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Live updates | Israeli troops briefly enter Gaza as wider ground incursion looms

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The Israeli military said its troops and tanks briefly entered northern Gaza overnight into Thursday, hitting several militant targets as a wider ground incursion loomed after more than two weeks of heavy air raids.

Israeli airstrikes have devastated parts of the Gaza Strip, leaving neighborhoods in rubble, and hospitals in Gaza are struggling to treat masses of wounded with diminishing resources.

The U.N. warned that it is on the verge of running out of fuel in the Gaza Strip, forcing it to sharply curtail relief efforts in the blockaded territory. And the U.N. Security Council failed again to address the Israeli-Hamas war, rejecting rival resolutions by the United States and Russia.



The war 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 following Hamas’ surprise rampage on Oct. 7 in southern Israel.

The Associated Press couldn’t independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.

The fighting has killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, according to Israeli officials, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas attack. 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.

Currently:

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

BEIRUT – Deputy Hamas chief Saleh al-Arouri says that “despite the enemy’s crimes … the resistance is well,” referring to the group’s military wing and allies.

The statement on Thursday came after intense overnight Israeli strikes in the besieged Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.

“It (Hamas and militant groups) will turn your tragedies into joy, in the event of a ground invasion” the Beirut-based top Hamas official said in a statement addressed to Palestinians in Gaza shared by the Palestinian group’s media office in Beirut.

Al-Arouri on Wednesday met with the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, Hassan Nasrallah, and the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhleh. The leaders reached an agreement on next steps in the current “sensitive” situation, according to a statement shared by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah and Israel have skirmished along the tense Lebanon-Israel border. There are fears that a ground invasion could spark an escalation on Israel’s northern front and across the region.

Israeli troops and tanks launched a brief ground raid into northern Gaza overnight into Thursday, the military said, striking several militant targets in order to “prepare the battlefield” ahead of a widely expected ground invasion after more than two weeks of devastating air raids.

During the raid, the military said soldiers struck fighters, militant infrastructure and anti-tank missile launching positions. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.

ROME – Relatives of Israelis held hostage by Hamas met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome on Wednesday to speak about their anguish and raise awareness for their loved ones’ plight in Gaza.

Nadav Kipnis’ parents, Evyatar and Lilich Kipnis, were found dead days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. His cousin is being held captive.

“None of them deserved to be treated in such horrible ways. We have to spread the message of anything that can help. It’s what my parents would have wanted,” Kipnis said.

Ilan Regev’s two children, 21-year-old Maya and 18-year-old Itay, were kidnapped at the Nova Music Festival.

Hamas has said it seeks the release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the captives.

“Give them everything, 4,000, 5,000 prisoners in Israel. I don’t care, these are children, babies, bring them back,” Regev said.

Since the militants’ bloody attack more than two weeks ago, Meloni has traveled to Israel and visited Rome’s main synagogue, where she pledged to defend Jewish citizens against “every form of antisemitism.”

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip – An Israeli strike on Wednesday killed the wife, son and young daughter of Al Jazeera Arabic’s bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Dahdouh.

Footage aired on the Qatar-based TV network showed the veteran journalist, still wearing his blue body armor marked “press,” weeping over his son’s corpse on a hospital floor.

“They take vengeance on us through our children?” he sobbed.

Another son, Yehia, was seriously wounded, and Dahdouh’s grandson was also declared dead two hours later, the network reported. Other relatives survived the Israeli strike, including a toddler granddaughter.

“This is a series of targeted attacks on children, women and civilians,” Dahdouh, looking stunned, told Al Jazeera as he left the hospital.

The media network released a statement condemning what it called an “indiscriminate assault” on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. The camp is south of the area Israel has ordered civilians to evacuate.

In Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Youmna Elsayed told the network: “It’s heartbreaking to be reporting about Wael’s family and to see how broken he is.”

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council has failed again to address the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza, rejecting rival United States and Russian resolutions.

The U.S. resolution would have reaffirmed Israel’s right to self-defense, urged respect for international laws – especially protection of civilians – and called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver desperately needed aid to Gaza. Wednesday’s vote in the 15-member council was 10 countries in favor, 3 against and 2 abstentions. The resolution was not adopted because both Russia and China cast vetoes.

The Russian resolution would have called for an immediate “humanitarian cease-fire,” and unequivocally condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and “indiscriminate attacks” on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza. The vote was 4 in favor, 2 against and 9 abstentions. The resolution wasn’t adopted because it failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes.

The council is charged under the U.N. Charter with maintaining international peace and security. But Wednesday’s rejections, following its rejections last week of a Russian resolution and a Brazilian proposal, leave the Security Council divided and paralyzed in taking action on the Israeli-Hamas war.

Malta’s U.N. Ambassador Vanessa Frazier told reporters before the vote that if both resolutions failed, she would attempt to draft a compromise resolution.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of submitting its text with no consultations “in bad faith.” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the U.S. draft a “politicized” proposal to shore up Israel.

BAGHDAD – An Iranian backed group in Iraq claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base housing U.S. forces in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a string of attacks targeting U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Syria persist.

The Islamic Resistance group in Iraq, an umbrella organization for several Iran-backed militias, said in a statement that it had struck the Kharab al-Jir base in the northeastern Hassakeh province with rockets. It said it hit its target, without making any mention of casualties.

Washington did not immediately comment on the attack. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani, urged Sudani “to pursue those behind the attacks and fulfill Iraq’s commitment to maintain the security at these installations,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Tuesday.

The past week has seen a spate of more than a dozen attacks on U.S. military facilities in Iraq in Syria, most of them claimed by the same group, which has said it is retaliating against America’s backing of Israel in its war with Hamas.

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday said there is no going back to the “status quo” in Israel and the region following the deadly attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.

“When this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next,” Biden said during a news conference at the White House with the Prime Minister of Australia. “And in our view, it has to be a two-state solution.”

Biden said again that he believed Israeli had the right – the “responsibility” – to respond to the attack. “The anger, the hurt, the sense of outrage that the Israeli people are feeling” following the attack is “completely understandable,” he said.

But he also decried the attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, and said it must stop and “stop now,” and he said he remained focused on humanitarian aid into Gaza.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – An Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Wednesday killed at least 26 people and injured more than 100, Hamas’ Interior Ministry said.

Bodies of dead men and women were scattered in streets that had relatively little damage while a block of buildings lay in ruins with people searching for survivors.

Two wounded young boys embraced each other and appeared to be crying as a first responder and three other men carried them to safety on a stretcher.

A man with blood running from his scalp into his eye and down his cheek looked stunned as he sat on what remained of a sofa propped in the rubble, while a girl, who was also wounded, hugged him.

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron is promoting, with little success so far, the creation of an international coalition to fight the armed Palestinian group Hamas.

He pitched the idea during a two-day trip to the Middle East that started in Israel.

Leaders he met with in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt didn’t publicly address the issue.

The first response to the devastating Israel-Hamas war is “the fight against terrorism,” Macron said Wednesday after his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

“The right response is to cooperate, to draw lessons from the international coalition against the Islamic State group” that intervened in Iraq and Syria, he added.

Macron first proposed the idea Tuesday after his meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mentioning a “regional and international coalition” against Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu did not specifically comment on the proposal.

JERUSALEM – The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is acknowledging an Iraqi militia’s threat to target U.S. military bases in the Mideast nation over the Israeli airstrikes targeting the Gaza Strip in its war on Hamas.

In a statement to American citizens, the embassy identified the threat as coming from Awliya Wa’ad al-Haq, or “The True Promise Brigades.” That group, believed allied with Iran, has claimed an attack previously on the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

“As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is limiting its activity on U.S. military bases to essential and official events only,” the embassy said in an alert.

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will be held accountable for the bloody Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas militants, but that will only come after Israel’s war against the Islamic militant group.

In a nationally televised address Wednesday night, Netanyahu said he was busy plotting a ground invasion of Gaza, though he refused to say when that might happen. He also expressed sorrow over the attack, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis and saw over 200 others taken captive in Gaza.

“Oct. 7 is a black day in our history,” he said. “We will get to the bottom of what happened on the southern border around Gaza. This debacle will be investigated. Everyone will have to give answers, including me.”

CAIRO – French President Emmanuel Macron said France is going to send a Navy ship to bring aid to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

The ship will leave the French military port of Toulon, in the Mediterranean Sea, within 48 hours, he said. He didn’t provide further details.

In addition, a French plane will arrive in Egypt on Thursday to deliver medical equipment via a convoy to Gaza. “Others will follow,” Macron said, adding that France wants to provide Gaza’s civilian population access to medicine and medical care.

Macron’s visit to Egypt comes as part of a two-day tour to the Middle East that started with a visit to Israel meant to show France’s support and solidarity following the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The trip included a stop in Ramallah, in the West Bank, to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and another stop Wednesday morning in Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II.

Macron in Egypt said, “There’s no double standard … international law applies to everyone.”

“All victims deserve our compassion, our commitment toward a fair and sustainable peace in the Middle East,” he added.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.



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