The U.N. Security Council passed a new resolution that calls for speeding up humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza, but without the original insistence on an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas.
The United States and Russia abstained from Friday’s vote, which was delayed for days as diplomats sought to avoid a veto by the U.S., Israel’s closest ally.
A staggering 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza, Palestinian officials said Friday — around 1% of the besieged territory’s prewar population.
The U.N. says more than a half-million people are starving in Gaza because not enough food has entered the besieged territory as Israel keeps up its blistering campaign of airstrikes and ground operations for over 10 weeks.
The Health Ministry in Gaza does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. Israel says more than 130 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.
— UN approves watered-down resolution on aid to Gaza without call for suspension of hostilities.
— Palestinian Christians prepare for a somber Christmas amid war.
— The Israeli military campaign in Gaza now sits among the deadliest and most destructive in history, experts say.
— At least five US-funded projects in Gaza are damaged or destroyed, but most are spared.
— Israeli police investigate prison guards in death of a Palestinian prisoner.
— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war
Here’s what’s happening in the war:
UNITED NATIONS CHIEF HOPES NEW RESOLUTION WILL LEAD TO A CEASE-FIRE
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief said he hopes Friday’s U.N. Security Council resolution may spur a humanitarian cease-fire to get desperately needed aid into Gaza.
However, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a lot more is needed immediately and it’s a mistake to measure the effectiveness of the humanitarian operation in Gaza by the number of trucks.
“The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza,” the U.N. chief said. He said the four elements of an effective aid operation don’t exist, which are security, staff that can work safely, logistical capacity especially trucks, and the resumption of commercial activity in the territory.
He said four out of five of the hungriest people anywhere in the world are in Gaza — “and clean water is at a trickle.”
Guterres said nothing can justify the brutal Oct. 7 attacks inside Israel that killed about 1,200 people and the militant group’s abduction of some 250 hostages, or its continued firing of rockets at civilian targets in Israel and its use of civilians as human shields.
“But at the same time, these violations of international humanitarian law can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and they do not free Israel from its own legal obligations under International law,” the secretary-general said.
HAMAS SAYS UN RESOLUTION DOESN’T DO ENOUGH TO STOP THE WAR AND STEM HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The Palestinian militant group Hamas called the latest U.N. Security Council resolution on Gaza “an insufficient step” to halt the fighting and address the dire humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory.
The group said in a statement that the Security Council has a duty “to ensure the entry of humanitarian aid in sufficient quantities and to all areas of the Gaza Strip, especially in the northern parts.” It also said the resolution should have demanded an immediate halt to Israel’s military offensive, which was launched in response to a deadly cross-border Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
Hamas blamed the United States for pushing “to empty the resolution of its essence” before Friday’s Security Council vote.
US SAYS IRAN IS HELPING YEMEN REBELS PLAN ATTACKS ON RED SEA SHIPPING
WASHINGTON — The United States said Friday that Iran was “deeply involved” in the planning of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, providing weapons as well as “tactical intelligence” to enable the strikes along a critical sea corridor.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, citing newly declassified intelligence assessments, that “Iranian support throughout the Gaza crisis has enabled the Houthis to launch attacks against Israel and maritime targets, though Iran has often deferred operational decision-making authority to the Houthis.”
Watson said the U.S. believes that without ongoing Iranian support, “the Houthis would struggle to effectively track and strike commercial vessels.”
“Iranian support to these Houthi operations remains critical,” Watson said. “We know the intelligence picture which the Houthis use to operate in the maritime space is reliant on Iranian-provided monitoring systems.”
Iran, which has long backed the Yemen-based group, has provided unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles to the Houthis, including those used in recent strikes on commercial and military vessels and attempted attacks on Israel, according to the U.S. assessment.
Additionally, the U.S. believes Iran has provided financial, training and tactical support for attacks by the Houthis, who say their strikes aim to end Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
“We have no reason to believe that Iran is trying to dissuade the Houthis from this reckless behavior,” Watson said.
The Houthi campaign has prompted a growing list of companies to halt operations in the major trade route.
AN ISRAELI-AMERICAN MAN DIED ON OCT. 7 AND WAS NOT TAKEN HOSTAGE AS FIRST THOUGHT, HIS KIBBUTZ SAYS
JERUSALEM — An Israel-American man thought to have been taken hostage in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack has been declared dead.
The death of Gad Haggai, 73, was announced Friday by Kibbutz Nir Oz, which said it had been determined that Haggai was killed in the kibbutz on Oct. 7 and his body was taken to Gaza.
Haggai had been thought to be among the more than 100 Israeli hostages still alive in Gaza. The announcement did not say how his death had been determined.
It described Haggai as a “gifted wind instrument player … connected to the earth, a chef and a follower of a healthy vegan diet and sports.” It said his wife, Judy Weinstein, was wounded and remains in captivity in Gaza.
Nir Oz was among the hardest hit communities on Oct. 7, with roughly a quarter of its residents taken hostage or killed.
UNITED NATIONS PASSES GAZA AID RESOLUTION, BUT WITHOUT A CALL FOR SUSPENDING FIGHTING
UNITED NATIONS — After many delays, the U.N. Security Council has adopted a watered-down resolution calling for immediately speeding up aid deliveries to desperate civilians in Gaza.
But the resolution is without the original call for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas. Friday’s vote in the 15-member council was 13-0 with the United States and Russia abstaining.
The revised text was negotiated during a week and a half of high-level diplomacy by the United States, the United Arab Emirates on behalf of Arab nations and others.
EU ‘DEEPLY SHOCKED’ OVER GAZA FOOD INSECURITY RISK
BRUSSELS — Two senior European Union officials said Friday that they are “deeply shocked” at an assessment that the entire population of Gaza is at risk of acute food insecurity because of the Israeli offensive there.
“This is a grave development and should be a wake-up call for the whole world to act now to prevent a deadly human catastrophe,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.
“We urgently need continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to avoid a further worsening of an already catastrophic situation,” they said. “The lack of access to basic staples is creating a situation of famine.”
An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification assessment released Thursday said that “hostilities, including bombardment, ground operations and besiegement of the entire population have caused catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity across the Gaza Strip.”
Just over 2 million people usually live in Gaza. About 85% of them are estimated to have been forced to flee their homes.
HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THE GAZA STRIP DEATH TOLL HAS PASSED 20,000
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Health officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip say more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas.
The figure, amounting to nearly 1% of the territory’s prewar population, is a new reflection of the staggering cost of the war, which in just over 10 weeks has displaced more than 80% of Gaza’s people and devastated wide swaths of the tiny coastal enclave.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said Friday that it has documented 20,057 deaths in the fighting. It does not differentiate between combatant and civilian deaths. It has previously said that roughly two-thirds of the dead were women or minors.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL FURTHER DELAYS RESOLUTION VOTE DESPITE GAINING US SUPPORT
UNITED NATIONS — Members of the United Nations Security Council again delayed a vote on a now-watered down Arab-sponsored resolution for a halt in combat to allow for increased aid deliveries in Gaza. A vote, initially set for Monday, has been delayed each day since then. The United States now supports the resolution, but other council members said that because of the significant changes, they needed to consult their capitals before a vote, which is now expected on Friday.
Other countries support a stronger text in the resolution that would include the now-eliminated call for the urgent suspension of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
Instead, the wording now calls “for urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” The steps are not defined, but diplomats said, if adopted, this would mark the council’s first reference to a cessation of hostilities.
ISRAELI PRESIDENT BLAMES UNITED NATIONS FOR LACK OF AID ENTERING GAZA
JERUSALEM — Israeli President Isaac Herzog has blamed the United Nations for the small amount of humanitarian aid reaching Gaza.
Herzog said Thursday that three times as much could get in “if the U.N., instead of complaining all day, would do its job.”
According to the United Nations, only 10% of the aid required by Gaza’s 2.2 million has entered the enclave in the last 70 days.
The U.N. closed one of only two border crossings into Gaza on Thursday after an Israeli airstrike killed four people there. Israel shut all the crossings into Gaza after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that started the war, allowing only the Rafah gate from Egypt to stay open. But Israel later opened a second crossing following international pressure.
Speaking to reporters alongside the visiting president of the French senate, Herzog also said Israel was fighting on behalf of the free world and “if we were not here, Europe would be next.”
UN REPORT SAYS NEARLY 577,000 PEOPLE ARE STARVING IN GAZA
ROME — An interagency U.N. and nongovernmental organization report finds that a staggering half a million people in Gaza — one quarter of the population — are starving due “woefully insufficient” quantities of food entering the territory since the outbreak of hostilities on Oct. 7.
“It is a situation where pretty much everybody in Gaza is hungry. More than 500,000 people, half a million people, are starving. That means that one in every four people is starving in Gaza as we speak,’’ World Food Program chief economist Arif Husain said.
He warned that if the war continues at the same levels and food deliveries are not restored that the population could face “a full-fledged famine within the next six months” with widespread outbreaks of disease.
The report released Thursday by 23 U.N and nongovernmental agencies found that the entire population of 2.2 million Gazans are in a food crisis or worse: 478,000 are at crisis levels, 1.17 million are at emergency levels and 576,600 are at catastrophic — that is starvation — levels.
“It doesn’t get any worse,” Hasain said. “I have never seen something at the scale that is happening in Gaza. And at this speed. How quickly it has happened, in just a matter of two months.”