The Latest | Israeli military raids Gaza’s main hospital, claiming Hamas is using it as a base

Palestinians line up to receive free meals at Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Monday, March 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Essa)

Palestinians line up to receive free meals at Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Monday, March 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Essa)

Israeli forces launched a raid on Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Monday, accusing Hamas militants of using it as a base, while the U.N. food agency warned that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza.

The military said it killed a Hamas commander who was armed and hiding inside the medical center, and that one of its own soldiers was killed in the operation.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief military spokesman, earlier said that senior Hamas militants had regrouped and were directing attacks from the compound.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said the army attacked the hospital, directing gun and missile fire at a building used for specialized surgeries.

Israel raided the medical center in November after claiming that Hamas was concealing a major command and control center within and beneath the compound. It revealed a tunnel running to an underground bunker beneath the hospital, and some weapons discovered inside, but not the elaborate facilities it had described before the raid.

The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 31,726 Palestinians have been killed in the war. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people in the surprise Oct. 7 attack out of Gaza that triggered the war, and they took another 250 people hostage. Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 captives, as well as the remains of 30 others.

Currently:

— Famine is said to be ‘imminent’ in northern Gaza as Israel raids hospital again

— Netanyahu to send Israeli officials to Washington to discuss prospective Rafah operation

— Israel urges UN court to reject South Africa’s request for more emergency orders in genocide case

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

Here’s the latest:

US OFFICIAL SAYS ISRAELI STRIKE HAS KILLED MARWAN ISSA

WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. official says an Israeli strike killed Marwan Issa, the deputy leader of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza who helped plan the Oct. 7 attack. Israel and Hamas have not confirmed Issa’s death, and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not say how U.S. intelligence had concluded he was killed. But if the reports are confirmed, Issa would be the highest-ranking Hamas leader to have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war. Israel has killed several top leaders of Hamas over the years, only to see them quickly replaced with little apparent impact on the group’s operations. Sullivan told reporters in Washington on Monday that Issa “was killed in an Israeli operation last week.” Issa was the deputy to Mohammed Deif, the shadowy longtime leader of Hamas’ military wing, who is said to have survived several previous Israeli attempts on his life. Hamas’ top leader in Gaza, and the alleged mastermind of the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war, is Yehya Sinwar. Both Sinwar and Deif are believed to be alive and in hiding in Gaza, and Israel has vowed to kill them. Israel says it has killed over 13,000 Hamas fighters since the start of the war, without providing evidence. The Gaza Health Ministry said Monday that at least 31,726 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive since Hamas’ Oct. 7 on southern Israel. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count, but it says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

UN OFFICIAL SAYS GAZA CHILDREN WILL BE DYING IN ‘HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS’ WITHOUT FOOD

UNITED NATIONS – Unless sustained nutritious food gets into Gaza quickly Palestinian children won’t be dying in the 20s and 30s, “they will be dying in hundreds and thousands,” a U.N. official is warning. Arif Husain, the World Food Program’s chief economist, said Monday that the U.N. food agency has enough food for the 2.2 million people in Gaza, but it can’t get to all those in need to avoid starvation without a cease-fire, much greater access and safety for humanitarian workers. “In the north, and in the rest of the Gaza Strip, time is running out for many, many people,” he warned U.N. journalists at a virtual press conference. “This is why children are dying.” Husain was commenting on a report Monday by more than a dozen high-powered global organizations that determine the severity of food crises which said famine is “imminent” in northern Gaza and a further escalation of the war could push around half of Gaza’s total population to the brink of starvation. “So, cease-fire is a necessary condition for us to be able to halt this famine in northern Gaza and frankly in the rest of the country,” Husain said.

ISRAEL’S MILITARY RELEASES CORRESPONDENT DETAINED IN GAZA HOSPITAL RAID, REPORT SAYS

CAIRO — The Al-Jazeera television network says Israel’s military has released a freelance correspondent who was detained during its raid on Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

Correspondent Ismail Alghoul was detained along with other journalists early Monday while he was covering the raid on the hospital, the network said. It said Israeli troops beat him and destroyed the network’s broadcast vehicle as well as cameras and equipment.

Later Monday, the Qatari-owned network reported that Alghoul was released. It quoted him as saying that he and other journalists were handcuffed, blindfolded and stripped from their clothes for 12 hours.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Israeli forces raided Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, early Monday, saying Hamas militants had regrouped there and fired on them from inside the compound. Palestinian officials say tens of thousands of people have been sheltering in the compound.

FRENCH PRESIDENT VOWS TO COMBAT RESURGENT ANTISEMITISM

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to combat resurgent antisemitism that is seeding fears and doubts among France’s Jewish population, the largest in Europe.

‘’There is no place for antisemitism’’ in France, Macron said at a ceremony Monday marking the 80th anniversary of France’s leading Jewish organization, called CRIF.

He decried a rise in anti-Jewish attacks since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre and acknowledged fears of Jewish people questioning whether they are still safe in France. He said the government is punishing antisemitism relentlessly, ‘’whether in the street, on screens, in our universities.’’

Tensions erupted at the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris last week after pro-Palestinian demonstrators were accused of barring entrance to a member of a Jewish student union.

‘’Wherever antisemitism prospers, all other forms of hatred prosper — hatred of differences, of minorities, of foreigners, of Muslims, of women, of homosexuals,’’ Macron said.

France’s government initially sought to restrict pro-Palestinian protests after Oct. 7. In recent months, Macron has been increasingly critical of Israel’s protracted and deadly offensive on Gaza.

“To defend and love Israel, to want its security, does not mean subscribing to all the choices of the democratic government of the moment,’’ he said.

UN AID OFFICIAL CALLS FOR USE OF ROADS TO EXPEDITE AID INTO GAZA

GENEVA — A top U.N. aid official for Palestinian areas is calling for an opening of “all roads” into Gaza to help avert what food security experts say could be imminent famine in the coming weeks.

Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that roads from Ashdod in Israel into beleaguered north Gaza, the military road, coast road and middle road into Gaza should be used. He said Israeli scanners should check trucks in Jordan and elsewhere to expedite deliveries of needed food and other supplies.

“Unless we can put significant supply increases into those areas, those people who are at catastrophic levels of malnutrition or food insecurity will face real serious problems and imminent death,” McGoldrick said by videoconference to reporters in Geneva. “We have to get all roads open and get all opportunities open for us to actually do more in the current situation.”

McGoldrick spoke shortly after the U.N. food agency said “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza, where 70% of the remaining population is experiencing catastrophic hunger, and that a further escalation of the war could push around half of Gaza’s total population to the brink of starvation. Israel has faced mounting pressure from even its closest allies to streamline the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip.

He downplayed the prospects that maritime shipments or air drops, carried out by some Western countries, into Gaza could be a substitute for entry by land, saying the only real way to sufficient amounts of food and other supplies “into all parts of Gaza would only be by roads.”

SCORES OF ISRAELIS HAVE ACQUIRED GUN LICENSES SINCE OCT. 7 ATTACK BY HAMAS

JERUSALEM — More than 100,000 Israeli citizens have acquired gun licenses since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war last October, Israel’s far-right minister of National Security said Monday.

Itamar Ben-Gvir called the figure a “milestone” in a speech to Israel’s parliament.

“We see today on the streets of Israel that when citizens have weapons, they feel safe, they can counter and neutralize armed terrorists,” he said.

The figure released Monday represented a massive jump from the roughly 150,000 Israelis who held gun licenses before the war, according to his ministry.

Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist West Bank settler, has urged Israelis to arm themselves and after the war erupted, pushed for new regulations through parliament making it easier to acquire a gun. Ben-Gvir said Monday an additional 200,000 citizens are waiting for their license applications to be approved.

Rights groups have cautioned of the dangers of so many guns on the streets, saying they can lead to accidentalshootings, vigilante violence and domestic abuse.

UN CHIEF SAYS 1.1 MILLION IN GAZA FACE ‘CATASTROPIC HUNGER’ WITHOUT IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says 1.1 million people — half the population of Gaza — are facing “catastrophic hunger” as he again called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

“We must act now to prevent the unthinkable, the unacceptable and the unjustifiable,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

While not blaming Israel, the secretary-general’s comments to reporters Monday were clearly aimed at its ongoing military offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people and saw about 250 taken hostage. The offensive has killed over 31,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which says about two-thirds of the dead are women and children.

Referencing a report issued Monday by the Integrated Food Security Classification System, or IPC, Guterres said that “Palestinians in Gaza are enduring horrifying levels of hunger and suffering.”

“The world’s leading experts on food insecurity clearly document that famine in the northern part of Gaza is imminent,” he said.

The IPC report states that the latest evidence confirms that famine “is imminent in the northern governorates of the Gaza Strip and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024.”

Guterres called on Israel to “ensure complete and unfettered access for humanitarian goods throughout Gaza” and for the international community to fully support U.N. humanitarian efforts.

ISRAEL ASKS UN COURT TO REJECT LATEST REQUEST FOR EMERGENCY ORDERS IN GENOCIDE CASE

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Israel has urged the top United Nations court to reject the latest request by South Africa for interim orders to prevent starvation in Gaza, as part of a case accusing Israel of breaching the Genocide Convention with its military offensive against Hamas.

In a written response published Monday by the International Court of Justice, Israel said that claims by South Africa filed earlier this month are “wholly unfounded in fact and law, morally repugnant, and represent an abuse both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court itself.”

Israel’s response was published on the day that the U.N. food agency said that famine is imminent in northern Gaza and that a further escalation of the war could push around half of Gaza’s total population to the brink of starvation.

Israel fervently denies that it is breaching the Genocide Convention, but acknowledged in a written response to South Africa’s allegations that there are “also tragic and agonizing civilian casualties in this war. These realities are the painful result of intensive armed hostilities that Israel did not start and did not want.”

No date has been set for judges to rule on the South African request for more measures.

AL-JAZEERA SAYS ITS REPORTER HAS BEEN DETAINED IN A HOSPITAL RAID IN GAZA

CAIRO — The Al-Jazeera television network says Israeli troops arrested one of its correspondents during their raid on Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital on Monday.

In a statement, it said the troops severely beat correspondent Ismail Alghoul while he was covering the raid on the hospital and destroyed the network’s broadcast vehicle as well as cameras and equipment. It said he was detained along with other journalists and that his whereabouts are unknown.

The Qatari-owned network demanded Alghoul’s release and called the arrest “an intimidation tactic against journalists” to prevent them from reporting on the military’s “crimes against innocent civilians.”

The Israeli military said it had no comment.

Israeli forces launched a raid early Monday on Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, saying Hamas militants had regrouped there and had fired on them from inside the compound where Palestinian officials say tens of thousands of people have been sheltering.

People sheltering in the hospital said troops backed by tanks and artillery had surrounded the medical complex and that snipers were shooting at people inside. They said the army raided a number of buildings and detained dozens of people.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 90 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Israel’s assault in Gaza, while two Israeli journalists were killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that triggered the offensive.

ISRAEL SAYS IT KILLED A SENIOR HAMAS OPERATIVE IN GAZA HOSPITAL

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military says it has killed a senior Hamas operative in an assault on Gaza’s main hospital.

The military said Faiq Mabhouh was a top official in Hamas’ internal security. It said Mabhouh operated and directed militant activity from inside the Shifa Hospital compound in Gaza City.

A soldier was killed during Monday’s operation, it said.

The military earlier said it was conducting a “high-precision operation” in parts of the medical complex after intelligence indicated senior Hamas militants had regrouped there and were directing attacks from the compound.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said the army attacked the hospital, directing gun and missile fire at a building used for specialized surgeries.

Israel raided the medical center in November after claiming that Hamas was concealing a major command and control center within and beneath the compound. It revealed a tunnel running to an underground bunker beneath the hospital, and some weapons discovered inside, but not the elaborate facilities it had described before the raid.

Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian facilities to shield its fighters.

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