The Latest | Blinken says Israel will open a major aid crossing into hard-hit northern Gaza

Israel plans on opening a major humanitarian aid crossing into hard-hit northern Gaza

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Israel plans on opening a major humanitarian aid crossing into hard-hit northern Gaza, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday. Israel's war against Hamas has flattened huge swaths of Gaza's north, and famine is imminent for the hundreds of thousands of civilians who remain.

Blinken is back in the Mideast this week to advance cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas, as talks appear to be gaining momentum. However, hours before he landed in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to launch a ground offensive into Gaza's southernmost town of Rafah — “with or without a deal” to halt the fighting and release Israeli hostages.

Rafah is the main entry point for getting desperately needed aid into Gaza, where the United Nations says 100% of the population is at severe levels of food insecurity. More than a million Palestinian civilians have been driven into Rafah, with many living in sprawling tent camps. Israel says Rafah is Hamas’ last major stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

Nearly seven months of Israeli bombardment and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, and sparked a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Currently:

— Why Israel is so determined to launch an offensive in Rafah. And why so many oppose it.

— How Columbia University became the driving force behind protests over the war in Gaza.

A ship is attacked far in the Arabian Sea, raising concerns over Houthi rebel capabilities.

Columbia University threatens to expel student protesters occupying an administration building

Netanyahu vows to invade Rafah 'with or without a deal' as cease-fire talks with Hamas continue.

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

Here's the latest:

PALESTINIANS WANT U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO RECONSIDER THEIR BID FOR FULL MEMBERSHIP

UNITED NATIONS – The Palestinians are seeking approval of a resolution in the General Assembly asking the U.N. Security Council to reconsider “favorably” Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations, which the United States recently vetoed.

A draft Palestinian resolution obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press would also decide to give Palestine “the rights and privileges” to ensure its full and effective participation in the work of the General Assembly and other U.N. organs, “on equal footing with member nations.”

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding — as Security Council resolutions are — but they are an important reflection of global opinion.

The United States is scheduled to defend its veto of the widely backed Security Council resolution Wednesday morning in the General Assembly. It would have paved the way for Palestine to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood reiterated the longstanding U.S. position after the April 18 veto: The U.S. is not opposed to Palestinian statehood and U.N. membership but this “will only come from direct negotiations” with Israel.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been stalled for years, and Israel’s right-wing government is dominated by hard-liners who oppose Palestinian statehood.

After the Palestinians’ first attempt at U.N. membership failed in 2011, they went to the General Assembly and succeeded by more than a two-thirds majority in having their status raised from a U.N. observer to a non-member observer state in 2012.

Under the U.N. Charter, full membership is open to “peace-loving” countries recommended by the Security Council and approved by the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told The Associated Press late Tuesday that the vote will take place on May 10.

The draft resolution would stress the assembly’s “conviction” that Palestine is fully qualified for U.N. membership and express “deep regret and concern” that the U.S. veto prevented its admission. It would determine “that the state of Palestine is, in its judgment, a peace-loving state” and is able and willing to carry out its obligations under the U.N. Charter and would therefore recommend “that the Security Council reconsider the matter favorably.”

BLINKEN SAYS ISRAEL WILL OPEN MAJOR AID CROSSING INTO NORTHERN GAZA

AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Israel plans on opening a major crossing to allow aid to flow into the hard-hit northern Gaza Strip.

During a visit in Jordan on Tuesday, Blinken said the first shipments were already leaving Jordan and bound for the Erez crossing. U.S. officials said the aid would enter Gaza on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.

“The Jordanians are doing a remarkable job putting this together. We’re supporting that effort directly, and then this is moving much more effectively and efficiently into Gaza and to the people who need it in the north,” Blinken said, before traveling to Israel.

The U.S. has been pressuring Israel to do more to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, especially the devastated north. International aid organizations have reported a widespread humanitarian disaster, warning that hundreds of thousands of people in northern Gaza face the risk of famine.

Before Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Erez served as a passenger crossing for Palestinians, including medical patients, laborers and travelers, going in and out of Gaza. The crossing suffered heavy damage in the Oct. 7 attack and has been closed since then.

Israel recently pledged to reopen Erez for aid shipments but did not say when when operations would resume.

NETANYAHU SAYS IT WOULD BE AN ‘OUTRAGE’ IF U.N. COURT ISSUES ARREST WARRANTS FOR ISRAELI OFFICIALS

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it would be “an outrage of historic proportions” if the International Criminal Court in The Hague issues arrest warrants against Israeli officials.

In recent days, Israeli officials have raised speculation that the ICC is about to issue warrants in the court's 3-year-old probe into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militants going back to the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

It was not clear what sparked the concerns. The court has given no indication warrants in the case are imminent. The ICC prosecutor said Monday it would not comment on "speculation in the media" and that it does not give "a running commentary" about ongoing investigations.

Netanyahu said in a video address Tuesday that the court was “contemplating” warrants against Israeli government and military officials as “war criminals.” He denounced the court for “trying to put us in the dock as we defend ourselves” against Hamas and Iran.

“This ICC attempt is an attempt to paralyze Israel’s very ability to defend itself,” he said, saying Hamas was committing war crimes by operating in civilian areas in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu said Israel expects world leaders to “use all the means at their disposal” to stop “the ICC’s outrageous assault.”

Israeli officials have raised concerns over potential ICC warrants at a time when the U.S. and other nations have expressed opposition to Israeli plans for a ground offensive in the Gaza city of Rafah. Netanyahu has said an assault in Rafah is crucial to the goal of destroying Hamas, but the U.S. has raised concerns over some 1.4 million Palestinians who have crowded into the area.

BLINKEN WRAPS UP VISIT TO JORDAN AFTER MEETING PALESTINIAN WOMAN, TOURING AID DELIVERY OPERATIONS

AMMAN, Jordan -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met in Jordan with a group of Palestinian women, some of whom had left Gaza after the war began and some of whom have family still in the territory to hear about their personal experiences.

“I heard their stories,” he told reporters Tuesday in Amman shortly before flying to Tel Aviv, Israel. “I heard the suffering that they endured and that their friends and family continue to endure every day.”

Blinken, who also met with Jordan’s king and foreign minister during his trip to the Middle East this week, visited several sites in and around Amman where aid deliveries are coordinated and where trucks are loaded with supplies for their onward journey to Gaza.

At a meeting with UN coordinator for Gaza aid and reconstruction, Sigrid Kaag, Blinken thanked her team for its “extraordinary work to try to make sure that people of Gaza get the help and support, the assistance they need.”

“This is a critical moment in making sure that everything that needs to be done actually is being done, but your expertise, the work that you’re doing every single day really informs what we’re doing and trying to try to help advance,” Blinken said.

At one location, a warehouse for the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization near the town of Zarqa northeast of Amman, Blinken watched as workers loaded pallets of donated medical supplies and food onto a truck that will be part of the first large-scale convoy to drive directly through Jordan into Israel to the Erez Crossing. Israel agreed to reopen Erez earlier this month for aid deliveries in northern Gaza.

AMID CAMPUS PROTEST CRACKDOWN, U.N. CHIEF URGES RESPECT FOR PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations chief says freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be guaranteed – but “hate speech is unacceptable.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was asked by reporters Tuesday about U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk saying he's troubled by “heavy-handed steps” taken to break up and dismantle protests at U.S. college campuses against the Israel-Hamas war.

“First of all, I think it is essential in all circumstances to guarantee the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful demonstration,” Guterres replied. “And at the same time, it is obvious that hate speech is unacceptable.”

Referring to his time as Portugal’s prime minister from 1995 until 2002, Guterres said, “Based on my experience in government, I believe it is up to the university authorities to have the wisdom to properly manage situations like the ones we have witnessed.”

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up at many college campuses following the arrest of demonstrators in April at Columbia University. Dozens of people were arrested Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, Virginia and New Jersey.

The students are protesting the more than 34,000 Palestinians killed by Israel's war on Hamas, and are calling for universities to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel’s war in Gaza.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY THREATENS TO EXPEL STUDENT PROTESTERS WHO OCCUPIED A CAMPUS BUILDING

NEW YORK — Columbia University has promised that dozens of protesters would face expulsion after taking over a campus administration building to protest the Israel-Hamas war.

Early Tuesday, student protesters barricaded entrances and unfurled a Palestinian flag from a window of Hamilton Hall on Columbia's Manhattan campus. The takeover occurred nearly 12 hours after Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline for the protesters to leave an encampment of around 120 tents or face suspension.

In a statement Tuesday, Columbia spokesperson Ben Chang said, “Students occupying the building face expulsion.” He said those who didn’t agree to the terms from Monday were being suspended.

“Protesters have chosen to escalate to an untenable situation — vandalizing property, breaking doors and windows, and blockading entrances — and we are following through with the consequences we outlined yesterday,” he said.

The occupation at Columbia has unfolded as other universities stepped up efforts to clear out encampments. Police swept through some campuses, spurring confrontations with protesters and plenty of arrests. In rarer instances, university officials and protest leaders have struck agreements to restrict the disruption to campus life.

Israel and its supporters have branded the university protests as antisemitic, while critics of Israel say it uses those allegations to silence opposition. Although some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, organizers of the protests, some of whom are Jewish, say it is a peaceful movement aimed at defending Palestinian rights and protesting the war.

A SHIP IS HIT FAR IN THE ARABIAN SEA, RAISING CONCERNS OVER YEMEN'S HOUTHI REBEL CAPABILITIES

JERUSALEM — A Portuguese-flagged container ship came under attack by a drone in the far reaches of the Arabian Sea, corresponding with a claim by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that they assaulted the ship there, authorities said Tuesday.

The attack on the MSC Orion, occurring some 600 kilometers (375 miles) off the coast of Yemen, appeared to be the first confirmed deep-sea assault claimed by the Houthis since they began targeting ships in November. It suggests the Houthis — or potentially their main benefactor Iran — may have the ability to strike into the distances of the Indian Ocean.

The Houthis say their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are aimed at pressuring Israel to end its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The attack happened last Friday, according to the Joint Maritime Information Center, which operates as part of the U.S.-led Combined Maritime Forces in the Mideast. After the attack, the crew discovered debris apparently from a drone on board, the center said.

The ship “sustained only minor damage and all crew on board are safe,” the center said. Ship-tracking satellite data analyzed by The Associated Press put the container ship, bound for Salalah, Oman, in the area of the attack on Saturday.

The MSC Orion has been associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. It was operating on behalf of the Mediterranean Shipping Co., a Naples, Italy-based firm. Zodiac referred questions to MSC, which did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

UNITED NATIONS CHIEF URGES ISRAEL AND HAMAS TO AGREE ON A CEASE-FIRE

UNITED NATIONS – The head of the United Nations is urging Israel and Hamas to reach a cease-fire agreement, warning that if they don’t the war “will worsen exponentially” with consequences in Gaza and across the Middle East.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Tuesday that an Israeli military assault on the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians have fled seeking safety, “would be an unbearable escalation, killing thousands more civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.”

Guterres appealed to countries with influence over Israel “to do everything in their power” to prevent an offensive in Gaza. Asked what leverage the United States should use, he said “it’s very important to put all possible pressures in order to avoid what would be an absolutely devastating tragedy.”

The secretary-general said people in Rafah have very little to eat, little shelter, hardly any access to medical care, “and nowhere else to go.” And in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is greatest, he said sick children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable people “are already dying of hunger and disease.”

As for Israeli promises of stepped-up aid deliveries, Guterres said there has been “incremental progress” recently to prevent famine, but much more is urgently needed.

“We welcome aid delivery by air and sea, but there is no alternative to land routes,” he said, urging Israel to provide safe access for humanitarian aid and workers including from the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

Israel most also keep its promise to open two crossing points to northern Gaza so aid can be delivered from the port of Ashdod and from Jordan, he said.

Guterres said Gaza’s health system has been “decimated” during the seven-month Israel-Hamas war and “some hospitals now resemble cemeteries.”

He expressed deep alarm at the discovery of mass graves at Shifa medical complex in Gaza City and Nasser medical complex in Khan Younis where he said over 390 bodies have reportedly been exhumed.

“There are competing narratives around several of these mass graves, including serious allegations that some of those buried were unlawfully killed,” Guterres said. “It is imperative that independent international investigators, with forensic expertise, are allowed immediate access to the sites of these mass graves, to establish the precise circumstances under which hundreds of Palestinians lost their lives and were buried, or reburied.”

AHEAD OF ISRAEL VISIT, BLINKEN SAYS U.S. FOCUS IS ON CEASE-FIRE DEAL

AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration’s views on an Israeli offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah “are very well known” and that the focus is on a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Blinken spoke to reporters Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to launch an incursion into Rafah regardless of whether a cease-fire deal is reached.

Blinken is on his way to Israel to advance the truce talks — which appear to be one of the most serious rounds of negotiations between Israel and Hamas since the war began more than six months ago.

The Biden administration has been pushing back against an Israeli operation in Rafah, saying it seeks to protect Palestinian civilians. Blinken said the Israelis put “a strong proposal on the table” for a cease-fire and that the U.S. wanted to see the deal happen in the coming days.

“It demonstrated that they’re willing to compromise, and now it’s on Hamas,” Blinken said. “No more delays. No more excuses. The time to act is now.”

Blinken earlier met with regional leaders in Saudi Arabia and Jordan during his Middle East tour this week.

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY SAYS HE OPPOSES ANY ISRAELI OPERATION INTO RAFAH

WASHINGTON —U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress on Tuesday that he opposes any Israel military move into Rafah without a specific plan to move and properly care for the more than a million civilians there.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Austin declined to say whether he would advise the president to withhold offensive weapons from Israel if those forces begin the Rafah operation without implementing such a plan. He said any decision would be up to President Joe Biden.

Austin said he has spoken repeatedly to his Israeli counterpart about the need to do things sequentially. “They must do what’s necessary to take care of these civilians that are not combatants, and move them out of the battlespace,” said Austin. He said that has to be done before any military operations, and the Israelis must allow enough time to do it appropriately, adding, “we’ve had that conversation a number of times.”

Under questioning, Austin acknowledged that U.S. forces working on the humanitarian aid pier that will be attached to the shore could get shot at. He said they have the right to protect themselves and shoot back, if needed. He also noted that Israeli forces on the land will be conducting security for the area.

U.S. officials have said that the U.S. Army and Navy will also have the ability to protect their forces, including using weapons on the ships.

NO EVIDENCE FOREIGN ADVERSARIES ARE STOKING CAMPUS PROTESTS, WHITE HOUSE SAYS

WASHINGTON — A White House spokesman said Tuesday that U.S. intelligence officials have not found any evidence that foreign adversaries are attempting to stoke the ongoing protests in the U.S. over the Israel-Hamas war.

National Security spokesman John Kirby said that White House National Security Council officials have been watching the growing protest with concern.

“I’m not aware of any evidence either in the intelligence world or the law enforcement about bad actors,” Kirby said. “But I caveat that by saying we’re constantly looking at the information stream out there to make sure that we have as clear a picture as possible.”

Rep. Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., last week said in an interview with Ireland’s RTE that the U.S. protests over Biden’s support of Israel have a “Russian tinge.”

The comments come amid growing protests on college campuses against universities’ and the Biden administration support for Israel.

Kirby said that the president supports the students right to protest, but that action on some campuses has crossed the line.

“You just got to do it peacefully,” Kirby said. “You can’t hurt anybody. … You can’t be disrupting the educational pursuit of your fellow students. They have a right to go to school and do so safely. They have a right to get an education. And taking over a building by force is unacceptable.”

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF IS CONCERNED ABOUT CRACKDOWN ON U.S. CAMPUS PROTESTS

GENEVA — The office of the United Nations human rights chief on Tuesday expressed concern about “heavy-handed steps” taken to break up and dismantle protests at university campuses across the United States over Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Volker Türk, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement he was concerned that some actions by police at some U.S. universities “appear disproportionate in their impacts.”

His office said Türk also stressed that any antisemitic behavior and speech were “totally unacceptable and deeply disturbing” – as were anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian conduct and speech.

“U.S. universities have a strong, historic tradition of student activism, strident debate and freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” he said. “It must be clear that legitimate exercises of the freedom of expression cannot be conflated with incitement to violence and hatred.”

The comments come as thousands of protesters have taken to university campuses across the U.S. to speak out against Israel's war in Gaza, which has killed 34,000 Palestinians pushed northern Gaza to the brink of famine.

In recent weeks, hundreds of students have been arrested, and while many have been released, others still face charges or academic sanctions, the rights office said.

Turk was “troubled by a series of heavy-handed steps taken to disperse and dismantle protests across university campuses” in the U.S., his office said.

A TURKISH T

OURIST STABBED AN ISRAELI POLICE OFFICER IN JERUSALEM, ISRAELI OFFICIAL SAYS

JERUSALEM — An Israeli security official said the man who stabbed a police officer in Jerusalem was a 34-year-old Turkish national in Israel on a tourist visa.

The attacker moderately wounded the police officer and was killed on the scene by police, the security official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident with the media.

It is rare for visitors to carry out violent attacks in Israel, although relations between Israel and Turkey have significantly deteriorated during the war in Gaza.

Earlier this month, Turkey and Israel announced trade barriers on each other. Turkey has also accused Israel of barring its planes from participating in humanitarian aid air drops. Around 400 Turkish tourists came to Israel in March, 85% lower than the previous year, according to Israel's Tourism Ministry.

Tensions have been surging in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank throughout the war between Israel and Hamas. Tuesday’s suspected attack took place in east Jerusalem, which has a large Palestinian population and where tensions between Palestinians and police often flare.

Stabbing attacks, car rammings and shootings by Palestinians against Israelis have increased, mostly in the occupied West Bank but also in Israeli cities and towns, since the start of the war in Gaza.

___

Associated Press writer Melanie Lidman contributed.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION REPEATS CALL FOR ISRAEL NOT TO INVADE RAFAH

WASHINGTON--The White House on Tuesday reinforced its position that Israel should not move forward with a military operation in Rafah without a plan to safeguard innocent Palestinian civilians, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would move on Rafah regardless of whether a deal with Hamas to release remaining hostages is completed.

“I will let the prime minister speak for himself,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said about Netanyahu’s latest assertion that Israel would move forward in the southernmost Gaza city “with or without” a hostage deal. “Our position on Rafah is absolutely the same. We don’t want to see a major ground operation in Rafah. Certainly we don’t want to see operations that haven’t factored in the safety security of those 1.5 million folks trying to seek refuge down there.”

Kirby sidestepped questions about whether Netanyahu’s comment undermines efforts to get a deal completed, but noted Israel has worked in “good faith” on what he called a “healthy proposal.”

“There is a fresh proposal on the table,” Kirby said. “It is a good proposal. We are waiting to hear Hamas’s reaction to it. The Israelis worked closely with us and diligently to get this fresh proposal in place. And it’s really important that Hamas act on it, accept it, so we can get those hostages home.”

TOP U.N. COURT REJECTS NICARAGUA'S REQUEST FOR GERMANY TO HALT AID TO ISRAEL

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The top United Nations court has rejected a request by Nicaragua to order Germany to halt military and other aid to Israel and renew funding to the U.N. aid agency in Gaza.

The International Court of Justice said that legal conditions for making such an order weren’t met and ruled against the request in a 15-1 vote.

“Based on the factual information and legal arguments presented by the parties, the court concludes that, as present, the circumstances are not such as to require the exercise of its power ... to indicate provisional measures,” said Nawaf Salam, the court’s president.

However, the 16-judge panel declined to throw out the case altogether. The court will still hear arguments from both sides on the merits of Nicaragua’s case, which alleges that Germany failed to prevent genocide in Gaza. That will likely take months.

Salam said that the court “remains deeply concerned about the catastrophic living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in particular in view of the prolonged and widespread deprivation of food and other basic necessities to which they have been subjected.”

Germany argued at hearings in the case that it has barely exported any weapons to Israel since the offensive against Gaza started following the deadly incursion into southern Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

Nicaragua, a longstanding ally of the Palestinians, alleges that Germany is enabling genocide by sending arms and other support to Israel. Tuesday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice is only about preliminary orders in the case that will likely take years to resolve. Germany rejects the allegations.

Israel, which isn’t a party to the case between Nicaragua and Germany, strongly denies that its assault on Gaza amounts to acts of genocide, and insists that it’s acting in self-defense.

Nicaragua’s case is the latest legal bid by a country with historic ties to the Palestinian people to stop Israel’s offensive.

Late last year, South Africa accused Israel of genocide at the court. The cases come as Israel's allies face growing calls to stop supplying it with weapons, and as some, including Germany, have grown more critical of the war.

PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS IN THE WEST BANK DAMAGE GERMAN ENVOY'S CAR

JERUSALEM -- Palestinian protesters at a university in the occupied West Bank have damaged a German diplomatic vehicle and forced European diplomats to leave the area, according to video circulating on social media and German officials.

Videos taken by protesters and circulated on social media show protesters threw stones and smashed the side mirror of the car on Tuesday, while dozens of others chanted slogans as diplomats hurried to their cars.

An official with the German mission to the Palestinian territories said diplomats from the European Union were forced to leave a meeting at the Palestinian Museum at Bir Zeit University, outside of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, after students shouted at them and demanded they leave.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the diplomatic incident with the media.

Oliver Owcza, Germany’s representative in the Palestinian territories, said on X that Tuesday’s meeting of European mission heads was “unduly interrupted by protestors.”

No injuries were reported, Germany’s ambassador to Israel wrote on X.

In Berlin, the German Foreign Office confirmed that the diplomats, including the head of the German office in Ramallah, “decided to leave the site for security reasons.”

Germany has for decades been a staunch supporter of Israel, sparking accusations of bias from some Palestinians. Germany, however, has gradually shifted its tone as civilian casualties in Gaza have soared, becoming increasingly critical of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and speaking out against a ground offensive in Rafah.

Demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war have spread to college campuses around the world, especially in the United States.

By Associated Press writer Melanie Lidman

HEAD OF THE UN AGENCY FOR PALESTINIANS WELCOMES INFUSION OF DONATIONS

GENEVA — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinians said Tuesday that it has raised over $115 million in private donations since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted more than six months ago, praising a welcome infusion after a string of well-heeled Western governments suspended their funding.

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, made the comments after a closed-door briefing with diplomats from U.N. member states in Geneva. He said that most donor countries who paused their contributions in the wake of allegations from Israel that some staffers were connected to the militant group Hamas had since restarted their aid outlays.

Three countries — the United States, Austria and Britain — have not resumed funding, he said. The United States, its biggest funder, has “clearly indicated that it will keep the freeze until March 2025,” while Austria and Britain haven’t yet decided, Lazzarini said.

He said $267 million that had previously committed was still on hold, “the bulk of it” from the United States.

On Friday, the U.N. said its investigators are looking into allegations against 14 of the 19 UNRWA staffers who Israel claims were involved in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants that spurred the latest war in Gaza.

In January, the world body was informed of Israeli allegations that 12 employees of the agency known as UNRWA had taken part in the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, when Hamas and other Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people and seized some 250 as hostages. Seven other cases have since emerged.

Israel's allegations led to the suspension of contributions to UNRWA by the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries, leading to a pause of funding worth about $450 million, according to a U.N.-commissioned report released last week.

UNRWA has 32,000 staff in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, including 13,000 in Gaza who provide education, health care, food and other services to several million Palestinians and their families.

BLINKEN ARRIVES IN JORDAN

AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Jordan on the second leg of his latest Mideast diplomatic mission to boost aid shipments to Gaza and champion a new proposal for an Israel-Hamas cease-fire that would include the release of hostages held by the militant group.

A day after saying in Saudi Arabia that Israel still needs to do more to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza, and that Israel’s latest cease-fire offer was “extraordinarily generous” to Hamas, Blinken was meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi in Amman. Their talks were expected to focus on those issues as well as planning for post-conflict reconstruction and governance of Gaza.

Blinken will then tour several aid facilities and meet the U.N. humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, before leaving for Israel. Blinken will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet in Tel Aviv on Wednesday as well as visit Gaza-aid related sites.

On Monday in Riyadh, Blinken also reiterated the Biden administration’s opposition to Israel mounting a major military operation against the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting farther north. Blinken said Israel has still not presented a credible plan to protect civilians if it goes ahead with such an offensive.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel would proceed with a Rafah operation “with or without” a cease-fire for hostages deal.

AN ISRAELI POLICE INJURED, SUSPECTED ATTACKER SHOT DEAD IN JERUSALEM

JERUSALEM — An Israeli police officer has been moderately injured in a stabbing attack outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, police said.

Police say the attacker, a Turkish national, was killed by police on the scene.

Tensions have been surging in the region since the Israel-Hamas war broke out Oct. 7 when the militant group launched a cross-border raid into Israel, killing 1,200 people while another 250 were taken hostage.

Tuesday’s attack took place in east Jerusalem, which has a large Palestinian population and where tensions between them and Israeli police often flare.

Stabbing attacks, car rammings and shooting incidents against Israelis have increased, mostly in the occupied West Bank but also in Israeli cities and towns, since the start of the war in Gaza.

UNICEF: AT LEAST 8 CHILDREN KILLED, 75 INJURED IN 6-MONTH-LONG CONFLICT ALONG LEBANON BORDER

BEIRUT — At least eight children have been killed and 75 injured in Lebanon in the ongoing conflict along the country’s border with Israel, UNICEF said Monday.

Out of 90,000 people displaced by the conflict in south Lebanon, 30,000 are children, UNICEF said in a report. It said that 20,000 students have been impacted by the partial or total closure of 72 schools in the conflict zone.

Children in Lebanon have also suffered as a result of disruptions to services including health care and water and are struggling with mental health issues because of the violence, the report said.

More than 350 people have been killed by Israeli strikes in Lebanon over nearly seven months of near-daily cross-border fighting between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces. The conflict escalated after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7.

Most of those killed were fighters with Hezbollah and allied groups, but more than 50 civilians have also been killed. In addition to eight children, 21 women were killed in the first six months of fighting, UNICEF reported. On the Israeli side, strikes from Lebanon have killed at least 10 civilians and 12 soldiers.

Western diplomats have brought forward a series of proposals for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah but have so far failed to broker a deal. Hezbollah has said there will be no truce in Lebanon before there is a cease-fire in Gaza. Israeli officials, meanwhile, have said that a Gaza cease-fire does not automatically mean it will halt its strikes in Lebanon, even if Hezbollah does so.

GAZA HEALTH MINISTRY REPORTS 47 KILLED IN THE LAST 24 HOURS

CAIRO — The Gaza Health Ministry said Tuesday the bodies of 47 people killed by Israeli strikes have been brought to hospitals over the past 24 hours. Hospitals also received 61 wounded, it said in its daily report.

That brings the overall Palestinian death toll from the Israel-Hamas war to at least 34,536, the ministry said. Another 77,704 have been wounded, it said.

The Health Ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its tallies, but says that women and children make up around two thirds of those killed.

The Israeli military says it has killed roughly 13,000 militants during the war, without providing evidence to back up the claim.

HAMAS DELEGATION LEAVES CAIRO AFTER CEASE-FIRE TALKS

CAIRO — Officials from Hamas have left Cairo after talks with Egyptian officials on a new cease-fire proposal in Gaza, Egypt’s state-owned Al-Qahera News satellite channel said Tuesday.

The channel, which has close ties with Egyptian security agencies, said a Hamas delegation will return to Cairo with a written response to the cease-fire proposal, without saying when.

The delegation, chaired by senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, held talks with Egyptian officials Monday that focused on an Egyptian-crafted proposal to establish a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Along with Qatar and the United States, Egypt is mediating between Israel and Hamas to secure a truce after nearly seven months of war. In recent weeks, Egypt has stepped up mediation efforts in hopes of averting an assault on Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city on the border with Egypt where more than half of Gaza’s population is sheltering.

The terms of the draft deal were not made public. But Israeli media said Israel softened its position, now seeking the release of 33 hostages — down from 40 — in return for the release of some 900 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas is believed to hold around 100 Israelis in Gaza and the remains of at least 30 more.

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