Ceasefire response from Israel 'negative', Hamas says following renewed talks

Ceasefire response from Israel 'negative', Hamas says following renewed talks
Following the latest round of meetings in Doha, Israel's response to Hamas' ceasefire proposal was reportedly 'generally negative'.
17 min read
20 March, 2024

Israel's response to Hamas' latest ceasefire proposal was "generally negative", senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said on Wednesday after mediators handed it over.

Hamdan, who is based in Beirut, told a news conference that mediators had relayed Israel's position to them on Tuesday after the latest meetings, explaining that it was "generally negative... and constitutes a step backwards".

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is due to land in the region this week in his sixth visit since the start of the war. Blinken will reportedly visit Tel Aviv on Friday after meetings in Riyadh and Cairo.

As the talks went on, Israel's three-day siege on the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City continued. The military claimed on Wednesday it had killed "90 gunmen" inside the hospital , which it says is a base for Hamas fighters, without providing any evidence, and arrested some 160 people after conducting aggressive searches and raids.

The siege has forced scores of people, including sick patients, to leave the hospital and seek refuge further south in Deir al-Balah, which has also been subject to Israeli air strikes.

On the 166th day of the war in Gaza, 31,923 people have been killed and 74,096 have been wounded since October.

11:38 PM
The New Arab Staff

TNA's live coverage of the war on Gaza and related regional developments concludes today. Join us again tomorrow at 0800 GMT for the latest updates.

Hezbollah targets Israeli soldiers near border
11:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

Lebanon's Hezbollah said it had attacked Israeli soldiers stationed at a building in the Metula area on the Israel-Lebanon border.

The group said it had also hit the Israeli army position in the Avivim settlement.

Hezbollah has engaged Israel with cross-border attacks since Israel launched its war on Gaza. 

More than 300 people have been killed in Lebanon, including some 240 members of Hezbollah, while about 20 Israelis have been killed, according to Israeli officials.

US Muslim group condemns ‘inability to stand up’ to Israel
10:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced the US government’s “complicity in the starvation” of Palestinians in Gaza.

“Innocent civilians in Gaza are being starved to death as part of the Israeli government’s genocidal campaign. This atrocity has been enabled by the Biden administration’s utter inability to stand up to what it claims is our nation’s ‘greatest ally,’” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a press release.

“We urge the Biden administration to immediately change course and demand an end to Israel’s siege and an immediate ceasefire.”

UNRWA chief: Hunger crisis in Gaza ‘catastrophic’
9:36 PM
The New Arab Staff

Philippe Lazzarini says on X that siege, hunger and disease will soon become the “main killer” in Gaza, as Israel’s blockade of the territory continues.

Gaza needs to be “flooded” with food and lifesaving assistance, he said.

Hamas says Israel intensifying civilian attacks for truce
9:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas official Osama Hamdan says Israel continues to target civilian areas to strengthen its hand in ceasefire discussions.

“With every round of negotiations, it escalates its crimes against our people, thinking that with such crimes it may achieve gains at the negotiating table,” said Hamdan.

“We affirm again that what the occupation does not take in the military battle and the crime of genocide, it will not take it with the machinations of politics and the games of negotiations.”

Hamdan said “approvals” previously agreed on in talks have now been retracted by Israel, calling it a “policy of procrastination”.

Israel targets Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters in Jenin
9:07 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli army and internal security agency Shin Bet said in a joint statement that Israeli aircraft struck two "senior Islamic Jihad operatives inside a vehicle in the area of Jenin".

It said the targets were Ahmed Barakat and Muhammad Shuakhin, as well as two other members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The statement accuses the men of past attacks on the Israeli army.

The Jenin unit of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, confirmed the death of three fighters without naming them.

An eyewitness said the attack was "a very terrible thing to look at. There was another car nearby which a man and his wife were riding. Luckily, [it] was not hit".

"Traffic was very dense. The men were around and fire extinguishers were available. We used the extinguishers. Otherwise, it could have been worse."

‘Alarming’ lack of food in Gaza: Red Cross
8:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

The International Committee of the Red Cross says there is not enough access to safe water and medical care in the coastal enclave, adding that more than 1.6 million people are now residing in Rafah.

“Some families receive a can of food every other day for the whole family,” the group posted on X.

A recent UN-backed report found the entire Gaza population is experiencing a food shortage as Israel is accused of provoking famine.

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US House Speaker ‘may’ invite Israeli PM to address Congress
7:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson says he's considering inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

"It's one of the things that we have in mind, and we may try to arrange for that," Johnson told reporters.

He said it's "very important" for the United States to show solidarity and support for Israel "right now in their time of great struggle".

Johnson said he held a "lengthy conversation this morning” with Netanyahu and reiterated House Republicans’ “strong support for Israel".

Arab foreign ministers to meet Blinken in Cairo
6:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will meet foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan this week.

He will also have discussions with the United Arab Emirates international cooperation minister and secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, according to an Egyptian foreign ministry statement.

It did not give details but Egyptian security sources say Arab nations will present plans for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jordan’s FM urges opening of land crossings into Gaza
5:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ayman Safadi says on X that there are no alternative land routes for aid delivery into Gaza, echoing comments from UN humanitarian organs and NGOs worldwide.

Jordan has been engaging in aid airdrop operations over Gaza along with other allies, chiefly the US.

“Supplies cannot be distributed unless aggression ends. Israel is weaponizing starvation. This is another horrific war crime”, Safadi said in his post.



Israelis stage protest outside Knesset demanding election
5:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Dozens of Israelis protested outside the entrance to the Knesset, Israel's parliament building, on Wednesday calling for early elections, Israeli media reported.

Some protesters locked themselves to cars in protest as police attempted to move them. Israel's political scene has come under strain since the war broke out with many unhappy about Prime Minister Netanyahu's approach to the offensive in Gaza.

Israeli strike kills one in south Lebanon's Marjayoun
4:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

One man was killed when Israeli fighter jets struck a home in the village of Al-Qantara in the Marjayoun area of south Lebanon on Wednesday, Lebanese media reported.

Israeli artillery shelling also struck nearby border towns of Kfar Hamam and Rashaya al-Foukhar in the Hasbaya district.

Lebanon's Shia militia group Hezbollah said it struck two Israeli military sites in the occupied Shebaa Farms area in a post on Telegram.

Israel seized Shebaa Farms during the 1967 war and it has since been a key point of dispute between the Lebanese state and Israel.

Occupied West Bank: Israeli air strike hits car in Jenin
4:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Three Palestinians have been killed by an Israeli air strike on a vehicle in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Wednesday.

The Israeli military has only issued a brief statement so far, saying that an aircraft militants in the area of Jenin.

The town has been a flashpoint for intensive Israeli military raids which have been targeting Palestinian militia groups which have established in the area in response to the occupation.

We will bring you further details as they come in.

Netanyahu: Rafah invasion preparation 'will take time'
4:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that plans for his military to invade Rafah, where over one million people are sheltering, were still ongoing and that civilians would be evacuated.

In a video statement, Netanyahu said he will "soon approve the plan to evacuate the civilian population from the war zone" and added that the operational plan of the invasion has been approved.

The US, among other international actors, has expressed serious concern about Israel's plans to conduct a ground invasion into the southern area once designated a 'safe zone' by the military. 

Netanyahu said: "As I promised you time and time again – we are determined to achieve absolute victory, and we will achieve it,"

Earlier on Wednesday, a Hamas official told The New Arab's Arabic language sister paper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that an invasion into Rafah would risk blocking negotiations "to any agreement."

Osama Hamdan: Israeli response 'retracts previous approvals'
3:35 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said on Wednesday that Israel's response to the group's latest Gaza ceasefire proposal was negative after mediators handed it over.

"On Tuesday evening, our brothers, the mediators, informed us of the occupation’s position on the proposal ... it is a negative response in general and does not respond to the demands .. In fact, it retracts the approvals it previously provided to the mediators," Osama Hamdan told a press conference in Beirut.

He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government were responsible for the failure to negotiate a hostage release in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and stop the fighting in Gaza.

Talks on a ceasefire have resumed this week in Qatar, but weeks of negotiations have so far failed to produce the agreement between Israel and Hamas that Washington hopes will alleviate the humanitarian crisis gripping Gaza.

Algeria to treat 100 wounded children from Gaza
3:00 PM
The New Arab (From the Arabic Edition)

Algeria will receive 100 children from Gaza for treatment in its hospitals, the country's foreign ministry said, as Gaza's health system reels from attacks by Israeli forces.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic language sister paper reported that the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would evacuate around 100 sick children from Gaza to Egypt and then onto Algeria for treatment.

"Practical procedures and arrangements have been completed to evacuate approximately 100 wounded Palestinian children and some children suffering from incurable diseases," a statement from the ministry read.

Algeria has also been working to evacuate its nationals trapped in Gaza with the Egyptian border authorities, but it is subject to authorisation from Israel.

CENTCOM: US, Jordan conduct airdrop in Gaza
2:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

The US and Jordan have conducted an airdrop for aid in Gaza at 12:15pm, according to a statement released by US Central Command (CENTCOM) on X, formerly Twitter.

"The combined joint operation included Jordanian provided food and a US Air Force C-130 aircraft. A US C-130 dropped 6,000 pounds of food including rice, flour, milk, pasta and canned foods, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance in Northern Gaza."

CENTCOM added that it would continue to conduct airdrops over Gaza.

Blinken to visit Israel on latest Middle East visit
2:16 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 An Israeli government official said on Wednesday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was expected in Israel "end of week" on his tour of the Middle East.

Blinken returned to the region on Wednesday for his sixth visit since the start of the Gaza war in October to push for a ceasefire deal and the release of hostages held by Hamas.


Hamas rejects Israeli claim fighters killed at Al-Shifa
1:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

The director of Gaza's government media office told Reuters that all those who have been killed at Al-Shifa hospital by Israel since its incursion on Monday were patients and displaced people.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli military said it had killed "90 gunmen" and arrested around 160. Scores of Palestinians. many of them wounded, have been forced to leave the hospital and move south in recent days.

Ismail al-Thawabta, director of Gaza’sgovernment media office, said: "The Israeli occupation army practises lying and deception in spreading its narrative as part of justifying its continuous and law-breaking crimes, which violate international law, international humanitarian law".

Hamas official Basem Naim also told Reuters that "what happens in al-Shifa Hospital is a war crime and is part of the war of genocide conducted by the Israeli occupation".

Saudi Arabia boosts funding to UNRWA by $40 million
1:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Saudi-funded humanitarian agency pledged on Wednesday to boost the kingdom's funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) by $40 million, according to a statement.

The donation by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), which is dedicated to Gaza, comes as UNRWA faces a severe funding crunch after the United States and Britain paused support following Israel's accusations that a dozen of its 13,000 staff in Gaza took part in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the country.

Saudi Arabia previously announced a $2 million contribution to UNRWA in October, while KSrelief provided $15 million to the agency in November.

Palestinian FM condemns killing by Israeli settler
12:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the killing of Fakhr Bassem Bani Jaber who was shot dead by an Israeli settler while he was standing in front of his house in Khirbet al-Tawil, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the ministry said it held the Israeli government fully responsible for the "heinous crime".

It said the 43-year-old's death was incited by Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's boasting of arming Israeli settlers and open disdain for Palestinian lives.

The United States and the United Kingdom have both issued sanctions on a number of extremist Israeli settlers in the past few months. The Palestinian Authority says at least 430 people have been killed at the hands of Israeli forces or settlers since 7 October.

Rights groups demand EU, US suspend Israel trade
12:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

A collective of human rights organisations and NGOs are asking the United States and European Union to suspend trade and arms deals with Israel over its war on Gaza.

In a report submitted to US President Joe Biden, the collective which includes Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, said suspending arms deals with Israel is "necessary".

"So long as there is an overriding risk that they are being used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and US law and policy".

Read more in The New Arab's article here.

Airstrikes kill four Palestinians inside house in Rafah
12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel has been shelling Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering as much of the territory becomes unliveable following five months of war.

Four Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded on Wednesday by an Israeli strike hit a residential building in Rafah, local news outlet Quds News Network reported.

Civil defence teams and locals conducted search and rescue operations after the attack which hit the home of the Abu Issa family in Rafah.

Despite international outrage over the Israeli military's proposed invasion of the city, Israel has been bombing the dense area for some time, which is also the hub of humanitarian operations.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that Israel's had "quietly begun" to invade Rafah.

Israel's defence minister to visit Washington
11:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is to visit Washington in the coming week, the government said Wednesday, as pressure mounts to call off a planned offensive in Gaza's Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office also announced that a delegation would visit Washington at "the request of US President Joe Biden" to discuss the planned assault, which the United States opposes.

During his first visit to Washington since war erupted in response to Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack, Gallant is due to meet Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin -- but no date was announced.

Biden said on Monday he had told Netanyahu to send a team to Washington to discuss how to avoid a full-scale military operation in Rafah.

Doctor shares horrors of treating Gaza's wounded
11:00 AM
Brooke Anderson
Washington, DC

Physician Mohammad Subeh went to Gaza on a five-week medical mission, he had seen images of suffering on social media. But that didn't prepare him for the sounds and smells of destruction and anguish up close.

"First of all, you don't get a lot of the other sensory inputs," he said. "Having patients come in with charred bodies and the smell of burning flesh and screams, and balancing all of that with your focus and seeing how you can best help that patient. Or managing mass casualty incidents where 60, 70 patients come in all at once. Having to colour-code people and saying: this person is dead, this person is going to die."

Read more of the interview from The New Arab's Washington correspondent here.

WHO: over 400 attacks on health care in Gaza
10:45 AM
The New Arab

Health care has been routinely attacked by Israel during its war on Gaza. The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that it has documented 410 attacks, including in Gaza City, North Gaza and Khan Younis.

Attacks have resulted in 685 deaths 902 injuries mainly among displaced people, and 96 ambulances damaged.

Since Monday, Israel has been attacking Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City where 30,000 people, including medical staff and patients have taken shelter.

Occupied West Bank: 40 Palestinian journalists detained
10:15 AM
The New Arab

At least 40 Palestinian journalists are still in detention after being arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, a prisoners' affairs group said on Tuesday.

Since the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel in October, Israel has arrested 61 journalists, including three women.

Only 21 journalists have been released, Palestine's Commission of Detainees’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society said in a joint statement.

Since October, Israeli forces have conducted widespread aggressions on towns and villages across the occupied West Bank, arresting and killing hundreds of Palestinians, including over 100 children.

Heavy bombing across north Gaza
9:50 AM
The New Arab Staff

Heavy bombing has been reported across northern Gaza where an Israeli strike destroyed parts of al-Nuseirat camp overnight on Tuesday. At least 27 people were killed and dozens injured, including children.

AFP Agency images showed wounded children being treated at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, following Israeli bombardment in the refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Palestinian journalist Hossam Shabat reported that families were besieged in the al-Rimal neighbourhood in Gaza City from the area of Israeli occupation forces.

Gaza health ministry: 104 killed in past 24 hours
9:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

At least 104 people have been killed in the past 24 hours in Gaza, the health ministry announced on Wednesday morning.

It adds to at least 31,923 people, the majority women and children, who have been killed in the territory during more than five months of war between Israel and Hamas.

Over 74,096 people have been wounded in Gaza since the war began.

Blinken back in Middle East for renewed ceasefire talks
9:00 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the Middle East on Wednesday for his sixth visit since the start of Israel's war with Hamas to push for a deal to secure a temporary pause in fighting and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Blinken will meet Saudi leaders in Jeddah and Egyptian leaders in Cairo to discuss talks brokered by Egypt and Qatar on an agreement as well as efforts to get more aid into Gaza, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Talks on a ceasefire are resuming this week in Qatar, but weeks of tough negotiations have yet to forge an agreement between Israel and Hamas that Washington hopes will help alleviate the humanitarian crisis gripping Gaza.


Israeli military: killed '90 gunmen' at Al Shifa hospital
8:45 AM
The New Arab

The Israeli military said on Wednesday it had killed around "90 gunmen and arrested 160" in a raid on Al Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest medical complex, which has been under attack since Monday.

Around 30,000 people are sheltering inside the complex which has been under siege by Israeli tanks and snipers. Israel claims it is being used by Hamas fighters as a 'command centre' and has repeatedly attacked the hospital, patients and medical workers since November.

Hamas, medical staff and local journalists deny the hospital has been used for military purposes or to shelter fighters. 

UK delivers food aid as Cameron calls for pause in fighting
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Wednesday said it was vital for a pause in fighting between Israel and militant group Hamas to enable the release of hostages in Gaza, but a lot of conditions first needed to be met for a lasting ceasefire.

Speaking to Reuters during a trip to Thailand, Cameron said attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas last year and its holding of hostages was inhumane, and the only way for the Palestinian people to have a future was with the militant group out of the picture.

"Crucially what we must try to do is to turn that pause into a permanent sustainable ceasefire," Cameron said in an interview.

More than 2,000 tonnes of British food aid has crossed into Gaza via Jordan and is being distributed by the United Nations World Food Programme to feed 275,000 people, Britain's foreign ministry said on Wednesday.