The Latest | Israel's killing of aid workers in Gaza is a new blow to humanitarian efforts

Israeli airstrikes on aid workers delivering food in Gaza killed at least seven people — including a U.S.-Canada dual citizen and citizens of Australia, Poland and the United Kingdom. It's the latest Israeli military action to hit humanitarian efforts in the besieged Palestinian territory.

World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, said early Tuesday it was immediately pausing operations in the region, delivering a blow to the recently opened sea route for food aid. Ships carrying food sailed away from Gaza after arriving just a day earlier.

Israel says the strikes were an accident and that officials are investigating. The U.N. says at least 180 humanitarian workers have been killed in the war so far.

The U.S., which has provided key military and diplomatic support for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza, had hoped the sea route would allow more food to enter the territory. In northern Gaza, the United Nations says much of the population is on the brink of starvation. South Africa has accused Israel of acts of genocide in its war in Gaza and filed a case at the United Nations' highest court — charges Israel strongly denies.

After nearly six months, Israel's war in Gaza has killed nearly 33,000 Palestinians, the territory's Health Ministry says. The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Currently:

— Family and friends recall 'brave' and 'selfless' aid workers killed in Israeli airstrikes.

— Tehran vows response after strike blamed on Israel destroyed Iran's Consulate in Syria and killed 12

— Forced from their Gaza home by Israeli troops, a family makes a terrifying escape through a war zone.

— As Israel withdraws from Shifa Hospital, accounts from military and witnesses differ wildly.

World Central Kitchen charity halts Gaza aid operations after Israeli strikes kill seven workers.

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

Here's the latest:

ISRAEL SAYS ‘MISIDENTIFICATION’ LED TO GAZA STRIKES THAT KILLED AID WORKERS

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military chief says a deadly Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers in the Gaza Strip was the result of a “misidentification” in complex conditions.

Announcing the results of a preliminary investigation early Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi expressed remorse over the killings and called the event a “grave mistake.”

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. He gave no further details.

He said an independent body would conduct a “thorough investigation” that would be completed in the coming days, and said the army appreciates the “important work” of the World Central Kitchen.

He said the conclusions of the independent investigation would be implemented immediately and shared with World Central Kitchen and other ‘relevant’ international organizations.

“We see great importance in the continued delivery of humanitarian aid, and we will keep working to facilitate this vital effort,” he said.

World Central Kitchen said it had coordinated with the Israeli military over the movement of its cars. Three vehicles that were moving at large distances apart were hit in succession. They were left incinerated and mangled, indicating multiple targeted strikes.

At least one of the vehicles had the charity’s logo printed across its roof to make it identifiable from the air, and the ordnance punched a large hole through the roof.

The strikes on the charity’s convoy highlighted what critics say is Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and lack of regard for civilian casualties in Gaza. Israeli authorities blame Hamas militants for civilian deaths because the fighters operate in populated areas.

AUSTRALIAN LEADER SAYS ISRAEL PROMISES ‘FULL TRANSPARENCY' INTO AID WORKERS' KILLING

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu has provided an undertaking for “full transparency” in an investigation of how seven aid workers including an Australian woman who were killed by airstrikes in Gaza.

Albanese said he had “expressed Australia’s anger and concern” over Zomi Frankcom’s death in a phone call with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

“I emphasized the importance of full accountability and transparency and Prime Minister Netanyahu has committed to full transparency about how this tragedy could possibly have occurred,” Albanese told reporters.

“There is a need for a thorough investigation into what happened here and Prime Minister Netanyahu committed to that,” Albanese added.

Israel had accepted responsibility for the attack on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy and the consequent investigation must be “very fast, immediate, clear and transparent,” Albanese said.

“I conveyed to Prime Minister Netanyahu in very clear terms that Australians were outraged by this death, by this tragedy, of this fine Australian,” Albanese said.

“This is an Australian who we can all be proud of, someone who not only was in Gaza assisting people in need, but had in the past provided support for people in Bangladesh, in Pakistan, here in Australia after the bushfires. This was someone who was clearly committed to benefit her fellow humanity, and someone ... whose loss is very deeply felt by her family, but I think felt by Australians as well,” Albanese added.

CANADA AND OTHER COUNTRIES WILL SEND ISRAEL A DIPLOMATIC REBUKE FOR KILLING GAZA AID WORKERS, OFFICIAL SAYS

TORONTO — Canada and other nations’ embassies will present a joint formal diplomatic rebuke to the Israeli Foreign Ministry over the country’s killing of seven aid workers in Gaza, a senior Canadian government official said.

A top official with Canada’s Global Affairs department has also made a formal representation to Israel ambassador to Canada on Tuesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The Canadian official did not elaborate on which nations would take part in the formal rebuke, known as a demarche. But the dead from Monday night’s strikes included a Canadian-American dual national, a Palestinian, three British citizens, and Polish and Australia nationals. Those Western countries have been key backers of Israel’s nearly 6-month-old offensive in Gaza, and several of them sharply condemned the killings.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that the military had carried out the “unintended strike ... on innocent people.” He said officials were investigating and would work to ensure it did not happen again.

U.N. SAYS ISRAEL'S KILLING OF AID WORKERS IS ‘INEVITABLE’ RESULT OF HOW IT'S CONDUCTING THE WAR IN GAZA

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations says Israel's “heartbreaking” killing of seven aid workers in airstrikes “is the inevitable result of the way this war is currently being conducted,” pointing to the killing of more than 180 humanitarian workers so far.

The World Central Kitchen staff's recent deaths show “a disregard for international humanitarian law and a disregard for the protection of humanitarian workers” that the law requires, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday.

At least one of the vehicles had the charity’s logo printed across its roof to make it identifiable from the air, and the ordnance punched a large hole through the roof. Three vehicles moving at large distances apart were hit in succession. They were left incinerated and mangled, indicating multiple targeted strikes.

Dujarric said Sigrid Kaag, the senior U.N. humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, met with the World Central Kitchen team Monday in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah — just hours before they were killed. Kaag is “appalled” at the attack, Dujarric said.

World Central Kitchen, which is a partner of the U.N. World Food Program, has suspended operations in the region along with other aid organizations, dealing a blow to the delivery of desperately needed aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million hungry people, including hundreds of thousands of people who are near starvation.

Israel has called the airstrikes an accident and says it’s investigating.

Dujarric was asked what his message is to Israel. “The message is let humanitarian workers do their job. They need to be able to do it in safety.”

U.S. MILITARY BELIEVES ISRAEL CARRIED OUT DEADLY STRIKE ON IRAN'S CONSULATE IN SYRIA

WASHINGTON — The United States military believes Israel carried out the recent airstrike on Iran's Consulate in Syria and that several senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard were present.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday that it is the U.S. assessment that Israel conducted the strike on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus and that “there were a handful IRGC top leaders there.”

Israel, which has repeatedly targeted Iranian officers in Syria and in Lebanon, did not comment on Monday's attack.

Iran has vowed to respond to the attack that killed 12 people including two Iranian generals and a member of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, which is backed by Iran.

Israel, increasingly impatient with months of cross-border fighting with Hezbollah, has warned of the possibility of a full-fledged war.

The U.S. National Security Council said the United States played no role in the strike in Damascus and did not know of it ahead of time.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TOLD ISRAELI LEADER THAT HE'S ‘APPALLED’ BY KILLING OF AID WORKERS IN GAZA

LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu that he is “appalled” by the Israel's killing of aid workers in airstrikes.

The two leaders spoke after it was confirmed three U.K. citizens were among seven workers for a food charity killed in Gaza.

Sunak’s office said he “demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened” and described the situation in Gaza as “increasingly intolerable.”

Britain is a staunch ally of Israeli, but Sunak has become increasingly critical of the conduct of the war. He is under pressure to suspend U.K. arms exports to Israel.

He told Netanyahu that “Israel’s rightful aim of defeating Hamas would not be achieved by allowing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”

The U.N. says at least 180 humanitarian workers have been killed in the war so far.

WAR IN GAZA HAS INFLICTED $18.5 BILLION IN DAMAGE, NEW REPORT SAYS

TEL AVIV, Israel — A report by the World Bank, the United Nations, and the European Union estimates that Israel’s war against Hamas has caused $18.5 billion in damage to buildings and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

The report released Tuesday estimates that devastating Israeli bombardments, which have flattened wide swaths of neighborhoods, have created around 26 million tons of debris and rubble that will take years to remove.

Additionally, more than 80% of medical facilities and 90% of roads have been damaged.

The report used remote data collection such as satellite imagery, social media reports and accounts from aid organizations on the ground to measure the overwhelming damage to physical infrastructure between October and January.

It said in the last major war in Gaza in 2014, there was approximately $1.4 billion in damage to buildings. The report called on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, especially temporary housing solutions, to start addressing some of the desperate need.

International officials estimate over 80% of the territory’s 2.3 million people have been displaced.

Almost 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza during the war with Israel, the territory's Health Ministry says. The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Throughout the war, Israeli forces have shown readiness to inflict widespread destruction when they believe a suspected militant is present or when ground troops see a tactical need to strike. Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths, saying it operates in populated areas.

BIDEN HOLDS PHONE CALL WITH HEAD OF FOOD CHARITY, OFFERING CONDOLENCES FOR AID WORKERS KILLED BY ISRAEL

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden spoke by phone with celebrity chef José Andrés and offered condolences Tuesday after Israeli airstrikes killed seven members of his food charity, according to the White House.

“We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Several humanitarian aid organizations suspended operations in Gaza on Tuesday, including World Central Kitchen. Kirby expressed concern that the killings could have a chilling impact on other groups carrying out aid operations in the territory.

Among the dead were citizens of some of Israel’s closest allies, including a U.S.-Canada dual citizen. The U.N. says more than 180 humanitarian workers have been killed in the war so far.

The White House pushed back on whether the latest killings should lead the Biden administration to reconsider providing military aid to Israel.

“The Prime Minister and the IDF have noted that it was their error,” Kirby said. “They’re investigating it. Let them do that work and let them see what they come up with, and then we’ll go from there.”

U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS ISRAEL'S APPARENT STRIKE ON IRANIAN CONSULATE IN SYRIA

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned an attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

The strike, apparently carried out by Israel, has raised Mideast tensions even further because it struck an Iranian diplomatic mission.

Guterres said "the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases in accordance with international law,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday.

At Iran’s request, the U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the attack a day earlier.

Guterres called on all parties “to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation,” Dujarric said.

“He cautions that any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict in an already volatile region, with devastating consequences for civilians who are already seeing unprecedented suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East,” Dujarric said.

Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza and along Israel's border with Lebanon.

BRITISH AND CANADIAN GOVERMENTS CONDEMN ISRAELI STRIKE THAT KILLED AID WORKERS FROM THEIR COUNTRIES

LONDON — The British government has summoned Israel’s ambassador for a rebuke over the deaths of three U.K. nationals in airstrikes on an aid group in Gaza.

The three Britons, whose names have not been released, were among seven people from World Central Kitchen killed while helping deliver food. The dead also include citizens of Australia, Poland, a U.S.-Canada dual citizen and a Palestinian.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said her country condemns the killings and expects “full accountability." Attacks on humanitarian personnel are “absolutely unacceptable” and international humanitarian law must be respected, she said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the aid workers were killed by “unintended” strikes by Israeli forces.

U.K. Development Minister Andrew Mitchell said at the meeting with Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely he “set out the government’s unequivocal condemnation of the appalling killing” of the aid workers. He said he “requested a quick and transparent investigation, shared with the international community, and full accountability.”

Mitchell added: “We need to see an immediate humanitarian pause, to get aid in and the hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable cease-fire.”

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on X that he told his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz that the aid workers’ deaths “are completely unacceptable.”

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, has noted the strikes was “not an isolated incident.” More than 180 humanitarian workers have been killed in Gaza since the war broke out in October, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday.

A POLISH TOWN MOURNS AN AID WORKER KILLED IN ISRAELI STRIKES

WARSAW, Poland — A town in southeastern Poland is mourning an aid worker who was killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza while delivering desperately needed food aid that had arrived by sea.

The Polish aid worker has been identified by his hometown mayor as Damian Soból, from Przemyśl.

Przemyśl authorities lowered national flags to half staff on all administration buildings. Mayor Wojciech Bakun wrote on X that there were no words to describe the loss of this “fantastic young man.”

Soból’s Facebook account said he was educated at the Hotel and Catering School in Przemyśl.

He recently lived in Warsaw and his latest posts showed him traveling extensively and volunteering for the World Central Kitchen in Morocco and in Corfu, Greece, last year.

In 2022, he ran a collection of funds for the World Central Kitchen in Poland, which borders Ukraine.

“These brave people are changing the world for the better with their service and sacrifice for the others,” Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said on X.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry later identified Soból by name and extended condolences to his family, and said it has demanded detailed explanations from Israel.

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Szejna says his country will demand that Israel pay damages to Soból's family. Szejna said on the privately owned Radio Zet that he was not convinced by Israeli declarations that the strikes were unintended and said compensation is necessary.

CYPRUS PRESIDENT SAYS MORE AID COULD BE SHIPPED TO GAZA DESPITE AIRSTRIKES

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The president of Cyprus says that more aid could be shipped to Gaza from Cyprus before the end of the month as the U.S. completes construction of a floating pier off the besieged territory’s coastline.

President Nikos Christodoulides said after escorting European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on a tour of Cypriot port facilities Tuesday that the Gaza aid shipments “will continue as humanitarian needs are there” despite Monday’s airstrikes that killed seven staff members from the U.S. charity World Central Kitchen.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged that Israeli forces carried out the strikes. He said officials “will do everything for this not to happen again.”

In the last three weeks, World Central Kitchen in partnership with the United Arab Emirates has sent approximately 500 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza from the Cypriot port of Larnaca aboard a barge and two ships on two separate trips. The charity announced it’s suspending operations in Gaza following the death of its staffers.

Christodoulides said the tragic event “should not discourage us” and that the international community should “double down” on efforts to provide more assistance to Gaza’s civilian population.

He said aid workers “must have full protection” in providing assistance, citing “crystal clear” humanitarian law.

DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS ISRAEL OPERATES EVERYWHERE TO DETER ENEMIES

JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister says his country is operating everywhere to deter enemies, exacting a heavy toll against them.

Yoav Gallant made the remarks a day after a strike widely attributed to Israel killed two Iranian generals and demolished Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus.

“We find ourselves in a multi-front war,” Gallant told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. “We operate everywhere, every day, in order to prevent our enemies from gaining strength.”

Gallant also warned Israel’s enemies that any attack against Israel would exact a heavy price.

Gallant did not refer directly to the Syria strike, and Israel has not officially confirmed that it was behind the attack.

Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israeli troops in Gaza and along the Lebanese border. Monday’s strike in Damascus signaled an escalation because it struck an Iranian diplomatic mission.

It was not clear if Iran would respond itself, risking a dangerous confrontation with Israel and its ally the United States, or if it would continue to rely on proxies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

SHIPS RETURNING FROM GAZA WITH UNDELIVERED AID AFTER STRIKES

NICOSIA, Cyprus — An official in Cyprus says aid ships that arrived in Gaza this week will return with some 240 tons of undelivered aid after deadly strikes killed seven aid workers.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis said Tuesday that around 100 tons of aid had been unloaded before the World Central Kitchen, an international charity, suspended operations after its workers were killed.

An apparent Israeli strikes on a convoy in Gaza killed six foreign aid workers and their Palestinian driver late Monday.

Cyprus has played a key role in trying to establish a maritime aid corridor to Gaza from its port city of Larnaca. Those efforts suffered a major setback when World Central Kitchen halted operations after the strikes.

Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said the charity is suspending its operations in Gaza out of respect for the victims as well as to review its security protocols.

Israel has expressed sorrow over the deaths and vowed to carry out an independent investigation into what happened, while stopping short of accepting responsibility.

FAMILIES OF WOMEN HELD CAPTIVE IN GAZA GIVE EMOTIONAL TESTIMONY TO ISRAELI PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

JERUSALEM — The families of women held captive in Gaza and two freed female hostages have given emotional testimony to an Israeli parliamentary committee focusing on their concerns for the remaining female captives.

The attendees at Tuesday’s meeting said that emerging testimony about sexual assault from freed hostages during their time in captivity was fueling concerns that other remaining captives might also be facing similar abuse.

Yarden Gonen, whose sister Romi was taken captive on Oct. 7, criticized what she said was inaction by the Israeli government and the world to free the hostages, especially the women.

“Where are you? I don’t understand what is happening here? What are we fighting for? What is more important than this?” she said.

Before the committee meeting began, the attendees held posters of the hostages. One woman had painted red streaks on her face and wore a white sheet stained with red splotches, symbolizing blood.

The families of the hostages are growing increasingly desperate as the war grinds on with no resolution in sight for the fate of their loved ones. Demonstrations this week intensified calling for a deal to free the captives.

Israel and Hamas are holding negotiations on the hostages in exchange for a cease-fire, but the sides remain far apart on their terms for a deal.

AID GROUP SAYS ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE KILLS AT LEAST 7 OF ITS WORKERS, INCLUDING FOREIGNERS

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — An apparent Israeli airstrike killed six international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and their Palestinian driver, the aid group said Tuesday, hours after it brought a new shipload of food into northern Gaza, which has been isolated and pushed to the brink of famine by Israel’s offensive.

Footage showed the bodies of the 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.

The food charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés said early Tuesday that the seven killed include citizens of Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom and a U.S.-Canada dual citizen.

“This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER,” WCK spokeswoman Linda Roth said in a statement.

The source of fire late Monday could not be independently confirmed. The Israeli military said it was conducting a review “to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Tuesday his government requested an explanation from Israel of how four international aid workers including an Australian woman were killed in the apparent airstrike in Gaza.

“This is someone who was volunteering overseas to provide aid through this charity for people who are suffering tremendous deprivation in Gaza. And this is just completely unacceptable,” Albanese told reporters.

“We want full accountability for this because this is a tragedy that should never have occurred,” Albanese added.

JAPAN WILL LIFT FUNDING FREEZE ON UN AGENCY SUPPORTING PALESTINIAN REFUGEES

TOKYO — Japan says it will lift a funding freeze on a United Nations’ agency supporting Palestinian refugees that Tokyo had imposed in response to the alleged involvement of the agency's staff in last year’s Hamas attack on Israel.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters on Tuesday that Japan will resume its $35 million contribution planned for 2023 for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA.

“The humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territory (of Gaza) continues to worsen, and there is no time to waste,” Kamikawa said. “As a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Japan has a responsibility to respond to the crisis, and UNRWA’s involvement is indispensable to carry out the humanitarian support.”

The resumption comes days after UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini visited Tokyo seeking Japan’s funding resumption. In his meeting with Kamikawa, Lazzarini pledged a monitoring mechanism as part of the agency’s effort to step up transparency, neutrality and staff training.

Japan joined the United States and other countries in January in suspending funding for the U.N. agency following the alleged involvement of a dozen UNRWA staffers in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

IRAN SENDS ‘IMPORTANT’ MESSAGE TO U.S. OVER AIRSTRIKE AT IRANIAN CONSULATE IN SYRIA

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s official IRNA news agency says Tehran has sent an “important” message to the United States over an alleged Israeli airstrike at the Iranian consulate in Syria that killed two Iranian generals and five officers.

Iran relayed the message after it summoned a Swiss envoy in Tehran, the report said Tuesday. It did not provide more details about the message but said Iran claimed the U.S. had “responsibility” for the strike. Switzerland has looked out for America’s interests in Iran since the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.

Iran’s envoy to the U.N also asked in a letter for an “immediate” U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the strike.

President Ebrahim Raisi attended a Supreme National Security Council meeting Monday night to discuss the strike, Iranian state TV reported. It said the meeting decided on a “required” reaction to the strike but gave no details. The council is in charge of important decisions on domestic and foreign issues.

Groups of people rallied Monday night to protest the strike in several cities in Iran, state TV said Tuesday, noting that protesters demanded retaliatory action against Israel. Some burned Israeli and the U.S. flags.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard on Monday said that seven of its members including two generals were killed in an Israeli airstrike that struck the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital.

It was the deadliest strike on an Iranian diplomatic post in decades and appeared to signify an escalation of Israel’s targeting of Iranian military officials and their allies in Syria. Such strikes have intensified since Hamas militants — who are supported by Iran — attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

In 1998, eight Iranian diplomats and staff of the country’s consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif city in Afghanistan were killed during a raid on the diplomatic site as the Taliban were battling to take control of the city.

U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SAYS PALESTINIANS EXPECTED TO SEND LETTER REQUESTING FULL MEMBERSHIP

UNITED NATIONS – The president of the U.N. Security Council says the Palestinians are expected to send a letter in the next few days outlining their request for full membership in the United Nations.

Malta’s U.N. Ambassador Vanessa Frazier, whose country took over the rotating president on Monday, said once the letter is received it will be shared with council members and will then likely be discussed in a closed meeting.

Frazier said the council’s monthly Mideast meeting on April 18 will be at ministerial meeting, which is expected to focus on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and the council’s demand for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ends on April 9 and which both parties have rejected.

The Palestinian request for full U.N. membership is also expected to be raised at the meeting, assuming the letter has been received, she said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had promised to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership.

FRANCE CIRCULATES PROPOSED U.N. RESOLUTION CALLING FOR CEASE-FIRE

UNITED NATIONS – France circulated a proposed new U.N. resolution that would call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the immediate release of all hostages seized during Hamas’ surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere told reporters before presenting the draft resolution to Security Council members at a closed meeting late Monday that the draft resolution has no “time limitation,” stressing that “we want to move to a permanent cease-fire.”

The Security Council issued its first demand for a cease-fire last Monday for the remainder of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ends April 9. The United States, Israel’s close ally, abstained, angering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who canceled a visit to Washington by a high-level delegation in their strongest public clash since the war began. Both Israel and Hamas rejected the council’s demands.

De Riviere said the draft resolution condemns Hamas’ “terrorist attacks” on Oct. 7 – something the Security Council has refused to do in two previous humanitarian resolutions and the Ramadan cease-fire resolution.

The proposed resolution also demands immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza, where hunger is rife and starvation has already led to the deaths of children.