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'Neutrality' issues found at UN agency for Palestinians, but no terrorism proof

An independent review of the neutrality of the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees found that Israel never expressed concern about anyone on the staff lists it has received annually since 2011. The review was carried out after Israel alleged that a dozen employees of the agency known as UNRWA had participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks.

In a wide-ranging 48-page report released Monday, the independent panel said UNRWA has "robust" procedures to uphold the U.N. principle of neutrality, but it cited serious gaps in implementation, including staff publicly expressing political views, textbooks used in schools the agency runs with "problematic content" and staff unions disrupting operations. It makes 50 recommendations to improve UNRWA's neutrality.

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10 key moments in the Israel-Hamas war

On October 7, Palestinian militants launched an attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government responded to the worst attack in the country's history with a devastating military campaign in the Gaza Strip, ruled by armed group Hamas, that has killed 34,151 people, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian territory's health ministry.

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Israelis from border towns mark Passover away from home

Jewish people mark on Monday the start of Passover, a celebration of freedom, and around many holiday tables in Israel chairs will stand empty for hostages still held captive in Gaza.

The week-long Jewish festival, also known in Hebrew as the "holiday of freedom", celebrates the Israelites' liberation from Egyptian slavery, as told in the Bible.

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Turkey's Erdogan in rare Iraq visit to discuss water, oil, security

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Iraq on Monday for his first official visit in more than a decade as his country seeks greater cooperation from Baghdad in its fight against a Kurdish militant group that has a foothold in northern Iraq.

Other issues also loom large between the two countries, including water supply issues and exports of oil and gas from northern Iraq to Turkey, which have been halted for more than a year.

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Iranians make first umrah pilgrimage since Saudi ties restored

Iranian Muslims travelled Monday to Saudi Arabia for umrah, a year-round pilgrimage they had been barred from for almost a decade over a rift between Tehran and Riyadh, Iranian state media said.

"The first group of umrah pilgrims departed Iran for Saudi Arabia through the Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran", official news agency IRNA reported.

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Israeli strikes on southern Gaza city of Rafah kill 22, mostly children

Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children, health officials said Sunday, as the United States was on track to approve billions of dollars of additional military aid to Israel, its close ally.

Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million has sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. It has also vowed to expand its ground offensive against the Hamas militant group to the city on the border with Egypt despite calls for restraint, including from the U.S.

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Rockets fired from Iraq at US-led coalition base in Syria

Rockets were fired late Sunday from northern Iraq at a military base in Syria housing a U.S.-led coalition, according to Iraqi security forces.

The anti-jihadist coalition said one of its fighter jets in Iraq had "destroyed a launcher in self-defense after reports of a failed rocket attack" near a base in northeast Syria.

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Israel military intelligence chief resigns over October 7 Hamas attack

The Israeli military said on Monday the chief of its intelligence directorate has resigned after taking responsibility for failures leading to the unprecedented October 7 attack by Hamas.

"Major General Aharon Haliva, in coordination with the chief of the general staff, has requested to end his position, following his leadership responsibility as the head of the intelligence directorate for the events of October 7," the military said in a statement.

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Bodies found at Gaza hospital as Israel vows to 'increase pressure' on Hamas

Gaza's civil defense said dozens of bodies had been found buried at a hospital complex previously raided by Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ramp up military pressure on Hamas.

Netanyahu, who threatened action "in the coming days" without elaborating, has repeatedly said Israel will launch a ground assault on Rafah despite international concern for civilians who have taken refuge in the southern Gazan city.

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US hints at sanctioning Israeli unit over alleged abuses

The United States appears close to sanctioning an Israeli military unit over alleged human rights violations in the West Bank, a move the Israeli prime minister angrily denounced as "the height of absurdity."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at such steps when asked by a reporter in Italy about reports that his department had recommended cuts in military aid to an Israeli unit involved in violent incidents in the West Bank.

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