Live updates | Israeli military rescues 2 hostages in a dramatic raid in the Gaza Strip
The Israeli military rescued two hostages from the Gaza Strip early Monday in a dramatic operation that also killed at least 67 Palestinians in airstrikes, according to Palestinian hospital officials.
The raid took place in Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the Israel-Hamas war. Women and children were among those killed in the airstrikes, Palestinian officials said.
The war began with Hamas’ assault into Israel on Oct. 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, while Hamas is holding the remains of roughly 30 others who were either killed on Oct. 7 or died in captivity. Three hostages were mistakenly killed by the army after escaping their captors in December.
— The Israeli military says it has rescued 2 hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip.
— Dutch appeals court orders Netherlands to stop exports of F-35 parts to Israel, citing war in Gaza.
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— Biden welcomes King of Jordan as framework for hostage deal is decided in Israel-Hamas conflict.
— UN Palestinian aid agency says it’s ‘critical’ to receive EU aid soon, but EU wants an audit first.
— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s the latest:
HEAD OF UNRWA LISTS KEY OBSTACLES IN DISTRIBUTING AID
BRUSSELS — The U.N. agency that serves as the main provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza says it is facing mounting difficulties along its supply lines.
Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, told reporters in Brussels on Monday that aid trucks and convoys in Gaza are being looted because local police are reluctant to provide protection following recent Israeli strikes.
Several members of the Hamas-run police force have been killed in recent days in strikes on Rafah, the southernmost town in Gaza where most aid is brought into the territory.
Lazzarini said a shipment of food that could feed 1 million people for a month was being held up in the Israeli port city of Ashdod. Contractors “have been instructed not to handle and move this food because it is for UNRWA,” he said.
He said Israel has lifted the agency’s VAT tax exemption and that a local bank had frozen one of its accounts.
Last month, Israel said 12 UNRWA employees had taken part in the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 that triggered the war. The agency immediately terminated the workers and launched an investigation. Several donor countries suspended funding, and UNRWA says if it is not restored, it will have to start scaling back aid operations within weeks.
THE U.K. IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF A RAFAH OFFENSIVE
LONDON — The U.K. government said Monday it’s “deeply concerned” about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the U.K. wants Israel to “stop and think seriously before it takes any further action.”
“We are very concerned about what is happening in Rafah, because, let’s be clear, the people there, many of whom have moved four, five, six times before getting there. It really, we think, is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people, there is nowhere for them to go,” Cameron told reporters.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said: “We are obviously deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah. Over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering there and that crossing is vital to ensuring aid can reach the people who desperately need it.”
EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF CALLS ON U.S. TO STOP SUPPLYING WEAPONS TO ISRAEL
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, is calling on the United States among other countries to stop providing weapons to Israel instead of simply demanding that the two sides in the war in Gaza stop killing civilians.
“If you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels after talks with the head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.
The war in Gaza has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in the territory, displaced over 80% of the population and set off a massive humanitarian crisis.
Borrell said that it’s not good enough for countries to just send their delegations to Tel Aviv and beg Israel not to kill so many civilians, saying: “How many is too many? Which is the standard? (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu doesn’t listen to anyone.”
In an impassioned plea, the EU’s top diplomat also expressed concern about the likelihood of an imminent Israeli ground assault on Rafah, near the border with Egypt, where more than half of Gaza’s population has fled to escape the fighting.
“They are going to evacuate. Where, to the moon? Where are they going to evacuate these people?” Borrell said.
GAZA HEALTH OFFICIALS: MORE THAN 12,300 PALESTINIAN MINORS KILLED IN GAZA WAR SO FAR
CAIRO — The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strop says more than 12,300 Palestinian minors and 8,400 women have been killed so far in Israel’s war on Hamas in the battered territory.
Minors made up about 43% of the total number of 28,340 Palestinians killed so far. Women and minors together make up 73% of those killed in the war, according to the ministry’s figures.
The ministry provided the breakdown of minors and women on Monday at the request of The Associated Press.
The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says its forces have killed roughly 10,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the death toll, saying it embeds in civilian areas.
In its report, the Gaza ministry said more than 7,000 people are missing and presumed dead. It said 67,984 people have been wounded in the war. It said that over the past day, the bodies of 164 people have been brought to hospitals around war-torn Gaza.
The report comes as an Israeli hostage mission freed two Israeli captives but struck areas around where they were held, killing dozens of Palestinians.
DUTCH COURT ORDERS NETHERLANDS TO STOP EXPORTING F-35 PARTS TO ISRAEL
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Judges in the Netherlands have ordered the Dutch government to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing a clear risk of violations of international law.
A trio of human rights organizations brought a civil suit against the Netherlands in December, arguing that authorities needed to re-evaluate the export license in light of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. They argued that delivery of parts for the aircraft makes the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes being committed by Israel in its war with Hamas.
A lower court sided with the government in January, allowing the government to continue sending U.S.-owned parts stored at a warehouse in the town of Woensdrecht to Israel.
On Monday, judges at The Hague Court of Appeals overturned that and ordered the government to cease exports within seven days. The decision can be appealed.