Gaza’s Health Ministry says 150 people have been killed in the territory in the last 24 hours and another 313 were wounded as Israeli forces continue to battle militants, even in the northern part of the territory.

The north, where entire neighborhoods have been flattened, was the initial target of Israel’s ground offensive in late October.

Israel’s military said Wednesday that its forces killed more than 15 Hamas militants in northern Gaza over the past day and targeted militant infrastructure in a school.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected two key demands made by Hamas in indirect cease-fire talks, saying that Israel will not withdraw from the Gaza Strip or release thousands of jailed militants.

The latest deaths bring the Palestinian death toll from Israel’s offensive to 26,900, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths but says most of those killed were women and children.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that sparked the war killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and about 250 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

— Iran threatens to ‘decisively respond’ to any US strikes as Biden weighs response to Jordan attack.

— EU aims to launch a Red Sea naval mission within 3 weeks to protect ships from rebel attacks.

— Biden says he’s decided on a response to the killing of three U.S. troops in Jordan.

— Where do the parties stand on efforts to secure a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages?

— Israeli forces dressed as civilian women and medics kill three militants in a West Bank hospital.

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

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s Health Ministry says 150 people have been killed in the last 24 hours and another 313 were wounded.

The deaths bring the Palestinian death toll from Israel’s offensive to 26,900, according to the Hama-controlled ministry. It does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths but says most of those killed were women and children.

The nearly four-month war began with Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people and abducted another 250.

Israeli forces are still battling militants across Gaza, even in the northern part of the territory, which was the initial target of the ground offensive in late October and where entire neighborhoods have been flattened.

The military said Wednesday that its forces killed more than 15 Hamas militants in northern Gaza over the past day and targeted militant infrastructure in a school.

It said air and ground forces targeted militants on the outskirts of the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, which dates back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation and resembles a dense urban neighborhood.

The military had said in mid-November that it was in control of Shati.

The heaviest fighting is in the southern city of Khan Younis, where Israeli officials suspect senior Hamas leaders may be hiding in a labyrinth of tunnels.

The war has driven some 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes into other parts of the besieged territory, and U.N. officials say a quarter of the population is starving.

JERUSALEM — Iran threatened Wednesday to “decisively respond” to any U.S. attack on the Islamic Republic following President Joe Biden’s linking of Tehran to the killing of three U.S. soldiers at a military base in Jordan.

The U.S. has signaled it is preparing for retaliatory strikes in the Mideast in the wake of the Sunday drone attack that also injured at least 40 troops at Tower 22, a secretive base in northeastern Jordan that’s been crucial to the American presence in neighboring Syria.

However, concerns remain that any additional American strikes could further inflame a region already roiled by Israel’s ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea.

A U.S. Navy destroyer in the waterway shot down an anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Houthis late Tuesday, the latest attack targeting American forces patrolling the key maritime trade route, officials said.

GENEVA — An array of U.N. organizations that focus on refugees, humanitarian aid, migration, health, children, food, women, human rights and other issues have united in an appeal to some key donor countries to reconsider their plans to halt funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

The United States and more than a dozen other countries have announced plans to suspend contributions to UNRWA after Israel alleged that 12 of its workers participated in the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. U.N. officials fired most of the workers and vowed an investigation.

The heads of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, International Organization for Migration, World Food Program and other U.N. agencies and partners said allegations that “several” UNRWA staffers were involved “in the heinous attacks on Israel” were “horrifying.”

“However, we must not prevent an entire organization from delivering on its mandate to serve people in desperate need,” the joint statement said.

“Decisions by various member states to pause funds from UNRWA will have catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza,” it said. “No other entity has the capacity to deliver the scale and breadth of assistance that 2.2 million people in Gaza urgently need.”

“We appeal for these decisions to be reconsidered,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met behind closed doors with 35 donor nations and appealed for a restoration of funding as well as new support. The U.S. State Department said it expects to resume funding for UNRWA if the organization carries out a credible investigation into possible links between some staffers and the Hamas militant group.

ISTANBUL — Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has urged the international community to act strongly to end the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

“The blocking of humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Gaza by Israel should never be accepted by the international community,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

Speaking alongside Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu, he added, “We cannot and must not remain silent while 2 million people are openly left to die of starvation and epidemic diseases under bombardment. World public opinion must once again be strong to prevent this massacre.”

Fidan also called on Israel to implement last week’s interim decision by the International Court of Justice to protect civilians and declare an immediate cease-fire.

BRUSSELS — The European Union plans to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea within three weeks to help defend cargo ships against attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen that are hampering trade and driving up prices, the bloc’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he wants the mission to be up and running by Feb. 17. Officials say that seven EU countries are ready to provide ships or planes. Belgium has already committed to send a frigate. Germany is expected to do the same.

Last week, U.S. and British forces bombed multiple targets in eight locations used by the Iranian-backed Houthis. It was the second time the two allies have conducted coordinated retaliatory strikes on the rebels’ missile-launching capabilities.

The Houthis have waged a persistent campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, but Borrell insisted that the EU mission will not take part in any military strikes.

A U.S. Navy destroyer in the Red Sea shot down an anti-ship cruise missile launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the latest attack targeting American forces patrolling the key maritime route, officials said Wednesday.

The attack late Tuesday night targeted the USS Gravely, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement.

“There were no injuries or damage reported,” the statement said.

A Houthi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, claimed the attack in a statement Wednesday morning, calling it “a victory for the oppression of the Palestinian people and a response to the American-British aggression against our country.”

Saree claimed the Houthis fired “several” missiles. something not acknowledged by the U.S. Navy. Houthi claims have been exaggerated in the past, and their missiles sometimes crash on land and fail to reach their targets.

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