Live Updates | Israeli Military Rescues 2 Hostages In Rafah Operation That Killed 67 Palestinians

People stand in front of a gate at the Nitzana border crossing with Egypt in southern, Israel, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, protesting against the humanitarian aid to enter Gaza until all the hostages are released. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
People stand in front of a gate at the Nitzana border crossing with Egypt in southern, Israel, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, protesting against the humanitarian aid to enter Gaza until all the hostages are released. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
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The Israeli military rescued two hostages from the Gaza Strip early Monday in a dramatic operation that also killed at least 67 Palestinians in airstrikes, 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.

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.


— The Israeli military says it has rescued 2 hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip.

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— Find more of AP’s coverage at

Here's the latest:


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.”


UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations says it will not participate in the forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza, stressing that there is no safe place to go in the territory where Israel is still carrying out a military offensive.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to the military to prepare a plan to evacuate about 1.5 million Palestinian civilians who have fled to southern Rafah to seek safety in order to continue its operation against Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel – and a report that the U.N. was asked to help in the evacuations.

Dujarric said the vast majority of Palestinians in the south can’t be sent back to northern and central areas littered with unexploded ordnance and destroyed housing, and where the humanitarian situation is exceedingly challenging with very few supplies of food and other necessities. He added that “the deconfliction process that we have in place with the Israeli authorities is also not working.”

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy, speaking Monday, accused U.N. agencies of being more concerned about pressuring Israel to end its war with Hamas and resisting “our efforts to vacate civilians from Hamas strongholds, libelously characterizing those measures in pursuance of our obligations under international law as forced displacement” than helping protect civilians.

“We urge U.N. agencies to cooperate with Israel’s efforts to protect civilians from Hamas and evacuate them from a war zone where terrorists are trying to use them as human shields,” Levy said. “Don’t say it can’t be done. Work with us to find a way.”

Pressed later by The Associated Press on whether Israel was seeking U.N. help, he appeared to backtrack, saying Israel was not asking for help to evacuate Rafah, “We are asking the U.N. to work towards helping protect Palestinian civilians rather than helping Hamas.”

Dujarric stressed that “there is no place that is currently safe in Gaza” and the United Nations wants to ensure “that anything that happens is done in full respect of international law, in full respect of the protection of civilians.” And he said: “We will not be party to forced displacement of people,” he said.


The U.N. human rights chief says a potential full-fledged Israeli military incursion into Gaza is “terrifying” because some 1.5 million Palestinians have nowhere else to flee and “an extremely high number” of civilians are likely to be killed and injured.

Volker Türk said in a statement Monday that “given the carnage wrought so far in Gaza it is wholly imaginable what would lie ahead in Rafah.”

“Beyond the pain and suffering of the bombs and bullets, this incursion into Rafah may also mean the end of the meager humanitarian aid that has been entering and distributed with huge implications for all of Gaza,” he said, “including the hundreds of thousands at grave risk of starvation and famine in the north.”

Türk urged the world not to allow this to happen, reiterating U.N. calls for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages taken during Hamas’ attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, and “renewed collective resolve to reach a political solution.”

Türk said he has repeatedly warned against actions violating the laws of war, and he warned again that the prospect of an Israeli military operation in Rafah “as circumstances stand, risks further atrocity crimes.”


ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Israel’s widening attacks on Gaza would “top our agenda” when he meets with the leaders of the UAE and Egypt over the next two days.

In a televised address following his weekly Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Erdogan chastised the “hypocritical policy” of the West as the “reason for Israel’s recklessness.”

He highlighted Israeli operations in Rafah on Monday. Referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “wannabe Hitler,” he said Israel was “crossing a new red line every day in its policy of brutality and massacre.”

Western countries were “turning a blind eye to Netanyahu’s massacres,” he added.

Erdogan is due to meet UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday before travelling to Egypt on Wednesday to meet President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

“What more can we do for our Gazan brothers in the meetings we will hold in the Emirates and Egypt? God willing, we will look at it,” he said.


JERUSALEM — Israel says it is denying entry to a United Nations official over a social media post she made about Hamas’ motives in its cross-border raid last year.

Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, posted on X over the weekend that Hamas did not kill Israelis on Oct. 7 because they were Jews, but “as a reaction to Israel’s oppression.” She was responding to French President Emmanuel Macron, who called the attack the “largest antisemitic massacre of our century.”

Albanese’s post sparked an outcry in Israel.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel said Monday that Albanese would now be barred from entering Israel.

Albanese responded, in a posting on X, that she and previous special rapporteurs have been denied entry since 2008. The latest announcement “must not become a distraction from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza,” she added.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, asked for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ reaction to the Israeli order, stressed that special rapporteurs are independent investigators appointed by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. On the substance, he said, “I can tell you the secretary-general does not agree with Ms. Albanese.”

Israel has long accused U.N. bodies of being biased against it and has refused to cooperate with investigations into its actions in the Palestinian territories.

Last month, Israel alleged that a dozen U.N. workers in Gaza participated in the Oct. 7 assault, prompting a wave of funding suspensions to the world body’s agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, a main aid provider in the war-torn territory.


BRUSSELS — The U.N. agency that serves as the main provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza says it is facing mounting difficulties along its supply lines.

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, told reporters in Brussels on Monday that aid trucks and convoys in Gaza are being looted because local police are reluctant to provide protection following recent Israeli strikes.

Several members of the Hamas-run police force have been killed in recent days in strikes on Rafah, the southernmost town in Gaza where most aid is brought into the territory.

Lazzarini said a shipment of food that could feed 1 million people for a month was being held up in the Israeli port city of Ashdod. Contractors “have been instructed not to handle and move this food because it is for UNRWA,” he said.

He said Israel has lifted the agency’s VAT tax exemption and that a local bank had frozen one of its accounts.

Last month, Israel said 12 UNRWA employees had taken part in the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 that triggered the war. The agency immediately terminated the workers and launched an investigation. Several donor countries suspended funding, and UNRWA says if it is not restored, it will have to start scaling back aid operations within weeks.


LONDON — The U.K. government said Monday it's “deeply concerned” about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the U.K. wants Israel to “stop and think seriously before it takes any further action.”

“We are very concerned about what is happening in Rafah, because, let’s be clear, the people there, many of whom have moved four, five, six times before getting there. It really, we think, is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people, there is nowhere for them to go,” Cameron told reporters.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said: “We are obviously deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah. Over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering there and that crossing is vital to ensuring aid can reach the people who desperately need it.”


BRUSSELS — The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, is calling on the United States among other countries to stop providing weapons to Israel instead of simply demanding that the two sides in the war in Gaza stop killing civilians.

“If you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels after talks with the head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

The war in Gaza has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in the territory, displaced over 80% of the population and set off a massive humanitarian crisis.

Borrell said that it’s not good enough for countries to just send their delegations to Tel Aviv and beg Israel not to kill so many civilians, saying: “How many is too many? Which is the standard? (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu doesn’t listen to anyone.”

In an impassioned plea, the EU’s top diplomat also expressed concern about the likelihood of an imminent Israeli ground assault on Rafah, near the border with Egypt, where more than half of Gaza's population has fled to escape the fighting.

“They are going to evacuate. Where, to the moon? Where are they going to evacuate these people?” Borrell said.


CAIRO — The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strop says more than 12,300 Palestinian minors and 8,400 women have been killed so far in Israel’s war on Hamas in the battered territory.

Minors made up about 43% of the total number of 28,340 Palestinians killed so far. Women and minors together make up 73% of those killed in the war, according to the ministry’s figures.

The ministry provided the breakdown of minors and women on Monday at the request of The Associated Press.

The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says its forces have killed roughly 10,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the death toll, saying it embeds in civilian areas.

In its report, the Gaza ministry said more than 7,000 people are missing and presumed dead. It said 67,984 people have been wounded in the war. It said that over the past day, the bodies of 164 people have been brought to hospitals around war-torn Gaza.

The report comes as an Israeli hostage mission freed two Israeli captives but struck areas around where they were held, killing dozens of Palestinians.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Judges in the Netherlands have ordered the Dutch government to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing a clear risk of violations of international law.

A trio of human rights organizations brought a civil suit against the Netherlands in December, arguing that authorities needed to re-evaluate the export license in light of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. They argued that delivery of parts for the aircraft makes the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes being committed by Israel in its war with Hamas.

A lower court sided with the government in January, allowing the government to continue sending U.S.-owned parts stored at a warehouse in the town of Woensdrecht to Israel.

On Monday, judges at The Hague Court of Appeals overturned that and ordered the government to cease exports within seven days. The decision can be appealed.