Israeli strikes on houses and buildings have killed at least 178 people throughout the Gaza Strip in the first hours of fighting after a weeklong truce collapsed Friday, according to the Health Ministry there.
Israel said it struck more than 200 Hamas targets. Militants in Gaza resumed firing rockets into Israel, and fighting broke out between Israel and Hezbollah militants operating along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
Cease-fire mediator Qatar said efforts are ongoing to renew the truce, which saw Israel pause most military activity in Gaza and release 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for militants freeing over 100 hostages held in Gaza.
Weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground campaign have left homeless more than three-quarters of Gaza's 2.3 million residents, causing a humanitarian crisis as they face widespread shortages of food, water and other supplies. No trucks carrying aid entered Gaza from Egypt on Friday, Palestinians authorities said.
Up until the truce began, more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed — roughly two-thirds of them women and minors — according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. The toll is likely much higher. Some 1,200 Israelis were killed, mostly during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war.
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— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s what’s happening in the war:
ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES HIT THE OUTSKIRTS OF DAMASCUS, SYRIAN STATE MEDIA SAYS
DAMASCUS — Israeli airstrikes hit several points on the outskirts of Damascus early Saturday, Syrian state media reported.
State news agency SANA, citing an unnamed military official, said the strikes came from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights and that Syrian air defenses shot most of the missiles down. The strikes resulted in only “material losses,” the statement said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition war monitor, said the strikes hit in the area of the south Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, where it said that “there are military forces working with the Lebanese Hezbollah.” It said ambulances rushed to the scene.
Israel has struck targets in Syria several times since the onset of the Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7. On Sunday, a reported Israeli airstrike hit the international airport in Damascus and put it out of commission, just hours after the airport resumed flights following a monthlong hiatus after a previous Israeli strike.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes inside government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria in recent years, often targeting Hezbollah and other militant groups backed by Iran, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.
A PROTESTER IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER SETTING THEMSELF ON FIRE OUTSIDE AN ISRAELI CONSULATE
ATLANTA — A protester in the United States is in critical condition after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia. A security guard who tried to intervene was also injured.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of Friday’s protest, said Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum. He said investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
Authorities did not release the protester’s name, age or gender. The protester was in critical condition with burn injuries to the body. Fire officials say a security guard that tried to stop the person was burned on his wrist and leg.
ISRAELI TROOPS LIKELY ATTACKED MEDICAL CONVOY IN GAZA LAST MONTH, KILLING 2, AID GROUP SAYS
CAIRO — The medical charity Doctors Without Borders blamed Israel for what it called a deliberate ambush last month of a convoy of the group's vehicles as they tried to evacuate Gaza City, killing two people.
In a report Friday that cites several witnesses from the organization, also known by the acronym MSF, the group said “all elements point to the responsibility of the Israeli army for this attack.”
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a phone message late Friday seeking comment on the MSF report.
The report says the convoy came under Israeli fire while trying to evacuate Gaza City on Nov. 18. According to the report, the five vehicles returned to the area near the MSF offices, close to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, after being turned back despite advance notice. Israeli tanks and snipers took aim at the vehicles, which were identified by the MSF logo. Israeli forces fired at the convoy, fatally hitting one person in the head and another in the abdomen. One was a volunteer with the group, and the other a relative of one of its staff members.
The group seeks an independent investigation and an explanation from Israeli authorities. The Associated Press could not independently verify MSF's account of the attack.
AT LEAST 178 PEOPLE KILLED IN GAZA BY ISRAELI STRIKES SINCE FIGHTING RESUMED, HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS
Hours into Israel's renewed bombardment, Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said 178 people were killed and dozens wounded on Friday. Israel said it struck more than 200 Hamas targets.
Up until the truce began, more than 13,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s assault, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
The toll is likely much higher, as officials have only sporadically updated the count since Nov. 11. The ministry says thousands more people are feared dead under the rubble.
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israeli officials to do more to protect Palestinian civilians as they seek to destroy Hamas.
In response to the U.S. calls, the Israeli military released an online map dividing the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered, haphazardly drawn parcels. It asked residents to learn the number of their location in case of an eventual evacuation. The map did not designate safe areas to evacuate to, and it was not clear how easily Palestinians could access it.
US SAYS ISRAEL AGREES TO LET SMALL AMOUNT OF AID INTO GAZA
WASHINGTON — The United States says it believes Israel will begin allowing some humanitarian assistance to once again flow into Gaza, after blocking aid on Friday after a temporary cease-fire expired.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Israel blocked trucks from crossing into Gaza on Friday, but that at the request of the U.S. government, it would now allow some aid to enter.
Kirby said the resumption would be at a significantly reduced level from the hundreds of trucks per day that entered Gaza during the weeklong pause in fighting, saying it was “probably in terms of dozens of trucks versus hundreds of trucks.”
He said the U.S. would continue to push to increase the assistance of aid into Gaza at least up to the level of goods that entered during the pause.
Israel has a role in the inspection process that allows assistance into Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt.
ISRAELI TOWN SAYS 3 OF ITS RESIDENTS HAVE DIED IN HAMAS CAPTIVITY
JERUSALEM — A hard-hit Israeli kibbutz says three of its members have died in Hamas captivity, including the oldest person held hostage.
Kibbutz Nir Oz said the community had received official confirmation of the deaths of Maya Goren, 56, Arye Zalmanovich, 86, and Ronan Engel, 54.
Zalmanovich was the oldest of the more than 240 people taken hostage by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.
A group representing the families of the hostages said Zalmanovich, a father of two and grandfather of five, was a founder of Nir Oz.
Goren was a mother of four and a kindergarten teacher for the kibbutz. Her husband was killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7. Engel, a father of three, was a photographer and volunteer paramedic whose wife and two daughters were released from Gaza this week.
Over 100 residents of Nir Oz — roughly a quarter of its population — was killed or kidnapped in the Oct. 7 attack.
BODY OF AN ISRAELI HOSTAGE IS RECOVERED FROM GAZA
JERUSALEM — The Israeli army says it has recovered the body of an Israeli man originally thought to be taken hostage in Gaza.
In a statement, the army said Ofir Tzarfati’s body had been located by Israeli forces in Gaza. The body was identified by medical officials and his family was notified of his death on Wednesday.
Tzarfati, 27, was abducted with dozens of other people from a music festival on Oct. 7 and had been thought to be among the 240 hostages taken by Hamas.
The army did not say whether Tzarfati died in the original attack or while in captivity.
IRAN QUITS CLIMATE SUMMIT IN PROTEST OVER ISRAELI OFFICIALS’ ATTENDANCE
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s delegation has left the U.N. climate conference in protest over the presence of Israeli officials, state-run IRNA news agency reported Friday.
IRNA reported that the country’s delegation had initially decided to participate in COP28 in Dubai after they received information that no Israeli official would attend the event. IRNA did not elaborate on where that information came from, but said political analysis indicated Israel would not take the risk of attending the summit because of the ongoing war in Gaza.
IRNA reported that the head of Iran’s delegation, Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian, called the presence of Israel at the summit “political, biased, and irrelevant,” prompting the Iranian delegation to leave.
Conference organizers did not immediately respond to an email late Friday seeking comment on Iran’s departure from the event.
HEZBOLLAH AND ISRAEL TRADE FIRE ACROSS BORDER, 2 KILLED IN SOUTHEN LEBANON
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group attacked several Israeli army posts along the two countries’ border and Israel shelled a village in southern Lebanon on Friday, killing two people.
Israel’s military said it hit the sources of the fire directed at its forces.
Lebanese security officials said a woman and her son died when Israeli shells hit their home in the southern village of Houla. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Hezbollah later announced that the man killed in Houla was a Hezbollah fighter.
The Iran-backed militant group said it carried out four attacks on Israeli border posts. This was the first time Hezbollah launched attacks on Israeli troops along the Lebanon-Israel border since the start of a seven-day truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah.
US SECRETARY OF STATE TALKS ABOUT ISRAELI PLANS TO REDUCE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that Israel has begun to implement civilian protection plans to reduce Palestinian casualties as it fights Hamas in Gaza.
Dozens of people have already been killed in the Gaza Strip as Israel resumed strikes on homes and buildings after the weeklong truce ended Friday, according to Palestinian health officials.
Blinken said it was too early to say if Israel had fully followed through on commitments he said the Israelis had given him to ensure that any military operation in southern Gaza not produce similarly high death tolls as its earlier operations in northern Gaza.
Blinken spoke in Dubai on the sidelines of the COP28 climate change conference, where he met his colleagues from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority. He said they discussed the need to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, to secure the release of hostages and to begin to plan for a post-conflict Gaza.
SPANISH PM SPEAKS TO ISRAELI MINISTER AFTER ISRAEL RECALLS ITS AMBASSADOR
MADRID — A day after Israel ordered its ambassador to Spain back for consultations, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Friday said he had talked with Israeli Minister Benny Gantz and insisted Israel must respect international law.
Sánchez said he told Gantz that “Israel is an associate and a friend of Spain” and he once again condemned Hamas´s terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, adding that Spain wanted the immediate liberation of all hostages.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Sánchez said Israel “has the right to defend itself against this terrorist attack, but I reiterated that Spain considers the death of civilians in Gaza unacceptable, and that Israel must comply with International Humanitarian Law.”
Israel recalled its ambassador after Sánchez said on TV that “with the images we are seeing and the growing number, especially of boys and girls, who are dying, I have sincere doubts that they (Israel) are complying with this international humanitarian law.”
Relations between the two countries have been on edge since Sánchez made a trip with his Belgian counterpart to the region last week during which he criticized Israel´s operations and said a Palestinian state should be recognized. Israel later summoned the Belgian and Spanish ambassadors.
Spain currently holds the rotational presidency of the European Union.
HEZBOLLAH SAYS IT ATTACKED ISRAELI TROOPS ON NORTHERN BORDER
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says its fighters attacked a group of Israeli soldiers on Friday along the border with Lebanon.
The attack is the first to be carried out by Hezbollah against Israeli troops along the border since a truce went into effect last Friday between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah said in its terse statement that its fighters used “suitable weapons” against the Israeli force near an Israeli post known in Lebanon as Jal Allam. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties.
Earlier Friday, the Israeli military said that following an initial report regarding sirens sounding in northern Israel, Israel’s military Aerial Defense Array successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory.
The sirens regarding rockets and missiles were activated as a result of the interceptor launch, the military said.
Hezbollah has been attacking Israeli posts along the border since Oct. 8, a day after the Israel-Hamas war began.
U.S. VICE PRESIDENT TRAVELS TO DUBAI CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT
WASHINGTON — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is on her way to Dubai for the U.N. summit on climate change, where she’ll also sit down with regional leaders to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas.
Harris is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit an Arab nation since the beginning of the war.
A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preview Harris’ meetings, said the vice president would outline proposals to “put Palestinian voices at the center” of planning next steps for Gaza after the conflict.
The goal, the official said, is to have “a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people” that will ultimately bring together Gaza and the West Bank under unified management.
HAMAS OFFICIAL SAYS IT'S OPEN TO SWAPPING MORE HOSTAGES FOR PRISONERS
BEIRUT — A senior Hamas official said Friday that his group is open to swapping more Israeli hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, but rebuffed a demand to free female Israeli soldiers.
Osama Hamdan spoke to The Associated Press hours after negotiators failed Friday to extend a weeklong Israel-Hamas truce, which had been accompanied by daily hostages-for-prisoners swaps. Most of the hostages freed were women and children. After the expiration of the truce Friday morning, Israel and Hamas resumed fighting amid mutual accusations that the other side did not attempt to negotiate an extension of the cease-fire in good faith.
Hamdan said several ideas for hostage releases were put forward by mediators, including Qatar, and that Hamas accepted three of them. He said the “Israeli side said no, no, no every time.”
Hamdan said Israeli officials put forward a list of 10 names of women they wanted released but that Hamas rejected them, saying they are female soldiers. Hamdan said the women were captured in military posts — apparently referring to the female spotters deployed near the border with Gaza.
The Hamas official said Israel’s military would not be able to release any of the hostages by force, adding that the only way to win their freedom is through negotiations. Israel has dismissed such claims, saying only military pressure will bring about the release of more hostages.
Qatar, a key mediator alongside Egypt, has said it will continue efforts to renew a cease-fire. Hamdan said Hamas is ready to respond to any serious offer.
ISRAEL SAYS HAMAS IS STILL HOLDING 137 HOSTAGES
JERUSALEM — Israel says that 137 hostages are still being held in the Gaza Strip after 110 returned home, most of them during a weeklong cease-fire when they were swapped for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.
Among those still in captivity after the end of the truce Friday are 115 men, 20 women and two children, government spokesperson Eylon Levy said. Ten of the hostages are 75 and older, he said. The majority, or 126, are Israeli and 11 are foreign nationals, including eight from Thailand.
Levy listed the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother Ariel and their mother Shiri as among the hostages. The military has said it is investigating a Hamas claim that the boys and their mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Hamas and other militant groups seized more than 240 hostages in their deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
Levy said seven people are still missing from the initial attack.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS RESUMPTION OF FIGHTING ‘CATASTROPHIC’
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations’ human rights chief has described the resumption of fighting in Gaza as “catastrophic” and pressed for all participants and countries with influence to redouble efforts to ensure a cease-fire.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a statement issued in Geneva on Friday that the situation in Gaza “is beyond crisis point” as more Palestinians risk being killed or “forcibly displaced to already severely overcrowded and unsanitary parts of Gaza.”
He said “recent comments by Israeli political and military leaders indicating that they are planning to expand and intensify the military offensive are very troubling.”
Türk reminded all parties to the conflict of “their obligation to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, throughout Gaza.”
Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes on different parts of the Gaza Strip on Friday after a temporary truce expired.
US IS PREPARING TRAVEL BANS ON JEWISH SETTLERS INVOLVED IN ATTACKS, OFFICIAL SAYS
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Biden administration is preparing to impose travel bans on extremist Jewish settlers implicated in a rash of attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, a senior U.S. official said Friday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war Cabinet on Thursday that the administration is looking for Israel to hold settlers accountable for such attacks but would not wait to act itself, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic talks.
Visa bans against an as-yet undetermined number of settlers could be announced as early as next week, the official said. The official spoke to reporters accompanying Blinken on his latest trip to the Middle East as he flew from Tel Aviv to Dubai.
President Joe Biden has already raised the possibility of such sanctions but the official’s comments were the first to describe them as possibly imminent.
The official said Blinken’s message to Netanyahu was intended to demonstrate the seriousness with which the U.S. views the surge in settler violence after the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel that sparked the war in Gaza.
Blinken alluded to the concern at a news conference on Thursday after his meetings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“We’re looking to the Israeli government to take some additional steps to really put a stop to this. And at the same time, we’re considering our own steps,” he said.
Earlier this year, the U.S. approved Israel’s application to join the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of member countries visa-free entry into the United States for up to 90 days. The entry had initially been due to take effect on Thursday but was sped up due to the war.
Settlers affected by the ban would be excluded from the program and would have any current U.S. visa canceled and future applications rejected.