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Live: Live updates | Israel says it’s stepping up attacks on the Gaza Strip

Israeli warplanes have struck targets across the Gaza Strip as well as two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants, while a second convoy of humanitarian aid reportedly began crossing into Gaza from Egypt on Sunday afternoon.

Israel’s military spokesman said the country is stepping up its attacks, and there are growing expectations of a ground offensive.

The war, now in its 16th day, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Sunday that the death toll in Gaza had reached at least 4,651 people, with another 14,254 people wounded in the besieged territory.

The ministry said 90 Palestinians were also killed in violence and Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank since Hamas militants stormed into Israel on Oct. 7. More than 1,650 others were wounded, it added.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial Hamas attack. In addition, 203 people were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza, the Israeli military has said.

Currently:

    1. The father of freed American teenage hostage Natalie Raanan says she’s doing well after her release by Hamas.

    2. Biden walks tightrope with support for Israel as allies and the left push for restraint

    3. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is ordering further defenses for U.S. troops as tensions in the Middle East continue to grow.

    4. In a Gaza City hospital, an orthopedic surgeon makes do with whatever he can find — clothes for bandages, vinegar for antiseptic, sewing needles for surgical ones.

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

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER WARNS HEZBOLLAH TO STAY OUT OF WAR

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited troops stationed near the border with Lebanon, where the Israeli army and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants also have traded fire during the Hamas-Israel war.

A top official with Iran Hezbollah vowed Saturday that Israel would pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

Speaking to troops in the north on Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel would react more fiercely than it did during its short 2006 war with Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

“If Hezbollah decides to enter the war, it will miss the Second Lebanon War. It will make the mistake of its life. We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state are devastating,” the Israeli leader said.

FUEL TRUCKS SEEN ENTERING GAZA FROM EGYPT

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — An Associated Press journalist at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing point with Egypt says fuel trucks have crossed into Gaza for the first time since Israel imposed its total siege on the strip. He says U.N. vehicles escorted the seven trucks.

Hospital personnel in Gaza have reported doctors performing procedures by the light of cellphones in recent days due to a severe fuel shortage.

EGYPTIAN MEDIA REPORT A SECOND CONVOY HAS ENTERED GAZA

A convoy of 17 trucks bringing aid to besieged Palestinians crossed into Gaza on Sunday, Egypt’s state-run media reported.

The delivery would be the second shipment into the territory in the past two days.

Residents of Gaza have been under an Israeli blockade that cut off food, water, medicine and electricity since Hamas militants rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The more than 2 million residents of the territory have been struggling under Israeli airstrikes and with dwindling resources since then.

UNRWA SAYS THERE WILL BE NO HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE WITHOUT FUEL

AMMAN, Jordan — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says it will run out of fuel in Gaza in three days.

“Without fuel, there will be no water, no functioning hospitals and bakeries. Without fuel, aid will not reach many civilians in desperate need. Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance,” Philippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA Commissioner General, said in a statement Sunday.

A first delivery of aid that was allowed to cross into Gaza from Egypt on Saturday did not include any fuel.

“Without fuel, we will fail the people of Gaza whose needs are growing by the hour, under our watch. This cannot and should not happen,” Lazzarini said.

He called on “all parties and those with influence” to allow fuel into Gaza immediately, while ensuring that it is only used for humanitarian purposes.

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PREGNANT WOMEN IN GAZA ARE IN DANGER, AID WORKERS SAY

Thousands of pregnant women in the Gaza Strip who are expected to give birth this month are in grave danger because they are not able to reach a medical facility to deliver, an aid agency says.

Guillemette Thomas, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in the Palestinian territories, said women have already given birth in UNRWA schools that have turned into shelters housing tens of thousands of displaced people.

“These women are in danger and the babies are in danger right now,” she said. “That’s a really critical situation.”

According to the U.N. population fund, there are 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza. Some 5,500 of them are due to give birth in the coming month, meaning 166 births per day, the U.N. agency said.

Earlier Sunday the U.N. health agency said that at least 130 premature babies are at “grave risk” because of a lack of fuel at Gaza hospitals. Thomas said some of them could die within hours.

AID ORGANIZATIONS WARN OF RISK TO PREMATURE BABIES FROM FUEL SHORTAGE

CAIRO — At least 130 premature babies are at “grave risk” because of lack of fuel at Gaza hospitals, the U.N. health agency said Sunday.

The babies are being cared for at six neonatal units, according to Medical Aid for Palestinians, an aid group working in Gaza. Doctors have warned that the babies are in imminent danger if fuel does not reach hospitals soon.

In a statement to The Associated Press, the World Health Organization called for “immediate and sustained” access of fuel into Gaza to keep health facilities operating.

Melanie Ward, chief executive of Medical Aid for Palestinians, urged world leaders to press Israel to allow the delivery of fuel to Gaza.

“The world cannot simply look on as these babies are killed by the siege on Gaza. … A failure to act is to sentence these babies to death,” she said.

Hospitals in Gaza have been struggling with the large number of wounded from the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian militants which was triggered by an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon working with Doctors without Borders in Shifa hospital, said the hospital’s generators “are cutting out more regularly now than before.”

He said hospitals in the territory are facing severe shortages of medical supplies, including bandages, medication and other supplies.

“You can imagine the amount 14,000 severely wounded patients would consume,” he told the AP.

‘HEARTBREAKING’ LIFE-OR-DEATH DECISIONS FOR GAZA’S DOCTORS

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Hospitals across the Gaza Strip are scrounging for fuel stocks to keep the lights on in critical wards and continue to save the lives of the relentless stream of wounded patients.

Serious shortages in other supplies, including ventilators, are forcing medical teams to prioritize the lives of those who can be saved for certain over severe cases that require complex care, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, who works in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he told The Associated Press. “Every day, if we receive 10 severely injured patients, we have to manage with maybe three or five ICU beds available. We have to choose who must face death, or manage them in regular wards or do some limited care because we think as a medical team, between two patients in a life-threatening situation, we have to give the ventilator to the patient who has a higher chance of improving in 24 hours.”

Many departments in the hospital are plunged in darkness as medical staff allow electricity only in critical departments where patients risk death without it. On Friday the hospital was on its last stock of fuel, but managed to get another tank from UNRWA’s existing stock on Saturday, said Qandeel. “This amount should last for three to five days,” he said.

The World Health Organization says Gaza’s Health Ministry is reporting that its daily use of medical consumables during the war is equivalent to its monthly consumption before the war. The report said “an imminent public health catastrophe looms” in the setting of mass displacement, overcrowding of shelters and damage to the water and sanitation infrastructure.

BODIES OF 3 NEPALI STUDENTS REPATRIATED

KATHMANDU — Nepal has repatriated the bodies of three of 10 Nepali students who were killed during the Hamas attack in Israel two weeks ago.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud and Israeli Ambassador Hanan Goder received the bodies at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. The bodies will be flown to the students’ home district of Kailai.

Another body of a Nepali student is expected to be flown to Kathmandu later Sunday. One Nepalese student is missing and believed to be held captive by Hamas, officials said.

Israeli authorities have so far handed over four bodies to the Nepalese Embassy in Tel Aviv. They are in the process of identifying the remaining six bodies, a statement from the embassy said. More than 200 Nepalese nationals returned home from Israel on Oct. 13. As many as 265 Nepali students were in Israel attending a program launched by the Israeli government.

INDIA SENDS MEDICAL AID AND RELIEF SUPPLIES TO PALESTINIANS

NEW DELHI — India on Sunday sent nearly 6.5 tonnes (7.1 tons) of medical aid and 32 tonnes (35 tons) of disaster relief supplies to Palestinians.

An Indian air force plane carrying the materials left New Delhi for Egypt’s El-Arish airport, said Arindam Bagchi, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman. The aid includes essential life-saving medicines, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, tarps and water purification tablets among other items, he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed condolences and sympathy for those killed and wounded as a result of the attacks in Israel and said that Indian people stand in solidarity with Israel. India has reiterated its position in favor of direct negotiations for establishing a two-state solution.

SYRIAN MEDIA REPORTS ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES HIT AIRPORTS IN DAMASCUS AND ALEPPO

Syrian state media reported that Israeli airstrikes early Sunday targeted the international airports of the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, killing one person. The runways were damaged and put out of service.

The attack is the second this month on the Damascus International airport and the third on Aleppo’s airport as tensions increases in the Middle East over the Israel-Hamas war.

Syrian state media quoted an unnamed military official as saying the airports were struck by the Israeli military from the Mediterranean to the west and from Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in the south. It said one employee was killed and another wounded in Damascus in addition to material damage.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Since the war between Israel and Hamas started on Oct. 7, Israel has carried out several strikes in Syria including one on the Damascus airport and two on Aleppo’s airport putting them out of service.

Flights were directed in the past to an international airport in the coastal province of Latakia.

Israel has targeted airports and sea ports in the government-held parts of Syria in an apparent attempt to prevent arms shipments from Iran to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Thousands of Iran-backed fighters from around the region joined Syria’s 12-year conflict helping tip the balance in favor of President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, including attacks on the Damascus and Aleppo airports, but rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.

PALESTINIAN HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS ISRAELI FORCES KILLED FOUR EARLY SUNDAY IN WEST BANK

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the occupied West Bank said at least four people were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank early Sunday.

The ministry said two were killed in the Jenin refugee camp, which includes the Al-Ansar mosque where Israel’s military said it launched an airstrike. The two fatalities have yet to be identified. It also said Israeli forces shot and killed two men in northern cities of the West Bank: a 19-year-old in Tubas and a 26-year-old in Nablus.

Sunday’s fatalities brought the death toll in the West Bank to 89 Palestinians since the latest Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7, according to the Health Ministry.

ISRAEL STRIKES UNDERGROUND COMPOUND AT WEST BANK MOSQUE, MILITARY SAYS

Israeli Defense Forces said a military aircraft launched a strike early Sunday on the Al-Ansar mosque at the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

The IDF said via X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants had been using an “underground terror route” beneath the mosque. One Palestinian was killed in the shelling, Palestinian Red Crescent said.

Tensions have risen in the West Bank, where dozens of Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, arrest raids and attacks by Jewish settlers.

ITALIAN PREMIER GOES TO ISRAEL

ROME — Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni has made a trip to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, her office said.

The meeting Saturday came after Meloni participated in a summit in Cairo focused on ways to de-escalate the raging Israel-Hamas war.

Meloni’s office said that in her meeting she reiterated “the right of Israel to defend itself under international law and to live in peace” while also underlining “the importance of guaranteeing humanitarian access to Gaza and a prospect of peace for the region.’’

Her office said she brought “a message of solidary and Italy’s closeness” following Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Oct. 7.

PRESIDENT BIDEN SPEAKS WITH 2 FREED HOSTAGES

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has spoken on the phone with two freed Americans who had been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, were released Friday. It was the first such hostage release from among the roughly 200 people the militant group abducted from Israel during its Oct. 7 rampage.

Video of Biden speaking with them by phone was posted Saturday on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter. He told the mother and daughter that he was glad they had been released.

“We’re going to get them all out, God willing,” he said.

Natalie thanked Biden for his “services” to Israel. Judith said they are in good health.

Hamas said it released the mother and daughter for humanitarian reasons in an agreement with the Qatari government.

Family members have said Judith and Natalie had been on a trip from their home in the Chicago suburb of Evanston to Israel to celebrate Judith’s mother’s birthday and the Jewish holidays.

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This item has been corrected to reflect that the video was posted Saturday, not that Biden spoke to them on Saturday.

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