South East Asian Headlines & Breaking News

Gaza Medical Officials Say Israeli Strike Kills 4 Foreign Aid Workers, Driver After Delivering Food

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Gaza medical officials say an apparent Israeli airstrike killed four international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and their Palestinian driver after they helped deliver food and other supplies to northern Gaza that had arrived hours early by ship.

Footage showed the bodies of the five dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo. Staff showed the passports of three of the dead – British, Australian and Polish. The nationality of the fourth aid worker was not immediately known.

The workers’ car was hit by an Israeli strike just after crossing from northern Gaza after helping deliver aid that had arrived hours earlier on a ship from Cyprus, Mahmoud Thabet, a paramedic from the Palestinian Red Crescent who was on the team that brought the bodies to the hospital, told The Associated Press. The source of fire could not be independently confirmed and the Israeli military did not respond to requests for comment.

The aid ships that arrived Monday carried some 400 tons of food and supplies in a shipment organized by the United Arab Emirates and the World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés. Last month a ship delivered 200 tons of aid in a pilot run. The Israeli military was involved in coordinating both deliveries.

The US has touted the sea route as a new way to deliver desperately needed aid to northern Gaza, where several hundred Palestinians face imminent famine, largely cut off from the rest of the territory by Israeli forces. Israel has barred UNRWA, the main UN agency in Gaza, from making deliveries to the north, and other aid groups say sending truck convoys north has been too dangerous because of the military’s failure to ensure safe passage.

The Israeli military withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital early Monday after a two-week raid that engulfed the facility and surrounding districts in fighting. Footage showed widespread devastation, with the facility’s main buildings reduced to burned-out husks.

The military has described the raid on Shifa Hospital as a major battlefield victory in the nearly six-month war, and officials said Israeli troops killed 200 militants in the operation, though the claim that they were all militants could not be confirmed.

The raid came at a time of mounting frustration in Israel, with tens of thousands protesting Sunday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanding that he do more to bring home dozens of hostages held in Gaza. It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the start of the war.

Elsewhere, Syrian officials and state media said an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iran’s consulate in Syria, killing two Iranian generals and five officers.

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

While Iran’s consular building was levelled in the attack, according to Syria’s SANA state news agency, its main embassy building remained intact.

Israel, which rarely acknowledges such strikes, said it had no comment. Iran’s ambassador, Hossein Akbari, vowed revenge for the attack “at the same magnitude and harshness”.

In other developments, Netanyahu said he would shut down satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera immediately. Netanyahu vowed to close the “terror channel” after parliament passed a law Monday clearing the way for the country to halt the Qatari-owned channel from broadcasting from Israel.

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

Al Jazeera condemned his remarks, calling them “a dangerous and ridiculous lie” and saying they were Netanyahu’s justification “for the ongoing assault” on the media network and press freedom. In a statement, the network vowed to persist in its reporting with “boldness and professionalism”.

The hospital raid gutted a facility that had once been the heart of Gaza’s health care system but which doctors and staff had struggled to get even partially operating again after a previous Israeli assault in November.

Israel said it launched the latest raid on Shifa because senior Hamas operatives had regrouped there and were planning attacks. Israeli authorities identified six officials from Hamas’ military wing they said were killed inside the hospital during the raid. Israel also said it seized weapons and valuable intelligence.

In all, the military said it killed 200 militants inside and outside Shifa, though it provided no evidence all were militants.

-AP

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