Live updates: What’s happening in the Israel-Hamas war as Israel intensifies strikes on Gaza

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The Israeli military intensified airstrikes in Gaza, including near its largest hospital, while thousands of people desperate for food and basic items broke into aid warehouses in the besieged enclave.

Internet and phone connectivity were restored for many people on Sunday after Israeli strikes had knocked out most communications in the territory late Friday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday called the 3-week-old Israel-Hamas war a fight for Israel’s existence and said “‘Never again’ is now.” He announced a “second stage” in the war and said Israel is determined to bring back 229 hostages taken by Hamas during its bloody Oct. 7 rampage.

The Palestinian death toll passed 8,000, most of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.

More than 1,400 people were slain in Israel during a surprise incursion by Hamas militants, including at least 310 soldiers, according to the Israeli government. Four of the 229 hostages have been released.

Here’s what is happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:

Israel drops leaflets on Gaza, asking civilians to surrender

Israel’s military, which has said repeatedly that it is not at war with civilians in Gaza but rather with Hamas, dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip Sunday asking civilians to “surrender.” Written in Arabic, the leaflets told civilians to lay down all their weapons, put their hands up, wave white flags and follow instructions from the Israeli military.

“Hamas leaders are exploiting you” the flyers read, “They and their families are in safe places, while you die in vain.”

British prime minster, French president discuss aid for Gaza, security

LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office says he has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron about the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support into Gaza and maintaining regional security following the expansion of Israel’s military operation against Hamas.

The leaders “agreed to work together on efforts both to get crucial food, fuel, water and medicine to those who need it, and to get foreign nationals out,” Downing Street said in a statement Sunday,

“They expressed their shared concern at the risk of escalation in the wider region, in particular in the West Bank. The Prime Minister and President Macron updated on the conversations they have had with leaders in the region to stress the importance of working to ensure regional stability.”

Sunak and Macron agreed that it was important not to lose sight of the long-term future of the region and, in particular, the need for a two-state solution, the statement said.

“They underscored that Hamas does not represent ordinary Palestinians and that their barbarism should not undermine the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

A UN peacekeeper is wounded in southern Lebanon

BEIRUT — The U.N. mission in Lebanon says one peacekeeper was lightly wounded after his base in the country’s south was hit by a mortar shell.

The militant group Hezbollah, Hamas’ allies in Lebanon, has clashed with Israeli troops along the Lebanon-Israeli border since the Gaza war erupted on Oct. 7. The skirmishes have remained relatively contained and mostly along a handful of border towns.

The two mortar shells hit a UNIFEL base near the southeastern border village of Houla, the U.N. mission said. The wounded peacekeeper suffered minor injuries and is in stable condition. Earlier Saturday, a shell hit UNIFIL’s headquarters in the southern coastal town of Naqoura, but there was no mention of injuries.

UNIFIL did not specify where the shelling came from, and said that they were investigating both incidents.

UNIFIL was created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after a 1978 invasion. The mission was expanded after the 2006 war, allowing peacekeepers to deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country’s south for the first time in decades.

The pope calls for a cease-fire and release of hostages

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis repeatedly called for a cease-fire in Gaza on Sunday.

“Let’s continue to pray for Ukraine and for the serious situation in Palestine and Israel and for other regions with wars,” Francis said.

“In particular, in Gaza, leave space to guarantee humanitarian aid. And let the hostages be freed immediately. Let no one abandon the possibility to stop the arms. Cease fire,” he added, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace above St. Peter’s Square.

The pope cited the Rev. Ibrahim Faltas, the vicar of the Holy Land, as joining him in the urgent plea for a cease-fire.

“Stop yourselves brothers and sisters, war is always defeat. Always! Always!” he concluded.

Norway’s prime minister criticizes Israel

HELSINKI — Norway’s prime minister says Israel’s reaction to Hamas’ attack exceeds the rules of international law on proportionality.

“It says in international law that (reaction to such an attack) must be proportionate,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told public broadcaster NRK in an interview on Sunday.

“Civilians must be taken into account, and humanitarian law is fully aware of that. I believe that the line has now been far exceeded” by Israel, he said, adding that his primary concern is that emergency aid is not getting into the Gaza Strip.

Norway on Friday voted in favor of the United Nations resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” leading to a cessation of hostilities in Gaza.

“It’s a catastrophic situation, and I believe it is clearly in violation of what we call the rules of war or humanitarian law,” he said. “Many fear that the escalation we are now seeing could ignite a much bigger conflict in the region, and obviously a much more lasting conflict.”

Gaza Health Ministry says Palestinian death toll tops 8,000

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza says over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed since war broke out on Oct. 7.

It said Sunday that the toll has risen to 8,005 Palestinians, including more than 3,300 minors and over 2,000 women.

The Health Ministry is part of the Hamas-run government but includes doctors and veteran civil servants who are not affiliated with the group. Its tolls from previous wars have held up to U.N. scrutiny, independent investigations and even Israel’s tallies. The ministry released detailed records last week showing the names, ages and ID numbers of most of the deaths it has recorded, saying some bodies have not yet been identified.

More than 1,400 people have been killed on the Israeli side, the vast majority civilians killed by Hamas in its bloody Oct. 7 incursion into Israel.

UN chief reiterates appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire

KATHMANDU, Nepal — U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has reiterated his appeal for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza and called for an unconditional release of all hostages and the delivery of sustained relief to the people in the territory.

Guterres, who is on an official visit to Nepal, condemned the “appalling attacks perpetrated by Hamas” and said “there is no justification, ever, for the killing, injuring and abduction of civilians.” He also said he regretted Israel’s move to intensify its military operations in Gaza.

He also reminded Israel and Hamas about their obligations under international humanitarian law. “I have always been consistent in my call for strict compliance of the well-established principles and rules of international humanitarian law. The protection of civilians is paramount,” he said.

“The laws of war establish clear rules to protect human life and respect humanitarian concerns. Those laws cannot be contorted for the sake of expediency. The world is witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe taking place before our eyes,” he added.

WHO restores contact with a team in Gaza

CAIRO — The head of the World Health Organization says they managed to communicate with the agency’s team in Gaza after internet and phone connectivity in the enclave were gradually restored.

“They said the last two nights were extremely tense with a lot of airstrikes – without fuel, water, electricity, connectivity and safe shelter to evacuate to,” Tedros Adhanom wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

He added that the WHO team, like others in Gaza, remain unsafe and called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the agency has 30 employees in Gaza.

Palestinian Red Crescent says Israel orders Gaza hospital to evacuate

JERUSALEM — A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent says Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City received two calls from Israeli authorities Sunday morning demanding it evacuate.

A statement released by the organization said that the calls constituted a “clear and direct threat that the hospital must be evacuated at once, otherwise PRCS holds full responsibility for the lives of everyone inside the hospital.”

Spokesperson Nebal Farsakh said that since Sunday morning, Israeli airstrikes have been increasing in the area, reaching buildings as close as 50 meters (yards).

She said that 12,000 people are currently sheltering in the hospital. The intensive care unit is predominantly occupied by children injured in the latest airstrikes. “Most of them are connected to oxygen machines,” she said. “Evacuating them would be killing them.”

The Israeli military did not comment immediately Sunday. The military has told some 1 million people to evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.

WHO said it’s impossible to evacuate patients without endangering their lives. Hospitals across Gaza are already operating at maximum capacity due to the injuries from unrelenting bombardment, and are unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number of patients, while sheltering thousands of civilians, the U.N. agency said.

UN says thousands broke into Gaza warehouses to take food

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says thousands of people broke into its Gaza aid warehouses to take food and other “basic survival items.”

Thomas White, the agency’s director in Gaza, said Sunday that the break-in was “a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down” after three weeks of war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The agency, known as UNRWA, provides basic services to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza. Its schools across the territory have been transformed into packed shelters housing Palestinians displaced by the conflict.

Iranian-backed Iraqi militia says it hit base housing U.S. forces in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria — An Iranian-backed Iraqi militia says it launched drone strikes on a base housing U.S. forces in eastern Syria.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which has claimed responsibility for a series of strikes on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria over the past two weeks, claimed responsibility on Sunday for the latest attack. The group has said the attacks are in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel.

According to the Pentagon, as of Friday there had been at least 20 attacks on U.S. bases and personnel in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, and 21 U.S. personnel were injured in two of those assaults when drones targeted al-Assad airbase in Iraq and al-Tanf garrison in Syria.

Israeli airstrikes hit areas near Gaza’s largest hospital, residents say

CAIRO — Israeli airstrikes have hit areas around Gaza’s largest hospital, residents say, destroying roads leading to the facility, which is a major shelter for Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombardment.

The Israeli military has renewed longstanding allegations in recent days that top Hamas leaders and operatives have built underground bunkers below Shifa hospital and accused the militant group of using civilians as human shields. Israel has not presented evidence, and Hamas denies the claims.

“Reaching the hospital has become increasingly difficult,” Mahmoud al-Sawah, who was sheltering in the hospital, said over the phone on Sunday. “It seems they want to cut off the area.”

Another Gaza resident, Abdallah Sayed, described the Israeli air and land attacks in the past two days as “the most violent and intense” since the war started.

UN Security Council schedules emergency meeting on Monday

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza on Monday afternoon at the request of the United Arab Emirates, the Arab representative on the council.

Internet and telephone connectivity restored for many in Gaza

CAIRO — Internet and telephone connectivity was restored Sunday morning for many people in Gaza, according to the telecoms company Paltel, Internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org and confirmation on the ground.

READ MORE: Internet, phone service slowly returns to Gaza after blackout amid heavy bombardment

For more than 24 hours, people in the besieged Gaza Strip were not able to communicate with each other or seek help amid a relentless Israeli bombardment. The narrow coastal area had suffered a total communication blackout since late Friday, adding to the misery of more than 2.3 million people living there. Many residents, especially in the northern half of the strip, were not able to call ambulances to transfer injured people to hospitals or to seek help for those trapped under the rubble of bombed houses.

“The aggressive bombardment was horrible,” said Raed Sharif, a volunteer helping transport wounded people to hospitals in Gaza city. “There were striking everywhere.”

Doctors Without Borders medical group said the communication blackout had further isolated the population suffering under siege and bombardment. The blackout also limited the group’s ability to coordinate and provide medical assistance, it said.

Red Crescent says blackout keeping aid outside Gaza

JERUSALEM — No international aid entered the Gaza Strip on Saturday, as the communications blackout created by Israel continued.

Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent, told The Associated Press that no aid trucks entered Gaza on Saturday because communication was impossible and teams inside Gaza couldn’t connect with Egyptian Red Crescent or United Nations personnel.

Before Saturday, a total of 84 aid trucks were let into Gaza, a tiny amount for a population of 2.3 million people in need of power, food, medical supplies and clean drinking water.

2nd U.S. aircraft carrier group moves into Mediterranean

WASHINGTON — The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its strike group has moved through the Strait of Gibraltar, putting two American carriers in the Mediterranean Sea, a rare sight in recent years.

The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is already in the eastern Mediterranean, part of a buildup of forces as the U.S. supports Israel in its war against Hamas.

The Eisenhower sailed into the Mediterranean on Saturday and is slated to move through the Suez Canal to the U.S. Central Command region as the American forces expand their presence in the Middle East to deter Iran and its proxy militant groups from trying to widen the war.

Communications blackout has Palestinians panicking

Now that Israeli bombs have cut off cellular and internet service for most of the 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip, it has fallen to a rare few Palestinians with international SIM cards or powered-up satellite phones to get the news out.

They described scenes of panic and confusion as Israel’s military attacks from the air, land and sea in the most intense bombing yet in the three week war. Without social media to share their plight with the world, many seem consumed with fear and hopelessness.

Reached by WhatsApp, freelance photojournalist Ashraf Abu Amra in northern Gaza said the international community must intervene to save the people of Gaza from immediate death. Palestinian journalist Hind al-Khoudary reported that some 50,000 people have converged on Gaza’s largest hospital, where doctors are exhausted from operating on patient after patient using dwindling fuel and medical supplies.

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