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Katie Ledecky heading to her fourth Olympics, wins 400 freestyle at US swimming trials

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Katie Ledecky heading to her fourth Olympics, wins 400 freestyle at US swimming trials
Sport

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Katie Ledecky heading to her fourth Olympics, wins 400 freestyle at US swimming trials

2024-06-16 10:46 Last Updated At:10:51

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Katie Ledecky is heading to her fourth Olympics, an accomplishment that seemed unimaginable when she was a 15-year-old kid in London.

These days, it wouldn't seem like a Summer Games without her.

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Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Katie Ledecky is heading to her fourth Olympics, an accomplishment that seemed unimaginable when she was a 15-year-old kid in London.

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Aaron Shackell swims during the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Aaron Shackell swims during the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Aaron Shackell reacts after winning the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Aaron Shackell reacts after winning the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh waves before the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh waves before the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh swims during the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh swims during the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky starts the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky starts the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky is introduced before the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky is introduced before the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky after the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky after the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky is congratulated by Paige Madden after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky is congratulated by Paige Madden after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

As steady as ever, Ledecky cruised to victory in the 400-meter freestyle at the U.S. swimming trials on Saturday night.

She makes qualifying for the Olympics look so much easier than it is. Ledecky became just the ninth U.S. swimmer to qualify at least four times for the sport's grandest stage.

“I pride myself on that consistency,” she said. “Sometimes it can be tough to feel you're not having a breakthrough. But being really consistent is something I'm really happy with. I've learned to really enjoy training and take advantage of the moment.”

Cheered on by a crowd of 20,689 at the home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Ledecky touched the wall in the temporary pool in 3 minutes, 58.35 seconds.

She improved on her time of 3:59.99 in the morning preliminaries and set herself up to make a run at another gold against a loaded field at the Paris Games.

The Australian “Terminator,” Ariarne Titmus, is the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 400 free. Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh is also expected to contend for the top spot on the podium.

In Tokyo, Ledecky settled for the silver behind Titmus — the first individual loss of the American's Olympic career.

She'll have her work cut out for her in Paris, as well.

Titmus is coming off an Australian trials where she broke the world record in the 200 free and barely missed knocking off her own mark in the 400 free, winning with a time of 3:55.44 — nearly 3 seconds faster than Ledecky's pace in Indianapolis.

“It's going to be a great field,” Ledecky said. “I've always done a pretty solid job in the period between the trials and the games at being faster at the games. The goal is no different this time around. Hopefully, that will put me in a good position in the 400.”

The 27-year-old Ledecky is set to swim four events at her nation's trials, all of them freestyle events ranging from 200 to 1,500 meters. She already has six individual gold medals — more than any female swimmer in Olympic history — and an overall haul of 10 medals that includes seven golds.

“I never thought I would make it there,” Ledecky said, remembering her Olympic debut at the 2012 London Games. “I never dreamed of that as a young kid.”

After winning a surprising gold in her only event, the 800 free, Ledecky was determined to reach ever greater heights.

“I wanted to get back to that level, prove that I wasn't just a one-hit wonder,” she said. “But at the same time, I reminded myself that anything more than that is just like icing on the cake, the cherry on top.”

That makes her appreciate a fourth trip to the Olympics even more.

Then there's Aaron Shackell, a local favorite from suburban Carmel, who will be heading to the Olympics for the first time after winning the men’s 400 freestyle.

Shackell touched in 3:45.46 to hold off Kieran Smith, the bronze medalist in this event at the Tokyo Olympics. Smith used a strong finishing kick to claim the runner-up spot in 3:45.76, which should be enough to get him back to the Summer Games.

The top two in each individual event are expected to make the powerhouse American team, which also bodes well for Paige Madden, the runner-up behind Ledecky in 4:02.08.

Ledecky and Shackell were both overshadowed on the opening night of the trials by Gretchen Walsh. The 21-year-old from the University of Virginia set a world record in a semifinal heat of the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 55.18.

Walsh was more than a half-second under world-record pace at the turn and finished strong to eclipse the mark of 55.48 set by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“There has been a little bit of a buzz out there,” Walsh said. "I think going into tonight, you know, like I knew it would take a (55) point-4 or I guess point-5, but I didn’t think I was going to do it tonight. I just knew I wanted to go a fast time and now here I am -- a world record holder.”

Walsh held her hand over her mouth as she looked at the scoreboard in disbelief, a “WR” beside her name. But she's still got some work to do to make her first Olympic team.

The 100 fly final Sunday night also includes Torri Huske, Regan Smith and Claire Curzan — all medalists at the Tokyo Games. Shackell's sister, Alex, also advanced to the final and will be looking to join her sibling on the Olympic team.

AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Aaron Shackell swims during the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Aaron Shackell swims during the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Aaron Shackell reacts after winning the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Aaron Shackell reacts after winning the Men's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh waves before the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh waves before the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh swims during the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh swims during the Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gretchen Walsh reacts to her world record in her Women's 100 butterfly semifinals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky starts the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky starts the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky is introduced before the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky is introduced before the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky after the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky after the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the Women's 400 freestyle preliminaries Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky is congratulated by Paige Madden after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky is congratulated by Paige Madden after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky reacts after winning the Women's 400 freestyle finals heat Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — An Iranian-made drone sent by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck Tel Aviv on Friday, leaving one person dead and at least 10 wounded in the group’s first lethal strike into Israel.

The aerial strike rumbled through the center of the city near the U.S. Embassy, causing shrapnel to rain down and spreading shards of glass over a large radius.

The hit in Israel’s biggest city was startling because the drone appeared to have crossed much of the country through the multilayered air defenses that have intercepted almost all of the drones and rockets that Yemen’s Houthis have been launching toward Israel since the Gaza war began. Most have failed even to reach Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat, on the Red Sea some 270 kilometers (160 miles) south of Tel Aviv.

The Israeli military said it was investigating what went wrong. Chief spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the drone was detected by air defenses, but an “error” occurred and “there was no interception.“

“We are investigating the entire chain,” he said. Another military official blamed “human error.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

The spokesman for the Houthis, Yahya Sare’e, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement published on the social media platform X. He said it was in retaliation for the Israel-Hamas war and had hit one of the group’s many targets.

Israel’s military identified the drone as an Iranian Samad-3 upgraded to travel long distances and said it was believed to have come from Yemen.

The drone hit at around 3:10 a.m., blowing out windows and damaging cars throughout a coastal neighborhood of Tel Aviv and reverberating as far as nearby cities. The military said it had not determined if it exploded in the air or directly struck buildings.

Footage verified by the AP shows the low-flying drone arriving at Tel Aviv's shoreline and then heading into the city, moments before an explosion lights up the night sky.

In one building, the Sajiv family swept up the shattered glass of their apartment’s balcony door. Limor Sajiv said they were woken by the sound of a blast. “We had no idea what it was. I mean, we heard missiles before we heard things, this was different, really, really loud,” he said.

People thronged to the area as police helicopters hovered overhead. For many, it reaffirmed feelings of disillusionment with the military's handling of the war since October.

Yossi Nevi, a retired evacuee from Kiryat Shmona, said he was shaken awake in the hotel he lives in. Hearing it was human error, Nevi said, made him lose “all trust in the army, not that I had much after the past nine months.”

Eldad Namdar, who owns a camera store next to the intersection where the drone is believed to have exploded, said he hopes the war ends soon, but he also wants it to be concluded in a way that secures his future.

“I don’t want this to happen again in six months, I want them to finish this situation until the end,” he said.

The U.S. State Department said there was no damage to the U.S. Embassy or any of its staff members.

The Houthi strike hit hours after Israel’s military confirmed one of its airstrikes had killed a Hezbollah commander and other militants in southern Lebanon. Israel has so far not made attacks on the Houthis, allowing its allies instead to take the lead as it focuses its efforts on the war in Gaza and ongoing fighting with Hezbollah.

The attack also comes days before Netanyahu is to travel to Washington and address Congress.

The Houthis have routinely claimed responsibility for hitting targets in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Analysts and Western intelligence services have long accused Iran of arming the group, a claim that Tehran denies. In recent years, U.S. naval forces have intercepted a number of ships packed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and missile parts en route from Iran to Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The Houthis maintain that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom. However, many have little or no connection to the war.

Friday’s drone strike on Tel Aviv could resurface fears about the war in Gaza becoming a regionwide conflagration.

Such fears run counter to renewed hopes that Israel signaling its operation underway in Rafah is nearing its finish could foster an environment more conducive to negotiations as international mediators continue to push for a cease-fire. The deal under discussion would halt fighting and free about 120 Israeli hostages held by the militant group in Gaza.

Israel remains divided over striking a deal, with some wanting the government to take the necessary steps to free the hostages and others, including far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, disavowing the idea. On Thursday, Ben-Gvir visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site to pray for the return of Israeli hostages, he said, “without a reckless deal, without surrendering.”

Israel’s air defense system has intercepted thousands of projectiles throughout the war, including Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. But officials warn the systems are not 100% effective and appear to have struggled against small and hard-to-detect attack drones.

Like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis are backed by Israel’s archenemy, Iran. Israel for the most part also has avoided direct confrontations with Iran throughout the war. Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel during a single incident in April in response to Israel’s alleged assassination of a pair of Iranian generals in Syria at the time.

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, has killed more than 38,600 people, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.

Hamas’ October attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and militants took about 250 hostage. About 120 remain in captivity, with about a third of them believed to be dead, according to Israeli authorities.

Metz reported from Rabat, Morocco. Ibrahim Hazboun contributed from Jerusalem, Jack Jeffery from Ramallah, West Bank, and Michael Wakin from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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

An Israeli firefighter investigates the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

An Israeli firefighter investigates the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man watches from his window at the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man watches from his window at the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene after a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene after a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israelis gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israelis gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A runner stops to speak with Israeli police investigating the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A runner stops to speak with Israeli police investigating the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People watch from their balcony as Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People watch from their balcony as Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man eats breakfast in a cafe near the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man eats breakfast in a cafe near the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Caution tape surrounds debris at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Caution tape surrounds debris at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Israeli police and first responders gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Israeli police and first responders gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

People gather at the scene of an deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

People gather at the scene of an deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

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