Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue and Israel’s defense minister has told troops to be ready for a ground assault on the Palestinian territory, although he has not said when that will begin.
More than 1 million Palestinians, roughly half of Gaza’s population, have fled homes in the north and Gaza City after Israel told them to evacuate. The airstrikes early Thursday continued across the entire territory, including in areas in the south that Israel had declared as “safe zones.”
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that limited humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza from Egypt following a request from U.S. President Joe Biden.
The war that began on Oct. 7 after Hamas militants stormed into Israel, and Israel vowed to destroy the militant group, has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Thursday that 3,785 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 12,500 others have been wounded.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial attack. An Israeli military spokesperson said Thursday that the families of 206 people believed to have been captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza had been notified.
1. Biden declares support for Israel and Ukraine is ‘vital’ for US security.
2. EU demands Meta and TikTok detail efforts to curb disinformation from Israel-Hamas war.
3. Woman becomes Israeli folk hero for plying Hamas militants with snacks until rescue mission arrives.
4. Egypt and other Arab countries typically don’t want to take in Palestinian refugees.
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
President Joe Biden referenced the killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy in Illinois to deliver a forceful denunciation of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Biden brought up the case of Wadea Al-Fayoume during a televised nighttime address from the Oval Office. Authorities say the boy, who was Muslim, was stabbed 26 times Saturday by his landlord in response to escalating rhetoric about the Israel-Hamas war. Wadea’s mother was critically wounded.
Biden said it’s difficult to “stand by and stand silent when this happens,” adding that “we must without equivocation denounce” antisemitism and Islamophobia.
The White House said that after the speech, Biden and his wife, Jill, spoke with Wadea’s father and uncle to offer condolences along with prayers for his mother’s recovery.
President Joe Biden is urging support for additional U.S. aid for Ukraine and Israel, saying in a televised address from the Oval Office that “American leadership is what holds the world together.”
Biden spoke hours after returning to Washington from an urgent visit to Israel to show U.S. support in the wake of a deadly attack by Hamas on Oct. 7. Some 1,400 civilians were killed and roughly 200 others, including Americans, were taken to Gaza as hostages. Israel has responded with airstrikes, and 3,785 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The U.S. president argued that Israel needs help to defend itself from Hamas. He also said the U.S. must help Ukraine stop the advances of Russian President Vladimir Putin to keep other “would-be aggressors” from trying to take over other countries.
Biden said he will send lawmakers an “urgent budget request” Friday to fund U.S. national security needs. He called the request, said to carry a price tag of about $100 billion, a “smart investment” that will pay dividends for decades to come.
Douglas Emhoff, the husband of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, met in Washington with Natalie Sanandaji, a 28-year-old American survivor of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.
Sanandaji recounted the attack on a music festival, where some 260 people were killed, a White House official said.
Emhoff, who is Jewish and has been outspoken about and against antisemitism, spoke to Sanandaji about President Joe Biden and Harris’ support for Israel, providing humanitarian aid to civilians and the administration’s work to combat hate of all kinds, the official said.
BEIRUT — An explosion struck a Greek Orthodox church housing displaced Palestinians late Thursday, resulting in deaths and dozens of wounded.
Mohammed Abu Selmia, director general of Shifa Hospital, said dozens were hurt at the Church of Saint Porphyrios but could not give a precise death toll because bodies were still under the rubble.
Palestinian authorities blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike, a claim that could not be independently verified.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchy of Jerusalem issued a statement condemning the attack and said it would “not abandon its religious and humanitarian duty” to provide assistance.
A survivor told Qatar’s Al Jazeera Arabic television that there was no warning from the Israeli military beforehand.
Named after the Bishop of Gaza from 395 to 420, St. Porphyrios is located in the al-Zaytun section of Gaza’s Old City. Its thick limestone walls house an elaborate interior of gilded icons and ceiling paintings.
It became a mosque in the 7th century before a new church was built in the 12th century during the Crusades.
JERUSALEM — Nearly 30 of some 200 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are children, the Israeli military said.
More than 10 are over the age of 60, it said in a statement.
Authorities have no information about the location of more than 100 missing Israelis, it added.
WASHINGTON — An unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment delivered to Congress estimates casualties in an explosion at a Gaza City hospital on the “low end” of 100 to 300 deaths.
That death toll “still reflects a staggering loss of life,” U.S. intelligence officials said in the findings, which were seen by The Associated Press. Officials were still assessing the evidence, and the estimate may evolve.
The explosion at Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital on Tuesday left body parts strewn on the hospital grounds, where crowds of Palestinians had clustered in hopes of escaping Israeli airstrikes.
Officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza quickly said an Israeli airstrike had hit the hospital. Israel denied it was involved. The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence released by the parties.
President Joe Biden and other U.S. officials already have said that U.S. intelligence officials believed the explosion was not caused by an Israeli airstrike. Thursday’s findings echoed that.
The U.S. assessment noted “only light structural damage” to the hospital itself was evident, with no impact crater visible.
BEIRUT — The U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon said Lebanese troops requested assistance to bring back seven people caught in a firefight along the border with Israel. One person was killed.
The Lebanese military said the group included seven journalists, and one was also injured. It said Israeli soldiers shot at them with machine guns as they were in the outskirts of the village of Houla.
It did not identify them, but Iranian media said one was Mohsen Maghsoodi, a host on Iranian state television.
On X, formerly Twitter, Maghsoodi posted a picture of himself and two others lying low near a fence, with one of them holding a camera. He said the group was caught for “five or six hours” in the crossfire and their car “was seriously damaged by bullets and mortars.”
The six Iranian journalists were safe but one Lebanese journalist was killed, he wrote. That person has not been publicly identified, but Lebanese media said he had joined the group as a fixer.
UNIFIL said it had urged the Israeli military to suspend fire to facilitate the rescue and Israel complied, allowing Lebanese troops to mount the recovery.
JERUSALEM — An Israeli border police officer was killed during a military raid into a refugee camp in the northern West Bank, the police and border guard said in a joint statement.
Israeli forces killed at least seven Palestinians during the daylong raid of the Nur Shams camp, and prevented ambulances from retrieving the wounded, according to Palestinian state media.
CAIRO — A U.S. Navy warship took out three missiles that were fired from Yemen and were heading north, U.S. officials said.
The officials said the USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, was in the Red Sea and intercepted the missiles. It wasn’t immediately certain if they were aimed at Israel. One of the officials said the U.S. does not believe the missiles were aimed at the ship.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations not yet announced.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have expressed support for the Palestinians and threatened Israel. Last week in Yemen’s Sanaa, which is held by the Houthi rebels still at war with a Saudi-led coalition, demonstrators crowded the streets waving Yemeni and Palestinian flags. The rebels’ slogan long has been, “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse of the Jews; victory to Islam.”
Last week Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the rebel group’s leader, warned the United States against intervening in the Israel-Hamas conflict, saying his forces would retaliate by firing drones and missiles.
Associated Press writer Jack Jeffery in Cairo contributed.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has met Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and encouraged him to use his influence to stop the Israel-Hamas war from spreading.
Sunak’s office said the U.K. leader and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed on the need to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and “underscored the need to avoid any further escalation in the region.”
The U.K. said Sunak “encouraged the Crown Prince to use Saudi’s leadership in the region to support stability, both now and in the long-term.”
Sunak flew to Saudi Arabia after visiting Israel on Thursday to show support after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he plans to make a one-day trip Israel to meet some of those affected by the war.
The Democratic governor will arrive Friday and depart the same day. The announcement by Newsom’s office did not specify where he would go.
His office said California will send medical supplies to the region, including to the Gaza Strip.
California is home to the largest population of Arab Americans in the United States, according to the Arab American Institute, and the second largest populations of Jews, according to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University.
ZUWAIDA, Gaza Strip — Oxfam is working with other humanitarian agencies to provide a quick response when supplies begin flowing into Gaza.
Najla Shawa, a spokesman for Oxfam in Gaza, said they’re waiting for a cease-fire to be able to provide assistance to people who have had electricity, food and fuel supplies cut off.
“This is going to be a big challenge because there’s a lot to be done and we still don’t have enough information about what’s going to come in tomorrow,” Shawa said. Authorities have said the Egypt-Gaza border crossing in Rafah could open as soon as Friday.
She said any response will take longer than usual because so many aid workers have been displaced from their homes.
“The situation is extremely challenging,” she said.
CAIRO — A U.N. flag will be raised at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza to protect against Israeli airstrikes under a U.N.-brokered deal between Israel and Egypt to allow aid into the Palestinian territory.
An Egyptian official and a European diplomat said observers from the U.N. will also inspect trucks carrying aid before they cross.
They said the U.N will oversee the aid, along with the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescent societies, to ensure it is given to civilians and not used by Palestinian militants.
The Egyptian official said they are still negotiating with Israel over allowing fuel into Gaza, where a shortage has forced the closure of multiple hospitals.
The official and the diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.
Associated Press reporter Sam Magdy in Cairo contributed.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister has told ground troops to be ready to enter the Gaza Strip, though he is not saying when the invasion will start.
In a meeting with Israeli infantry soldiers on the Gaza border, Yoav Gallant urged the forces to “get organized, be ready” for an order to move in.
“Whoever sees Gaza from afar now, will see it from the inside,” he said. “I promise you.”
Israel has massed tens of thousands of troops along the border following a bloody Oct. 7 cross-border massacre by Hamas militants.