AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Israeli forces cut off north Gaza to isolate Hamas as advance on urban center looms

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli army severed northern Gaza from the rest of the besieged territory and pounded it with airstrikes Monday, preparing for expected ground battles with Hamas militants in Gaza's largest city and an even bloodier phase of the month-old war.

Already, the Palestinian death toll surpassed 10,000, the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Monday. The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians. About 1,400 people in Israel have died, mostly civilians killed in the Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas that started the war.

The war has quickly become the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence since Israel’s establishment 75 years ago, with no end in sight as Israel vows to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities.

Casualties are likely to rise sharply as the war turns to close urban combat. Troops are expected to enter Gaza City soon, Israeli media reported, and Palestinian militants who have had years to prepare are likely to fight street by street, launching ambushes from a vast network of tunnels.

“We’re closing in on them,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman. “We’ve completed our encirclement, separating Hamas strongholds in the north from the south.”


Live updates | Israeli troops divide north and south Gaza as UN fails to reach cease-fire resolution

Israeli troops divided the northern and southern parts of Gaza, as communications across the besieged territory were gradually restored Monday after being cut for a third time since the war started. The troops were expected to enter Gaza City on Monday or Tuesday, Israeli media reported.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war surpassed 10,000, including more than 4,100 children and 2,640 women, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

The developments come as an Israeli strike hit the roof of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, killing a number of displaced people sheltering on its top floor and destroying solar panels, said the general manager of all hospitals in Gaza. The panels have been helping keep the power on at the facility, which has been reduced to using one generator because of lack of fuel.

In the occupied West Bank, more than 140 Palestinians have been killed in the violence and Israeli raids. More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, and 242 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group.

Roughly 1,100 people have left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing since Wednesday under an apparent agreement among the United States, Egypt, Israel and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas.


WeWork seeks bankruptcy protection, a stunning fall for a firm once valued at close to $50 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — WeWork has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a stunning fall for the office sharing company once seen as a Wall Street darling that promised to upend the way people went to work around the world.

The company offered few specifics about the course of its restructuring, but noted in its filing that it was requesting the ability to cancel leases in particular locations that WeWork described as largely non-operational. All affected members have received advanced notice, the company said in a late Monday announcement.


Trump lashes out from the witness stand at judge, NY attorney general as he testifies in fraud trial

NEW YORK (AP) — A defiant Donald Trump sparred with a New York judge and slammed the state attorney general suing him Monday, using the witness stand at his civil fraud trial to defend his riches and lash out at a case that imperils his real estate empire.

The former president’s barbed testimony spurred the judge to admonish, “This is not a political rally.”

Trump's long-awaited testimony about property valuations and financial statements was punctuated by personal jabs at state Judge Arthur Engoron, who he said was biased against him, and New York Attorney General Letitia James, whom he derided as a “political hack.” He proudly boasted of his real estate business — “I'm worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements" — and disputed claims that he had deceived banks and insurers.

“This is the opposite of fraud,” he declared. Referring to James, a Democrat whose office brought the lawsuit, he said, “The fraud is her.”

The testy exchanges and frequent rebukes from the judge underscored Trump’s unwillingness to adapt his famously freewheeling rhetorical style to a formal courtroom setting governed by rules of evidence and legal protocol. His presence on the stand was a vivid reminder of the legal troubles he faces as he vies to reclaim the White House in 2024.


Abortion debate has dominated this election year. Here are Tuesday's races to watch

WASHINGTON (AP) — The most-watched races in Tuesday’s off-year general election have all been dominated by the ongoing debate over abortion rights.

From a reelection bid for governor in Kentucky to a statewide ballot measure in Ohio to state legislative elections in Virginia, access to abortion has been a frequent topic in campaign debates and advertising, as it has since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in June last year overturning Roe vs. Wade.

Here's a look at three major races and how abortion has shaped each contest.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear seeks a second term in a heavily Republican state Donald Trump carried twice. The GOP nominee is Daniel Cameron, who succeeded Beshear as state attorney general.

Beshear has called the state’s restrictive abortion law “extremist” for not allowing exceptions in cases of rape and incest. He also vetoed a proposal banning abortions after 15 weeks. Cameron says he supports the state law and that as governor he would sign a bill amending it to allow rape and incest exceptions. But at times he has had difficulty clarifying what exceptions he favors.


2nd police officer acquitted in death of Elijah McClain, who was put in a neck hold, given ketamine

BRIGHTON, Colo. (AP) — Elijah McClain's mother wiped tears from her eyes as a verdict was read Monday acquitting a second Denver-area police officer in the 2019 death of her son.

Two of three officers to face trial so far avoided prison time after being found not guilty, leaving Sheneen McClain and police reform advocates still searching for justice. Elijah McClain's death fueled national outrage about racial injustice in policing after the 23-year-old Black man was put in a neck hold and injected with an overdose of ketamine after police stopped him as he walked home from a convenience store.

In the most recent trial, a 12-person jury found Aurora officer Nathan Woodyard, who put McClain in the neck hold, not guilty of homicide and manslaughter following a weekslong trial in state district court. He faced years in prison if convicted.

Sheneen McClain sat in the front row of the courtroom and left with a fist raised high, just as she did after the first trial last month against two other officers. She declined to comment, but a supporter who accompanied her called the verdict “pathetic” and a sign that the justice system was not changing.

“Her son should be alive, and everybody claims to agree with that, but for some reason we can’t hold to account the people that took that away,” said MiDian Holmes, an activist who befriended Sheneen McClain after they met at a 2020 protest. “I think she understands and she recognizes that if she can feel, she can fight. This fight is not over for Sheneen McClain. She is going to turn this pain into promise and into progress."


Israelis overwhelmingly are confident in the justice of the Gaza war, even as world sentiment sours

JERUSALEM (AP) — At a time when world sentiment has begun to sour on Israel's devastating offensive in Gaza, the vast majority of Israelis, across the political spectrum, are convinced of the justice of the war.

Still under rocket and missile attacks on several fronts, they have little tolerance for anyone railing against the steep toll the conflict has exacted on the other side. They have rallied to crush Hamas, which breached the country’s borders from the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 people and taking over 240 hostage in an Oct. 7 rampage that triggered the war.

Capturing the prevailing sentiment in Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said other countries would have reacted the same way to such a cross-border attack with mass casualties.

“The United States would do whatever it takes,” Barak recently told the magazine Foreign Policy. “They would not ask questions about proportionality or anything else.”

Israel has carried out weeks of relentless airstrikes and launched a ground operation in what it says is a mission to destroy Hamas. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.


Captain found guilty of 'seaman's manslaughter' in boat fire that killed 34 off California coast

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A scuba dive boat captain was convicted Monday of criminal negligence in the deaths of 34 people killed in a fire aboard the vessel in 2019, the deadliest maritime disaster in recent U.S. history.

Jerry Boylan, 69, was found guilty of one count of misconduct or neglect of ship officer following a 10-day trial in federal court in downtown Los Angeles. The charge is a pre-Civil War statute colloquially known as seaman’s manslaughter that was designed to hold steamboat captains and crew responsible for maritime disasters.

Boylan is the only person to face criminal charges connected to the fire. He could get 10 years behind bars when he's sentenced Feb. 8, though he can appeal. His public defenders declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

The verdict comes more than four years after the Sept. 2, 2019, tragedy, which prompted changes to maritime regulations, congressional reform and several ongoing civil lawsuits.

Relatives of those killed hugged one another and wept outside the courtroom Monday after the verdict was read.


Why one survivor of domestic violence wants the Supreme Court to uphold a gun control law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ruth Glenn knows from harrowing personal experience the danger of putting a gun in the hands of a violent spouse or partner, the issue at the heart of a case before the Supreme Court.

On a beautiful June evening in 1992, Glenn was shot three times, twice in the head, and left for dead outside a Denver car wash.

The shooter was her estranged husband, Cedric, who was under a court order to stay away from Glenn. But there was no federal law on the books at the time that prohibited him from having a gun.

Two years later, Congress put such a law in place, prohibiting people facing domestic violence restraining orders from having guns. “He would not have been able to access that gun if we had these current laws in place,” Glenn said in an interview with The Associated Press that took place outside the Supreme Court.

The high court is hearing arguments Tuesday in a challenge to the 1994 law. The closely watched case is the first one involving guns to reach the justices since their landmark Bruen decision last year expanded gun rights and changed the way courts evaluate whether restrictions on firearms violate the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.”


Ex-college football staffer shared docs with Michigan, showing Big Ten team had Wolverines' signs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A former employee at a Big Ten football program said Monday it was his job to steal signs and he was given details from multiple conference schools before his team played Michigan to compile a spreadsheet of play-calling signals used by the Wolverines last year.

He spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, fearing the disclosures could impact his coaching career.

The employee said he shared with Michigan the documents, which showed the Wolverines’ signs and corresponding plays, after his school faced the Jim Harbaugh-led program in 2022.

The person also passed along screenshots of text-message exchanges with staffers from a handful of Big Ten football teams with Michigan, giving the program proof that other conference teams were colluding to steal signs from the Wolverines.

He said he gave the additional details to Michigan last week because he hoped it would help Harbaugh’s embattled program, adding he believes the head coach and his assistants are being unfairly blamed for the actions of a rogue staffer.

The Associated Press