April 20, 2024

Live updates | Gaza loses phone and internet, and Israeli families push for hostage release deal

Relatives of more than 100 Israeli hostages still held in Gaza have intensified their protests, disrupting a parliamentary committee meeting on Monday shouting: “You will not sit here while they die there!”

And outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem, relatives of the hostages have set up tents and vowed to stay until the Israeli government reaches a deal to release at least some of the hostages.

The growing pressure on Netanyahu comes as intense fighting rages in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Palestinian doctors say dozens of dead and wounded were taken to the city’s already overwhelmed Nasser Hospital.

Communication services across Gaza fell on Monday night due to ongoing fighting – the 10th telecommunications blackout during the war – that isolated the besieged territory from the outside world.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, which began when Gaza militants attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages.

U.N. officials say one in four people in Gaza are dying of hunger as fighting and Israeli restrictions hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid to the impoverished coastal enclave, home to 2.3 million Palestinians.

At the moment:

— Iran is ‘directly involved’ in attacks on ships by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the US Navy commander told the AP.

— The US military ends the rescue search for Navy SEALs lost in an attack on an Iranian weapons ship.

— US sanctions Iraqi airline, its CEO and Hamas cryptocurrency financiers.

— Strike kills Hezbollah fighter, civilian in Lebanon, amid apparent Israeli shift toward targeted killings.

— Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpasses 25,000 as Israel announces death of another hostage.

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

Here’s the latest:

GAZA LOSES PHONE AND INTERNET SERVICE IN TENTH BLACKOUT OF WAR

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Communication services across the Gaza Strip have declined due to continued fighting, cutting off the besieged territory from the outside world, Palestinian telecommunications provider Paltel said on Monday.

“We regret to announce that telecommunications services have been lost in the Gaza Strip,” Paltel said in a post on

Communication services in Gaza partially returned on Friday after a week-long blackout. During that time, Palestinians in the enclave often walked miles from their homes or places of refuge in search of a signal to send messages to their friends and loved ones.

The telecommunications company is used by people in both the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

US NAVY SAYS IRAN IS ‘DICTACTLY INVOLVED’ IN ATTACKS BY YEMEN’S HOUTHI REBELS ON SHIPS

JERUSALEM – The top U.S. Navy commander in the Middle East says Iran is “very directly involved” in attacks on ships by Yemen’s Houthi rebels during Israel’s war against Hamas.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, head of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, stopped short of saying that Tehran led individual attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Houthis link their attacks to the war between Israel and Hamas.

However, Cooper acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that attacks associated with Iran have expanded from previously threatening only the Persian Gulf and its Strait of Hormuz to waters throughout the Middle East. He described the Houthi attacks as the most significant hostile actions against merchant shipping in two generations.

In recent days, the United States has launched seven rounds of airstrikes against Houthi military facilities, targeting rebel-held air bases and suspected missile launch sites.

So far, Iran has not been directly involved in the fight against Israel or the United States since the war in Gaza began on October 7. However, Cooper maintained that Iran had been directly fueling Houthi attacks on shipping.

“What I will say is that Iran is clearly funding, it is providing resources, it is supplying and it is providing training,” Cooper said. “They are obviously very directly involved. There is no secret there.”

EU PUSHES FOR PALESTINIAN STATEMENT, REJECTING ISRAELI LEADER’S INSISTENCE OFF THE TABLE

BRUSSELS – European Union foreign ministers say they believe the creation of a Palestinian state is the only credible way to achieve peace in the Middle East.

When they met in Brussels on Monday, the ministers expressed concern that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has rejected the creation of a Palestinian state. He has also outlined plans for indefinite military control over Gaza.

The EU invited the foreign ministers of Israel, the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan and a representative of the Arab League to participate in the talks.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz refused to answer when asked about the possibility of a Palestinian state. Katz, showing photographs of Israeli hostages, said he had come to seek support for Israel’s campaign to dismantle Hamas.

US SANCTIONS IRAQI AIRLINE, ITS CEO AND HAMAS CRYPTOCURRENCY FINANCERS

WASHINGTON – The United States has imposed sanctions on Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its CEO for allegedly providing assistance to Iran’s military wing.

Additionally, the United States has imposed a fifth round of sanctions on the militant group Hamas for its abuse of cryptocurrencies since the October 7 attack on Israel.

In new sanctions announced Monday, Treasury said Fly Baghdad and its chief executive Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabbani have provided assistance to Iran’s military wing and its proxy groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. A representative for the firm was not immediately available.

The sanctions block access to American property and bank accounts and prevent targeted individuals and companies from doing business with Americans.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also named three leaders and supporters of an Iran-aligned militia in Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah, as well as a company it says moves and launders funds for the organization.

SAUDI ARABIA SAYS IT WILL NOT RECOGNIZE ISRAEL WITHOUT A PATH TO A PALESTINIAN STATE

JERUSALEM – Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat says the kingdom will not normalize relations with Israel or contribute to the reconstruction of Gaza without a credible path to a Palestinian state. This is a failure for the Israeli government.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s comments in an interview with CNN broadcast Sunday night were some of the most direct yet from Saudi officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces growing domestic pressure over the plight of Israeli hostages, including an angry protest inside a parliamentary committee meeting on Monday.

He has rejected the creation of a Palestinian state and outlined plans for indefinite military control over Gaza. The dispute over the future of Gaza pits Israel against its main ally, the United States, as well as much of the international community.

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