Live updates | Gaza officials say Israeli fire strikes a crowd waiting for aid, killing at least 20

Palestinian medics treat a man wounded in the Israeli bombardment at a building of an UNRWA vocational training center which displaced people use as a shelter in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ramez Habboub)

Palestinian medics treat a man wounded in the Israeli bombardment at a building of an UNRWA vocational training center which displaced people use as a shelter in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ramez Habboub)

Gaza’s Health Ministry said Israeli fire struck a crowd of people waiting for humanitarian aid at a roundabout in Gaza City on Thursday, killing at least 20 and wounding 150. The Israeli military says it was looking into the reports.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a strike the day before on a crowded shelter in Gaza rose to 12, with over 75 wounded, according to Thomas White, a senior official with the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA.

The agency did not directly blame Israel, which is the only party to the conflict that has tanks. The Israeli military said it has “currently ruled out” that the strike was carried out by its aircraft or artillery but was still investigating. It says the building might have been hit by a Hamas rocket.

The fighting in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis has isolated its two main hospitals, stranding hundreds of patients and thousands of displaced people inside. A third hospital was evacuated overnight, White said. Thousands of people rushed to escape farther south in recent days, crowding into shelters and tent camps near the border with Egypt.

The Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 25,700 people have been killed and another 63,000 wounded in the enclave since the Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, when militants from Gaza killed around 1,200 people and took about 250 hostages.

Currently:

— Cease-fire efforts for the Israel-Hamas war gain steam. But an agreement still appears elusive.

— Qatar, a key mediator in sensitive Israel-Hamas talks, lashes out at Netanyahu over his critical remarks.

— Freed Israeli hostage says she met Hamas’ leader in a tunnel, where she was kept in dire conditions.

— U.N. court will issue a ruling Friday on South Africa’s request for an order to halt Israel’s Gaza offensive.

— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here’s the latest:

PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS ARE FLEEING KHAN YOUNIS BY THE THOUSANDS, AND WITNESSES SAY ISRAEL IS DETAINING YOUNG MEN

RAFAH, Gaza — Thousands of Palestinians fled the city of Khan Younis westward toward the Mediterranean coast on Thursday, as fighting between Hamas and the Israeli army intensifies in southern Gaza.

Two women who spoke with an Associated Press contributor said Israeli troops forced them to evacuate from the Faisal school, where they were sheltering, and detained many of the young men.

“Suddenly, they (the Israeli military) started calling from the microphones to evacuate the site within half an hour,” said Amal, a Palestinian mother who gave birth three days ago and fled the school with her newborn.

For weeks, Khan Younis has been one of the frontlines of the war between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, a conflict now entering its fourth month. On Wednesday, the Israeli army ordered Palestinians to evacuate western areas of Khan Younis, the day after it said its forces had completely encircled the city.

“They allowed us to leave, and they made us walk a certain distance, and they took the young men and searched them on the side,” said Israa Khashan, who was also sheltering at the school.

“They took some young men with them and left others, and now we are here, not knowing where to go,” she said.

Tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians are currently living in tents without basic services in Muwasi, a sandy area along the coast southwest of Khan Younis that Israel had declared a safe zone.

The Israeli forces have been detaining young Palestinian men of fighting age in Gaza. A number of videos have surfaced showing detained Palestinian men blindfolded and stripped to their underwear after being captured by Israeli forces.

22 U.S. SENATORS MOVE TO KEEP BIDEN FROM WEAKENING CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT OF AID TO ISRAEL

WASHINGTON — Growing numbers of Senate Democrats have joined an effort to block a Biden administration move that could further reduce congressional oversight of U.S. military aid to Israel.

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine said 21 other Democratic senators have now joined in an amendment that that would keep congressional involvement on aid to Israel’s military on the same level as that for all other foreign militaries.

Various moves in the Senate to leverage U.S. military aid to Israel to reduce civilian deaths and suffering in Gaza started with more left-leaning lawmakers, including independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Biden administration has resisted any such move. Since the Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza started, the Biden administration also has twice invoked a national security emergency to approve arms transfers to Israel without involving Congress.

Biden also has submitted a supplemental funding request to Congress that would allow the administration to waive congressional notification requirements on military aid to Israel if Secretary of State Antony Blinken deems that in the interest of U.S. national security. Biden is asking for $14 billion for Israel in the supplemental.

The senators who Kaine said have agreed to support his amendment countering that include Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, Tom Carper, Jeanne Shaheen and others.

FIRST GROUP OF GAZA KIDS ARRIVE IN ITALY FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT

ROME — The first group of Palestinian children have started to arrive in Italy for medical treatment at hospitals in Bologna, Florence and Rome.

The Italian Defense ministry has announced that it will transfer a total of 100 children to Italy for medical care. The first 30 arrived on an Italian air force plane from Egypt, and others will follow on the Italian naval ship Vulcano.

The ministry did not provide details the children’s conditions. It said the second group is being accompanied by adult guardians but did not specify for the group traveling by air.

Israel, in a statement Monday, said civilian evacuations by air have been taking place since November in coordination with the Shin Bet domestic security agency and COGAT, the military body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs.

TURKEY’S ERDOGAN TELLS SOUTH AFRICAN LEADER HE WELCOMES HIS COUNTRY’S GENOCIDE CASE AGAINST ISRAEL

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday that he welcomes its case at the United Nations’ top court accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

South Africa has also asked the International Court of Justice to order Israel to halt its attacks — the first such challenge made at court in The Hague, Netherlands, over the current war. Israel swiftly rejected the filing “with disgust” and asked the court to throw out the case.

Erdogan told Ramaphosa in a telephone call that Turkey would work to ensure the case concludes in accordance with international law and human rights and that “Israel receives the punishment it deserves,” according to a statement from Ankara.

The court is scheduled to issue a decision Friday on South Africa’s request for interim orders, including that Israel halt its offensive in Gaza.

Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, has said that Ankara had provided documents being used in the case against Israel.

ISRAELI FIRE STRIKES CROWD WAITING FOR AID IN GAZA CITY, KILLING AT LEAST 2O, GAZA’S HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS

BEIRUT — Gaza’s Health Ministry says Israeli fire has hit a crowd of people waiting for humanitarian aid at a roundabout in Gaza City on Thursday, killing at least 20.

Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra says another 150 people were wounded in the attack and that the death toll is likely to rise as dozens of seriously wounded people were brought to the city’s Shifa Hospital.

The ministry did not specify what type of weapons were involved. The Israeli military says it is looking into the reports.

Israeli troops and tanks pushed into Gaza City shortly after the ground invasion began and have been battling militants there for nearly two months. The military says it has largely defeated Hamas in northern Gaza but is still facing pockets of resistance.

The offensive has obliterated entire neighborhoods and caused widespread destruction across northern Gaza, raising concerns over whether the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who heeded Israeli orders to flee south will be able to return.

The north has also been largely cut off from humanitarian aid, even as tens of thousands of people have remained there.

‘FAUDA’ ACTOR WILL BE RELEASED FROM THE HOSPITAL AFTER HE WAS WOUNDED IN GAZA

TEL AVIV — Israeli singer and actor Idan Amedi, known for his role in the popular series “Fauda,” is being released from the hospital Thursday after he was seriously wounded on Jan. 8 while his unit was laying explosives to destroy a tunnel in central Gaza.

Six Israeli soldiers were killed in the operation and dozens were injured when a tank shell prematurely ignited the explosives before the soldiers had cleared the area.

“Although I was seriously injured, my spirit is strong,” Amedi said in a news conference upon his release to home rehabilitation. “I refuse to make this injury the story of my life; it’s just another milestone. I will come back to sing and act, and with God’s help, I will also return to fight for my country.”

Amedi, 35, has been on reserve duty in the Israeli military since Hamas launched its attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has enlisted roughly 360,000 reserve soldiers from all walks of life in its war against Hamas.

Amedi said he plans to return to act in Fauda after his rehabilitation. “Fauda” follows a team of undercover agents from Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, in their operations against Palestinians. While the show is critically acclaimed, some Palestinians say it trivializes their experience under Israel’s open-ended military occupation of the West Bank. Amedi played Sagi Tzur, a rookie undercover agent, during the series’ second to fourth seasons, and is also a successful singer-songwriter in Israel.

DEATH TOLL RISES TO 12 WITH DOZENS WOUNDED AFTER A STRIKE ON A CROWDED GAZA SHELTER, UN OFFICIAL SAYS

JERUSALEM — A United Nations official says the death toll from a strike on a crowded shelter in Gaza has risen to 12, with over 75 wounded.

Thomas White, a senior official with the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, said Thursday that 15 of those wounded were in critical condition. UNRWA says two tank shells hit a building in a shelter housing thousands of displaced Palestinians on Wednesday in the southern city of Khan Younis, which has seen heavy fighting in recent days. The building caught fire, it said.

It did not directly blame Israel, which is the only party to the conflict that has tanks.

The Israeli military said it has “currently ruled out” that the strike was carried out by its aircraft or artillery but was still investigating. It says the building might have been hit by a Hamas rocket.

The fighting in Khan Younis has isolated its two main hospitals, Nasser and Al-Amal, stranding hundreds of patients and thousands of displaced people inside.

White says a third hospital was evacuated overnight, and that among the patients who departed were women who had just undergone cesarean sections.

BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY APPEALS TO NETANYAHU FOR AN IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE DURING HIS MIDEAST TRIP

LONDON — British Foreign Secretary David Cameron says he has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there should be an “immediate humanitarian pause” in the fighting in Gaza that can lead to a permanent cease-fire.

Cameron is due to visit Qatar later Thursday to push for more aid to get into Gaza. A consignment of 17 tonnes (19 tons) of tents from the United Kingdom was due Thursday to be flown from Qatar to Egypt on its way to the territory.

The U.K. is a strong ally of Israel but is increasingly critical of its conduct of the war against Hamas.

Cameron said that “the scale of suffering in Gaza is unimaginable. More must be done, faster, to help people trapped in this desperate situation.” He called for Israel to fully restore water, fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza. “We need an immediate humanitarian pause to get aid in and hostages out, followed by a sustainable cease-fire, without a return to hostilities.”

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