ISRAELI OCCUPIED GAZA - Israeli troops divided the northern and southern parts of Gaza, as communications across the besieged territory were temporarily cut Monday for a third time since the war started. The troops are expected to enter Gaza City on Monday or Tuesday, Israeli media reported.
The developments came after Israeli airstrikes hit two refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing scores of people, health officials said. Israel has so far rejected U.S. suggestions that it take a humanitarian pause from its relentless bombardment of Gaza amid rising civilian deaths.
The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war surpassed 9,700 with more than 4,000 of them children and minors, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 140 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, and 242 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group.
Roughly 1,100 people have left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing since Wednesday under an apparent agreement among the United States, Egypt, Israel and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas.
— Gaza has lost telecom contact again, while Israel’s military announces it has surrounded Gaza City.
— Families of Israel hostages fear the world will forget their loved ones.
— These numbers show the staggering toll of the Israel-Hamas war.
— A U.N. official says the average Palestinian in Gaza is living on two pieces of bread a day.
— 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:
BLINKEN RECEIVES TEPID RESPONSE TO PROPOSAL FOR ‘HUMANITARIAN PAUSES’
ANKARA, Turkey -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is wrapping up a grueling Middle East diplomatic tour in Turkey after only limited success in his efforts to forge a regional consensus on how to ease civilian suffering in Gaza as Israel intensifies its war against Hamas.
Blinken was meeting Monday in Ankara with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan after a weekend of travel that took him from Israel to Jordan, the West Bank, Cyprus and Iraq to build support for the Biden administration’s proposal for “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s relentless military campaign in Gaza, the release of hostages held by Hamas and the prevention of an expansion of the conflict.
Neither Blinken nor Fidan spoke publicly as they began their talks.
On his mission, his second to the region since the war began, Blinken has found only tepid, if any, support for the pauses concept. Israel has rejected it outright while Arab and Muslim nations are instead demanding an immediate cease-fire as the Palestinian casualty toll soars from Israeli bombardments in response to Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
U.S. officials are seeking to convince Israel of the strategic importance of respecting the laws of war by protecting non-combatants and significantly boosting deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s beleaguered civilian population.
COMMUNICATIONS IN GAZA ARE GRADUALLY RESTORED
CAIRO — Communication services have been gradually restored across Gaza, a main telecoms provider and an advocacy group said Monday, 15 hours after the territory experienced its third communication blackout since the war began on Oct. 7.
Palestinian communications company Paltel announced that its services, including fixed, mobile and internet communications, have been gradually restored.
Alp Toker, director of the internet advocacy group NetBlocks.org, confirmed that internet connectivity has been restored to levels prior to Sunday’s disruption. Overall service, however, remained significantly below prewar levels, he said.
The blackouts disrupted the activities of aid groups working in Gaza as humanitarian needs grow.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL SETS CLOSED MEETING ON ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the Israel-Hamas war on Monday afternoon at the request of China, which holds the council presidency this month, and the United Arab Emirates, the Arab representative on the council.
EMOTIONAL SCENES AS AUSTRALIANS WHO LEFT GAZA ARRIVE AT SYDNEY AIRPORT
SYDNEY — A dozen Australians who fled the war in Gaza arrived in Sydney on Sunday after traveling last week through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
Elated evacuee Sara El-Masry told Nine News on arrival at Sydney Airport: “It means the world to me that we were able to leave safely and we were able to come here and see their (family) faces one more time. I honestly didn’t think I would make it.”
Another seven evacuees returned to other Australian cities on Saturday. The Australian government continues to press for more Australians to be allowed to leave Gaza. There are about 67 citizens, permanent residents and their family members that the Australian government says it is trying to help leave Gaza.
US MILITARY ACKNOWLEDGES POSITIONING SUBMARINE IN MIDEAST
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The U.S. military has acknowledged positioning a nuclear-capable submarine in the Middle East.
It provided no other details in its online statement Sunday, though it posted an image that appeared to show a submarine in Egypt’s Suez Canal near its Suez Canal Bridge.
U.S. acknowledgment of an Ohio-class submarine location is incredibly rare as they represent part of America’s so-called “nuclear triad” of atomic weapons — which also includes land-based ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs aboard strategic bombers.
Several Ohio-class submarines instead carry cruise missiles and the capability to deploy with special operations forces, so it’s unclear if the submarine operating now in the Mideast carries nuclear ballistic missiles.
The U.S. has deployed submarines into the region before and announced its recent presence as tensions were high with Iran.
Central Command separately released an image of a nuclear-capable B-1 bomber also operating in the Mideast on Sunday.
UN AGENCIES AND HUMANITARIAN ORGS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE
UNITED NATIONS – The heads of 11 U.N. agencies and six humanitarian organizations issued a joint plea for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, the protection of civilians, and the swift entry to Gaza of food, water, medicine and fuel.
In a statement issued Sunday night, they called Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attacks in Israel “horrific.”
“However, the horrific killings of even more civilians in Gaza is an outrage, as is cutting off 2.2 million Palestinians from food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel,” the heads of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory said.
The U.N. and humanitarian organizations said more than 23,000 injured people need immediate treatment and hospitals are overstretched.
“An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship,” the joint statement said.
The U.N. and aid organization leaders said over a hundred attacks against health care operations have been reported and 88 staff members from the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, have been reported killed – “the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict.”
JORDAN AIR-DROPS AID TO HOSPITAL IN GAZA
AMMAN, Jordan – Medical aid was airdropped into Gaza by a Jordanian military cargo aircraft, the kingdom’s leader announced on social media early Monday.
A trickle of humanitarian aid has entered Gaza via its land border with Egypt, but this appeared to be the first time aid was delivered by Jordan, a key U.S. ally that has a peace deal with Israel.
King Abdullah II said the aid reached the Jordanian field hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. “This is our duty to aid our brothers and sisters injured in the war on Gaza,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
King Abdullah II has recalled its ambassador to Israel and told Israel’s envoy not to return to Jordan until the Gaza crisis was over.
ISRAEL AMBASSADOR TO US CALLS GAZA THE WORLD’S “BIGGEST TERROR COMPLEX”
Michael Hertzog, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., says Gaza is “the biggest terror complex in the world,” with tens of thousands of fighters and rockets, among other weaponry — and 310 miles (500 kilometers) of underground tunnels.
“This is what we’re up against. And we have to uproot it, because if we do not, they will strike again and again,” Hertzog told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview aired Sunday.
He also said Israel was making every effort to distinguish between “terrorists and the civilian population” in its war with the Hamas militant group that rules Gaza.
“This is a very complicated military operation in a densely populated area, and we’re trying to move the population away from that war zone,” he said.
FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA SAYS ALL SIDES OF CONFLICT ARE “COMPLICIT TO SOME DEGREE”
Former President Barack Obama says “nobody’s hands are clean” in the Israel-Hamas war and acknowledged that he’s questioned in recent days whether his administration could have done more to push for a durable peace when he was in power.
“If you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth,” Obama said in an interview on “Pod Save America.” “And you then have to admit nobody’s hands are clean. That all of us are complicit to some degree.”
The former president did make an attempt at peace between Israel and Palestinians during his second term, but months of talks collapsed in 2014 amid disagreements on Israeli settlements, the release of Palestinian prisoners and other issues.
“I look at this and I think back what could I have done during my presidency to move this forward — as hard as I tried, I’ve got the scars to prove it,” Obama said in an excerpt released on X.
The entire interview is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.
STATE-RUN NEWS IN IRAN SAYS SUPREME LEADER HAS MET WITH HAMAS LEADER
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency says the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
The date of the meeting was not disclosed in the report on Sunday.
According to IRNA, Khamenei praised the patience and endurance of the people of Gaza and emphasized Iran’s policy in supporting the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas.
Khamenei urged Islamic countries and international organizations to take serious actions in support of Gaza’s people.
Israel’s military last week accused Haniyeh, who lives in exile, of flying to Iran on a “private jet” as the people of Gaza suffer in a devastating Israeli offensive against Hamas.
Israel accuses Iran of destabilizing the region by supporting proxies like Hamas and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.