Israel is escalating its bombardment of targets in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion against Hamas militants. The war is rapidly raising the death toll in Gaza, and the U.S. fears the fighting could spark a wider conflict in the region.
Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been running out of food, water and medicine since Israel sealed off the territory following the Hamas attack on Israeli towns on Oct. 7. The aid convoys allowed into Gaza so far have carried a fraction of what’s needed, and the U.N. said distribution will have to stop if there’s no fuel for the trucks.
The war, in its 18th day Tuesday, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed and 16,297 wounded. In the occupied West Bank, 96 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since Oct. 7.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, according to Israeli officials, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage. In addition, 222 people including foreigners were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza, Israel’s military has said. Four of those have been released.
1. The U.S. Department of Defense is assisting Israel in its war planning by sending military advisers
2. 40 years after bombing that killed Americans in Beirut, US troops again deploy east of Mediterranean
3. The war is giving Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system its toughest challenge yet
4. Release of more hostages gives some hope to families of others abducted in the attack on Israel
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:
NEW YORK — Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s says it is changing its outlook on Israel’s credit rating to “negative” from “stable” as the country fights a war against Hamas in Gaza in response to the militant group’s devastating attack.
S&P said Tuesday it was revising the outlooks on its long-term foreign and local-currency ratings on Israel, citing the war, its potential to escalate into a broader regional conflict and the impact that could have on the country’s economy.
S&P left Israel’s credit rating unchanged at AA-. The agency’s highest rating is AAA. By revising the outlook, S&P is raising a warning flag signaling that a rating downgrade could happen in the future.
Credit ratings firms Fitch and Moody’s have taken similar actions.
OTTAWA, Ontario — Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday that Canada’s government does not believe Hamas would respect a cease-fire in its conflict with Israel.
“I have no expectation that a terrorist organization would respect international law or any call for a cease-fire,” Blair said before heading into a Cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said afterward that Canada supports the idea of “humanitarian pauses,” temporary halts to fighting, allowing for aid to get into Gaza safely and people to leave.
Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction, and Blair said it is a threat as long as it exists.
“I think (Israel has) a right to defend themselves against that terror threat,″ Blair said. “And quite frankly, Hamas has to be eliminated as a threat, not just to Israel but to the world.″
Canada has listed Hamas as a terrorist group since 2002 and has no dealings with any of its leaders.
UNITED NATIONS — Israel is vowing again to destroy Hamas, rejecting calls for a cease-fire from the U.N. chief, the Palestinians and many countries at a high-level U.N. meeting and saying the war in Gaza is not merely its own but “the war of the free world.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also dismissed calls for “proportionality” in the country’s response to Hamas’ surprise attacks Oct. 7 that killed 1,400 people. More than 5,700 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, according to its Health Ministry.
Cohen told the U.N. Security Council the proportionate response to the Oct. 7 massacre is “a total destruction to the last one of the Hamas,” calling the extremist group “the new Nazis.”
“It is not only Israel’s right to destroy Hamas. It’s our duty,” he said.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said he came to the meeting “to stop … the ongoing massacres being deliberately and systematically and savagely perpetrated by Israel.”
“Over 2 million Palestinians are on a survival mission every day, every night,” he added.
Under international law, al-Maliki said, “it is our collective human duty to stop” the Israeli attacks and bloodshed.
This item has been updated to correct in the headline that it was the FMs that made these remarks, not the PMs.
JERUSALEM — French President Emmanuel Macron visited Israel on Tuesday in the latest trip by a Western leader to express support for the country amid its war against Hamas, offering an assurance that Israel is “not left alone in the war against terrorism.”
Macron met with the families of French citizens who were killed or taken hostage in the devastating Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, saying, “we will neglect nothing” to obtain freedom for French citizens. Nine French nationals are missing or believed held captive, and 30 were killed.
At a news conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Macron stressed Israel’s right to defend itself.
“The fight must be without mercy, but not without rules,” Macron said, because democracies “respect the rules of war,” an apparent reference to criticism of Israeli airstrikes that have killed Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
He later traveled to the Israeli-occupied West Bank for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who runs the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority. Macron said Hamas’ attack was “also a catastrophe” for Palestinians and “there will be no lasting peace” without a two-state solution.
MARSEILLE, France — Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders held hands and called for peace in the Middle East at a gathering Tuesday in the Mediterranean city of Marseille.
Around 100 people came together outside the landmark Notre Dame de la Garde church in an event organized by fans of the Olympique de Marseille soccer team.
Faith leaders spoke in turn in favor of peace and led the crowd in a moment of silence honoring victims of the Israel-Hamas war.
Political flags were barred from the gathering, meant as a moment of community togetherness at a tense time. The faith leaders spoke of each other as neighbors and brothers.
France has the world’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel and the U.S., and Europe’s largest Muslim population outside of Turkey.
WASHINGTON — The New Jersey Air National Guard’s 119 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived in the Middle East on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. The squadron has F-16 fighter jets, and officials would not say where exactly it went.
Ryder also said the U.S. is preparing for an increase in violence, noting that there have already been at least 13 attacks against troops and installations in Iraq and Syria.
“What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near term coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran,” he said during a Pentagon briefing.
He added that the U.S. won’t hesitate to take action if needed to protect its forces and interests in the region.
LONDON — Several dozen people held a vigil outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday to remember the thousands of Palestinian children killed by Israeli airstrikes.
The group, organized by the Medical Aid for Palestinians charity, had written the names of dead children on their palms and held a minute of silence.
“There has been an outpouring, justifiably, for those Israeli citizens who have been taken hostage,” said Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, who has family in Gaza. “I think it’s also equally important to show the depths of humanity for all those affected. … We’re going to be writing the names of one of the children on our hands to mark our respects for not just the children, but everyone who was an innocent civilian who has died in this conflict.”
More than 40% of the 5,700 reported killed in Gaza have been children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
The vigil was held the same day families of Israelis killed or taken hostage by Hamas militants in Oct. 7 raids spoke at the Israeli Embassy in London.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians who died in the rampage and more than 220 were captured and taken back to Gaza.
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The sharp increase in Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip and large death toll Tuesday included an untold number of child deaths.
Graphic photos and video shot by The Associated Press showed rescuers digging with their hands to unearth small bodies from the ruins of collapsed homes and buildings across Gaza.
Unconscious children were cradled in the arms of adults who ran from ambulances and cars into Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. A man used one hand to give light chest compressions to a small child on the hood of an ambulance.
A lifeless child who was dug out of the dirt from beneath concrete and a web of rebar where a house was destroyed in Khan Younis was wrapped in a blanket and laid on the side of a road next to an adult’s body.
The body of an older boy on a stretcher was passed between anguished men along the edge of a large crater where a bomb had landed and destroyed buildings in Rafah.
A father also knelt on the floor of the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah next to the bodies of three dead children cocooned in bloodied sheets with their faces showing.
CAIRO — The U.N. health agency called Tuesday for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza to be able to distribute fuel and essential, life-saving health supplies, including to major hospitals in the strip’s northern half.
“For people in the Gaza Strip, the situation is desperate. It will become catastrophic without the safe and continuous passage of fuel and health supplies, and additional humanitarian assistance,” the World Health Organization said in a statement.
The WHO said some health facilities in northern Gaza, including the territory’s largest Shifa hospital, were waiting for supplies and fuel. Among them is the Indonesian hospital, which suffered a brief power outage and was forced to shutter some critical services due to lack of fuel.
Gaza’s only oncology hospital, the Turkish Friendship Hospital, remains partially functional, putting around 2,000 cancer patients at risk, the agency added.
Supported by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, the health agency said it delivered 34,000 liters (about 9,000 gallons) of fuel Monday to four major hospitals in southern Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent. That was only enough to keep ambulances and critical hospital functions running for a little over 24 hours.
It also distributed medicine and other supplies to key hospitals in southern Gaza, as well as the Palestine Red Crescent.
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Navine Abu Owdah’s apartment in Khan Younis was hit by an airstrike on Tuesday, badly injuring the pregnant 30-year-old. Owdah was quickly rushed to the nearby hospital of al-Amal, where thankfully doctors managed to deliver a healthy baby girl.
“A cesarean section was performed in the emergency department, and her baby girl, who is in good condition, was delivered,” Dr. Salim Saqer said, speaking to The Associated Press from just outside the operating room.
The mother, who suffered multiple fractures and has abdominal bleeding, remains under observation and is receiving treatment.
BEIRUT — A top Hamas official says the killings that people are being subjected to in Gaza are unprecedented.
Ghazi Hamad told reporters in Beirut that Israel is carrying out “brutal and savage acts against people,” adding that in addition to the more than 5,700 people killed, over 17,000 have been wounded.
“The death toll is changing every second,” Hamad said. “The counter is rising amid killings, destruction and revenge.”
He said that among the dead were 57 doctors, nurses and paramedics, and that 27 ambulances were destroyed.
Hamad said 122 entire families were killed.