Live updates | Netanyahu rejects 2 key Hamas demands for any cease-fire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected two key demands Hamas has made during indirect cease-fire talks, saying Israel will not withdraw from the Gaza Strip or release thousands of jailed militants.

During an event Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu again vowed that the war would not end without Israel’s “absolute victory” over Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces working undercover killed three Palestinian militants in a raid on a hospital in the West Bank, where violence has surged since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

The Israeli military said forces entered the Ibn Sina hospital in the northern city of Jenin early Tuesday and shot the three men, whom Hamas claimed as members. The military said the men were using the hospital as a hideout and that at least one was planning an attack.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the Israeli forces opened fire inside the hospital’s wards and called on the international community to stop Israeli operations in hospitals.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, most of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.

The Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that sparked the war killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and about 250 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

Currently:

— Biden says he’s decided on response to the killing of 3 US troops in Jordan

— Where do the parties stand on efforts to secure a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages?

— A Palestinian with a group waving a white flag is killed. Israel says it will look into it.

— Document spells out allegations against 12 U.N. employees Israel says participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here’s the latest:

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS DONOR NATIONS TO CONTINUE FUNDING UNRWA

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met behind closed doors with 35 donor nations and appealed again for a restoration of funding and new donations for the embattled U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

The U.N. chief briefed the ambassadors, including from the European Union, late Tuesday on actions he had taken following accusations that 12 employees of the agency known as UNRWA participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel. He has called the Israeli allegations “horrific” and launched an investigation.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told reporters after the meeting that the secretary-general appealed to many countries that suspended funding to UNRWA after the allegations “to reconsider” and urged other countries “including those in the region, to step up to the plate.”

Mansour said 153 UNRWA staff have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7 — the largest number of U.N. personnel killed in an operation since World War II — and urged donors not to take steps “that constitute a collective punishment against millions of Palestinians refugees.” He praised Norway, Spain and others who said they would not suspend aid.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters earlier that “no other organization than UNRWA has the infrastructure to do what they do” in Gaza and the Middle East and “it’s not feasible in any way, shape or form” to quickly replace the U.N. agency.

Dujarric also told reporters that every year UNRWA provides a list of its 13,000 staff in Gaza to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “As far as I’m told by UNRWA, concerns have not been raised when the list of staff have been shared,” he said.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION ON GAZA HUMANITARIAN AID

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council is calling for urgent action to expand the flow of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

The council on Tuesday issued a statement expressing concern at“the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the conflict-wracked territory.

The council urged all parties to engage with the U.N.’s new humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag. She is trying to accelerate aid deliveries to hundreds of thousands of civilians desperately in need of food, water, medicine and other assistance.

The brief council statement was read to reporters after the 15 council members met with Kaag behind closed doors.

Kaag later told reporters she was “very encouraged” by support from the council, which created her post to respond to the humanitarian conditions in Gaza. According to multiple U.N. agencies, more than half a million people in Gaza are facing “catastrophic hunger.”

UN HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR SAYS UNRWA IS CRITICAL

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N.’s senior humanitarian coordinator for Gaza says the embattled U.N. agency serving Palestinian refugees is critical.

Sigrid Kaag briefed the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors on Tuesday. She told reporters afterward that “no organization can replace or substitute the tremendous capacity, the fabric of UNRWA, the ability, and their knowledge of the population in Gaza.”

Many key donors, including the United States and Germany, suspended funding to UNRWA after an Israeli detailed allegations that 12 of its employees were involved in the Oct. 7 cross-border massacre that triggered Israel’s war against Hamas.

The Israeli government has accused Hamas and other militant groups of siphoning off aid and using U.N. facilities for military purposes.

UNRWA denies those allegations and says it took swift action against the employees accused of taking part in the attack

US SAYS IT COULD RESUME FUNDING UNRWA AFTER AN INVESTIGATION

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department says it expects to resume funding the embattled U.N. agency serving Palestinian refugees provided it conducts a credible investigation into possible links between some of its employees and the Hamas militant group.

The U.S. and more than a dozen other countries suspended contributions to UNRWA after Israel alleged that 12 of the agency’s workers had participated in the Oct. 7 cross-border massacre that triggered Israel’s war against Hamas.

UNRWA immediately fired most of the workers, and the United Nations has vowed to investigate. But U.N. officials have warned that UNRWA will have to halt operations by the end of February if funding is not restored.

UNRWA is the biggest aid provider in Gaza, where Israel’s war against Hamas has displaced the vast majority of the population and plunged it into a humanitarian catastrophe. The U.S. is the largest single donor, giving over $300 million, or one-quarter of the agency’s annual budget.

State Department Matthew Miller said Tuesday that the U.S. had planned to send about $300,000 in the coming weeks but gave no details on when funding might be restored.

Israel has long claimed that Hamas uses UNRWA facilities to store weapons or launch attacks, and that agency employees teach hatred of Israel in their schools. UNRWA says it does not knowingly tolerate such behavior and has internal safeguards to prevent abuses and discipline wrongdoing.

PALESTINIAN RED CRESCENT SAYS ISRAEL RAIDED A GAZA HOSPITAL

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The Palestinian Red Crescent says Israeli forces raided the Al-Amal Hospital in south Gaza city of Khan Younis, where about 7,000 displaced people were sheltering.

In a post on X, the group said Israeli tanks were lined up outside the front of the hospital on Tuesday, firing live ammunition and smoke grenades at people inside. Raed al-Nims, a spokesperson for the aid group, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that everyone was ordered to evacuate.

The Israeli military said its forces were operating in the area of the hospital but not inside it, without elaborating.

In recent weeks, the Israeli army has expanded its assault on the southern half of the Gaza Strip, with a focus on territory’s second-largest city, Khan Younis.

Since the war erupted on Oct. 7, the Israeli army has raided at least six hospitals in the north of Gaza, accusing several of being a base for Hamas fighters.

US TREASURY OFFICIAL VISITS BAGHDAD

BAGHDAD — A U.S. Treasury official traveled to Baghdad this week amid high regional tensions. The U.S. is seeking to crack down on Iranian-backed armed groups that have launched attacks on its forces, including through sanctions.

U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson’s two-day visit Sunday and Money aimed to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on “countering illicit finance and strengthening the Iraqi financial system,” the Treasury said in a statement Tuesday.

On Monday, the U.S. issued a notice of proposed rulemaking identifying Iraqi bank Al-Huda Bank as a conduit for terrorist financing, an action that would sever the bank from the U.S. financial system. It also imposed sanctions on the bank’s owner, Hamad al-Moussawi.

Last week, the Treasury hit Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its CEO with sanctions, alleging assistance to Iran’s military wing. The airline denied the allegation.

BIDEN SAYS HE’S DECIDED HOW TO RESPOND TO ATTACK IN JORDAN

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says he has made a decision on how to respond to the drone attack in Jordan that killed three U.S. Army Reserve soldiers.

But in talking to reporters before boarding the presidential helicopter, Biden declined to provide more details about what that response would be.

The weekend drone strike on a U.S. base in Jordan near the Syrian border also wounded more than 40 others.

When asked how the U.S. response would be different from past responses to aggressions from groups backed by Iran, Biden said, “We’ll see.”

The U.S. president said he did hold Iran responsible for supplying the weapons used in the attack. Biden was also asked what he would say to Democratic lawmakers who are concerned about the risks of an expanding war in the Middle East and he, again, said, “We’ll see.”

“I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East,” Biden said. “That’s not what I’m looking for.”

ISRAELI LAWMAKER FACES POSSIBLE EXPULSION

JERUSALEM — An Israeli parliamentary committee has recommended expelling a lawmaker for supporting the South African genocide case against Israel in the U.N. world court.

The Knesset’s House Committee on Tuesday passed the measure to expel lawmaker Ofer Cassif by a 14-2 margin. The proposal now goes to the full 120-member parliament. Approval would require a 90-vote supermajority.

Cassif is the lone Jewish member of a small predominantly Arab party in parliament called the Joint List.

After Tuesday’s vote, Cassif said claims that he supports Hamas are a “blatant lie.”

He called himself a victim of “political persecution and silencing.”

In response to South Africa’s case, the International Court of Justice last week called on Israel to take steps to prevent a genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It rejected an appeal to order an immediate cease-fire.

Israeli leaders have rejected the accusations, saying their war in Gaza is against Hamas, not the broader civilian populations.

UN ENVOY IS IN ISRAEL TO INVESTIGATE REPORTED SEXUAL ASSAULTS FROM HAMAS ATTACK

JERUSALEM – The U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence has begun a weeklong visit to Israel to look into reports of sexual assaults committed by Hamas militants during the Oct. 7 attack that triggered Israel’s war in Gaza.

Pramila Patten kicked off her visit on Monday by meeting with Israeli diplomats and Israel’s president, Issac Herzog, and his wife Michal. Patten encouraged victims to come forward to meet with her delegation.

“We really want to ensure that you have justice so that we put an end to this heinous act,” Patten said during the meeting, according to Herzog’s office.

Reports have emerged that sexual assaults were part of the deadly rampage by militants from Hamas and other Gaza groups who killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took more than 250 hostages from southern Israel.

Jewish tradition calls for the dead to be buried as soon as possible, and in the chaos of the beginning of the war, few autopsies were conducted, so forensic evidence of rape has been difficult to collect.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned women’s rights organizations, including the United Nations, for not immediately condemning the reports of sexual assault.

Patten is also set to meet with representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Israeli security forces, local organizations, witnesses, and released hostages during her visit.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.