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Israeli airstrikes kill Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon


An Israeli strike illuminates the sky above the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, April 17, 2024.
An Israeli strike illuminates the sky above the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, April 17, 2024.

Israel's military said Thursday it conducted airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip targeting Hamas fighters and infrastructure along with aerial strikes that killed two Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon.

The Lebanon strikes were the latest in cross-border fighting between Israel and Hezbollah that has raised concerns about the spread of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Agence France-Presse cited Hezbollah saying two of its fighters were killed in an Israeli strike in Kfar Kila.

Israel said 14 of its soldiers were injured Wednesday in a Hezbollah attack on northern Israel.

The White House said U.S. and Israeli officials on Thursday discussed American concerns over Israel's planned military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which Israel agreed to consider.

"The two sides agreed on the shared objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah," the White House said in a statement. "U.S. participants expressed concerns with various courses of action in Rafah, and Israeli participants agreed to take these concerns into account."

Earlier this week, the World Food Program sent two convoys into Gaza, delivering 374 metric tons of wheat flour, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations secretary-general, told reporters on Thursday.

"The agency warns that the only way to halt famine is through daily deliveries of food supplies. This requires conditions that allow humanitarian staff and supplies to move freely — and the people in need to access assistance safely," Dujarric said.

But U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said that Israel's commitments to improve aid access in Gaza have had "limited and sometimes nil" impact.

On Thursday evening, the United States cast a veto at the Security Council to block the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state. The United Kingdom and Switzerland abstained, and the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Wednesday during a visit to South Korea that the United States does not see the resolution as part of the path to achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Close to 34,000 killed

Gaza is on the brink of famine, numerous agencies have reported, but the U.S. and Israel say access to aid has improved this month. Food trucks entered Gaza's Ashdod Port for the first time since Israel approved its opening for aid shipments, the Israeli military said Wednesday.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israeli military actions have killed nearly 34,000 Palestinians since the war began. The ministry says two-thirds of those killed are women and children.

Israel launched its offensive in response to the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures. Militants also took about 250 people hostage. In November, more than 100 hostages were released as part of a four-day pause in the fighting. Israel says about 130 hostages remain in captivity, but one-quarter of them are dead. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., U.K., EU and others.

Qatar reconsiders mediator role

Qatar is rethinking its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, its prime minister said Wednesday during a news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Doha.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, without elaborating, that its mediation had been abused.

"At this point right now, we are reevaluating our role as mediators and how the parties are engaged with this mediation," he said.

Al Thani said there were "limits" to what Qatar can do as a mediator, though top leaders of Hamas live in exile in the country.

Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been involved in talks to secure a halt in fighting that would include the release of some hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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