The Latest | Armenia recognizes a Palestinian state, and Israel summons its ambassador

 

Armenia said it would recognize a Palestinian state on Friday, prompting Israel to summon its ambassador for what the Foreign Ministry described as a “severe reprimand.”

Dozens of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, though none of the major Western powers has done so. Palestinians believe the recognitions confer international legitimacy on their struggle, especially amid international outrage over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Last month, Spain, Ireland and Norway said they had decided to recognize a Palestinian state, and since then Slovenia and the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda have followed suit.

On Thursday, a U.S.-built pier in Gaza began unloading humanitarian aid again after being removed for a second time last week because of rough seas, the U.S. military said.

Aid groups have sharply criticized the plan to bring aid by sea into Gaza, saying it’s a distraction that took pressure off Israel to open more land border crossings that are far more productive. Palestinians face widespread hunger as the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and basic goods to Gaza, which is now totally dependent on aid.

Meanwhile, Israel’s pledge to guard a new aid route into southern Gaza has fallen flat, as the U.N. and international aid organizations say a breakdown in law and order has made that route unusable.

Israel’s war against Hamas, now in its ninth month, faces growing international criticism 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.

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.

— Israel’s pledge to guard an aid route into Gaza falls flat as lawlessness blocks distribution.

— 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.

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

Here’s the latest:

JERUSALEM — Armenia’s foreign ministry said Friday that the former Soviet republic would recognize a Palestinian state, prompting Israel to summon its ambassador for a “severe reprimand.”

A short statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry provided no further details.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it joined United Nations resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire, and said “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and the ongoing military conflict” was one of the most important on the international agenda.

“We support the ‘two-state’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the statement said. “We are convinced that this is the only way to ensure that both Palestinians and Israelis can fulfill their legitimate aspirations.”

Dozens of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, though none of the major Western powers has done so. Palestinians believe the recognitions confer international legitimacy on their struggle, especially amid international outrage over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Last month, Spain, Ireland and Norway said they had decided to recognize a Palestinian state, and since then Slovenia and the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda have followed suit.

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian Civil Defense authorities say an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City hit a municipal garage, killing five people.

The strike on the garage in the center of Gaza City came Friday and killed four municipal workers and one passer-by, while leaving an unknown number of others buried under the rubble of the damaged building, the Civil Defense said.

The Gaza municipality confirmed that the strike hit its employees but did not give a breakdown on the casualties.

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

Since then, the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure has suffered heavy damage, and the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians who are facing widespread hunger.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,400 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

JERUSALEM — A breakdown in law and order in southern Gaza has made a new route to deliver aid unusable, according to the United Nations and international humanitarian organizations, just days after Israel declared the safe corridor.

With thousands of truckloads of aid piled up, groups of armed men are regularly blocking convoys, holding drivers at gunpoint and rifling through their cargo, according to a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media on the issue.

The lawlessness is a major obstacle to aid distribution for southern and central Gaza. In those areas, an estimated 1.3 million Palestinians displaced from Rafah — more than half of Gaza’s entire population — are now sheltering in tent camps and cramped apartments without adequate food, water, or medical supplies.

Israel announced Sunday it would observe daily pauses in combat along a route stretching from Kerem Shalom, the strip’s only operational aid crossing in the south, to the nearby city of Khan Younis.

The head of the U.N.’s World Food Program said Thursday that the pause has made “no difference at all” in aid distribution efforts. “We haven’t been able to get in,” said Cindy McCain in an interview with Al-Monitor. “We’ve had to reroute some of our trucks. They’ve been looted. As you know, we’ve been shot at and we’ve been rocketed.”

The Israeli military body in charge of coordinating humanitarian aid efforts, COGAT, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The U.N. official familiar with the aid effort said that there’s been no sign of Israeli activity along the route. The U.N. tried to send a convoy of 60 trucks down the road Tuesday to pick up aid at Kerem Shalom. But 35 of the trucks were intercepted by armed men, the official said.

In recent days, the groups have moved closer to the crossing and set up roadblocks to halt trucks loaded with supplies, the U.N. official said. They have searched the pallets for smuggled cigarettes, a rare luxury in a territory where a single smoke can go for $25.

The U.N. official said that 25 trucks of flour used the route Tuesday. Some private commercial trucks also got through — many of which used armed security to deter groups seeking to seize their cargo. An AP reporter stationed along the road Monday saw at least eight trucks pass by, armed security guards riding on top.

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AP writer Julia Frankel contributed.

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