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The Latest | Blinken urges Hamas to accept a cease-fire as fighting flares up in the West Bank

By The Associated Press  -  AP

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Hamas on Tuesday to accept a U.S.-backed proposal for a Gaza cease-fire and hostage release, saying that the U.N. Security Council’s vote made it “as clear as it possibly could be” that the world supports the plan.

“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after meeting with Israeli officials. He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal when they met late Monday.

Hamas welcomed Biden’s initial announcement of the plan as well as the U.N. resolution endorsing it, but has yet to submit its official response. Blinken said Hamas’ response to the U.N. vote was a “hopeful sign,” but that mediators are still awaiting word from the group’s leaders in Gaza.

“That’s what counts. And that’s what we don’t have yet. And that’s why I say we’re waiting to see it. Everyone has said yes, except for Hamas,” he said.

Hamas said earlier Tuesday that one of its commanders in the occupied West Bank was killed in a clash with Israeli forces while Israel said four soldiers were killed in an explosion in Rafah.

Also Tuesday, the U.N. human rights office said both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups may have committed war crimes in connection with a deadly raid by Israeli forces that freed four hostages and killed at least 274 Palestinians over the weekend.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 36,730 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. U.N. agencies say over 1 million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Currently:

— Blinken welcomes UN vote in favor of Gaza cease-fire plan and again calls on Hamas to accept it

— UN says Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups may have committed war crimes in a deadly raid

—— How an Israeli raid freed 4 hostages and killed at least 274 Palestinians in Gaza

— What does Israel’s rescue of 4 captives, and the killing of 274 Palestinians, mean for truce talks?

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here's the latest:

Former hostage Noa Argamani released from hospital

TEL AVIV, Israel — A well-known Israeli hostage who was rescued in a deadly raid into Gaza over the weekend has been discharged from a Tel Aviv hospital.

The Ichilov Hospital said Noa Argamani, 26, was released on Tuesday after undergoing physical and psychological exams.

Argamani will be staying close to the hospital, where her mother, Liora, is receiving treatment for terminal brain cancer.

Argamani emerged as an icon of the hostage crisis after her capture during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack was caught on video. She screamed “Don’t kill me!” as she was forced onto a motorbike.

Her mother had pleased for her release, saying she wanted to see her only child again before she died. Yaakov Argamani, Noa’s father, told Israeli media that Liora is in a “very difficult situation” and barely registered seeing Noa for the first time.

Argamani was rescued Saturday along with three other hostages. None had serious physical injuries, and the other three were discharged on Monday.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 274 Palestinians were killed and around 700 were wounded during the raid. The Israeli military said it carried out intensive strikes when a firefight erupted as the rescuers withdrew.

Hamas and other militants are still holding some 120 hostages, around a third of whom are believed to have died.

U.N. cites possible war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups

The U.N. human rights office is citing possible war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in connection with a deadly raid by Israeli forces that freed four hostages over the weekend and killed hundreds of Palestinians.

Office spokesman Jeremy Laurence expressed concerns about possible violations of rules of proportionality, distinction and precaution by the Israeli forces in Saturday’s raid at the urban Nuseirat refugee camp.

Palestinian health officials say at least 274 Palestinians, including dozens of women and children, were killed in the operation.

Laurence said Palestinian armed groups who are holding hostages in densely populated areas are putting the lives of nearby civilians and the hostages at “added risks” from the hostilities.

“All these actions by both parties may amount to war crimes,” he told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva.

Blinken says world supports U.S. ceasefire plan

TEL AVIV, Israel — Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.N. Security Council’s vote in favor of a Gaza cease-fire plan made it “as clear as it possibly could be” that the world supports the U.S.-backed proposal to end the fighting.

He spoke to reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday after meeting with Israeli officials. Blinken said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal” when they met late Monday.

“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Blinken said.

The proposal, announced by President Joe Biden last month, calls for a three-phase plan in which Hamas would release the rest of the hostages in exchange for a lasting cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

The group is still holding around 120 hostages, a third of whom are believed to be dead.

Biden presented it as an Israeli proposal and urged Hamas to accept it. But Netanyahu has publicly disputed key aspects of it, saying Israel won’t end the war without destroying Hamas and returning all the hostages.

Hamas has not yet formally responded to the proposal. The militant group welcomed the U.N. resolution and supports the broad outline of the agreement but has demanded assurances it will be implemented.

Hamas spokesman Jihad Taha said Tuesday that “efforts are continuing to study and clarify some matters to ensure implementation by the Israeli side.” He says Israel is “stalling and procrastinating and creating obstacles in order to continue the aggression.”

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposal, with 14 of the 15 members voting in favor and Russia abstaining. The resolution calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

4 Israeli soldiers killed in explosion in Rafah

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military says four soldiers died in an explosion in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli media, citing unnamed security officials, reported that the soldiers were killed Monday when explosives they were using to clear the building were triggered prematurely, causing it to collapse, killing four soldiers and wounding 11.

The Hamas militant group said it had booby-trapped the building and attacked the soldiers with mortar rounds after the explosion.

The military targeted the building because they believed there was a Hamas operative inside who was involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza for five years, according to Israeli media.

Israel launched what it says is a limited ground operation in parts of Rafah in early May. Some 1 million Palestinians, most of them already displaced from other parts of Gaza, have fled the offensive in Rafah. The United Nations estimates as few as 200,000 to 300,000 people still remain in the city.

The military says at least 298 soldiers have been killed since the start of the Gaza ground operation following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel that triggered the war.

Hamas commander killed in West Bank clash

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hamas says one of its commanders in the occupied West Bank was killed in a clash with Israeli forces.

In a statement released late Monday, Hamas said Mohammed Jaber Abdo was killed along with three other fighters in a village near Ramallah, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered. It said Abdo had spent 20 years in Israeli prisons.

A joint statement by the Israeli army and police earlier on Monday said undercover forces had tracked down a suspect wanted in an attack on a nearby Jewish settlement.

It said that the man was hiding in a compound with three other suspects and that forces opened fire when they tried to run them over with a car and flee. It said weapons were found in the car.

Violence has surged in the West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza, which was ignited by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel.

Over 530 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since then, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Most were killed during violent protests or Israeli arrest raids, which often trigger gunbattles.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want all three territories for their future state.

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