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Live updates | Aid for Gaza stuck at border as Israeli siege persists and Biden plans trip to region

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More than a million people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israeli invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas’ leadership after its deadly incursion. Aid groups warn an Israeli ground offensive could hasten a humanitarian crisis.

Israeli forces, supported by U.S. warships, positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and drilled for what Israel said would be a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group. A week of blistering airstrikes have demolished neighborhoods but failed to stop militant rocket fire into Israel.

The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides, with more than 4,000 dead. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded. 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.



Currently:

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

NEW YORK – Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a written statement Monday evening that she will travel to Israel on Tuesday for a “solidarity mission.”

She said she plans to meet with diplomatic leaders and communities devastated after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israeli towns.

“During these difficult times, it’s more important than ever for New York to show up in support of Israel,” Hochul said.

New York has the largest percentage of Jews among all the U.S. states, according to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University.

TEL AVIV – President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday to show support for the U.S. ally amid concerns the Israel-Hamas war could become a larger regional conflict, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said early Tuesday in Tel Aviv.

Biden will then go to Jordan to meet with Arab leaders, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Blinken’s announcement followed hours of talks with Israeli officials, as well as an invitation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip grows more dire, Blinken also said the U.S. and Israel had agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian aid from donor nations to reach civilians in Gaza, “including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

“We share Israel’s concern that Hamas may seize or destroy aid entering Gaza or otherwise prevent it from reaching the people who need it,” Blinken said.

JERUSALEM – Iran’s foreign minister has warned that “preemptive action is possible” if Israel moves closer to its looming ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The comments by Hossein Amirabdollahian follow a pattern of escalating rhetoric from Iran, whose theocracy provides support to Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel cannot “do whatever it wants in Gaza and then go after other resistance groups after it’s done with Gaza,” he told state television. “Therefore any preemptive action is possible in the coming hours.”

He did not elaborate on what form any action might take.

“If the limited and extremely tight windows of opportunity available to the United Nations and political actors are not used over the coming hours, opening new fronts against the Zionist regime is inevitable,” he said.

UNITED NATIONS – Calling this “the worst of times,” the U.N. humanitarian chief said the United Nations is in “deep discussions” with the Israelis, Egyptians and others about getting aid through the Rafah crossing, “hugely helped” by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who has been traveling in the region.

Martin Griffiths, who is heading to Cairo on Tuesday “to try to help in the negotiations,” said in an interview with the U.N. Monday that he was hoping for “some good news” soon.

Griffiths said the U.N.’s “overwhelming priority” is to get access to Gaza, saying humanitarian rules of war are being violated.

“You cannot ask people to move out of harm’s way without assisting them to do it,” by providing safe places and humanitarian aid, and right now Israel has not made these provisions for Gazans moving from the north to the south, Griffiths said.

He also called for the immediate release of all hostages taken from Israel, many of them children, women, the elderly and the sick, which he said is “unacceptable” and illegal.

TEL AVIV – Air raid sirens interrupted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s return to Israel three times on Monday, twice as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet for discussions over Israel’s war with Hamas.

The sirens signaling incoming rocket fire followed by the loud booms of Iran Dome air defenses intercepting rockets underscored an often-daily reality for Israelis, especially in the past week.

Blinken and his team got their first taste of the warning system and Iron Dome response as they drove from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, minutes after sirens sounded in both cities causing motorists to pull over and take cover.

Blinken’s motorcade did not slow or alter its route but sped quickly to the Israeli Ministry of Defense as motorists on the shoulders of the road returned to their vehicles.

Later, Blinken and his aides were meeting Netanyahu and his war cabinet at the prime minister’s office when sirens sounded again. Blinken, Netanyahu and the others took shelter in a bunker, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Others huddled in defense ministry stairwells until the all clear was given.

TIRANA, Albania – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday that the European Union will increase humanitarian aid to Gaza starting with two flights this week via Egypt.

She said the Commission has tripled humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza to 75 million euros ($79 million) and would “keep working with our partners in the region to assess and address the needs on the ground.”

Von der Leyen denounced the “heinous” Hamas attacks and said “Israel has the right to defend itself in line with humanitarian international law.”

The Commission head was speaking in Tirana at the end of a summit with Western Balkan leaders.

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has sent “prepare to deploy” orders to about 2,000 U.S. troops to be ready to respond to the Israel-Hamas war, two U.S. officials said on the condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that has not been announced yet.

The troops would cover a variety of support roles, such as additional medical support or explosive ordnance support, such as providing additional security at gate crossings, one of the officials said.

They would not be sent to Israel but could be sent to countries in the region, one of the officials said. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the orders.

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Associated Press writer Tara Copp contributed to this report

BRUSSELS – European Union leaders will hold an emergency summit Tuesday as concern mounts that the war between Israel and Hamas could fuel inter-communal tensions in Europe and bring more refugees in search of sanctuary.

The leaders will also attempt to restore some order after a series of social media messages, statements and visits by EU officials sowed confusion about the 27-nation bloc’s intentions after Hamas attacked southern Israel.

“The conflict could have major security consequences for our societies,” EU Council President Charles Michel said Monday as he announced the video summit. The meeting will also focus on getting aid to civilians and working with other countries in the region to stop tensions from spreading.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.



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