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UN halts all food distribution in Rafah after running out of supplies in the southern Gaza city

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UN halts all food distribution in Rafah after running out of supplies in the southern Gaza city
News

News

UN halts all food distribution in Rafah after running out of supplies in the southern Gaza city

2024-05-22 08:38 Last Updated At:08:40

CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Tuesday due to a lack of supplies and an untenable security situation caused by Israel’s expanding military operation. The U.N. warned that humanitarian operations across the territory were nearing collapse.

A senior United States official said Israel has addressed many of the Biden administration's concerns about a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah aimed at rooting out Hamas fighters there. U.S. President Joe Biden had previously opposed a total military assault on a city filled with displaced civilians if plans did not prioritize the safety of innocent Palestinians. The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

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FILE - Palestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Tuesday due to a lack of supplies and an untenable security situation caused by Israel’s expanding military operation. The U.N. warned that humanitarian operations across the territory were nearing collapse.

FILE - Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Jan. 9, 2024. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, File)

FILE - Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Jan. 9, 2024. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, File)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians line up for food distribution in Deir al Balah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians line up for food distribution in Deir al Balah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Journalists carry their colleague after he was shot in his leg during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Journalists carry their colleague after he was shot in his leg during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinians mourn their relative who was killed in an Israeli military raid on the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, at a hospital morgue in the city of Jenin, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinians mourn their relative who was killed in an Israeli military raid on the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, at a hospital morgue in the city of Jenin, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct. 28, 2023. Top Israeli officials are accused of seven war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct. 28, 2023. Top Israeli officials are accused of seven war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 28, 2021. The Hamas officials are accused by the ICC of planning and instigating eight war crimes and crimes against humanity, among them extermination, murder, taking hostages, rape and torture. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

FILE - Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 28, 2021. The Hamas officials are accused by the ICC of planning and instigating eight war crimes and crimes against humanity, among them extermination, murder, taking hostages, rape and torture. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

FILE - Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Monday, May 20, 2024, that he’s seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders in connection with their actions during the seven-month war. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE - Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Monday, May 20, 2024, that he’s seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders in connection with their actions during the seven-month war. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Smoke rises to the sky after explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke rises to the sky after explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The official said the administration stopped short of greenlighting the Israeli invasion plan, but said Israeli officials’ changes to the planning suggested they were taking the American administration’s concerns seriously.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have fled Rafah in a chaotic exodus, seeking shelter in new tent camps or crowding into areas already devastated by previous Israeli offensives. Some 400,000 people are believed to still be in Rafah after around 900,000 rushed to escape, according to COGAT, the Israeli military office in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs.

Getting aid to displaced civilians has been hampered by closed and chaotic land crossings, as well as problems plaguing the U.S. military’s new floating pier meant to provide an alternative sea route for aid into Gaza. Over the weekend, hungry Palestinians took aid from a U.N. vehicle convoy coming from the pier, and the U.N. said since then it had been unable to receive trucks there.

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters in Washington that for the past few days, forward movement of aid from the pier was paused but it resumed Tuesday. There was no confirmation from the U.N.

The U.N.'s World Food Program said it was running out of food for central Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people are now living.

“Humanitarian operations in Gaza are near collapse,” said Abeer Etefa, a WFP spokesperson. If food and other supplies don’t resume entering Gaza “in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread,” she said.

The warning came as Israel seeks to contain the international fallout from a request at the world’s top war crimes court for arrest warrants targeting both Israeli and Hamas leaders. The move garnered support from three European countries, including Israel's key ally France.

“Use of starvation as a method of warfare” was among the accusations against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant by the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court — charges they and other Israeli officials angrily deny. The prosecutor accused three Hamas leaders of war crimes over killings of civilians in the group's Oct. 7 attack.

The U.N says some 1.1 million people in Gaza — nearly half the population — face catastrophic levels of hunger and that the territory is on the brink of famine. Throughout the war, Rafah has been filled with scenes of hungry children holding out pots and plastic containers at makeshift soup kitchens, with many families reduced to eating only one meal a day.

The humanitarian crisis deepened after Israeli forces pushed into Rafah on May 6. Tanks and troops seized the vital Rafah crossing into Egypt, and it's been closed ever since. After May 10, only about three dozen trucks made it into Gaza via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel because fighting made it dangerous for aid workers to reach it, the U.N. says.

Israel insists it puts no restriction on the number of trucks entering Gaza. COGAT said 450 trucks entered Tuesday from its side to Kerem Shalom and a small crossing in northern Gaza. It said more than 650 trucks are waiting on the Gaza side of Kerem Shalom to be retrieved, blaming “lack of logistical capabilities and manpower gaps” among aid groups.

For months, the U.N. has warned that an Israeli assault on Rafah could wreck the effort to get food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians across Gaza.

Asked about the ramifications of suspending aid, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said simply: “People don’t eat.”

Etefa said the WFP was still passing out hot meals and “limited distributions” of reduced food packages in central Gaza, but “food parcel stocks will run out within days,” she said.

The U.S. touted the $320 million pier project as a route for accelerated deliveries. The first 10 trucks rolled off a ship onto the pier on Friday and were taken to a WFP warehouse. However, a second convoy on Saturday was met by Palestinian crowds who removed all the food from 11 trucks, and only five truckloads made it to the warehouse, Etefa said.

No further deliveries came from the pier Sunday or Monday, Etefa said.

“The responsibility of ensuring aid reaches those in need does not end at the crossings and other points of entry into Gaza — it extends throughout Gaza itself,” she said.

At the same time, battles have escalated in northern Gaza as Israeli troops conduct operations against Hamas fighters, who the military says regrouped in areas already captured in offensives months ago.

One of the main hospitals still operating in the north, Kamal Adwan, was forced to evacuate after it was “targeted” by Israeli troops, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Around 150 staff and dozens of patients fled the facility, including intensive care patients and infants in incubators “under fire from shelling,” it said. The Israeli military did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The nearby Awda hospital has been surrounded by troops the past three days, and an artillery shell hit its fifth floor, the hospital administration said Tuesday. A day earlier, the international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said Awda had run out of drinking water.

The war between began on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants crossed into Israel and killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 hostage. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan accused Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh of crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder and sexual violence.

Israel responded to the Oct. 7 with an offensive that has laid waste to Gaza and killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between noncombatants and fighters in its count.

Monday's call by Khan for arrest warrants deepens Israel’s global isolation at a time when it is facing growing criticism from even its closest allies over the war. France, Belgium, and Slovenia each said they backed Khan's decision.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz headed to France on Tuesday in response, urging it to “declare loud and clear” that the request for warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant "is unacceptable to you and to the French government.”

His meetings there could set the tone for how countries navigate the warrants — if they are eventually issued — and whether they could pose a threat to Israeli leaders. A panel of three ICC judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed. The judges typically take two months to make such decisions.

Israel still has the support of its top ally, the United States, as well as other Western countries that spoke out against the decision. But if the warrants are issued, they could complicate international travel for Netanyahu and his defense minister, even if they do not face any immediate risk of prosecution because Israel itself is not a member of the court.

Goldenberg reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press journalists Majdi Mohammed in the Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, Jack Jeffery in Jerusalem, Aamer Madhani in Washington, John Leicester in Paris, and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

FILE - Palestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

FILE - Palestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

FILE - Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Jan. 9, 2024. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, File)

FILE - Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Jan. 9, 2024. The United Nations said Tuesday, May 21, 2024, it suspended food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity. It also said no aid trucks entered in the past two days via a floating pier set up by the U.S. for sea deliveries. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, File)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians line up for food distribution in Deir al Balah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians line up for food distribution in Deir al Balah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Journalists carry their colleague after he was shot in his leg during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Journalists carry their colleague after he was shot in his leg during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli military vehicles are seen during a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinians mourn their relative who was killed in an Israeli military raid on the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, at a hospital morgue in the city of Jenin, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinians mourn their relative who was killed in an Israeli military raid on the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, at a hospital morgue in the city of Jenin, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Israeli forces raided a militant stronghold Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing at least seven and wounding several, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The raid into the Jenin refugee camp is part of months of surging violence in the Palestinian territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct. 28, 2023. Top Israeli officials are accused of seven war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct. 28, 2023. Top Israeli officials are accused of seven war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 28, 2021. The Hamas officials are accused by the ICC of planning and instigating eight war crimes and crimes against humanity, among them extermination, murder, taking hostages, rape and torture. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

FILE - Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 28, 2021. The Hamas officials are accused by the ICC of planning and instigating eight war crimes and crimes against humanity, among them extermination, murder, taking hostages, rape and torture. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

FILE - Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Monday, May 20, 2024, that he’s seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders in connection with their actions during the seven-month war. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE - Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Monday, May 20, 2024, that he’s seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders in connection with their actions during the seven-month war. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Smoke rises to the sky after explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Smoke rises to the sky after explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The U.S. military-built pier in Gaza was unloading humanitarian aid again Thursday after being removed for a second time last week because of rough seas, a U.S. defense official said. The pier was reattached to Gaza’s shoreline on Wednesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military operations.

The pier, which cost the U.S. at least $230 million, was meant to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza via the U.N.’s World Food Program. It has faced a number of setbacks.

Aid groups have decried the pier as a distraction that took pressure off Israel to open more border crossings, which are far more productive at bringing aid into Gaza as Palestinians are facing widespread hunger. The United Nations has suspended its cooperation with the pier project since June 9 and is conducting a security review.

With Israel’s war against Hamas now in its ninth month, international criticism is growing over the U.S.-backed campaign of systematic destruction in Gaza, at a huge cost in civilian lives.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,100 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and basic goods to Gaza, which is now totally dependent on aid groups.

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:

— The fate of the latest cease-fire proposal hinges on Netanyahu and Hamas’ leader in Gaza.

— A rare public rift appears between Israel’s political and military leadership over how the war in Gaza is being conducted.

— The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group warns archenemy Israel against wider war.

— Hundreds died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia amid intense heat, officials say.

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

Here's the latest:

JERUSALEM – Israel remains opposed to allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detention facilities accused of harshly treating Palestinians from Gaza and is working on creating an internal inspection system, state lawyers said Wednesday.

The Red Cross had access to Israeli detention facilities holding Palestinians until Oct. 7, when Israel sealed them off from external observation. Since then, testimonies have mounted from released Palestinians of brutal treatment at the detention centers, where they are held incommunicado and without trial.

The government lawyers wrote that Israeli lawmakers are examining a proposal to form an internal body that would visit the detention facilities, hear prisoners’ complaints and communicate the information to Israeli authorities.

The body is “expected to fulfill the purpose that the Red Cross has fulfilled until now,” the lawyers wrote. They were responding to a coalition of rights groups asking Israel’s highest court to grant the Red Cross access to the detention facilities.

In response, the main rights group petitioning the court said internal Israeli examiners could not substitute for international observers.

“Mounting testimonies reveal Israel has turned its detention facilities into a black hole for Palestinian prisoners enduring appalling conditions,” said the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, adding that the government was “investing a far-fetched mechanism in order to replace the accepted arrangement by the world.”

Since the Hamas attack Oct. 7, Israel has taken at least 4,000 Palestinians from Gaza into custody in Israel, interrogating them for potential ties to the militant group. Over 1,500 have been released, according to state figures.

Hamas has rejected Red Cross appeals to visit some 120 hostages it is believed to be holding. Israel has already pronounced 43 of the hostages dead.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military-built pier in Gaza was unloading humanitarian aid again Thursday after being removed for a second time last week because of rough seas, a U.S. defense official said. The pier was reattached to Gaza’s shoreline on Wednesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military operations.

The pier, which cost the U.S. at least $230 million, was meant to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza via the U.N.’s World Food Program. It has faced a number of setbacks, operating for only about a week before getting blown apart by high winds in May. The U.S. military detached the floating causeway and moved it to an Israeli port last week so it wouldn't break apart again.

Aid groups have decried the pier as a distraction that took pressure off Israel to open more border crossings, which are far more productive at bringing aid into Gaza. Israel's war against Hamas has caused widespread devastation and made domestic food production nearly impossible, leaving Gaza totally dependent on aid groups for food, medicine and basic goods. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has suspended its cooperation with the U.S.-led pier project since June 9. U.N. officials say they want to evaluate whether the Israeli military used the area around the pier in a June 8 hostage rescue that left more than 270 Palestinians dead, and whether any such use — or even a perception of it by fighters and ordinary people in Gaza — makes their continued role in the project untenable.

The U.S. and Israeli militaries say no part of the pier was used in the raid.

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry said Thursday the U.S. military-built pier in Gaza is up and running again after being detached for a second time last week because of rough seas.

Cyprus plays a key role in the pier because a security and inspection station it built screens the international aid destined for Gaza. There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S.

Theodoris Gotsis, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said the pier and the causeway in Gaza were both functioning. He said over the past 40 days, Cyprus has screened and loaded onto boats some 10,000 tons of aid for Gaza.

The U.S. military detached the causeway last week to prevent it from breaking apart again, as it did late last month when it was hit by bad weather.

The pier, used to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, has faced a number of setbacks since it was erected. It was operational for only about a week when it was blown apart by high winds in May and then removed again earlier this month.

The U.N.’s World Food Program, one of the main aid agencies to make use of the pier, had paused its distribution of aid coming from it earlier this month over security concerns. WFP could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it was resuming distribution.

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A spokesman for the European Union’s executive arm says any threat against Cyprus is a threat against the bloc’s 26 other member nations.

Peter Stano made the remark Thursday in response to a question regarding Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s threat that Cyprus could be implicated in a wider conflict if the island nation allows Israel to use its ports and airports to target Lebanon.

Stano said the EU fully supports Cyprus and that the trade bloc is in contact with “a number of partners in the region," including Lebanon and Hezbollah, in order to de-escalate tension.

Cyprus has enjoyed increasingly tight relations with Israel in recent years, spawned by the discovery of undersea natural gas deposits in waters between the two neighbors. Cyprus has hosted joint Israeli-Cypriot military exercises, but has not ben involved in any military operations.

Cyprus government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis repeated that any suggestion that Cyprus – either through its infrastructure or territory - would be involved in any military operation in Lebanon is “totally groundless.”

Letymbiotis reiterated that the island nation “is not part of the problem” but “part of the solution” thanks to its regional diplomatic footprint.

The Hezbollah militant group said at least three of its fighters were killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday.

Lebanese state media reported multiple Israeli strikes along the border and in an area north of the coastal city of Tyre, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the frontier. The Israeli military said two Hezbollah launches damaged several vehicles in northern Israel.

The fighting came as Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, returned to Israel after meeting with officials in Lebanon on Tuesday. There has been no word on whether he has made progress in his efforts to avoid a devastating regional war.

Kamel Mohanna, the head of the Amel Association, an NGO providing health services in Lebanon, said the group’s primary health center in the town of Khiam was hit and damaged by Israeli shelling.

Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border.

But the fighting has escalated in recent weeks, raising fears that the clashes could boil over into a full-blown war. Israel’s army announced late Tuesday that it has “approved and validated” plans for an offensive in Lebanon.

Israeli strikes already have killed more than 400 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters,

Buildings are seen in Kiryat Shmona, a city next to border with Lebanon, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Buildings are seen in Kiryat Shmona, a city next to border with Lebanon, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Hussein, son of senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, 55, who was killed last week by an Israeli strike in south Lebanon, speaks during a ceremony to commemorate the death of his father, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Hussein, son of senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, 55, who was killed last week by an Israeli strike in south Lebanon, speaks during a ceremony to commemorate the death of his father, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

An Israel flag hangs on an area backdropped by buildings in Kiryat Shmona, a city next to border with Lebanon, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

An Israel flag hangs on an area backdropped by buildings in Kiryat Shmona, a city next to border with Lebanon, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Hezbollah supporters raise their fists and cheer as they watch a speech given by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on a screen during a ceremony to commemorate the death of senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, 55, who was killed last week by an Israeli strike in south Lebanon, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Hezbollah supporters raise their fists and cheer as they watch a speech given by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on a screen during a ceremony to commemorate the death of senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, 55, who was killed last week by an Israeli strike in south Lebanon, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

A damaged building, from previous shelling attacks from Lebanon, is seen in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A damaged building, from previous shelling attacks from Lebanon, is seen in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians mourn their relative Tamer Mohsen killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp, at the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Saher Alghorra)

Palestinians mourn their relative Tamer Mohsen killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp, at the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Saher Alghorra)

In this combination image, Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, speaks on April 13, 2022, in Gaza City, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on June 18, 2024, in Tel Aviv. The fate of the proposed cease-fire deal for Gaza hinges in many ways on Sinwar and Netanyahu. Each faces significant political and personal pressures that may be influencing their decision-making and neither seems in a rush to make concessions to end the war. (AP Photo)

In this combination image, Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, speaks on April 13, 2022, in Gaza City, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on June 18, 2024, in Tel Aviv. The fate of the proposed cease-fire deal for Gaza hinges in many ways on Sinwar and Netanyahu. Each faces significant political and personal pressures that may be influencing their decision-making and neither seems in a rush to make concessions to end the war. (AP Photo)

A man drives his motorcycle past a damaged building, from previous shelling attacks from Lebanon, in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A man drives his motorcycle past a damaged building, from previous shelling attacks from Lebanon, in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7. There have been near daily exchanges of fire, though most of the strikes are confined to an area within a few mostly confined to the area around the border. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians mourn their relative Tamer Mohsen killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp, at the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Saher Alghorra)

Palestinians mourn their relative Tamer Mohsen killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp, at the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Saher Alghorra)

Palestinians mourn their relative Tamer Mohsen killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp, at the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Saher Alghorra)

Palestinians mourn their relative Tamer Mohsen killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp, at the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Saher Alghorra)

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