The Latest | Israel won’t accept Hamas demands after militant group rejects cease-fire plan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his government will not accept Hamas’ “delusional” conditions for a cease-fire in Gaza. The militant group rejected the latest truce proposal because it says Israel is ignoring the group’s core demands.

Hamas wants an end to the war and Israel’s full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Israel seeks to destroy Hamas and to recover all of the approximately 100 Israeli hostages still in Gaza, as well as the remains of some 30 others.

Netanyahu also rebuked Monday’s U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire. The council’s legally binding demand for a pause in the war comes as much of the Gaza Strip is in ruins, most of its 2.3 million residents are displaced, and a third of the besieged population is on the brink of famine.

More than 32,000 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 74,000 wounded, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally. The ministry says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Some 1,200 people were killed in Israel and another 250 people abducted when militants launched a surprise attack out of Gaza on Oct. 7, triggering the war.

Currently:

Israel and Hamas dig in as pressure builds for a cease-fire in Gaza

— With its soldiers mired in Gaza, Israel also fighting over drafting the ultra-Orthodox

— Lebanese Sunni militant group head says coordination with Shiite Hezbollah is vital to fight Israel

Pentagon urges Israel to protect civilians in Gaza as military chiefs meet

Colombia threatens to break ties with Israel if it doesn’t comply with UN cease-fire resolution

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

Here’s the latest:

RUSSIA PUSHES BACK AGAINST U.S. CLAIMS THAT U.N. CEASE-FIRE RESOLUTION IS NOT BINDING

UNITED NATIONS – Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations ambassador strongly criticized the claim by United States officials that Monday’s U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza is not legally binding.

Vassily Nebenzia got support from the U.N. deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, and both pointed to Article 25 of the United Nations Charter, its founding document, which says all members of the 193-nation organization “agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.”

Nebenzia quoted U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who said, “We fully support some of the objectives in this nonbinding resolution.” Her comments to the council came shortly after the cease-fire resolution was adopted 14-0, with the United States abstaining.

Nebenzia also cited U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby who said: “It’s a nonbinding resolution. So, there’s no impact at all on Israel and Israel’s ability to continue to go after Hamas.”

The Russian ambassador told the council’s monthly Mideast meeting that the U.S. — one of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council — “has essentially openly stated that it does not accept the Charter of our organization, disavowing the hard won fruits of discussions in the council, and including the hard won and historic resolution on a cease-fire in Gaza.”

Israel now has “complete carte blanche and is not planning to stop until it razes Gaza to the ground” with Washington’s blessing and despite a demand from the Security Council, Nebenzia said.

Haq, the deputy U.N. spokesman, told reporters Monday that, “All Security Council resolutions are international law.” On Tuesday, he held up the U.N. Charter saying the U.N. stands by Article 25.

As for implementation of the resolution, which also demanded the release of all Israeli hostages seized during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, Haq said implementing resolutions “takes time.”

“The enforcement of resolutions is something that is ultimately up to the international community as a whole,” Haq said.

ISRAELI MAN HELD HOSTAGE IN GAZA IS DECLARED DEAD, ADVOCACY GROUP SAYS

JERUSALEM — One of the Israeli hostages being held in Gaza has been confirmed killed, an advocacy group representing the hostages’ families said Tuesday.

It was not clear how Israeli authorities determined Uriel Baruch, 35, had been killed. Baruch was kidnapped from the Nova music festival during the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7.

Baruch is the latest hostage to be declared dead by Israeli authorities. Israel says 35 of the hostages remaining in the Gaza Strip are dead, either killed during Hamas’ initial attack or while in captivity.

Baruch, a techno music fan, leaves behind a wife and two children ages 8 and 5, according to the Hostages Families Forum.

As negotiations remain stalled on a deal to release the hostages and halt the war in Gaza, furious and desperate family members of hostages protested alongside supporters Tuesday evening, blocking the road outside of the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters by climbing inside large cages.

About 120 hostages were released during a temporary cease-fire in late November. Hamas-led militants took roughly 250 people into Gaza — among them men, women, children and older adults. About 100 people are believed to still be alive.

ISRAEL CONFIRMS AIRSTRIKE KILLED HAMAS NO. 3 COMMANDER IN GAZA

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military says it has confirmed that an airstrike earlier this month killed Marwan Issa, the deputy leader of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza who helped plan the Oct. 7 attack.

Issa is the highest-ranking Hamas leader to have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war. Israel has killed several top Hamas leaders over the years, only to see them quickly replaced with little apparent impact on the group’s operations.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Tuesday that intelligence verified Issa was killed when fighter jets struck an underground compound in central Gaza between March 9 and 10 where Issa and another Hamas commander, Aziz Abu Tamaa, were believed to be located.

Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq said the Israeli announcement was intended to distract from the military’s failure to achieve its war goals in Gaza. In a statement released online, he said Israel’s narrative about the killing was not trustworthy.

“The final say is the responsibility of the Qassam Brigade leadership,” he said, referring to Hamas’ armed wing.

Issa, born in 1965, was the deputy to Mohammed Deif, the shadowy longtime leader of Hamas’ military wing who is said to have survived several previous Israeli attempts on his life.

Yehya Sinwar is Hamas’ top leader in Gaza and the alleged mastermind of the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. He spent over two decades in Israeli prisons before being released along with more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captive Israeli soldier in 2011. Both Deif and Sinwar are believed to be alive in Gaza.

Israel says it has killed over 13,000 Hamas fighters since the start of the war, without providing evidence, and claims to have largely dismantled the group in northern Gaza. But Hamas has continued to carry out attacks on Israeli troops in all parts of the territory.

NETANYAHU SAYS ISRAEL WILL NOT ACCEPT HAMAS’ DEMANDS

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not accept Hamas’ demands for a cease-fire after the militant group rejected the latest proposal for a truce.

In a statement from his office Tuesday, Netanyahu accused Hamas of being uninterested in proceeding with negotiations toward a deal. He said Hamas’ rejection “served as unfortunate testimony to the damage of the Security Council decision,” which on Monday approved a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and the release of all hostages captured by Hamas, without linking the two.

In a statement late Monday, Hamas said it had informed mediators that it was sticking to its original position, which includes an end to the war and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Netanyahu said Israel would not give in to Hamas’ “delusional” demands and continue to work to destroy the militant group’s military and governing capabilities, as well as seek the release of the remaining hostages.

U.N. RESOLUTION EMBOLDENED HAMAS TO REJECT CEASE-FIRE, ISRAELI F.M. SAYS

JERUSALEM — The United Nations Security Council’s approval of a resolution calling for an immediate end to hostilities emboldened Hamas to reject the latest cease-fire proposal, Israel Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Tuesday.

Israel and Hamas are negotiating a cease-fire deal in exchange for the release of dozens of hostages still held by the militant group in Gaza. Hamas said late Monday that it was rejecting the latest proposal and sticking to its core demands, which include an end to the war and a full withdrawal from Gaza.

Katz told Israeli Army Radio that the U.N. resolution indicated to Hamas that international pressure was closing in on Israel and that it need only wait for the war to end through that pressure rather than agreeing to make any concessions.

“The message delivered to Hamas yesterday … is that you don’t have to hurry,” Katz said. He also criticized the United States, Israel’s top ally, for not vetoing the resolution over its lack of a condemnation of Hamas and its Oct. 7 attack.

HAMAS REJECTS THE LATEST CEASE-FIRE PROPOSAL, SAYING ISRAEL IS IGNORING KEY DEMANDS

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Hamas has rejected the latest cease-fire proposal, accusing Israel of ignoring its core demands, which include an end to the war and a full withdrawal from Gaza.

In a statement late Monday, the militant group said it had informed mediators that it was sticking to its original position, conveyed earlier in March. It said Israel had not responded to its core demands of a “comprehensive cease-fire, an (Israeli) withdrawal from the Strip, the return of displaced people and a real prisoner exchange.”

The statement came shortly after the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and the release of all hostages held in Gaza.

Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 hostages, as well as the remains of around 30 others. More than 100 hostages were freed during a weeklong cease-fire in November in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Hamas’ demands, calling them “delusional.” He has vowed to resume Israel’s offensive after any hostage release and keep fighting until Hamas is destroyed.

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