The Latest | Hamas says Israel's offensive in north Gaza could sink cease-fire efforts

Hamas has warned that Israel’s expanding military operations in Gaza City and the displacement of thousands of residents could have “disastrous repercussions” for talks aimed at a cease-fire and the release of Israeli hostages

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Hamas has warned that Israel’s expanding military operations in Gaza City and the displacement of thousands of residents could have “disastrous repercussions” for talks aimed at a cease-fire and the release of Israeli hostages.

The militant group said in a statement Monday that its top political leader Ismail Haniyeh warned mediators of the “collapse” of the negotiations, saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli army would bear “full responsibility.”

The statement came days after the two sides appeared to have narrowed gaps in the long-running negotiations. Talks on a cease-fire were expected to resume this week.

Hamas wants an agreement that ensures that the war ends and Israeli troops fully leave Gaza. Israel says it cannot halt the war before the Palestinian militant group is eliminated. Postwar governance and security control of the enclave have also been contentious issues.

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

Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,000 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

The war has caused massive devastation across the besieged territory and displaced most of its 2.3 million people, often multiple times. Israeli restrictions, fighting and the breakdown of law and order have curtailed humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top U.N. court has ordered Israel to take steps to protect the Palestinians as it examines genocide allegations against Israeli leaders. Israel strongly denies the charge.

Currently:

— Gaza destruction likely helped push Hamas to soften cease-fire demands, several officials say

Rafah is a dusty, rubble-strewn ghost town 2 months after Israel invaded to root out Hamas

— Gaza soccer stadium is now a shelter for thousands of displaced Palestinians

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

Here’s the latest:

Biden meets with Liat Beinin Atzili, who was held hostage by Hamas

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden met Monday at the White House with Liat Beinin Atzili, an Israeli-American teacher who was held hostage in Gaza for more than 50 days by Hamas militants.

Atzili was among those taken captive on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants rampaged through Kibbutz Nir Oz. Her husband, Aviv, was killed in the attack.

The White House said in a statement that Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, joined Biden’s meeting with Atzili and her family..

The meeting comes as hostage negotiations are expected to resume this week amid signs of narrowing differences between Israel and Hamas over a U.S.-backed proposal to release all remaining hostages over the course through a three-phase deal.

Biden has dispatched CIA Director William Burns and White House senior adviser Brett McGurk to the region for the talks.

UN details the effects of a new Israeli offensive into Gaza City

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations said Monday that Israel’s latest evacuation orders for parts of Gaza City affect more than 60 schools sheltering displaced Palestinians, as well as two partially functional hospitals, six medical points and two primary health care centers.

The evacuation orders came as Israeli deepens its offensives in pursuit of militants who had regrouped in the heavily damaged city. Thousands of Palestinians have fled in recent days.

Humanitarian officials report that staff and patients have left hospitals in and around the evacuation areas, and people who were already displaced are being forced to flee again, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The U.N. humanitarian office also reports that “active hostilities, damaged roads, access limitations and the lack of public order and safety continue to hamper movement along the main humanitarian cargo route from the Kerem Shalom crossing to Khan Younis, and then to Deir al-Balah,” Dujarric said.

He said this has resulted in critical food shortages, reduced food rations in central and southern Gaza last month, and the increasing risk of stranded supplies, especially food, spoiling in the heat.

Maysa Saleh, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s education officer in Deir al-Balah, said in a statement that “almost no aid has arrived over the last week or so,” and “food remains the number one worry.”

Gaza activist who had organized anti-Hamas protests is hospitalized after being assaulted, his family says

CAIRO — The family of a well-known Gaza activist who had organized anti-Hamas protests say he was assaulted by a group of men wielding batons and knives.

Amin Abed, 35, was in critical condition in a hospital in northern Gaza after being attacked on Monday while walking home. His father, Salah Abed, detailed the attack in a Facebook post without saying who was responsible.

Amer Balousha, a friend of the activist, said more than 20 masked men attacked him. He said that when bystanders intervened, the attackers fired shots in the air and claimed to be from Hamas’ internal security.

There was no comment from Hamas.

Amin Abed had helped organize protests in 2019 over the harsh economic conditions under Hamas rule and taxes it imposed. Gaza has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power in 2007. More recently, he has criticized Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel that triggered the war, which has brought unprecedented devastation and hunger to the Palestinian territory.

The Hamas-run police, which maintained a high degree of public order before the war, have largely vanished from the streets after being targeted in Israeli strikes, but the militant group still exerts control across the territory. Criminal gangs and other armed groups have exploited the breakdown of law and order, robbing aid convoys and further complicating humanitarian efforts.

Israel's top general in the West Bank makes rare public criticism of settler violence

JERUSALEM – Israel's top general in the West Bank spoke out against settler violence in the occupied territory, a rare public denunciation of settler attacks on Palestinians from within Israel's military establishment.

At a ceremony appointing his successor, the retiring chief of the Israeli military’s central command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, said that “nationalist crime” had recently “reared its head.”

“Under the auspices of the war and the desire for revenge, it sowed chaos and fear in Palestinian residents who did not pose any threat,” Fox added.

Fox's statement came after a week of particularly intense attacks on Palestinians in the volatile territory. Videos obtained by The Associated Press showed Israeli forces standing by as settlers cut water pipes to a Palestinian village and looking on as settler gangs intimidated residents.

Fox said he was dismayed that local politicians and religious leaders in the West Bank have not acted to combat the escalating settler violence.

“This is not Judaism to me. At least not the one I grew up with,” Fox said.

Violence by settlers has flared since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. The U.N. has documented over 1,000 settler attacks since the war began.

Critics have accused the army of failing to halt the violence and in many cases, turning a blind eye to the attacks.

Hamas says ongoing Israeli operations in Gaza City could have ‘disastrous repercussions’ for cease-fire talks

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Hamas has warned that Israel’s expanding military operations in Gaza City and the displacement of thousands of residents could have “disastrous repercussions” for talks aimed at a cease-fire and the release of Israeli hostages.

The militant group said in a statement Monday that its top political leader Ismail Haniyeh warned mediators of the “collapse” of the negotiations, saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli army would bear “full responsibility.”

The statement came days after the two sides had appeared to have narrowed gaps in the long-running talks aimed at pausing the fighting nine months into the war in Gaza. Talks on a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip were expected to resume this week.

Hamas wants an agreement that ensures Israeli troops fully leave Gaza and that the war ends. Israel says it cannot halt the war before the Palestinian militant group is eliminated. Postwar governance and security control of the enclave have also been contentious issues.

US condemns Iran for sending weapons to Yemen's Houthi rebels

UNITED NATIONS — The United States is again condemning Iran for illegally transferring weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea to pressure Israel to halt its war against Hamas in Gaza.

U.S. deputy ambassador Stephanie Sullivan said despite Iranian denials that it is providing weapons, “its own state affiliated media has touted the country’s supply of prohibited ballistic missile technology to the Houthis, something U.N. experts have concluded as well and published in their reports.”

Sullivan spoke after the U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously approved a 12-month extension of the U.N. mission to support the December 2018 Hodeida Agreement, which monitors the implementation of a cease-fire agreement in Yemen’s key port city of Hodeida between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government.

Since November, the Houthis have targeted more than 60 vessels by firing missiles and drones, killing a total of four sailors, in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Monday’s extension of the mandate allowing continued patrolling of the Red Sea ports of Hodeida and the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Isa, and support for their demilitarization, “sends a clear message of the continued importance of the cease-fire in Hodeida and the work to preserve it.”

Yemen has been engulfed in civil war since 2014 when the Houthis seized much of northern Yemen and forced the government to flee from the capital, Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year in support of government forces, and in time the conflict turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The war has killed more than 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

UN agency in Gaza says half its facilities there have been destroyed and over 500 people killed

CAIRO — The head of the main U.N. agency providing aid to Gaza says half its facilities in the territory have been destroyed since the war began. Philippe Lazzarini also said more than 500 people have been killed in those attacks, including employees and displaced people sheltering there.

The commissioner-general of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees spoke at a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Badr Abdelaty, who reiterated Egypt’s support for the agency known as UNRWA.

Israel has accused UNRWA of turning a blind eye or collaborating with Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza, and of perpetuating the decades-old Palestinian refugee crisis, accusations the agency denies.

UNRWA provides basic services to millions of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation and their descendants, who make up a majority of Gaza's population.

Families of hostages urge Netanyahu to delay his speech to the U.S. Congress until a deal to release them is signed

TEL AVIV, Israel — A group representing the families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to postpone his speech to the U.S. Congress until a deal to release their relatives is signed.

Netanyahu is to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress on July 24. Israel and Hamas are currently engaged in some of the most serious talks in months on an agreement that would halt the war in exchange for the release of hostages as well as hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The hostage families' group called on Netanyahu to prioritize a deal before he travels abroad.

“A speech without concrete action to seal the deal and bring our loved ones home is premature and misses the mark of this war’s top priority -- the return of all the hostages,” it said in a statement.

Families of hostages have grown increasingly frustrated with Netanyahu and his government’s inability or unwillingness to bring the captives home. Protests across the country on Sunday demanded that Netanyahu nail down a deal that would free the hostages and called for his resignation.

The impatience was also felt Monday, when the brother of one hostage was forcibly removed from a parliamentary committee meeting. Video showed about half a dozen security guards dragging Danny Elgarat by his arms and legs as an uproar erupted in the room, with participants shouting, “Shame on you!”

Elgarat was asked to leave the room after arguing with another relative of a hostage and accusing the committee chairman, an ultranationalist lawmaker, of funding a marginal hostage family advocacy group that opposes stopping the war in exchange for releasing the captives, Israeli media reported.

Residents flee neighborhood in Gaza City after Israel orders evacuation

CAIRO — Residents were fleeing their homes and shelters in eastern Gaza City overnight into Monday after the Israeli military ordered the evacuations of five residential blocks in the area, which saw heavy clashes with Palestinian militants.

It was unclear how many people had fled the area, but residents said thousands of people had departed seeking safety. The United Nations and other aid groups did not immediately have estimates.

The new exodus occurred in the north of the Gaza Strip, an area hard-hit in the early weeks of the war that Israel previously said it had seized control of. The evacuation orders are the latest sign that Hamas is regrouping in areas said to be under Israeli control. Residents also reported intense bombing by Israeli warplanes in the eastern and southern parts of Gaza City.

Ground fighting has also raged in the Shijaiyah neighborhood and its surroundings for the past two weeks.

“We fled in the darkness amid heavy strikes,” said Sayeda Abdel-Baki, a mother of three children who was sheltering at her relatives’ home. “This is my fifth displacement.”

The Israeli military said it was conducting “counterterrorism” operations in Gaza City that came after intelligence indicated militant activity there. Its statement did not specify in what areas of the city it was operating.

Fadel Naeem, the director of the Al-Ahli hospital, which is close to the evacuated area, said patients and their companions fled the facility in panic. He said there were no evacuation orders for the hospital but “hundreds of patients and companions have panicked and left for fear of the worst.” He said patients with critical conditions have been evacuated to other hospitals in northern Gaza.

The Israeli military renewed its ground offensive on Shijaiyah last month, forcing between 60,000 and 80,000 people to flee the area.

Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon kill at least 1 person

BEIRUT — Israeli airstrikes in various parts of southern Lebanon early Monday killed at least one person and hundreds of livestock.

The strikes came as tensions continued to boil between Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and the Israeli military along the Lebanon-Israel border, and as talks on a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Israel are set to resume.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said an Israeli strike at Qlaileh near the coastal city of Tyre targeting a motorcycle killed one person and wounded another.

It said three other strikes at Jabal Toura in the southeast destroyed the house of a shepherd and a livestock farm.

Hussein Ammar, owner of the farm, said almost 200 livestock were killed.

“Half of my stock is gone,” he said.

Fighting since Oct. 8 has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border. In northern Israel, 16 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed. In Lebanon, more than 450 people, mostly fighters but also dozens of civilians, have been killed.

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