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The Latest | Israel ends raid on Gaza hospital; Iran says strike kills 2 generals in Syria

The Israeli military has withdrawn from Gaza’s main hospital after a two-week raid, saying it killed some 200 militants in close-quarters fighting and detained hundreds.

Palestinians who returned to Shifa Hospital, once the largest medical center in Gaza, said they found its buildings heavily burned and damaged with bodies inside and outside of the facility, including doctors. Israel blamed Hamas for the destruction.

Late Monday, an apparent Israeli airstrike killed four international aid workers hours after they brought in a new shipload of food by a maritime route the United States has hoped would be an alternative lifeline for northern Gaza, isolated and pushed to the brink of famine by Israel’s offensive.

Elsewhere Monday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says two of its generals and five officers were killed in a strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. The strike appears to signify an escalation of Israel’s targeting of Iranian military officials and their allies in Syria. Israel has declined to comment.

In other developments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to immediately shut down Qatari-owned satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera, after Israel's parliament passed a law clearing the way for the country to halt the channel from broadcasting from Israel.

Israel's war in Gaza has killed at least 32,845 Palestinians, the territory's Health Ministry said. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Currently:

— Gaza officials say Israeli strike kills 4 aid workers, driver after delivering food

Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Syria killed 2 generals and 5 other officers, Iran says

— Israel clears way to shutter Al Jazeera. Netanyahu says ‘terror channel’ airs incitement

US pushes alternatives to Rafah invasion in Hamas war talks with Israel

— As Israel withdraws from Shifa Hospital, accounts from military and witnesses differ wildly

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

Here's the latest:

4 INTERNATIONAL AID WORKERS KILLED IN APPARENT AIRSTRIKE IN GAZA

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says his government has requested an explanation from Israel of how four international aid workers including an Australian woman and their Palestinian driver were killed in an apparent airstrike in Gaza.

Albanese said Israel's Ambassador to Australia Amir Maimon was asked to call Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and explain how 44-year-old World Central Kitchen aid worker Zomi Frankcom from Melbourne came to be killed.

“This is someone who was volunteering overseas to provide aid through this charity for people who are suffering tremendous deprivation in Gaza. And this is just completely unacceptable,” Albanese told reporters.

“We want full accountability for this because this is a tragedy that should never have occurred,” Albanese added.

The strike late Monday occurred hours after the group brought in food by a maritime route the United States has hoped would be an alternative lifeline for northern Gaza, pushed to the brink of famine by Israel’s offensive.

Footage showed the bodies at a Gaza hospital, several of them wearing protective gear with the charity’s logo. Staff showed the passports of British, Australian and Polish aid workers, while the nationality of the fourth aid worker was not immediately known.

Mahmoud Thabet, a Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic who was on the team that brought the bodies to the hospital, told The Associated Press the workers were in a convoy that was crossing out of northern Gaza when an Israeli missile hit. Thabet said he was told by WCK staff the team had been in the north coordinating distribution of the newly arrived aid and were heading back to Rafah in the south.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SAYS PALESTINIANS EXPECTED TO SEND LETTER REQUESTING FULL MEMBERSHIP

UNITED NATIONS – The president of the U.N. Security Council says the Palestinians are expected to send a letter in the next few days outlining their request for full membership in the United Nations.

Malta’s U.N. Ambassador Vanessa Frazier, whose country took over the rotating president on Monday, said once the letter is received it will be shared with council members and will then likely be discussed in a closed meeting.

Frazier said the council’s monthly Mideast meeting on April 18 will be at ministerial meeting, which is expected to focus on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and the council’s demand for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ends on April 9 and which both parties have rejected.

The Palestinian request for full U.N. membership is also expected to be raised at the meeting, assuming the letter has been received, she said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had promised to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership.

FRANCE CIRCULATES PROPOSED UN RESOLUTION CALLING FOR CEASE-FIRE

UNITED NATIONS – France circulated a proposed new U.N. resolution that would call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the immediate release of all hostages seized during Hamas’ surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere told reporters before presenting the draft resolution to Security Council members at a closed meeting late Monday that the draft resolution has no “time limitation,” stressing that “we want to move to a permanent cease-fire.”

The Security Council issued its first demand for a cease-fire last Monday for the remainder of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ends April 9. The United States, Israel’s close ally, abstained, angering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who canceled a visit to Washington by a high-level delegation in their strongest public clash since the war began. Both Israel and Hamas rejected the council’s demands.

De Riviere said the draft resolution condemns Hamas’ “terrorist attacks” on Oct. 7 – something the Security Council has refused to do in two previous humanitarian resolutions and the Ramadan cease-fire resolution.

The proposed resolution also demands immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza, where hunger is rife and starvation has already led to the deaths of children.

IRAN SAYS 2 GENERALS WERE KILLED IN STRIKE ON CONSULATE IN SYRIA

DAMASCUS, Syria — Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Monday said Monday that seven of its members were killed in an airstrike that struck Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital.

Syrian officials and state media pinned the attack on Israel, which declined to comment.

The strike on Iran’s embassy compound appears to signify an escalation of Israel’s targeting of Iranian military officials and their allies in Syria, which have intensified since Hamas militants — who are supported by Iran — attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

U.N. SAYS IT IS PLANNING AN AID MISSION TO SHIFA HOSPITAL

UNITED NATIONS –The United Nations is planning a mission to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as quickly as possible to help Palestinians receive medical attention and to assess the state of the hospital after Israel’s two-week raid.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that U.N. World Health Organization officials are waiting for security assurances and to ensure “deconfliction” with military activities.

On Sunday, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that according to information the U.N. agency received, 21 patients died after Israel’s second siege of Shifa began on March 18.

At another hospital, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, Dujarric said a WHO team was assessing needs on Sunday when a tent camp inside the hospital compound was hit by an Israeli airstrike. The U.N. spokesman said four people were reportedly killed and 17 injured.

As for humanitarian assistance, Dujarric said the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, reported no significant change in the low level of supplies entering Gaza in March.

From March 1 to March 30, an average of 159 aid trucks crossed into Gaza every day, he said, far below the target of 500 trucks per day needed to improve the dire humanitarian conditions.

UNRWA reported Monday that despite this, more than 1.8 million people — 85% of Gaza’s population — received flour and 600,000 received emergency food parcels in March, Dujarric said.

BEFORE-AND-AFTER SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW PROFOUND DESTRUCTION OF GAZA'S SHIFA HOSPITAL

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Stark before-and-after images of Gaza's largest hospital and the surrounding neighborhood vividly show the devastation after a two-week raid by the Israeli military.

Before the raid, which the Israeli army said involved heavy fighting with Palestinian militants, the hospital complex was the largest in Gaza and surrounded by bustling neighborhoods of multistory residential and commercial buildings with paved roads.

Afterward, the facility’s main buildings have been reduced to burned-out husks, and entire blocks of nearby apartment buildings are flattened. Mounds of dirt have apparently been churned up by Israeli military bulldozers, and the streets are reduced to sandy paths amid the rubble.

The pre-war satellite photos were taken June 1, 2022. Photos of the same area taken Monday, after Israeli forces pulled out of the hospital, clearly show how the fighting has gutted what was once the heart of Gaza’s health system.

Hospitals enjoy special protected status under the international laws of war. But they can lose that status if they are used for military purposes.

Israel said it launched the latest raid on Shifa because senior Hamas operatives had regrouped there and were planning attacks. Critics accuse the army of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed with wounded.

The U.N. health agency said more than 20 patients died and dozens were put at risk during the raid. Witnesses reported airstrikes, the shelling of homes and troops going house to house to force residents to leave.

SYRIA SAYS AN ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE HIT IRAN'S CONSULATE IN DAMASCUS, KILLING SEVERAL PEOPLE

DAMASCUS, Syria — An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Syria, killing a senior Iranian military adviser and a handful of other people, Syrian state media said Monday.

The strike on the Iranian consulate building could mark an escalation of Israel’s ongoing targeting of Iranian military officials and allies in Syria, which have intensified since the onset of its war with Hamas in Gaza.

Israel, which rarely acknowledges such strikes, had no comment about the Syrian media reports.

The Iranian Arabic-language state television Al-Alam and pan-Arab television station Al-Mayadeen, which has reporters in Syria, said the strike killed Iranian military adviser Gen. Ali Reza Zahdi, who led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016.

Iranian Ambassador Hossein Akbari condemned Israel and said as many as seven people were killed, but first responders were still searching for any other bodies under the rubble. He said two police officers who guard the building were wounded.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years.

Such airstrikes have escalated in recent months against the backdrop of Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and ongoing clashes between Israel’s military and Hezbollah on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Though it rarely acknowledges its actions in Syria, Israel has said it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

NETANYAHU SAYS ‘TERROR CHANNEL’ AL JAZEERA WILL NOT BROADCAST FROM ISRAEL

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says “terror channel” Al Jazeera will not broadcast anymore from Israel, after the country's parliament passed a law that could clear the way for the government to ban the Qatari-based satellite news channel.

Netanyahu accused Al Jazeera of harming Israeli security, participating in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and inciting against Israel.

“The terror channel Al Jazeera will not broadcast any longer from Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on X. “It is my intention to act immediately under the new law to stop the channel’s activities.”

The new law allows authorities to close foreign media that “harms the state’s national security.”

Israel's communications minister, Shlomo Karhi, has called the Qatari-based satellite channel a “propaganda arm of Hamas.”

“It is impossible to tolerate a media outlet, with press credentials from the government press office and offices in Israel, would act from within against us, certainly during wartime,” Karhi said.

It was not immediately clear whether Israel would shut down the channel.

“A move like this is concerning. We believe in the freedom of the press,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “If those reports are true, it is concerning to us.”

Israel has threatened to shut down Al Jazeera over its coverage of the war. Al Jazeera is a owned by the gas-rich nation of Qatar, and is deeply critical of Israel, particularly its treatment of Palestinians.

Over the last few months, Qatar has emerged as a key intermediary in efforts to broker a cease-fire and a release of hostages held by Hamas. Qatar has hosted Hamas’ political office in its capital of Doha for over a decade. The forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command is at Qatar’s sprawling Al Udeid Air Base.

ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWS PROTEST MANDATORY ENLISTMENT IN ISRAELI MILITARY

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews blocked a major highway in central Israel, protesting against mandatory enlistment in Israel’s military by chaining themselves together during rush hour.

The protests on Monday came after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that government subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men of enlistment age would expire on Monday.

Most Jewish men are required to serve nearly three years in the military, followed by years of reserve duty. Jewish women serve two mandatory years.

But the politically powerful ultra-Orthodox, who make up roughly 13% of Israeli society, have traditionally received exemptions while studying full time in religious seminaries. There are more than 60,000 ultra-Orthodox men of enlistment age who are studying rather than serving in the military.

This years-old system has bred widespread resentment among the broader public — a feeling that has deepened during nearly six months of war.

The ultra-Orthodox opposition to enlistment is the most concrete threat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu could lose the support of his ultra-Orthodox partners if the system is changed, but he also could lose the more centrist elements of his fragile national unity government if he tries to preserve the exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, forcing the country into new elections, with Netanyahu trailing significantly in the polls amid the war.

U.S. AND ISRAELI OFFICIALS TO HOLD VIRTUAL TALKS ON DISPUTE OVER A RAFAH GROUND INVASION

WASHINGTON — American and Israeli officials are planning talks to discuss the potential expansion of Israel’s war against Hamas to the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah.

The U.S. opposes the Israeli ground assault on humanitarian grounds, as there are more than 1.3 million civilians sheltering in Rafah after fleeing other parts of Gaza. The potential Rafah invasion has exposed one of the deepest rifts between Israel and the U.S., which is its closest ally, funder and arms supplier.

A U.S. official confirmed the officials would meet by secure video conference on Monday, a week after planned in-person talks were nixed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the U.S. didn’t veto a U.N. resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, said the U.S. anticipates that “expert teams” will follow up on the talks in person.

President Joe Biden and his administration have publicly and privately urged Israel for months to refrain from a large-scale incursion into Rafah without a credible plan to relocate and safeguard noncombatants.

Netanyahu has insisted that Israel must be able to enter the city as it has the rest of the territory in order to root out Hamas’ remaining fighters.

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AP White House Correspondent Zeke Miller contributed.

SHIPS WITH HUNDREDS OF TONS OF AID APPROACH GAZA

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos says ships carrying hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid have approached Gaza.

Kombos told The Associated Press on Monday that the three ships have been granted permission to start offloading cargo.

U.S. charity World Central Kitchen says the ships carry enough ready-to-eat items including rice, pasta, flour, canned vegetables and proteins. to prepare more than 1 million meals.

A special shipment of dates from the United Arab Emirates is also part of the aid. Dates are traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Earlier this month, the Open Arms ship inaugurated the direct sea route to the Palestinian territory after delivering 200 tons of food, water and other aid.

ISRAEL SAYS A SOUTHERN MILITARY BASE WAS STRUCK BY AN AERIAL OBJECT

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military says a “suspicious aerial target” struck a military base in the southern city of Eilat, causing light damage to a building.

The military did not disclose what hit the base but said there were no injuries and that its air defenses did not intercept the object.

An umbrella group of Iran-backed Iraqi militias claimed responsibility. The group, dubbed the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, did not give additional details.

The Israeli military said sirens went off early Monday in Eilat after the “suspicious aerial target” came from the east, and fell in the Gulf of Eilat.

Since the war against Hamas broke out on Oct. 7, Israel has faced attacks from militant groups who say they are supporting the Palestinian cause from as far away as Yemen and Iraq. Most drones and missiles have been shot down but occasionally they manage to strike.

ISRAELI SUPREME COURT DECISION ON ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWS GOES INTO EFFECT

TEL AVIV, Israel — An Israeli Supreme Court decision on the divisive issue of military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews has gone into effect.

The court decided last week to freeze funding to Jewish seminaries whose students have not turned up to be drafted into the military. Monday was also the last day for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to submit a bill that would address the mass draft exemptions granted to the ultra-Orthodox, which it was not expected to do on time.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel enjoy a system of broad exemptions to Israel’s compulsory military service and the issue has long divided the nation. Secular Israelis say the ultra-Orthodox should share in the burden of protecting the country, a demand that has sharpened during the war against Hamas in Gaza. The ultra-Orthodox, meanwhile, say drafting them into the military would compromise their pious way of life. They say they share the burden of service by praying and being observant Jews.

The Supreme Court ruled that the current system of conscription exemptions is discriminatory.

But the ruling’s coming into force isn’t expected to spark too much immediate drama.

The Education Ministry is expected to stop the monthly subsidies to the seminaries on Monday, although the government could search for discretionary funds to cover the gaps. The ultra-Orthodox weren’t expected to be drafted en masse without a formal plan by the government.

The issue poses a threat to Netanyahu’s government, which hinges on two ultra-Orthodox parties for its stability. The ultra-Orthodox parties have not said what they will do if they lose their preferential status. But if they decide to leave the government, the coalition would almost certainly collapse and the country could be forced into new elections, with Netanyahu trailing significantly in the polls amid the war.

RELATIVE OF SENIOR HAMAS LEADER ARRESTED, ISRAELI POLICE SAY

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli police say they have arrested a relative of a senior Hamas leader in a raid on her home in the country’s south.

Police did not say who was arrested, but Israeli media said it was the sister of Hamas’ supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is known to have at least one sister living in Israel.

In a statement Monday, police said the relative was suspected of contacts with Hamas members, identification with a terror group and support for terror acts.

Police said they found evidence at her residence, including documents and mobile phones. Photos shared by police from the early morning raid showed masked officers in tactical gear.

The arrest took place as Israel is holding negotiations mediated by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar to try to release dozens of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a cease-fire in the nearly six-month-old war.

Ismail Haniyeh lives in exile in Qatar.

NETANYAHU UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL HERNIA SURGERY, HIS OFFICE SAYS

TEL AVIV, Israel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says that the Israeli leader has undergone a successful hernia surgery.

In a message early Monday shortly after the surgery, Netanyahu’s office said he was conscious, feeling well and recovering. Netanyahu’s office had said the hernia was discovered during a routine checkup, and that the prime minister would be under full anesthesia and unconscious for the procedure.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a close confidant who also holds the title of deputy prime minister, served as acting prime minister during the operation, the office said.

Netanyahu, 74, has kept a full schedule throughout Israel’s nearly six-month-long war against Hamas, and his doctors have said he is in good health.

Last year, doctors acknowledged he had concealed a long-known heart problem after they implanted a pacemaker.

PALESTINIANS SAY ISRAELI TROOPS HAVE WITHDRAWN FROM GAZA'S MAIN HOSPITAL AFTER 2-WEEK RAID

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian residents say the Israeli military has withdrawn from Gaza’s main hospital after a two-week raid, leaving behind a vast swath of destruction.

Hundreds of people returned to Shifa Hospital and the surrounding area after the withdrawal early Monday, where they found bodies inside and outside of the facility.

The military has described the raid as one of the most successful operations of the nearly six-month war, saying it killed scores of Hamas and other militants, as well as seizing valuable intelligence.

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among those who returned, described a scene of “total destruction.” He said several buildings had been burned down. He counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard.

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound. He said several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital. He said army bulldozers had plowed over a makeshift cemetery inside the hospital compound.