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Live blog: Israeli army withdraws from al-Shifa — Gaza health ministry

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said the Israeli military had withdrawn tanks and vehicles from the complex housing the besieged territory’s main hospital, al-Shifa, days after the launch of a major operation on the site.

The ministry said dozens of bodies had been found at the complex, where an AFP journalist and eyewitnesses saw tanks and vehicles pulling out.

The Israeli military did not immediately confirm any pullout.

Eyewitnesses said dozens of air strikes and shells had hit the area around the complex.

The government media office in Gaza said the Israeli air strikes had provided cover for the withdrawing vehicles.

 Israeli army says 600 soldiers killed since October 7

The Israeli military announced the death of a soldier in fighting in Gaza, bringing the total number of troops killed since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel to 600.

The military announced the death of a soldier, Nadav Cohen, and updated its overall toll to 600 killed since the attacks that triggered the war.

 Pope overcomes health concerns to preside over Easter Mass and appeal for peace in Gaza and Ukraine

Pope Francis rallied from a winter-long bout of respiratory problems to lead some 60,000 people in Easter celebrations Sunday, making a strong appeal for a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine.

Francis presided over Easter Sunday Mass in a flower-decked St Peter’s Square and then delivered a heartfelt prayer for peace in his annual roundup of global crises.

Gaza’s people, including the small Christian community there, have been a source of constant concern for Francis and Easter in the Holy Land overall was a somber affair this year given the war.

Iraq’s Islamic Resistance claims responsibility for drone attack on Israel

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a one-way suicide drone attack on the southern Israeli port city of Eilat.

“The mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq bombed a vital target in our occupied lands Monday morning with appropriate weapons,” the group said in a statement.

The statement said the attack was conducted in solidarity with the people of Gaza and as a reaction to “the massacres committed by the usurping entity” against Palestinian civilians.

“The Islamic Resistance confirms its continuation in destroying enemy strongholds,” the statement added.

US, Israel to discuss Rafah invasion in virtual meeting: report

The US and Israel are set to convene for a virtual meeting on Monday, aiming to discuss alternative proposals from the Biden administration regarding a potential Israeli military invasion of Rafah, as confirmed by four Israeli and US officials speaking to Axios.

Originally scheduled for last week, the meeting has become a source of contention between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Biden.

Tensions escalated after the US refrained from vetoing a UN Security Council resolution last week, which called for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages.

In response, Netanyahu announced the cancellation of the meeting in protest against the perceived lack of support from the US.

WHO urges Israel to enable access to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged Israel to urgently enable access to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza and establish a humanitarian corridor.

“We urge Israel to urgently facilitate access and a humanitarian corridor so WHO and partners can carry out the lifesaving transfer of patients,” Tedros said on X.

He said 21 patients have died since al-Shifa Hospital came under siege on March 18, with hostilities continuing in its vicinity according to updates from a health worker at the facility.

 Israeli forces admit most Gaza killings are civilians

Israeli officers and soldiers have admitted that most of the fatalities classified by the army as “terrorists” during its war on Gaza are actually civilians, a report has said.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz collected testimonies from officers and soldiers who have fought in Gaza during the war, which has been ongoing since October 7, 2023.

“The Israeli army says 9,000 terrorists have been killed since the Gaza war began,” the report said.

Israeli officials and soldiers, however, told Haaretz that “these are often civilians whose only crime was to cross an invisible line drawn by the Israeli army.”

“We were explicitly told that even if a suspect runs into a building with people in it, we should fire at the building and kill the terrorist, even if other people are hurt,” one soldier told the newspaper.

Clashes erupt among Israelis over conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews

Clashes erupted in Jerusalem among Israelis demanding the mandatory conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews into military service and those opposing it, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority reported.

The official media outlet reported that police dispersed protesters after clashes erupted between hundreds of Israelis demanding Haredim conscription and those opposing it during a demonstration outside the Mea Shearim neighbourhood in Jerusalem.

It added that the demonstration outside a religious Jewish neighbourhood was organised by the “Brothers in Arms,” a movement that advocates for religious and non-religious Israelis to be treated equally in mandatory military conscription.

2100 GMT  Israelis gather in front of Knesset, demand hostage swap deal

Thousands of Israelis began gathering in front of the parliament or Knesset building in Jerusalem to demand a hostage swap deal with Hamas and early elections, an Israeli media outlet said.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that thousands of Israelis from all over the country began to gather in front of the Knesset building in Jerusalem to demand a hostage swap deal and early elections.

1908 GMT — New Palestinian government sworn in

A new Palestinian government that includes both residents of Gaza and four women was sworn in but was already facing scepticism from its own people.

The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas is under pressure from Washington to prepare to step into the breach in the aftermath of the Gaza war and undertake reforms.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa said his government’s “top national priority” was ending the war as he named his new team.

He said his cabinet “will work on formulating visions to reunify the institutions, including assuming responsibility for Gaza.”

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