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The Latest | Hamas will send a delegation to Cairo to keep up cease-fire talks

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Hamas said Thursday it will send a delegation to Cairo as soon as possible to keep working on cease-fire talks, in response to Egypt’s latest proposal. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he spoke to Egypt’s intelligence chief and “stressed the positive spirit of the movement in studying the cease-fire proposal.” His statement did not say when the delegation would travel.

Across the United States, tent encampments and demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war have spread across university campuses in a student movement unlike any other this century. More than 2,000 protesters have been arrested over the last two weeks as students rally against the war’s death toll and call for universities to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza.

If the Israel-Hamas war stopped immediately, it would still take until 2040 to rebuild all the homes that have been destroyed in nearly seven months of Israel’s bombardment and ground offensives in the besieged territory, according to United Nations estimates released Thursday.

The war has driven around 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes, caused vast destruction in several towns and cities, and pushed northern Gaza to the brink of famine. The death toll in Gaza has soared to more than 34,500 people, according to local health officials, and the territory’s entire population has been driven into a humanitarian catastrophe.

The war started on Oct. 7 when Palestinian militants launched an unprecedented attack into southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducting around 250 hostages. Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Currently:

As Hamas considers cease-fire, question hangs: Will Israel end war without the group’s destruction?

— Colombia’s president says the country will break diplomatic relations with Israel over the war in Gaza.

— The Biden administration is weighing measures to help Palestinians bring family from the region.

As protests and police action roil U.S. schools, there’s been a pause in nonstop media coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

— Student journalists are covering their own campuses in convulsion. Here’s what they have to say.

— Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest are ready to remove Palestinian flags or symbols.

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

Here’s the latest:

SYRIA SAYS ISRAEL HIT A MILITARY SITE NEAR DAMASCUS, THE FIRST STRIKE SINCE ATTACK ON IRANIAN CONSULATE

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian state media reported an Israeli airstrike hit a military site on the outskirts of the capital Damascus late Thursday, injuring eight soldiers. The report by SANA cited an unnamed military source.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

It was the first reported Israeli strike in Syria since early April, when a strike attributed to Israel hit the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing two Iranian generals and five officers.

Iran responded with an unprecedented direct attack on Israel, sending a barrage of hundreds of missiles and drones, most of which were shot down. A handful of missiles landed, causing minor damage to an Israeli military base and seriously wounding a young girl.

The exchange sparked fears of a major regional escalation but ended with an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

Prior to the dangerous cycle of escalation, Israel had frequently hit targets linked to Iran in Syria but rarely acknowledged the attacks.

TURKEY CONFIRMS IT’S HALTING IMPORTS AND EXPORTS TO ISRAEL BECAUSE OF THE WAR IN GAZA

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s Trade Ministry says the country is halting imports and exports to Israel over its ongoing military actions in Gaza.

A ministry statement on Thursday said “export and import transactions in relation to Israel have been stopped, covering all products.” It described the step as the “second phase” of measures against Israel, adding that the country would implement other steps against Israel until it “allows an uninterrupted and sufficient flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

Last month, Turkey — a staunch critic of Israel — announced that it was restricting exports of 54 types of products to Israel with immediate effect. They include aluminum, steel, construction products and chemical fertilizers.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz sharply criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying in a post on X that Turkey “is breaking agreements by blocking ports for Israeli imports and exports.”

ISRAELIS HOLD RALLY TO DEMAND A HOSTAGE DEAL AS PART OF CEASE-FIRE

TEL AVIV — Dozens of people demonstrated Thursday night outside Israel’s military headquarters in Tel Aviv, demanding a deal to release the hostages still held in Gaza.

Relatives held posters with images of their loved ones and counted out loud to 209 — the number of days they have been in captivity.

Hamas said Thursday that it was sending a delegation to Egypt for further cease-fire talks, in a new sign of progress in attempts by international mediators to hammer out an agreement to end the war and release the remaining hostages. Israel says Hamas is holding about 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

The protest came as Israel’s Security Cabinet was meeting to discuss cease-fire efforts and the ongoing war.

Some families worry that Israel’s war aims of eliminating Hamas and launching an incursion into Gaza’s southern city of Rafah will derail negotiations.

“If the army goes inside Rafah we’re probably going to lose most of the hostages over there,” said Omri Lifshitz, whose father is being held hostage.

“We must have a deal before Rafah — Rafah needs to be after the deal,” he said.

MORE THAN 2,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN U.S. CRACKDOWN ON PRO-PALESTINIAN CAMPUS PROTESTS

At least 200 people were arrested at UCLA Thursday, bringing the nationwide total of arrests to more than 2,000 at dozens of college campuses since police cleared an encampment at Columbia University in mid-April, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Demonstrations — and arrests — have occurred in almost every corner of the nation. But in the last 24 hours, they’ve drawn the most attention at the University of California, Los Angeles, where chaotic scenes played out early Thursday as officers in riot gear surged against a crowd of demonstrators.

Israel has branded the protests antisemitic, while Israel’s critics say it uses those allegations to silence opposition. Although some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, protest organizers — some of whom are Jewish — call it a peaceful movement to defend Palestinian rights and protest the war.

HAMAS INTERCEPTED PART OF AN AID SHIPMENT IN NORTH GAZA, U.S. SAYS

WASHINGTON — Hamas intercepted part of the first shipment of aid into northern Gaza via a newly reopened crossing, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.

Hamas held the trucks “for some time” but United Nations humanitarian workers have since recovered the aid, State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Miller said this was the first major diversion of an aid shipment by Hamas during nearly six months of war in Gaza. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of stealing aid in Gaza.

The humanitarian convoy was the same one attacked by Israeli settlers earlier on its journey Wednesday in an attempt to block the convoy from the Erez crossing into Gaza, Miller said.

Miller, who condemned the Israeli settler attack, called Hamas’s diversion an “unacceptable act” and said such actions jeopardize international efforts to push food into the territory to stave off an imminent threat of famine.

He declined to identify the humanitarian organization involved, or discuss the crew that was with the shipment.

ISRAELI MINISTER ACCUSES TURKEY OF BLOCKING IMPORTS AND EXPORTS FROM ISRAEL

JERUSALEM — Israel’s foreign minister is accusing Turkey of blocking Israeli imports and exports from Turkish ports.

The comments Thursday evening by Israel Katz came after the Bloomberg news agency, citing anonymous Turkish officials, said Turkey had instituted such a block.

Officials in Turkey did not immediately confirm the move. Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not return messages seeking comment.

Turkey and Israel had announced trade barriers on each other last month as relations deteriorated amid the war in Gaza. Turkey, a staunch critic of Israel’s military actions in the territory, is a significant trade partner that exports items including agricultural products, construction materials and appliances to Israel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “is breaking agreements by blocking ports for Israeli imports and exports,” Katz wrote on the social platform X. “This is how a dictator behaves, disregarding the interests of the Turkish people and businessmen, and ignoring international trade agreements.”

Katz said he had instructed officials to “immediately engage with all relevant parties in the government to create alternatives for trade with Turkey, focusing on local production and imports from other countries.”

Turkey recognized Israel in 1949. Under Erdogan, tensions have ebbed and flowed between the countries.

BIDEN SAYS STUDENTS HAVE RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTESTS, BUT THERE’S NO ROOM FOR ‘CHAOS’

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden defended the right to peacefully protest on college campuses but said vandalism, violence, hate speech and other “chaos” has no part in a peaceful protest.

“Dissent is essential for democracy,” he said at the White House Thursday morning. “But dissent must never lead to disorder.”

Student protests over the Israel-Hamas war have popped up at many college campuses following the arrest of demonstrators in April at Columbia University.

The Democratic president said the U.S. is neither an authoritarian nation that squashes dissent nor a lawless country.

“We are a civil society and order must prevail,” Biden said. “We are a big, diverse, free-thinking and freedom-loving nation.”

Tensions at colleges and universities have been building, with demonstrators refusing to remove encampments, administrators cancelling classes and events and police clearing some protests by force.

The Associated Press has tallied at least 41 times since April 18 where arrests were made at campus protests across the U.S. Nearly 1,750 people have been arrested at 32 schools.

ISRAELI OPPOSITION POLITICIAN MEETS EMIRATI FOREIGN MINISTER IN ABU DHABI

JERUSALEM — Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has met with the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister in Abu Dhabi.

The state-run WAM news agency confirmed the meeting between Lapid and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. WAM described Sheikh Abdullah as telling Lapid about “the importance of working towards achieving a cease-fire and avoiding a regional spillover” in the Israel-Hamas war still raging in the Gaza Strip.

Sheikh Abdullah also said a permanent peace would need to be based on a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

On the social platform X, Lapid wrote: “I told him that the most urgent thing is to return the hostages home.” A current proposed cease-fire would see some of the remaining hostages who were taken captive after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians prisoners in Israeli custody.

Lapid’s visit comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still has not visited the UAE since it reached a diplomatic recognition deal with Israel in 2020. The UAE has faced criticism in the Arab world for its ties to Israel, particularly as the war goes on and as health officials in Gaza say more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the latest round of fighting.

ISRAEL URGES ITS CITIZENS TO RECONSIDER EUROVISION TRAVEL

JERUSALEM — Israel’s national security council has issued a warning urging people to reconsider travel to Malmo, Sweden, for the upcoming Eurovision song contest.

In a statement, the council described Malmo as “a focus for anti-Israel protests” that include calls to attack Israelis and the burning of Israeli flags.

“These developments raise the tangible concern that terrorists will exploit the protest and the anti-Israel atmosphere to carry out an attack on Israelis who will arrive for the Eurovision,” it said.

It said it considers travel to Malmo to pose a “moderate threat” and recommends that Israelis heading to the city “reconsider the necessity of the trip.”

It said the warning would remain in effect for the duration of the Eurovision contest — scheduled to run from May 7-11.

The war in Gaza has heightened tensions around Israel’s participation in Eurovision. Pro-Palestinian groups are expected to stage large protests in Malmo, and contest organizers say they reserve the right to remove any Palestinian flags or pro-Palestinian symbols at the show.

HAMAS DELEGATION TO GO TO EGYPT FOR MORE CEASE-FIRE TALKS

CAIRO — Hamas says it is sending a delegation to Cairo to continue cease-fire talks.

Hamas had been expected to deliver an answer to Egypt’s latest proposal as soon as Thursday.

In a statement, the group’s supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said he had spoken to Egypt’s intelligence chief and “stressed the positive spirit of the movement in studying the ceasefire proposal.”

The statement said Hamas negotiators would travel to Egypt as soon as possible “to complete the ongoing discussions with the aim of working forward for an agreement.”

The statement did not say when the delegation would travel.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR AND ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER TALK ABOUT HOSTAGE RELEASE AND CEASE-FIRE IN PHONE CALL

BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas and a cease-fire in a phone call Thursday, German government spokesperson Wolfgang Buechner said, without providing details.

Further improvements in the supply of humanitarian aid to people in Gaza was also a topic, Buechner said in an emailed statement.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Germany is the second-largest supplier of arms to Israel, behind the United States. It’s also among the countries that announced it would resume cooperation with the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians in Gaza after the publication of an independent review of its neutrality — a decision Israel’s Foreign Ministry had called “regrettable and disappointing.”

HEALTH MINISTRY ADDS 28 PEOPLE TO THE ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR DEATH TOLL IN GAZA

BEIRUT — The Gaza Health Ministry said Thursday the bodies of 28 people killed by Israeli strikes were brought to local hospitals over the past 24 hours. Hospitals also received 51 wounded, it said in its daily report.

That brings the overall Palestinian death toll from the Israel-Hamas war to at least 34,596, the ministry said, and 77,816 wounded. The Health Ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its tallies, but says that women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

The Israeli military says it has killed some 13,000 militants, without providing evidence to back up the claim.

FIGHTING IN GAZA HAS DESTROYED OVER 370,000 HOMES AND WILL TAKE UNTIL AT LEAST 2040 TO REPAIR, UN REPORT SAYS

AMMAN, Jordan — If the war in Gaza stopped today, it would still take until 2040 to rebuild all the homes that have been destroyed in nearly seven months of Israel’s bombardment and ground offensives in the territory, according to United Nations estimates released Thursday.

“Every additional day that this war continues is exacting huge and compounding costs to Gazans and all Palestinians” said United Nations Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner.

At least 370,000 housing units in Gaza have been damaged, including 79,000 destroyed completely, according to the new report by the UNDP and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which details how Israel’s assault, launched after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, has devastated the economy of the Palestinian territories, and how the impact will increase the longer the conflict goes on.

After previous Israel-Hamas conflicts, housing was rebuilt at a rate of 992 units year. Even if Israel allows a five-fold increase of construction material to enter Gaza, it would take until 2040 to rebuild the destroyed houses, without repairing the damaged ones, the report said.

In Gaza, the Israeli offensive has virtually shut down the economy, which contracted 81% in the last quarter of 2023. The report said the “productive basis of the economy has been destroyed,” with sectors experienced losses of more than 90%.

Gaza, home to some 2.3 million Palestinians, has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas’ 2007 takeover, putting tight controls on what enters and exits the territory. Even before the war, it faced “hyper-unemployment” of 45%, reaching nearly 63% among younger workers. Since the war began, it lost some 201,000 jobs.

The war has also impacted the West Bank, where for months Israel has imposed restrictions on movement. In 2024, the entire Palestinian economy — including both Gaza and the West Bank — has so far contracted 25.8%, and if the war continues the loss will reach 29% by July, equivalent to $7.6 billion, the report said.

HAMAS PRAISES COLOMBIA’S DECISION TO BREAK RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

BEIRUT — The militant Palestinian group Hamas praised Columbia’s announcement that it would break relations with Israel, saying such a move is a recognition of the suffering of Palestinian people.

In its statement Thursday, Hamas called on other leaders of Latin America to cut their countries’ diplomatic relations with Israel, which it described as “a rogue and Fascist entity that is continuing its crimes against our people.”

Historically, Colombia was one of Israel’s closest partners in Latin America. But relations between the two nations cooled since Gustavo Petro was elected as Colombia’s first leftist president in 2022.

Petro announced his government would break diplomatic relations with Israel effective Thursday, describing Israel’s siege of Gaza as “genocide.” He previously suspended purchases of weapons from Israel and compared that country’s actions in Gaza to those of Nazi Germany. Hamas said it valued Petro’s stance highly.

Weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that sparked the current war in Gaza and killed some 1,200 people, Petro recalled Colombia’s ambassador to Israel as he criticized the country’s military offensive.

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