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Israeli troops leave Gaza’s Shifa Hospital a wreck in sea of rubble

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Israeli forces have withdrawn from Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after a two-week operation, the Israeli military said on Monday, leaving behind a wasteland of destroyed buildings and Palestinian bodies scattered in the dirt of the complex.

Hundreds of residents rushed to the area around the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital to check on damage to the surrounding residential districts after fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group that administers Gaza.

The Israeli military said it had killed and detained hundreds of gunmen in clashes in the area of the hospital, and seized weaponry and intelligence documents. Hamas and medical staff deny that Palestinian fighters have any armed presence in hospitals.

A spokesman for Gaza’s Civil Emergency Service said Israeli forces had executed two people whose bodies were found at the complex in handcuffs, and used bulldozers to dig up the grounds of the complex and exhume buried bodies. Reuters could not verify the allegation of executions and Israel’s military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I haven’t stopped crying since I arrived here, horrible massacres were committed by the occupation here,” said Samir Basel as he surveyed Al Shifa. “The place is destroyed, buildings have been burnt and destroyed. This place needs to be rebuilt – there is no Shifa hospital anymore.”

“I went out looking to buy some medicine from a pharmacy and what I saw was heart-breaking. Complete streets with buildings that used to stand there had been destroyed,” said Abu Mustafa. “This is not war, this is genocide.”

Israel said operations inside Al Shifa had been conducted “while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that around 200 gunmen have so far been killed at Al Shifa hospital and that hundreds more had surrendered.

“No hospital in the world looks like this. This is what a house of terrorists looks like,” Netanyahu said at a news conference in Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa Hospital targeted ‘precisely’

Israeli strikes killed 77 Palestinians in Gaza in the past 24 hours, health authorities said on Sunday, as Egypt hosted an Israeli delegation for a new round of talks in a bid to secure a truce with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The Israeli military said it killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in a strike on a command center in the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza. It did not mention his name or rank.

“The command center and terrorists were struck precisely,” the military said, adding the strike was intended to minimize “harm to uninvolved civilians in the area of the hospital.”

“The Al-Aqsa Hospital building was not damaged and its functioning was not affected.”

Palestinian health officials and Hamas media said the strike hit several tents inside the Al-Aqsa Hospital, killing four people and wounding several, including five journalists.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in Gaza since October 7, according to the health authorities. Health officials say most of the fatalities are civilians, while Israel says at least a third are fighters.

The war erupted after Hamas militants broke through the border and rampaged through communities in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Thousands in Jerusalem anti-government protest

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Jerusalem on Sunday against Netanyahu’s government and against exemptions granted to ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from military service, in scenes reminiscent of mass street protests last year.

Protest groups, including some that led the mass demonstrations that rocked Israel in 2023, organized the rally outside parliament, the Knesset, calling for a new election to replace the government. The protesters also want a more equal share in the burden of army service that binds most Israelis.

Netanyahu spent Sunday in hospital undergoing surgery for a hernia, discovered during a routine checkup on Saturday. The prime minister told journalists “I assure you that I will get through this treatment successfully and return to action very quickly,” and on Monday the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem said Netanyahu was conscious and conversing with family.

Netanyahu was fitted with a pacemaker last July, while Israel was ensnared in its worst domestic crisis in decades, with widespread protests against his hard-right government’s judicial overhaul plan.

Negotiations step up a gear

The two sides have stepped up negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, on a six-week suspension of Israel’s offensive in return for the proposed release of 40 of 130 hostages still held by Hamas militants in Gaza.

Netanyahu vowed to keep up military pressure on Hamas, while showing flexibility in the talks, saying that only that combination would bring about the release of hostages.

Hamas wants to parlay any deal into an end to the war and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel rules this out, saying it would eventually resume efforts to dismantle the governing and military capacities of Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction.

Hamas would not be present at the talks in Cairo, an official said, as it waited to hear from mediators on whether a new Israeli offer was on the table. Hamas also wants hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced from Gaza City and surrounding areas southward during the first stage of the war to be allowed back north.

The World Court on Thursday unanimously ordered Israel, accused by South Africa of genocide in Gaza, to take all necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies to the population.

The Gaza war has stoked long-simmering violence in the occupied West Bank, set off cross-border fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and drawn missile launches against Israel from other Iranian-backed militias in Yemen and Iraq.

Stabbings in Israel

In signs of spreading tensions within Israel, emergency services said a member of the country’s Arab minority stabbed three soldiers in a bus stop in the southern city of Beersheba on Sunday before one of them shot him dead. Hours later, a knife-wielding Palestinian was shot dead after wounding three people in a shopping mall in nearby Gan Yavne, Israeli media said.

In the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, Israeli forces continued to blockade the two main hospitals, and tanks shelled areas in the middle and eastern areas of the territory.

Palestinian health officials said an Israeli air strike killed nine people in Bani Suhaila near Khan Younis, while another air strike killed four people in Al-Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said it killed 15 gunmen in the central Gaza Strip and several more in Khan Younis, including near Al-Amal hospital.

Israel’s Red Sea port city of Eilat came under an aerial attack on Monday that caused no casualties, the military said, and an armed group in Iraq issued a claim of responsibility.

The military’s statement said a flying object launched from east of Israel had struck a building in Eilat. It did not elaborate on the object or the provenance.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a militia, said in a statement that it had attacked a “vital objective” in Israel “using appropriate weapons.” It did not offer further details.

Source(s): CGTN

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Iran warns against retaliation after first direct attack on Israel

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Iran’s mission to the United Nations said on early Sunday that Tehran’s retaliation for an attack on its diplomatic compound in Syria has ended, warning Israel against “another mistake” after Iran’s first military strike on Israeli territory.

The statement came after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) launched a suite of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late Saturday, further raising tensions between the two countries over Israel’s alleged killing of senior IRGC commanders in Syria earlier this month.

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!” the Iranian mission said on social media platform X.

Sirens wailed, and the loud sounds of suspected drone interceptions reverberated across Israel. The Israel Defense Forces said it had intercepted most of the 200 missiles and drones headed toward the country. A Reuters report said the U.S. military in the region had also shot down an undisclosed number of drones.

Still, in the early hours of Sunday, a senior Israeli official vowed to respond in an “unprecedented” way and urged Israelis to remain awake for what might be coming afterward, local media reported.

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden, an ardent supporter of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, cut short his weekend vacation and met with his national security team, after which he reaffirmed his “commitment to Israel’s security” on X.

The IRGC strike was an inevitable response as the United Nations Security Council failed to condemn Israel’s alleged attack on Iran’s diplomatic facility in Syria, Wei Mingchen, an associate research fellow of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of Chines Academy of Social Science, told CGTN.

But Iran’s warning about an Israeli response indicated its unwillingness to see the expansion of hostilities into a major Middle Eastern conflict or a full-blown war between the two countries – a deescalatory tone that’s directed toward both Israel and the U.S., Wei said.

War between Israel and Iran would “incur tremendous security, social and economic damage to the Islamic Republic,” he said.

Source(s): CGTN

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Iran launches large-scale drone, missile attack against Israel

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JERUSALEM, April 14 (Xinhua) — Iran has launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles toward Israel, the Israeli military said on Saturday night.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing that the drones would take several hours to arrive in Israeli airspace and that the country’s defense systems would try to intercept them.

An official statement said the Israeli airspace will be closed from 00:30 a.m. (2130 GMT).

The Israeli military said in a statement that it is “constantly monitoring the operational situation.” According to the statement, “the IDF Aerial Defense Array is on high alert, along with Israel Air Force fighter jets and Israeli Navy vessels that are on a defense mission in Israeli air and naval space.”

Hagari called the Iranian aerial attack on Israel “a severe and dangerous escalation,” adding that Israel’s “defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness ahead of this large-scale attack from Iran.”

Israeli and U.S. forces are in “close coordination” and “dozens” of fighter jets are currently airborne, preparing for the Iranian aircraft’s arrival in Israeli airspace, according to the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, two Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Xinhua that several cruise missiles were also launched from Iran toward Israel.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) confirmed in a broadcast statement that it had launched missile and drone attacks on Israel from Iran.

The IRGC added the details of the operation would be announced soon, stressing that it was carried out with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and under the supervision of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces.

Iranian media reported that about 50 UAVs have been launched. Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported that the drones were launched from Iran as well as from other countries allied with Iran.

Israel has been on heightened alert over the past few days following Iranian threats to avenge the killing of seven Iranian officers in its consular building in Damascus, Syria, earlier in April, which was carried out by Israel, according to Iran.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Hamas leader’s family killed in Israeli strike as truce talks drag on

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An Israeli strike on Wednesday killed three of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s sons in Gaza, as conflict rages in the Palestinian territory despite ongoing truce negotiations.

Hamas said in a statement that three of Haniyeh’s sons and four of his grandchildren were killed in the air strike. Israel confirmed the killings, saying the sons were “Hamas operatives” who were “on their way to carry out terrorist activities.”

The strike came as talks in Cairo dragged on, with Hamas still considering the latest proposal. A framework being circulated would halt fighting for six weeks and see the exchange of about 40 hostages for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said, “It’s now up to Hamas. They need to move on the proposal that’s been made.”

Reacting to the strike that killed his sons and grandchildren, Haniyeh told Al Jazeera, “If they (Israel) think that targeting my children at the peak of these talks and before the movement’s response, if they think that this will force Hamas to change its positions, they are delusional.”

“Our demands are clear and specific, and we will not make concessions on them,” Haniyeh said.

Israel’s offensive in the past months has killed at least 33,482 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Israeli troops would nevertheless enter Rafah and return to Khan Yunis, from which they withdrew several days ago, said Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz.

The army would have to fight for years to come “in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, and on the Lebanon front,” Gantz added.

As the conflict rages, there has been a growing chorus of international criticism aimed at the lack of aid entering the territory.

Humanitarian groups have accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon in the conflict, where UN experts say half the population is facing “catastrophic” food insecurity.

Israel denies the charges, and has repeatedly blamed the UN and aid organizations for distribution problems.

On Wednesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they are planning on distributing aid to Gaza through a new crossing and a port just north of the besieged territory.

“We plan to flood Gaza with aid and we are expecting to reach 500 trucks per day,” Gallant said.

He also vowed to “streamline security checks” that aid organizations had blamed for choking the flow of aid through six months of the conflict.

Israel promised last week it would open the Erez crossing in the north after a tense telephone call between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the U.S. president demanded “immediate action” on aid.

But it is understood Israel’s trucks will not use the crossing, with the country’s media reporting that the government feared protests from far-right groups who are against any aid reaching Gaza.

Source(s): CGTN

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