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The Latest | A top US diplomat visits Beirut after attacks across Israel-Lebanon border intensify


Amos Hochstein, senior advisor to United States President Joe Biden, met with officials in Beirut on Tuesday in an effort to find a diplomatic solution to head off a larger war.

Cross-border attacks by Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have been taking place almost daily since the war in Gaza began in October and escalated dramatically a week ago, after Israel killed a high-ranking Hezbollah commander in a strike on south Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about a law granting far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir sweeping power over the police. Ben-Gvir was convicted eight times for offenses that include racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist organization. As national security minister, he has encouraged police to take a tough line against anti-government protesters and has actively supported officers accused of using excessive force against Palestinians.

Israeli officials say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his influential war Cabinet that was tasked with steering the war in Gaza a week after Benny Gantz, a popular opposition lawmaker and former military chief, quit Netanyahu’s three-person governing coalition in frustration over how the war was being handled.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,100 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians who are facing widespread hunger.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Currently:

— Netanyahu dissolves influential war Cabinet after key partner bolted from government.

— Iran’s presidential candidates debate economic policies ahead of the June 28 vote.

— A pro-Palestinian encampment is cleared from Cal State LA, days after building takeover.

— U.S. Vice President Harris meets with an Israeli lawyer who was held hostage and described being sexually assaulted in Gaza.

— The war in Gaza has wiped out entire Palestinian families. AP documents 60 who lost dozens or more.

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

Here’s the latest:

BEIRUT — A senior advisor to United States President Joe Biden described the ongoing conflict between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border as a “very serious situation” and said Tuesday on a visit to Beirut that efforts to find a diplomatic solution to head off a larger war are urgent.

Amos Hochstein met with officials in Lebanon after visiting Israel the day before.

“We’ve seen an escalation over the past few weeks,” Hochstein told reporters in Beirut after meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who frequently acts as a conduit between Washington and Hezbollah. “What President Biden wants to do is to avoid a further escalation into a greater war.”

Hochstein also called on the Palestinian militant group Hamas to accept a Washington-backed proposed cease-fire and hostage exchange deal to end the war in Gaza, which he said could also bring the conflict in Lebanon to an end.

Cross-border attacks by Israel and Hezbollah have been taking place almost daily since the war in Gaza began in October. The attacks escalated dramatically a week ago, after Israel killed a high-ranking Hezbollah commander in a strike on south Lebanon. Hezbollah stepped up its own attacks on northern Israel in response. Some Israeli leaders have threatened all-out war to silence Hezbollah’s rocket fire.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands on each side of the border. Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon have killed over 400 people since October, most of them militants with Hezbollah and allied groups, but the dead also include more than 80 civilians and non-combatants. On the Israeli side, 16 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about a law granting a far-right government minister sweeping power over the police.

The law would allow National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to intervene in police investigations. Critics say the law is part of Ben-Gvir’s attempt to consolidate more aspects of the police under his authority. They say the law would grant him too much power over who and how police investigate.

The court previously issued an interim order prohibiting Ben-Gvir from intervening in police investigations.

A longtime admirer of the late racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, Ben-Gvir was convicted eight times for offenses that include racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist organization. He was once on the fringes of Israeli politics but now oversees the police and has other key duties in government. As national security minister, he has encouraged police to take a tough line against anti-government protesters and has actively supported officers accused of using excessive force against Palestinians.

On Monday, police faced criticism for a heavy-handed response toward protesters in Jerusalem who called for early elections. A number of protesters were injured, including a volunteer doctor who was hit with a water cannon in the face and may lose her vision, Israeli media reported. Police said four officers were injured in the protest.



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