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 and the rising civilian deaths.
The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war surpassed 9,700, including more than 4,000 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.
— Communications are being restored in Gaza, 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:
PHOTOS OF THAI HOSTAGES SHOW THEY ARE ALIVE, PRIME MINISTER SAYS
BANGKOK — Thailand’s government has photographs of Thai workers who are being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, showing they are alive, the prime minister said Monday.
The information appears to build on word given to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin last week by Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim that at least 20 Thai hostages were alive. Malaysia is a Muslim-majority nation, and Anwar has expressed strong support for the Palestinian cause.
Srettha did not say how many hostages the photos showed. The Thai government’s official number of “abductions” is 24. Thirty-four Thais are known to have been killed and 19 injured.
“There is an update that there are photos of the hostages. So, we understand that at least they are still alive. The negotiation efforts are still ongoing,” Srettha told reporters.
Thailand is pursuing several channels to obtain the release of the hostages, including a trip last week by Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara to Egypt and Qatar.
Almost 8,000 Thai workers have returned home from Israel out of a pre-attack total of around 30,000. Most are employed as semi-skilled farm laborers who come from poorer regions of Thailand and are able to earn a much better income by working abroad.
POPE DECRIES ANTISEMITISM, WAR AND TERRORISM
ROME — Pope Francis met with European rabbis on Monday and decried antisemitism, war and terrorism in a written speech he declined to read, saying he wasn’t feeling well.
Francis said in his prepared speech that his first thought and prayers goes “above all else, to everything that has happened in the last few weeks,” a clear reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, including the taking away of hostages to the Gaza Strip, and the ensuring Israeli-Hamas war.
“Yet again violence and war have erupted in that Land blessed by the Most High, which seems continually assailed by the vileness of hatred and the deadly clash of weapons,” Francis wrote in the speech.
With France, Austria and Italy among the countries in Europe recently seeing a spate of antisemitic vandalism and slogans, Francis added, “The spread of antisemitic demonstrations, which I strongly condemn, is also of great concern.”
The pontiff said believers in God are called to build “fraternity and open paths of reconciliation for all.”
ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE KILLS 4 CIVILIANS IN SOUTH LEBANON
BINT JBEIL, Lebanon — An Israeli airstrike in south Lebanon killed a woman and three children, raising the possibility of a dangerous new escalation in the conflict on the Lebanon-Israel border.
Israeli troops and Hezbollah militants and their allies have been clashing for a month along the border since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. While clashes remain largely contained, they have increased in intensity as Israel conducts a ground incursion in Gaza against Hezbollah ally Hamas.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that two civilian cars were carrying members of the same family — one of them a local journalist — on Sunday evening when they were hit by an Israeli airstrike. One of the cars was hit directly and burst into flames, it said. One woman and three girls aged 10, 12 and 14 were killed and others were wounded, it said.
Shortly after the Israeli strike, Hezbollah said it fired Grad rockets into Israel in response. A number of rockets hit the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, Israeli rescue services said. Videos verified by The Associated Press showed a burning car on the street of Kiryat Shmona.
At least one civilian was killed Sunday in attacks by Hezbollah, the Israeli military said, but it wasn’t immediately clear if it was in Kiyat Shmona or an earlier attack.
GAZA HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS AIRSTRIKE KILLED 8 PEOPLE, DAMAGED 3 HOSPITALS
CAIRO — Eight people were killed Monday in an airstrike close to three hospitals in Gaza City, the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry said.
Ministry spokesperson Medhat Abbas said the airstrike damaged the Psychiatric Hospital, the Eyes Hospital and Rantisi Pediatric Hospital. All three hospitals are still operational, he said.
Abbas showed images of what he said were damaged rooms and equipment at the Psychiatric Hospital. The images showed large holes in the wall and the roof with rubble on a hospital bed.
TURKISH PROTESTERS ACCUSE US OF COMPLICITY IN GAZA CIVILIAN DEATHS
ANKARA, Turkey — Dozens of protesters gathered in front of Turkey’s Foreign Ministry where the top Turkish and U.S. diplomats were holding talks on Monday, accusing the United States of complicity in the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
The protesters, members of an Islamist group, carried Turkish and Palestinian flags and held anti-U.S. and Israel signs as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.
Earlier, police dispersed a group of students who marched toward the ministry chanting “Murderer Blinken, get out of Turkey!”
It was the second day of protests denouncing Blinken’s visit to Turkey.
On Sunday, police fired tear gas and a water cannon as thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters tried to enter an air base used by U.S. troops in southern Turkey. Several hundred protesters marched to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, chanting “God is great.”
NATO-member Turkey, which recently normalized ties with Israel, recalled its ambassador to Israel as anger rises over the civilian deaths in Gaza. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying that he could no longer speak to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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 PLANS CLOSED MEETING ON ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council scheduled closed-door 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 after traveling last week through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
Elated evacuee Sara El-Masry told Nine News after arriving Sunday 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.”
Seven other 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.
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 on 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.
OBAMA SAYS ALL SIDES OF CONFLICT ARE ‘COMPLICIT TO SOME DEGREE’
Former U.S. 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.