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Jewish groups to hold virtual town hall meeting with lawmakers to discuss Israel-Hamas war

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make statements to the media.
Jacquelyn Martin
/
AP
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make statements to the media inside The Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, after their meeting in Tel Aviv, Thursday Oct. 12, 2023. President Joe Biden is dispatching his top diplomat to Israel on an urgent mission to show U.S. support after the unprecedented attack by Hamas militants.

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation and other Jewish groups invited South Florida members of Congress to join a virtual town hall Thursday to learn the latest U.S. efforts to support Israel’s fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and efforts to save more than 200 hostages taken by the terrorist organization.

The “Israel at War: A Town Hall Meeting” begins via Zoom at noon Thursday and ends at 1 p.m. Those interested in getting the Zoom link can register online.

Israeli ground troops advanced to “the gates of Gaza City” in heavy fighting with militants, the military said Wednesday, as hundreds of foreign nationals and dozens of seriously injured Palestinians were allowed to leave Gaza after more than three weeks under siege, according to The Associated Press.

The news came as U.S. President Joe Biden called for a humanitarian “pause” in the fighting. Biden was speaking at a Minneapolis campaign fundraiser when a protester interrupted him, calling for a cease-fire.

“I think we need a pause,” Biden responded. White House officials later said a break in fighting would allow more aid to get into Gaza and create a possibility for more hostages held by Hamas to be freed.

The first people to leave Gaza — other than four hostages released by Hamas and another rescued by Israeli forces — crossed into Egypt, escaping the territory’s growing misery as bombings drive hundreds of thousands from their homes, and food, water and fuel run low.

The U.S. State Department designated Hamas as a terrorist group in 1997. The European Union and other Western countries also consider it a terrorist organization.

Heavy airstrikes demolished apartment buildings for the second day in a row in the densely populated Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City. Al Jazeera television showed wounded people, including children, being brought to a hospital.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel and Jordan on Friday – his second trip to the region since the war was sparked by Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel. Blinken aims to reiterate U.S. support for Israel, but also to push to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Palestinians in Gaza.

More than 8,800 Palestinians have been killed in the war, mostly women and minors, and more than 22,000 people have been wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Wednesday, without providing a breakdown between civilians and fighters. The figure is without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during Hamas’ initial attack, also an unprecedented figure. Palestinian militants also abducted around 240 people during their incursion and have continued firing rockets into Israel. Sixteen Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the ground operation.

An estimated 800,000 Palestinians have fled south from northern Gaza following Israeli evacuation orders, but hundreds of thousands remain.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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