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Netanyahu says Israel must retain control of security in Gaza after the war

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the military would have to retain open-ended security control over the Gaza Strip long after the war against Hamas ends.

The remarks came as Israel's military said its troops had entered Gaza's second-largest city in its its pursuit to wipe out the territory's Hamas rulers. The war has already killed more than 15,000 Palestinians and displaced over three-fourths of Gaza's 2.3 million residents, who are running out of safe places to go.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll in the territory since Oct. 7 has surpassed 15,890, with more than 41,000 wounded. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but said 70% of the dead were women and children. Israel says it targets Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt, which mediated an earlier ceasefire, say they are working on a longer truce. Hamas said talks on releasing more of the scores of hostages seized by militants on Oct. 7 must be tied to a permanent ceasefire.

Here's what's happening in the war:

LIMITED HUMANITARIAN AID IS GOING TO GAZA

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations says limited humanitarian aid is being delivered only to the Rafah region in southern Gaza because of intense hostilities. It also says that all telecom services have shut down due to cuts in the main fiber routes.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday that only 100 aid trucks with humanitarian supplies and 69,000 liters of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt on Monday, about the same amount as Sunday.

That is well below the daily average of 170 trucks and 110,000 liters of fuel that entered Gaza during the humanitarian pause from Nov. 24-30, he said.

Dujarric quoted Lynn Hastings, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories, saying "shelters have no capacity, the health system is on its knees, and there is a lack of clean drinking water, no proper sanitation and poor nutrition."

He reiterated that there are no safe places in Gaza and that "those places that fly the U.N. flag are not safe either."

Dujarric said the main telecommunication provider in Gaza announced the shutdown of all telecom services Monday night..

NETANYAHU, BIDEN SPEAK OUT ABOUT RAPE ALLEGATIONS

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused international human rights groups of turning a blind eye to rapes that Israel says was committed by Hamas militants during their Oct. 7 cross-border rampage.

Witnesses and medical experts have said that Hamas militants committed a series of rapes and other attacks before killing the victims in the Oct. 7 attack, though the extent of the sexual violence remains unknown.

Experts have been piecing together evidence in recent weeks in a case that is complicated because there are no known victims to testify and limited forensic evidence.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Netanyahu accused the international community of playing down the attacks and even ignoring them. He said he expects "all civilized leaders, governments, nations to speak up against this atrocity."

Speaking at a campaign fundraiser in Boston, U.S. President Joe Biden called on the world to condemn the acts by Hamas "without equivocation" and "without exception."

He also stressed that "Hamas' refusal to release the remaining young women" is what ended a temporary truce and hostage agreement that the U.S. helped broker.

HOSTAGES' RELATIVES MEET WITH NETANYAHU

JERUSALEM -- Family members of Israeli hostages still held in Gaza held a tense meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet Tuesday. Participants said the meeting ended after nearly half the room had left in disappointment with the government's efforts to return their loved ones.

It was the first time the war cabinet had heard directly from recently released hostages. At least five shared harrowing details of their experience in Gaza and called on the government to do more to bring home some 138 still in captivity.

A group representing the hostages' families said one recently freed hostage testified during the meeting to Hamas "touching" female hostages. Another hostage, according to the group, told the war cabinet the militants shaved off a male hostage's body hair to humiliate him. Others said they were deprived of water.

Witnesses and medical experts have said Hamas militants raped women during the Oct. 7 cross-border rampage that triggered the war. The Associated Press has not been able to verify reports that hostages were sexually abused in captivity.

Some 110 hostages were freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a weeklong ceasefire that ended Friday. The Israeli army says 138 people remain in captivity in Gaza.

ISRAEL CONSIDERS FLOODING GAZA TUNNELS

JERUSALEM -- Israel's army chief has confirmed that Israel is considering flooding Hamas' tunnels in Gaza with seawater to destroy the militant group's underground network.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the army has assembled a system of large pumps that could flood the approximately 300 miles of Hamas tunnels in Gaza.

Asked about the report, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said flooding the tunnels could be a "good idea" and that it was "one of a number of options we are considering."

Hamas is believed to have a sprawling network of tunnels it uses to move fighters, weapons and supplies throughout Gaza. Israel has said it already has destroyed hundreds of tunnel sections during the war.

It is unclear if flooding the tunnels with seawater could threaten Gaza's already overtaxed underground freshwater aquifer or potentially damage soil with salt and hazardous materials.

U.S. PROMISES MORE AID FOR GAZA

EL-ARISH, Egypt -- The United States has pledged an additional $21 million in humanitarian assistance for Gaza to help establish a field hospital.

The aid was announced Tuesday by Samantha Power, who heads the U.S. Agency for International Development, during a visit to the Egyptian city of el-Arish.

The city is some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Gaza's western border and has become the drop-off point for international aid before it's packed in trucks and transported to the besieged enclave. The war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers has forced many of the territory's hospitals to close.

Power also reiterated that the U.S was committed to boosting aid and protecting civilians as Israel presses ahead with its offensive.

"Military operations need to be conducted in a way that distinguishes fighters from civilians," Power said.

The U.S., a close ally of Israel, has backed Israel's offensive but urged Israel to reduce civilian casualties. It has also called for humanitarian pauses to ease the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

A weeklong ceasefire that ended Friday saw an uptick in aid enter Gaza, including fuel. Since Oct. 7., a trickle of aid has flowed intermittently into Gaza through Egypt's Rafah border crossing.

U.S. ORGANIZES AID FLIGHT TO GAZA

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE -- White House Principal Deputy Secretary Olivia Dalton said Tuesday the U.S. had organized a second aid flight into Gaza with 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms) of food and medical supplies.

An Air Force C-17 aircraft delivered the items to Egypt, where they were to be transported into Gaza and distributed by United Nations agencies, Dalton said.

The aid came as USAID administrator Samantha Power arrived in Egypt to meet with local officials and Egyptian and international humanitarian organizations.

Dalton spoke as President Joe Biden travelled to Boston for a series of fundraisers for the 2024 campaign.

ISRAELI SHELLING KILLS A LEBANESE SOLDIER, ARMY SAYS

BEIRUT -- Israeli shelling hit an army post in south Lebanon on Tuesday, killing one soldier and wounding three others, the Lebanese army said.

Hezbollah said in a statement that it had fired guided missiles at a group of Israeli soldiers in Manara in northern Israel in retaliation for the killing of the soldier. The militant group also claimed an earlier drone attack on an Israeli position in Metula.

It was the first report of a death of a Lebanese army soldier during the clashes between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the border against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war. The Lebanese army has not been an active party in the conflict.

The Israeli shelling hit an army post on Oweida hill, near the border village of Odaisseh, the army said in a statement.

Hezbollah said its fighters had attacked four Israeli army positions along the border, scoring "direct hits." The Israeli military said a number of attacks were launched from Lebanon into northern Israel on Tuesday, and that the missiles fell in open areas.

Hezbollah started attacking Israeli positions on Oct. 8, a day after the Israel-Hamas war began, in the disputed Chebaa Farms area along the

RULER OF QATAR ACCUSES ISRAEL OF GENOCIDE

CAIRO -- The ruler of Qatar, which has played a key role in mediating between Israel and Hamas, has accused Israel of carrying out "crimes of genocide" in Gaza.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani lashed out at Israel at a summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Doha on Tuesday.

He said "all religious, ethical and humanitarian values have been violated in occupied Palestine through crimes the occupation forces are committing against humanity."

Israel says it is acting in self-defence after Hamas launched an attack deep into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and capturing scores of men, women and children.

Qatar's emir said self-defence "doesn't permit the crimes of genocide that Israel is committing."

The war has killed over 15,000 people in Gaza, 70% of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel says it makes every effort to spare civilians and accuses Hamas of using them as human shields.

Qatar has long hosted a Hamas political office, and some of the group's top leaders are based there.

In an audio recording released this week, Ronen Bar, the head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, threatened to target Hamas leaders everywhere, including in Qatar.

TURKISH PRESIDENT SAYS NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT IS ENDANGERING ENTIRE REGION'S SECURITY

ANKARA, Turkiye -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Israel should not be allowed to "get away" with alleged crimes committed in Gaza.

In an address Tuesday to a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha, Erdogan also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is entangle in legal troubles, of putting the entire region at danger for his alleged political survival.

"The Netanyahu administration is endangering the security and future of our entire region in order to extend its political life," Erdogan said in televised comments.

"The loss of life of 17,000 Palestinians, mostly children and women, is a crime against humanity and a war crime. Israel should not get away with these crimes," he said.

A vocal critic of Israel's actions in Gaza, Erdogan has repeatedly called for Netanyahu to be put on trial for alleged war crimes.

FRANCE FREEZES HAMAS LEADER'S ASSETS

PARIS --France froze all assets belonging to Hamas' top leader in Gaza starting Tuesday and lasting six months.

Yehya Sinwar is considered the mastermind of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. A decision published in the Official Journal of the French Republic said that "funds and economic resources owned, held or controlled" by Yehya Sinwar were being frozen. The total value of Sinwar's assets in France was not provided.

TURKIYE WARNS ISRAEL NOT TO TARGET HAMAS MEMBERS ON TURKISH SOIL, STATE-RUN NEWS AGENCY SAYS

ANKARA, Turkiye --Turkiye's state-run news agency says Turkish intelligence officials have warned their Israeli counterparts of "serious consequences" if they attempt to target members of Hamas on Turkish soil.

The warning, reported by the Anadolu Agency late Monday, came after Ronen Bar, the head of Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet, said in an audio recording that his organization is prepared to destroy Hamas "in every place," including in Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar.

Anadolu Agency, quoting unnamed Turkish intelligence officials, said "necessary warnings were made" to Israeli officials who were told their actions would "have serious consequences." The agency also quoted the officials as saying that Turkiye had prevented "illegal activities" by foreign operatives in the past and that no foreign intelligence agency would be allowed to carry out operations on Turkish territory. Israel's Mossad spy agency has been accused of involvement in a series of assassinations overseas of Palestinian militants and Iranian nuclear scientists over the years.

Turkiye has hosted Hamas officials and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government considers Hamas to be a liberation organization, not a terrorist group.

SATELLITE PHOTOS SHOW ISRAELI MILITARY HAS BEGUN SOUTHERN OFFENSIVE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates --Satellite photos analysed Tuesday by The Associated Press show that the Israeli military has begun its ground offensive in the southern reaches of the Gaza Strip as part of its war against Hamas.

Since the collapse of a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that saw militant-held hostages swapped for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, the Israeli military has launched an intense campaign of airstrikes and ground fighting in the southern Gaza Strip as well. The satellite photos released by Planet Labs PBC provide the first clear look at the intensity and scope at which the Israelis are fighting.

The images, shot Sunday by Planet, show Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers just under 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the heart of Khan Younis, the major city of the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Many who fled the Israeli offensive and airstrike campaign in Gaza City's north now live around Khan Younis and other nearby areas after the Israeli military ordered them to evacuate.

Responding to questions from The Associated Press over the satellite images, the Israeli military said it "takes all feasible measures to mitigate harm to noncombatants."

The Israeli deployment sits just to the west of Salah al-Din, a main north-south corridor within the Gaza Strip that many used to flee. An AP analysis found positions in four clusters, with a total of around 150 armored personnel carriers, tanks and other vehicles in the area. Israeli soldiers have created packed dirt berms around some of their positions, which can be used for cover.

Fresh tank tracks could be seen chewed through the ground there, suggesting the movements were recent. The manoeuvre and the number of vehicles there suggests that the Israeli military is preparing to potentially move south in Khan Younis. Fighting already has been reported in the area.

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Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

FAMILIES OF HOSTAGES HELD BY HAMAS WILL MEET WITH NETANYAHU

TEL AVIV, Israel --The families of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza say they are set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after demanding a sit-down with him.

The families have sought to meet with Netanyahu and his wartime Cabinet since a truce deal between Israel and Hamas that saw the release of 105 hostages expired Nov. 30. Since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, many families have complained that they were not adequately kept informed of the efforts to secure their loved ones' release. About 240 people were taken hostage.

The families say Netanyahu and other leaders have for days dodged their requests to meet. The meeting is expected to take place Tuesday.

The families say they want to hear from Netanyahu that he has their relatives' fate in mind as Israel moves ahead in its war against Hamas.

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