Israeli soldiers are seen near the Gaza Strip border in...

Israeli soldiers are seen near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, Thursday, June 13, 2024. The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel. Credit: AP/Ohad Zwigenberg

U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday he doesn’t expect to seal a Gaza cease-fire deal in the near future, as an American-backed proposal with global support has not been fully embraced by Israel or Hamas.

Biden said international leaders had discussed the cease-fire at the Group of Seven summit in Italy, but when asked by reporters if a truce deal wound be reached soon, Biden replied simply, “No,” adding, “I haven’t lost hope.”

The Palestinian militant group responded to the proposal this week by offering changes, which it said aim to guarantee a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza. The proposal announced by Biden includes those provisions, but Hamas has expressed wariness whether Israel will implement the terms.

Earlier Thursday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire plan. Sullivan said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

And on the Israel-Lebanon border, Hezbollah militants launched rockets and explosive drones against Israeli military posts for a second day in retaliation for the killing of a senior commander. The escalation comes as some Israeli leaders have threatened all-out war to silence Hezbollah’s rocket fire, and as the militant group seeks to pressure Israel during the cease-fire negotiations in support of its ally Hamas.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,100 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. U.N. agencies say over 1 million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Palestinian medics treat a wounded youth in the Israeli bombardment...

Palestinian medics treat a wounded youth in the Israeli bombardment on a residential building owned by the Jabr family in Bureij refugee camp, at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: AP/Saher Alghorra

Currently:

— What are the main sticking points in the cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas?

— Israelis and Palestinians are hopeful but cautious over the latest cease-fire plan.

— Report by UN-backed experts cites crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants starting 0ct. 7.

A Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli bombardment on a...

A Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli bombardment on a residential building owned by the Jabr family in Bureij refugee camp, is brought to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: AP/Saher Alghorra

— Israel-Hamas war roils a congressional race outside New York City, testing Democrats in pivotal clash.

— Suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels sees missiles strike ship in Gulf of Aden, sparking blaze

— Hezbollah vows to intensify attacks against Israel after an airstrike kills a senior commander.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here's the latest:

Israeli strike on house kills a woman in southern Lebanon

BEIRUT — A woman was fatally wounded by an Israeli strike on a house in southern Lebanon late Thursday between the towns of Jannata and Deir Qanoun al-Nahar, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Local media reported the strike hit a three-story residential building and that a number of wounded people, including women and children, were transported to local hospitals, which put out a call for blood donations.

It was not immediately clear who the target of the strike was. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces have clashed almost daily for more than eight months against the backdrop of the war in Gaza.

The clashes have escalated in recent days. On Tuesday, Israel killed the highest-ranking Hezbollah commander in the conflict to date. The militant group has responded by intensifying its barrages of missiles fired into northern Israel.

Al Jazeera will remain shut down in Israel for 45 more days, court says

JERUSALEM — Qatar's Al Jazeera satellite news network will remain closed in Israel — its reporting operations frozen, website blocked and offices shuttered — until late July and possibly longer, an Israeli court said Thursday.

The court said the news outlet must remain shut down for 45 more days starting Thursday because letting it operate could pose a threat to Israel’s security interests, alleging a connection between the Qatari-owned network and the Hamas militant group. The Associated Press could not independently verify the claim.

The court's decision was denounced by an Israeli rights group that is mounting a legal challenge to the new wartime law that shuttered Al Jazeera. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said Thursday that the order “violates freedom of expression and freedom of the press” and threatened to appeal to Israel’s highest court.

Israel shut down the network's local operations last month. Al Jazeera has maintained 24-hour coverage in Gaza during the war, and Israel’s military operations have killed and wounded members of its staff.

While including on-the-ground reporting of the war’s devastating toll, Al Jazeera's Arabic-language arm often publishes verbatim video statements from Hamas and other regional militant groups.

Israeli forces kill at least one Palestinian during raid in northern West Bank

JERUSALEM — Israeli forces killed at least one Palestinian in a daylong raid Thursday into the northern West Bank, according to the military and Palestinian health officials.

During what Israel’s military described as an operation targeting militancy in a flashpoint area of the occupied territory, troops encircled a home in the town of Qabatiya looking for what the army said were “two senior wanted suspects.” Israeli soldiers exchanged fire with the suspects and hit the home with shoulder-fired missiles, and the two were killed, the military statement said.

As of Thursday night, Palestinian health officials had only confirmed the death of one man, 21-year-old Qais Mohammed Zakarneh.

Israel’s military said it also arrested several Palestinians suspected of militancy and dug up explosives planted in the ground.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war Oct. 7, over 530 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank.

Biden says no Gaza cease-fire deal soon, as mediators work to bridge gaps between Israel and Hamas

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday he doesn’t expect to reach a cease-fire deal for Gaza in the near future, as Israel and Hamas have not fully embraced an American-backed proposal with global support.

Biden said international leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Italy had discussed the cease-fire, but when asked by reporters if a truce deal wound be reached soon, Biden replied simply, “No,” adding, “I haven’t lost hope.”

Earlier Thursday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire proposal with Hamas.

“Israel has supplied this proposal. It has been sitting on the table for some time. Israel has not contradicted or walked that back,” Sullivan said. Hamas responded to the plan by offering amendments, and Sullivan said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

Hamas says the requested changes aim to guarantee a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza. The cease-fire proposal announced by Biden includes those provisions, but Hamas has expressed wariness whether Israel will implement the terms.

At a news conference later Thursday, Biden said, “The biggest hang-up so far is Hamas refusing to sign on, even though they have submitted something similar.”

He said it remains to be seen whether a deal comes “to fruition.” But he said he remains committed to pushing for the two sides to come together on the three-phase deal he publicly outlined late last month.

Spain and Turkey urge international community to act to stop the war in Gaza

MADRID — Spain and Turkey called on the international community to take action to end the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

At a bilateral trade summit in Madrid on Thursday, the two NATO members reiterated calls to halt the fighting and deliver more aid to Palestinians enduring a humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged territory.

“For too long the international community has looked the other way,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at a news conference. “It has thought that without resolving this conflict we could live in peace and stability. What has happened during these eight months has opened the eyes of the world.”

Sánchez also demanded the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United States and the other U.N. Security Council members to lobby Israel. On Monday, the Security Council overwhelmingly approved its first resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan, but neither Israel nor Hamas has fully embraced it.

Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognized a Palestinian state on May 28. Turkey did so in 1988. Sánchez urged other countries to follow in their footsteps.

Hezbollah attacks Israeli bases with rockets and drones in second day of retaliation for killing militant commander

BEIRUT — The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah attacked at least six Israeli military posts and bases on Thursday with rockets and explosive drones, in a second day of attacks on northern Israel in retaliation for killing one of the group’s top commanders.

Cross-border attacks by Israel and Hezbollah have been taking place almost daily since the war in Gaza began in October. This week’s escalation comes as some Israeli leaders have threatened all-out war to silence Hezbollah’s rocket fire, which has displaced tens of thousands of Israelis, and as Iran-backed Hezbollah seeks to exert pressure in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas during back-and-forth negotiations over a cease-fire in Gaza.

Hezbollah said in a statement it fired rockets at the six Israeli posts Thursday and simultaneously launched explosive drones at three other posts, including a main intelligence division in northern Israel.

The Israeli military said approximately 45 projectiles, including rockets and drones, were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights areas.

Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service said two people were lightly injured from shrapnel in the Golan Heights.

The military said many of the projectiles were successfully intercepted by the Aerial Defense Array, without giving an exact breakdown, while others hit and caused brush fires. The military said it identified at least eight aerial targets — referring to drones — and six were intercepted.

Israel said its warplanes bombed infrastructure used by Hezbollah in several locations in southern Lebanon on Thursday.

Hezbollah fired more than 200 projectiles into Israel on Wednesday, according to the army, hours after an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon killed Taleb Sami Abdullah, the commander of the group’s Nasr Unit in charge of parts of south Lebanon close to the Israeli border.

Hezbollah says it won't stop the attacks until there is a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. The Arab world’s most powerful paramilitary force has been striking deeper inside Israel in recent weeks, introducing new and more advanced weaponry.

Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon have killed over 400 people in the current round of fighting, most of them Hezbollah members, but the dead also include more than 70 civilians and non-combatants, and tens of thousands have been displaced from communities in the south. On the Israeli side, 15 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed.

Iraq's top diplomat says he is concerned Israel might escalate military action in Lebanon

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s top diplomat expressed concerns Thursday that Israel might escalate its military operations in Lebanon with ripple effects that could reach his country.

“There are dangerous signs that there may be an attack on southern Lebanon and if this attack happens, it will affect the region and not just Lebanon,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said after a meeting with acting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani in his first visit to Baghdad since taking the post. The two officials called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Kani replaced former Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who died in a helicopter crash on May 19 along with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and a delegation of other officials.

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have launched drone attacks on targets in Israel and on bases in Iraq and Syria housing U.S. troops since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, where Israeli forces are fighting against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. However, the most intense fighting outside of Gaza has been on the Lebanon-Israel border, where the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been clashing with Israeli forces almost daily for more than eight months.

In recent weeks, those clashes have intensified, with fears of a further escalation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that Israel is “prepared for very intense action” along its northern border with Lebanon. Should a wider conflict break out in Lebanon, the Iraqi militias are widely expected to join their ally, Hezbollah, in the fight.

US national security adviser says Israel stands behind cease-fire proposal

FASANO, Italy — U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire proposal with Hamas that President Joe Biden outlined in late May at the White House.

“Israel has supplied this proposal. It has been sitting on the table for some time. Israel has not contradicted or walked that back,” Sullivan said Thursday in Italy, where Biden was set to attend the annual Group of Seven leaders’ summit. “To this day they stand behind the proposal.”

“I don’t think that there is a contradiction in the Israeli position,” Sullivan added.

Sullivan reiterated that Hamas had responded by offering an amended proposal and he said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

“The goal is to try to bring this to a conclusion as rapidly as possible,” he told reporters.

Voices of displaced Palestinians in Gaza: jaded hopes for a cease-fire despite war's bloody toll

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Weary after eight months of war, frustrated Palestinians displaced from their homes in Gaza said Wednesday they are cautiously hoping for a cease-fire.

Some are more skeptical than others, as previous moments of optimism have been dashed by differences between Israel and Hamas.

“We are psychologically tired," said Etaf Abdel Bari, a displaced woman living in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah. “They negotiated a lot, to no avail? We are not a toy in their hands. Our sons, daughters, and families killed without a reason. For what?”

More than 1 million people have fled Israel's invasion of the southern Gaza city Rafah, scattering across southern and central Gaza into new tent camps or crowding into schools and homes.

“Every day there is a truce, there is no truce. We want a solution. We want to return to our homes,” said a displaced man, Salama Abu al-Qumbuz. “We are tired of this life, sleeping in the street, transporting water. Our lives have become very boring.”

The United Nations says over one million people in Gaza face desperate hunger and don’t have enough clean drinking water.

Other residents of Deir al-Balah took a more cynical view of the back-and-forth truce talks.

“I expect the war to continue. There are no negotiations,” said Abu Jamil al-Maqadma. “The negotiations are false.”

Blinken says some of Hamas’ proposed changes to a cease-fire plan in Gaza are workable and some not

DOHA, Qatar — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that mediators would keep trying to close an elusive cease-fire deal after Hamas proposed numerous changes to a U.S.-backed plan, some of which he said were “workable” and some not.

The back-and-forth laid bare frustration over the difficulty of reaching an accord that can bring an end to eight months of war that has decimated Gaza, killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and left scores of Israeli hostages still languishing in militant captivity. Previous moments of optimism have been repeatedly dashed by the differences between the two sides.

The cease-fire proposal has global support but has not been fully embraced by Israel or Hamas. Blinken did not spell out what changes Hamas was seeking but he said the mediators — Qatar, Egypt and the U.S. — will keep trying to “close this deal.” He put the onus on Hamas, accusing it of changing its demands.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. ... Some of the changes are workable. Some are not,” Blinken told reporters in Qatar. “I believe that they (the differences) are bridgeable, but that doesn’t mean they will be bridged because ultimately Hamas has to decide.”

The Palestinian militant group says the “amendments” aim to guarantee a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza.

Those provisions are included in the proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden, but Hamas has expressed wariness whether Israel will implement the terms. And although the U.S. says Israel has accepted the proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given conflicting statements, saying Israel is still intent on its goal of destroying Hamas.

The proposal’s three-phase plan would begin with a six-week cease-fire and the release of some hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas and Palestinian civilians would be allowed to return to their homes. Aid distribution would also increase.

At the same time, negotiations would start over the second phase, which is to bring “a permanent end to hostilities” and “full withdrawal” of Israeli troops from Gaza in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages.

A major hitch for both sides appears to be the negotiations for the second phase. Phase three would see the launch of a reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of remains of deceased hostages.

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