Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern Gaza as Israel’s military pushed deeper into dense urban neighborhoods in its battle with Hamas militants. Officials in the besieged enclave said the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 11,000 people.
The search for safety in Gaza is growing more desperate as combat intensifies. Residents who escaped to the south and Palestinian health officials reported strikes in and around Gaza City’s main hospital overnight. Israel said at least one was the result of a misfired Palestinian rocket.
The World Health Organization said Friday that 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning, including a pediatric hospital that stopped operations after a reported Israeli strike in the area.
“If there is a hell on earth today, its name is northern Gaza,” the U.N. humanitarian agency spokesperson, Jens Laerke, told reporters in Geneva.
More than two-thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled their homes since the war began. In the south, they’re crowded into shelters with dwindling supplies of food and water as the war enters its second month.
Gaza City, the largest urban area in the territory, is the focus of Israel’s campaign to crush Hamas following the militant group’s deadly Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israel that set off the war.
More than 1,200 people in Israel died, most of them in the Hamas attack, and about 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by Palestinian militants.
— Fights in bread lines, despair in shelters: War threatens to unravel Gaza’s close-knit society
— French far-right leader Marine Le Pen raises a storm over her plan to march against antisemitism
— Clashes over Israel-Hamas war shatter students’ sense of safety on US college campuses
— Jewish refugees from Israel find comfort and companionship in a countryside camp in Hungary
— 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:
MORE THAN 250 ATTACKS ON GAZA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS
UNITED NATIONS — The World Health Organization has verified more than 250 attacks on hospitals, clinics, patients and ambulances in Gaza since Hamas’ incursion into Israel on Oct. 7 — as well as 25 attacks on health care in Israel.
In Gaza, the “health system is on its knees” and the situation on the ground “is impossible to describe,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
“As we speak, there are reports of firing outside the al-Shifa and Rantisi hospitals,” he said, adding that Palestinian health workers were still saving lives despite being “directly in the firing line.”
Last week saw attacks on five hospitals in one day in Gaza, Ghebreyesus said, and in the past 48 hours four hospitals with some 430 beds were put out of action.
He said half of the Gaza Strip’s 36 hospitals and two-thirds of its primary health care centers are not functioning, and facilities that are functioning “are operating way beyond their capacities.”
ISRAEL LOWERS OCT. 7 DEATH TOLL TO 1,200 PEOPLE, MINISTRY SAYS
JERUSALEM — Israel’s Foreign Ministry says the official death toll in Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 cross-border attack into Israel has been lowered to 1,200 people.
Israeli officials have previously estimated the death toll at 1,400.
The ministry gave no reason for the revision. But an Israeli official said the number had been changed after a painstaking weekslong process to identify bodies, many of which were mutilated or burned.
The official said the final death toll could still change. He said a number of bodies have not been identified and it is unclear whether all of the nearly 240 hostages believed to be held by Hamas are still alive.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official government announcement.
Associated Press writer Josef Federman contributed
‘POINT OF NO RETURN’ FOR HOSPITALS IN NORTH GAZA, RED CROSS SAYS
JERUSALEM — Hospitals, healthcare workers and patients in northern Gaza must be protected as intense fighting rages, the International Committee of Red Cross said Friday.
“Overstretched, running on thin supplies and increasingly unsafe, the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return risking the lives of thousands of wounded, sick and displaced people,” the organizations said.
The statement, which did not specifically name either the Israeli military or Palestinian militants, came after several reported strikes on or near at least four hospitals in northern Gaza. Tens of thousands of people had crowded into hospital grounds, believing they would be safe.
The ICRC noted that children’s hospitals had sustained major damage from the fighting. The Nasr Hospital was heavily damaged by fighting and Rantisi Hospital had to completely shut down, the statement said. Al-Quds Hospital was running out of supplies.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL STATUS OF HOSPITALS IN A WAR ZONE?
WASHINGTON — Hospitals have special protections from combatants under international humanitarian law.
Hospitals can lose their protections if, for example, one side uses it to hide combatants or store weapons, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.
Even then, the other side must give ample evidence and warning before any attack, allowing for the safe evacuation of patients and medical workers if possible, ICRC legal officer Cordula Droege says in an online primer on hospitals’ special status.
When evacuation isn’t possible – as medical workers have said is the case for many of the patients at Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza – any attacker must weigh the proportionate harm before attacking, and do the utmost to minimize the toll among noncombatants.
FLEEING SOUTH, PALESTINIANS DESCRIBE DEATH AND MISERY
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — A stream of thousands of Palestinians have taken what few belongings they can carry and made their way on foot Friday to the relative safety of the southern Gaza Strip after Israel announced an hourslong window for safe passage.
More than 720,000 displaced people across the Gaza Strip were sheltering at 150 facilities run by UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, as of Thursday.
One woman who was displaced from Beit Lahiya in the north, Umm al-Adhan, spoke to The Associated Press on Gaza’s main highway as as people trudged past heading southward. She said she had been sheltering in a UNRWA school.
“Yesterday, as we were leaving the school, they fired at us,” she said. “Ten people were killed, including my nephew.”
A badly wounded child begged for water in his final moments.
“I could not find water to give him. He died in front of me,” she said, crying.
Israel estimates that more than 850,000 of the 1.1 people in northern Gaza have left, and later Friday said over 100,000 Palestinians have gone south in the past two days.
At shelters, the lack of water makes it hard to maintain even basic hygiene.
Families are packed into a school building in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, with tents set up in the playground, washing hung up to dry in corridors and children sleeping on mats next to their worried parents.
Suzan Wahidi, from Gaza City, says as many as seven people might share a mattress — if they can find one.
“Our children are now suffering from an epidemic, ” she said. “They suffer from all the diseases that you can imagine, diarrhea, vomiting, fever. There are no medicines, there is no food to provide us.”
101 UNRWA STAFF KILLED IN GAZA
The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency said Friday that 101 of its staff members have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the war began.
This is the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict, UNRWA said earlier this week.
The dead include teachers, nurses, doctors and support staff, and the U.N. will lower its flag to half staff at the New York headquarters, spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
ISRAEL OPENS SECOND ESCAPE ROUTE AND EXPANDS HOURS FOR PALESTINIANS FLEEING NORTH GAZA
JERUSALEM — Israel says it has opened a second humanitarian corridor for Palestinians to leave the northern Gaza Strip and head south.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the “Rashid” coastal road was opened on Friday, although he said it was not widely used. He said the hours for the corridors were expanded Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have fled along Gaza’s main north-south highway in recent days as fighting takes place in the north, including Gaza City.
HEZBOLLAH LAUNCHES 3 DRONES INTO NORTHERN ISRAEL
JERUSALEM — Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group announced Friday that it had released three drones into Israeli airspace and alleged that the aircraft had struck two Israeli military sites.
The Israeli military said that one of the drones was intercepted and the two others fell in the northern part of the country. The statement did not say whether the drones had targeted military sites.
NETANYAHU MEETS HEADS OF COMMUNITIES FROM AROUND GAZA STRIP
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the resilience of communities near the Gaza strip that were targeted in deadly attacks by Hamas last month, and renewed a vow to neutralize the Palestinian militant group.
At a meeting with community leaders from the region Friday, Netanyahu said: “First of all (our priority is) to restore security – to make sure that there is no Hamas and that Hamas does not return – but also to make sure that there will be a strong life afterward.”
ISLAMIC JIHAD OFFICIAL SAYS GAZA HOSPITALS AREN’T USED BY PALESTINIAN FIGHTERS
BEIRUT — A senior official in the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad disputed what he said were Israeli claims that Shifa Hospital in Gaza was being used by Palestinian fighters.
Mohamad al-Hindi, Islamic Jihad’s deputy secretary-general said from Beirut Friday that Israel could reach Shifa Hospital “within hours” and that claims the hospital was a resistance base were “false.”
He said “not one bullet was fired from from Shifa Hospital or any other hospital,” adding that Palestinian fighters use tunnels leading them to the battlefront in the north as shown in released videos.
THOUSANDS FLEE GAZA HOSPITAL WHERE THEY HAD SHELTERED
Palestinian evacuees fleeing Gaza’s northern combat zone say thousands of displaced people who had sheltered at the Shifa Hospital in the heart of Gaza City fled following overnight explosions there.
The hospital had sheltered nearly 80,000 people running from heavy ground battles and airstrikes.
Some of those fleeing Friday said only a few hundred badly wounded patients and doctors remained behind.
Doctors at Shifa Hospital could not immediately be reached for comment because of phone and internet connectivity disruptions.
ISLAMIC JIHAD OFFICIAL ACCUSES ISRAEL OF NOT WANTING THE RELEASE OF HOSTAGES
BEIRUT — A Palestinian Islamic Jihad official is accusing Israel of not wanting to secure the release of its citizens who are being held hostage in Gaza after being captured during the deadly Hamas-led offensive on Oct. 7.
Mohamad al-Hindi, Islamic Jihad’s deputy secretary-general, repeated Friday that Hamas was willing to release two of the civilian hostages on medical and humanitarian grounds, an elderly woman and a young boy.
Hamas official Basem Naim, speaking in Beirut to journalists on Friday, said his group is prepared to release the civilian hostages it holds if there are guarantees of “safe movement.”
He said Hamas has been working with mediators to reach a deal with Israel but has encountered an “unprecedented … lack of response.” Naim described the attitude of the Israelis as, “We are not concerned with them (the hostages), even with whether they are living or dead.”
Hindi said Israel was “dragging its feet” in negotiations for the hostages’ release, noting that there are also Palestinian civilians including women and children in Israeli prisons.
The official said Israel will be “forced to make a prisoner exchange deal” that will result in the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention centers.
Islamic Jihad, a militant group smaller and more brazen than Hamas, previously announced that it had seized 30 hostages in the Oct. 7 operation. In total, about 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza.
HAMAS-RUN HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS 11,078 PALESTINIANS HAVE DIED IN GAZA
The Hamas run-Health Ministry says the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza has to 11,078, including 4,506 children and 3,027 women.
The vast majority have been killed in Israeli airstrikes that have pounded the enclave following Hamas’ assault on the enclave.
The ministry said in an online statement Friday that another 27,490 Palestinians in Gaza have been wounded.
GREECE READY TO ASSIST CYPRUS’ IN GAZA MARITIME CORRIDOR INITIATIVE
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s prime minister says his country is ready help Cyprus’ initiative for a maritime corridor to ship humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after talks with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides Friday that both Greece and Cyprus can act as “credible intermediaries” in the Middle East given their strong relations with both Israel and the Arab world.
Mitsotakis called the Cypriot initiative a “very well thought out” proposal, despite the many technical hurdles that still need to be overcome.
Christodoulides told a Paris aid conference on Thursday hat Cyprus’ proximity to Gaza of only 241 miles combined with open lines of communication with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt enhance the initiative’s changes for success.
The initiative dubbed “Amalthea” is compose of five parts including the collection, inspection and storage of humanitarian aid in Cyprus, it’s later transfer by ship possibly from Larnaca port and finally it’s offloading and distribution in Gaza.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS MORE THAN HALF OF GAZA’S HOSPITALS NOT OPERATING
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning, including a pediatric hospital that has stopped operations after a reported Israeli strike in the area.
WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said Friday that Rantisi Children’s hospital in the north of the enclave was no longer operating, and it was not immediately clear what has happened to the patients inside.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said earlier that Israeli forces had struck overnight the area around Shifa Medical Complex, the largest hospital in Gaza, killing six Palestinians, and bombed areas near several other hospitals including the Rantisi hospital.
Harris said WHO does not try to assign responsibility for strikes.
Harris said some children had been receiving care such as dialysis and life support which doesn’t allow for their safe evacuation.
She added that “hospitals never should be a target.”
HEZBOLLAH SAYS 7 OF ITS FIGHTERS HAVE BEEN KILLED
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said seven of its fighters have been killed, but didn’t specify where they died other than to say that they were “martyred on the road to Jerusalem.”
A Hezbollah official and a Lebanese security official said the seven fighters were killed in neighboring Syria on Friday morning. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Pro-government Syrian media outlets reported an Israeli airstrike on the central province of Homs early Friday.
Hezbollah has been fighting in Syria along with Syrian government forces where they have helped tip the balance of power in his favor during Syria’s 12-year conflict.
The Israeli military said earlier Friday that it struck targets in Syria following a drone strike on the Red Sea city of Eilat saying that it was fired from Syria.
Since Oct. 8, they have been exchanging fire with Israeli troops along the Lebanon-Israel border.
The latest deaths raises to 68 the number of Hezbollah fighters who have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began last month.
Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed.
ISRAELI MILITARY SAYS IT HAS ARRESTED 41 PALESTINIANS IN WEST BANK RAID
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it has arrested 41 Palestinians in another large-scale raid in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli military said Friday that 14 of those arrested in the previous evening’s raid were militants.
The Israeli military said it also destroyed the homes of two militants who it said carried out an attack that killed an Israeli woman and seriously wounded an Israeli man in August. At the time, an offshoot of the secular nationalist Fatah party, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack,
Israeli forces “sealed” a shop in Hebron which they said was used to print “incendiary material for Hamas.” They also raided three West Bank refugee camps where they confiscated weapons.
The Israeli military says it has arrested 1,540 Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of the war, identifying 930 of them as affiliated with Hamas. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, which represents Palestinian detainees, puts the numbers much higher, at 90 detained Thursday night and 2,400 arrested in the West Bank since the start of the war.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR PROBE INTO ISRAELI ATTACKS IN POPULATED AREAS
AMMAN, Jordan — United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk is calling for an investigation into what he called the “indiscriminate effect” of Israel’s bombardment and shelling in densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking in the Jordanian capital Friday, Turk said Israel “must immediately end the use of such methods and means of warfare and the attacks must be investigated.”
He said the high levels of civilian casualties and the wide destruction of civilian infrastructure raises “serious concerns that these amount to disproportionate attacks in breach of international humanitarian law.”
Turk pointed to strikes on and near hospitals as being “particularly intense,” adding that any use by Palestinian armed groups of civilians or civilian structures to shield themselves from attack contravenes the laws of war.
But he said such conduct by Palestinian armed groups “does not absolve Israel of its obligation to ensure that civilians are spared.”
UN OFFICIAL SAYS ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR HAS CAUSED SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IN LEBANON
BEIRUT — The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Lebanon says the spillover of the Hamas-Israel war has already caused “significant damage” in Lebanon where Hezbollah and allied groups have been clashing with Israeli forces on the border for more than a month.
Imran Riza said in a statement Friday that there have been “concerning signs of escalating tensions” along the border.
Riza said there have been “alarming attacks killing and injuring civilians in South Lebanon, including women, children, and media personnel” and much damage to private property, public infrastructure and farmland which as forces more than 25,000 to be displaced.
On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike hit a car driving between the towns of Ainata and Aitaroun and killed four civilians, including three children and their grandmother, and wounded the children’s mother. An Israeli military statement later said the car had been “identified as transporting terrorists” and that it was reviewing “allegations that there were civilians in the vehicle.”
BLINKEN SAYS MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO SAVE PALESTINIAN LIVES
NEW DELHI — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says “far too many” Palestinians have died and suffered as Israel wages relentless war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and that while recent Israeli steps to try to minimize civilian harm are positive they are not nearly enough.
Speaking in New Delhi at the end of an intense nine-day diplomatic tour of the Middle East and Asia, Blinken said Friday that the U.S. “appreciates” Israel’s formalization of pauses in their military operations to allow Palestinians to move from northern to southern Gaza and its creation of a second safe corridor for them to use to escape harm. But, he said much more needs to be done.
Bliken said Israel’s steps “ will save lives and will enable more assistance to get to Palestinians in need,” but at the same time, ”much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them.”
The U.S. top diplomat said “far too many Palestinians have been killed, far too many have suffered these past weeks” and that everything possible should be done to prevent them harm and maximize the assistance they need.
He said the U.S. has proposed additional ideas to the Israelis about how to accomplish that. U.S. officials have said they would like to see Israel introduce longer “humanitarian pauses” that would cover areas wider than just the two corridors as well as exponentially expanding the amount of assistance getting into Gaza from Egypt by increasing the flow of trucks carrying food, water, medicine, shelter and other supplies.
GAZA OFFICIALS SEEK PROTECTION FOR CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS
BEIRUT – The spokesman for the Hamas-run Health Ministry says a main children’s hospital is being repeatedly targeted putting the lives of children, staff, and displaced people in danger.
Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement that ambulances cannot reach Nasr Children’s Hospital to evacuate casualties because it is being targeted.
Al-Qidra called on the United Nations and the International Committee to be present at Nasr and Rantisi hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip to protect them and make room for ambulances to evacuate the wounded.
He said authorities in Gaza have made all attempts to keep health services running, but there are only a “few hours” remaining until the hospitals in northern Gaza stop providing services.
Al-Qidra appealed for Arab and Muslim countries “and the free people of the world” to take immediate action to bring medical supplies and fuel into hospitals before “the major disaster occurs.”
TURKEY URGES FOR MORE AID TRUCKS DAILY INTO GAZA
ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s president says he hold U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the number of aid trucks entering Gaza each day should be increased to at least 500.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Friday after returning from a trip to Uzbekistan that he raised the issue with Blinken during talks earlier this week.
Erdogan said Blinken’s approach to the proposal -conveyed to him by Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Ankara – was “positive.”
Erdogan was quoted as saying by NTV television and other media that the current number of aid trucks crossing into Gaza is “20 to 30 trucks” but that he proposed to increase that to “at least 500 trucks.”
Erdogan said Turkey wanted to address a shortage of ambulances in Gaza and was cooperating with other countries to supply food and medicine. He added that Ankara was also ready to treat Gaza civilians with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, in its hospitals.
UN RAPPORTEUR SAYS 4-HOUR DAILY PAUSE IS CRUEL
ADELAIDE, Australia — Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, described Israel’s decision to allow a four-hour humanitarian pause each day in combat operations in northern Gaza to allow civilians to flee to the south as “very cynical and cruel.”
“There has been continuous bombings, 6,000 bombs every week on the Gaza Strip, on this tiny piece of land where people are trapped and the destruction is massive. There won’t be any way back after what Israel is doing to the Gaza Strip,” Albanese told reporters in Adelaide, Australia, on Friday.
“So four hours cease-fire, yes, to let people breathe and to remember what is the sound of life without bombing before starting bombing them again. It’s very cynical and cruel.”