Displaced Palestinian families in southern Gaza fled what they said was intensifying Israeli fire in north Rafah to seek shelter further north, describing a chaotic night as the sounds of fighting drew closer and prompted the difficult decision to evacuate.

“Just carry your son and run, we don’t have anything with us,” said one man, Mohammad al-Hadad. Some who fled overnight were able to return Friday, throwing their belongings atop vehicles or wagons pulled by donkeys and setting off.

“We do not know where we can go,” said a woman, Ghada Qudeh. “Since yesterday, we have not found food or drink.” She said her family fled after Israeli forces fired missiles at a house where they were sheltering Thursday.

The Israeli military said its forces were continuing to operate in Rafah but did not immediately comment on specific strikes. The military said one soldier had been killed during combat overnight in Rafah.

The people fleeing Rafah are some of the last holdouts in a city that was once filled with displaced Palestinians. However, Israel’s ground invasion since early May has driven nearly everyone who sought shelter there to leave. The U.N. estimates 1.3 million people have been displaced out of Rafah — more than half of Gaza’s entire population.

International criticism is growing over the nearly nine-month Israel-Hamas war as Palestinians face severe and widespread hunger. The war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and basic goods to Gaza, and people there are now totally dependent on aid. The top United Nations court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza — a charge Israel strongly denies.

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

Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,600 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.


— Israel lets 19 kids who are sick or wounded leave Gaza, in the first medical evacuation in nearly 2 months.

— Survivors of Israel music festival massacre unite to build a healing community.

— Ultra-Orthodox Jews block highway to protest Israel’s new mandatory military service ruling.

— UN Security Council demands Iran-backed Yemen rebels halt their attacks on ships in Mideast waters.

— Feds investigating violence during pro-Palestinian protest outside Los Angeles synagogue.

— Pennsylvania Senate passes bill to bar universities and pension funds from divesting from Israel.

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

Here’s the latest:

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — More displaced Palestinians have fled parts of Rafah in southern Gaza on Friday after intensifying Israeli military operations came close to where they were sheltering. It was the latest evacuation in an area that has weathered an Israeli invasion since early May, forcing nearly all Palestinians there to leave.

On Friday, Palestinians who had tried to remain in the city’s north packed their belongings into vehicles or wagons pulled by donkeys and set off in the direction of Khan Younis. They said that they evacuated overnight under Israeli gunfire, and were returning to grab their belongings before fleeing the city for good.

“We went out under bullets and gunfire at night. Our children were dispersed. We do not know where they are. Where should we go?” asked Imad Asfour, a displaced Palestinian from east of Khan Younis.

Ghada Qudeh, a Palestinian who took shelter in Rafah after fleeing the southern city of Khan Younis, said Israeli forces had fired missiles at a house where she and her family were sheltering Thursday.

“We do not know where we can go,” she said “Since yesterday, we have not found food or drink. We only want a solution.”

Mohammad al-Hadad, another displaced Palestinian, wondered where to go. Palestinians say Israel’s declared safe zone, Muwasi, is a crowded tent camp with very limited access to bathrooms and hospitals.

“Just carry your son and run, we don’t have anything with us,” he said. “From al-Mawasi to Khan Younis to Rafah, where do we go?”

The initial Israeli operation into Rafah sent 1.3 million Palestinians fleeing, according to United Nations estimates. Israel says it needs to operate there to defeat Hamas’s remaining fighters in the area.

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Hospital officials in Gaza said Friday they received the bodies of seven people a day earlier, who their relatives said were killed by Israeli airstrikes.

A funeral was held Friday after the bodies were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis overnight, officials from the hospital said.

Family members at the funeral said Israeli strikes the seven people in an area between the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younis. Witnesses to the strikes, also at the funeral, said they were in such a rush to flee that they had to walk over the bodies of dead and wounded.

The Israeli military said that forces operated in the Rafah area overnight, leading to the death of one soldier, but did not specify what the military activity entailed or confirm striking the area.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,600 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

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

WASHINGTON — A ship traveling through the Red Sea came under repeated missile fire Friday in a likely attack launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, authorities said, the latest targeting the crucial maritime route.

Five missiles landed near the vessel as it traveled off the coast of the rebel-held port city of Hodeida in Yemen, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.

The missiles landed near the vessel, but caused no damage, the UKTMO added.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack. However, it can take them hours or even days before they acknowledge an assault.

The rebels have targeted more than 60 vessels by firing missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They seized one vessel and sank two since November. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The Houthis maintain that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war — including some bound for Iran.

WASHINGTON — The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp entered the eastern Mediterranean Sea this week as the U.S. positions warships to try to keep fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon from escalating into a wider war in the Middle East.

While the Wasp has the capability to assist in the evacuation of civilians if full-scale war breaks out between Israel and Hezbollah along the Lebanon border, that’s not the primary reason it was rotated in, a U.S. official said. “It’s about deterrence,” the official said.

A second U.S. official said the rotation is similar to how the U.S. sent the USS Bataan assault ship into the waters around Israel shortly after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the country, with the vessel remaining for months in the eastern Mediterranean to help provide options and try to contain the conflict. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operational details.

It comes as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group and Israel have exchanged near-daily cross-border strikes since the Oct. 7 attacks that launched the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which have been escalating gradually.

The Israeli army said last week that it has “approved and validated” plans for an offensive in Lebanon, although any decision would come from the country’s political leaders.

Gen. CQ Brown, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that any Israeli military offensive into Lebanon would risk an Iranian response in defense of Hezbollah, triggering a broader war that could put American forces in the region in danger.


Associated Press writer Tara Copp contributed.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Human rights groups returned to a Dutch court Friday seeking stricter enforcement of a court order to halt Dutch exports to Israel of parts for F-35 fighter jets used in the Gaza war, saying that the parts likely still wind up in Israel via the United States.

An appeals court ordered the Dutch government in February to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing a clear risk of violations of international law if they are used in strikes on Gaza. The government has appealed that ruling, but says it is abiding by the order pending the outcome by halting direct exports to Israel.

However, lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told a judge at a summary hearing at The Hague District Court that Dutch F-35 parts are still being delivered to other countries, notably staunch Israeli ally the United States and urged the judge to ensure those deliveries also do not wind up in Israel.

She added that if the court decides the government is not abiding by the earlier ban it should be ordered to pay a penalty of 50,000 euros ($53,500) each day until it complies.

Reimer Veldhuis, a lawyer representing the Dutch state, told the court the Netherlands is abiding by the earlier order and cautioned that seeking to prevent more exports of F-35 parts to nations other than Israel could put at risk supplies to militaries around the world who operate the advanced fighter jets at a time of soaring international tensions.

Rolien Sasse, of the Dutch rights group PAX, told the court it should order the Netherlands to take proactive measures to prevent parts made in the Netherlands being installed in Israeli fighter jets. PAX launched the summary proceedings along with Oxfam Novib and The Rights Forum.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranians voted Friday in a snap election to replace the late hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, with the race’s sole reformist candidate vowing to seek “friendly relations” with the West in an effort to energize supporters in a vote beset by apathy.

Voters face a choice between hard-line candidates and the little-known reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon. As has been the case since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women and those calling for radical change have been barred from running, while the vote itself will have no oversight from internationally recognized monitors.

The voting comes as wider tensions have gripped the Middle East over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. In April, Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israel over the war in Gaza, while militia groups that Tehran arms in the region — such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels — are engaged in the fighting and have escalated their attacks.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to enrich uranium at near weapons-grade levels and maintains a stockpile large enough to build — should it choose to do so — several nuclear weapons.

TEL AVIV, Israel — In the months since Hamas’ surprise attack sent them scattering across fields or hiding in desert brush, survivors of a massacre at a trance festival in Israel have come together as a community to heal.

On Thursday, some 30,000 people attended the Tribe of Nova’s first mass gathering since the Oct. 7 attack.

The Nova Healing Concert is just one part of a robust network of therapy and support that the survivors have built for themselves in the chaotic months since the attack, as Israeli authorities struggle to provide services to devastated communities.

“We understood that people needed to be together, and we’re a community that takes care of itself,” said Omri Sasa, one of the founders of the Tribe of Nova, which organized the festival last October. “I’m in trauma, and I wanted to be with people who also went through this.”

The gathering Thursday was to raise money to support the volunteer network and to call for the release of the remaining hostages. To appeal to a broader audience, it featured electronic music and mainstream artists as well as the Nova mainstay, trance.

“We need a lot of money, and the only way we know how to raise money is through events,” Sasa said.

Nova provided a separate area at the Nova Healing Concert for survivors and family members of victims, and two hostages who were released during a ceasefire in November addressed the crowd. A chorus of mothers who lost their children performed.

WASHINGTON — The U.S.-built military pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip could be pulled up again as soon as Friday due to expected rough sea conditions, two U.S. officials said.

The pier will be pulled as the U.S. is looking at alternative ways to get aid into Gaza, including potentially using an existing Israeli pier in nearby Ashdod as an alternative route, one of the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military planning.

This would be the third time weather has disrupted pier operations. The floating pier was anchored back on Gaza’s shoreline on June 19 after heavy seas and high winds led the military to disconnect it from the beach. In May, similar conditions forced a two-week pause in operations after the pier broke apart and four U.S. Army vessels ran aground, injuring three service members, one critically.

The Pentagon has said previously it was likely going to have to be shut down the pier by the end of the summer due to weather conditions.


Associated Press writer Tara Copp contributed.

OTTAWA, Ontario — Canada’s foreign minister is imposing sanctions on four Israelis she accuses of “extremist settler violence” in the occupied West Bank.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says she was in the region recently and heard from Palestinian families who have been forced to leave their homes and farming lands as a direct result of violence and threats by extremist settlers.

The sanctions announced Thursday apply to four men who Canada’s government accuses of “violent and destabilizing actions against Palestinian civilians and their property in the West Bank.”

All four were listed by the U.S. and U.K. earlier this year.

They include David Chai Chasdai, whom the U.S. State Department has accused of leading a rampage in which multiple vehicles and buildings were set on fire and one civilian was killed.

Yinon Levi has regularly led settlers to assault Palestinian and Bedouin civilians, Washington says, setting their fields on fire and threatening more violence if they don’t leave.

Moshe Sharvit “repeatedly harassed, threatened, and attacked Palestinian civilians and Israeli human rights defenders,” according to the State Department, including making 100 Palestinians flee after ordering them to leave.

Zvi Bar Yosef was accused by Washington of “repeated violence against Palestinians” and blocking access to their lands.

Joly says Canada is sending a clear message that acts of extremist settler violence are unacceptable and that perpetrators of such violence will face consequences.

Some 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli military rule for over a half-century. Around 500,000 Israelis reside in hundreds of settlements and outposts, which are segregated and tightly guarded communities.

The army says it tries to protect all residents, but critics say that soldiers often turn a blind eye to settler violence.

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