June 15th, 2024

3 sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh killed in Israeli airstrike, relatives, Hamas media say

By Tia Goldenberg, Jack Jeffery And Wafaa Shurafa, The Associated Press on April 10, 2024.

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Relatives and official Hamas media said Wednesday that three sons of the Islamic militant group’s supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh, have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

The reports say Hazem, Ameer, and Mohammed Haniyeh were killed with family members in the strike near the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. Ismail Haniyeh, who now lives in exile in Qatar, is originally from Shati.

There was no immediate comments from the Israeli army.

The deaths were confirmed by Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station as well as Haniyeh family members on social media.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. THE FOLLOWING IS AP’S PREVIOUS STORY

U.S. President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza a mistake and called for his government to flood the beleaguered territory with aid, ramping up pressure on Israel to reach a cease-fire and widening a rift between the staunch allies.

Palestinians in Gaza marked a muted Eid al-Fitr holiday ending the holy fasting month of Ramadan, visiting the graves of loved ones killed in the war. In the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, people sat quietly by graves surrounded by buildings destroyed by Israel’s offensive in response to the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Biden has been an outspoken supporter of Israel’s war against Hamas. But in recent weeks his patience with Netanyahu has appeared to wane and his administration has taken a more stern line with Israel, rattling the countries’ decades-old alliance and deepening Israel’s international isolation over the war.

The most serious disagreement has been over Israel’s plans for an offensive in the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah. The rift was worsened by an Israeli airstrike last week on an aid convoy that killed seven workers with the World Central Kitchen charity, most of them foreigners. Israel said the deaths were unintentional but Biden was outraged.

Biden’s latest comments, made in an interview that aired late Tuesday and recorded two days after the WCK strike, highlight the differences between Israel and the U.S. over humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, where the war has led to warnings of imminent famine for more than a million people.

“What he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,” Biden told Spanish-language broadcaster Univision when asked if Netanyahu was prioritizing his political survival over Israel’s interest.

Biden said Israel should agree to a cease-fire, flood beleaguered Gaza with aid for the next six to eight weeks and allow other countries in the region to help distribute aid. “It should be done now,” he said.

Israel halted aid deliveries to Gaza in the early days of the war, but under U.S. pressure has slowly increased trucks allowed to enter the territory. Still, aid groups say supplies are not reaching desperate people quickly enough, blaming Israeli restrictions and noting that thousands of trucks are waiting to enter Gaza. Countries have attempted less efficient ways to deliver aid including airdrops and by sea.

Israel says its has opened up more entry points for trucks to enter and reach especially hard-hit areas like northern Gaza, an early target of Israel in the war. Israel also accuses aid groups of being too slow to deliver aid once it’s inside Gaza.

Aid groups say logistical issues and the precarious security situation – underscored by the WCK strike – complicate deliveries.

Israel and Hamas are engaged in talks meant to bring about a cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages captured by Hamas and others on Oct. 7. But the sides remain far apart on key issues, including the return of Palestinians to northern Gaza. Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet met late Tuesday to discuss the hostage negotiations but did not appear to make any decisions.

Netanyahu has vowed to achieve “total victory” in the war, pledging to destroy Hamas’ military and governing capabilities to prevent a repeat of the Oct. 7 attacks and to return the hostages. He says that victory must include an offensive in Rafah, which Israel says is Hamas’ last major stronghold, but more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are currently seeking shelter there.

Six months into the war, Israel is growing ever more isolated, with even its closest partner increasingly vocal about its discontent in the war’s direction and longtime trading partners like Turkey taking potentially painful economic steps to express dismay.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for alleged corruption, is under pressure to decide on a postwar vision for Gaza. But critics say he is delaying because he doesn’t want to anger his ultranationalist governing partners, who support resettling the Gaza Strip, which Israel withdrew from in 2005 and an idea Netanyahu has ruled out.

Netanyahu’s governing partners also oppose making significant concessions to Hamas in the ongoing negotiations. They have threatened to exit the government — a step that would cause the ruling coalition to collapse and trigger new elections.

“If the prime minister thinks that there’s going to be a reckless deal here, it isn’t going to pass,” Limor Sonn Har Melech, a lawmaker in the hard-line Jewish Power party, said in an interview to an Israeli radio station. “If we realize that the meaning of stopping this war is capitulation to Hamas, we won’t be there.”

Israel launched the war in response to Hamas’ cross-border assault, where militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took roughly 250 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

More than 33,400 Palestinians have been killed in the relentless fighting, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says most of the dead are women and children. Israel says it has killed some 12,000 militants, without providing evidence.

The war has ignited a humanitarian catastrophe. Most of the territory’s population has been displaced and with vast swaths of Gaza’s urban landscape leveled in the fighting, many areas are uninhabitable.

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Shurafa reported from Deir al-Balah and Jeffery reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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

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