Israeli airstrikes hit apartment buildings in a refugee camp near Gaza City for a second day in a row, causing many deaths and injuries, the Hamas-run government said. The toll from Wednesday’s strikes was not immediately known.
Meanwhile, dozens of people with foreign passports entered the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt. It appeared to be the first time that foreign passport holders have been allowed to leave the besieged territory since the start of the Israel-Hamas 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 telecommunications 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 Israel-Hamas war has reached 8,805, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, 130 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:
SEVERAL US CITIZENS AMONG FOREIGN NATIONALS THAT HAVE DEPARTED GAZA, STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS
WASHINGTON — The State Department has confirmed that a number of US citizens trapped in Gaza have crossed into Egypt after a deal was reached to allow foreigners to leave the enclave.
“An initial group of foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, departed Gaza through Rafah today, and we expect exits of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to continue over the next several days,” department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
He declined to say how many Americans had made it to Egypt on Wednesday but said there were consular officials on hand to assist them.
Roughly 400 American citizens in Gaza have told the State Department they want to leave the territory and, with family members, U.S. officials say they are looking at about 1,000 people who they are seeking to get out, Miller said.
“In the past 24 hours we have informed U.S. citizens and their family and family members with whom we are in contact that they will be assigned specific departure dates. We’ve asked them to continue to monitor their email regularly over the next 24 to 72 hours for specific instructions about how to exit,” Miller said.
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS CIVILIAN KILLINGS, SAYS HE’S APPALLED BY ESCALATING VIOLENCE
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is appalled over the escalating violence in Gaza” including the killing of Palestinians by Israeli airstrikes in the Jabaliya refugee camp on Tuesday and Wednesday, his spokesman says.
“He condemns in the strongest terms, any killings of civilians,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Wednesday.
Dujarric said: “The secretary-general reiterates that all parties must abide by international law, international humanitarian law including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.”
The U.N. chief also reiterated his call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken from Israel by Hamas during its surprise attacks on Oct. 7, Dujarric said. And he called again “for the entry of vital humanitarian assistance at a scale needed to meet the mounting needs of the Palestinian population.”
5 FRENCH CITIZENS AMONG THOSE TO LEAVE GAZA THROUGH THE RAFAH CROSSING
PARIS — Five French citizens were among dozens of dual passport holders and seriously injured who were able to leave the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing Wednesday, the French Foreign Ministry said. A team from the French Embassy in Egypt awaited for the group and France thanked Egyptian authorities for facilitating the exit.
“We reiterate our call to protect all civilian populations in Gaza,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said last month that several dozen French citizens and their families were in Gaza — including residents and those visiting family or in a humanitarian capacity. France has been working for weeks to get its citizens out of the strip. Nine French nationals remain missing and thought to be held hostage by Hamas militants.
French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated on Wednesday during a visit to Kazakhstan the need for protection of the civilian population caught up in the Israel-Hamas war that has killed thousands, including 1,400 Israelis and more than 8,700 Palestinians.
“We say the way to protect yourself should be compliant with international law … You have to attack and punish the terrorist group Hamas (but) you have to protect civilians in your counter-attack,” Macron said.
His remarks to students in Astana were in response to a question and directed at Israel.
JEWISH HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION CRITICIZES BOLIVIA FOR SEVERING DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH ISRAEL
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A Jewish human rights organization has criticized Chile and Colombia for recalling their ambassadors to Israel, as well as Bolivia for breaking its diplomatic relations with Israel in protest of the continuing military operation in the Gaza Strip.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center noted Wednesday that Bolivia never mentioned the Oct. 7 Hamas attack against Israel in its decision to sever diplomatic ties with Israel and said the Andean country’s decision on Tuesday has to do with Bolivia’s partnership with Iran.
“Bolivia’s alliance with Iran is becoming clearer every day considering that the breakup is not due to the real interests of the Bolivian people,” Ariel Gelblung, the center’s director for Latin America, said.
The center characterized the decision by the governments of Colombia and Chile to recall their ambassadors on Tuesday evening “a clearly coordinated action.”
“Both leaders have always been hostile toward Israel and both have a history of diplomatic disagreements with representatives of the Jewish State,” the organization said.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro has devoted much of his account on X, formerly Twitter, to posting and retweeting criticism of Israel.
“The head of state who carries out this genocide is a criminal against humanity,” Petro wrote late Tuesday.
Bolivia, Chile and Colombia are all led by leftist governments.
CYPRIOT SHIPS LOADED WITH HUMANITARIAN AID TO HEAD TO GAZA
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ government spokesman says a Cypriot initiative for the continuous flow of humanitarian assistance from Cyprus to Gaza will see ships sailing directly to the enclave where the United Nations personnel will receive it for distribution.
Spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis said Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “saw the initiative in a positive light” during a long telephone call with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides Tuesday evening.
Cyprus is working with other European Union member states and Arab countries to work out the logistics of delivering aid to Gaza as soon as conditions on the ground permit it.
Ships loaded with medical supplies, food and clothing will depart from Cyprus’ main port of Limassol after being vetted to ensure that nothing being transported can be weaponized against Israel.
HEAD OF UN AGENCY FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES CROSSES INTO GAZA, MEETS WITH STAFF AND OTHERS
CAIRO — Philippe Lazzarini, head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, crossed into Gaza Wednesday, where he met with Palestinian communities and other UNRWA colleagues working in the territory.
He said he was shocked by the scale of humanitarian needs Gaza and called for scaling up assistance delivered to the strip’s 2.3 million population.
“I was shocked by the fact that everyone there was asking for food, was asking for water … I never, ever have seen something similar in Gaza,” he said in comments to journalists.
Lazzarini is the most senior U.N official to enter the besieged enclave since the conflict erupted on Oct. 7.
4 ITALIAN CITIZENS LEAVE GAZA STRIP VIA RAFAH CROSSING
ROME — Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani says a handful of Italian citizens have crossed out of the Gaza Strip.
“I just spoke with the first four Italians who departed from the Gaza Strip,” Tajani wrote on the social media platform X. “They are tired but in good condition, assisted by the Italian consul in Cairo. We will continue to work so all the others can get out.”
Tajani last week said there were 14 Italians in the Gaza Strip — seven with Italian citizenship and seven with dual Italian citizenship.
PALESTINIAN MAN SHOT AND KILLED IN THE WEST BANK, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP SAYS
JERUSALEM — A 65-year-old Palestinian father with mental disabilities was killed in the occupied West Bank with a single shot to the head Wednesday as Israeli forces operated nearby, according to an Israeli rights group with footage of the shooting.
The video, which came from a CCTV camera in the flashpoint city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, shows a Palestinian man — identified as Majdi Awad by human rights group B’Tselem — walking down an alley in the early morning, before suddenly being shot and collapsing to the ground.
B’Tselem spokesperson Roy Yellin said it was not yet clear whether the man was shot by Israeli forces, but that the incident occurred just 100 meters (328.08 feet) from an area where Israeli forces stood. Awad was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital and identified by his family members, Yellin said, adding that B’Tselem’s preliminary investigation showed that Awad was likely shot by a sniper.
Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, 130 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank either by Israeli forces or by Jewish settlers. U.N. monitors say the period is the deadliest on record in the territory.
The military did not immediately respond to request for comment on the video or confirmation that soldiers had operated in Tulkarem Wednesday morning.
KEY US ALLY JORDAN RECALLS ITS AMBASSADOR FROM ISRAEL
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan, a key U.S. ally, said Wednesday it has recalled its ambassador from Israel and told Israel’s ambassador to remain out of the country in protest over the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Jordan’s deputy prime minister, Ayman al-Safadi, who is also the foreign minister, said the return of the ambassadors is linked to Israel “stopping its war on Gaza … and the humanitarian catastrophe it is causing.”
Jordan signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994, the second Arab country after Egypt to do so.
ISRAELI FORCES RAID REFUGEE CAMP IN THE WEST BANK, KILL 3 PALESTINIANS
Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank early Wednesday, killing three Palestinians, injuring scores more, and arresting a high-ranking Palestinian official, Palestinian health and Israeli military officials said.
The raid, which the military said was to root out militancy, included a drone strike — a once rare, but now increasingly common attack mode in the West Bank. The military said the strike targeted and hit several militants. Soldiers and militants exchanged fire in the camp. The military said soldiers found and destroyed an underground shaft full of ammunition.
In the overnight raid, soldiers arrested Ata Abu Rmeileh, Jenin’s highest-ranking Fatah official. Fatah is the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ main rival. The military said that Rmeileh, who was arrested with his son, was involved in promoting militancy in the area. Israel’s military arrested 70 Palestinians overnight, bringing the total number of Palestinians arrested since the war began to 1,830, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.
Videos circulating on social media showed lines of Israeli military vehicles streaming into the city, Israeli bulldozers traversing the camp’s narrow streets and a puddle of blood on the floor of a major hospital.
Violence has surged in the West Bank since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out on Oct. 7. Since then, Israeli forces and settlers killed 125 Palestinians there, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.