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Live updates | China calls on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza as soon as possible


China on Tuesday called on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza as soon as possible, a day after Israeli forces rescued two hostages from the Gaza Strip in a dramatic operation that also killed at least 74 Palestinians, according to Palestinian hospital officials.

The raid took place in Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the Israel-Hamas war. Women and children were among those killed in the airstrikes, Palestinian officials said.

China's Foreign Ministry added in a brief statement on Tuesday that Israel should “do everything possible to avoid casualties among innocent civilians and prevent a more devastating humanitarian disaster in Rafah.”

The Palestinian death toll from the war has surpassed 28,000 people, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. A quarter of Gaza’s residents are starving.

The war began with Hamas’ assault into Israel on Oct. 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, while Hamas is holding the remains of roughly 30 others who were either killed on Oct. 7 or died in captivity. Three hostages were mistakenly killed by the army after escaping their captors in December.


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

Here's the latest:


BEIJING — China has called on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza as soon as possible following a raid that rescued two hostages and killed at least 74 Palestinians.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing added in a brief statement on Tuesday that Israel should “do everything possible to avoid casualties among innocent civilians and prevent a more devastating humanitarian disaster in Rafah.”

Israel has signaled its ground offensive may soon target Rafah, the town where the hostages were freed by the raid.

China has consistently opposed the Israeli offensive, calling from the start for a cease-fire and talks to find a permanent solution to the crisis.


CAIRO — The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says the bodies of 133 people killed in Israeli strikes have been brought to hospitals in the war-wrecked territory over the past day.

Hospitals also received 162 wounded patients, the ministry said.

Also Tuesday, the death toll from an Israeli hostage rescue operation in the town of Rafah rose to 74, according to Dr. Marawan al-Hams, director of the local Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital. Israeli forces conducting the operation, which freed two hostages, were backed by heavy airstrikes on the town, to where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have fled.

The fresh fatalities brought the death toll in Gaza to 28,473 since the war began on Oct. 7, according to the ministry.

The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says more than 70% of the dead are women and minors. Israel says its forces have killed 10,000 Hamas fighters without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the death toll, saying it embeds in civilians areas, putting noncombatants at risk.

More than 68,000 people have been wounded in the war, of them 11,000 who need urgent evacuation for treatment out of Gaza, the ministry said.

The ministry said many of the dead remain under the rubble of destroyed buildings and on roadsides with first responders unable to reach many areas and collect the bodies.


CAIRO — Palestinian health officials say Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man as 20-year-old Mohammed Sherif Hassan Selmi and said he was shot in his chest, shoulders and head.

The Israeli military said Tuesday that forces were operating in the West Bank city of Qalqilya when the man allegedly attempted to run over soldiers, who opened fired and killed the man. The military said it was not aware of whether any soldiers were wounded.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of the secular Fatah party, said its fighters clashed with the Israeli forces but did not claim Selmi as a member.

The West Bank has seen a surge of violence since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza broke out in October. The Health Ministry says more than 380 Palestinians have been killed during that time. The Israeli military says it has arrested more than 3,000 Palestinians in the West Bank since the war began.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The secretary-general of the Arab League has warned Israel against policies he described as forcefully displacing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit decried what he called an “Israeli mentality” to try and seize land the Palestinians want for their future state. He warned any seizure of the Gaza Strip or the West Bank by Israel would mean “a confrontation for the next thousand years.”

“The United States must order Israel to stop these policies or otherwise the Middle East will explode in an unprecedented way,” he said.

He also called on Israel to “empty the settlements” in Palestinian land as well.

Aboul Gheit, a former ambassador to the United Nations and Egypt’s last foreign minister under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, spoke at the World Government Summit in Dubai.


UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council held an emergency closed meeting on the escalating civilian death toll in Gaza and Israel’s plans to move its offensive to Rafah where some 1.5 million Palestinians have fled hoping to find safety.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told The Associated Press after Monday’s late meeting that there was “a loud cry” among council members about the need for urgent action -- to deal with the “unfolding humanitarian catastrophe,” Israel’s announced intentions in Gaza, and further spillover of the war.

Algeria, the Arab representative on the 15-member Security Council who called the meeting, has circulated a draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war that began after Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage. More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s offensive, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Zhang said the “very strong and overwhelming position of council members” is for the Security Council to act but one member – a clear reference to Israel’s closest ally the United States – “worries about the complication of Security Council action with the bilateral efforts” it is undertaking.

The Chinese envoy said discussions on the Algerian draft resolution are still taking place, and he expressed hope “that eventually the council will be demonstrating our united position.”