The Latest | Israeli drone strike kills 2 in Lebanon after Hezbollah fires at an Israeli convoy

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says an Israeli drone strike on a car in the eastern part of the country has killed two people

An Israeli drone strike on a car in eastern Lebanon killed two people Friday, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says. The strike came after Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group carried out an attack along the border that killed an Israeli civilian.

Hezbollah and Israel have traded fire on a near-daily basis along the border since the start of Israel-Hamas war nearly seven months ago.

Egypt sent a high-level delegation to Israel on Friday for talks seeking to push through a cease-fire agreement with Hamas and avert an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip city of Rafah, officials said.

More than half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have sought refuge in Rafah. The city is on the border with Egypt, which warned that a possible Israeli offensive focused on Rafah could have catastrophic consequences to regional stability.

The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in the area in what appears to be preparations for an invasion of the city.

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

The war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, around two-thirds of them children and women.


Egypt sends delegation to Israel, its latest effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas

— Private security company says missile fire seen off the Yemen coast in the Red Sea near crucial strait

Premature baby girl rescued from her dead mother's womb dies in Gaza after 5 days in an incubator

— PEN America cancels World Voices Festival amid criticism of its response to Israel-Hamas war

Columbia University protesters say they're at an impasse with administrators and will continue anti-war camp

— Students at prestigious Paris university occupy campus building in pro-Palestinian protest

Here is the latest:


BAGHDAD — A drone attack Friday on a gas field in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq killed four Yemeni workers and wounded three others, the regional government said.

The government’s statement called it a “terrorist attack” without blaming a specific group. No group claimed responsibility.

The attack happened on the Khor Mor gas field in Sulaymaniyah. The regional government’s electricity ministry announced the suspension of gas production and a loss of 2,500 megawatts of power production.

A rocket attack on the same gas field in January caused infrastructure damage and widespread power outages. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation, but the government has not announced any results.

Friday's attack followed a failed rocket strike that was launched from Iraq early this week toward a base housing U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria, an apparent resumption of attacks on U.S. forces by Iranian-backed Iraqi militias.

From October to February, an umbrella group of militias calling itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched regular drone attacks on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. The group said it was retaliating for Washington’s support of Israel in the war in Gaza and wanted to force U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq.

Those attacks halted after a stroke on a base in Jordan killed three U.S. soldiers and prompted U.S. retaliatory strikes in Iraq.


WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has determined that an Israeli army battalion committed grave human-rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank before the war in Gaza. But he said in a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson that he is postponing a decision on blocking aid to the unit to give Israel more time to right the wrongdoing.

The undated letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, defers a decision on whether to withhold U.S. assistance to an Israeli military unit for the first time over its treatment of Palestinians and its compliance with international and human rights law. Israeli leaders, anticipating the U.S. decision this week, have angrily protested any such aid restrictions.

Blinken stressed that overall U.S. military support for Israel’s defense against Hamas and other threats would not be affected by the State Department’s eventual decision on the one unit.

It comes as Blinken is again headed to Israel. An Israeli foreign ministry official told The Associated Press that Blinken will visit on Tuesday, the latest trip he and other top U.S. officials have made since the war in Gaza began.

The U.S. declaration concerns a single Israeli unit. While the unit is not identified in Blinken’s letter, it is believed to be the Netzah Yehuda.

— By Ellen Knickmeyer, Farnoush Amiri, Matthew Lee and Julia Frankel


UNITED NATIONS — U.N. investigators say Israel has alleged that 19 employees of the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel and they are now investigating 14 cases.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday that the U.N. internal watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, has closed one case because Israel provided no evidence. Four others have been suspended for lack of sufficient evidence.

In January, Israel alleged that 12 employees of the Palestinian refugee agency known as UNRWA participated in the Oct. 7 attacks. Dujarric said Israel has since made allegations against seven additional employees.

Dujarric provided no details on the allegations.

Dujarric said OIOS investigators had met with authorities in Israel and would undertake another visit in May.

“These discussions are continuing and have so far been productive and have enabled progress on the investigations,” he said, adding that there is no indication of when the OIOS probes will be finished.

The update Dujarric followed Monday's release of an independent review of UNRWA's neutrality. That review found that Israel never expressed concern about anyone on the staff lists it has received annually since 2011 from the U.N. agency.


BEIRUT — An Israeli drone strike on a car in eastern Lebanon killed two people Friday, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says.

The Israeli military said it targeted an official with Lebanon’s al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, that is allied with Hezbollah. It has been active in predominantly Sunni Muslim villages along the Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.

The Israeli military said the man killed was Musab Khalaf. It says Khalaf was behind attacks on Israeli troops in the disputed Chebaa Farms that Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war. The Lebanese government says the area belongs to Lebanon.

An official with al-Jamaa al-Islamiya refused to confirm NNA's report when contacted by The Associated Press. The attack occurred on a road near the eastern village of Maydoun, NNA said without identifying the two killed.

The strike came a day after Hezbollah carried out an attack along the border that killed an Israeli civilian.

Hezbollah and Israel have traded fire on a near-daily basis along the border since the start of the war in Gaza nearly seven months ago. Hezbollah says it is acting in solidarity with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, whose deadly Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel triggered the war.


JERUSALEM — Missiles suspected to have been fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels landed in the Red Sea on Friday, a private security company said.

The attack follows an uptick in assaults launched by the Houthis in recent days after a relative lull in their monthslong campaign over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The private security company Ambrey said three missiles could be seen in the attack, which landed closest to a Panama-flagged, Seychelles-registered tanker it described as being “engaged in Russia-linked trade.” The vessel was traveling from Primorsk, Russia, to Vadinar, India, Ambrey said.

Those details corresponded to a tanker called the Andromeda Star, which had been previously broadcasting its location off Mocha, Yemen, according to ship-tracking data.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the missile fire, though it typically takes the rebels several hours to acknowledge their attacks.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sank another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.


JERUSALEM — Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, was injured in a car accident and brought to the hospital Friday after visiting the scene of a stabbing attack in central Israel, according to Israeli police and Hebrew media.

Ben-Gvir’s office said he was in good condition. The statement also said that Ben-Gvir’s daughter, a security guard, and a driver were lightly injured.

He had just visited the scene where Israeli police said a young woman had been stabbed several times in the back by a militant on Friday. Paramedics brought her to the hospital in serious condition.

Israel’s police chief said the attacker was chased by civilians for about a kilometer before he tried to stab another woman. He was then shot dead by a civilian with a licensed weapon.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, Palestinians have carried out a number of attacks against Israelis, some of them deadly. Violence also has surged in the West Bank, with 489 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

The car accident involving Ben-Gvir injured three people, police said. Hebrew media aired footage of a black car overturned on the road and quoted a witness who said that the car had run a red light.


ISTANBUL — Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday denied rumors that drones and ballistic missile strikes from Iran's attack on Israel on April 13 were intercepted due to early detection by a NATO radar base in southeastern Turkey.

“The radar center in Kurecik (Malatya province) does not and cannot have any relationship, bond or contact with any state other than the security of our country and our alliance,” he said

Speaking at a televised pro-Palestinian event, Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey has cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel and will impose more trade restrictions.

“From a commercial perspective, the only country that imposes export restrictions on Israel in 54 product groups is Turkey,” Erdogan said.

Turkey, a staunch critic of Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip, announced that it was restricting exports of 54 types of products to Israel in early April. They include aluminum, steel, construction products, jet fuel and chemical fertilizers. In response, Israel banned products from Turkey.


The heads of Israel’s major research universities signed a letter Friday expressing deep concern over what they viewed as a surge of antisemitism at American colleges as pro-Palestinian protests sweep campuses across the United States.

In the letter, the university heads allege that the recent demonstrations have created “a climate where Israeli and Jewish students and faculty members feel compelled to hide their identities or avoid campuses altogether for fear of physical harm.” The letter did not include specific examples.

The statement comes as pro-Palestinian protesters set up encampments at universities across the country.

Many are demanding schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies they say are enabling the conflict.

Israel and its supporters have branded the protests as antisemitic, while critics of Israel say it uses such allegations to silence opponents.

While some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, organizers of the protests, some of whom are Jewish, say it is a peaceful movement aimed at defending Palestinian rights and protesting the war.

“Freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate are vital to the health of any democracy,” wrote the college presidents, whose association goes by the acronym VERA in Israel. “However, these freedoms do not include the right to to engage in violence, make threats against communities, or call for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

They said that they would help Jewish students and faculty wishing to move to Israel.


CAIRO — Egypt sent a high-level delegation to Israel in the hope of reaching a cease-fire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, while warning a possible new Israeli offensive focused on the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability, two officials said Friday.

Egypt’s top intelligence official, Abbas Kamel, is leading the delegation and plans to discuss a “new vision” on establishing a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza with Israeli officials, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the mission.

Talks will focus at first on a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners, along the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the official said.

The hope is that negotiations will then continue, with the goal of a larger deal to end the war, he said.

Hamas has said it will not back down from its demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops, both of which Israel has refused. Israel says it will continue military operations until Hamas is definitively defeated and will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.

Israel has also been conducting near-daily raids on Rafah, a city in which more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge.

While in Israel, Kamel plans to make clear that Egypt “will not tolerate” Israel’s deployments of troops along Gaza’s borders with Egypt, the Egyptian official said.

A Western diplomat in Cairo also said that Egypt has intensified its efforts in recent days to reach a compromise and establish a short cease-fire in Gaza that will help negotiate a longer truce and avert the Rafah offensive.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments.

— Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.


BEIRUT — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group fired anti-tank missiles and artillery shells at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed area along the border, killing an Israeli civilian, the group and Israel’s military said Friday.

Hezbollah said that its fighters ambushed the convoy on Thursday shortly before midnight, destroying two vehicles.

The Israeli military said the ambush wounded an Israeli civilian doing infrastructure work, and that he later died of his wounds.

The incident took place in a disputed area known in Lebanon as the Kfar Chouba hills and in Israel as Har Dov. The area was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war and is are part of Syria’s Golan Heights that Israel annexed in 1981. The Lebanese government says the area belongs to Lebanon.

Hezbollah and Israel have traded fire on a near-daily basis along the border since the start of the war in Gaza nearly seven months ago. Hezbollah says it is acting in solidarity with the Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, which triggered the war with its deadly Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel.

The low-intensity fighting has repeatedly threatened to boil over as Israel has targeted senior Hezbollah militants in recent months.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border.

On the Israeli side, the cross-border fighting has killed 10 civilians and 12 soldiers. In Lebanon, more than 350 people have been killed, including 50 civilians and 271 Hezbollah members.

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