Live updates | A deal to get medicine to Hamas hostages includes aid for Gaza


Medicine for hostages was en route to Gaza on Wednesday after Qatar and France brokered a deal between Israel and Hamas — the first agreement between the two since a weeklong cease-fire ended in November.

The deal came more than 100 days into a conflict that shows no sign of ending and has inflamed tensions across the Middle East, with a dizzying array of strikes and counterstrikes in recent days from northern Iraq to the Red Sea and from southern Lebanon to Pakistan.

And in Gaza, the head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees described appalling living conditions and lack of hope after visiting masses of displaced people — many of whom think it will be impossible to return home when the fighting stops because the destruction is so vast.

The Palestinian death toll rose to 24,285 people, Gaza’s Health Ministry said Tuesday. In Israel, around 1,200 people were killed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war and saw some 250 people taken hostage by militants.


— A freed Israeli hostage relives the horrors of captivity. She fears for her husband, still held in Gaza.

— U.S. Senators reject Bernie Sanders’ effort to curb Israel-Hamas war. The vote signals rising unease.

— Iran attacks alleged militant bases in Pakistan. Islamabad says unprovoked strikes kill 2 children.

— A chaotic wave of attacks and reprisals in the Middle East fuel worries of a broader regional war.

— Find more of AP’s coverage at

Here’s the latest:

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s foreign minister warned that fighting could intensify in the Mideast if Israel does not end its war against Hamas.

“Today, we are witnessing genocide in Gaza and the West Bank. This means that war is ongoing, so there is possibility of extension,” Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, speaking Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Amirabdollahian added that Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, was not itching to enter the conflict directly. Offering support for what he said was the militant group’s desire to limit bloodshed, he said Hezbollah had been committed to upholding a weeklong November cease-fire in Gaza.

Amirabdollahian also claimed that after Iran’s airstrikes on a Kurdish area of northern Iraq had targeted Israeli sites. He called Israel “a mutual enemy of Iran and Iraq.”

JERUSALEM — An Israeli airstrike killed four Palestinians during a Wednesday raid in the occupied West Bank.

The military says it targeted a group of militants who had opened fire and were throwing explosives at Israeli soldiers in the Tulkarem refugee camp, a built-up residential area in the northern West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said four people were killed. The Israeli army said a soldier was seriously wounded.

The army said the troops arrested seven others who Israel alleges were involved in planting roadside bombs during the raid.

An earlier airstrike near another West Bank refugee camp Wednesday killed five Palestinians. Israel said the target, a senior militant allegedly involved in attacks against Israelis, was killed along with members of his cell.

At least 360 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza started, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Most were killed in confrontations during violent protests or Israeli arrest raids.

Israel’s military says it has arrested some 2,700 Palestinians in the West Bank since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack from Gaza into Israel, which ignited the war. It says around 1,300 are suspected Hamas members.

JERUSALEM — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says he is shocked by how poor the conditions in the Gaza Strip have become after three and a half months of war.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini spoke to reporters on Wednesday, a day after wrapping up his fourth visit to Gaza since Oct. 7.

Lazzarini said he was struck by the moods and circumstances of the masses of displaced people who have sought safety in the southern part of the territory, many living in sprawling tent camps. The U.N. estimates that over 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced.

He said the conditions have steadily worsened with each of his trips. His last previous visit came just before Christmas.

“Now you have a plastic makeshift site having mushroomed almost everywhere,” Lazzarini said. “Hundreds of thousands of people living now in the street, living in this plastic makeshift, sleeping on the concrete.”

He said U.N. shelters are not an option because they are overcrowded and suffering from poor sanitary conditions.

In some places, women have all but stopped eating or drinking because they do not want to use the filthy bathrooms, Lazzarini said. Diarrhea and skin diseases are fast spreading, he said.

Lazzarini said he also was struck by the sense of helplessness in the people he saw. He said they are in “survival mode,” exhausted and demoralized by the appalling hygiene conditions and lack of hope. Many think it will be impossible to return home when the fighting stops because the destruction is so vast, and many talk of leaving Gaza in hope of building new lives elsewhere.

“They don’t see how they can continue to bring up their children in this type of environment,” Lazzarini said. “People start to have difficulties to project how the future will look like.”

JERUSALEM — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says he has requested an independent review of claims by pro-Israel groups of unchecked pro-Hamas activity in his organization.

Philippe Lazzarini told reporters Wednesday he would soon appoint a professional consulting group or some other “independent entity” to look into the claims.

Israeli officials and their allies have repeatedly alleged that the refugee agency, known by its acronym UNRWA, allows anti-Israeli incitement to be taught in its hundreds of schools. They also alleged that some of the agency’s tens of thousands of staff members support or collaborate with the Hamas militant group or have written inappropriate social media posts.

UNRWA serves millions of Palestinians across the Middle East whose families fled or were forced from properties inside what is Israel during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. Israel rejects a return of the refugees to their former lands, saying it would undermine the country’s Jewish character.

Those pushing back against the allegations say the refugee agency is being tarnished as part of a campaign diminish the long-festering issue of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Israeli critics have accused UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee issue – a charge Lazzarini rejected.

Lazzarini said Wednesday that the behavior alleged by critics runs counter to the U.N.’s principles and that his agency has internal safeguards to deal with violations.

But he said the “constant scrutiny” has had an impact on the agency’s already stretched operations by encouraging some donor nations to consider defunding the organization. He said it also has hurt morale at a time when UNRWA is conducting “this huge humanitarian operation in Gaza.”

Lazzarini said he wants the review to determine “what is true or untrue” and to look at how the agency deals with problematic cases. He says he is confident the investigation will find there is “no systemic policy” violating U.N. standards and that there is a proper system of oversight in place.

He said the assessment would also look at “what is disingenuous, what is politically motivated” among the critics.

AMMAN, Jordan — The Jordanian military says a medic working at a field hospital it operates in Gaza was wounded by clashes nearby.

An army statement released Wednesday said the individual was wounded in the thigh and hand and would be evacuated to the kingdom. It did not provide further details about the individual.

It said a Palestinian who was receiving treatment was also wounded. It says the hospital in Khan Younis suffered “severe material damage” as a result of “continuous Israeli bombing” nearby.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident.

Jordan’s military says it holds Israel responsible for the safety of the hospital’s staff and described the attack on the hospital as a “flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

Jordan, a close Western ally, made peace with Israel in 1994 but supports the Palestinian cause and has repeatedly called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli army has held a training exercise simulating an offensive in southern Lebanon as it continues to exchange fire with Hezbollah fighters along the border.

Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, head of the army’s Northern Command, said in a statement issued Tuesday: “We’re more prepared for this than ever before, even for tonight if needed.”

More than 2,000 rockets have been fired toward Israel from Lebanon, the home of Hezbollah, since the start of the war in Gaza, killing 12 Israeli soldiers and six civilians, including a mother and son on Monday.

Israel’s airstrikes in Lebanon have killed around 150 militants and 20 civilians, according to Hezbollah. Earlier this week, Israel said it stopped an infiltration of militants into the contested Golan Heights.

Gordin says reserve soldiers are spread out along the border to bolster Israel’s defenses.

Hezbollah says its attacks are aimed at tying down Israeli forces and will continue until there is a cease-fire in Gaza. Israel has warned of an all-out war if Hezbollah does not pull back from the border in accordance with a U.N. resolution that ended the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

CAIRO — Hamas has provided more details about an agreement brokered by France and Qatar to deliver medicine to Israeli hostages held by its fighters in Gaza.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Wednesday that for each box of medicine provided to the hostages, 1,000 boxes would be sent for use by Palestinian civilians.

In a posting on X, he said the International Committee of the Red Cross would deliver all the medicines, including those destined for the hostages, to hospitals serving all parts of Gaza.

The agreement also includes the delivery of additional food and humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Abu Marzouk says Israeli authorities will not have the chance to inspect the shipments. He says Hamas insisted that Qatar provide the medications and not France because of the European country’s support for Israel.

This is the first agreement reached between the warring sides since a weeklong cease-fire in November. Hamas and other militants are still holding around half of the estimated 250 hostages they captured during the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. Most of the rest were freed in November in return for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Those remaining in captivity in Gaza include several older men and others who require medication for chronic illness.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli army says it killed a senior Palestinian militant in an airstrike in the West Bank.

Ahmed Abdullah Abu Shalal, who the Israeli military said was responsible for infrastructure and had planned multiple attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem, was killed along with four others early Wednesday near the built-up Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus.

The Palestinian Red Crescent says Israeli forces prevented medics from reaching the site of the strike, saying in a social media post that “gunfire was directed at our teams.”

The military alleged that Abu Shalal and his cell planned to carry out an imminent attack and had received funding and guidance from “Iranian sources.” It did not provide evidence for the allegation.

Violence has surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza. Over 350 Palestinians have been killed in the last three months, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, mainly during Israeli arrest raids and violent protests.

Israel has increasingly used airstrikes in the West Bank as the fighting has grown more intense, but targeted killings are still relatively rare in the territory.

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