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Israeli military intelligence chief resigns as Gaza pounded

Israel says five troops killed in north Gaza friendly fire

Israel’s military intelligence chief has resigned after taking responsibility for failures leading to the Hamas attack on October 7, the military said on Monday, as Israel carried out more shelling in war-battered Gaza.

Major General Aharon Haliva is the first top Israeli official to step down for failing to prevent the Hamas attack, which triggered the Gaza war now in its seventh month, and brought intense scrutiny to Israel’s government and military .

“The intelligence division under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with,” Haliva said in his resignation letter. “I carry that black day with me ever since.”

In a sign of the anguish still being felt in Israel, families have been urged to leave an empty seat at tables to represent the hostages being held in Gaza when the Jewish holiday of Passover begins on Monday night.

Israel lashed out at reports that its top ally and military supplier the United States was considering sanctioning the Israeli military’s ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion over alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank from before the war.

“At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terror, the intention to impose a sanction on a unit in the IDF (military) is the height of absurdity and a moral low,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X.

Netanyahu said late Sunday that the Israeli military would increase military pressure to “deliver additional and painful blows” on the Hamas Palestinian militants it is fighting in Gaza.

The prime minister has for two months talked of sending troops into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah to go after Hamas there.

Israel’s allies including Washington have warned against such an operation, fearing a worsening of Gaza’s already catastrophic humanitarian situation. A majority of Palestinians in Gaza have sought refuge in Rafah from elsewhere in the territory.

The announcement of further military pressure came amid growing global opposition to Israel’s Gaza offensive which has turned vasts areas into rubble and sparked fears of famine.

Gaza was hit by heavy shelling overnight Sunday-Monday, with strikes reported in several areas in the centre and south of the territory, an AFP correspondent said Monday.

The Israeli army said in a Monday statement that its jets had targeted “a cell of terrorists posing an immediate threat” to soldiers in central Gaza.

Doctors at Al-Aqsa Hospital in the central Gaza city of Deir al-Balah told AFP that six people were wounded in an Israeli air strike.

A mosque in the nearby Al-Bureij refugee camp was destroyed in a strike, with footage from the scene showing multiple levels of the building collapsed in front of a still-standing minaret.

“At 1:15 am, all of a sudden we saw fire, debris and destruction all around us,” camp resident Mohammed Musaad told AFP. “We started running and found the mosque destroyed.”

Also in Deir al-Balah, Palestinians made a tent out of a parachute used to air-drop aid off the coast.

“When the parachute fell into the sea, we brought it in a small boat,” said Naeem al-Goaan. His sister sleeps in the tent at night, while they use it as a store during the day, he added.

Gaza’s crossings and borders authority said 34 Palestinian detainees had been released from Israeli prison since Monday morning. Authority spokesman Hisham Adwan said some of the prisoners showed “signs of torture”.

The Israeli military has previously denied such mistreatment.

Israeli soldiers have rounded up hundreds of Gazans during the war against Hamas, holding them without charge before releasing some in groups.

In the main southern city of Khan Yunis, Gaza’s civil defence agency said its teams had discovered at least 50 bodies buried in the courtyard of Nasser Medical Complex previously raided by Israel.

Israel’s military said it was checking the reports, which come after the World Health Organization in early April said Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City had been reduced to ashes by an Israeli siege, leaving an “empty shell” containing many bodies.

In the occupied West Bank, where violence has surged alongside the Gaza war, a funeral procession was held on Sunday for 13 Palestinians killed during an Israeli raid on Nur Shams refugee camp.

The Israeli army said it had killed 10 militants in a three-day “counterterrorism” raid, but residents in the camp gave a different account.

Niaz Zandeq, 40, said his son Jihad was shot dead by an Israeli soldier on his 15th birthday.

Neighbours said troops told Jihad to leave his uncle’s house.

“The minute he came out, they opened fire, hitting him directly in the head,” Zandeq said through tears. “He was unarmed.”

The Israeli army has not responded to residents’ allegations.

In Jerusalem, two civilians received minor injuries in a car-ramming attack on Monday, with Israeli police arresting two suspects who fled the scene on foot.

The army said a suspect has also been arrested over the death of Israeli teenager Benjamin Achimeir, whose disappearance sparked Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank this month.

Hamas’s October 7 attack that triggered the Gaza war resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,151 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Israel estimates that 129 captives remain in Gaza, including 34 who the military says are dead.

n Israel, many seder tables will have an empty chair during celebrations of Passover, which is also known in Hebrew as the “holiday of freedom”.

“How can we celebrate such a holiday while… people are still without their freedom, still waiting to be liberated?” asked Mai Albini, whose grandfather was taken captive.

Hostage supporters and anti-government demonstrators have regularly taken to the streets to call for a deal that would free the captives, and for Netanyahu to step down.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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