Palestinians described intense bombardments early Tuesday near two towns in southern Gaza, where Israel had ordered civilians to seek refuge. Hamas’ military wing said a separate attack on a refugee camp in central Gaza killed a top Hamas commander.
Thousands of people trying to escape Gaza are gathered in Rafah, which has the territory’s only border crossing to Egypt. Mediators are pressing for an agreement to let aid in and refugees with foreign passports out. The U.S. hoped to break a deadlock with President Joe Biden set to head to the region on Wednesday.
Aid workers warned that life in Gaza was near complete collapse because of the Israeli siege that followed a Hamas attack on Israel.
The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,778 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded. Another 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel.
- U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced. He is also expected to meet authorities in Jordan and Egypt.
- A hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah says it has received an order to evacuate, even after Israel told residents they can take refuge in the city.
- A shortage of drinking water continues across Gaza, leading humanitarian workers to warn of the risk of disease from drinking untreated water.
- Hundreds of civilians killed in the Hamas attacks have yet to be identified by Israeli forensics teams.
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
12:08 p.m. EDT
UNRWA says at least six killed in attack on school in Gaza
AMMAN — The U.N. agency for Palestinians says at least six people were killed when one of its schools in central Gaza Strip was hit Tuesday.
Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General, said dozens of people were also injured, including agency staff, when the UNRWA school in the al-Maghazi refugee camp came under bombardment. He said the school — which has served as a shelter for some 4,000 displaced people since the latest hostilities began — is seriously damaged.
“This is outrageous and it again shows a flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians,” Lazzarini said in a statement. “No place is safe in Gaza anymore, not even UNRWA facilities.”
Lazzarini did not specify who was behind the attack, but the area has come under bombardment from Israeli air strikes in recent days.
11:29 a.m. EDT
Egypt still negotiating with Israel on allowing aid into Gaza
CAIRO — Egypt is still negotiating with Israel on the delivery of humanitarian assistance and fuel to Gaza from its crossing points, Rafah and Kerem Shalom, a senior Egyptian official said as trucks loaded with aid waited for permission to cross into the besieged territory.
The official said Israel still insists on searching all aid deliveries and wants to “ensure that such aid won’t benefit Hamas.” The official requested anonymity because he does not have permission to discuss the negotiations.
He said they’re also negotiating a compromise that would allow foreign passport holders to cross into Egypt. Egypt has proposed that the United Nations oversee the process with help from Egyptian forces, the official said. Israel has yet to respond to the proposal.
The U.S., Qatar, the U.N. and several European countries are involved in the talks, which are led by security agencies in Egypt and Israel, the official said.
Associated Press writer Sam Magdy contributed to this report.
WFP sends food aid to Egypt for delivery to Gaza
ROME — The World Food Program says it has tons of aid arriving in Egypt from warehouses around the region, ready to enter Gaza.
The Rome-based agency warned earlier Tuesday that stores in Gaza only have four or five days’ worth of essential food stocks available.
Video provided by WFP showed crates of aid arriving by cargo plane at the Arisha airbase in Egypt from warehouses in Dubai, bound for the Rafah crossing. WFP said it has mobilized 310 metric tons (305 tons) of food so far, including fortified biscuits and ready-to-eat meals sufficient to feed 244,000 people for a week, as well as canned food and date bars.
WFP’s Palestine country director, Samer Abdeljaber, said the agency is waiting for the green light to enter Gaza and warned that food stocks are running out. He said the number of bakeries WFP works with in Gaza is decreasing daily because they don’t have enough water or electricity to bake bread.
10:53 a.m. EDT
France says 21 citizens killed, 11 missing in attacks on Israel
PARIS — France’s foreign ministry has confirmed the death of 21 French citizens killed in the Hamas militants attacks on Israel. The ministry says 11 French citizens are missing.
French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking during a visit to Albania Tuesday, said his government was doing “everything possible” for the release of French and other hostages held in Gaza.
“This difficult moment for the Israeli people, the Palestinian civilians, for the whole region shows that the (unresolved) issue there is a political one which cannot be solved without a peaceful process,” Macron said.
Hamas’ military wing says top commander killed by Israeli airstrike
JERUSALEM — Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Tuesday that an Israeli airstrike on the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza killed top militant commander, Ayman Nofal.
Nofal is the most high-profile militant to be killed so far in Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip. Residents said the barrage of Israeli airstrikes leveled an entire block of homes and caused dozens more casualties.
The Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas hideouts, infrastructure and command centers.
At least 16 journalists killed in Gaza and Israel since the war began
JERUSALEM — The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog, says at least 13 Palestinian journalists in Gaza and three journalists in Israel have been killed since the war erupted. Several Palestinian journalists were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Tuesday, said the group.
Some Palestinian journalists were killed when Israeli airstrikes struck their homes in the Gaza Strip or the area housing their offices in the Rimal neighborhood, in central Gaza City. Others were killed while reporting on the evacuations of Palestinian houses under Israeli bombardment. Some were freelancers and others worked for local outlets. One of them worked for the Hamas-linked Al Aqsa Radio.
Three Israeli journalists, meanwhile, were killed during the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, including an editor for Israeli public broadcaster Kan, an editor for Hebrew-language daily Ma’ariv and a photographer for the Hebrew-language Israel Hayom newspaper.
The CPJ count did not include the death of Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah, who was killed on Friday in south Lebanon when an Israeli shell landed in a gathering of international journalists covering clashes on the border. Six other journalists were injured.
Southern Gaza hospital says it has received evacuation order
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — A hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah says it has received two Israeli warnings to evacuate even though it is in the area where Israel told civilians to take refuge.
Sohaib al-Hams, director of the Kuwaiti Specialist Hospital, said staff will not abandon the facility, which continues to receive patients amid relentless Israeli airstrikes.
“We will not leave our places and we will not let our people down,” al-Hams said in a video on the hospital’s official Facebook page, adding that Gazan hospitals are the final red line after Israel crossed all the others.
Israeli army spokesman were not immediately available for comment on the order.
U.S. responds to hostage video by urging immediate release of all held
WASHINGTON — The United States has responded to Hamas’ release of a hostage video by calling on the group to immediately release all hostages.
“There should be no reason for them to have any hostages in the first place,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on American TV Tuesday.
Asked if he believed the woman in the video, identified as 21-year-old Mia Schem, was being treated well, Kirby said she was “probably forced” to record the message.
“There’s no question in my mind that that woman gave that video testimony under duress, probably forced to do it,” Kirby said on NBC’s “Today.”
“It’s a propaganda video much more than it is proof of life or, certainly, proof of concept for Hamas. It’s despicable, deplorable that they would take these hostages and then advertise how well they’re treating them when they’re the ones who hurt them in the first place.”
Foreign passport-holders wait for Rafah crossing to open
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Dual Palestinian nationals’ hopes to leave the Gaza Strip were dashed for a third straight day as the border remained closed.
Jameel Abdullah, a Swedish passport holder, said he had been told by his embassy to return to the border, but after waiting many hours he turned back toward Gaza where Israeli airstrikes continue to pound densely populated residential areas.
“We come to the border crossing hoping that it will open, but so far there is no information,” he said, with the echo of bombs falling in the distance. “We plead with the Egyptian people to look at us with compassion because frankly we are in a very dangerous place. There is shelling all around us, and even if I wanted to return home (to Gaza), I would be risking my life.”
Energy agency says war is bad news for markets
FRANKFURT, Germany — The Israel-Hamas war is affecting oil markets already stretched by cutbacks in oil production from Saudi Arabia and Russia and expected stronger demand from China, the head of the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
“As we see the tensions in the Middle East, the market becomes much more jittery, and it is definitely not good news coming out of this crisis,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the Paris-based IEA, told The Associated Press.
“We may very well see much more volatile prices, and it can push prices higher, which is definitely bad news for inflation,” he added, adding that developing countries would be the most affected.
International benchmark Brent crude traded close to $90 per barrel on Tuesday, up from $85 on Oct. 6, the day before Hamas attacked Israel. Fluctuations last week pushed prices as high as $96.
WFP warns food is running out in Gaza
CAIRO — In addition to dire water shortages, only a few days’ worth of food remains in Gazan stores, the World Food Program says.
Shops only have four or five days’ worth of essential food stocks available, said spokeswoman Abeer Etefa. There is enough food in warehouses to last about two weeks, but these are difficult to access because they are located in Gaza City, where Israel has ordered residents to evacuate.
Out of five mills in Gaza, only one is operating due to security concerns and the lack of fuel and electricity. Etefa said the primary challenge for WFP is getting food to shops amid the constant bombardment. Long lines have formed outside the few bakeries that are still open.
U.N. human rights office condemns reported killing of fleeing civilians
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office is decrying “appalling reports” that civilians trying to flee to southern Gaza were hit and killed by a military strike.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani urged Israeli forces to avoid “aerial bombardments, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks” and to “take precautions to avoid — and in any case, to minimize — loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.”
She said those who evacuated are now trapped in southern Gaza with scant access to shelter, food, water, sanitation and medicine.
Shamdasani reiterated a call from the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to Palestinian armed groups “to immediately and unconditionally release all civilian hostages and to halt the use of inherently indiscriminate projectiles against Israel.”
A cruise ship carrying foreign nationals from Israel docks in Cyprus
A cruise ship carrying some 160 U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals who opted to leave Israel has arrived in Cyprus’ main port of Limassol.
The Rhapsody of the Seas docked at dawn Tuesday and were met by the U.S. ambassador to Cyprus, Julie Fisher. Passengers were processed by Cypriot authorities and local U.S. embassy officials before being bussed to temporary accommodation prior to their flight back home.
Barbara Zwillick, 73, was escorting her granddaughter to New York City at the request of her daughter, who has stayed behind to continue her work as a nurse.
“She doesn’t want to leave. I don’t want her to leave. But she wants her daughter out,” Zwillick told The Associated Press.
Naama Kopelman, who has relatives believed to be Hamas hostages, said she decided to leave Israel for the sake of her daughter.
“It’s a big relief to be out of there in a safe place. No alarms, no sounds of the planes going about all the time,” Kopelman said.
Iranian leader calls Israel’s assault on Gaza ‘genocide’
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader Tuesday has insisted that his country will not stop Hamas, and repeated a call for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “If the crimes continue, Muslims will be impatient, resistances forces will be impatient, and nobody will be able to prevent them.”
“Bombardments should be immediately stopped, Muslim nations are angry,” said Khamenei.
He reiterated Iran’s stance in calling Israel’s assault against Hamas,” genocide” and urged the prosecution of the Israeli government for its killing of civilians in Gaza.
He also urged the U.S. to “pay attention to its responsibility” in the war.
Families killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
DEIR AL BALAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinians in Gaza are taking stock of the latest deadly airstrikes from Israel.
A strike in Deir al Balah, south of Gaza City, reduced a house to rubble, killing nine members of the family living there, mostly women and children. Three members of another family that had evacuated from Gaza City were killed in a neighboring home. Witnesses said there was no warning before the strike.
In Khan Younis, in a neighborhood just a few hundred meters away from Nasser Hospital, Samiha Zoarab looked around at the destruction in shock as children rummaged through the piles of debris and detritus around a leveled home, which lies within a dense cluster of buildings. At least four people from the same family were killed in the attack, locals said. “There are only two survivors,” Zoarab said.
Anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon into Israel, which responds with shelling
BEIRUT — An anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon landed in the town of Metula in northern Israel Tuesday morning. Three people were injured in the attack, according to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, which was expecting to receive them.
No group in Lebanon immediately took responsibility for the rocket. It was not immediately clear if the injured were civilians or soldiers, but Israel has ordered civilians to evacuate from the area near the Lebanese border.
Israel responded by striking several areas along the border in southern Lebanon with shelling and white phosphorus, the state-run National News Agency in Lebanon reported. The Israeli military said its tanks fired back into Lebanon over the anti-tank missile fire it received.