and shelling was coming from all directions,” Jameh said. “When we left at night, bodies were in the streets, and even tanks moved on them and crushed them.”

___

Mroue reported from Beirut.

___

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

United States News

Associated Press

Ex-Philadelphia police officer pleads guilty in shooting death of 12-year-old boy

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A fired Philadelphia police officer pleaded guilty Friday to murder in the shooting of a fleeing 12-year-old boy, who prosecutors have said was on the ground and unarmed when the officer fired the fatal shot. Edsaul Mendoza also pleaded guilty to possession of an instrument of crime as part of a plea […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Video of 2 bear cubs pulled from trees prompts North Carolina wildlife investigation but no charges

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A video of people pulling two bear cubs from a tree in North Carolina as one person posed for a photo with one of the wild animals prompted an investigation, but a state wildlife official said Friday that no charges will be filed. When North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission staff responded […]

33 minutes ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a Manhattan Criminal Court on April 19, 2024. A full jury was...

Associated Press

Full jury of 12, with 6 alternates, seated for Donald Trump’s criminal trial

A full jury was seated Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money case, the first criminal trial for a former president in U.S. history.

58 minutes ago

Associated Press

Attorneys argue that Florida law discriminates against Chinese nationals trying to buy homes

An attorney asked a federal appeals court on Friday to block a controversial Florida law signed last year that restricts Chinese citizens from buying real estate in much of the state, calling it discriminatory and a violation of the federal government’s supremacy in deciding foreign affairs. Attorney Ashley Gorski, representing four Chinese nationals who live […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

A convicted rapist is charged with murder in the killing of a Connecticut visiting nurse

A convicted rapist was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday in the killing of a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October — a crime that spurred calls for better safety measures for home health care workers. Authorities added the charges against Michael Reese, 39, as he appeared […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Catholic priest resigns from Michigan church following protests over his criticism of a gay author

BEAL CITY, Mich. (AP) — A Catholic priest has resigned as pastor of a church in a small central Michigan community, the result of weeks of controversy following his publicly expressed regret that a gay author had read a book to preschool children. Gay rights activists and others have held regular protests outside St. Joseph […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Mediator says talks on Gaza not ‘progressing as expected’ after momentum in recent weeks