Jerusalem | The Israeli military says its ground forces will expand their activities in Gaza Friday night. The announcement came hours after Israeli forces conducted a second ground raid in as many days and after Israel's defense minister said the country expects to launch a long and difficult ground invasion of the Hamas-ruled territory.
The development also came after communication services in the Gaza Strip were cut, following a heavy round of Israeli airstrikes that lit up the night sky over the darkened territory.
The Palestinian death toll passed 7,300 as Israel launched waves of airstrikes in response to the bloody Hamas rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7. The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which tracks the toll, released a detailed list, including names and ID numbers on Thursday. In the occupied West Bank, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids since the war's start three weeks ago.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack. In addition, 229 people — including foreigners, children and older adults — were taken by Hamas during the incursion and remain in captivity in Gaza. Four hostages were released earlier.
1. UN General Assembly calls for `humanitarian truce' in Gaza leading to halt in Israel-Hamas fighting.
2. U.S. strikes Iran-linked sites in Syria in retaliation for attacks on U.S. troops.
3. Israel-Hamas war upends years of conventional wisdom. Leaders give few details on what comes next 4. Data from the Gaza Health Ministry, questioned after the hospital explosion, has withstood past scrutiny.
5. About 30 children were taken hostage by Hamas militants. Their families wait in agony.
6. Find more of AP's coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here's what's happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
EXPLOSIONS SHATTER THE NIGHT SKY OVER GAZA AS ISRAEL EXPANDS BOMBING
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The dull orange glow of Israeli flares shone in the night sky over Gaza, slowly descending through the haze to illuminate targets for warplanes before eventually flickering out, plunging the scene back into darkness.
Multiple explosions from Israeli airstrikes tore into northern Gaza on Friday, quick flashes of bright orange silhouetted against the rooftops of Palestinian apartments and refugee camps. The sharp crunching sound of the bombs followed each time, seconds later, one after another.
Overhead, the buzz of Israeli military drones cut through, growing quieter and louder as the crafts circled the airspace overhead.
For most Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip, their world has shrunk to these few sounds and colors.
Israel dramatically ramped up its bombardment Friday after knocking out internet and communication in Gaza, largely cutting off the tiny besieged enclave's 2.3 million people from contact with each other and the outside world.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN TRUCE' IN GAZA LEADING TO HALT IN ISRAEL-HAMAS FIGHTING UNITED NATIONS
The U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution on Friday calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
It was the first U.N. response to Hamas' surprise Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and Israel's ongoing military response and vow to obliterate Hamas.
The 193-member world body adopted the resolution by a vote of 120-14 with 45 abstentions after rejecting a Canadian amendment backed by the United States to unequivocally condemn the “terrorist attacks” by Hamas and demand the immediate release of hostages taken by the militant group.
GAZA'S LARGEST HOSPITAL STRUGGLES TO KEEP ITS NEONATAL UNITS RUNNING AS ISRAEL TIGHTENS SEIGE
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Premature babies wiggle and squirm, some with oxygen tubes under their noses, in rows of clear plastic incubators inside the neonatal unit of Gaza's largest hospital, which, like the rest of the besieged Palestinian territory, is running out of fuel, food, water and electricity.
Doctors in Gaza say conditions have reached catastrophic levels. They say a lack of basic supplies has left them struggling to maintain hygiene and sanitation, and hospital grounds are overcrowded with displaced civilians seeking refuge from Israeli airstrikes.
“We have noticed an increase in premature birth cases,” said Dr. Nasser Bulbul, head of the NICU at al-Shifa Hospital.
“We had to perform a premature delivery of the fetus from the mother's womb while she's dying,” he said. “Many of these infants are orphaned, and we don't know the fate of their relatives or have information about their identities.” Around 50,000 pregnant women are caught up in the conflict, with around 5,500 due to give birth within the next 30 days, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
If fuel supplies run out, neonatal intensive care units will be impacted and planned or emergency caesarean sections will be impossible, the U.N. agency said.
PRESS GROUP SAYS THE PAST 3 WEEKS HAVE BEEN DEADLIEST PERIOD FOR JOURNALISTS COVERING CONFLICT NEW YORK
The Committee to Protect Journalists says the past three weeks have been the deadliest on record for journalists covering conflict since the organization started tracking in 1992.
The organization said in a statement Friday that at least 29 journalists have died covering the Israel-Hamas war since it ignited Oct. 7, including 24 Palestinians, four Israelis and 1 Lebanese. Additionally, 8 other journalists were reported injured and 9 were reported missing or detained.
CPJ also criticized the cutting of communications services in the Gaza Strip, warning that the blackout is also a “news blackout” that has compromised the public's ability to “know and understand what is happening in this conflict.” “This can lead to serious consequences with an independent, factual information vacuum that can be filled with deadly propaganda, dis- and misinformation,” it said.
The organization stressed that journalists are civilians that must be respected and protected in accordance with international humanitarian law, adding that “deliberating targeting journalists or media infrastructure constitutes possible war crimes.”
WE'RE NOT DRAWING RED LINES FOR ISRAEL,' WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL SAYS WASHINGTON
White House National Security spokesman John Kirby repeatedly refused to comment on Israel saying its ground forces were expanding activity in Gaza and also refused to comment on what a satisfactory long-term objective might be for the fighting.
“We're not drawing red lines for Israel,” Kirby said Friday on a call with reporters. “We're going to continue to support them” but “since the very beginning we have, and will continue to have, conversations about the manner that they are doing this.” Kirby said the U.S. is still evaluating the impact of airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias and “we will not hesitate to take further actions in our own self-defense.” He also said 10 additional trucks filled with humanitarian aid had made it to Gaza, bringing the total to 84, but that the U.S. is aware that fuel there “is only anticipated to last a couple of days.” The White House previously said President Joe Biden was briefed Friday morning by his national security team on the latest developments in Israel and Gaza.
AID GROUPS SAY BLACKOUT IS IMPEDING STAFF COMMUNICATIONS AND OPERATIONS
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Aid groups say the communications blackout in the Gaza Strip has not only left them unable to contact their staff, but has also impeded their operations in the territory.
“It doesn't only mean that Gaza is isolated from the world but also it means people can't connect to each other. Our emergency line is down so people are literally not able to call an ambulance,” said Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent. “We are extremely worried because we are completely cut off from our teams.” The International Committee of the Red Cross also said it's currently unable to reach its staff in Gaza.
“We are deeply worried for their safety and the safety of all civilians where hostilities are taking place. Without access to information in a communication blackout, people don't know where to go for safety," the organization said in a statement. "Blackouts impede humanitarian and medical personnel from working safely and effectively.”
ISRAELI ARMY SAYS GROUND FORCES WILL EXPAND THEIR ACTIVITY IN GAZA FRIDAY EVENING JERUSALEM
The Israeli military on Friday said its ground forces were “expanding their activity” in the Gaza Strip, as the army moved closer to a full-on ground invasion of the besieged territory.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the army's spokesman, said aerial attacks had been targeting Hamas tunnels and other targets.
“In addition to the attacks that we carried out in recent days, ground forces are expanding their activity this evening,” he said. “The IDF is acting with great force ... to achieve the objectives of the war.” Israel has amassed hundreds of thousands of troops along the border with Gaza ahead of an expected ground offensive against the Hamas militant group.
Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes since Hamas militants carried out a bloody cross-border incursion on Oct. 7.
POPE FRANCIS LEADS SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR COUNTRIES AND REGIONS AFFECTED BY WAR VATICAN CITY
Amid signs of escalating tensions in the Middle East, Pope Francis led special prayers Friday evening in St. Peter's Basilica for a world “in a dark hour” and in “great danger” from what he described as the folly of war.
In his remarks, delivered in the form of a prayer to the Virgin Mary, Francis didn't mention by name the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which exploded into war after the Hamas attack against Israelis on Oct. 7.
Instead, he said he was praying for “especially those countries and regions at war.” “Intercede for our world, in such turmoil and great danger,? the pope prayed, in apparent reference to widespread anxiety that the Israeli-Hamas war could quickly develop into a wider, regional war in the Middle East.
PALESTINIAN TELECOM PROVIDER SAYS INTERNET SERVICE HAS BEEN CUT IN GAZA STRIP RAMALLAH, West Bank
The Palestinian telecom provider Paltel says internet service in Gaza Strip has been cut off by Israeli bombardment. Services were cut Friday evening, following a heavy round of Israeli airstrikes that lit up the night sky over the darkened territory.
Rights groups and journalists also say they lost contact with colleagues in the enclave. The Associated Press's attempts to contact people in Gaza did not go through.
AIRSTRIKE IN DEIR AL-BALAH KILLS FATHER AND SON WHO WERE PRAYING IN A MOSQUE DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip
A 14-year-old boy and his father were killed Friday when the roof of a mosque they were praying in collapsed during an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, witnesses said.
Several people were killed and an unknown number trapped when a bomb also destroyed a home and damaged the mosque next door.
Bloodied survivors were rushed to a hospital. A girl wearing pink who was covered in dirt grimaced as doctors poured liquid on an open leg wound.
Dozens of men gathered to view the blast zone where cars were crushed and buried up to their axles in dirt. Several homes appeared to be destroyed and the half-open remains of one house tilted precariously toward a crater full of rubble and metal scraps.
The father and son who died in the mosque were from the northern town of Beit Lahiya. Several others in the mosque were also feared dead.
Outside a United Nations-run school that's since become a shelter, funeral prayers were said over the shrouded body of the teen.
ARGENTINE BABY AMONG HOSTAGES HELD BY HAMAS, OFFICIAL SAYS
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina | One of the youngest hostages being held captive in Gaza by Hamas is a 9-month-old Argentine baby, according to the head of Argentina's embassy in Israel.
“It's very difficult to talk about such painful topics,” Francisco Tropepi told Vis á Vis, a news outlet focused on reporting related to Israel and the Jewish community in Argentina, in an interview. Tropepi did not reveal the baby's identity.
There are 21 Argentine citizens who remain missing and are presumed to be held hostage by Hamas, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero said in a radio interview Friday morning. An estimated nine Argentines have been killed in the conflict.
US HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATION SAYS IT HAS MEDICAL SUPPLIES AND OTHER RESOURCES WAITING IN EGYPT
NEW YORK — The American humanitarian organization, Project HOPE, says it has had primary health care, surgical and emergency medical supplies positioned in Egypt near the Rafah border crossing for over a week. Those now include emergency surgical equipment designed to support 700 interventions and basic medical supplies to support some 60,000 people for three months.
Arlan Fuller, head of the nonprofit's emergency response, said the organization is also ready to send Arabic-speaking medical teams from partner organizations in Morocco and Jordan, as soon as they would be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip or treat people coming out of Gaza.