A Palestinian boy walks past a car destroyed in an...

A Palestinian boy walks past a car destroyed in an Israeli drone strike in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. The Israeli military says a Palestinian killed by the drone strike in the occupied West Bank was a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad and was about to carry out a shooting attack. The strike late Thursday hit a car driven by Yasser Hanoun, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp, the army said. It alleged that Hanoun was previously involved in several shooting attacks targeting Israeli settlements and army posts. Credit: AP/Majdi Mohammed

More than 100 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip over a 24-hour period, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory said Friday.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh held talks with Egyptian officials about a possible cease-fire in Gaza and an exchange of hostages held by the militants for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, according to a Hamas statement Friday morning.

During Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, militants killed about 1,200 people and took some 250 hostages. Roughly half of the hostages were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November. About 100 hostages remain in captivity, in addition to the bodies of 30 others who were killed on Oct. 7 or died in captivity.

Israel’s subsequent offensive in Gaza has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians and driven some 80% of the territory’s 2.3 million people from their homes. Most heeded Israeli orders to flee south, and around 1.5 million are packed into Rafah near the border with Egypt.

European diplomats have ramped up calls for a cease-fire as alarm grows over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.


— Israel plans to build 3,300 new settlement homes. It says it’s a response to a Palestinian attack.

Mourners gather in grief during the funeral of Staff sergeant...

Mourners gather in grief during the funeral of Staff sergeant Simon Shlomov in Rishon Lezion, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. Shlomov, 20, was killed during Israel's ground operation in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army has been battling Palestinian militants in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel. Credit: AP/Ariel Schalit

— Mideast cease-fire efforts gain steam as a U.S. envoy visits. Mediators report ‘encouraging’ signs.

— Denmark records its highest number of antisemitic incidents since WWII, part of a grim European trend.

— A Houthi rebel attack sets a cargo ship ablaze and forces Israel to intercept another attack near Eilat.

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

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern...

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position near the Israel-Gaza border, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: AP/Leo Correa

Here's the latest:


DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — An Israeli airstrike hit a residential building in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah on Friday, killing 25 people, including 16 women and children, hospital officials said. At least 50 people were wounded.

Among those living in the building was Mahmoud Zueitar, a Palestinian comedian who is well known in Gaza for his appearances in TV advertisements.

Throughout the war, Zueitar has posted upbeat and cheerful videos on social media, joking with people about ways they endure bombardment and displacement, praising Palestinian culture and assuring those around him that things will be better one day.

Video posted online Friday showed Zueitar rushing into a Deir al-Balah hospital after the strike, carrying his young sister, who was screaming and covered in blood.

“I was always one of the strongest ones refusing to leave Gaza. I always say God, may they not force us out of Gaza, that’s how much I love it and its people,” he says in a video later, crying as he cradles the wounded girl on his lap. “But it looks like they want us to leave Gaza.”

Israel’s offensive in Gaza has left over 29,000 Palestinians dead, caused widespread destruction, displaced an estimated 80% of Gaza’s population and fueled a humanitarian disaster. Israel declared war after Hamas militants stormed across the border.


BEIRUT — Hamas political official Osama Hamdan told reporters in Beirut on Friday that significant obstacles remain to reaching a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

His comments come as the U.S. and other mediators reported signs of progress in the negotiations ahead of a summit this weekend in Paris to discuss proposals to bring at least a temporary stop to the war and secure the release of some 100 Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

The Israeli offensive launched in retaliation for the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack in which some 1,200 people in southern Israel were killed and 250 were taken hostage has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians, displaced an estimated 80% of Gaza’s population and fueled a humanitarian crisis.

Hamdan said the Palestinian militant group has “dealt positively with the proposals and initiatives of the mediators” but that Israel’s position “poses many obstacles to reaching an agreement.” He said the Israelis had refused the main demands put forward by Hamas to “stop the aggression, to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, to return displaced people to the north (of Gaza), and to make a real reciprocal deal” on exchanging the Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Hamdan said his group is sticking to these demands.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the militant group’s demands “delusional”


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States believes that all new Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories is “illegitimate” under international law, reversing the Trump administration’s repudiation of what had been long-standing U.S. policy.

Speaking in the Argentine capital, Blinken said the U.S. was “disappointed” to learn of an Israeli announcement on Friday that it would build more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the West Bank in response to a fatal Palestinian shooting attack.

Blinken condemned the attack but said the U.S. is opposed to settlement expansion. He reversed what had been known as the “Pompeo Doctrine” under which former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had repudiated a Carter administration-era legal finding that settlements were not consistent with international law.

“It’s been long-standing U.S. policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counter-productive to reaching an enduring peace,” Blinken told reporters at a joint news conference with Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino.

Blinken’s predecessor, Pompeo, reversed the 1978 determination that was penned by the State Department’s then-legal adviser Herbert Hansell. The Hansell Memorandum did not say that settlements were “illegal” but rather “illegitimate.” That formed the basis of decades of U.S. policy.


JERUSALEM — A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli drone strike on a car in the occupied West Bank died of his injuries, bringing the number of people killed in the attack to two.

The two men, their bodies wrapped in the flags of the militant group Islamic Jihad, were buried Friday in the Jenin refugee camp.

The Israeli military said one of those killed, identified as Yasser Hanoun, was about to carry out a shooting attack when the strike hit his car late Thursday. It alleged that Hanoun was previously involved in several shooting attacks targeting Israeli settlements and army posts.

Violence has escalated in the West Bank since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, triggered by a deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Since then, about 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank, most as part of near-daily arrest raids by troops searching for suspected militants.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said Friday that Israel’s occupation and the Israeli settlements “are the biggest obstacles to a two-state solution, which is the only solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.”

In a comment to Norway’s submission to the International Court of Justice, Barth Eide said "the injustice to which the Palestinians are subjected must stop.”

He added that “while the eyes of the world are focused on the horrific war in Gaza, the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is also very serious.”


DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza — Israeli airstrikes in central and southern Gaza killed at least 68 Palestinians, health officials and an Associated Press journalist said, and another 24 bodies were trapped under rubble.

In all, 104 Palestinians were killed over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Friday. The overall death toll since the Oct. 7 start of the war rose to 29,514. Though the count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, the ministry has said women and children account for about two-thirds of those killed.

The strikes were reported in the southern city of Rafah, the central town of Deir al-Balah and the refugee camp of Nuseirat.

In Deir al-Balah, bodies draped in white or black burial shrouds were laid out in the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Hospital, as relatives wept nearby. The bodies were later collected by relatives and taken for burial after brief prayers.

Outside the hospital, a man held the body of an infant killed in one of the strikes.


JERUSALEM — Israel plans to approve the construction of more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank, a senior Cabinet minister from the far-right wing of the government announced.

Approval of new construction is bound to elicit condemnation from the United States at a time when the relationship between the allies is fraught because of disagreements over the course of Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said in a statement late Thursday that the new construction is meant as a response to a fatal Palestinian shooting attack near Jerusalem earlier in the day. He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant participated in the discussion leading to the decision.

The homes are to be built in the settlements of Maale Adumim, Efrat and Kedar, Smotrich said.

Consecutive Israeli governments have expanded settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank — war-won territories the Palestinians seek for a future state. Construction has accelerated under Netanyahu’s current right-wing government, which includes settlers such as Smotrich in key positions.


BEIRUT — The paramedics arm of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says two of its members were killed in an Israeli strike on a southern border village early Friday.

The Islamic Health Society identified the two as Hussein Khalil and Mohammed Ismail, saying they were killed when the group’s office in the village of Blida was directly hit, a day after an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Rumman killed two members of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force, including a local official who was identified as Hassan Saleh.

Hezbollah later said it retaliated the attack on Blida by launching two explosive drones at an Israeli army post in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona, claiming it scored direct hits.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, the Lebanon-Israel border has been witnessing daily exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli troops. Since then, nearly 200 Hezbollah fighters and at least 40 civilians have been killed.


JERUSALEM — Israel will control security in a demilitarized Gaza Strip and play a role in civilian affairs after its war on Hamas ends, according to a plan Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted to his Cabinet for approval.

While lacking specifics, the plan marks the first time he has presented a formal postwar vision. Netanyahu’s insistence on an open-ended Israeli role in running Gaza runs counter to key U.S. proposals for a revitalized Palestinian autonomous government eventually governing both Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a precursor to statehood.

The plan, published by the prime minister’s office, was presented to Cabinet ministers late Thursday. It reiterates that Israel is determined to crush Hamas, the militant group that overran the Gaza Strip in 2007. Polls have indicated that a majority of Palestinians don’t support Hamas, but that the group has deep roots in Palestinian society. Critics say Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas is unattainable.

It calls for freedom of action for Israel’s military across Gaza after the war to thwart any security threat and says Israel would establish a buffer zone inside Gaza — likely to provoke U.S. objections.

The plan also envisions Gaza being governed by local officials who it says would “not be identified with countries or entities that support terrorism and will not receive payment from them.”

It’s not clear if any Palestinians would agree to fill such subcontractor roles. Over the past decades, Israel has repeatedly tried and failed to set up hand-picked local Palestinian governing bodies.

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