Live updates | Foreign passport holders enter Rafah crossing

Dozens of people entered the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt on Wednesday. It appeared to be the first time foreign passport holders have been allowed to leave the besieged territory since the start of the IsraelHamas war more than three weeks ago.

Communications and internet services were gradually being restored after the second major cut in five days, according to Paltel, the main service provider. Humanitarian aid agencies have warned that such blackouts severely disrupt their work in an already dire situation in Gaza.

The Palestinian death toll in the IsraelHamas war has reached 8,525, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, more than 122 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them civilians slain in the initial Oct. 7 Hamas rampage that started the fighting. In addition, around 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group. One of the captives, a female Israeli soldier, was rescued in a special forces operation.


Here’s what is happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister said Wednesday that time is of the essence in stopping the HamasIsrael war from “going out of control” and affecting Lebanon and the wider region.

Najib Mikati has been scrambling with international governments to keep Lebanon away from the war, as militants from the Hezbollah group and Israeli troops have been clashing along the tense Lebanon-Israel border since the onset of the war on Oct. 7. The clashes so far have mostly been limited to areas along the border.

His comments come days before Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to give his first speech since the start of the war. Lebanon is experiencing political paralysis and economic turmoil, leaving many worried of the consequences of a fully fledged war in the crisis-hit country.

He condemned both Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon and attacks in the blockaded Palestinian Gaza Strip.

“A humanitarian cease-fire for five days is necessary, where there can be active international talks to secure prisoner swaps and reach a permanent truce in order to reach an agreement on the conditions for regional peace,” Mikati said before a government meeting.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in 2006 that ended in a draw. Israel sees Hezbollah as its most immediate threat, estimating that it has some 150,000 precision-guided missiles pointed at it.

“Enough war in Lebanon, for we are with the choice of peace,” Mikati said.

JERUSALEM — Heads of Israeli universities sent a letter to colleagues around the world expressing deep concern over anti-Israel and antisemitic discourse at some universities following Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel and the war it triggered in the Gaza Strip.

The Association of University Heads in Israel also criticized what it sees as the inadequate response of some academic leaders.

“It’s unsettling to note that many college campuses have become breeding grounds for anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments, largely fueled by a naïve and biased understanding of the conflict,” the letter said.

“Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of academic freedom, but it should not be manipulated to legitimize hate speech or to justify violence.”

Tensions on campuses in the U.S. and Europe have been inflamed since the Hamas attack. Some students and faculty have expressed support for the militant group and its attack.

At Harvard, a coalition of more than 30 student groups said Israel was “entirely responsible” for the Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

At Cornell University, police were sent to guard the Center for Jewish Living over intimidating posts.

The comments have raised fundamental questions regarding free speech and its limits.

“Just as it would be unthinkable for an academic institution to extend free speech protections to groups targeting other protected classes, so too should demonstrations that call for our destruction and glorify violence against Jews be explicitly prohibited and condemned,” the Israeli university heads said in their letter.

CAIRO – The group Reporters Without Borders says 34 journalists have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, accusing both sides of committing possible war crimes.

In a statement Wednesday, the media watchdog called on the International Criminal Court to investigate the killings.

“The scale, seriousness and recurring nature of international crimes targeting journalists, particularly in Gaza, calls for a priority investigation by the ICC prosecutor,” said Christophe Deloire, head of the group.

It said it filed a complaint with the ICC’s prosecutor regarding eight Palestinian journalists it said were killed in Israel’s bombardment of civilian areas in Gaza, and an Israeli journalist killed during Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, which ignited the war.

It said the complaint cited “the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza” since the war began.

It’s the third such complaint to be filed by the group since 2018 alleging war crimes against Palestinian journalists in Gaza. Israel says it makes every effort to avoid killing civilians and accuses Hamas of putting them at risk by operating in residential areas.

CAIRO – Communications were gradually being restored in parts of Gaza, hours after the besieged territory suffered its second major blackout in five days, according to Paltel, the main service provider.

Paltel said in an announcement on social media that fixed line and cellular services and the internet were beginning to return in various areas across Gaza.

Associated Press journalists in Gaza confirmed the restoration.

Connectivity was previously cut from late Friday to early Sunday, coinciding with the entry of large numbers of ground troops into Gaza in what Israel at the time described as a new stage in the war.

Humanitarian aid agencies have warned that such blackouts severely disrupt their work in an already dire situation in Gaza.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday’s blackout hampered its activities. Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator for the group, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, said the blackout made it “impossible to coordinate” its activities. She said it had been unable to reach its team in Gaza hospitals since Tuesday evening.

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called on Muslim nations to stop exporting food and oil to Israel over its airstrikes and military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Khamenei made the comments to students in Tehran. He had earlier praised Hamas after its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“What the Islamic governments should insist is an immediate halt to the crimes (the Israelis) are committing in Gaza. The bombardments should immediately stop,” Khamenei said, according to state media. “They should block the flow of oil and food to the Zionist regime. Islamic governments shouldn’t have economic cooperation with the Zionist regime.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian earlier suggested an oil embargo on Israel, though there has been no sign that energy flows to the country have been affected.


Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi contributed.

RAFAH, Gaza – Dozens of people could be seen entering the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt on Wednesday. It appeared to be the first time foreign passport holders have been allowed to leave the besieged territory since the start of the war.

Hundreds have gathered at the crossing at different times in recent weeks, but have not been allowed out due to disagreements among Egypt, Israel and Hamas. No one has been allowed to leave Gaza, except for four hostages released by Hamas. Another captive was rescued by Israeli forces earlier this week.

Egyptian state-run media reported that more than 80 wounded Palestinians would be brought from Gaza to Egypt on Wednesday for medical treatment. Ambulances were seen entering the Rafah crossing from the Egyptian side, and a field hospital has been set up in the nearby town of Sheikh Zuweid.

The Palestinian crossing authority said more than 400 foreign passport holders would be permitted to leave Gaza on Wednesday. Egypt has said it will not accept an influx of Palestinian refugees because of fears Israel will not allow them to return to Gaza after the war.

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday denounced the latest Israeli airstrikes on a refugee camp near Gaza City, urging the international community to play its role in ending such strikes.

“Yesterday’s air raid on Jabalia camp, where hundreds of lives were lost, including women and children, was a stark reminder of ongoing Israeli brutalities and war crimes in Gaza,” Kakar said in a statement.

He said that “such reprehensible acts can never be condoned or forgotten. The world must act now to end this carnage.”

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Three Arab states have strongly criticized Israel’s airstrikes on a refugee camp near Gaza City as its war on Hamas rages.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates each issued statements denouncing the strikes on the Jabaliya camp. The exact number of casualties was not immediately clear in the strikes, though one doctor said hundreds were killed and wounded.

Qatar, which as been mediating talks with Hamas over the more than 200 hostages it holds from its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, described the strike as “a new massacre against the defenseless Palestinian people, especially women and children.” The country warned that “the expansion of Israeli attacks in (the) Gaza Strip … is a dangerous escalation in the course of confrontations, which would undermine mediation and de-escalation efforts.”


Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell contributed.

WASHINGTON – United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to travel to Israel on Friday to consult with Israeli officials about their ongoing war on Hamas.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Tuesday that Blinken would visit Israel “and then will make other stops in the region.” He did not identify the other planned stops.

Blinken made an urgent trip to the Middle East earlier in October, visiting Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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