The Latest | Gaza's Health Ministry says 25 killed, 50 wounded in Israeli strikes on tent camps

Armenia said it would recognize a Palestinian state, prompting Israel to summon its ambassador for what the Foreign Ministry described as a “severe reprimand.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

At least 25 people were killed and another 50 wounded in attacks on tents for displaced Palestinians sheltering in southern Gaza, according to the territory’s Heath Ministry and emergency workers.

Witnesses whose relatives died in one of the bombardments near a Red Cross field hospital told The Associated Press that Israeli forces fired a second volley that killed people who came out of their tents.

The locations of the attacks provided by the Civil Defense appear to be just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone on Gaza's Mediterranean coast. The Israeli military said the episode was under review but that “there is no indication that a strike was carried out by the IDF” inside the safe zone.

Israel is pushing ahead with the military operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in Gaza. Most have now fled Rafah, but the United Nations says no place in Gaza is safe and humanitarian conditions are dire as families shelter in tents and cramped apartments.

Acute food shortages in northern Gaza are driving up the number of children suffering from malnutrition, the head of a major hospital said Friday, and his staff has treated some 250 malnourished kids so far. Palestinians face widespread hunger as the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and basic goods to Gaza, which is now totally dependent on aid.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Israel launched the war after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Currently:

— The fate of the latest cease-fire proposal hinges on Netanyahu and Hamas' leader in Gaza.

— Israel's pledge to guard an aid route into Gaza falls flat as lawlessness blocks distribution.

— A rare public rift appears between Israel's political and military leadership over how the war in Gaza is being conducted.

— The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group warns archenemy Israel against wider war.

Follow AP's coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here's the latest:

UN chief says ‘total lawlessness’ in Gaza is preventing aid distribution

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says that “total lawlessness” and “chaos” in Gaza is preventing the distribution of desperately needed humanitarian aid within the enclave, which is why an immediate cease-fire is needed.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Friday that “most of the trucks with humanitarian aid inside Gaza are now looted because this is a war that is different from any other one.”

“We have attacks, we have bombings, and then troops move to other places," he said. "Hamas returns to the original ones and there is total chaos in Gaza, and there is no authority in most of the territory.” He added that “Israel does not even allow the so-called blue police to escort our convoys because it’s local police linked to the local administration, so lawlessness is total.”

The U.N. chief also stressed that those obstacles pose “extreme difficulty” to distribute aid.

“There must be a mechanism, guarantee that there is a minimum of law and order that allows for that (aid) distribution to take place and that’s why a cease-fire is so necessary,” he said.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said later the U.N. humanitarian office reports that “the breakdown of public order and safety is increasingly endangering humanitarian workers and operations.”

He said the U.N. hasn't been able to pick up aid from the Kerem Shalom crossing for the last three days because of “the lack of public order and safety and other impediments” affecting travel from the crossing and along Gaza’s main north-south Salah al-Din road where Israeli forces have announced a daytime halt to fighting.

As an example of a security issue, Haq said he heard early Friday that World Food Program staffers were carrying out activities near Kerem Shalom and there was Israeli tank fire about 40 meters (yards) away. “We’re trying to see what happened there and we take this very seriously,” he said.

While cargo from the U.S.-built pier has been unloaded on to the beach, Haq said that until U.N. security concerns are addressed, the WFP will not be participating in its distribution. A U.N. security review is under way and there is no timeline for its completion.

UN chief warns a rash move along the Israel-Lebanon border could set off a ‘catastrophe’

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is warning that one rash move or miscalculation in the escalation between Israel and Hezbollah along the Lebanon border “could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Friday: “Let’s be clear: The people of the region and the people of the world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza.”

On both sides of the U.N. drawn boundary between Israel and Lebanon known as the Blue Line, he said many have been killed and thousands displaced while exchanges of fire continue along with escalating rhetoric from both sides “as if an all-out war was imminent.”

“The secretary-general said homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, and bushfires sparked by explosions are further devastating communities and the environment.”

Guterres said Israel and Hezbollah must urgently return to a cessation of hostilities as required by a Security Council resolution in 2006 at the end of a war between the two sides.

“The cessation of hostilities and progress toward a permanent cease-fire is the only durable solution,” he said.

Guterres said U.N. peacekeepers are on the ground “working to de-escalate tensions and help prevent miscalculations in an extremely challenging environment.”

“The United Nations fully supports diplomatic efforts to end the violence, restore stability and avoid even greater human suffering in a region that has seen far too much,” the secretary-general said.

Son of one the first Israeli Olympic medalists is killed in Gaza

JERUSALEM — An Israeli soldier killed in combat in Gaza was the son of the one the first Israeli Olympic medalists, according to the country’s Olympic Committee.

Omer Smadga, whose death was announced by the army on Friday, was the son of Oren Smadga, the winner of a bronze medal in judo at the 1992 Summer Olympics. The army did not provide further details about the circumstances of his death.

Israel’s Olympic Committee said they “bowed their heads in deep pain” with the Olympic medalist and coach, who helped train the current Israeli Olympic judo team. The committee did not say whether or not Smadga would travel to Paris with the judo team.

Smadga’s success, along with Yael Arad, who also won a silver medal in judo at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, helped propel the sport in Israel.

Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian militants in northern West Bank, police say

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian militants in the northern West Bank on Friday, police said, as violence rages in the Israeli-occupied territory.

According to Israeli police, the two men were killed after a gunfight broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in the town of Qalqilya. Palestinian authorities said the slain men were in their 20s.

Israeli police said the two gunmen were members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group active across the West Bank and Gaza. The militant group did not immediately claim the two dead men as their fighters. The two fighters were later claimed by both Hamas and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group loosely linked to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

Violence has surged in the West Bank since the Israel-Hamas war broke out last October. At least 549 Palestinian from the territory have been killed by Israeli fire, according to data published by the Ramallah-based health ministry. Many have been killed in armed clashes, some for throwing stones, but some posed no apparent threat.

Bodies of 5 killed in an airstrike in Gaza City recovered from apartments

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — The Palestinian Civil Defense organization says its teams have recovered the bodies of five people who were killed in an airstrike that hit two apartments in Gaza City.

The agency said several people were also injured in Friday’s strike that hit the apartments of two families in the center of the city.

An earlier airstrike hit a municipal garage in the city and killed five people, raising to 10 the number of people killed Friday.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,400 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Qatari foreign minister says cease-fire negotiations are making progress ‘to some extent’

MADRID — Qatar’s foreign minister says some progress has been made in negotiations over a Gaza cease-fire deal but gaps remain between Israel and Hamas.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, whose country is a mediator alongside the U.S. and Egypt, said Friday “there has been progress to some extent in the situation.”

Mediators have held “successive meetings” with the Hamas leadership in an effort to bridge the gaps, he said during a visit to Spain.

“There cannot be one party to the conflict adopting the vision of the other party,” he said. The solution “must be based on compromises between the two parties.”

Two Israeli soldiers killed in central Gaza

JERUSALEM — Israel’s army said Friday that two Israeli soldiers were killed in combat in central Gaza.

No information was given about the circumstances about the deaths of the two, both of whom were men in their 20s. Three other soldiers were severely injured, the army said.

The news comes as public anger grows in Israel over the trajectory of the eight month conflict and exemptions from military service for young ultra-Orthodox men.

Last week, an explosion in southern Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers. In January, 21 Israeli troops were killed in a single attack by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that triggered the war, more than 660 Israeli troops have been killed, about half in the Israeli ground operation in Gaza, according to the latest figures from the military.

Over 37,000 Palestinians in the enclave have been killed by Israeli fire over that same period, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures

Gaza hospital chief says hundreds of children are suffering from malnutrition

DEIR Al-BALAH, Gaza Strip — The head of one of the largest hospitals in north Gaza says his staff has recently registered some 250 children suffering from malnutrition and the numbers are raising daily due to acute food shortages.

Dr. Husam Abu Safyia, director of Kamal Adwan Hospital, urged the international community to pressure Israel to allow more food and other products into the Gaza Strip, warning that conditions are dire in the besieged territory. Israel controls all of Gaza’s border crossings.

Abu Safyia told The Associated Press on Friday that medical authorities have sent teams from his hospital to centers housing displaced people in north Gaza to assess them for malnutrition.

He said flour is the most available foodstuff in north Gaza, and that people need more proteins and fats to keep healthy.

Northern Gaza was badly affected by the fighting during the early months of the Israel-Hamas war and is still suffering food shortages.

Abu Safyia added that illnesses are spreading in Gaza as trash piles grow because authorities lack the resources to remove garbage and sewage from the streets.

“We are facing a real disaster,” he said adding that more people could die in the coming days if food does not flow into the Gaza Strip.

Armenia recognizes a Palestinian state

JERUSALEM — Armenia's foreign ministry said Friday that the former Soviet republic would recognize a Palestinian state, prompting Israel to summon its ambassador for a “severe reprimand."

A short statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry provided no further details.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it joined United Nations resolutions calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and said “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and the ongoing military conflict” was one of the most important on the international agenda.

“We support the ‘two-state’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the statement said. “We are convinced that this is the only way to ensure that both Palestinians and Israelis can fulfill their legitimate aspirations."

Dozens of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, though none of the major Western powers has done so. Palestinians believe the recognitions confer international legitimacy on their struggle, especially amid international outrage over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Last month, Spain, Ireland and Norway said they had decided to recognize a Palestinian state, and since then Slovenia and the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda have followed suit.

Israeli airstrike levels Gaza municipal garage, killing 5

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian Civil Defense authorities say an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City hit a municipal garage, killing five people.

The strike on the garage in the center of Gaza City came Friday and killed four municipal workers and one passer-by, while leaving an unknown number of others buried under the rubble of the damaged building, the Civil Defense said.

The Gaza municipality confirmed that the strike hit its employees but did not give a breakdown on the casualties.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Since then, the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure has suffered heavy damage, and the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians who are facing widespread hunger.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,400 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Israel’s pledge to guard an aid route into Gaza falls flat as lawlessness blocks distribution

JERUSALEM — A breakdown in law and order in southern Gaza has made a new route to deliver aid unusable, according to the United Nations and international humanitarian organizations, just days after Israel declared the safe corridor.

With thousands of truckloads of aid piled up, groups of armed men are regularly blocking convoys, holding drivers at gunpoint and rifling through their cargo, according to a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media on the issue.

The lawlessness is a major obstacle to aid distribution for southern and central Gaza. In those areas, an estimated 1.3 million Palestinians displaced from Rafah — more than half of Gaza’s entire population — are now sheltering in tent camps and cramped apartments without adequate food, water, or medical supplies.

Israel announced Sunday it would observe daily pauses in combat along a route stretching from Kerem Shalom, the strip’s only operational aid crossing in the south, to the nearby city of Khan Younis.

The head of the U.N.’s World Food Program said Thursday that the pause has made “no difference at all” in aid distribution efforts. “We haven’t been able to get in,” said Cindy McCain in an interview with Al-Monitor. “We’ve had to reroute some of our trucks. They’ve been looted. As you know, we’ve been shot at and we’ve been rocketed.”

The Israeli military body in charge of coordinating humanitarian aid efforts, COGAT, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The U.N. official familiar with the aid effort said that there's been no sign of Israeli activity along the route. The U.N. tried to send a convoy of 60 trucks down the road Tuesday to pick up aid at Kerem Shalom. But 35 of the trucks were intercepted by armed men, the official said.

In recent days, the groups have moved closer to the crossing and set up roadblocks to halt trucks loaded with supplies, the U.N. official said. They have searched the pallets for smuggled cigarettes, a rare luxury in a territory where a single smoke can go for $25.

The U.N. official said that 25 trucks of flour used the route Tuesday. Some private commercial trucks also got through — many of which used armed security to deter groups seeking to seize their cargo. An AP reporter stationed along the road Monday saw at least eight trucks pass by, armed security guards riding on top.

___

AP writer Julia Frankel contributed.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Credit: AP