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Live updates | 9 Israeli soldiers killed as ground offensive continues in Gaza, despite US criticism

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Live updates | 9 Israeli soldiers killed as ground offensive continues in Gaza, despite US criticism
AP
The Associated Press
December 13, 2023

At least nine Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush, marking one of the deadliest single attacks that Palestinian militants have carried out since the ground invasion of Gaza began, Israel's military said. The attack in a dense urban neighborhood came after repeated recent claims by the military that it had broken Hamas’ command structure in northern Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with Israel’s Gaza offensive “until the end,” rejecting international pressure for a cease-fire.

Israel has drawn international outrage and rare criticism from the United States over the killing of thousands of civilians. The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly this week to demand a humanitarian cease-fire — General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but the message in favor of ending the Israel-Hamas war serves as an important barometer of world opinion.

Just hours before the vote, U.S. President Joe Biden warned that Israel was losing international support because of its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war has resulted in the deaths of over 18,400 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory, which does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. Israel says 113 of its soldiers have died in its ground offensive after Hamas raided southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 hostages.

Currently:

— Israel-Hamas war tensions roil U.S. campuses; Brown protesters are arrested, Haverford building is occupied.

— Wartime Palestinian poll shows surge in Hamas support; close to 90% want U.S.-backed Abbas to resign,

— Families of American hostages in Gaza say Biden reaffirms commitment to freeing their loved ones.

— New sanctions from the U.S. and Britain target Hamas officials who help manage its financial network.

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

Here’s what’s happening in the war:

ISRAEL'S ARMY WEBSITE IS HACKED BY A PRO-PALESTINIAN GROUP

JERUSALEM — Israel’s army website was briefly hacked on Wednesday by a pro-Palestinian group that warned of more attacks against Israeli forces, including further cyberattacks.

In a short letter that covered the main page of the Israeli army website, the group, calling itself “Anonymous Jo,” said the military’s “arrogance and injustice toward our people in Gaza will only harm you through terror, killing and war, whether by land, air or electronically.”

The letter went on to call for the “liberation of Palestine.”

Little is known about Anonymous Jo, although the group or individual behind the attack indicated that they are of Jordanian origin.

“From your brothers in Jordan to our people in Gaza and Palestine,” one of the lines read. Jordan, which borders the occupied West Bank, has a large Palestinian population and the public is very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

The army confirmed the hack.

ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MILITARY DIFFERENCES WITH U.S. OVER GAZA CAN BE RESOLVED

JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister has acknowledged the differences with the United States over Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, but says he is confident the two sides will find a way for the operation to continue.

At a news conference, Yoav Gallant said Wednesday that Israel appreciates the diplomatic and military support it has received from the U.S. He said despite the differences, both sides agree that Israel must prevail over Hamas.

“We will find a way to help Americans help us.” Gallant said.

He said Israel “is aware” that it must take into account the U.S. needs, “without giving up on the goals of the war.”

A MEETING AIMED AT FINDING WAYS TO SANCTION HAMAS IS HELD IN PARIS

PARIS -- France’s foreign ministry said a meeting focusing on finding ways to sanction Hamas has been held Wednesday in Paris in the presence of “international partners,” without providing details about participants.

The meeting discussed “concrete actions to be taken against this terrorist group” and “ways of increasing international coordination,” the ministry said in a statement. Participants discussed ways to combat Hamas financing, strengthen sanctions targeting the group and its members, as well as the effective implementation of the standards of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), including the control of risks relating to the use of crypto-currencies, the statement said.

Participants also discussed how to combat content spread online by Hamas and reiterated the importance of “robust regulatory mechanisms,” it said.

NETANYAHU VOWS TO FIGHT ‘UNTIL THE END’ AND REJECTS CALLS FOR CEASE-FIRE

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to press ahead with Israel’s Gaza offensive “until the end,” rejecting international pressure for a cease-fire.

Netanyahu’s comments on Wednesday came at a time of rising international criticism of the heavy civilian death toll in the offensive. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden criticized what he described as “indiscriminate bombing” by Israel, and the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly called for a cease-fire in a nonbinding vote.

Netanyahu spoke to Israeli military commanders, a day after at least nine soldiers were killed in Gaza. It was one of the deadliest days for Israel of the operation.

Netanyahu said Tuesday was a “very difficult day,” but that the war will continue.

“We are continuing until the end, there is no question. I say this even given the great pain, and the international pressure. Nothing will stop us, we will continue until the end, until victory, nothing less,” said Netanyahu.

CLASHES AT LEBANON-ISRAEL BORDER DISRUPTING EDUCATION OF CHILDREN

BEIRUT — Clashes on Lebanon’s southern border against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war have exacerbated an education crisis in the small Mediterranean country that has been in the throes of a major economic meltdown for the past four years, UNICEF said Wednesday.

A survey of Lebanese as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugee households living in Lebanon conducted by the U.N. agency in November found that 26% of households had school-aged children who were not attending school, up from 18% in April.

Syrians reported the highest prevalence of children out of school, at 52% of households, followed by Lebanese at 13% and Palestinians at 7%.

While the “cost of education materials” was the most-cited reason, UNICEF said, thousands of children were also out of education due disruptions related to ongoing fighting on the border between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces.

The clashes have killed about 130 people in Lebanon, including 17 civilians, according to a tally by The Associated Press, and have displaced nearly 59,000, according to the International Organization for Migration.

PALESTINIANS KILLED DURING ISRAELI RAID OF WEST BANK REFUGEE CAMP

TEL AVIV, Israel — At least seven Palestinians were killed and a dozen were arrested during a two-day Israeli raid in the northern West Bank.

The Israeli military said Wednesday that troops operating in the Jenin refugee camp seized weapons, ammunition and explosives, and uncovered tunnel shafts, observation posts and six explosive laboratories.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said seven Palestinians were killed in Jenin on Tuesday.

The dense, urban refugee camp has long been a stronghold for Palestinian militants. Israeli forces have carried out frequent raids over the past two years that have often set off gunbattles with Palestinian fighters.

Israel seized the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want all three territories for their future state.

Over 270 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Health Ministry.

AT LEAST 9 ISRAELI SOLDIERS ARE KILLED IN AN AMBUSH IN GAZA CITY, MEDIA SAY

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli media say at least nine soldiers were killed in an ambush in Gaza City. The dead include Col. Itzhak Ben Basat, 44, the most senior officer to have been killed since the ground operation in Gaza began in late October; and Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, commander of the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion.

Army Radio said troops who were searching a cluster of buildings lost communication with four soldiers who had come under fire, sparking fears of a possible abduction by Hamas militants. When the other soldiers launched a rescue operation, they were ambushed with heavy gunfire and explosives. Other Israeli media outlets carried similar accounts of the battle.

The military confirmed that a total of 10 soldiers were killed in Gaza on Tuesday. It did not respond to a request for comment about the circumstances.

Hamas said the ambush showed that Israel’s offensive was a failure.

POPE FRANCIS RENEWS CALL FOR PEACE IN GAZA

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis renewed his call for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza on Wednesday and for the return of hostages taken by Hamas when its militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

“May both sides involved have courage to take up the negotiations again, and I ask everyone to take on the urgent job of getting humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza. They are at the end of their rope and really need it,” he said. “Free all the hostages immediately who saw some hope in the cease-fire a few days ago, may this great suffering for the Israelis and the Palestinians end. Please no to arms and yes to peace.”

Francis has sought to maintain the Vatican’s traditional neutrality in conflicts, but he has angered Israelis in particular with his generic reference to the war degenerating into “terrorism” without explicitly condemning Hamas for its initial attack.

2 MISSILES FIRED FROM HOUTHI-HELD TERRITORY MISS A SHIP NEAR YEMEN, A U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two missiles fired from territory held by Yemen’s Houthi rebels missed a commercial tanker near the key Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday, a U.S. official said.

An American warship also shot down a suspected Houthi drone flying in its direction during the incident, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. No one was hurt in the attack, the official said.

The ship that was targeted, the oil and chemical tanker Marshall Islands-flagged Ardmore Encounter, was traveling north toward the Suez Canal in the Red Sea, satellite tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press showed. The vessel had been coming from India and had an armed security crew aboard it, according to data transmitted by the ship.

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the attack.

___

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell contributed to this report.

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