The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says its relief operations across the Gaza Strip will need to be sharply curtailed amid crippling Israeli airstrikes.
Hospitals in Gaza are doing their best to provide treatment to the wounded with diminishing resources.
The war, in its 19th day, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said Wednesday that at least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed and 17,439 others wounded. In the occupied West Bank, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since Oct. 7.
The Associated Press couldn’t independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, according to Israeli officials, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage. Israel’s military on Wednesday raised the number of remaining hostages in Gaza to 222 people, including foreigners believed captured by Hamas during the incursion. Four hostages have been released.
U.S. and other officials fear the fighting could spill over into a wider regional conflict.
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
10:02 a.m. EDT
Amnesty International says Israel’s order for civilians to leave northern Gaza my violate international law
CAIRO — Amnesty International said Wednesday that the Israeli army’s order for residents of northern Gaza to leave may violate international humanitarian law.
The Israeli army has been dropping leaflets in Gaza asking Palestinians to flee the northern half of the besieged enclave or risk being identified as accomplices of Hamas.
The falling leaflets come around a week after the army first called on around 1.1 million residents in northern Gaza to leave their homes and head southwards, as it prepares for a ground invasion of the territory.
“The messages in these leaflets cannot be considered an effective warning to civilians, and instead provide further evidence that Israel aims to forcibly displace civilians in northern Gaza.” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser.
“Declaring a whole city or region a military target flies in the face of international humanitarian law,” Rovera added.
Spain’s leader praises UN secretary-general’s role
BRUSSELS — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, gave his full support to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres for his role in the Gaza conflict.
Sánchez told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday that “I want to express the complete support of the Spanish government and I believe most of Spanish society for our general-secretary of the United Nations, António Guterres, who I believe is giving voice to what the majority of the world wants, which is a humanitarian pause, in favor of humanitarian aid and for the end of this human disaster.”
Sánchez meanwhile repeated his condemnation of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, which he called the “clear origin” of the conflict.
Hamas says 11 killed and dozens wounded in Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza
The Hamas-run Health Ministry said that 11 bodies were pulled from what remains of a house in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, after it was flattened by an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday.
Dozens more were injured. The Associated Press can’t independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.
Explosion rocks area near destroyed Gaza bakery
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Residents picking through the remains of a bakery destroyed in the Moghrabi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah were startled as another deadly explosion rocked the area Wednesday.
Men ran through rubble-strewn streets carrying people wounded in the blast that killed at least one, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.
The initial Israeli airstrike on the bakery and neighboring houses killed at least 10 people, the media office of Gaza’s Hamas-run government said.
It was the only bakery in the area and had just received flour from the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, the government said.
One resident, Asad al-Bairoti, was describing the attack on the bakery by Israeli warplanes when he looked to the sky and then ducked as a projectile whistled overhead followed by two bangs.
Destruction and death toll rise in southern Gaza town
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — After another night of bombing runs by Israel, rescuers and residents returned Wednesday to search the ruins of about 15 destroyed homes in Khan Younis, where survivors and dead bodies had been pulled from the wreckage a day earlier.
A backhoe peeled away layers of broken concrete tangled with rebar where a home once stood as a group of men watched.
A Civil Defense worker in an orange vest waded into the jumble of rubble and lifted a dead baby from the ruins. He wrapped the infant in a blanket.
A teddy bear lay in the rubble nearby.
UK prime minister supports pause in fighting to allow aid into Gaza
LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he supports a pause in fighting to allow aid into Gaza, though he rejected calls for a full cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Sunak said that Israel has the right to respond militarily to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack as long as it follows international law.
He told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the United Kingdom is working to get aid into besieged Gaza, including a Royal Air Force plane carrying 21 tons of aid that is flying to Cyprus on Wednesday bound for the region.
He said that British officials and allies at the United Nations had discussed “specific pauses, as distinct from a cease-fire” to allow aid into Gaza and let U.K. citizens and other foreign nationals leave.
Syrian state media report Israeli airstrike on Aleppo’s airport
BEIRUT — Syrian state media said that an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday struck the international airport in the northern city of Aleppo, damaging its runway and putting it out of service amid the Israel-Hamas war.
The attack would be the fourth time that Israel has targeted the airport in the war-torn country’s second-largest city since the onset of the war on Oct. 7.
SANA, citing an unnamed military official, said the airstrikes were launched from the west over the Mediterranean Sea near the coastal city of Lattakia. The report didn’t mention any casualties.
The Israeli military didn’t immediately comment.
Jordan’s king calls for international community to pressure Israel to end Gaza strikes
AMMAN, Jordan — King Abdullah II of Jordan called for the international community to pressure Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza and end its siege of the territory of 2.3 million Palestinians.
In a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday in Amman, the monarch said that “stopping the war on Gaza is an absolute necessity, and the world must move immediately in this direction,” according to the Jordanian royal court.
He warned that the Israel-Hamas war “may lead to an explosion of the situation in the region.”
King Abdullah II reiterated his country’s rejection of any attempts to displace Palestinians in Gaza.
Egypt’s president cautions his forces against any direct involvement in the war
CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi cautioned his forces against any direct involvement in the Israel-Hamas war.
“My message to the army and people is not to make your military power make you rush into wrong decisions,” el-Sissi said in front of dozens of tanks in the port city of Suez.
The president went on, saying that the Egyptian army has a history dealing with crises “rationally and with patience.”
Egypt has criticized Israel over its bombardment of Gaza, accusing it of trying to push hundreds of thousand of Palestinians onto its territory and nullify Palestinians demand for statehood. Egypt maintains functional relations with both Egypt and Hamas, and has brokered peace deals between the warring sides during previous flare-ups.
Qatar says hostage talks with Hamas still ongoing
JERUSALEM — Qatar’s foreign minister says that hostage negotiations with Hamas over the more than 200 people it took hostage during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel continue.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who also serves as Qatar’s prime minister, made the comments during a news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Doha on Wednesday.
“Regarding the progress on the hostage negotiation, it’s still ongoing,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “If we compare where we started and where we are right now, there is some progress and some breakthrough and we will remain hopeful.”
He added: “The negotiations are still ongoing and at any moment of time, I think that if we will be able to get along between the two parties, I think we will see some breakthroughs hopefully soon.”
Tzahi Hanegbi, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, tweeted Wednesday that he is “pleased to say that Qatar is becoming an essential party and stakeholder in the facilitation of humanitarian solutions.”
Turkey’s president says Hamas is a ‘liberation group’
ANKARA, Turkey — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the militant Hamas group isn’t a terror organization, but a “liberation group” trying to protect its lands and citizens.
In an address to his ruling party’s legislators on Wednesday, Erdogan also said he has canceled plans to visit Israel as part of his country’s policy of normalizing its relations with the Jewish state, adding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “misused our goodwill.”
Increasing his tone against Israel, Erdogan also described Israel’s action in Gaza as one of the “bloodiest, most disgusting and most savage attack in history.”
“We have no problem with the Israeli state, but we never have, and never will, accept the atrocities committed by Israel and the fact that it acts as an organization rather than a state,” he said.
The Turkish leader called for an immediate cease-fire, for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza and for talks for the release of hostages to begin. He also suggested the establishment of an international peace conference for Israel and the Palestinians.
“All sides must pull their fingers off the trigger, a cease-fire must be declared,” he said.
UN official calls on Israel to end Gaza siege
CAIRO — A senior U.N. official in the Palestinian territories has called for Israel to end its siege on Gaza and to allow humanitarian aid including badly needed fuel into the territory of 2.3 million people.
Dominic Allen, representative of the U.N.’s Population Fund, told The Associated Press that delivering water, food, medical supplies and fuel is “the big, big priority.”
“The siege has got to end, and humanitarian aid has to get through so that we can meet the immediate lifesaving short-term needs,” he said, emphasizing that “no fuel means no hospitals, no desalination, no baking.”
Allen also expressed concerns about Gaza’s 50,000 pregnant women, with an average of 150 births every day and the health care system “on the brink of collapse.”
“They can’t access basic maternal health services, and they’re facing this double nightmare,” he said.
UN agency warns it will curtail its operations in Gaza
CAIRO — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, has warned that it would severely curtail its operations in Gaza Strip on Wednesday night because of a lack of fuel.
UNRWA spokesperson Lily Esposito said that all services that the agency provides to 600,000 people who are sheltering in its facilities would be impacted, including food and water distribution.
“Without fuel our trucks cannot go around to further places in the strip for distribution,” she told The Associated Press. “We will have to make decisions on what activities we keep or not with little fuel.”
Hezbollah leader meets with senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials
BEIRUT — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group held talks on Wednesday with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad figures in a key meeting of three top anti-Israel militant groups amid the war raging in Gaza.
A brief statement following the meeting said that Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah agreed with Hamas’ Saleh al-Arouri and Islamic Jihad’s leader Ziad al-Nakhleh on the next steps that the three — along with other Iran-backed militant groups — should take at this “sensitive stage.”
Their goal, according to the statement that was carried on Hezbollah-run and Lebanese state media, was to achieve “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine” and halt Israel’s “treacherous and brutal aggression against our oppressed and steadfast people in Gaza and the West Bank.”
No other details were provided.
Israeli airstrikes hit military sites in Syria
DAMASCUS — Israeli airstrikes hit a number of military sites in southern Syria on Wednesday, killing eight soldiers and wounding seven others, according to Syrian state media.
The strikes targeted the Daraa countryside overnight and came from the direction of Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the SANA state-run news agency said, citing military officials.
The Israeli military tweeted that its fighter jets struck “military infrastructure and mortar launchers” of the Syrian army “in response to rocket launches from Syria toward Israel yesterday.”
Since the war between Israel and Hamas started on Oct. 7, raising tensions in the region, Israel has carried out several reported strikes in Syria including two on the Damascus airport and three on Aleppo’s airport that put them out of service.
Israel has targeted airports and sea ports in the government-held parts of Syria in an apparent attempt to prevent arms shipments from Iran to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Australia sends 2 more transport jets to Middle East in case evacuation necessary
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia said it sent an additional two air force transport jets to the Middle East in case citizens of the country need to be evacuated should hostilities escalate.
Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles said Wednesday that three aircraft were now in the region.
“All of this is a contingency and the purpose of it is to be supporting Australian populations that are in the Middle East if, in fact, this conflict gets worse,” Marles told Nine Network television.
Marles did not say where the aircraft were sent other than they were not in Israel. He urged Australians who want to return home to take commercial flights now rather than wait for a possible military evacuation.
Australia has helped hundreds of Australians leave Israel aboard chartered flights and was working toward helping 79 leave Gaza.
Rating agency S&P changes Israel credit outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’
NEW YORK — Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s says it is changing its outlook on Israel’s credit rating to “negative” from “stable” as the country fights a war against Hamas in Gaza in response to the militant group’s devastating attack.
S&P said Tuesday it was revising the outlooks on its long-term foreign and local-currency ratings on Israel, citing the war, its potential to escalate into a broader regional conflict and the impact that could have on the country’s economy.
S&P left Israel’s credit rating unchanged at AA-. The agency’s highest rating is AAA. By revising the outlook, S&P is raising a warning flag signaling that a rating downgrade could happen in the future.
Credit ratings firms Fitch and Moody’s have taken similar actions.
Official says Canada doesn’t believe Hamas would respect a cease-fire
OTTAWA, Ontario — Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday that Canada’s government does not believe Hamas would respect a cease-fire in its conflict with Israel.
“I have no expectation that a terrorist organization would respect international law or any call for a cease-fire,” Blair said before heading into a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said afterward that Canada supports the idea of “humanitarian pauses,” temporary halts to fighting, allowing for aid to get into Gaza safely and people to leave.
Untold number of children among the dead in Gaza
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The sharp increase in Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip and large death toll Tuesday included an untold number of child deaths.
Graphic photos and video shot by The Associated Press showed rescuers digging with their hands to unearth small bodies from the ruins of collapsed homes and buildings across Gaza.
Unconscious children were cradled in the arms of adults who ran from ambulances and cars into Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. A man used one hand to give light chest compressions to a small child on the hood of an ambulance.
A lifeless child who was dug out of the dirt from beneath concrete and a web of rebar where a house was destroyed in Khan Younis was wrapped in a blanket and laid on the side of a road next to an adult’s body.
Top Hamas official calls deaths in Gaza unprecedencted
BEIRUT — A top Hamas official says the killings that people are being subjected to in Gaza are unprecedented.
Ghazi Hamad told reporters in Beirut that Israel is carrying out “brutal and savage acts against people,” adding that in addition to the more than 5,700 people killed, more than 17,000 have been wounded.
“The death toll is changing every second,” Hamad said. “The counter is rising amid killings, destruction and revenge.”
The Associated Press couldn’t independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.