Israel’s military ordered hundreds of thousands of civilians living in Gaza City to evacuate ahead of a feared Israel ground offensive. The directive came Friday on the heels of what the United Nations said was a warning it received from Israel to evacuate 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza. Palestinians and some Egyptian officials fear that Israel ultimately hopes to push Gaza’s people out through the southern border with Egypt.
1. People are scrambling to evacuate northern Gaza even as Hamas told Palestinians to stay home
2. No decision on a ground offensive has been announced, although Israel has been massing troops along the Gaza border
3. An Israeli shell landed in a gathering of international journalists covering clashes on the border in southern Lebanon on Friday, killing one and wounding six
4. The war has claimed at least 3,200 lives since Hamas launched an incursion on Oct. 7
5. United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has assured Israel: “We have your back”
Here's what's happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
CAIRO — Chief diplomats of Egypt and Germany held talks Saturday on the deteriorating “humanitarian and security” situation in Gaza amid ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, an Egyptian official said.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Cairo for talks that focused on the conflict.
Both officials understand “the necessity of immediate cessation of escalation,” said Ahmed Abu Zaid, spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry.
BEIRUT — The U.N. children’s agency is calling for an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian access into the Gaza Strip, saying hundreds of thousands of children and their families have started fleeing northern Gaza.
UNICEF said children and families in Gaza have practically run out of food, water, electricity, medicine and safe access to hospitals, following days of hostilities and cuts to all supply routes.
“The situation is catastrophic, with unrelenting bombing and a massive increase in the displacement of children and families. There are no safe places,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
UNICEF said its staff have continued to respond to the critical needs of children across the Gaza Strip, but access is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous.
The agency said UNICEF staff will stay in southern Gaza to continue to provide support for children in need.
CAIRO — Patients and medical staff of Al Awda Hospital in Gaza spent part of their night on the street “with bombs landing in close proximity,” following Israel’s orders to evacuate the facility, the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said.
Scott Hamilton, a spokesman for the aid group, which is known as MSF, said some of the medical staff and all patients have been moved to another location.
“But the situation remains extremely complicated and chaotic,” he told The Associated Press. “We call on Israel once again to cease the indiscriminate bloodshed, withdraw their ultimatum.”
CAIRO — Egyptian officials said the southern Rafah crossing would open later Saturday to allow foreigners to exit.
BEIRUT — The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced over the past 12 hours in the Gaza Strip.
Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General, warned that the Gaza Strip is running out of clean water and fuel is urgently needed in order to have safe drinking water.
Lazzarini said in statement that more than 2 million people are at risk as water runs out adding that “it has become a matter of life and death.”
Lazzarini said Gaza’s water plant and public water networks have stopped working and people are now forced to use dirty water from wells, increasing risks of waterborne diseases.
“Nearly 1 million people have been displaced in one week alone,” he said adding that at the U.N. base in the southern Gaza Strip — where UNRWA has moved its operations — drinking water is also running out.
He called for lifting the blockade that Israel imposed on Gaza adding that if drinking water is not available, people will start dying of severe dehydration, among them young children, the elderly and women.
CAIRO — President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt on Saturday discussed the war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza with Turkey’s chief diplomat.
A statement from the Egyptian presidency said el-Sissi and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan agreed that the ongoing escalation threatens the region’s “stability and security, which requires intensive international efforts to immediately cease violence.”
The statement said el-Sissi and Fidan expressed concerns about Israel’s “collective punishment” of the Palestinians in Gaza and called for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged strip.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A senior State Department official Traveling with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday the U.S. has been trying to negotiate with the Israelis, Egyptians and Qataris on opening the Rafah border crossing to allow foreigners to leave Gaza.
The official said the plan was to open the crossing from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. But the official said it isn’t clear if Hamas will allow convoys to get there unimpeded.
He said U.S. officials have been reaching out to Americans known to be in Gaza to let them know.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the negotiations.
— Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Riyadh.
JERUSALEM — The Israeli army said Saturday that it had struck militants trying to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon.
The Israel Defence Forces released infrared footage on Friday showing what they say are the strikes on militants attempting to cross the Israel border from Lebanon. It was not clear which group the alleged militants belonged to. On Friday, Hezbollah said its fighters fired several rockets at four Israeli positions along the border and the Israeli army said it had attacked Hezbollah targets with drone strikes.
“The Lebanese government bears responsibility for every attack launched from Lebanon towards our sovereignty. Anyone who tries to cross the border into our lands will be killed,” the Israeli military’s Arabic spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, said in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
An Israeli shell landed in a gathering of international journalists covering clashes on the border in south Lebanon on Friday, killing Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and injuring six other journalists.
Israeli Military spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told The Associated Press Saturday, “We are aware of the incident with the Reuters journalist and we are looking into it.”
He did not confirm that the journalists had been hit by Israeli shells, but called the incident “tragic,” adding, “We’re very sorry for his death.”
TOKYO — Japan on Saturday dispatched three defense planes to a Military base in Djibouti in East Africa to have them on standby in case of the need to airlift Japanese nationals from Israel and Gaza.
The Self-Defense Force’s Joint Staff said a KC-767 transport and refueling plane left the Komaki Air Base in central Japan on Saturday, while two C-2 transport aircraft left Miho Air Base in western Japan.
Japan maintains a base in Djibouti as part of an anti-piracy mission. The three planes are expected to arrive as early as Sunday to be on stand by in case a plan to evacuate Japanese nationals by a charter flight from Tel Aviv to Dubai becomes difficult due to safety reasons.
The government is reportedly considering options to evacuate Japanese nationals by land if necessary.
CAIRO — Egyptian authorities have erected “temporary” blast walls on Egypt’s side of the Rafah crossing point with Gaza, two Egyptian officials said.
The crossing point has been closed since earlier this week after Israeli airstrikes hit close to its Palestinian side.
The officials said the blast walls were erected as part of “precautionary measures” Egypt has taken in recent days over growing concerns about a mass exodus of Palestinians.
One of the officials said the walls will be removed once a deal is reached with Israel to spare the crossing from its airstrikes.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.
Palestinians were fleeing in a mass exodus after Israel’s Military told people to evacuate to the southern part of the besieged territory ahead of an expected ground invasion.
— Associated Press writer Ashraf Sweilam contributed.
BEIRUT — Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says militant groups in the region are “fully ready” to respond to any move by Israel.
The minister spoke in Beirut at the end of a tour that took him to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, where Iran enjoys wide influence and where tens of thousands of Iran-backed fighters are deployed.
Amirabdollahian told reporters in Beirut Saturday that he met Hezbollah’s leadership, adding that “the resistance (Hezbollah) is in excellent condition and in full readiness to respond to criminal acts by the Zionist entity.”
He added that “the resistance will decide if the war will expand or new fronts are to be open.”
During his visit to Beirut, Amirabdollahian met Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and they discussed the war.
“We will do all we can to stop the Zionist crimes in Gaza," Amirabdollahian said.
CAIRO — A plane carrying medical supplies for Gaza from the United Nations health agency landed Saturday in el-Arish airport in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, awaiting the reopening of the Rafah crossing point. That’s according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization.
“We’re ready to deploy the supplies as soon as humanitarian access through the crossing is established,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Egypt has designed el-Arish airport to receive supplies from aid agencies and foreign governments to deliver them to Gaza. Rafah was forced to close earlier in the week after Israeli airstrikes hit close its gate on the Palestinian side.
Adhanom also pleaded for Israel to reconsider its decision to evacuate 1.1 million people to the southern part of Gaza, saying, “It will be a human tragedy.”
JERUSALEM — The United States Air Force said overnight that it had deployed F-15E fighter aircraft in the Middle East to support its operations backing Israel after Hamas’ unprecedented attack Oct.7.
Already, there’s more attack and support aircraft in the region over tensions with Iran as it enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.
JERUSALEM — The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued a blistering statement Saturday expressing what it describes as “its absolute rejection and condemnation of Israel, the occupying power’s calls for the forced displacement of the Palestinian people.” The OIC broadly reflects the thinking of Saudi Arabia’s rulers.
The Jeddah, a Saudi Arabia-based organization, also called for humanitarian corridors to be opened into Gaza, which is under an Israeli siege blocking food, water and medicine.
Analysts say U.S.-led negotiations to have the kingdom diplomatically recognize Israel have likely stalled after Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 incursion in Israel and Israel’s devastating Military campaign that followed, which have left more than 3,200 dead.
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