The Latest | Hamas official decries proposed temporary cease-fire deal

An Israeli Apache helicopter fires flares over the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Monday, March 4, 2024. The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

An Israeli Apache helicopter fires flares over the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Monday, March 4, 2024. The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into Israel. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

An Israeli airstrike killed at least 17 people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said, as talks on a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended without a breakthrough.

First responders with Gaza’s Civil Defense department circulated footage of rescuers pulling dead and wounded people from the rubble of a house, including a child with blood on his face who was not moving. The nearby European Hospital said it received 17 bodies overnight.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it was carrying out targeted raids on militant infrastructure in Khan Younis while trying to evacuate civilians from the area.

The latest fatalities brought the overall Palestinian toll from the nearly five-month war to 30,631, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures but says women and children make up around two-thirds of the total casualties. It says over 72,000 people have been wounded.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas-led militants stormed across the border on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting around 250. Over 100 hostages were released last year in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Currently:

— The latest Gaza cease-fire talks have ended with no breakthrough, officials say. Ramadan is days away.

— Vice President Kamala Harris hosts Israeli war Cabinet member as the U.S. pushes to get more aid into Gaza.

— A U.N. envoy says there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe Hamas committed sexual violence on Oct. 7.

— Israel escalates its criticism of a U.N. agency in Gaza. It says 450 of its workers are militants.

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

Here’s the latest:

HAMAS OFFICIAL DECRIES PROPOSED TEMPORARY CEASE-FIRE DEAL

BEIRUT — Hamas is insisting on a permanent cease-fire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza rather than a temporary pause in hostilities, a political official with the group said.

“The security and safety of our people will be achieved only by a permanent cease-fire, the end of the aggression and the withdrawal from every inch of the Gaza Strip,” Osama Hamdan told reporters in Beirut on Tuesday. Cease-fire talks in Cairo ended Tuesday without a breakthrough.

The Biden administration is pushing for a temporary cease-fire before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins. Hamdan said Washington’s position is essentially that “Israel has the right to stop killing for a few weeks and then return to that killing.”

Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The proposed deal on the table would provide a six-week break in hostilities, an influx of aid, Hamas would release some 40 hostages and Israel would return an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners.

Israel did not send a delegation to Cairo, saying it was waiting for Hamas to hand over a list of hostages who are still alive. Hamdan said that was not relevant to the proposed cease-fire and accused Israel of using it as an excuse to avoid the negotiations.

He said recent airdrops of humanitarian aid, including by the United States, were inadequate and called on the international community to “use more effective methods of delivering aid, such as opening crossings to bring such aid by land.”

BIDEN URGES GAZA CEASE-FIRE DEAL BEFORE RAMADAN BEGINS

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that it’s crucial a temporary cease-fire deal for Gaza comes together in time for the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Three days of negotiations involving the United States, Qatar, Egypt and Hamas ended Tuesday without a breakthrough, Egyptian officials said. The start of Ramadan — expected on the evening of March 10 — has been set as an informal deadline to finalize a deal for a temporary cease-fire and the release of Israeli hostages.

“If we get into a circumstance where this continues through Ramadan … it could be very, very dangerous,” Biden told reporters.

The president said he continues to press to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza — an issue that has been central to talks with Israel war cabinet member, Benny Gantz, who has been meeting with top administration officials in Washington this week.

“We must get more aid into Gaza,” Biden said. “There’s no excuse. None.”

Gantz, a political rival of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came to Washington without Netanyahu’s blessing. White House officials have downplayed Netanyahu’s objections to the visit.

Biden has shown frustration with Netanyahu during the nearly five-month-old war. Asked Tuesday about their relationship, Biden said it is “like it’s always been.”

ISRAEL SAYS FORCES KILLED PALESTINIAN STABBING SUSPECT IN WEST BANK

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military said its forces shot dead a Palestinian male who stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier near a settlement in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, as violence flared across the Israeli occupied territory.

The attack took place outside the settlement of Yitzhar, near the Palestinian town of Huwara, the military said. The injured soldier remains in a serious condition, it said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the slain attacker as 16-year-old Mohamed Shahada. No further information was available.

The Huwara area has been a flashpoint for clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in recent years, and the West Bank has seen a sharp uptick in violence since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7.

The Ramallah-based Health Ministry said 422 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of the conflict in Gaza.

ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES KILL 3 IN LEBANESE BORDER TOWN

BEIRUT — Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon Tuesday killed a family of three in the border town of Houla, first responders said.

The intense strikes took place a day after White House senior adviser Amos Hochstein visited Lebanese political and military officials in Beirut in an effort to deescalate ongoing clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli military along the Lebanon-Israel border.

Lebanon’s Civil Defense and Hezbollah’s Islamic Health unit said first responders pulled the bodies of Hassan Hussein, his wife Rwaida Mostafa, and their 25-year-old son from the rubble of a house that was targeted in the airstrikes. Civil Defense responders were searching for more bodies.

Later Tuesday, the Israeli military said it struck what it described as a Hezbollah military site near Ayta ash Shab in southern Lebanon, saying two anti-tank missiles had been launched from there toward Biranit on the Israeli side of the border. It said no injuries were reported.

The military said it also struck a Hezbollah operational command center near Jabal al Baba, launch posts close to Matmoura, and military compounds near Majdal Zoun, Houla, and Kafra. It did not mention the family reported killed in Houla.

SOUTH AFRICA RECEIVES ISRAEL’S REPORT ON GAZA

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa has received a copy of a report by Israel on what it is doing to abide by the orders of the United Nations’ top court to minimize deaths and destruction in Gaza and allow more humanitarian aid into the territory.

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said her country was scrutinizing the report and would formulate a response as part of its ongoing case at the U.N.’s International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip. Pandor said the report would not be made public.

The world court issued a series of provisional orders against Israel on Jan. 26 while South Africa’s main genocide allegations against it are still to be weighed. One of the orders was that Israel must report back within a month on what it is doing to prevent genocide, civilian deaths and destruction in Gaza. It also ordered Israel to take “immediate and effective measures” to allow aid to reach Palestinians.

South Africa has previously accused Israel of ignoring the orders and Pandor said Tuesday that the current airdrops of aid were not enough. Instead, she said nations with “powerful armed forces” should have their soldiers escort aid trucks into Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Pandor appeared to be primarily referring to the United States.

“And since these are very close friends of Israel, surely they will be allowed safe passage,” Pandor said. “I can’t imagine them being fired upon by the Israeli forces. This, it seems to me, is the only way that we might get aid in because otherwise it will be a trickle.”

More than 576,000 people in Gaza – a quarter of the population – are on the brink of famine, according to the U.N.

US AND JORDAN CARRY OUT ANOTHER FOOD AIRDROP

JERUSALEM — The United States and Jordan have carried out another humanitarian airdrop over the northern Gaza Strip, which has been largely isolated by Israeli forces for months.

U.S. Central Command says Air Force C-130 aircraft dropped 36,800 meals over northern Gaza on Tuesday, the second U.S. airdrop since Saturday.

Aid groups say they can no longer distribute food aid in northern Gaza because of the breakdown of law and order there.

Over 100 Palestinians were killed last week when thousands of people converged on an aid convoy organized by the Israeli military, which opened fire. Palestinian officials said most of the victims were shot, while Israel said most were trampled to death in the chaos.

Aid groups say airdrops are a costly, last-ditch measure that cannot substitute for land deliveries. They have called for a humanitarian cease-fire and for Israel to open up crossings into northern Gaza.

Up to 300,000 Palestinians are believed to have stayed in northern Gaza, the first target of Israel’s offensive after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, despite repeated Israeli evacuation orders. Many are now surviving by eating animal fodder and foraging for food in demolished buildings. The U.N. says a quarter of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people are starving.

The Israeli military says it places no limits on the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza. But aid groups say distribution is severely hampered by ongoing hostilities, the difficulty of coordinating with the Israeli military and the breakdown of security after Israeli airstrikes drove the Hamas-run police force from the streets.

UNICEF SAYS AT LEAST 10 CHILDREN HAVE REPORTEDLY DIED OF MALNUTRITION

GENEVA — At least 10 children have reportedly died in isolated northern Gaza because of dehydration and malnutrition, UNICEF said.

Adele Khodr, the UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement Monday that “there are likely more children fighting for their lives somewhere in one of Gaza’s few remaining hospitals, and likely even more children in the north unable to obtain care at all.”

She added that “these tragic and horrific deaths are man-made, predictable and entirely preventable.”

The Gaza Health Ministry said Sunday that 15 children had starved to death at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza and that another six in the intensive care unit were at risk of dying from malnutrition and dehydration. It was not clear if the children had underlying medical conditions that increased their vulnerability.

Northern Gaza, which was the first target of Israel’s offensive after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, has been largely isolated for months.

The World Food Program recently suspended aid shipments, citing the breakdown of security. An attempt by the Israeli military to bring in aid ended in tragedy last week when scores of Palestinians died after being shot by Israeli forces or trampled in a melee.

Across Gaza, more than 576,000 people — a quarter of the population — are a step away from famine, the U.N. says. Northern Gaza has been especially hard-hit. Several hundred thousand Palestinians are believed to remain there, and many have been reduced to eating animal fodder to survive. The U.N. says one in six children under 2 in the north suffer from acute malnutrition.

AT LEAST 17 KILLED IN KHAN YOUNIS IN SOUTHERN GAZA STRIP

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian officials say an Israeli airstrike has killed at least 17 people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

Civil Defense department first responders circulated video footage of rescuers pulling dead and wounded people from the rubble of a house, including a child with blood on his face who was not moving.

The nearby European Hospital said Tuesday that it had received 17 bodies overnight.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says a total of 97 people have been killed in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall Palestinian death toll from the nearly five-month war to 30,631. It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures but says women and children make up around two-thirds of the casualties. It says over 72,000 people have been wounded.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas-led militants stormed across the border on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting around 250. Over 100 hostages were released last year in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israel says it tries to avoid harming civilians and blames the high toll on Hamas because the militants operate in dense, residential areas. The military rarely comments on individual strikes.

The military said in a statement on Tuesday that it was carrying out targeted raids on militant infrastructure in Khan Younis while trying to evacuate civilians from the area.

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