Biden hopes for Gaza ceasefire soon, as Hamas mulls truce proposal

Biden hopes for Gaza ceasefire soon, as Hamas mulls truce proposal
US President Joe Biden says Israel would be willing to halt its war on Hamas in Gaza during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan if a deal is reached.
19 min read
27 February, 2024

Israel has agreed to halt its Gaza attacks for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, US President Joe Biden said, adding that he hoped a temporary ceasefire will take hold next week as Hamas reviewed a truce deal that includes a prisoner-hostage swap.

Biden's remarks, which were recorded on Monday and were due to be broadcast later on Tuesday, come as negotiators try and hammer out a truce deal in the conflict which has raged since October last year.

A senior source close to the talks told news agency Reuters that the group was studying a draft proposal that includes allowing in a significant amount of humanitarian aid, as well as swapping Palestinian prisoners in exchange for hostages captured in the Hamas attack on October 7.

US and Israeli officials discussed a ceasefire proposal last week with Qatari and Egyptian mediators at a meeting in Paris. Delegations from Hamas and Israel are both in Qatar this week for so-called proximity talks, held in the same city through mediators.

The proposal is the most serious attempt in weeks to halt the Israeli assault, and comes ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and with international pressure mounting on Israel to stop the killing of Palestinian civilians. Ramadan this year is expected to begin on the evening of March 10th.

6:14 PM

TNA’s live coverage of the latest from the war on Gaza concludes for today. Join us again tomorrow at 0800 GMT for updates from the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Italy rejects calls for ban of Israel from Venice Biennale
5:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano has shut down calls to ban Israel from participating in Venice Biennale- referring to the recent letter backed by more than 12,500 signatories including artists, architects and curators as "shameful".

Sangiuliano said that the call “threatens freedom of thought and creative expression” and that Israel “has a duty to bear witness” after being “hit by surprise by merciless terrorists”.

A letter from the Art Not Genocide Alliance said there was a double standard that saw the Biennale banning anyone linked to the Russian government due to its participation over the war in Ukraine two years ago- while it since has been “silent about Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians”.

"We are appalled by this double standard," the letter wrote.

"Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza," it said. "The Biennale is platforming a genocidal apartheid state. No death in Venice. No business as usual."

Biden will urge Congress' top leaders to send aid to Israel
5:35 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Joe Biden was meeting Tuesday with the top four leaders of Congress to press them to act quickly to avoid a looming government shutdown early next month and to pass emergency aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Biden was hosting House Speaker Mike Johnson , R-La., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Vice President Kamala Harris also was attending.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden invited the leaders to the Oval Office meeting because he wants to make sure US national security interests are “put first."

She said those interests include continuing to fund the government.

“Look, what the president wants to see is we want to make sure that the national security interests of the American people gets put first, right?” she said Monday as Biden flew to New York. “It is not used as a political football, right? We want to make sure that gets done.

“And we also want to see that, you know, that the government does not get shut down,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that keeping the government open and functioning is a “basic, basic priority” of Congress.

The Senate's top two leaders also urged that the government be kept open.

Parts of the government could start to scale back operations as early as Friday unless a deal is reached on spending and legislation is sent to Biden for his signature.

“We want to avoid a government shutdown," Schumer said Monday on the Senate floor. "We want to work with all our House counterparts to spare the American people the pain that a shutdown would bring.”

McConnell likewise urged the political parties to work together to avert an “entirely avoidable” shutdown.

“Shutting down the government is harmful to the country,” he said Monday in a separate floor speech. “And it never produces positive outcomes on policy or politics.”

The House, under Johnson's leadership, is under pressure to pass the $95 billion national security package that bolsters aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific.

That measure cleared the Senate on a bipartisan 70-29 vote this month, but Johnson has resisted scheduling it for a vote in the House.

Israeli air airstrikes hit southern Gaza
4:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al Jazeera English has reported that Khan Younis' al-Qarara, located in the northeast, led to the death of one Palestinian and others injured. 

According to a journalist affiliated with the network, civilians were targetted.

More updates to come.

Washington vigil honours US airman Aaron Bushnell
3:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

A vigil has kickstarted in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, United States, in memory of Aaron Bushnell, an active-duty member of the US military who self-immolated in protest against Israeli aggression in Gaza.


Thousands of artists ask Venice Biennale to exclude Israel
2:26 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Almost 9,000 people, including artists, curators and museum directors, have signed an online appeal calling for Israel to be excluded from this year's Venice Biennale art fair and accusing the country of "genocide" in Gaza.

"Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza" said the online statement by the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) collective.

ANGA noted that the Venice Biennale previously banned South Africa over its apartheid policy of white minority rule, and excluded Russia in the wake of the Kremlin's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The Venice Biennale press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Signatories of the appeal include Palestine Museum U.S. director Faisal Saleh, activist US photographer Nan Goldin and British visual artist Jesse Darling, who won last year's Turner Prize.

Dubbed the "Olympics of the art world", the Biennale is one of the key events in the international arts calendar. This year's edition, "Foreigners Everywhere", is due to host pavilions from 90 countries between April 20-November 24.

US issues designations targeting IRGC deputy, Houthi member
2:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The U.S. on Tuesday took action targeting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) deputy commander and a Houthi member, as well as the owner and operator of a vessel used to ship Iranian commodities sold to support the groups, according to a Treasury Department statement.

Qatar's emir to discuss Gaza and hostages with Macron
2:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Qatar’s emir begins a state visit to France on Tuesday as his country plays a key role in ongoing diplomatic efforts to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is to meet with President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee presidential palace.

The meeting comes as negotiators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar have been working to broker a ceasefire deal in which Hamas would free some of the dozens of hostages it holds in exchange for Israel's release of Palestinian prisoners and a six-week halt in the fighting.

France and Qatar mediated a deal in January for the shipment of medicine for dozens of hostages held by Hamas. Qatar authorities said last week that Hamas has started delivering the medication.

On Tuesday evening, Qatar's emir is to be the guest of honor at a state dinner at the presidential palace. It is his first state visit to France since his accession to the throne in 2013.

The aim of the visit is to deepen cooperation between France and Qatar, especially in defense and security, Macron's office said.


Animals dying of starvation in Gaza zoo: officials
1:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza officials have warned that animals have died of starvation at a zool in the besieged territory as a result of the Israeli assault and siege that led to staff members being prevented to reach the compound to feed the animals.

According to news publication Al Jazeera English, two workers were wounded after attempting to reach a zoo in the Zeitoun neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City- which was damaged.

Around 100 animals, including birds, monkeys, lions, wolves, were placed in the zoo.

A worker takes care of newborn lion cubs at Nama zoo in Gaza City in 2022 [Getty]
Maersk says Red Sea disruptions could last into H2
1:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Denmark's Maersk on Tuesday told its clients in a statement that they should prepare for disruptions in the Red Sea to last into the second half of the year and to build longer transit times into their supply chain planning.

US says Israel has begun transferring tax revenues to PA
1:17 PM
The New Arab Staff

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that Israel has approved of transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Yellen said that the process to send the money has begun, after funds were halted by the Israeli authorities following the October 7 attacks.

Emphasising that "this must continue", Yellen said that she also addressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reinstate work permits for Palestinians and lessen barriers to commerce within the occupied West Bank.

Israel further blocks Gaza aid defying UN court: groups
12:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two human rights groups on Monday accused Israel of further limiting humanitarian aid into Gaza despite an order from the UN's top court.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague exactly one month ago said Israel must do everything to prevent genocidal acts in the besieged territory. It must also take "immediate and effective measures" for aid provision, the ICJ said.

But Israeli authorities have "failed to take even the bare minimum steps to comply" with the ICJ ruling issued on January 26, Amnesty International said.

Both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the number of aid trucks entering Gaza had actually decreased by roughly one-third since the ruling, which came in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of breaching the UN Genocide Convention.

"The Israeli government is starving" Gaza's 2.4 million Palestinians, "putting them in even more peril than before the World Court's binding order," said Omar Shakir, HRW's Israel and Palestine director.

"The Israeli government has simply ignored the court's ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid."

ICJ rulings are legally binding but the court has no enforcement mechanism.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said there was a "50 percent reduction" in humanitarian aid entering Gaza during February compared to January.

"Aid was supposed to increase not decrease to address the huge needs of two million Palestinians in desperate living conditions," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said on X, formerly Twitter.

He said a lack of political will and regular closing of border crossing points were among the reasons.

Greek frigate departs to join EU Red Sea mission
12:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Greece's frigate Hydra departed for the Red Sea on Monday to participate in a mission to protect merchant ships from attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia, a defence ministry official said.

Earlier on Monday, the Greek government approved the country's participation in the European Union naval mission dubbed Eunavfor Aspides in the Red Sea.

Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels following attacks by the Houthis who control much of Yemen and say they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel wages war in Gaza.

Greece's security council approved a proposal by Defence Minister Nikos Dendias for participation in the EU mission, government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said in a statement.

The government said it was important to join the mission as the Houthi attacks have disrupted Greek-owned commercial vessels' activities at the country's biggest port Piraeus and some container ships have stopped using it.

France, Italy and Germany are also taking part in the EU mission, under the code name "Aspides", the Greek word for shields.

Participating countries will be mandated to protect commercial ships and intercept attacks, but not take part in strikes against the Houthis on land.

Several Greek-owned merchant ships have been hit off Yemen since November, suffering damages but no casualties.

PA accelerating plan to govern Gaza day after war: analysts
12:30 PM
Sally Ibrahim

Several Palestinian analysts believe that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority is preparing itself to take over the administration of the besieged war-torn coastal enclave the day after Israel ends its bloody war on Gaza

Speaking to The New Arab, the Palestinian analysts argue that "Israel is on the verge of ending its fierce war on the Gaza Strip (...), but it is looking for an alternative to Hamas to manage Gaza."

"The new power in Gaza should not be involved in any activities against Israel or even try to threaten its existence in the region," the analysts noted. 

To read the full report, please click here.

Analysts say that the current Palestinian situation needs a competent government [Getty
US military says it destroys Houthi weapons
12:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The U.S. military said on it had destroyed three unmanned surface vessels and two anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to launch towards the Red Sea from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The US military's Central Command also said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it destroyed a aerial drone that was over the Red Sea. All the weapons "presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region," it said.

Qatar declines comment on Biden remarks about Gaza ceasefire
12:16 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Qatar cannot comment on remarks by US President Joe Biden that a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas could be agreed next week, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Majed Al-Ansari told a press conference there was no breakthrough to announce on a ceasefire and hostage deal, but that Qatar was "pushing hard" for the agreement sketched out in Paris to be accepted by Israel and Hamas, which runs Gaza.

He said Qatar was "upbeat and optimistic on Gaza mediation talks". 

Qatar Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr Majed Al-Ansari attends Doha Forum in 2022 [Getty]
Houthis: Attacks will be reassessed if aggression stops
12:13 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Yemen's Houthi spokesperson told news agency Reuters on Tuesday that the group's operations in the Red Sea, where its missiles and drones have been threatening international shipping, will only stop when Israeli aggression on Gaza ends and the siege is lifted.

Asked if the attacks on ships would seize if a ceasefire deal was reached for Gaza, Mohammed Abdulsalam said the situation would be reassessed if the siege ended and humanitarian aid was free to enter.

Jordan's King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled
12:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Jordan's King Abdullah said on Tuesday that humanitarian aid to Gaza must be doubled to prevent a deterioration in a hunger crisis affecting over 2 million people.

In remarks reported on state media, the monarch was quoted as telling visiting USAID chief Samantha Power the international community had to put more pressure on Israel to ease restrictions on the flow of food into the territory.

King Abdullah II of Jordan at a meeting at the Elysee Palace on February 16 [Getty]
UN: Israeli forces stalled evacuation convoy
12:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) said on Tuesday the Israeli military had stalled a medical evacuation convoy in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, detaining a paramedic and forcing others to remove their clothes.

The incident occurred on Sunday during the evacuation of 24 patients from the city's Al-Amal Hospital, it said. The Israeli military did not immediately comment, saying it was checking the details of the incident described by OCHA.

The hospital complex has been under siege during Israel's military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, aid agencies and Palestinian officials say.

"Despite prior coordination for all staff members and vehicles with the Israeli side, the Israeli forces blocked the WHO-led (World Health Organization) convoy for many hours the moment it left the hospital," Jens Laerke, spokesperson for OCHA, told reporters in Geneva.

"The Israeli military forced patients and staff out of ambulances and stripped all paramedics of their clothes," Laerke said. "Three Palestinian Red Crescent Society paramedics were subsequently detained, although their personal details had been shared with the Israeli forces in advance."

He said one paramedic was later released and appealed for the release of the two others and all other detained health personnel.

Laerke said Sunday's incident was not isolated, with aid convoys coming under fire, humanitarian workers harassed, intimidated or detained, and humanitarian infrastructure damaged.

Israel has previously denied blocking the entry of aid.

The flow of aid to Gaza from Egypt has dwindled, and it has become increasingly difficult to distribute food that does get through, according to UN data and officials.

Lebanon's UNIFIL says Hezbollah-Israel escalation adds risk
11:47 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said on Tuesday that the recent escalation in an exchange of fire between Israel and Hezbollah has the potential to put at risk a political solution to the conflict.

UNIFIL urged all parties to halt hostilities to prevent further escalation and ensure the safety of people in this region.

Jordan air-drops aid into Gaza with help of French plane
9:37 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Jordanian army on Monday said it had carried out a series of humanitarian aid drops of food and other supplies into the besieged Gaza Strip, one of them by a French army plane.

Jordanian forces made "four air drops carrying aid for the people of Gaza", under the directive of Jordanian King Abdullah II, a statement said.

The operation came on the same day that two human rights groups accused Israel of further limiting humanitarian aid into Gaza -- where the UN has warned of famine -- despite an order from the UN's top court.

Jordan has conducted a total of 16 air-drop operations since the war broke out on October 7.

Previously announced air drops, including a joint operation with the Netherlands, sent medical and other aid to the Jordanian field hospital in northern Gaza.

Monday's operation "aimed at delivering aid to the population directly and drop it along the coast of the Gaza Strip from north to south," the Jordanian army statement said.

It comprised "relief and food supplies, including ready-made meals of high nutritional value, to alleviate the suffering of the people of the Gaza Strip", the statement added.

"Four C-130 aircraft, one of them belonging to the French armed forces," carried out the deliveries, it said.

The cargo floated down on parachutes from the transport aircraft, including over the southern Gaza Strip where around 1.4 million Gazans have converged.

Cargo planes of Jordanian Armed Forces drop medical equipment supplies [Getty]
Gaza workers under arrest in occupied West Bank
9:24 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian news agency Wafa has reported that Israeli forces arrested about 30 workers from Gaza in the West Bank town of Barta’a, located in the south of Jenin.

According to the report, the army raided a residential building where the workers resided near an industrial zone.

Israeli court hears case of ultra Orthodox serving in army
9:13 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel’s Supreme Court has heard arguments in cases that would force ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the army, as the military is strained by the nearly five-month war in Gaza.

Hundreds of people protested outside the court in Jerusalem on Monday, waving flags and chanting for equal service, as the court began to hear arguments that would cancel the exemption for ultra-Orthodox men.

Military service is compulsory for Jewish men, but politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties have won exemptions for their communities to allow men to study full-time in religious seminaries.

These exemptions have prompted widespread anger and resentment from the secular majority, especially as the army has recently announced that compulsory service may be extended and reserve duty will be more frequent as the war continues in Gaza and tensions on the northern border escalate.

The government is required to submit a new draft law in the coming months. Ultra-Orthodox parties, which are a key coalition partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hope to continue the system of exemptions.

Opponents, including key members of a mass protest movement against Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, say the exemptions are unfair and must end.

Activist groups filed petitions last year to force the state to strike down the exemptions and subsidies for young ultra-Orthodox men who study full-time in religious institutions called yeshivas.

 In the past, attempts to overhaul the draft law to include ultra-Orthodox have drawn tens of thousands of community members to the streets in large, violent protests.

People gather outside Supreme Court in West Jerusalem during a rally on February 26 [Getty
Biden hopes ceasefire and hostage deal take effect by Monday
9:05 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Joe Biden said Monday that he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that would pause hostilities and allow for the remaining hostages to be released can take effect by early next week.

Asked when he hoped such a deal could be finalized, Biden said: “Well I hope by the beginning of the weekend. The end of the weekend. My national security adviser tells me that they’re close. They’re close. They’re not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said Sunday that an Israeli military offensive in the southernmost city of Rafah could be “delayed somewhat” if a deal for a weekslong cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is reached. He claims that total victory in Gaza is “weeks away” once the offensive begins.

Talks toward a deal have resumed at the specialist level in Qatar, which is one of the mediators.

US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on February 23 [Getty]
Vigils held for Aaron Bushnell who self-immolated for Gaza
8:59 AM
Brooke Anderson
Washington, D.C.

In cities across the US on Monday evening, vigils were held to honour the life of a US service member, Aaron Bushnell, who died after lighting himself on fire the previous day in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington in an act of protest against the US government's support for Israel's war on Gaza.

On Sunday, Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old member of the US Air Force, filmed himself wearing his military fatigues as he walked in front of the Israeli embassy, firmly declaring why he was there and that he was about to engage in an extreme act of protest.

"I am an active-duty member of the United States Airforce, and I will no longer be complicit in genocide," he said. "I'm about to engage in an extreme act of protest. But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers, it's not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal."

To read the full report, please click here.

Vigils for Aaron Bushnell who took his own life over Gaza war [Getty]
Hamas studies Paris truce proposal involving 40-day pause
8:36 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas has received a draft proposal from Gaza truce talks in Paris which includes a 40-day pause in all military operations and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one, a senior source close to the talks told news agency Reuters on Tuesday.

Under the proposed ceasefire, hospitals and bakeries in Gaza would be repaired, 500 aid trucks would enter into the strip each day and thousands of tents and caravans would be delivered to house the displaced, the source said.

The draft also states Hamas would free 40 Israeli hostages including women, children under 19, elderly over 50 and the sick, while Israeli would release around 400 Palestinian prisoners and will not re-arrest them, the source told Reuters.

The Gaza truce talks appear to be the most serious push in weeks to halt the fighting in the battered Palestinian enclave and secure the release of Israeli and foreign hostages.

Mediators have ramped up efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, in the hope of heading off an Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million displaced people are sheltering at the southern edge of the enclave.

Hezbollah: 'Large volley of rockets' fired at Israeli base
8:34 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Hezbollah said on Tuesday it had launched a volley of rockets at an Israeli aerial surveillance base in response to the Israeli military's deepest attack yet into Lebanese territory.

Israeli warplanes struck the Bekaa Valley on Monday, killing at least two Hezbollah members in the military's furthest reach into Lebanese territory since hostilities erupted with the Iran-backed group last October, sources in Lebanon told news agency Reuters.

Israeli forces said it had struck Hezbollah air defences in the area in response to the downing of an Israeli drone, which Hezbollah said it had shot down with a surface-to-air missile earlier on Monday.

In retaliation for the Bekaa strikes, Hezbollah fired 60 rockets on Monday at an Israeli army station in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The group did not say how many rockets were fired on Tuesday morning but said it was a "large volley".

The attacks marked an intensification of the worst violence between the heavily armed Hezbollah and Israel since their 2006 war, fuelling concerns about a potential escalation and a widening of Israel's war in Gaza to other parts of the region. 

Health ministry in Gaza says war death toll at 29,878
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in Gaza said Tuesday that at least 29,878 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory during the war.

The toll includes at least 96 deaths in the past 24 hours, while 70,215 people have been wounded since the conflict began on October 7, a ministry statement said.