Live updates | Intense Israeli bombardments strike Gaza as the war rages on
(AP) - A massive explosion at a hospital in Gaza City killed hundreds of people Tuesday, Hamas said, after intensifying bombardments near towns in southern Gaza rattled civilians where Israel had ordered them to take refuge. Hamas attributed the blast to an Israeli airstrike, but the Israeli military said it was not involved and the explosion was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.
Hamas’ military wing also said an Israeli airstrike on a refuge camp killed a top Hamas commander.
Thousands of people trying to escape Gaza are gathered in Rafah, which has the territory’s only border crossing to Egypt. Mediators are pressing for an agreement to let aid in and refugees with foreign passports out. The U.S. hoped to break a deadlock with President Joe Biden set to head to the region on Wednesday.
Aid workers warned that life in Gaza was near complete collapse because of the Israeli siege that followed a Hamas attack on Israel.
The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,778 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded. Another 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel.
1. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says an Israeli air strike hit a hospital in Gaza City, killing at least 500 people. Israeli authorities have denied involvement in the explosion and say it was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.
2. U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced. He is also expected to meet authorities in Jordan and Egypt.
3. A senior Palestinian official said he would not participate in the regional talks with Biden, citing the attack on the hospital in Gaza City.
Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
ISRAEL DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN BOMBING OF GAZA CITY HOSPITAL
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it had no involvement in an explosion that killed hundreds of people at a Gaza City hospital and that the blast was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says an Israeli airstrike caused the blast, which killed some 500 people, many of whom had sought shelter from an ongoing Israeli offensive.
The Israeli military, however, said Palestinian militants fired a barrage of rockets near the hospital.
“Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch,” it said.
VIDEOS AND PHOTOS CAPTURE SCENE AT GAZA CITY HOSPITALS
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A chaotic scene unfolded at Al Shifa hospital Tuesday night as Palestinians injured in an attack on another hospital in Gaza City arrived for treatment.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike killed at least 500 people at al-Ahli Hospital.
Photos purportedly taken at al-Ahli Hospital shared widely on social media showed fire engulfing the building, with bodies scattered among the wreckage. Those photos could not be independently verified.
Footage captured by The Associated Press showed ambulances and private cars converging on Al Shifa hospital, where medics and others rushed the injured inside on stretchers and a wheelchair.
One person had a bloody stump where their left leg was missing. Four men carried a body bag to a civil defense vehicle.
Inside Al Shifa, the wounded were laid out on bloody floors, screaming in pain, as shouting people surrounded them. Some of the injured were not moving. Workers in scrubs ran outside and sirens wailed as more Red Crescent ambulances arrived.
PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL DROPS OUT OF BIDEN MEETING CITING HOSPITAL AIRSTRIKE
RAMALLAH, West Bank — A senior Palestinian official says President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled his participation in a meeting scheduled Wednesday with President Joe Biden and other Mideast leaders.
Abbas was scheduled to join Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at Wednesday’s summit in Amman, Jordan, where they are to discuss the Israel-Hamas war with Biden.
But the senior official said Abbas was withdrawing to protest an alleged Israeli airstrike on a hospital in Gaza that health officials say has killed over 500 people.
“The president is very angry after the news of the Israeli massacre at the hospital in Gaza, and he decided to immediately return to Ramallah,” the official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the cancelation has not been formally announced.
Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre contributed to this report from Jerusalem.
UN CHIEF TO DISCUSS PALESTINIAN AID DURING EGYPT VISIT
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Cairo on Thursday, focused on reopening the Gaza border to allow in desperately needed aid for millions of Palestinians.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who made the announcement Tuesday, said the secretary-general will engage with Egyptian leaders including President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and speak at an international conference on Saturday hosted by the president.
“This situation is becoming more than critical,” he said. “We are at a time of extreme tension, where we’re calling to move away from further escalation and any possible miscalculation.”
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths is already in Cairo meeting with U.S. and other officials to try to get the most basic humanitarian aid — food, water, fuel and medicine — into Gaza, Dujarric said.
The U.N. spokesman told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that humanitarian corridors are essential to move aid through Gaza safely, and there must also be distribution points to deliver aid safely, without fear of active bombardment.
RESIDENTS LINE UP TO COLLECT SCANT WATER SUPPLIES IN GAZA
NUSAIRAT, Gaza Strip — Palestinians desperate for water lined up to fill bottles and large jugs Tuesday at a desalination plant in Gaza.
Children and men took turns using a hose in Nusairat to fill containers that they hauled away using bicycles, a wheelchair and a cart pulled by a donkey.
Ismael Al-Hafi said people are rationing the water they can find and wait two or three days to clean themselves.
“This is suffering,” Al-Hafi said. “Gaza is in complete collapse. There is no solar to operate the desalination plants. This means that you have to struggle to fill two gallons of water. This is suffering. May God help the people.”
HAMAS SAYS 100S KILLED IN ISRAELI ATTACK ON GAZA CITY HOSPITAL
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip says at least 500 people have been killed in an explosion that it says was caused by an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza City Hospital.
If confirmed, the attack on the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City would be by far the deadliest Israeli airstrike in five wars fought since 2008.
Hundreds of people were seeking shelter at the hospital at the time of the blast.
Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said he had no details on the hospital deaths.
“We will get the details and update the public,” Hagari said, adding that he couldn’t immediately confirm it was an Israeli airstrike.
Hamas authorities said most of the people killed were hospital patients and displaced families.
“A new war crime committed by the (Israeli) occupation by bombing the Al-Ahli Hospital in the center of Gaza City,” said Salama Marouf, a spokesperson for Hamas. " The hospital was housing hundreds of patients, wounded, and those forcibly displaced from their homes due to the strikes.”
UNRWA SAYS AT LEAST SIX KILLED IN ATTACK ON SCHOOL IN GAZA
AMMAN — The U.N. agency for Palestinians says at least six people were killed when one of its schools in central Gaza Strip was hit Tuesday.
Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General, said dozens of people were also injured, including agency staff, when the UNRWA school in the al-Maghazi refugee camp came under bombardment. He said the school -- which has served as a shelter for some 4,000 displaced people since the latest hostilities began -- is seriously damaged.
AP video of the aftermath shows where tank shells crashed through classroom walls, leaving concrete pockmarked by shrapnel and piles of rubble in the hallways. Blood was splattered on crumbling cinderblocks. Rooms where Palestinians had taken refuge were filled with debris and splintered school chairs.
“This is outrageous and it again shows a flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians,” Lazzarini said in a statement. “No place is safe in Gaza anymore, not even UNRWA facilities.”
ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE CHIEF ADMITS FAILURE IN HAMAS ATTACK
JERUSALEM — The unprecedented Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed over 1,300 Israelis and stunned the country was the result of a failure by Israel’s intelligence community and military, the nation’s miliary intelligence chief said.
“We did not fulfill our most important mission, and as the head of the Intelligence Directorate, I take full responsibility for the failure,” Gen. Aharon Haliva, the intelligence chief, wrote in a letter to the Israeli military. “The things that need to be investigated will be thoroughly investigated at the proper time, and conclusions will be drawn.”
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar sent a similar admission to workers at the security service over the weekend, taking responsibility for the stunning operational failures and weaknesses that allowed Hamas to carry out its attack.
ISRAEL WARNS HEZBOLLAH AGAINST ESCALATING BORDER TENSIONS
JERUSALEM — Israel’s military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi is threatening aggressive retaliation if the Lebanese group Hezbollah escalates tensions on their shared border.
“This is a war on the home,” Halvey said after meeting with Israeli troops near the northern border. “If Hezbollah makes a mistake, it will be annihilated.”
Clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli troops along the tense border have escalated in recent days but remain largely controlled and limited to several border towns.
WFP SENDS FOOD AID TO EGYPT FOR DELIVERY TO GAZA
ROME — The World Food Program says it has tons of aid arriving in Egypt from warehouses around the region, ready to enter Gaza.
The Rome-based agency warned earlier Tuesday that stores in Gaza only have four or five days’ worth of essential food stocks available.
Video provided by WFP showed crates of aid arriving by cargo plane at the Arisha airbase in Egypt from warehouses in Dubai, bound for the Rafah crossing. WFP said it has mobilized 310 metric tons (305 tons) of food so far, including fortified biscuits and ready-to-eat meals sufficient to feed 244,000 people for a week, as well as canned food and date bars.
WFP’s Palestine country director, Samer Abdeljaber, said the agency is waiting for the green light to enter Gaza and warned that food stocks are running out. He said the number of bakeries WFP works with in Gaza is decreasing daily because they don’t have enough water or electricity to bake bread.
Also Tuesday, the regional director of the International Organization for Migration in Cairo urged both sides to facilitate the delivery of aid to Gaza.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is horrifying,” Othman Belbeisi wrote Tuesday on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid must be granted.”
HAMAS’ MILITARY WING SAYS TOP COMMANDER KILLED BY ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE
JERUSALEM — Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Tuesday that an Israeli airstrike on the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza killed A top militant commander, Ayman Nofal.
Nofal is the most high-profile militant to be killed so far in Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip. Residents said the barrage of Israeli airstrikes leveled an entire block of homes and caused dozens more casualties.
The Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas hideouts, infrastructure and command centers.
SOUTHERN GAZA HOSPITAL SAYS IT RECEIVED EVACUATION ORDER
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — A hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah says it has received two Israeli warnings to evacuate even though it is in the area where Israel told civilians to take refuge.
Sohaib al-Hams, director of the Kuwaiti Specialist Hospital, said staff will not abandon the facility, which continues to receive patients amid relentless Israeli airstrikes.
“We will not leave our places and we will not let our people down,” al-Hams said in a video on the hospital’s official Facebook page, adding that Gazan hospitals are the final red line after Israel crossed all the others.
Israeli army spokesman were not immediately available for comment on the order.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.