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Iran launches attack on Israel: What is the Iron Dome?

ABC News

Iran unleashed an attack on Israel Saturday night, sending more than 300 uncrewed drones and missiles toward targets throughout the country, Israeli military officials said.

All but a few were intercepted by Israel and its allies, including the United States, officials said.

The Pentagon said April 2 that Israel was behind an airstrike in Damascus, Syria, that killed seven people, including a top Iranian commander, even though Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Saturday attack on Israel came more than six months after Hamas terrorists invaded the country on Oct. 7, 2023, after which the Israeli military began its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The Iranian attack resulted in only one known Israeli casualty, a 10-year-old girl who was severely injured when she was struck by shrapnel apparently from an intercepted missile, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Sunday.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi claimed Sunday that Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned of a "heavier" response to "any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation." The Iranian envoy to the United Nations said Sunday that "the issue can be considered closed."

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told ABC's "Good Morning America" Sunday that any response to Iran's attack is up to Israeli forces. But he stressed that President Joe Biden does not want the situation to escalate or have the U.S. drawn further into any conflict.

Israeli officials said the country's Iron Dome defense system endured a big test from Iran's attack on Saturday, intercepting 99% of the 300 "threats of various types" thrown at it.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched 170 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more than 120 ballistic missiles and more than 30 cruise missiles in the attack, according to Hagari.

Hagari said "99% of the threats launched towards Israeli territory were intercepted -- a very significant strategic achievement."

What is the Iron Dome and how does it work?
Like many modern air defense systems, an Iron Dome battery uses a sophisticated radar system to track inbound missiles that are then intercepted by Tamir missiles fired from multiple launchers attached to the radar system.

Each Iron Dome battery consists of three to four launchers that can each carry up to 20 Tamir interceptor missiles.

The system can bring down rockets fired from a range of 2 to 40 miles away.

The mobile air defense system first became operational in 2011 and since then has had a very high success rate in intercepting rockets targeting Israel.

The IDF has disclosed that in May 2023, when Islamic Jihad launched a barrage of rockets toward Israel, 95.6% of the Iron Dome interceptors launched by the system successfully destroyed incoming rockets.

The IDF's information highlights the reality that an interceptor missile is not fired at every rocket that makes it into Israeli territory. Instead, based on tracking data, the system fires interceptors only if an incoming rocket poses a threat to a populated area. If not deemed to pose a threat, then the incoming rocket will land in an unpopulated area.

The Iron Dome is typically located around cities or smaller populated areas that have been targeted in the past by incoming rockets.

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sydney stabbing: 6 dead, suspect killed in attack at major shopping mall

David Gray/AFP via Getty Images

(LONDON) -- At least six people were killed in a knife attack on Saturday at a shopping mall near Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, police confirmed. The attacker was shot dead by a responding officer.

Police said a nine-month-old baby is among the eight others who were injured in the stabbing attack.

The Sydney knifeman was identified as a 40-year-old male and his attack is not thought to be terror-related, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb said during a press conference on Saturday.

The police "don't have fears for that person holding an ideation, in other words, that it's not a terrorism incident," Webb said.

Five women and one man were identified as the victims of the attack.

"A critical incident has commenced following the shooting of male at Bondi Junction. Just before 4pm (Saturday 13 April 2024), emergency services were called to Westfield Bondi Junction following reports of multiple people stabbed," said New South Wales (NSW) Police in a statement following the incident. "People are urged to avoid the area. Inquiries are continuing in relation to the incident and there are no further details."

"There's no suggestion there was anyone targeted, that could change. We will only know that in time," Webb said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's released a statement shortly after the attack.

"I have been briefed by the AFP on the devastating events at Bondi Junction. Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones," said Albanese. "Our hearts go out to those injured and we offer our thanks to those caring for them as well as our brave police and first responders."

White House National Security Spokesperson Adrienne Watson commented on the attack in Sydney, saying that the White House stands "with the people of Australia during this difficult time" and wishing a "speedy recovery" to those who were injured.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in the horrible attack in Sydney, Australia, & we wish a speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries," Watson said in a social media post.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Biden's message to Iran about retaliatory strike on Israel: 'Don't'

Michael Kurilla, head of the United States Central Command meets with IDF chief Aviv Kohavi at the Nevatim airbase in Be'er Sheva, Israel, Nov. 15, 2022. -- Israeli Defense Forces/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden told reporters Friday afternoon he expects an Iranian strike on Israel to occur "sooner than later" amid urgent concerns that Iran was about to retaliate for the bombing of its consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.

Asked for his message to Iran in the tense moment, Biden was blunt, saying simply, "Don't."

"Would the U.S. respond?" ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce asked repeatedly as the president walked away after finishing an unrelated event. He paused, thought a moment and returned to the lectern.

"We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed," he said.

Biden's comments come as other high-level U.S. officials worked urgently behind the scenes to pressure Iran to back down from its threat to launch a retaliatory strike -- the latest challenge facing the Biden administration as it tries to avert an all-out regional war in the Middle East.

At the same time, the U.S. was moving troops and other assets to the Middle East as Iran readied a large number of missiles and drones for a potential strike against Israel, according to U.S. officials.

The deployment of American troops was intended to try to deter Iran from launching a large-scale attack and protecting U.S. troops in the region

Two U.S. officials said that Iran has readied more than a hundred cruise missiles for a possible strike.

The U.S. assets being moved into the region in response could assist with air defense, according to one official.

Some 3,400 US troops are in Iraq and Syria with tens of thousands more U.S. personnel in the Middle East region.

Earlier Friday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the administration was monitoring the situation “very, very closely,” and that while its top priority was ensuring Israel is able to defend itself from a potential Iranian attack, the U.S was also "doing everything we can to protect our people and our facilities.”

“It would be imprudent if we didn't take a look at our own posture in the region, to make sure that we're properly prepared as well," he said.

In a sign of how seriously the U.S. views the risk of escalation, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, had "moved up" a previously scheduled trip to Israel to meet with senior Israeli military leaders "due to recent developments."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also spoke by phone with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday afternoon "to discuss the current situation in the Middle East and to reaffirm the U.S.'s ironclad commitment to Israel's security against threats from Iran and its proxies," according to Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon's press secretary.

Although the U.S. does not have direct diplomatic ties to Iran, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been working the phones with his counterparts in countries that do -- encouraging them to use their influence to dissuade Iran from taking military action in response to the consulate bombing.

In his conversations with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, Blinken made clear "that escalation is not in anyone's interest and that countries should urge Iran not to escalate," according to Miller.

U.S. officials previously told ABC News that the administration believes Iran could retaliate against Israel in the coming days -- potentially using drones and missiles to attack "regional assets" -- and that information about the threat has been shared with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

At a White House news conference on Wednesday, President Biden said Iran was "threatening to launch a significant attack on Israel" and that he had assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. commitment to his country's security was "ironclad."

"We're going to do all we can to protect Israel's security," he said.

While officials say they still believe Iran may could change course, the State Department announced it had placed new restrictions on U.S. personnel in Israel on Thursday, prohibiting employees and their family members from undertaking personal travel outside of the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Be'er Sheva areas until further notice.

According to a travel alert from the department, the limits were imposed "out of an abundance of caution." Miller declined to speak to any specific security assessments that motivated the change in policy but acknowledged Iran's vow for revenge.

"Clearly we are monitoring the threat environment in the Middle East and specifically in Israel, and that's what led us to give that warning to our employees and their family members and to make it public so all U.S. citizens who either live in Israel or traveling there are aware of it," he said.

The renewed concern over a widening conflict in the Middle East was sparked by a strike on an Iranian facility in Syria that Tehran says was carried out by Israel and killed 12 people, including Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior leader in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Although Israel has attacked a number of targets linked to Iran in recent years, primarily as part of its efforts to disrupt arms transfers to Hezbollah and other proxy groups in the region, the Israeli military has not taken credit for the incident in Damascus, which occurred on April 1.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Madonna supports son Rocco at first solo U.S. art exhibit in Miami: "So proud!"

Ricardo Gomes

Madonna took some time out of her busy touring schedule to support her eldest son, Rocco Ritchie, at his latest art exhibit, held in Miami, Florida.

Rocco, who used to create art under the pseudonym Rhed, showed a series of charcoal works on canvas at the exhibit, called "Pack a Punch." The works were portraits of Muay Thai fighters, which Rocco saw during a recent trip to Thailand. According to the Miami Herald, five works were sold; they cost $25,000 each.

On Instagram, Madonna posted photos of herself and daughter Mercy, son David and twins Stella and Estere attending the exhibit. "So happy to have the night off to enjoy my son Rocco’s’s latest collection ... So Proud !" she wrote. In one photo, she and Rocco have their backs to the camera; she has her arm around him.

According to the Herald, in addition to Rocco's family, the show was attended by Gloria Estefan, husband Emilio and daughter Emily, as well as Miami Dolphins linebacker Duke Riley and Fifth Harmony's Lauren Jauregui.

Madonna, who performed in Miami on April 6, 7 and 9, wore a three-piece Roberto Cavalli green suit and big white cowboy hat to the exhibit. Her next tour stop is Austin, Texas, on April 14.


Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Israel-Gaza live updates: Iran begins retaliatory attack against Israel

Omar El Qattaa/Anadolu via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- An Israeli attack in Gaza on a convoy of aid workers from World Central Kitchen, the relief organization providing desperately needed food to Palestinians, has generated outrage from the group's founder, celebrity chef José Andrés and condemnation from around the world.

Israel has apologized for the strikes, which killed seven members of the group on April 1, saying it was an accident in "the fog of war." They have promised a thorough investigation of the incident, which Andrés said was deliberate.

Six months after Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip. About 1,200 people were killed in the initial terrorist attack, according to Israeli officials, while Israel's bombing of Gaza has killed more than 33,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 13, 5:27 PM
Israel says Iran only targeted military sites

An Israeli military source told ABC News that Iran has targeted military sites only -- civilian sites were not targeted.

The Israel Defense Forces also moved up its arrival estimate: The first drones will close in on Israel an hour earlier than expected, at 1 a.m. local time, 6 p.m. ET.

Apr 13, 5:11 PM
US officials think there will be 400 to 500 drones, missiles launched

A senior U.S. official told ABC News they now think there will be anywhere from 400 to 500 drones and missiles launched at Israel from Iraq, Syria, southern Lebanon and the Houthis but that the bulk will be launched form Iran.

The drones are the same kind used in Ukraine.

Apr 13, 5:11 PM
Israeli airspace to close at 12:30 a.m. local time

Israeli aviation authorities say they are closing the country's airspace to all flights at 12:30 a.m. local time, 5:30 p.m. ET.

Flights would be affected and advised travelers to check with their airlines for changes.

Iranian state television also announced that Tehran had launched an attack toward Israel. Iraq's state news agency quoted Transportation Minister Raqqa Saadawi as saying the country's airspace was closed.

Before the attack was announced, a FlyDubai flight from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Tel Aviv, Israel, turned around as it was over Saudi Arabia, flight-tracking data showed. United Airlines also canceled a Saturday flight from Newark to Tel Aviv and the return flight.

Apr 13, 5:04 PM
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps says extensive missiles, drones launched

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it has launched extensive missile and drone operations against targets in the occupied territories, according to Tasnim, the Iranian news-agency affiliated with the branch of Iran's armed forces.

An Israeli source also confirmed to ABC News that Iran fired cruise missiles from Iraq as well.

In a post on X, the Iranian Foreign Minister said "necessary warning has been given to America."

Apr 13, 4:56 PM
What US officials expect in the coming hours

The U.S. will try to help Israel intercept everything possible -- not just those that pass over U.S. ships -- despite Iran informing the U.S. that they should stay out of it, a senior U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

In the coming hours the U.S. expects missile launches from Iran and southern Lebanon -- and maybe even the Houthis -- as well as drones, which take longer to reach target. The Iranians are trying to overwhelm the Israeli air defenses with drones and missiles coming in at different altitudes, speeds and directions -- but hitting targets at the same time, according to the official.

While the U.S. expects that most of these will be intercepted -- upwards of 85% -- the fear is that if any Israeli lives are lost, the Israeli response will be much bigger.

The target is believed to be three military bases, especially one where F-35s are kept. While these bases are relatively remote, there are towns nearby and these Iranian weapons are not completely accurate.

The U.S. has no doubt Israel will respond whether lives are lost or not. And that Iran itself will be targeted.

-ABC News' Martha Raddatz

Apr 13, 4:48 PM
Wide concern in the White House that Iran's retaliatory attack will cause widespread war

Sources at the White House say there’s deep concern that an Iranian retaliatory strike against Israel -- and the possible Israeli response -- will widen this war.

President Joe Biden cut his weekend vacation short to consult with his national security team in preparation for this. They’ve been on high alert and knew this attack was imminent.

U.S. officials the military is prepared to provide assistance to defend Israel against attacks if needed.

The U.S. is already moving military assets to the region to deter Iran and help protect U.S. forces. Officials say they have been urging Iran against further escalation or attacks on U.S. forces. They’ve been stressing that the U.S. was not involved in the Damascus, Syria, strike earlier this month.

-ABC News' Selina Wang

Apr 13, 4:39 PM
Iran's leader confirms attack on Israel, says 'evil regime will be punished'

Iran's leader has confirmed that a retaliatory attack on Israel has begun.

"The evil regime will be punished", Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement on X.

Iranian state TV also confirmed the attack in a banner.

"The extensive drone operation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps against targets in the occupied territories has started a few minutes ago," the banner said.

Apr 13, 4:37 PM
US official confirms Iran's retaliatory strike has begun

A U.S. official has confirmed Israel's announcement that Iran’s retaliatory strike has begun.

President Joe Biden will meet with principals of the National Security Council to discuss events in the Middle East Saturday afternoon. The meeting will take place in the White House Situation Room, the White House confirmed.

"Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel. President Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team," the White House said in a statement.

"This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours. President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel's security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran," it added.

-ABC News' Luis Martinez and Mary Bruce

Apr 13, 4:18 PM
Israel says Iran fired dozens of drones

Iran has launched dozens of drones toward Israel, but it could take hours for them to reach, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

Israel is closing down its airspace after midnight local time and Israel's defense systems are deployed, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We are prepared for any scenario, both in defense and attack," Netanyahu said in a video statement.

Apr 13, 3:34 PM
Jordan temporarily closes its airspace to all incoming, departing, transiting aircrafts

Starting Saturday night, the Jordanian airspace will be temporarily closed to all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft, Jordan's Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority said in a statement.

Apr 13, 2:48 PM
Hamas ready for 'serious and real' swap deal, group says in response to Israeli proposal

Hamas says it has handed Egyptian and Qatari mediators its response to an Israeli proposal it received at talks in Cairo last week, while reiterating its key demands of a permanent cease-fire, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the return of displaced people to their areas and places of residence and intensifying the entry of relief and aid.

"We also confirm our readiness to enter a serious and real prisoner exchange deal between the two parties," Hamas said in a statement.

-ABC News' Edward Szekeres

Apr 13, 2:29 PM
Hezbollah says it hit Iron Dome after Israel says it struck military compounds

Hezbollah says it attacked Iron Dome platforms "with drones" hitting "the targets accurately."

Earlier Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces said a number of anti-tank missiles crossed from Lebanon, as well as Hezbollah unmanned aerial vehicles.

The IDF also said it struck a series of Hezbollah military compounds on Saturday.

Apr 13, 2:28 PM
Israel closes schools, limits gatherings ahead of anticipated Iranian attack

The Israel Defense Forces announced changes to the "Home Front Command's defensive guidelines" as of 11 p.m. Israel time Saturday ahead of an anticipated Iranian attack that could be imminent.

As part of the changes, schools and educational institutions will remain closed across Israel, "prohibiting educational activities," -- not only because the Passover vacation is starting. Gatherings will be limited to 1,000 people in green areas.

-ABC News' Edward Szekeres

Apr 13, 10:50 AM
Ship seized by Iran in 'pirate operation' is Portuguese, Israel says

In a statement in response to Iran's seizure of a cargo ship it said was Israeli, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz claimed it was a Portuguese civilian cargo ship, belonging to an EU member.

Katz called Iran's seizing of the cargo ship "a pirate operation in violation of international law". He also called Iran's "Ayatollah regime" a "criminal regime".

"The Ayatollah regime of @khameneiir is a criminal regime that supports Hamas' crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law. I call on the European Union and the free world to immediately declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guards corps as a terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now," Katz said in a statement.

-ABC News' Dana Savir

Apr 13, 9:14 AM
Palestinian man killed after Israeli boy goes missing, found dead in West Bank

A Palestinian man has been killed in the occupied West Bank and 25 are reported hurt after dozens of Jewish settlers stormed a village during an Israeli search for a missing teenager. Israeli troops intervened after dozens of settlers stormed al-Mughayyir armed with guns and stones.

It is not yet clear whether the man who died, Jehad Abu Alia, 26, was shot by an armed settler or Israeli soldier. The Palestinian Red Crescent said live fire hit at least eight people.

The missing boy, identified as Benjamin Ahimeir, 14, was found dead. He had gone missing Friday morning before Israeli officials say he was killed in a "terror attack."

"Security forces are continuing the pursuit after those suspected of carrying out the attack," the Israel Defense Forces said Saturday.

-ABC News' Edward Szekeres

Apr 13, 7:16 AM
Iran seizes Israeli-linked ship in Strait of Hormuz

In a report posted on X, the Iranian Tasnim state news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) said paramilitary Revolutionary Guard commandos seized a cargo ship near the Strait of Hormuz.

The detained ship, named "MSC Aries," operates under the flag of Portugal and is connected to the London-based company called Zodiac Maritime which is partially owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

“MSC is the manager and commercial operator of the container vessel MSC Aries. MSC is responsible for all vessel activities including cargo operations and maintenance," Zodiac Maritime said in a statement to ABC News on Saturday. "Title to the vessel is held by Gortal Shipping Inc. as financier and she has been leased to MSC on a long term basis. Gortal Shipping Inc. is affiliated with Zodiac Maritime. MSC is also responsible for the vessel’s itinerary, schedule and crew onboard and any queries about the vessel should be directed to MSC”.

Further details regarding the seized vessel are expected to be released shortly.

"We regret to confirm that MSC Aries owned by Zodiac Maritime and chartered to MSC has been boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter as she passed the Strait of Hormuz," MSC said in a statement. "She has since been diverted from her itinerary towards Iran. She has 25 crew onboard, and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel."

- ABC News' Dana Savir

Apr 12, 3:23 PM
Biden's message to Iran on possible strike on Israel: 'Don't'

President Joe Biden told reporters he expects an Iranian strike on Israel to occur "sooner than later."

Asked for his message to Iran in this moment, Biden was blunt, saying simply: "Don't."

Asked by ABC News if the U.S. would respond, he said, "We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed."

-ABC News' Mary Bruce

Apr 12, 1:51 PM
Iran has readied over 100 cruise missiles for possible strike on Israel: US officials

U.S. officials continue to see indicators that Iran could be ready to attack Israel with missile and drone strikes.

Iran has readied a large number of missiles for a possible strike, according to three U.S. officials. Two of the officials said that Iran has readied more than 100 cruise missiles for a possible strike. Iran has also readied a sizeable number of drones that could be used in an attack on Israel, according to one official.

The officials said that Iran has been readying the missiles and drones over the last week.

-ABC News' Luis Martinez

Apr 12, 1:32 PM
1 dead after settlers storm West Bank village: Palestinian Health Ministry

At least one person is dead and 18 others injured after Israeli settlers allegedly stormed the village of Al-Mughayir in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Some 1,500 settlers burned more than 40 homes and vehicles in the village, according to Marzouq Abu Naim, the deputy mayor of the Al-Mughir Village Council.

The Israel Defense Forces said that "violent riots" erupted in the area while forces searched for a missing 14-year-old boy.

"During the incident, rocks were hurled at IDF soldiers, who responded with fire. Hits were identified," the IDF said in a statement. "Furthermore, IDF and Israel Border Police forces operated to withdraw Israeli civilians who entered the town of Al Mughayyir."

The crowds have since dispersed and there are no longer any Israeli civilians present within the town, the IDF said.

Apr 12, 12:54 PM
EU countries sanction 3 terrorist group wings over Oct. 7 sexual and gender-based violence

The European Union has sanctioned three terrorist group wings for "widespread sexual and gender-based violence" that occurred in Israel on Oct. 7, the EU Council said.

The sanctioned entities are the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Nukhba Force, a Hamas special forces unit; and the Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas are designated as terrorist organizations by the EU.

"Those listed under the sanctions regime are subject to an asset freeze, and the provision of funds or economic resources, directly or indirectly, to them or for their benefit, is prohibited," the EU Council said.

Apr 12, 11:49 AM
WHO details the destruction of medical facilities in Khan Younis

The World Health Organization described the destruction in Khan Younis as "disproportionate to anything one can imagine."

Nasser Medical Complex -- once the "backbone" of the health system in southern Gaza -- Al-Amal and Al-Khair hospitals are "non-functional," according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"These facilities have no oxygen supply, water, electricity or sewage system," he said Thursday on X, a day after WHO team members and partners went to Khan Younis to assess health facilities following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the city.

Jordanian Field Hospital was found to be "minimally operational," he said.

"The once robust health system in Gaza is broken," Ghebreyesus said. "WHO and partners stand ready to support reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, but we need a ceasefire. Nothing else can bring a lasting and humane outcome."

Apr 11, 5:36 PM
Erez crossing to remain closed as Israeli builds new road into Gaza

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Thursday that Israel is constructing a new land crossing from Israel into northern Gaza to facilitate more aid deliveries.

The Erez crossing, a key pedestrian crossing that was destroyed by Hamas on Oct. 7, will remain closed.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would reopen the crossing for aid after speaking with President Joe Biden following the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen workers by an Israeli airstrike.

Although the timetable for the opening of the new land crossing wasn't revealed, Hagari said it would be located near the Erez crossing but not in the exact same spot.

Hagari said he expected 58 trucks would pass through the new crossing daily.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

Apr 11, 3:47 PM
White House pressed on whether famine in Gaza was preventable

Following USAID Administrator Samantha Power acknowledging that famine is happening in northern Gaza, the White House was pressed Thursday on whether this could have been prevented if they had pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sooner to increase deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The U.S. has often called on Israel to open more crossings and allow for more aid to reach Gaza, but it wasn't until last week when President Joe Biden told Netanyahu that U.S. policy on Gaza hinges on Israel announcing and implementing measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers.

"Every time the president has spoken to the prime minister there's -- part of that conversation has been to do more humanitarian aid," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked if it was a mistake not to push Netanyahu to open the Ashdod port and Erez crossing sooner to help prevent famine.

She was asked specifically who is to blame for famine in Gaza, but she didn't attribute it to anyone, instead saying the focus is going to be on getting aid in.

"The humanitarian situation in Gaza, obviously, is dire. And that is why the president is doing everything that he can to get more humanitarian aid in," she said. "And that's what our focus is going to be."

-ABC News' Justin R. Gomez

Apr 11, 3:41 PM
US enacts new travel restrictions for personnel in Israel

The State Department revealed that U.S. government employees and their family members are now prohibited from undertaking any personal travel in Israel outside of the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva areas "until further notice."

The alert says the restrictions were imposed "out of an abundance of caution" and shared to help other Americans in Israel make their own security plans.

"In response to security incidents and without advance notice, the U.S. Embassy may further restrict or prohibit U.S. government employees and their family members from traveling to certain areas of Israel (including the Old City of Jerusalem) and the West Bank," the alert adds.

Asked whether the limitations were directly connected to Iran’s threats, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller declined to speak to the specific assessments motivating the policy but acknowledged the public warnings from Iran and said Israel is in "a very tough neighborhood."

"Clearly we are monitoring the threat environment in the Middle East and specifically in Israel, and that's what led us to give that warning to our employees and their family members and to make it public so all U.S. citizens who either live in Israel or traveling there are aware of it," he said.

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford

Apr 10, 7:33 PM
US Central Command leader to meet with Israel about Iran threat, building piers

Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, is set to meet with officials in Israel about Iran and the Joint logistics over-the-shore floating piers which U.S. military officials currently on the ground in Israel have been working to coordinate with Israeli military officials, an Israeli official told ABC News.

The official said there has been a "marathon of calls" between Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the National Security Council, the State Department and the Pentagon, which the official credits with increasing statements of support by the administration for Israel in case it’s attacked by Iran. Those talks were an extension of the meetings two weeks ago when the White House summoned Israeli officials to Washington to discuss the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza.

After months of U.S. calls for Israel to massively increase aid, multiple Israeli security officials tell ABC News that Israel heard the message loud and clear this time.

"We heard what they said about the humanitarian effort," the official told ABC News, noting Gallant came back from his trip to the U.S. and gave a "directive: 'We need to make an immediate impact on the scope and speed of the humanitarian aid going into Gaza,' and that's what we've done."

Apr 10, 1:43 PM
US skeptical that Hamas has enough hostages to fulfill 1st phase of proposed deal: Source

U.S. officials are skeptical that Hamas is holding enough Israeli hostages to meet the requirements for the first phase of the proposed deal currently on the table, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The proposal calls for Hamas to hand over 40 hostages who are either: children; women not affiliated with the Israel Defense Forces; sick adults; or adults over 50 years old, according to the officials.

In exchange, Israel would free an undefined number of Palestinian prisoners and implement a cease-fire of at least six weeks.

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Apr 10, 1:36 PM
World Central Kitchen worker hurt in separate IDF strike

World Central Kitchen said one of its workers was injured in a separate airstrike in Gaza on the same day that seven WCK workers were killed.

Fifteen minutes before the Israeli attack that killed seven workers on April 1, "One of our brave Palestinian staff members was gravely injured in a reportedly deadly airstrike at al-Bashir Mosque in Deir al-Balah," World Central Kitchen said in a statement.

The two attacks were within miles of each other, WCK said.

The Palestinian staff member, Amro, suffered "serious head and hand injuries while he was off duty in a home close to the mosque in the area surrounding our warehouse and newly established kitchen in Deir al-Balah," WCK said.

He was in a coma for some time and is now recovering, the agency said.

"Amro joined the WCK team just after the start of the year," WCK said. "He was given rare opportunities to leave Gaza for Egypt several times, but he refused. He always says, 'I am here serving people hot food every day. I will not leave my job and let them suffer.'"

Apr 10, 1:21 PM
3 sons of Hamas political chief killed in Israeli strike, Hamas says

Three sons of Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, according to a statement from Hamas.

Three of the brothers’ children were also killed in the strike.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the strike and said the sons were part of Hamas' military wing.

Apr 10, 10:47 AM
3 sons of Hamas political chief killed in Israeli strike, Hamas says

Three sons of Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, according to a statement from Hamas.

Three of the brothers’ children were also killed in the strike.

Apr 09, 7:06 PM
'No higher priority': Harris meets with American hostages' families

During a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with the families of Americans being held hostage by Hamas, Vice President Kamala Harris said there is "no higher priority than reuniting the hostages with their loved ones," according to a White House readout.

Harris also reaffirmed the United States' commitment to bringing home the remains of those hostages who have been confirmed dead, according to the readout.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose 23-year-old son Hersh is being held hostage by Hamas, described the meeting with Harris as "very productive."

“There is a possibility of holding two truths,” Goldberg-Polin told reporters outside the White House. “You can believe, as we do, that it is horrible that innocent civilians in Gaza are suffering, and at the same time you can also know that it is horrible and against international law for hostages to be held against their will."

Goldberg-Polin said her son got his arm blown off during Hamas' attack at the Nova Music festival on Oct. 7. Her husband, Jonathan Polin, said that they "have no choice but to stay hopeful."

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, the father of American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, called on Hamas to reach a deal to release the hostages.

"We are waiting now and the world waits for Hamas to get to yes," Dekel-Chen told reporters. "It is in their court."

Apr 09, 6:48 PM
Biden calls for cease-fire 'now' to get aid into Gaza in Univision interview

President Joe Biden called for an immediate cease-fire to get food and aid into Gaza in an interview airing Tuesday night on Univision.

"So I what I'm calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a cease-fire, allow for the next six, eight weeks total access to all food and medicine going into the country," Biden said in the interview with Univision's Enrique Acevedo. "I've spoken with everyone from the Saudis to the Jordanians to the Egyptians. They're prepared to move in. They're prepared to move this food in. And I think there's no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now."

Biden did not mention tying the cease-fire to a hostage deal, according to a transcript of the interview, which would be a shift for the administration. ABC News has reached out to the White House for comment.

Last week, officials pushed back on suggestions that they were separating calls for a cease-fire from hostage negotiations in their readout of Biden's call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Our conviction remains that we need to see an immediate cease-fire to enable the release of hostages but also to enable a dramatic surge in humanitarian assistance, as well as obviously better protecting civilians," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on April 4.

In the Univision interview, Biden also called Netanyahu's approach in Gaza "a mistake" when asked if he believed the prime minister was "more concerned about his political survival than he is in the national interest of his people" as calls for Netanyahu's resignation have increased following the strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.

"Well, I will tell you, I think what he's doing is a mistake. I don't agree with his approach. I think it's outrageous that those four, three vehicles were hit by drones and taken out on a highway where it wasn't like it was along the shore, it wasn't like there was a convoy moving there, etc.," Biden said in the interview.

The hour-long interview, which is airing at 10 p.m. ET, was taped a day before Biden's call with Netanyahu on April 4.

Apr 09, 4:00 PM
US effort to build humanitarian pier off Gaza expected to top $180M

President Joe Biden's plan to use the military to build a giant pier off the coast of Gaza to deliver food, water and medicine will cost at least $180 million and could top $200 million, ABC News has learned.

The price tag was described by two people familiar with the initial estimate, which has not been released by U.S. Central Command.

The price tag is expected to fluctuate as U.S. officials scramble to finalize key details on the project, including which humanitarian organizations and foreign governments are willing to help carry the shipments to shore and distribute them.

The floating dock is expected to be nearly the size of a football field -- about 97 feet wide and 270 feet long -- stationed about 3 miles offshore. Container ships would screen their cargo in Cyprus before taking it to the floating dock and unloading it. From there, the aid would be moved aboard small Army ferries that would transport it to an 1,800-foot "trident" pier that connects to shore.

Officials also continue to discuss how to protect the service members who will be 3 miles offshore, where Hamas is believed to still operate.

The project -- which triggered the deployment of six Army and Navy ships and will involve some 1,000 U.S. military troops -- is on track to become operational in early May, enabling the delivery of some 2 million meals per day.

Click here to read more.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty and Luis Martinez

Apr 09, 2:36 PM
New record number of aid trucks enter Gaza, IDF says

The Israel Defense Forces said 468 aid trucks entered Gaza on Tuesday -- the highest number to enter Gaza in one day since the war began.

More than 1,200 aid trucks have entered Gaza over the last three days, according to the IDF and Israeli aid agency COGAT.

Apr 09, 2:02 PM
Blinken gets emotional about Americans directly impacted by Israel-Hamas war

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke emotionally Tuesday about the Americans directly impacted by the Israel-Hamas war, touching on both the hostages still held captive and the aid workers killed in Gaza.

At a news conference with his United Kingdom counterpart, David Cameron, Blinken was asked about Rachel Goldberg, whose 23-year-old son, American-Israeli Hersch Goldberg-Polin, was captured by Hamas. Goldberg is asserting that negotiators have failed.

"I know Rachel well. If I were sitting in her shoes, I'd undoubtably be feeling and saying the same thing," Blinken said. "Because until the day that Hersch is home, we will not have succeeded in doing what we're determined to do -- which is to bring him and bring all the hostages back."

Blinken also said he spoke with the family of Jacob Flickinger, a 33-year-old dual U.S.-Canadian citizen who was one of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza last week.

"I spoke over the weekend to Jacob's father and to his partner. I heard directly from them," he said. "Separately, Jacob leaves an 18-month-old son. Leaving everything else aside, just on a purely human level, my heart goes out to that family and to that little boy who now has no father."

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Apr 09, 1:52 PM
Blinken says Israel hasn't communicated date for Rafah operation, but he doesn't 'see anything imminent'

Asked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Israel had set a date for its offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. was in the dark. But Blinken added that he doesn't think the operation is imminent.

"No, we do not have a date for any Rafah operation -- at least one that's been communicated to us by the Israelis," Blinken said at a news conference with his United Kingdom counterpart, David Cameron. "On the contrary, what we have is an ongoing conversation with Israel about any Rafah operation. The president has been very clear about our concerns -- our deep concerns about Israel's ability to move civilians out of harm’s way."

Blinken said he expected talks between Israeli and American officials on the matter would press on into next week and that he didn’t want to "prejudge" an outcome.

"I don't anticipate any actions being taken before those talks," he said. "I don't see anything imminent."

As other Biden administration officials have done, Blinken stressed that the administration’s evaluation of Israel’s efforts to meet dire humanitarian needs in Gaza would be ongoing, and that officials would be "looking at a number of critical things that need to happen in the coming days."

Blinken said that list of items includes: opening a new portal for aid in northern Gaza; using Israel’s Port of Ashdod to bring in supplies on a regular basis; maximizing the flow of assistance from Jordan; repairing water lines throughout Gaza; and "putting in place a much more effective deconfliction mechanism with the humanitarian groups that are providing assistance."

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Apr 09, 12:23 PM
McConnell criticizes Biden, claims he's caving to political pressure on Israel

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is claiming President Joe Biden is caving to political pressure on Israel.

McConnell criticized Biden for expressing outrage at the deaths of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, who were killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza last week, after his administration had called it a tragic accident.

"[That] begs the question whether he's also outraged at the way Israel's cherished aggressors violate international law by turning hospitals and schools [in Gaza] into fighting positions," McConnell said Tuesday. "Instead of welcoming Israel's swift investigation and efforts to hold personnel accountable for their mistakes -- accountability that has been sorely lacking during President Biden's own administration -- the president caved further to domestic political pressure. He indulged his radical base."

-ABC News’ John Parkinson

Apr 09, 11:07 AM
Harris to meet with American hostages' families on Tuesday

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the families of American hostages being held by Hamas on Tuesday afternoon, according to the White House.

Harris will "express her continued support for these families and the hostages and will provide an update on our administration’s efforts to broker a deal to secure the release of all hostages and an immediate cease-fire," a White House official said.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan met with the families on Monday.

The families told Sullivan they were appreciative of the Biden administration’s support, but also disappointed that a deal still hadn’t been reached to bring home the remaining hostages, which include eight American-Israeli citizens, the Hostages Families Forum Headquarters said.

The families said they told Sullivan they’re worried their loved ones will be the next to die if the negotiators don’t reach a deal soon.

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Apr 09, 10:54 AM
Israel says IDF killed head of Hamas' Emergency Bureau

The Israel Defense Forces said its fighter jets struck and killed Hatem Alramery, the head of Hamas' Emergency Bureau, in Gaza on Monday night.

Hamas said civilians were also killed in the strike.

Apr 09, 10:48 AM
Hamas says Israel is being 'stubborn' in negotiations

Hamas officials are accusing the Israelis of being "stubborn" during the latest round of negotiations in Cairo.

"Despite this," Hamas officials said in a statement, Hamas leaders are "studying the submitted proposal … and will inform the mediators of its response once this is completed."

CIA Director Bill Burns presented a new hostage/cease-fire proposal in Cairo this weekend, which included an initial release of 40 hostages in exchange for six-week cease-fire, a source familiar with the negotiations told ABC News.

Apr 09, 8:49 AM
Harris to meet with American hostages' families on Tuesday

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the families of American hostages being held by Hamas on Tuesday afternoon, according to the White House.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan met with the families on Monday.

Harris will "express her continued support for these families and the hostages and will provide an update on our administration’s efforts to broker a deal to secure the release of all hostages and an immediate cease-fire," a White House official said.

Apr 08, 8:33 PM
CIA director presented new hostage-release deal: Source

A source tells ABC News that CIA Director William J. Burns presented a new hostage-release/cease-fire proposal in Cairo last weekend to help broker a deal between Israel and Hamas.

The source confirmed the proposal included an initial release of 40 hostages in exchange for a six-week cease-fire.

Officially, the CIA did not provide a comment.

Apr 08, 3:52 PM
Highest number of aid trucks enter Gaza since start of war

A total of 419 humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza on Monday, marking the highest number of aid trucks to enter Gaza in one day since the start of the war, according to Israeli aid agency COGAT.

This beats the record that was set one day earlier, when 322 trucks entered Gaza.

Apr 08, 1:11 PM
Netanyahu says Israel has set a date to enter Rafah

Israel has set a date for its forces to enter Rafah in southern Gaza, though the date has not been announced, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief video message in Hebrew on Monday.

"Today I received a detailed report on the [negotiation] talks in Cairo,” Netanyahu said. “We are working all the time to achieve our goals, primarily the release of all our hostages and achieving a complete victory over Hamas.”

“This victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there,” he continued. “It will happen -- there is a date.”

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

Apr 08, 12:39 PM
White House still reviewing IDF report on WCK strike, Kirby says

The White House is still reviewing the Israel Defense Force’s investigation of the Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza, according to White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

Officials are "still working our way through it," Kirby told reporters Monday. He didn’t provide any update on when that assessment will be done.

Kirby also said the postponed visit by the Israeli delegation to the White House to discuss the IDF’s presence in Rafah in southern Gaza will likely be delayed again.

"I'm not sure that it's going to actually happen this week," he said. "I think folks are really sort of circling around sometime next week."

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Apr 07, 5:00 PM
Egypt to dramatically increase number of aid trucks through Rafah crossing

Egypt has decided to increase the number of aid trucks entering the Gaza Strip through its Rafah border crossing to 300 trucks per day, Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt's State Information Service, said Sunday.

The average number of trucks entering the crossing daily since the beginning of April has been 55, Egyptian officials said.

A total of 322 trucks entered North Gaza via Rafah during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Rashwan said.

Since Oct. 7, 2023, more than 19,000 relief trucks have entered the Gaza Strip through Rafah, Rashwan said.

Rashwan also said 66,759 foreign passport holders and dual nationals exited Gaza into Egypt through Rafah since the war began. Some 3,764 wounded Palestinians and patients, along with 6,191 relatives have also left Gaza into Egypt, according to Rashwan.

-ABC News' Ayat Al-Tawy

Apr 07, 3:48 PM
Talks to resume Sunday in Egypt, Israeli source says

An Israeli delegation has arrived in Cairo, Egypt, for a new round of cease-fire and hostage release talks, an Israeli source confirmed Sunday to ABC News.

-ABC News Jordana Miller

Apr 07, 2:51 PM
Troop withdrawal was to prepare for missions, including in Rafah, Israeli defense minister says

The withdrawal Sunday of Israeli troops from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip was done to prepare forces for future missions, including in Rafah, according to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“The withdrawal of troops from Khan Younis was carried out once Hamas ceased to exist as a military framework in the city," Gallant said Sunday. "Our forces left the area in order to prepare for their future missions, including their mission in Rafah.”

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Israel Defense Forces' southern command, Gallant said, "We saw examples of such missions in Shifaa, and [will see] such missions in the Rafah area. We will reach a point when Hamas no longer controls the Gaza Strip and does not function as a military framework that poses a threat to the citizens of the State of Israel."

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi also confirmed Sunday that "the war in Gaza continues" and Israel is "far from stopping."

Senior Hamas officials are still hiding in the southern Gaza Strip area, Halevi said in a statement.

"We will get to them sooner or later," Halevi said, adding that the IDF "will know how to return to fighting in the event of a truce as part of a hostage deal and that returning the hostages is a more urgent matter than other goals."

Halevi also said Israel is preparing to defend itself from a possible strike from Iran, which has vowed to retaliate against an airstrike allegedly carried out by Israel in Syria last week that killed a top Iranian commander.

Halevi said the IDF is fully prepared to deal with Tehran "in attack and defense."

-ABC News' Jordana Miller

Apr 07, 11:31 AM
Israeli reforms after strike on aid workers must be verified: White House

John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, said Sunday that any reforms by Israel after its deadly strike on the World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid convoy in Gaza last week have to be verified to restore "confidence."

Seven WCK workers were killed in the attack, which Israel has described as a "terrible mistake." The Israeli government and military have taken some steps in response, including allowing more aid into Gaza and disciplining some officers involved in the WCK drone strike.

"We need to see change over time," Kirby told ABC News "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz. "So, these announcements, Martha, they're very welcomed, and they're good. And they are some of the things that the president asked specifically for Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu to do in terms of opening up additional crossings, allowing more trucks in, getting the deconfliction process in place."

Kirby added, "But now we have to judge it over time, we have to see past the announcements and see if they actually meet these commitments over time, in a sustained and verifiable way, so that confidence can be restored not just between aid workers and [Israel's forces], but between the people of Gaza and Israel."

-ABC News' Tal Axelrod

Apr 07, 10:31 AM
Israel withdraws ground troops from southern Gaza Strip: IDF

Israel has withdrawn all ground troops from the southern Gaza Strip, after four straight months of fighting in the Khan Younis area, according to Israel Defense Forces sources.

A significant force led by Israel's 162nd division and the Nahal Brigade continues to operate in the Gaza Strip, preserving the IDF’s freedom of action and its ability to conduct precise intelligence-based operations, according to the IDF sources.

-ABC News' Dana Savir and Jordana Miller

Apr 07, 9:52 AM
'War against humanity,' WCK founder Jose Andres tells ABC News

Chef José Andrés claimed Israel is committing a "war against humanity itself" during an exclusive sit-down interview with "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz, following the Israeli drone strike attack that killed seven of his World Central Kitchen workers.

Andrés, who founded the humanitarian organization in 2010, pushed back against the Israel Defense Forces' findings on the WCK convoy strike, telling Raddatz, "Every time something happens, we cannot just be bringing Hamas into the equation."

"This is not anymore about the seven men and women of World Central Kitchen that perished on this unfortunate event. This is happening for way too long. It's been six months of targeting anything that seems moves," Andrés said. "This doesn't seem a war against terror. This doesn't seem anymore a war about defending Israel. This really, at this point, seems it's a war against humanity itself."

The IDF findings released on Friday said there were three strikes on the convoy. It also said WCK workers hit in the first vehicle were hit again while moving to another vehicle in the convoy. The IDF confirmed that the aid group had coordinated their movements correctly with them in advance, but conceded that Israeli officials failed to update its brigade on the coordinated humanitarian operation.

Asked by Raddatz if he was satisfied with the report's findings, Andrés thanked the IDF for conducting "such a quick investigation" though called for a more thorough, independent one.

"I will say something so complicated, the investigation should be much more deeper," he said. "And I would say that the perpetrator cannot be investigating himself."

Watch the full interview with Andrés on "This Week" Sunday morning on ABC.

-ABC News' Meredith Deliso

Apr 07, 5:42 AM
Israel 'still unhealed' 6 months into war, UK prime minister says

Six months into Israel’s war with Hamas, Israel’s “wounds” caused by the terror attack on Oct. 7 remain “unhealed,” U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

And Palestinians, including children, in the Gaza Strip need a humanitarian pause “immediately,” as well as a sustainable long-term cease-fire, Sunak said in a statement on Saturday.

“After six months of war in Gaza, the toll on civilians continues to grow — hunger, desperation, loss of life on an awful scale,” he said.

The U.K. continues to stand by Israel’s right to defend itself and defeat Hamas, he said, but he also called for the “terrible” conflict to end. The hostages must be released and aid must “be flooded in” to Gaza, he said.

“But the whole of the U.K. is shocked by the bloodshed, and appalled by the killing of brave British heroes who were bringing food to those in need,” Sunak said, referring to World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in Israeli military strikes.

Apr 06, 3:22 PM
UN issues report on Al-Shifa Hospital, calling for cease-fire

The United Nations said it finally gained access to Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, following a days-long Israeli raid and found what the head of the World Health Organization called "an empty shell," with most buildings destroyed.

"The scale of devastation has left the facility completely non-functional, further reducing access to life-saving health care in Gaza. Restoring even minimal functionality in the short term seems implausible and will require substantial efforts to assess and clear the grounds for unexploded ordnance to ensure safety and accessibility for partners to bring in equipment and supplies," WHO said in a statement.

The WHO said its efforts to reach the hospital "to medically evacuate patients and staff and conduct an assessment were denied, delayed or impeded 6 times between 25 March and 1 April." According to the WHO at least 20 patients died due to lack of access to care.

The WHO said numerous shallow graves, and many partially buried bodies, were found just outside the emergency department after the Israeli siege.

"During the visit, WHO staff witnessed at least five bodies lying partially covered on the ground, exposed to the heat. The team reported a pungent smell of decomposing bodies engulfing the hospital compound. Safeguarding dignity, even in death, is an indispensable act of humanity," according to the WHO.

The destruction of Shifa and the main hospital in southern Gaza - Nasser - "has broken the backbone of the already ailing health system," the WHO said.

Apr 06, 3:15 PM
UN marks 'terrible milestone' as Gaza faces 'man-made famine'

The people of Gaza are facing the "immediate prospect of a shameful manmade famine," United Nations Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths said, as he called for an end to the war.

"We have arrived at a terrible milestone," Griffiths said in a statement marking six months of the Israel-Hamas war. He called the prospect of further escalation in Gaza "unconscionable."

"Rarely has there been such global outrage at the toll of conflict, with seemingly so little done to end it and instead so much impunity," Griffiths said.

-ABC News' Nadine Shubailat

Apr 05, 4:21 PM
Sullivan to meet with hostage families on Monday

National security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet families of hostages at the White House on Monday, which is one day after the war reaches the six-month mark, a senior administration official said.

President Joe Biden on Friday wrote letters to the president of Egypt and the emir of Qatar on the state of the talks, and he urged them to secure commitments from Hamas to agree to and abide by a deal, the official added.

"The president made clear that everything must be done to secure the release of hostages, including American citizens, now held by Hamas terrorists for nearly six months," the senior administration official said.

"They discussed the importance of fully empowering Israeli negotiators to reach a deal, which in its first phase would secure the release of women, elderly, sick and wounded hostages," the official said.

A new round of talks will take place this weekend in Cairo.

-ABC News’ Selina Wang

Apr 05, 3:49 PM
Strike on World Central Kitchen workers was 'a terrible chain of errors,' IDF says

The Israeli Defense Forces issued a new statement in English calling the Israeli military’s strikes that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers on Monday a "tragedy."

"It was a terrible chain of errors and it should never have happened," the IDF said. "The IDF takes full responsibility for this regrettable loss of life."

The IDF said earlier that the airstrike came after Israeli forces misidentified a WCK worker in the convoy as a Hamas gunman.

The IDF said WCK correctly coordinated its movements with the IDF prior to the night the workers were killed and that there was a "comprehensive plan" in place for the WCK workers’ movements on Monday.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Apr 05, 10:05 AM
US 'carefully' reviewing Israel's report on WCK attack, Blinken says

U.S. officials are reviewing Israel's report on the Israel military’s attack on World Central Kitchen aid workers "very carefully" and "will be discussing its conclusions with Israeli officials and with humanitarian organizations in the days to come," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

The Israel Defense Forces said its airstrike in Gaza that killed seven WCK aid workers on Monday came after Israeli forces misidentified a WCK worker in the convoy as a Hamas gunman.

Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "indicated" to President Joe Biden in their Thursday call "that Israel would be making further changes to its procedures to make sure that those who are providing assistance to people who so desperately need it in Gaza are protected."

"It's very important that Israel is taking full responsibility for this incident. It's also important that it appears to be taking steps to hold those responsible accountable," Blinken said. "Even more important is making sure that steps are taken going forward to ensure that something like this can never happen again."

Blinken said the U.S. would be "looking to see not just what steps are being taken, but the results that follow" from potential changes to Israeli military operations.

-ABC News’ Chris Boccia

Apr 05, 9:43 AM
Kirby: US must 'start seeing meaningful changes' from Israel

White House national security communications adviser John Kirby warned Friday that if the U.S. doesn’t "start seeing meaningful changes in the way Israel is prosecuting these [military] operations [in Gaza] and allowing for humanitarian assistance [in Gaza], and working toward a hostage deal and cease-fire, then we’re going to have to make changes in our Gaza policy."

In his interview with ABC News' Good Morning America, Kirby would not say if those changes in Gaza policy would mean conditioning U.S. aid.

But Kirby said President Joe Biden was very clear on his call Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. must "see some changes."

"We’ve got to see the humanitarian situation improve in Gaza, or otherwise we will have to try to take a look at our own policy and make decisions, and change the way that we’re supporting Israel," Kirby said.

The U.S. still wants an immediate cease-fire in exchange for the release of the Israeli hostages and for getting more aid into Gaza, Kirby stressed. U.S. officials will be among the negotiators meeting this weekend in Cairo, he said.

Apr 05, 7:09 AM
IDF says there were 3 strikes on WCK convoy, misidentified worker as Hamas gunman: 'Misjudgment'

Israel Defense Forces released a statement Friday about the deadly airstrike in Gaza that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers on April 1.

The IDF said it misidentified a WCK worker in the convoy as a Hamas gunman.

"After the vehicles left the warehouse where the aid had been unloaded, one of the commanders mistakenly assumed that the gunmen were located inside the accompanying vehicles and that these were Hamas terrorists. The forces did not identify the vehicles in question as being associated with WCK," the IDF said in a statement Friday.

"Following a misidentification by the forces, the forces targeted the three WCK vehicles based on the misclassification of the event and misidentification of the vehicles as having Hamas operatives inside them, with the resulting strike leading to the deaths of seven innocent humanitarian aid workers," the statement continued.

The report said there were three strikes on the convoy. It also said WCK workers hit in the first vehicle were hit again while moving to another vehicle in the convoy.

"The investigation's findings indicate that the incident should not have occurred. Those who approved the strike were convinced that they were targeting armed Hamas operatives and not WCK employees," the IDF said. "The strike on the aid vehicles is a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making, and an attack contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures."

It said WCK correctly coordinated its movements with the IDF prior to the night the workers were killed and that there was a "comprehensive plan" in place for the WCK movement on April 1.

Apr 05, 5:16 AM
'The real test is results': Blinken reacts to Israel border crossing announcements

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked about the announcement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office's announcement overnight that additional crossings into Gaza would be opened up for aid to enter.

He said the U.S. "welcomed" the development but that "the real test is results, and that's what we're looking to see in the coming days, the coming weeks."

"Is the aid effectively reaching the people who need it throughout Gaza?" he said. "Do we have a much better system for deconfliction and coordination so that the humanitarian workers, the folks who are delivering the aid, can do it safely and securely? All of these things are critical."

Blinken said these aims would be measured by clear metrics "like the number of trucks that are actually getting in on a sustained basis," and the aid making it to those in need through the enclave — "including critically northern Gaza."

He said the administration would be closely watching to see if other measurements were reversed, including "the fact that almost 100% of the population is acutely food insecure" as well as indicators of potential famine.

"So really, the proof is in the results," he said.

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford

Apr 04, 10:18 PM
Partner of killed aid worker calls for answers: 'We need the truth of what happened'

The partner of one of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza this week is pleading for answers into the deadly attack.

"We need some answers," Sandy Leclerc, the partner of Jacob Flickinger, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, told ABC News on Thursday, in her first television interview since the attack. "We need the truth of what happened because this situation is so unclear."

"Please Mr. Biden, give us the truth of what happened," she asked of President Joe Biden as she spoke with ABC News correspondent Phil Lipof.

Apr 04, 6:17 PM
Israel to open another border crossing point after Biden-Netanyahu call: Official

Israel has decided to open another border crossing point -- the Erez checkpoint -- to allow humanitarian aid to cross into Gaza, according to an Israeli official.

The decision comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone earlier Thursday.

"This increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis and is necessary to ensure the continuation of the fighting and to achieve the goals of the war," the official said in a statement. "In light of this, Israel will allow the temporary delivery of humanitarian aid through Ashdod (port) and the Erez checkpoint and will increase the Jordanian aid coming in through Kerem Shalom."

-ABC News' Dana Savir

Apr 04, 6:07 PM
WCK airstrike won't affect emergency pier mission: Pentagon

The U.S. military's emergency pier system to get humanitarian aid into Gaza is still en route, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Thursday.

Ryder said that USAID continues to work with organizations to finalize a distribution plan for the aid once it's transferred by the system -- known as JLOTS -- to shore. He also acknowledged that the deadly Israeli strike that killed seven humanitarian aid workers this week "certainly doesn't make that job easier."

He added that it "has not deterred us from continuing to work with groups and NGOs to come up with solutions."

Ryder confirmed that Israel has committed to providing security on shore for the pier and port system.

"I know Israel's investigating in terms of the strike on World Central Kitchen and we trust that Israel will provide the security that we need on the shore," he said.

Ryder said the system is expected to be operational by the end of April or early May.

"We're not changing the mission. We've been tasked to provide a temporary pier. Everything is on track on schedule at this point," he said.

-ABC News' Luis Martinez

Apr 04, 5:17 PM
Child in Gaza ate grass to survive, UNICEF spokesperson says

A UNICEF spokesperson on the ground in Gaza told ABC News Live she is "shocked" by the conditions she has seen in hospitals, including malnourished children.

The spokesperson, Tess Ingram, said she recently visited Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza and met a 7-year-old boy who was "eating grass."

"He was so sick and in so much pain," Ingram told ABC's Terry Moran Thursday. "Thankfully, the doctors there think he will make a full recovery, but he is one of hundreds of children they said that they're treating for malnutrition at the moment."

"This has to be unacceptable, particularly when the aid is just a few kilometers away, as is the nutrition treatments that we have that can save children's lives," she added.

Asked how to protect those providing humanitarian resources in Gaza, following the Israeli airstrike on an aid convoy that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers earlier this week, Ingram said "it's called international humanitarian law."

"That is what we are calling on the parties to the conflict to respect," she said.

-ABC News' Luis Rodriguez, Isabella Meneses, Kiara Brantley-Jones and Robinson Perez

Apr 04, 4:15 PM
World Central Kitchen attack is part of pattern, NGOs operating in Gaza say

Officials from humanitarian organizations operating in the Gaza Strip stressed to reporters Thursday that they believe the Israeli airstrikes that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers on Monday is part of a pattern.

They said other humanitarian workers were targeted and killed before, including doctors, nurses and journalists, but they were Palestinians.

"The condemnation for the World Central Kitchen incident is right and just, but where is it for every other humanitarian worker, for every other hospital that is destroyed, for every attempt to manipulate the media?" said Christopher Lockyear, secretary general of Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières. "What happened to [World Central Kitchen] is part of a pattern. ... This is about impunity and total disregard of rules of war."

Asked if the World Central Kitchen attack will significantly decrease humanitarian work in Gaza, Lockyear responded, "We remain present in Gaza, but we are assessing the risks on a daily basis."

-ABC News’ Camilla Alcini and Ellie Kaufman

Apr 04, 4:11 PM
US warns of policy changes if Israel doesn't take action to better protect civilians

President Joe Biden spoke Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, their first conversation since seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Biden had strongly condemned the incident, which Israel's said was unintentional, saying he was "outraged."

Biden further expressed to Netanyahu that the strikes on the food relief workers and the overall humanitarian crisis in Gaza are "unacceptable," according to a White House readout of the call.

For the first time, the White House hinted the president may consider a change in U.S. policy with respect to Gaza if Israel doesn't take action to better protect civilians and aid workers.

"He made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers," the readout read. "He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps."

Click here to read more.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle and Alexandra Hutzler

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Princes William, George attend soccer game together amid Kate Middleton cancer battle

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Prince George of Wales look on alongside Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa during the UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 Quarter-final first leg match between Aston Villa and Lille OSC at Villa Park on April 11, 2024 in Birmingham, England. -- Marc Atkins/Getty Images

(BIRMINGHAM, England) -- Prince William and his son Prince George had a father-son night out Thursday, attending an Aston Villa soccer game in Birmingham, England.

The game marked William's first public appearance since the announcement by his wife Kate, the Princess of Wales, in late March that she had been diagnosed with cancer and begun chemotherapy.

William and George, 10, the eldest of William and Kate's three children, sat next to each other at the game as they cheered on Aston Villa to a 2-1 victory over French team Lille.

William is not reported to have made any public comments about Kate's health at the game, but he did confirm to one reporter that George is following in his footsteps as an Aston Villa fan.

When asked by Sunday Paper sports reporter Neil Moxley if George is "part of the pride," William is said to have replied, "Oh yes, he's loving it," according to an account of the exchange shared by Moxley on X.

Both William and Kate have remained out of the public eye since Kate's March 22 announcement, shared in a video message, that cancer was discovered in post-operative tests after she underwent planned abdominal surgery in mid-January.

The type of cancer has not been disclosed. Kate started a course of preventative chemotherapy in late February, according to Kensington Palace.

The palace said at the time of Kate's announcement that William would take a break from public engagements during his children's Easter holiday from school. George and his siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, attend the Lambrook School, a private school near the family's home in Windsor, England.

Kate stepped back from public engagements at the time of her abdominal surgery in mid-January, and has continued that pause through today. The princess asked for privacy for her family in her message announcing her diagnosis, and the palace has said only that she will return to public duties once she is medically cleared to do so.

William and Kate and their children did not join other members of the royal family, including King Charles III, who is also battling cancer, for the Easter service at St. George's Chapel on March 31.

The Waleses are believed to be spending much of their time out of the spotlight at Anmer Hall, their country estate in Norfolk, England, near the royal family's Sandringham estate.

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3 sailors rescued from remote Pacific Island after writing 'help' with palm leaves

United States Coast Guard News

(YAP, Federated States of Micronesia) -- Three sailors were rescued from a remote Pacific Island after being stranded for over a week and writing "HELP" with palm leaves on the white sand beach, the U.S. Coast Guard announced this week.

The unnamed sailors, all men in their 40s, were rescued from Pikelot Atoll -- one of the outer islands of the State of Yap, part of the Federated States of Micronesia -- on April 9, the U.S. Coast Guard announced in a press release.

"In a remarkable testament to their will to be found, the mariners spelled out "HELP" on the beach using palm leaves, a crucial factor in their discovery," Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the search and rescue mission coordinator on the day they were located, said in the release. "This act of ingenuity was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts directly to their location."

The men were on a fishing trip that began March 31 when their 20-foot open skiff sailboat equipped with an outboard motor was damaged and non-functional, leaving them stranded ashore Pikelot Atoll, according to officials.

The search and rescue mission began on April 6 when a relative of the sailors called the Joint Rescue Sub-Center (JRSC) Guam, reporting the men had not returned home.

The U.S. Coast Guard says a "breakthrough" in the rescue efforts came the next day, when a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft flying over the island identified the sailors, "confirming their presence and condition."

On April 8, a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft crew relocated the men and dropped a radio to establish communication. "The mariners confirmed they were in good health, had access to food and water, and recovered their skiff," according to the release.

The aircraft crew successfully deployed survival packages to the stranded sailors until the USCGC Oliver Henry could re-route to Pikelot Atoll on April 9 to complete the rescue operation, officials said.

The ship rescued the sailors and their equipment, and returned them to their home island Polowat Atoll, more than 100 miles away, according to the release.

"Our unwavering dedication to the search and rescue mission not only ensures the safety and well-being of mariners and coastal communities, but also reinforces the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between the United States and the FSM and with our DoD partners," Capt. Nicholas Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard, said in the release.

In August 2020, a similar search-and-rescue operation took place on Pikelot Atoll when three men had been missing in the western Pacific Ocean for nearly three days when their giant message outlined on the beach of tiny Pikelot Island was spotted from above by searchers in an Australian and U.S. aircraft.

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Solar panels are being used in Gaza to power wells, creating clean water

Yasser Qudaih/Anadolu via Getty Images

(GAZA) -- A man in the Gaza Strip is using solar panels to clean water for his neighbors – a seemingly small gesture that has large consequences at a time when the region is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.

"Yesterday, I filled this car with clean water from the well, 6,500 liters, and distributed it among people in need of water," Mohammed Assalia told ABC News. "Some people use these wheelchairs to transport the water they fill, which is kinda sad but it does the thing."

As the resource becomes more scarce, Assalia said he is now looking for a way to reach more people in the most devastated area of the Gaza Strip, six months since Israel declared war on Hamas. The high costs involved with the project may hinder his ability to do so without help, he says.

"With the solar-powered well in my house, at least 1,000 people benefitted and received clean water every day," Assalia said. "Now people from other neighborhoods have come to use it and we're trying to help more by operating as many wells as possible."

Assalia said he has coordinated a group of people to help with his project, capitalizing on each person's expertise: Khalil Samara, an alternative energy engineer; Mohammed Hajj-Ali, a welder installing the bases for the solar panels; and Masoud Nabhan, a plumber experienced with fixing wells.

He set up a fundraiser to tackle the inflated costs of solar panels and materials he needed, which he said were available but cost around four times the pre-war amount.

"All of the needed materials are currently available here in the North [of Gaza], Al-Yazji company for solar energy and other companies still have materials. However, these materials have become very expensive. An example is a 535-watt solar panel used to be 700 NIS ($192). Now it costs 2,400 NIS, ($657)," Assalia said.

Since the start of the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza after Hamas launched a terrorist incursion on Oct. 7, shortages and contamination have severely impeded health care access, creating a water crisis, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) monitoring the area.

"Access to sufficient amounts of clean water is a matter of life and death. Children in Gaza have barely a drop to drink," UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell said in December.

In February, UNRWA reported that around 70% of the population of Gaza was drinking salinized or contaminated water. UNICEF said at the time at least half of the water and sanitation facilities in Gaza had been destroyed or damaged.

Flu, dehydration and hepatitis are among some of the main consequences of the water crisis in Gaza, according to MSF staff on the ground.

While both the United Nations and MSF mobilized to mitigate the water crisis, both organizations have said that other types of shortages stand in the way, including the limited number of trucks allowed into the enclave carrying aid and fuel.

People in Gaza have to rely heavily on grassroots projects like that of Assalia's group. When he started, he said he used his own savings to operate the water well for his neighbors.

"Most of the wells could not run due to the lack of electricity and destruction of the infrastructure," he said. "So I contacted an alternative energy engineer and I had him power up a personal well on solar energy. I paid him 400 shekels ($107)."

He added, "I don't want anything in return, all I want is to help my people and leave a footprint."

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At least 2 dead in Austria avalanche, rescue operation underway

File photo. (Andrew Holt/Getty Images)

(LONDON) -- At least two people were killed and two others were missing after being buried in a large avalanche at a ski resort in Austria on Thursday, authorities said.

Emergency officials in Tyrol in Vent, Austria, reported that at least four people were buried in the avalanche. However, according to initial police estimates, 18 people have been affected, though these numbers have not been confirmed by local authorities.

A massive search-and-rescue operation was immediately launched at a ski resort near the town of Soelden in the Austrian Alps, officials said.

At least two people were found dead, officials said. At least two others were unaccounted for, according to authorities.

The victims were apparently part of a ski touring group from the Netherlands that was skiing towards a mountain refuge with four Austrian guides, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Tirol state police.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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US believes Iran could attack Israel in coming days, with potential to escalate war in the region

KeithBinns/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The United States believes Iran may retaliate against Israel in coming days, according to two sources familiar with intelligence on the matter.

The intelligence that Iran could use drones and missiles to attack "regional assets" by Israel has been shared with U.S. lawmakers.

U.S. officials believe the attacks would be done in retaliation for Israel's airstrike in Damascus, Syria, last week, which killed a top commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps along with six other personnel. If Iran's retaliatory happens, officials believe the attacks have the potential to widen the scope of the war in Gaza.

"They're threatening to launch a significant attack on Israel," Biden said at a news conference Wednesday.

"As I told Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, our commitment to Israel's security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad. Let me say it again, ironclad. We're going to do all we can to protect Israel's security," he added.

Last week, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Israel "will be punished and that America is responsible for the regime's attack on the Iranian embassy and must be held accountable."

"The response will be crushing," he added.

Israel's foreign minister, Israel Katz, posted a warning Wednesday to Iran on the social media site X.

"If Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will respond and attack in Iran," Katz wrote.

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made similar remarks Wednesday.

"We will know to respond very quickly in a necessary offensive in the territory of whoever attacks Israel, no matter where -- anywhere in the Middle East," Gallant said while visiting an Iron Dome battery in Israel's north.

According to one U.S. official, it's believed that Iran could choose to retaliate in a proportional response targeting an Israeli diplomatic facility like the Iranian diplomatic location that was struck on Monday in Syria. Or, the official said, it's possible that Iran could strike directly at Israel.

A second person familiar with the intelligence confirmed that officials believed Israel's "regional assets" were at significant risk.

Threats to U.S. assets is less clear. Officials have long been concerned that Iranian-backed militias might resume targeting U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

Those attacks stopped Feb. 4 following U.S. airstrikes in retaliation for the death of three service members.

But while U.S. officials say they do not see any specific threats to troops in the region, the concern remains that an Iranian attack could further destabilize the region.

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Israeli airstrike kills three sons of Hamas' political chief Ismail Haniyeh: IDF

Israeli tanks move along the border with the Gaza Strip before entering into the Gaza Strip, Apr. 10, 2024, in Southern Israel. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) -- Three sons of Hamas' political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed.

Amir, Mohammad and Hazem Haniyeh were killed by an Israeli Air Force aircraft strike, directed by the IDF and Israel Security Forces (ISA).

In a statement Wednesday, the IDF claimed the three sons were "three Hamas military operatives that conducted terrorist activity in the central Gaza Strip."

"The three operatives that were struck are Amir Haniyeh, a cell commander in the Hamas military wing, Mohammad Haniyeh, a military operative in the Hamas terrorist organization and Hazem Haniyeh, also a military operative in the Hamas terror organization," the IDF said in a statement.

The deadly airstrike took place on Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the month-long observance of Ramadan.

Ismail Haniyeh also confirmed the death of his sons in a statement Wednesday, saying, "Gaza residents have paid a heavy price with the blood of their children, and I am one of them."

Haniyeh said 60 of his family members have been killed in the ongoing war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas that began after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack in Israel.

About 1,200 people were killed in the initial terrorist attack, according to Israeli officials, while Israel's bombing of Gaza has killed more than 33,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

In his statement Wednesday, Haniyeh said, "the blood of my sons is not more precious than the blood of our martyred people in Gaza, as they are all my sons."

Haniyeh maintained that "targeting the sons of leaders" will not "break the resolve of our people."

"We say to the occupation that this blood will only make us more steadfast in our principles and adherence to our land," Haniyeh said.

The strike on one of Hamas' senior leaders' family comes amid failed attempts at a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called for an immediate cease-fire to get food and aid into Gaza in an interview on Univision.

"So, I what I'm calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a cease-fire, allow for the next six, eight weeks total access to all food and medicine going into the country," Biden said in the interview with Univision's Enrique Acevedo.

On Wednesday, Israel's Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant responded to Biden's call in a media briefing.

"Let me say loud and clear – the defense establishment takes the United States very seriously," Gallant said. "Since the establishment of the state of Israel and since the start of this war, the U.S. has been standing with Israel."

The aid approvals announced include the Ashdod Port in Israel, "to increase the entry of goods and streamline security checks," Gallant said.

The approval of the new Northern Crossing, "will provide a route to bring aid directly to northern Gaza and reduce pressure on Kerem Shalom," according to Gallant. Kerem Shalom is the crossing into southern Gaza.

Gallant also announced Israeli forces will work to boost aid through Jordan and establish the Coordination and Deconfliction Cell, "part of a wider effort to increase cooperation with international organizations, implement lessons learned, and work with new partners."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

6 months into the Israel-Hamas war, the tragic human toll by the numbers

ABC News

Sunday marks six months since Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack in southern Israel and Israel responded by declaring war against Hamas.

Israel launched a ground offensive in late October, tightening its restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza and ordered civilians in the north to evacuate to the south.

Over the past 182 days, as Israel pursued its goal of destroying Hamas, a serious humanitarian crisis has unfolded in Gaza, with shortages of food, clean water and medicine, as well as a collapse of the health care system.

Here is a look at the tragic human toll of the Israel-Hamas war, by the numbers.

Killed and injured

Since Hamas' surprise terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, the death toll on both sides of the conflict has been steadily rising.

In Israel, at least 1,700 people have been killed and 8,700 others injured, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The death toll includes more than 800 civilians, about 600 IDF soldiers and 61 police.

More than 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza and about 76,000 others injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. The majority of those killed have been women and children, according to Hamas.

What we know about the hostages

When Hamas terrorists raided Israel on Oct. 7, more than 240 hostages were kidnapped and taken into the Gaza Strip.

So far, 112 surviving hostages have been released. The largest hostage release came on Nov. 24 during a pause in fighting in which 105 people were released, including 81 Israelis or dual Israeli citizens, 23 Thai citizens and one citizen of the Philippines. The bodies of 12 deceased hostages have also been recovered.

Currently, there are an estimated 131 hostages remaining in Gaza, which includes 33 bodies of those no longer alive, according to Israeli officials. There are at least eight dual U.S. citizens being held hostage still and three dual citizens among the bodies, officials said.

Collapse of the health care system

Prior to the conflict, 36 hospitals were functioning in Gaza.

As of April 2, 26 hospitals have stopped functioning and the remaining 10 are partially functioning, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) office in the occupied Palestinian territory. The organization said there are currently no fully functioning hospitals.

"Left without vital health care, ultimately it's civilians who will pay the price," the WHO office wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "We repeat: health must not be militarized or attacked."

Israel has claimed that Hamas uses hospitals to "conduct and promote" terrorist activity. Hamas has denied claims it is operating from within hospitals.

Struggle to get aid into Gaza

Since early March, an average of 140 trucks with food aid have entered Gaza every day, Israel's Civil Department of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said in a post on X on April 1. Northern Gaza gets an average of 10 food trucks entering per day.

In an attempt to meet the needs of Gazans, several countries, including the U.S., have airdropped food into the strip, with more than 166,000 meals since March 5.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) previously said Israel doesn't provide enough authorization to deliver sufficient aid and, even when it does give authorization, the fighting makes it difficult to deliver that aid. The group says it has not been allowed to distribute aid in northern Gaza since Israel made allegations that some of its members participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel.

UNRWA says it terminated the accused employees after the allegations were made public and an independent investigation by the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight is ongoing.

Israeli officials have said Hamas steals aid once it enters Gaza and claim looting is also a problem. Israel continues to deny all accusations that it isn't letting enough aid into Gaza, and encourages other countries to send in aid, with Israeli officials saying the U.N., its partners and other aid agencies have created logistical challenges, resulting in a bottleneck. The U.N. disputes these claims.

A March report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) initiative said famine is "imminent" in northern Gaza and may occur between mid-March and the end of May.

On the night of April 1, seven aid workers with the World Central Kitchen were killed during an Israeli attack in central Gaza while traveling in a three-vehicle caravan, sparking outrage from the international community, including the U.S., and prompting increased pressure on Israel to protect aid workers and facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid.

On April 4, Israel approved the reopening of the Erez crossing into Gaza in the north and the temporary use of Ashdod port in southern Israel after the U.S. urged the country to increase the humanitarian aid getting into Gaza.

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In war-torn Ukraine, officials and businesses voice concern about job vacancies

Yulia Drozd/ABC News

KYIV, Ukraine -- As Ukraine aims to mobilize up to 500,000 troops in the third year of war against Russia, it needs six times more workers driving the economy at home to support the troops.

"Their salaries are paid by our people, who pay taxes. When we talk about mobilization, we must know that one soldier equals six people in civilian life who pay taxes. Therefore, the government, me, all of us, must find three million taxpayers from the month of January," President Zelenskyy said during a press conference in December last year.

But finding a workforce has become a big challenge for businesses in Ukraine that has adapted to operate during the full-scale invasion.

"If last year we couldn't find qualified specialists, now we're facing a shortage even at the lowest positions," the general manager of one of the hotels of an international chain told ABC News, asking not to mention his name.

The manager added, "There are physically no people. Thirty percent of our employees have left the country, and if any more of our male employees are called up for mobilization, it would be catastrophic for us. If this trend continues, we may have to scale back operations by the end of the year."

Ukraine needs at least 4.5 million workers, the Ministry of Economy said. The biggest deficits are in defense industries, construction, medical services, agriculture and retail, officials said.

Silpo is one of the biggest chain of supermarkets in Ukraine, known for the variety of goods and fancy store design. Although the first days of the invasion were challenging for the company, primarily in terms of safety, Silpo opened 20 new stores in 18 cities during the Russian invasion, in particular in Kherson just a few weeks after the de-occupation.

But Russian missile strikes make it challenging to find employees in front-line cities, the company representatives told ABC News. Besides, 2,700 out of its 30,000 employees were called up to the army, the company said.

What helps Silpo stay attractive for the job seekers is their unique internal human-centered culture.

"We have a strong and dedicated team that, thanks to our unique internal culture, finds opportunities for creativity and experimentation. We believe that each of our employees can "surpass" themselves every day in their favorite business, generate non-standard ideas and have an inner sense of 'wow,'" Ivan Palchevskyi, SIlpo representative, told ABC News.

The company not only established a support center for any kind of assistance for the employees -- from evacuation to mental health support; it changed the way of training young professionals, launched a program for adaptation of war veterans and also started training women for positions usually occupied by men.

"One such project is called OnTrack, which we developed in collaboration with Swedish company Beredskapslyftet and Scania Ukraine," Palchevskyi said. "This program provides women with the opportunity to train as truck drivers with us. We are proud to say that the first cohort of graduates have already started working."

Small businesses also need a helping hand. It's become difficult to find people for vocational jobs, like being a carpenter, driver or tailor.

Halyna Tymchenko runs a small atelier in one of the shopping malls in Kyiv. A job posting on the door of her office has been there for four months already, she told ABC News.

"I need a seamstress to help me with the orders, because people come every day. But I can't find a good one and I'm already thinking of hiring a student," Tymchenko said.

Many businesses are ready to hire people with little experience and train them. Others said they've retained employees by raising salaries by up to 30%.

Against the background of general lack of labor force, the unemployment rate in Ukraine stays at the pre-war level though, according to the state employment service. Around 15% of the population still struggle to find a job, but that may be mostly because their profession is not in high demand or the salary offered is lower than the job seeker expects.

Spheres like IT now offer fewer positions, while the number of candidates grew tenfold. The unemployment rate also differs from one region to another -- it's the lowest in the east, near the front line, where most infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, and is the lowest in the western regions, which are considered to be the safest, and where many businesses relocated in the past two years.

Despite the challenges, businesses in Ukraine remain optimistic about their future, the poll conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of Economic and Political Research.

About 45% of respondents invested in their reconstruction and development in 2023 and 44% are going to do the same this year. And that's one of the highest rates since 2011, the report said. More businesses started operating at full power, but that, again, means they will need more people to join the workforce.

The government said it aims to stimulate Ukrainians to return home from abroad, including many of the about 6 million people who left since February 24, 2021, when Russia invaded. But there is not yet any complex program for bringing them back.

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Oxfam's Scott Paul describes the deaths of aid workers as a 'failure' everyone shares

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Scott Paul, the associate director for peace and security at Oxfam America, spoke with ABC News Live about the crisis in Gaza and the necessary steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

Paul believes that the tragic deaths of seven employees of World Central Kitchen this week are a collective failure on everyone's part, despite the fact that over 200 aid workers have been killed in the past six months after not being able to muster enough support to prevent such incidents from happening.

He stated that Gaza is the most dangerous place for aid workers and that it's the deadliest conflict we have seen in quite some time, all because it appears to be a free fire zone, where there are no restrictions on the use of military force.

Paul sat down with ABC News Live to suggest a complete ceasefire in Gaza, along with malnutrition relief and medical interventions.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Joining us now for more is associate director for peace and security at Oxfam, Scott Paul. Scott, thanks for taking the time. Let's dive right into this. Today, you called the killing of the World Central Kitchen workers systematic. What have you seen that's led you to that?

SCOTT PAUL: What's happened this week is tragic, but it is not anomalous. I think it's a collective failure on all of our part that the outrage we have mustered for the seven people working for World Central Kitchen who are killed this week, we haven't managed to muster for the more than 200 aid workers who were killed over the past six months.

I say it's systematic because it's part of an ongoing pattern. We know what the problems are. We know what the solutions are, and nothing is changing. And if we expect anything to change without a marked shift in policy on the part of the Israeli authorities, we should be prepared to be disappointed.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Well, let's dig into that a little bit. The UN spokesperson says that they see a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law in Gaza. Do you think this amounts to war crimes?

PAUL: We've seen war crimes on the part of the Israeli authorities and, of course, on the part of Hamas going back to October the 7th. But yes, this is a particular kind of attack that we've seen, carried out on, if not daily, then certainly weekly basis. This is why now Gaza is the most deadly place for aid workers, not just now, but it's the most deadly conflict that we have recorded for quite some time.

And the reason is because it appears to be a free-fire zone. There are processes that aid workers typically set up with militaries to make sure that the militaries know where aid workers are, to make sure they know that they'll be safe. Those processes have failed. But let's also remember that those processes are meant to be a last resort, a failsafe. The first resort is that militaries need to understand where the military targets are and only fire on those military targets.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Yeah. And when we get statistics like this that children are surviving trying to eat grass, 245 calories a day, now, in light of this, this latest attack, less aid will get in. You know, I hear what you're saying, and I hear what everybody, you know, the world doesn't want this to happen. But now what has to happen right now in Gaza for all of this to stop?

PAUL: There needs to be a ceasefire. Full stop. There is no alternative to a ceasefire. And the reason is because aid workers cannot safely provide for the basic needs of 2.2 million people in Gaza. While this level of hostilities continues. I should add, by the way, it's not just humanitarian assistance that needs to flood the zone. It's commercial activity, it's basic services that have been cut off since October 8th because humanitarian assistance is never by itself going to meet the needs of 2.2 million people.

But, as a starting point, there needs to be. And this isn't just an expression of our values and hope that people are safe, because we do hope the people are safe, but it's simply not going to be possible to scale up, to manage what is likely already a famine in the north, and prevent what is likely to even, will be a larger famine in the middle and southern parts of Gaza. That we're on track for at the moment.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And Chef [Jose] Andres has said that he was in contact with the IDF, and all of their movements were being relayed to the IDF. In lieu of a ceasefire, which, you know, people are trying to get their heads around right now. What actually has to happen to protect the aid workers who are still bringing that crucial humanitarian assistance to the people there in Gaza?

PAUL: Well, there is no in lieu of a ceasefire. I'll accept the premise just for a moment to say, there is more that can be done to protect aid workers. For a start, the basic rules of engagement that the Israeli military is following has to change.

There can't be an assumption that when you don't, when you don't know why someone is moving around, that they're targetable or they're considered military. It can't just be left up to the process by which we transmit our coordinates to protect people, because even if we do that, it still means that the vast majority of Palestinians who are civilians, who are not combatants, who are not fighting against Israel, will still be vulnerable.

You need to flood the zone not just with food, but with malnutrition interventions, medical interventions. And that is not possible so long as this level of violence is present and so long as this level of obstruction is present.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Yeah. So people have to realize past the point of just food. There's so much other aid that needs to get in there. Scott Paul, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. Appreciate it.

PAUL: Thank you very much.

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Israel's claims of UNRWA's Hamas ties put agency's future in jeopardy

Aid is given out to refugees in Gaza. -- ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Since the outbreak of the Israeli-Gaza conflict, the United Nations agency representing Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has provided aid to Gazan civilians facing dire humanitarian conditions.

But the agency's future is now in jeopardy after several nations, including the United States, suspended funding after the Israeli government published evidence allegedly showing that 16 UNRWA members were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

Despite calls for the group to be dissolved, UNRWA officials and humanitarian groups have pleaded for help, contending that aid for the Palestinians caught in the crossfire is needed now more than ever as the humanitarian crisis deepens.

"People's lives are on the line because they would have no other alternative," Adam Bouloukos, a UNRWA director, told ABC News.

UNRWA has been in operation since 1949 and has provided education, health care and other basic services in Gaza, the West Bank, and parts of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Since the Israeli-Hamas war began, agency leaders said they have been working around the clock to provide aid and shelter to the growing number of Gazan refugees.

"The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is like nothing we in the UN have seen," Bouloukos said.

However, UNRWA's integrity and future have been on the line since January after Israel Defense Forces initially accused 12 UNRWA employees of being directly involved with the Oct. 7 attacks.

Israeli officials say they now have evidence implicating four more UNRWA workers.

A dossier released by the IDF alleged six UNRWA staff members crossed into Israel on that day and four UNRWA workers were involved in the taking of hostages.UNRWA terminated the accused employees after the allegations were made public and an independent investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight is ongoing.

Israeli officials have released some evidence of the alleged terrorism by the accused members, including a video allegedly showing an UNRWA employee helping to move Oct. 7 victim Jonathan Samerano’s lifeless body into the trunk of an UNRWA vehicle before it was driven into Gaza.

UNRWA said it has no way of verifying the video and has urged Israeli officials to hand over all evidence to investigators.

Ayelet Samerano, Jonathan's mother, told ABC News she is outraged that someone working for a UN body could be implicated in the murder and abduction of her son.

"It's unbelievable. That's a worldwide organization that should take care of people and should take care the human rights … and now it's the opposite," she said.

The U.S. and several Western allies paused funding to the agency following the Israeli report in January.

However, Israel's accusations of ties between UNRWA and Hamas go beyond the October 7 allegations against a number of individuals.

The IDF has published several videos saying they show UNRWA food supplies were found in Hamas tunnels. In one video, they claim Hamas weaponry was stored in UNRWA sacks.

The IDF alleged Hamas tunnels ran underneath UNRWA properties, including the agency's headquarters in Gaza.

UNRWA said it moved out of its Gaza headquarters weeks before those deep underground tunnels were discovered, and empty UNRWA sacks are often recycled and used in Gaza to store other goods.

In several statements, UNRWA has rejected any suggestion that it's been aiding Hamas and accused Israel of attempting to demonize the agency.

The accusations against the agency have sparked protests from Israelis who have been blocking the route for aid trucks into Gaza.

Israeli officials have also publicly called for the group to be dissolved.

Despite the financial cuts and the opposition, UNRWA has continued to provide its services in Gaza, with many other humanitarian groups backing it.

"You know that many NGOs use UNRWA's facilities to store their aid. They rely on UNRWA to deliver the aid that they procure," Dr. Thaer Ahmad, of the American-based NGO MedGlobal, said in a statement.

Ahmad also refuted the allegations that the agency is helping Hamas.

"If you want to say that there have been allegations made against individual employees, I think that's something that needs to be looked into. That's very serious. But if you're talking about the institution itself, I don't think that anybody that has any sort of knowledge about what they do and how long they've existed for would make a similar accusation," he said.

He and others noted that UNRWA has suffered major losses during the conflict.

More than 170 UNRWA workers have been killed since the war began, with one being killed by an Israeli air strike on a food distribution center last month, according to the agency.

The agency said dozens of its schools and its Gaza headquarters have been struck by the Israeli military.

Canada and the European Union have recently resumed funding to UNRWA and the agency has agreed to allow EU officials to help screen employees for possible extremist links.

However Congress has voted to block U.S. funding for at least a year, meaning UNRWA’s entire operation is in peril.

"They provide something like 30 to 40% of our funding," Bouloukos said of the U.S. "It looks like we have funding through the end of April, and that's very, very tight."

Humanitarian groups have warned of a full-scale famine in Gaza if nothing is done.

Ahmad stressed that it would be impossible to replace UNRWA if it were dissolved.

"No one, not even if all of the NGOs combined came together, would be able to replicate what they're doing on the ground," he said.

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