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Israel-Gaza live updates: Bodies of 3 hostages recovered from Gaza

Palestinians who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip ride with their belongings in the back of a truck, as they arrive to take shelter in Deir el-Balah in the central part of the Palestinian territory on May 12, 2024. - Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- As the Israel-Hamas war crosses the seven-month mark, renewed negotiations are underway to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist organization, as Israeli forces continue to prepare for an apparent invasion of the southern Gazan town of Rafah.

Here's how the news is developing:

May 17, 3:00 PM
Gaza assistance through US maritime corridor not replacement for aid through land: USAID

Humanitarian assistance shipments delivered to Gaza through the U.S.’ maritime corridor should not replace aid coming into the enclave through land crossings where "barely 100 trucks of aid a day" entered over the last two weeks -- about a sixth of the level needed to stave off famine -- USAID Administrator Samantha Power said in a statement Friday.

"Every moment that a crossing is not open, that trucks are not moving, or where aid cannot safely be distributed, increases the terrible human costs of this conflict," Power said.

Supplies coming into Gaza through the temporary pier Friday include contributions from the U.S., United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

But, the statement doesn’t say how much aid is now being moved through the corridor at this point or how much of it is sitting in Cyprus waiting to be shipped -- so it’s still unclear if and when these deliveries might have a substantial impact.

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford and Anne Flaherty

May 17, 2:00 PM
1,400 buildings have been damaged, destroyed in Rafah this month

Almost 1,400 buildings have likely been damaged or destroyed in Rafah, Gaza, since May 4, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by two university researchers.

Data from the radar-enabled Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite operated by the European Space Agency was used to analyze the effects of fighting on the terrain and buildings of Gaza, according to Corey Scher, of the CUNY Graduate Center, and Jamon Van Den Hoek, of Oregon State University.

Between May 4 and May 8, the researchers found evidence that 895 buildings were likely damaged or destroyed in Rafah. From May 8 to May 16 they counted 487.

Since Oct. 5, the researchers have found evidence of likely damage or destruction to 18,176 of the 48,678 buildings in Rafah.

-ABC News' Chris Looft

May 17, 12:01 PM
IDF recovers bodies of 3 hostages in overnight operation

The bodies of three hostages have been recovered, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The bodies of Shani Louk, Yitzhak Gelanter and Amit Buskila were recovered in an operation by the Shin Bet, Israel's security agency.

The hostages had escaped from the Nova Music Festival and were killed in the area of ​​Kibbutz Mefalsim and their bodies were taken to Gaza, according to the IDF.

"Our hearts go out to them, to the families, at this difficult time and we will leave no stone unturned, we will do everything in our power to find our hostages and bring them home," Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the IDF, said. "We will not rest until we do."

May 17, 11:30 AM
75 launches detected from Lebanon into Israel Friday, IDF says

After Israel killed a senior Hezbollah commander on Thursday, 75 launches were detected crossing from southern Lebanon into Israel on Friday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Dozens of the launches were intercepted and a launcher in the area of Yaroun was struck and dismantled, preventing more launches, according to the IDF.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

May 17, 7:02 AM
US CENTCOM says first trucks carrying aid have moved ashore via temporary pier

The United States Central Command (U.S. CENTCOM) has confirmed that the first trucks carrying humanitarian assistance have now moved ashore via the JLOTS temporary pier on Friday.

"Today at approximately 9 a.m. (Gaza time), trucks carrying humanitarian assistance began moving ashore via a temporary pier in Gaza," according to a U.S. CENTCOM statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. "No U.S. troops went ashore in Gaza. This is an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor that is entirely humanitarian in nature, and will involve aid commodities donated by a number of countries and humanitarian organizations."

May 16, 4:05 PM
Thai nationals taken hostage by Hamas declared dead

Two Thai nationals who were taken during the Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel have now been declared dead, according to the Hostages Families Forum Headquarters.

Officials now say Sonthaya Oakkharasri and Sudthisak Rinthalak were killed on the day of the invasion by Hamas and their bodies were taken back to Gaza, where they remain. Both were agricultural workers in the orchards near Kibbutz Be'eri, the Hostage Families Forum said.

"The horrific cruelty of Hamas was directed against anyone in their path without distinction of origin or nationality," Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, said in a statement. "In front of our eyes stands the moral duty to bring them all back –- to bring all 132 hostages home as quickly as possible."

Thirty-nine Thai citizens were killed and 31 Thai citizens were kidnapped to Gaza in the attack on Oct. 7. Large numbers of Thai nationals have traditionally done agricultural work in Israel.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

May 16, 3:09 PM
Floating pier in place off coast of Gaza, aid coming ashore soon

The floating pier system -- the U.S. military's Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, or JLOTS, capability -- is now in place off the coast of Gaza, the U.S. Central Command announced Thursday morning. Officials said they expect to begin transporting about 500 tons of assistance to shore "in coming days."

They said the expectation remains that between 90 and 150 truckloads a day of aid will flow into Gaza, but the officials called that characterization "an imperfect measure" and stressed it was more important to focus on the amount of tons of aid. There are currently 500 tons of aid waiting to be offloaded.

Security for U.S. forces and nongovernmental organizations participating in the JLOTS system is a top priority, officials said, adding the Israel Defense Forces will provide security at the point where the aid will arrive and be transferred to the U.N. and other NGOs.

But officials said the security for those working on bringing aid ashore could still be improved.

"The deconfliction measures are not where they need to be at, given the complexity of the environment," said Sonali Korde, assistant to the administrator of USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. "So those conversations are ongoing. They need to continue and they need to get to a place where humanitarian aid workers feel safe and secure and able to operate safely and I don't think we're there yet."

-ABC News' Luis Martinez

May 16, 11:22 AM
IDF confirms they sent more troops into Rafah

The Israel Defense Forces' Commando Brigade was deployed to southern Gaza’s Rafah overnight, joining the 162nd Division that has been operating in the eastern part of the city since earlier this month.

The move comes as the Israeli government is expected to approve widening the offensive there.

"Additional troops will join the ground operation in Rafah," Israel Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant said Thursday, in remarks after completing an operational situation assessment at the Gaza border in Rafah.

"Several tunnels in the area have been destroyed by our troops and additional tunnels will be destroyed soon. This activity will intensify," he said.

-ABC News' Jordana Miller and Will Gretsky

May 16, 7:14 AM
Floating pier designed to increase aid to Gaza now in place

A floating pier designed to increase the amount of aid getting into Gaza -- known as a Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) system -- was successfully anchored to the central Gazan shore on Thursday morning, according to IDF Spokesperson Nadav Shoshani.

The Israeli Navy will be securing an aid ship to JLOTS and Israeli soldiers from the 99th Division will be on the ground securing the port area, according to the IDF.

The United Nations, led by the World Food Programme, will be responsible for distributing the aid from JLOTS, the IDF said.

May 16, 6:53 AM
Putin and Xi discuss Ukraine, Israel and Hamas war

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping held several hours of talks on Thursday in China, with Putin saying both Russia and China want political solutions to the “Ukrainian crisis” and Xi calling for a two-state solution to stop the war between Israel and Hamas.

Xi also took a moment to praise China's “everlasting friendship” with Russia.

President Putin was welcomed with pomp expected on his state visit to China, complete with red carpet, military band and hundreds of Chinese militaries standing at attention to welcome him to the Great Hall of the People.

May 15, 1:14 PM
Israel has amassed enough troops for full-scale incursion of Rafah: US officials

The U.S. has assessed that Israel has amassed enough troops on the edge of Rafah to move forward with a full-scale incursion into the city, but the U.S. is not sure if Israel has made a final decision to actually do so, according to two U.S. officials.

One official added that the U.S. does not have a timeline or estimate on when Israel could potentially move forward with operations.

The official stressed the U.S. continues to have the same concerns for civilian safety in Rafah.

-ABC News' Luis Martinez and Selina Wang

May 15, 1:06 PM
Gallant calls on Netanyahu to publicly reject Israeli civil or military governance of Gaza after Hamas

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant publicly called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make the "tough" decision to declare what a non-Hamas government over the Gaza Strip will look like.

"I must reiterate, I will not agree to the establishment of Israeli military rule in Gaza. Israel must not establish civilian rule in Gaza," Gallant said.

Failure to do that would undermine the IDF achievements in the war, Gallant warned.

"Since October, I have been raising this issue consistently in the Cabinet, and have received no response. The end of the military campaign must come together with political action," Gallant said.

"The 'day after Hamas,' will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors, establishing a governing alternative to Hamas’ rule," Gallant said.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

May 15, 10:03 AM
Blinken calls continued closure of Rafah gate 'urgent problem'

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked how long the U.S. would standby while Israel continues to seal off the Rafah gate, cutting off Gaza from the world. Blinken told reporters it is an "urgent problem" that aid isn't getting into Rafah or Kerem Shalom. He also said the humanitarian situation is at risk of backsliding.

However, there’s no plan for the future, Blinken said.

Israel "cannot and says it does not want responsibility for Gaza. We cannot have Hamas controlling Gaza. We cannot have chaos and anarchy in Gaza. So there needs to be a clear, concrete plan. And we look to Israel to come forward with its ideas," Blinken said.

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty

May 14, 7:02 PM
US moving forward with $1B in new weapons deals for Israel: Sources

The Biden administration notified Congress on Tuesday that it is moving forward with more than $1 billion in new weapons deals for Israel, according to sources familiar with the matter at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday that the United States is continuing to send military assistance to Israel. The only shipment paused involves the 2,000-pound bombs, for fear they'd be used in a major invasion in Rafah, according to a U.S. official.

May 14, 12:52 PM
450,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah, UN says

About 450,000 Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah, fleeing to safety, according to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

"Inland in Rafah is now a ghost town. It’s hard to believe there were over one million people sheltering here just a week ago,” UNRWA spokesperson Louise Wateridge said. "People face constant exhaustion, hunger and fear. Nowhere is safe. An immediate ceasefire is the only hope."

The development comes as airstrikes continued to hit northern and southern Gaza Tuesday. The Israeli military said it had hit 120 targets in the last 24 hours.

May 14, 12:13 PM
International court to hold hearings over Israel's Rafah attacks

The International Court of Justice said it will hold hearings over Israel's attacks on Rafah during the war in Gaza, after South Africa sought new emergency measures as part of its ongoing case accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention in its offensive on Gaza.

Hearings will be held on Thursday and Friday in the Hague.

South Africa first brought the case before the ICJ in December alleging Israel violated its obligations in its offensive with regard to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

May 13, 4:16 PM
White House says world should be calling on Hamas to accept hostage proposal

National security adviser Jake Sullivan stressed the U.S. is working "urgently and relentlessly" to get a hostage deal in place, but did not have any major progress to share Monday.

Sullivan noted that he met with the families of American hostages this past Friday, and that "they know how hard the president is working on this."

On where the hostage negotiations stand currently, Sullivan turned to the architect of the Good Friday agreement in Ireland.

"Sen. [George] Mitchell said quite famously, "'Negotiations are 1,000 days of failure and one day of success.' And right now, we're in the former days rather than the latter day," he said.

"[T]here could be a cease-fire tomorrow if Hamas simply released women, wounded and elderly hostages, all innocents. Israel put a forward-leaning proposal on the table for a cease-fire and hostage deal. The world should be calling on Hamas to come back to the table and accept a deal," Sullivan said.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle

May 13, 4:06 PM
US aware of American doctors trapped in Gaza

The State Department on Monday said it was aware of reports that U.S. doctors were trapped in Gaza, and that it's been working with Israel to reopen the Rafah gate so U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals can leave.

"I can say that we're aware of these reports of U.S. citizen doctors and medical professionals currently unable to leave Gaza," principal deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said. "As I said before, we don't control this border crossing. And this is a incredibly complex situation that has very serious implications for the safety and security of U.S. citizens. But we're continuing to work around the clock with the government of Israel, with the government of Egypt, to work on this issue."

He added, "Rafah is a conduit for the safe departure of foreign nationals, which is why we continue to want to see it get opened as swiftly as possible."

The State Department said it does not have an estimate of Americans still trapped in Gaza, but that it's helped 1,800 U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to depart Gaza so far.

"Unfortunately, this is not a border crossing the United States controls but we are continuing to work around the clock with the government of Israel, with the government of Egypt on whatever we can do to make sure that Rafah gets open. … We need to see Rafah open as soon as possible," Patel said.

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty

May 13, 2:23 PM
UN worker killed after vehicle struck in Gaza

A United Nations worker was killed and another injured after their vehicle was struck in Gaza on Monday, the organization said.

The staff members of the U.N. Department of Safety and Security were traveling to the European Hospital in Rafah when their U.N. vehicle was struck, the U.N. said.

Details on the incident were not immediately available. The U.N. said it is still gathering information.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a full investigation, his spokesperson said.

"Humanitarian workers must be protected," Guterres said on X. "I condemn all attacks on U.N. personnel and reiterate my urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire & the release of all hostages."

More than 190 U.N. staff members have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Guterres.

May 13, 3:44 AM
Almost 360,000 people have fled Rafah, UN agency says

Almost 360,000 people have fled from the southern Gazan city of Rafah since Israel issued an evacuation order last week, the United Nations agency operating in Gaza said on Monday.

"There's nowhere to go," the U.N. Agency for Palestine Refugees said on social media. "There's NO safety without a cease-fire."

The agency had said Sunday that 300,000 people had evacuated the city as Israel weighs a full-scale invasion.

-ABC News' Kevin Shalvey

May 12, 5:39 PM
IDF say its opened new crossing for humanitarian aid into Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces has announced that it has opened a new crossing to bring humanitarian aid into the famine-stricken Gaza.

The military announced in a Sunday press release the opening of the "Western Erez crossing" between Israel and northern Gaza in coordination with the U.S.

According to the military, the new crossing is located west of the Erez crossing, closer to the seashore. The crossing was constructed by the Israeli military "as part of the effort to increase routes for aid to Gaza, particularly to the North of the strip."

Earlier Sunday, IDF said it launched a large-scale operation in the area of Jabaliya in the North, while intensifying its military operations in the Eastern portion of Rafah and the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing. It said that it had called on the civilian population to evacuate from Jabaliya to shelters in the west part of Gaza City.

-ABC News' Dragana Jovanovic

May 12, 2:27 PM
White House National Security Advisor speaks to Israeli counterpart, expresses concern over pending Rafah invasion

In a phone call Sunday with his Israeli counterpart, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressed an "ironclad U.S. commitment" to Israel but also voiced the Biden administration's concerns about Israel's major military operations in Gaza, according to the White House.

During the call with Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, Sullivan reiterated President Joe Biden's "longstanding concerns over the potential for a major military ground operation into Rafah, where over one million people have taken shelter," according to a readout of the call that was released by the White House.

"He [Sullivan] discussed alternative courses of action to ensure the defeat of Hamas everywhere in Gaza," the readout said. "Mr. Hanegbi confirmed that Israel is taking U.S. concerns into account."

The White House said Sullivan also expressed condolences on Israel's Memorial Day, the first since Hamas' surprise Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. The Hamas attack killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israel's Prime Minister's Office.

Sullivan and Hanegbi also reviewed discussions by officials on both sides of the war about alternatives for a Rafah invasion and agreed to plan an in-person meeting soon, according to the White House.

-ABC News' Michelle Stoddart

May 12, 6:16 AM
300,000 have fled Rafah, UN agency says

More than 300,000 people have fled Rafah in the week since Israel issued a partial evacuation order, the United Nations agency operating in Gaza said on Sunday.

The U.N. Agency for Palestine Refugees called the evacuation "forced and inhumane."

"There is nowhere safe to go," the agency said on social media, repeating the phrase three times for emphasis.

The Israeli military late Saturday called again for civilians to evacuate from much of the eastern part of the city, which is in southern Gaza.

Israel Defense Forces entered Rafah last week, in what they called a "precise" operation ahead of potential invasion.

"Prior to our operations we urge civilians to temporarily move towards humanitarian areas and move away from the crossfire that Hamas puts them in," the Israel Defense Forces said on a post on Telegram. "Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza."

-ABC News' Dragana Jovanovic and Kevin Shalvey

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Inside Gaza's mental health crisis impacting civilians, aid workers: 'Catastrophic'

Getty Images - STOCK

(GAZA) -- A "catastrophic" mental health crisis has unfolded in Gaza, affecting both civilians and humanitarian workers, amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to international aid organizations.

Since Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, and Israel responded by declaring war, more than 35,173 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 79,061 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 1,700 Israelis have been killed and more than 8,700 have been injured, according to Israeli officials.

The physical toll of the war has been documented in photographs and videos with Gazans suffering from severe injuries, including the loss of limbs, and malnutrition due to the shortage of food and clean water, as well as a "full-blown famine" that has struck northern Gaza.

But the war has taken a mental and emotional toll too, with fear and anxiety gripping adults and children alike and hidden scars that will likely last for decades, aid workers told ABC News.

They added that if Israel launches a full-blown ground offensive in Rafah, the city on the Gaza-Egypt border, the humanitarian effort, including the mental health response, will likely collapse.

The mental health crisis is "already catastrophic … and it keeps getting worse and worse," Dr. Audrey McMahon, a psychiatrist with Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), who was the mental health activities manager based in Jerusalem until March, told ABC News. "Gaza has become an unlivable place. It's just unfathomable. The foundation of mental health is security, is safety, something that you can predict; they don't have that."

Studies show mental health effects of war
There is not much data documenting the mental health crisis among Gazans during the war, but studies of past conflicts have shown the effects of living in war-torn areas.

At least 10% of those who experience traumatic events in armed conflict will have serious mental health problems and another 10% "will develop behavior that will hinder their ability to function effectively," according to the World Health Organization in a review of research findings.

The most common conditions experienced are anxiety, depression and psychosomatic problems including insomnia and back and stomach aches, the WHO said.

In a study that looked at the psychological consequences of war trauma on women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, researchers found those exposed to serious war and traumatic events experienced more post-traumatic symptoms.

Another joint U.K.-Croatia study from 2017 looking at severe war-related trauma found that those exposed to such trauma were at risk of "interpersonal dysfunction 15 years after people were exposed to an armed conflict."

Most recently, a study published in The Lancet found in the first month of the Russian-Ukrainian war in March 2022, the first survey of Ukrainians' mental health showed 53% of Ukrainian adults were experiencing severe mental distress, 54% were experiencing anxiety, and 47% were experiencing depression. Six months into the war, 26% of parents still in Ukraine had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 15% had developed complex PTSD.

In one of the only estimates available, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says it believes almost all children in Gaza are in need of mental health and psychosocial support. Children under age 15 make up half of Gaza's population of 2.2 million people, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

Aid workers say Gaza is different than other regions of armed conflict because there are no safe zones and, unlike other war-torn areas, few people have been allowed to leave.

"Children have experienced not just one traumatic event, but what we call compound trauma, so traumatic event after traumatic event," Tess Ingram, a UNICEF spokesperson who was in Gaza three weeks ago, told ABC News. "And that's something we rarely, if ever, see because if you think about another conflict, a child might experience a traumatic event and then be able to flee to safety. But in the case of Gaza, children are trapped, and there's nowhere for them to go that is safe."

'A breach of childhood'
Because children make up such a large portion of Gaza's population, they have been disproportionately affected by the war and, in turn, the mental health crisis, experts said.

Davide Musardo, a psychologist and mental health activity manager for MSF currently in Rafah, said during one of his first days at the Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, he came across a 10-year-old girl who had experienced burns due to the heavy fighting and screaming that she couldn't breathe.

"She was clearly in a panic attack," he said. "We start[ed] to recognize that every time that she has to do medical care, she was experiencing the pain of what she lived."

Musardo said he's seen many children in Gaza have acute stress reactions, suffering from panic attacks or screaming even if they are sedated. Other children may be so traumatized by what they have experienced, such as the loss of a parent, that they will shut down and not express any type of emotion, he said.

Ingram said during her most recent trip to Gaza in April, parents told her their children were becoming withdrawn: speaking less, playing less and sleeping less.

"That is describing a higher level of anxiety among their children, who had -- in many cases -- been displaced several times and understood that where they were currently wasn't safe," she said.

She said she met one boy, about age 9 or 10, at a hospital in Rafah who, during a previous military operation, had been badly injured and lost his father. Since that incident, he has not spoken much. The boy had been diagnosed with depression and PTSD, and his sister, a young woman in her early 20s, was the one explaining the boy's condition to Ingram.

For adults experiencing mental health issues, the main intervention is talk therapy, but, for children, Musardo said the main goal is to make their lives feel as normal as possible. He said his team at MSF mainly organizes play-based activities for children such as parties, listening to music and watching movies.

For the child who was screaming that she couldn't breathe, Musardo said he started to work and play with her, giving her a nurse's uniform and a doctor's pen, calling her "doctor" as a way to try and control her panic attacks. He said that as the days passed, she was able to calm herself down and experience fewer panic attacks.

McMahon said one team at MSF also wrote a storybook on grief and how to deal with grief when losing so many family members and friends.

"When we're able to offer a space, like ... a safe space to play, we do that a lot with younger patients," she said. "It's not always possible to play. Some children are not able to play anymore, and that's a very worrying sign for their development, for their mental health, and they haven't been to school in six months. It's just the breach of childhood, really."

Aid workers' mental health also worsens
Gaza's health care workers have also seen their mental health suffer over the past seven months. Many have been risking their lives to provide medical care, often with limited supplies.

McMahon said many MSF medical staff in Gaza are working under intense psychological strain. Some have been trapped in hospitals during Israeli raids and have to decide whether to leave patients behind or save their own lives, leading to feelings of distress and guilt.

"They are in an impossible situation," said McMahon. "Depending on who you talk to, they both feel like they are somehow heroes in the sense of doing the impossible and yet still offering care, but, at the same time, they are put in situations where they need to make choices that are extremely difficult."

She continued, "Like, do you choose between someone coming with an open wound bleeding that you need to do surgery quickly, or a child that is acutely malnourished and struggling to stay alive? And, like, both are in a dire situation. Who do you choose? And they are faced with that all the time."

Musardo said he has seen medical staff affected while treating patients during the war and part of his role is to provide support, both in giving them materials on how to self-care and letting them know he's there if they want to talk. He said staff members often come see him during the night shifts in the hospital, when it is calmer.

Many medical workers in the area are Gazans themselves and, therefore, are suffering from the same problems as many civilians.

McMahon said one staff member reported they couldn't go to work one day because they hadn't been able to find food or water for their children for the past three days and needed to prioritize searching. "That's the situation of medical staff," she added.

Looming threat of Rafah invasion
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets and sent text messages in Arabic on May 6, calling for about 100,000 people to evacuate the eastern part of Rafah and to head north to the Al-Mawasi humanitarian corridor as airstrikes began. Since then, nearly 600,000 people have evacuated Rafah, the U.N. said Wednesday.

The U.S. has assessed Israel has amassed enough troops on the edge of Rafah to move forward with a full-scale incursion into the city, but the U.S. is not sure if Israel has made a final decision to actually do so, two U.S. officials told ABC News on Wednesday.

If Israel does launch a full-scale incursion in Rafah, it will be "catastrophic for mental health," Ingram, from UNICEF, said.

"Over the past seven months, there's already been an enormous impact on children's mental health and every day that this continues to go on, it gets worse and our ability to treat children's mental health, when they're continuing to be in a situation that is unsafe, is nearly impossible," she said.

"While the fighting continues, not only does the trauma compound, but our ability to come in and try and help respond to that trauma is incredibly limited," she continued. "So, an offensive in Rafah would have an enormous impact from both of those angles, in terms of escalating the problem while continuing to limit the response."

Experts said their organizations and several others have been calling for a cease-fire for the fighting to end, the hostages being held in Gaza to be released and more aid to enter the strip.

Additionally, they say a cease-fire is the only way for Gazans to begin to address the emotional and mental scars they carry from the war.

"The scars, they will be long lasting and for life," McMahon said. "What has been and is still going on is utterly horrific, utterly abnormal. .... A war is potentially traumatizing for everyone. But again, the kind of systematic attacks on civilians, on children, this really impacts your view of the world, your sense of humanity, and this is extremely [difficult] to change or heal afterwards."

ABC News' Luis Martinez and Selina Wang contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Why climate migration in Brazil has become a global crisis

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(BRAZIL) -- "It is absolutely, absurdly, extraordinarily serious what is happening in Rio Grande do Sul right now -- and unfortunately, it will get worse," Brazilian state governor Eduardo Leite said during a press conference at the onset of what has become the most severe climate catastrophe to impact the region.

Persistent rains and destructive flooding in the southern Brazilian state have left 150 people dead, 2.1 million affected, 620,000 residents displaced and 807 people injured, according to civil defense officials.

Harrowing images from the region show a once-vibrant city and abundant farmlands completely underwater.

The Guaíba River in Porto Alegre, the capital city of Rio Grande do Sul, could reach unprecedented levels of over 18 feet in the coming days, according to local officials.

Officials estimate recovering the southern state could mean building entirely new cities, begging the question, when an extreme weather event leaves your home uninhabitable, where do you go?

"We have a series of challenges and we cannot rule out having to remove entire cities from where they are, that is, rebuild cities in other locations," Rio Grande do Sul vice-governor Gabriel Souza said told local media on Thursday.

On Thursday, Jairo Jorge, the mayor of Canoas, a city in Rio Grande, told local media that currently 19,000 residents are in 79 shelters and 80,000 people have evacuated to the homes of relatives and friends in higher land.

"Most climate-driven migration and displacement will be internal," Alex Randall, head of programs at Climate Outreach and specialist in climate-driven migration, told ABC News, adding, "As climate-driven disasters become more regular and more extreme, inevitably more people will be displaced by those events."

What is climate migration?
Climate migration, or climate-related mobility, refers to the sudden or gradual displacement of individuals due to changes in the environment affecting their living conditions, according to the United Nations International Organization for Migration.

According to the Migration Data Portal, at least 7.7 million people in 82 countries and territories are living in internal displacement as a result of climate disasters.

In the years ahead, up to 216 million people could become internal climate migrants by 2050, according to estimates from the World Bank organization, which works to fight poverty with 189 member countries.

"This is one of many warning signs," Lawrence Huang, policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute, told ABC News of the ongoing flooding in Brazil. "There's such a wide range of things we call climate migration, some of it is voluntary, some of it is forced. And in some cases, that's when entire communities become unlivable or uninhabitable and are forced to relocate."

Instances of mass climate migration were seen in the aftermath of the 2022 monsoon floods in Pakistan, where over 1.5 million people remained displaced in the country through the end of 2023, according to the U.N.

Socioeconomic stress in Pakistan combined with the environmental disaster led to an increase in residents seeking asylum in Europe, though most climate migration remains internal, Huang said.

From severe drought in East Africa to raging wildfires in Canada, the force of climate migration comes in many forms -- but it's often the most vulnerable communities who suffer the most, according to Huang.

"We know that when disasters happen, the wealthy are able to evacuate, and they're able to rebuild elsewhere, so it's often the low and moderate-income people who don't have the capacity," Huang said. "And we saw this in the U.S. with Hurricane Katrina."

In August 2005, the category 3 hurricane made landfall in southeast Louisiana, killing 1,833 people, displacing 1 million residents and leading to 3 million individuals registering for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance.

"In the U.S., race and poverty are deeply connected," Randall said. "So it is far more likely that racialized communities will experience more extreme displacement situations in the face of climate-driven disasters."

Marking one of the most staggering natural disasters in American history, the warnings of Hurricane Katrina are just as pivotal in the present day as ever.

In terms of public opinion toward climate migration, Huang believes, "We need to do a lot more work to communicate with people and explain to them that this is the way migration works."

"We are going to see increased instability and increased mobility, internally within the U.S. and across the rest of the world, as the impacts of climate change worsen," Huang said.

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Slovakian prime minister's condition stabilizes after assassination attempt

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico walks during the European Council summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on April 18, 2024. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

(LONDON) -- Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico's condition has been stabilized overnight following an assassination attempt, although his condition is still serious, his deputy said early Thursday.

Fico, 59, was shot five times on Wednesday outside a government building in the town of Handlova, according to Slovakian Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok.

Doctors worked overnight to stabilize his condition, with two medical teams working on him. He spent about five hours in surgery.

The complicated nature of his injuries means he's still considered to be in serious condition, his deputy said Thursday.

The suspect, who has not been named, has been charged with premeditated murder, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tomas Taraba.

Taraba described the suspect as a "lone wolf" and said he was only recently radicalized following the country's presidential election in April.

Fico took over as prime minister in October, running on a platform to end support for neighboring Ukraine in its battle against Russia, but had served as prime minister two times previously. In total, he's the longest-serving prime minister in the country's short history since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

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Rwanda genocide tribunal comes to end after almost three decades

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(LONDON) -- The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has officially concluded after 29 years, the Office of the Prosecutor has announced.

It comes as the last two fugitives indicted by the tribunal -- Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo -- were successfully accounted for, ultimately confirmed as deceased.

Ryandikayo and Sikubwabo were charged with several crimes including counts of genocide and the two were accused of leading mobs of the Interhamwe Hutu militia.

“My Office and I are pleased that today, this work has been brought to a successful end,” said International Residual Mechanism for Criminal tribunals (IRMCT) Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz.

The IRMCT told ABC News that a total of 92 persons were indicted by the UN tribunal for crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis.

Reflecting on the work of the last 29 years, Brammertz said the ICTR team faced "immense" difficulties and "significant" challenges tracking and locating fugitives, ranging from "sophisticated efforts by fugitives to conceal their identities and locations" and "political unwillingness of countries to execute arrests."

“Many began to doubt that notorious fugitives, like Felicien Kabuga or Ratko Mladić, would ever be arrested,” said Brammertz.

The U.S. State Department had issued a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Felicien Kabuga, the businessmen alleged to be the main financier and backer of political and militia groups that committed the Rwandan genocide.

However, after 25 years on the run, he was arrested by French authorities at his home on the outskirts of Paris in May 2020.

The U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was the first international court established to prosecute high-ranking individuals for massive human rights violations in Africa, including those responsible for the 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsis -- one of the world’s worst genocides since World War II.

The Rwandan genocide, which began in April 1994, saw Rwanda’s extremist-led Hutu government launch a systemic campaign on the Tutsi minority group as divisions between the two ethnic groups came to a head. The violence began after a plane carrying Rwanda’s Hutu President, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down by unknown assailants.

By the time the genocide concluded about 100 days later in July 1994, the massacre had claimed the lives of over 800,000 civilians with thousands more left injured or maimed.

“Our journey has been long and tough,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame in his address at the 30th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in April -- also known as Kwibuka 30 -- which means "To remember" in Kinyarwanda.

“Rwanda’s tragedy is a warning. The process of division and extremism which leads to genocide can happen anywhere, if left unchecked,” Kagame said. "Our hearts are filled with grief and gratitude in equal measure. We remember our dead, and are also grateful for what Rwanda has become.”

In total, there are still more than 1,000 genocide suspects sought by authorities who still remain at large, said Brammertz.

Rwanda’s Prosecutor General national partners are set to continue efforts to bring individuals to justice, vowing to not stop until all perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice.

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US soldier detained in Russia 'admitted guilt,' state media reports

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(LONDON) -- Gordon Black, the U.S. soldier detained in Russia, has "admitted guilt" on a charge of theft, according to TASS, a state-owned news service.

Black was said to be "cooperating" with Russia's investigation into the alleged theft, TASS reported on Thursday.

"The accused admitted guilt and is cooperating with the investigation. This is happening in English through an interpreter," TASS reported, quoting a representative of local law enforcement agencies.

Black was detained in Vladivostok, Russia, earlier this month on charges of criminal misconduct, according to the U.S. Army. His detention is expected to last until at least July 2, according to the court. His lawyer had appealed his detention last week.

Two U.S. officials told ABC News this month that Black, a staff sergeant, had been stationed in South Korea before going on temporary leave. He was not granted permission to travel to Russia, the officials said.

Black had traveled to Russia to visit his girlfriend, the 35-year-old's mother, Melody Jones, told ABC News' Good Morning America last week.

TASS reported on Thursday that Black and the woman had a disagreement while he was visiting her in Vladivostok, a far-eastern city near the borders with China and North Korea.

"After Black left, his friend discovered the missing money and turned to law enforcement for help," TASS reported. "The police found the suspect in the theft in one of the city hotels."

Black had purchased a return flight, the outlet said.

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American woman charged after ammunition found in baggage in Turks and Caicos: Police

Turks and Caicos officers stand outside a police station. (ABC News/Nightline)

(NEW YORK) -- Police in Turks and Caicos have charged an American woman with ammunition possession -- a crime that carries a minimum penalty of 12 years -- after airport officials alleged they found illegal ammunition in her luggage.

Sharitta Shinise Grier, 45, of Orlando, Florida, was visiting Turks and Caicos with her daughter for Mother's Day when, during a routine search at the Howard Hamilton International Airport Monday, officials claim to have found two rounds of ammunition in her bag, police said.

Grier and her daughter were both arrested, though the daughter was later released.

Officials confirmed Wednesday the mother had been charged. She is expected in court on Thursday, officials said. Attorney information for the defendant wasn't immediately available.

Two years ago, the Turks and Caicos government tightened their gun laws and prohibited civilian firearms or ammunition. If convicted, offenders are sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison.

It is illegal to transport firearms or ammunition to or from any of the Caribbean countries without a license, according to U.S. laws.

She is the fifth American to be charged under Turks and Caicos' gun laws this year.

Grier's arrest and charging comes as several U.S. governors released a letter asking the Caribbean island's governor to release three men who have been jailed for weeks over similar charges.

Ryan and Valerie Watson of Oklahoma were arrested on April 24 after hunting ammunition was found in Ryan Watson's carry-on bag before they flew home. Valerie Watson's charges were dropped, and she was allowed to fly back to the U.S.

Her husband was released on $15,000 bond but remains on the island as his court case continues.

Ryan Watson told ABC News he didn't know the ammunition was in the bag.

Bryan Hagerich, of Pennsylvania, is awaiting sentencing on the island after pleading guilty to possession of 20 rounds of ammunition.

Hagerich, who was arrested in February, told ABC News he forgot hunting ammunition was in his bag while he was traveling.

"I'm a man of character, integrity. I did not have intent in this," Hagerich previously said.

Michael Lee Evans, 72, of Texas, also pleaded guilty to possession of seven 9mm rounds of ammunition in his luggage and is awaiting sentencing.

Tyler Scott Wenrich, 31, was charged on April 23 when officials found illegal ammunition during a checkpoint on Turks and Caicos while he was traveling on a cruise, investigators said.

The incidents have sparked calls from the defendants' families and U.S. officials who allege the island's laws and penalties are too strict.

On Wednesday, Governors Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia sent a joint letter to Turks and Caicos Gov. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam to release Watson, Hagerich and Wenrich.

"This action will create the necessary recognition of your laws that will impact the future actions of travelers and continue our mutual interest in justice and goodwill between our jurisdictions," the letter read.

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Wildfire smoke could impact US again as Canada braces for another fiery summer

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(NEW YORK) -- With numerous wildfires burning across Canada, including about 40 that remain out of control, meteorologists said conditions are stacking up for a replay of last year's fire season when thick smoke wafted down to the United States, turning the skies over New York City orange and its air quality hazardous.

More than 130 wildfires are now burning in multiple provinces of Canada, mostly in the western part of the country, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.

Earlier this week, smoke from the Canadian wildfires drifted across the border into the United States, prompting Minnesota officials to issue the state's first air quality alert of 2024.

"As of right now, it is very hot, it is very dry. Parts of northern Alberta, northern British Columbia and the southwestern and northwestern territories are experiencing some significant fires as a result of very, very dry conditions," Jennifer Smith, the national warning preparedness meteorologist for the Meteorological Service of Canada, told ABC News. "These conditions are expected to continue into the spring and summer season."

She said Canada had one of its warmest winters on record with low to non-existent snow in many areas.

Asked if smoke from the fires could again carry down to the East Coast of the United States, Smith said, "Absolutely."

"It's entirely possible," she went on. "It all depends if the forest fires develop in those regions, and then you'll need winds to be aligned with the timing for the fires for that smoke to [drift] south into the United States. So, a couple of things have to come together for it to happen, but it is not impossible."

Canada recorded its most destructive wildfire season on record in 2023 when more than 7,100 blazes burned more than 42 million acres of wildland.

Last May and June, smoke from the wildfires burning near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the eastern side of Canada, sent plumes of smoke across the border and down the Eastern Seaboard, cloaking New York City and the Tri-State area in an orange haze for days, prompting residents to wear face masks outdoors and leaving New York City and other metropolises like Detroit with some of the worst air quality in the world.

"It was an unlucky combination of events that came together that allowed the smoke to funnel into the United States and be seen and experienced so vividly," Smith said.

Kristina Dahl, the principal climate scientist at the Union for Concern Scientists, a U.S. nonprofit science advocacy organization, told ABC News that back-to-back years of drought across much of Canada is prompting an early start to the fire season. She also said many of the fires are being brought on by "zombie fires," which are fires that were never fully put out and reignited this month with the return of warmer weather.

"These are fires that have embers that are smoldering over the course of the winter. Rain could help to alleviate that, but if it's dry you're not fully putting those fires out during the season when firefighters are taking a well-deserved rest," Dahl said.

Dahl said the lack of precipitation from the extreme drought is also causing dry lightning strikes that are sparking wildland fires in remote areas that are inaccessible to fire crews.

"That's the same setup as we had last year when there were record-breaking fires across the country," Dahl said.

Dahl said the difference between last year's fire season and what is occurring now is that more fires were burning in the eastern part of the county.

"So far from what I've seen this year, we still are having more of a western fire situation. We're not seeing the level of fires that we were seeing last year in the eastern provinces," Dahl said. "But it's still early in the wildfire season, and the forecast for the next few months from the Canadian government there's above average fire weather risk for much of the country."

Dahl added, "It remains to be seen what will happen with eastern Canada. But whether it's in the west or the east, because of atmospheric circulation patterns, the smoke can come into the United States."

Smith said another "unique weather pattern" that occurred last year was the sustained high winds that fanned the flames and drew smoke into the U.S.

"Quebec and Ontario do see their share of forest fires each summer, but the prevailing wind or the direction the winds typically travel in that part of the country is to the east or the northeast," said Smith, adding that last year the weather pattern held in place long enough to allow the smoke to move south into New York and other parts of the U.S.

Smith said a cooler weather system is moving into the Alberta and British Columbia areas this week and could bring "a little bit of precipitation."

She added, "But with it comes the risk of thunderstorms as well. There's also a chance of some gusty winds which might make things worse."

One of the biggest fires is burning in British Columbia near the town of Fort Nelson, which has been evacuated. That fire, which started Friday, has spread to more than 32 square miles and is also threatening the Fort Nelson Indian Reserve, officials said.

Dahl said the Canadian wildfires are the result of climate change and signals the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and cause global warming.

"What all our climate models show is that the more we warm the planet the worse the fires are going to get," Dahl said. "When we're thinking about what we need to do and what we can do to address the problem of worsening wildfires, we really need to be thinking with that long-term hat on. It's going to benefit our children and our grandchildren if we make those emission cuts starting now."

ABC News' Daniel Manzo and Kenton Gewecke contributed to this report.

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Slovakian prime minister in life-threatening condition after assassination attempt

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(NEW YORK) -- Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot in the abdomen in an assassination attempt outside a government building in the town of Handlova on Wednesday, according to a government official.

Fico, 59, was raced to a hospital in Handlova in life-threatening condition, officials said. He was conscious following the shooting, government officials said at a press conference.

Several shots rang out, officials said. A suspect was immediately swarmed and arrested at the scene.

"I am shocked, we are all shocked by the terrible and malicious attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico," Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova said in an address to the nation. "Something serious has happened that we can't even realize yet. A physical attack on the prime minister is primarily an attack on a person, but it is also an attack on democracy. Any violence is unacceptable. The hateful rhetoric we witness in society leads to hateful acts. Please, let's stop it."

Caputova said the alleged attacker has been arrested and "will surely bring more information when possible."

"Until then, please don't make quick judgments, and think about the most important thing: and that's the only thing at the moment -- that Robert Fico recovers as quickly as possible," she added.

The U.S. Embassy in Slovakia said in a statement: "Ambassador Gautam Rana, as well as the entire team of the US Embassy in Slovakia, are shocked and horrified by the attack on the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Robert Fico. Our thoughts are with him, his family and the Slovak people. We strongly condemn this attack and reject any form of violence. The United States is ready to provide any assistance."

President Joe Biden condemned the attack and said the U.S. Embassy is in "close touch with the government of Slovakia and ready to assist."

"Jill and I are praying for a swift recovery, and our thoughts are with his family and the people of Slovakia," he said in a statement. "We condemn this horrific act of violence."

Neighboring countries, such as the Czech Republic, which borders Slovakia to the west, reacted to the assassination attempt on social media.

"The news about the shooting of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is shocking," Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a statement. "I wish the prime minister to get well as soon as possible. We must not tolerate violence, it must have no place in society."

Fico took over as prime minister in October 2023, but had previously served in the same capacity from 2006 to 2010 and 2012 to 2018.

Fico has generated controversy for taking a staunch position against providing aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Slovakia shares an eastern border with Ukraine and had taken in 1.8 million refugees from Ukraine through Nov. 21, 2023, according to data collected by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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What to know about the deadly escape of French prisoner 'The Fly'

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(LONDON) -- A manhunt involving hundreds of law enforcement officers continued Wednesday for a fugitive prisoner dubbed "The Fly" and accomplices wielding machine guns who facilitated the convicted criminal's escape by ambushing a prison transport van at a toll booth and gunning down two guards, authorities said.

The international police organization Interpol issued a worldwide red alert for the fugitive identified by authorities as 30-year-old Mohmed Amra after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said authorities are concerned that Amra has fled the country.

"We are investing considerable resources, we are making a lot of progress," Damanin said in an interview with the French radio broadcaster RTL.

French President Emmanuel Macron stated on the social media site X: "Everything is being done to find the perpetrators of this crime."

"We will be uncompromising," Macron added, describing the escape as a "shock to us all."

The escape unfolded Tuesday at a toll booth near Rouen, about 85 miles north of Paris, as a white prison van transporting Amra from court to a penitentiary was ambushed, according to French authorities.

The attack was captured on security video, officials said.

 At least five prison officers were escorting Amra when their van was rammed head-on by a stolen car at the toll booth and men wearing balaclavas to conceal their faces opened fire on the van with automatic weapons, authorities said.

Two of the officers were killed and three were wounded as the assailants hustled Amra, a suspected drug gang leader, from the van to a waiting vehicle that whisked him from the scene, officials said.

The attack lasted just two minutes, French media reported.

As hundreds of law enforcement officers combed the country for Amra and his accomplices, investigators reviewed CCTV video from dozens of security cameras near the toll booth in an attempt to identify those involved in the daring escape. The attack was also captured by dashboard cameras of vehicles nearby, officials said.

Amra was convicted on May 10 of burglary by a court in Evreuz and was being held at the Val de Reuil Prison, according to Laure Beccuau of the Paris Prosecutor's Office. Beccuau told reporters that Amra had also been indicted recently in a kidnapping that resulted in a homicide.

Amra's defense lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told the French television station BFMTV that the escape came less than a week after Amra was caught attempting to break out of prison by sawing the bars of his cell.

Vigier called Tuesday's violent escape "inexcusable" and "insane."

"This does not correspond to the impression that I had of him," Vigier told BFMTV.

The escape was the most brazen to occur in France since 2018 when notorious gangster Redoine Faid broke out of the Réau prison by a helicopter that was hijacked and whose pilot was forced to land in the prison courtyard by heavily armed accomplices. Faid was recaptured about three months after the prison break.

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US to send additional $2 billion in Ukraine aid, Blinken says

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(NEW YORK) -- The United States will provide an additional $2 billion in aid to Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday during a press conference in Kyiv with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The foreign military financing will be used not only for purchasing weapons from the U.S., but also by Ukraine as it invests in manufacturing its own machinery and weapons, Blinken said. Ukraine will also use some of the funding to purchase weapons from other countries, he said.

"All of this -- in particular as we think about the defense industrial base -- builds on an incredible spirit of innovation, of ingenuity, of entrepreneurship that we see here in Ukraine," Blinken said.

The deal for the latest aid comes as Russian forces increase their assaults along the front lines in northern and eastern Ukraine.

Blinken on Wednesday said the United States is "rushing" much of the military aid in the $60 billion package President Joe Biden approved in April.

"The $60 billion supplemental, we know, is coming at a critical time," he said. "Ukraine is facing this renewed brutal Russian onslaught, and we see again senseless strikes on civilians and residential buildings."

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Deadly clashes intensify in El Fasher, Darfur, amid international calls for end to Sudan civil war

Newly arrived refugees from Darfur in Sudan sit on a vehicle before being taken to a new camp on April 24, 2024 in Adre, Chad. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(LONDON) -- Fighting between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group and allied militias has intensified in El Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state.

In a dramatic escalation of violence, fighting has broken out in the north and east of El Fasher -- also commonly known as Al Fashir -- with the sound of airstrikes, artillery fire and heavy weapons ringing from mid-morning on Friday into the weekend.

At least 27 people have been killed in the renewed fighting and at least 130 people injured, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

An estimated 850 people across various locations in El Fasher have also been displaced by the most recent clashes, with many people fleeing southward, the U.N. said in an alert.

The violence comes as the U.S. warned of a looming offensive on El Fasher -- one of the only remaining cities in the Sudanese Army's control -- by the RSF Paramilitary group and allied militias.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said he is "gravely concerned" by the escalating violence in El Fasher, expressing alarm at the "use of heavy weapons in densely populated areas" that have resulted in dozens of civilian casualties and "significant" displacement and destruction of infrastructure.

Around 800,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in the besieged city -- which was a key humanitarian hub and safe refuge to hundreds of thousands already displaced by the conflict. As militants encircle the city, U.N. Relief Chief Martin Griffiths warned the situation is at a "tipping point": "Countless lives are at stake."

An airstrike by the SAF over the weekend near the Babiker Nahar Paediatric Hospital's Intensive Care Unit caused the hospital's roof to collapse, killing three people, including two children, according to a statement from Médecins Sans Frontières, which is known as Doctors Without Borders or MSF.

The incident came after 160 wounded people recently arrived at the hospital, 25 of whom were in terminal condition upon arrival, and have since died.

"This must not happen again," said MSF in a statement. "We remind the warring parties with the utmost gravity that hospitals and health facilities must not be targeted or become collateral damage in a conflict."

Fighting between the SAF, RSF and allied militias plunged Sudan into chaos in April 15, 2023, following weeks of tensions linked to a planned transition to civilian rule. SAF's Commander General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Head of RSF General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo -- known as Hemedti -- engaged in a vicious power struggle.

The conflict has precipitated "one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history," with a new report finding at least 9.1 million people have been displaced, the most ever recorded in a single country since the IMDC began taking records in 2008.

At least 14,000 people have been killed according to the U.N.

Local groups, however, warned the true toll is likely much higher.

United States Special Envoy for Sudan Tom Perriello this week begun a regional tour, departing Washington for Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Perriello is due to meet with "key regional partners" and Sudanese civilians as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Sudan continue, the State Department has announced.

"The RSF must lift its siege of the city. The SAF must protect critical infrastructure," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Greenfield said. "There will be direct and immediate consequences for those responsible for an offensive on El Fasher."

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Flood-stricken Brazil continues to battle rising river levels, 149 confirmed dead

Destroyed houses, damaged cars, branches, and debris are seen in Cruzeiro do Sul following the devastating floods that hit the region in Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 14, 2024. (Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) -- Persistent rains and destructive flooding continue to wreak havoc in Brazil, with officials saying rising river levels signal further damage in the Rio Grande do Sul region.

As of Tuesday, 149 people were confirmed dead in the flood-stricken southern state, with 124 individuals still unaccounted for, according to civil defense officials.

More than 600,000 people have been displaced from their homes, with approximately 155,000 of those homes being destroyed, officials said.

In total, local agencies say 2.1 million people have been directly affected by the ongoing climate crisis in Rio Grande do Sul.

The Guaíba River in Porto Alegre, the capital city of Rio Grande do Sul, could reach unprecedented levels of over 18 feet in the next few days, according to local officials.

On Monday, Brazil's Minister of Finance Fernando Haddad said the federal government is preparing direct financial assistance for families affected by the floods.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced National Civil Defense resources for humanitarian aid and reconstruction of damaged structures would be available to the region starting Tuesday.

"Starting today, mayors and the state government can register requests for schools, daycare centers, health units, hospitals, and equipment recovery. Just register and it will start happening immediately to serve the people," President Silva said during a live broadcast.

On Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement on the ongoing crisis, saying, "The United States stands with Brazil at this difficult time."

"My administration is in contact with our Brazilian partners, and the United States is working to provide necessary assistance to the Brazilian people, in coordination with Brazilian authorities as they lead the response," Biden said.

Over the weekend, large parts of Rio Grande do Sul saw close to 4 inches, according to INMET, the National Meteorology Institute.

The World Meteorological Organization is attributing Brazil's record rainfall to El Niño, a surface warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean.

El Niño is the same climate pattern that influences weather patterns in the U.S., frequently bringing above-average rainfall to parts of California and dry conditions in the Ohio Valley during the winter months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Temperatures measured during summer 2023 'unparalleled' to past 2,000 years, researchers say

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(NEW YORK) -- A closer look at tree rings is adding to the growing list of evidence that shows unprecedented temperatures measured on Earth over the past year.

The summer of 2023 was the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical regions -- from about New Orleans to the North Pole -- in the past 2,000 years, according to a study published in Nature on Tuesday.

Land temperatures in this section of the Northern Hemisphere were 2.07 degrees Celsius -- or about 3.73 degrees Fahrenheit -- higher in the summer of 2023 than instrumental averages between 1850 and 1900, researchers discovered after combining measurements from thousands of meteorological stations to analyze the June-through-August surface air temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere's extra-tropical region, which include 30 to 90 degrees north, according to the study.

The researchers also spent months taking samples to compare tree ring reconstruction with nine of the longest temperature-sensitive tree chronologies available for the results, Jan Esper, a professor for climatology at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and lead author of the study, told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

Tree rings are "the only proxy" that can provide annual temperature reconstructions, especially since early instrumental temperatures tend to have a "warm bias," Esper said.

These observations give scientists "the full picture" of natural climate variability, Esper said.

While the data shows enough of a chance for extreme summers prior to Industrialization, almost every one of the "cold years" can be attributed to volcanic eruptions, Esper said.

The sample regions offer a "fairly good spatial representation" in terms of longitude but has some limitations for latitude, Max Torbenson, research associate at Johannes Gutenberg University's department of geography and co-author of the paper, said during Monday's press briefing.

While the warming investigated in the paper cannot be applied on a global scale, it demonstrates "the unparalleled nature of present-day warming" as well as the need for urgent action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, the authors said.

Several reports have pointed to 2023 as being the warmest year on record. Copernicus, Europe's climate change service, has named every month in 2024 so far as the warmest in recorded history.

The planet clocked an 11-month streak of record-breaking global temperatures after Copernicus named last month the warmest April ever recorded.

The results of the most recent paper are "very, very concerning," Esper said.

"The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be and the more difficult it will be to mitigate," Esper said of climate change.

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Protesters in Israel arrested after attacking Gaza aid trucks

Anas Zeyad Fteha/Anadolu via Getty Images

(JERUSALEM) -- Multiple people have been arrested in connection with an attack Monday on an aid convoy headed toward Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

Israeli protestors blocked aid trucks that were headed to Gaza from the West Bank. Humanitarian groups say civilians are facing a “full-blown famine” and a humanitarian crisis amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Footage of the incident, captured by bystanders at the scene and shared online, appears to show protesters blocking and raiding the aid vehicles near Hebron that were passing through the West Bank from Jordan, destroying boxes of water, food and other aid bound for Gaza. Aid trucks can also be seen set ablaze and left burning on the road.

The attack on the convoy is the culmination of weeks of demonstrators attempting to block aid trucks from reaching Gaza, with protesters claiming the aid will instead wind up in the hands of the terrorist group Hamas.

The White House condemned the destruction of the aid, calling it “completely and utterly unacceptable behavior.”

“It is a total outrage that there are people who are attacking and looting these convoys coming from Jordan going to Gaza to deliver humanitarian assistance,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in a press briefing on Monday. “We are looking at the tools that we have to respond to this and we are also raising our concerns at the highest level of the Israeli government.

Israeli law enforcement has publicly said only that an investigation into the aid convoy attack is ongoing.

Several aid organizations, including United Nations organizations, have warned that Gaza is experiencing "catastrophic" levels of hunger and need.

Immediately following Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack in Israel, Israel implemented a blockade of Gaza and severely limited the amount of goods that travel into the territory. Since then, some Gaza border crossings have reopened, but relief workers say the aid getting through falls far short of what's needed.

Amnesty International is among the human rights organizations that have accused Israel of not providing enough authorization to deliver sufficient aid to Gaza, and that ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza make it difficult to deliver what little aid is authorized.

Israel denies the accusations, and counters that the U.N., its partners and other aid agencies have created logistical challenges, resulting in a bottleneck of aid intended for Gaza. Additionally, the Israeli government claimed Hamas steals aid meant for civilians. The U.N. and Hamas dispute the respective claims.

More than 180 aid workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and associated agencies have been killed while providing aid in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to the U.N. agency.

In Gaza, more than 34,790 people have been killed and more than 78,000 have been injured since the war began, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 1,700 Israelis have been killed and more than 8,700 injured, according to Israeli officials.

ABC News' Mary Kekatos and Marcus Moore contributed to this report.

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