The United States put the blame on Hamas after Israeli military forces resumed bombarding the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, an end to a weeklong pause in fighting.
The White House said Friday that Hamas failed to deliver a list of hostages the militant group would release. Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas presented conflicting narratives about why the truce ended.
“It’s because of Hamas that this pause ended,” said John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications. “They were just simply unable, failed to produce a list of hostages that could help enable that pause extending.”
President Joe Biden and the entire security council will remain engaged in negotiations, Kirby said, as the U.S. pushes for another pause and for the release of more hostages. Qatar, another international mediator along with Egypt, said it was working to renew a truce and expressed “deep regret” over the renewed combat.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said at least 178 Palestinians died and dozens more were injured in the hours after airstrikes resumed Friday, and Israel said it struck more than 200 Hamas targets.
“The onus is on Hamas to be able to produce a list of hostages that that they can get out so that we can try to get this pause back in place,” Kirby said.
Israel initially halted the flow of humanitarian aid going into Gaza since resuming airstrikes Friday, but later allowed several dozen trucks of aid to enter at the request of the Biden administration, according to Israeli officials.
“If Hamas truly, as they claim to do, care about Palestinians, they’ll do what they can to come up with a list of hostages that can be exchanged so that that aid can continue to flow,” Kirby said.
Israel said it resumed fighting after Hamas “violated” the cease-fire and fired toward Israel. Hamas officials blamed the Israelis, saying they turned down offers to release elderly hostages as well as the bodies of hostages.
During Israel’s seven-day pause in fighting in Gaza, more than 100 hostages, all women and children including two Americans, were freed from Hamas captivity. Seven Americans, including one woman, remain unaccounted for. In exchange, about 240 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel were released.
More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war broke out nearly two months ago, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. About 1,200 Israelis have been killed, mostly civilians during Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
∎ There are 137 hostages being held by Hamas as of Friday, including 115 men, 20 women and two children according to an Israeli government briefing. Of this group, 126 are Israeli and 11 are foreign nationals.
∎ German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on the international community to work toward another cease-fire for the sake of “the remaining hostages who have been hoping for release in dark tunnels for weeks, and for the suffering people in Gaza, who urgently need more humanitarian aid.”
∎ Hezbollah, the militant group in Lebanon, said Friday it attacked Israeli troops along the border with Israel for the first time since the temporary truce between Israel and ally Hamas began a week ago. Lebanese officials told the Associated Press two civilians were killed in a village by Israeli shelling.
∎ Iran’s delegation left the U.N. climate conference in protest over the presence of Israeli officials, state-run IRNA news agency reported Friday.
∎ Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors without Borders said Al-Awda Hospital was damaged in a blast hours after the truce ended. It is one of few functioning hospitals left in northern Gaza, according to the organization.
Within 30 minutes of the truce’s end, Israel announced its fighter jets were striking Hamas targets throughout Gaza, including a southern Gaza community east of Khan Younis. Another strike hit a home northwest of Gaza City, according to the Associated Press.
Israeli forces also dropped leaflets over areas of southern Gaza, warning people to flee and labeling Khan Younis a “dangerous battle zone.”
Meantime, sirens warning of incoming rockets blared in several Israeli communities near the Gaza border; there were no reported hits. Photos captured rockets being fired from inside Gaza toward Israel.
The World Health Organization said Friday it is concerned about the health care system collapsing in Gaza while Israel’s bombardment has resumed.
“The health system has been crippled by the ongoing hostilities. Gaza can’t afford to lose any more hospitals or hospital beds,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “We need a ceasefire. A ceasefire that holds.”
At a U.N. briefing Friday, Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, the WHO’s representative for the West Bank and Gaza, said 18 of the 37 hospitals in Gaza are “partially functional,” and that the number of beds had decreased to 1,500 from 3,500 before the war started.
Peeperkorn also said the WHO is concerned about disease outbreaks as Palestinians spread respiratory and other illnesses while being packed into overcrowded shelters.
Israeli airstrikes hit outskirts of Damascus
Israeli airstrikes hit several points on the outskirts of Damascus early Saturday, Syrian state media reported.
State news agency SANA, citing an unnamed military official, said the strikes came from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights and that Syrian air defenses shot most of the missiles down. The strikes resulted in only “material losses,” the statement said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition war monitor, said the strikes hit in the area of the south Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, where it said that “there are military forces working with the Lebanese Hezbollah.” It said ambulances rushed to the scene.
Israel has struck targets in Syria several times since the onset of the Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7. On Sunday, a reported Israeli airstrike hit the international airport in Damascus and put it out of commission, just hours after the airport resumed flights following a monthlong hiatus after a previous Israeli strike.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes inside government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria in recent years, often targeting Hezbollah and other militant groups backed by Iran, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.
Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, told the Associated Press that the militant group is open to swapping more Israeli civilian hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
Hamdan said Israel, ahead of the expired truce, declined recommendations for hostage releases that were put forward by mediators, including Qatar, AP reported. Hamas accepted three of the suggestions, Hamdan said.
Hamas rejected a list of 10 names of women Israel wanted released, saying they are female soldiers who were captured in military posts, Hamdan told the AP.
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U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Friday called for a cease-fire and said the resumption of combat is “catastrophic.”
He added indications that Israel plans to expand and intensify its military offensive following the expired truce is “very troubling,” citing the death toll of civilians in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis in the war-battered enclave.
“Since 7 October, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza,” he said. “More now face the same fate. Others risk being forcibly displaced to already severely over-crowded and unsanitary parts of Gaza. The situation is beyond crisis point.”
The Israeli military released a map divvying up the Gaza Strip into zones on Friday, and said the resource will combine “information regarding the evacuation of Gazan civilians for their safety in the next stage of the war.”
“This enables the residents of Gaza to orient themselves and to evacuate from specific places for their safety if required,” the Israeli military said on X.
The map came out hours after Israeli military forces resumed airstrikes across the Gaza Strip and began to drop leaflets throughout the southern area of the enclave.
Vice President Kamala Harris left Washington on Friday for Dubai, where she will represent the Biden administration at the United Nations climate conference known as COP28, and also plans to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict with other world leaders.
“The President asked Vice President Harris to attend the COP28 Leaders Summit on his behalf to showcase U.S. global leadership on climate at home and abroad and to help galvanize increased global ambition at this critical event,” the White House said.
John Kerry, the White House’s special presidential envoy for climate, is among dozens of other senior Biden administration officials also attending the two-week summit.
The conference comes amid alarmingly rising temperatures globally because of climate change. The World Meteorological Organization announced Thursday that 2023 is “virtually certain” to be warmest year ever recorded. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Antarctica last week to shed light on rapidly melting glaciers on the continent.
As deadly attacks and bombings unfolded in Israel and Gaza, Jewish day schools in U.S. cites like Philadelphia and Dallas began hearing from worried families: Can you take our children?
About 92% of Jewish day schools in the U.S. and Canada reported receiving inquiries about enrolling Israeli students since Oct. 7, according to a survey by Prizmah Center for Jewish Day Schools, and 80% of the schools surveyed said they’d already enrolled new students.
In the two-week period immediately after war broke out, Prizmah said, 278 new students enrolled in Jewish day schools, including community, Conservative, Orthodox, pluralistic and Reform schools.
The center heard from families looking to enroll their children for a variety of reasons: Some were relocating from Israel; some were visiting the U.S. when war broke out and didn’t want, or were unable, to return home; and others wanted their children to feel a deeper connection to their Jewish faith and heritage.
“The schools wanted to open their arms as wide as they could and embrace a very traumatized population,” Paul Bernstein, Prizmah’s founder and CEO, said. Read more.
Contributing: The Associated Press; John Bacon, USA TODAY