Israeli soldier moves on the top of a tank near...

Israeli soldier moves on the top of a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Credit: AP/Leo Correa

Israeli troops entered the main hospital in southern Gaza on Thursday in what the army said was a limited operation seeking the remains of hostages taken by Hamas.

One patient died and seven were wounded when Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis came under fire on Wednesday, Dr. Khaled Alserr, one of the remaining surgeons at the hospital, told The Associated Press.

Israeli troops, tanks and snipers have surrounded the hospital compound for at least a week, with heavy fire all around it, killing several people inside the compound in recent days, according to health officials. Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian structures to shield its fighters.

Israel launched airstrikes in southern Lebanon for a second day after killing 10 civilians and three Hezbollah fighters on Wednesday in response to a rocket attack that killed an Israeli soldier and wounded several others. It was the deadliest of daily exchanges of fire along the border since the Oct. 7 start of the war in Gaza.

Negotiations over a cease-fire in Gaza appear to have stalled, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is destroyed and scores of hostages are returned.

The number of Palestinians killed during the war in Gaza has surpassed 28,000 people, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. A quarter of Gaza’s residents are starving. About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and around 250 abducted in Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Currently:

Medics unload bodies of Palestinians killed in the Israeli bombing...

Medics unload bodies of Palestinians killed in the Israeli bombing of Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip at Al Aqsa hospital, in Deir al Balah on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Adel Hana

— Israeli forces storm the main hospital in southern Gaza, saying hostages were likely held there.

— Israeli airstrikes killed 10 Lebanese civilians in a single day. Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate.

— A look at the arsenals of Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia as cross-border strikes escalate.

— On the USS Eisenhower, four months of combat at sea facing Houthi missiles.

Relatives stand around the bodies of Palestinians killed in the...

Relatives stand around the bodies of Palestinians killed in the Israeli bombing of the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip at Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Adel Hana

— Families of Israeli hostages visit international court to urge the arrest of Hamas leaders

— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's the latest:

ISRAELI HOSTAGE IN GAZA IS CONFIRMED DEAD BY HIS KIBBUTZ

JERUSALEM — An Israeli kibbutz says one of its residents who was kidnapped by Hamas has been pronounced dead.

Yair Yaakov, 59, was captured from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants staged a attack on southern Israel that killed roughly 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage.

His partner, Meirav Tal, and two of his children, Yagil and Or, were also taken captive but released during a brief cease-fire in November.

Nir Oz was hit hard on Oct. 7, with dozens of residents taken hostage.

The kibbutz said Thursday that Yaakov had been killed on Oct. 7 and his body was being held in Gaza.

“He was energetic, loved life, and often enjoyed music with a cold beer. He was a loving father to his children,” the kibbutz said.

It did not say how it had determined the death, but families are typically notified of intelligence assessments by the Israeli military.

Over 100 hostages are still held captive in the Gaza Strip after 121 were released during the cease-fire. The remains of roughly 30 others either killed on Oct. 7 or who died in Hamas captivity are believed to be in Gaza.

LEADERS OF EGYPT AND BRAZIL CALL FOR GAZA CEASE-FIRE

CAIRO — Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Thursday called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and reiterated their support for an independent Palestinian state.

“We agreed on the importance of a cease-fire in the Gaza strip and the release of (Israeli) hostages and (Palestinian) prisoners and the passage of as much humanitarian aid as possible in order to preserve the lives of civilians,” el-Sissi said in a news conference attended by Lula in Cairo. The Brazilian leader was visiting Egypt as part of a trip strengthening relations with Africa.

“Peace cannot be achieved without the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” Lula told reporters.

He also said his country supports the genocide case against Israel filed by South Africa at the International Court of Justice.

“Brazil had strongly denounced the Hamas attack on Israel and we called it a terrorist attack," Lula said. "However, there is no justification for the way Israel reacted. Unfortunately, it is killing women and children.”

In a speech delivered later at the Arab League, Lulu dismissed as “cowardly and dangerous” decisions by several countries to suspend funding to the U.N. relief agency for Palestinian refugees, following Israeli allegations that some of its employees participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel.

“We should do proper investigations without halting the operations of this organization,” he said, adding that his country will make a financial contribution to the embattled agency, UNRWA.

HEAD OF UNRWA WARNS MONEY FOR GAZA OPERATIONS RUNNING OUT

LONDON — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says it will run short of money for its work in Gaza within weeks unless donor countries reverse their decision to suspend funding.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said the decision by 15 nations had frozen a total of $450 million, and a failure to restore funding “will definitely impact our ability to continue to operate.”

The U.S., the U.K. and several other countries suspended funding to UNRWA after Israel alleged a dozen of its employees took part in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, which ignited the war in Gaza. The U.N. is investigating the claims.

UNRWA has been the main supplier of food, water and shelter to civilians in Gaza, where more than half a million people are starving.

Speaking during a visit to Dublin, Lazzarini said that the suspended money includes 82 million euros ($88 million) from the European Union’s executive, the European Commission.

“This amount is due at the beginning of March. It is of utmost importance that this is released on time, because if it is not released, our operation will start to be compromised as from the month of March,” he said.

Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Micheál Martin said the Irish government would give 20 million euros ($22 million) to UNRWA this year, and accused Israel of running a “disinformation campaign” against the agency.

“Our partners in the European Union and elsewhere, including the United States, must urgently rescind this decision and resume funding. … Sufficient aid is still not reaching civilians in Gaza and that is very unacceptable,” Martin said.

ARAB LEAGUE WARNS AGAINST RAFAH OFFENSIVE

CAIRO — The head of the Arab League on Thursday warned that an Israeli ground offensive into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah would lead to “a humanitarian disaster” and threaten stability in the region.

“We are calling on all parties that understand the gravity of the situation to act immediately in order to stop these crazy plans,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement. Over half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge in Rafah after fleeing elsewhere in the coastal enclave.

“What is the meaning of justice and international organizations if they remain unable to enforce a cease-fire and to put an end to these daily gruesome massacres?” he said.

The statement came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his negotiating team to pull out of talks in Cairo to broker a cease-fire with Hamas. Netanyahu had accused Hamas of making “delusional demands.

ISRAEL COMPLAINS TO VATICAN

ROME — Israel has formally complained after the Vatican No. 2 spoke of the “carnage” in Gaza by what he termed a disproportionate Israeli military operation following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

The Israeli Embassy to the Holy See called the comments by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, “regrettable.” In a statement Wednesday, the embassy said he hadn’t considered what it said were the relevant facts on which to judge the legitimacy of Israel’s actions.

Speaking Tuesday at a reception, Parolin had condemned the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel and all forms of antisemitism. But he questioned Israel’s claim to be acting in self-defense by inflicting “carnage” on Gaza.

“Israel’s right to self-defense has been invoked to justify that this operation is proportional, but with 30,000 dead, it’s not,” he said.

In its statement, the Israeli Embassy accused Hamas of turning the Gaza Strip into “the biggest terrorist base ever seen.” It said Israeli armed forces were acting according to international law and said the proportion of Palestinian civilians to “terrorists” killed was less than in other conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

But in a front-page editorial Thursday entitled “Stop the Carnage,” the Vatican’s editorial director Andrea Tornielli doubled down on the Vatican position. Tornielli quoted a Rome-based Holocaust survivor, Edith Bruck, who has been highly critical of the Israeli government’s response, which she has blamed on the rise in antisemitic acts against Jews around the world.

CANADA, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND WARN ISRAEL OF RAFAH CATASTROPHE

CANBERRA, Australia — Canada, Australia and New Zealand are warning Israel that a ground offensive in the Gaza border city of Rafah would be catastrophic.

“We are gravely concerned by indications that Israel is planning a ground offensive into Rafah. A military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic,” the prime ministers of the three nations said in a joint statement on Thursday.

With 1.5 million Palestinians taking refuge in the area where there was an already dire humanitarian situation, the impacts on Palestinian civilians from an expanded military operation would be devastating, they said.

“There is growing international consensus. Israel must listen to its friends and it must listen to the international community,” the statement said.

ARAB NATIONS URGE UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO DEMAND GAZA CEASE-FIRE

UNITED NATIONS — The 22 Arab countries at the United Nations are urging the U.N. Security Council to demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and unhindered humanitarian assistance, and to prevent any transfer of Palestinians out of the territory.

The Arab Group chair this month, Tunisia’s U.N. Ambassador Tarek Ladeb, told U.N. reporters Wednesday that some 1.5 million Palestinians who sought safety in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah face a “catastrophic scenario” if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with a potential evacuation of civilians and military offensive in the area bordering Egypt.

Algeria, the Arab representative on the Security Council, circulated a draft resolution about two weeks ago demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and unhindered humanitarian access, as well as rejecting the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, which has been the subject of intense discussions.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said last week that the resolution could jeopardize “sensitive negotiations” aimed at achieving a pause in the Israel-Hamas war and release of some hostages taken during Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said Wednesday that there is “massive support” for the resolution and Arab diplomats have had “very frank discussions” with the U.S. ambassador, trying to get American support.

“We believe that it is high time now for the Security Council to decide on a humanitarian ceasefire resolution after 131 days,” he said. “The space is narrowing for those who are continuing to ask for more time.”

Some Arab countries were pushing for a vote on the Algerian draft this week, but several Arab and council diplomats said a vote is now likely early next week, giving more time for negotiations with the U.S. to avoid a veto. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions have been private.

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