The pace of Palestinian civilians fleeing the combat zone in northern Gaza has picked up as Israel’s air and ground campaign there intensifies. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday that about 15,000 people fled on Tuesday, compared to 5,000 on Monday and 2,000 on Sunday.
The densely populated northern area of Gaza, specifically Gaza City and adjacent crowded urban refugee camps, are the focus of Israel’s campaign to crush Hamas, the militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years. The war, now in its second month, was triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.
In the occupied West Bank, more than 160 Palestinians have been killed in the violence and Israeli raids. More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, and 242 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group.
– Civilians fleeing northern Gaza’s combat zone report a terrifying journey on foot past Israeli tanks.
– AP PHOTOS: Death, destruction and despair reign a month into latest Israel-Gaza conflict.
– Majority of Israelis are confident in justice of Gaza war, even as world sentiment sours.
– Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s what is happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
JERUSALEM – The pace of Palestinian civilians fleeing the combat zone in northern Gaza has picked up as Israel’s air and ground campaign there intensifies, U.N. monitors said Wednesday. About 15,000 people fled on Tuesday, compared to 5,000 on Monday and 2,000 on Sunday, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The civilians flee during a four-hour window set daily by the Israeli military that assures safe passage from Gaza City and its surroundings to the south. Most of those fleeing were children, the elderly and people with disabilities, the U.N. agency said. Many arrived on foot with minimal belongings.
In a new development, some of those fleeing reported that they had to cross Israeli checkpoints to reach the south and that they had witnessed some arrests by Israeli forces. Others have said they had to walk past Israeli tanks with raised hands while waving white flags.
The densely populated northern area of Gaza, specifically Gaza City and adjacent urban refugee camps, are the focus of Israel’s campaign to crush Hamas, the militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years. The war, now in its second month, was triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians remain in the combat area, many sheltering at hospitals or U.N. schools. Some said they were deterred from moving south because of dire humanitarian conditions in the evacuation zone and ongoing Israeli airstrikes across Gaza, including the south.
U.N. monitors say some 1.5 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced.
CAIRO – Residents reported loud explosions across Gaza City and the adjacent Shati refugee camp overnight into Wednesday, as Israel’s military said its troops were battling Hamas forces deep inside the densely populated urban area.
The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said an airstrike Wednesday morning hit a house near the Jabaliya refugee camp, also part of that built-up area.
“The bombings were heavy and close,” said Mohamed Abed, who lives in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. He said people around him panicked when they heard the news late Tuesday that Israeli ground forces were fighting deep in the city.
Gaza City is the focus of Israel’s military campaign, now in its second month, to crush the Hamas militant group, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years. The war was triggered by a deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7.
MANILA, Philippines – Dozens of Filipinos fled from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip into Egypt through the Rafah crossing after Filipino diplomats negotiated for their safe passage and Qatar mediated for the border to be opened, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.
The 40 Filipinos were traveling to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where they planned to take flights back to the Philippines, Marcos said in a video message in Manila. Two Filipino doctors managed to leave the Gaza Strip into Egypt last week.
“I hope the rest of our countrymen who also wanted to return home can also exit properly with their spouses and loved ones,” Marcos said.
Most of at least 134 Filipinos in Gaza, many of whom are married to Palestinians, have sought help to leave the besieged territory and are waiting for an opportunity to leave, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said.
“They never give the people the truth,” Hamad said. He added that numerous Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday and “many tanks were destroyed.”
NEW YORK – Doctors Without Borders reported the death of Mohammed Al Ahel, a laboratory technician for the organization in Gaza, on Nov. 6, during a bombing in the Shati refugee camp. Several members of his family also died in the bombing.
The humanitarian organization said Al Ahel had worked with them for more than two years and was at his home when the area was bombed and his building collapsed.
“Our repeated calls for an immediate ceasefire have gone unanswered,” the charity said in a statement Tuesday. “But we insist that a ceasefire is the only way to prevent more senseless deaths across Gaza and allow adequate humanitarian aid into the Strip.”
“The hostages have been underground in Gaza for 32 days. I cry out to every single person here and every single person on the planet to make it your mission to free these souls,” Rachel Goldberg, a prominent spokesperson for the hostage families said, her voice breaking.
Singing and praying together while holding signs of the kidnapped, parents and friends gave speeches calling for their release. They also lit a memorial flame that will be carried across the world to build political pressure to aid their release.
WASHINGTON – The White House on Tuesday reiterated that President Joe Biden does not support an Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip once the war ends.
Asked about Netanyahu’s comments, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said he would leave it to Netanyahu to clarify what he means by having “indefinite” control of Gaza‘s security.
“There needs to be a healthy set of conversations about what post conflict Gaza looks like and what governance looks like,” Kirby told reporters. “What we absolutely agree with our Israeli counterparts on is what it can’t look like, and it can’t look like it looked on October 6.”
UNITED NATIONS – The figures are staggering: 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza are unable to access routine maternal health care, 180 women are giving birth there every day, and 5,500 babies have been born since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, head of the U.N. agency that promotes reproductive and sexual health, gave those figures at a U.N. press conference Tuesday where she issued an urgent appeal for fuel for hospitals and incubators, clean water and food for pregnant and lactating women, and for a humanitarian cease-fire.
Kanem said the U.N. has no figures on the number of new mothers or newborns who’ve died since the war began. But she said, “we have seen losses of life” of newborns in hospitals who need incubators and oxygen which require fuel, adding that being in a hospital is essential for Caesarean section deliveries.
While two truckloads of health and delivery kits and medication have arrived in Gaza, “it’s a drop in the bucket” compared to the needs, said Kanem, the executive director of the U.N. Population Fund.
Pregnant women need double the amount of fluid than non-pregnant women, “and if you’re a lactating mother, it’s triple” – and “brackish water is not a solution,” she added.
CAIRO – The International Committee of the Red Cross said two of its trucks were damaged when a convoy of its vehicles in Gaza came under fire on Tuesday.
The ICRC vehicles were hit as they were transporting vital medical supplies to hospitals and health facilities in the besieged enclave, the aid group said. A driver was lightly wounded.
“These are not the conditions under which humanitarian personnel can work,” said William Schomburg, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza. Officials did not provide further details on the trucks’ location inside Gaza.
Speaking to reporters, the chief military spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that Israeli ground forces “are located right now in a ground operation in the depths of Gaza City and putting great pressure on Hamas.”
CAIRO – A dozen Palestinian children in Gaza who have cancer were allowed to cross the Rafah border on Tuesday for treatment in Egypt.
According to Egypt’s Health Ministry, the 12 children were transferred to specialized cancer hospitals. Authorities did not say whether the children traveled alone or if any family members or guardians were allowed to accompany them.
BLIDA, Lebanon – A top U.S. envoy said in Beirut on Tuesday that Washington doesn’t want the ongoing war in Gaza to expand to Lebanon, as a Lebanese woman and her three granddaughters were laid to rest two days after they were killed in an Israeli strike.
The comments from Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, came during an unannounced visit to Beirut to discuss the volatile situation with Lebanon’s parliament speaker and caretaker prime minister.
Hochstein told reporters after meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri that restoring calm along Lebanon’s southern border is of “utmost importance.”
Hochstein said he heard Berri’s concerns over the tensions along the Lebanon–Israel border, where fighters of the militant group Hezbollah and their allies have been exchanging fire with Israeli troops for about a month, after the Israel–Hamas war started on Oct. 7.
Hochstein’s comments came as the Israeli military and Hezbollah exchanged fire on Tuesday following what Israel said was the targeting of one of its posts along the Lebanese border. The clashes along the border have intensified since Israel launched a ground incursion into Gaza against Palestinian militant group Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah.
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