Israel's opening of Erez crossing 'long overdue' and still unclear, NGOs say

Israel's opening of Erez crossing 'long overdue' and still unclear, NGOs say
Israel announced early on Friday that it would open the Erez crossing point into north Gaza following a tense phone call between Biden and Netanyahu
20 min read
05 April, 2024

Humanitarian organisations said on Friday that Israel's decision to open further aid points into Gaza was "long overdue", as its six-month long war comes under intense scrutiny following the killing of seven aid workers by an Israeli drone strike earlier this week.

Following an internal review, the Israeli military claimed the incident was a "grave mistake" and that its soldiers believed they were hitting "Hamas operatives" in a "serious failure" of misidentification.

In response, World Central Kitchen said an independent investigation should take place, while Poland's foreign minister called on Israel to conduct a criminal inquiry into the attack, in which one of its nationals was killed.

Gaza was pummelled by air raids overnight Thursday including shelling in east Rafah, Khan Younis, and Sheikh Zayed City in the north, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Several civilians were reportedly killed and wounded.

3:55 AM

The live blog has now ended and will be back at 9am BST. You can read more about Israel's war on Gaza from The New Arab here

Israeli strikes continue across the Gaza Strip
2:42 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli is reportedly conducting strikes across the Gaza Strip, including in areas north of Nuseirat refugee camp, in southern and eastern parts of Gaza City, and in Khan Younis, according to Al-Jazeera. 

David Miliband calls for independent review of WCK strike
1:20 AM
The New Arab Staff

President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) David Miliband has called for an independent review into the Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, as well as all other attacks on aid workers that have been carried out by Israel in Gaza.

"All attacks on aid workers - including the attack on [IRC] and [Medical aid for Palestinians] team - must be independently investigated. 95 percent of the over 200 aid workers killed by Israel are Palestinian". 

40 Democrat representatives call for offensive arms embargo
12:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

Forty Democrat members of congress have signed an open letter calling for the Biden administration to cease sending offensive arms to Israel following an Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen (WCK).

The letter, published by Representative Mark Pocan says that following the killing of the seven WCK workers, "we strongly urge you to reconsider your recent decision to authorize the transfer of a new arms package to Israel, and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the airstrike is completed."

"If this strike is found to have violates US or international law, we urge you to continue withholding these transfers until those responsible are held accountable."

As well as Mark Pocan, other representatives that signed include Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Illhan Omar, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman and Pramila Jayapal. 

Sirens sound in Northern Israel, False alarm
12:10 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli publication Haaretz reported that rocket sirens sounding the northern Israeli towns of Avivim, Baram and Yir'un on the border with Lebanon where false alarms, citing an Israeli military spokesperson.

US preparing for Iranian retaliation for IRGC killing
10:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

A number of US media outlets are reporting that the US has placed its forces in the Middle East at a higher alert level in preparation for an expected Iranian retaliation against Israel following an airstrike that killed a top IRGC general in Damascus.

According to CNN, US officials told the news agency that they believe an attack is inevitable and that US personnel are at risk of being targeted, although it is not known how the retaliation will occur. 

NYT also reported that the US bracing for possible Iranian strikes, and that two Iranian officials had told the publication that Iran had placed its armed forces on "full high alert" and that a decision had been made that Iran must respond directly to establish deterrence with Israel.

Antonio Guterres 'hopes' for quick increase in aid to Gaza
10:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said Israel has informed the UN that it will increase aid into Gaza, adding that he hopes said intentions materialise quickly.

Israeli settlers burn four homes north of Jericho
10:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, Israeli settlers have burned four homes in Ain Al-Auja, north of the occupied West Bank city of Jericho.

According to a resident of Ain Al-Auja, settlers also wrote racist slogans on the homes prior to setting them alight. 

EU's Josep Borrell: UNSC resolution must be implemented
9:38 PM
The New Arab Staff

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has called for the UN Security Council Resolution 2728 which called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to be implemented, saying it was not enough to allow more aid and prevent starvation in Gaza.

Biden sends letters to Egypt, Qatar over ceasefire talks
9:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Joe Biden on Friday wrote to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, calling on them to press Hamas for hostage deal with Israel, according to a senior administration official, one day after Biden called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to redouble efforts to reach a ceasefire in the six-month-old war in Gaza.

The official, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private letters, said Biden's national security adviser will meet Monday with family members of some of the estimated 100 hostages who are believed to still be in Gaza.

The letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Qatar's ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, come as Biden has deployed CIA Director Bill Burns to Cairo for talks this weekend about a ceasefire for hostage deal.

US, Israel believe Iran will retaliate for IRGC killing
8:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

US officials speaking with CBS News have said that Israel and the US are convinced that Iran is preparing to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed a top IRGC general on Monday.

According to the official, the US has picked up intelligence that suggests Iran is planning to retaliate using Shaheed suicide drones and cruise missiles.

Although the timing and target are not known, officials noted a proportional response would be to attack an Israeli diplomatic facility, and that it was likely to occur before the end of Ramadan next week.


Hezbollah: Three Amal members killed in south Lebanon
8:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah announced that three members of Lebanon's Amal movement were killed following reports that an Israeli airstrike targeted the Lebanese town of Marjayoun in the country's south.

Although Hezbollah didn't say when or where the Amal members were killed, it did say they were carrying out a "national and jihadist duty in defence of Lebanon and the South". 


UK FM: Israel agrees to increase of trucks entering Gaza
7:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

UK Foreign Minister David Cameron said he welcomed the opening of the Erez crossing into Gaza, and added that Israel had agreed to increase the number of trucks entering the enclave to 500 a day. 

He also said that further steps were needed to get more aid into Gaza.

Colombia to join Gaza genocide case against Israel at ICJ
7:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Colombia has asked the International Court of Justice to allow the country to intervene in South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip, the court said Friday.

In its application, Colombia called on the court to ensure "the safety and, indeed, the very existence of the Palestinian people".

The ICJ, the highest UN court, can allow states to intervene and give their views. Several states have said they would also seek to intervene in the case but so far only Colombia and Nicaragua have filed a public request.

Last week ICJ judges ordered Israel to take all necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies arrive without delay to Palestinians in Gaza.

In January the ICJ, also known as the World Court, ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the genocide convention and to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza.


MAP: 28 children have died from malnutrition, dehydration
6:52 PM
The New Arab Staff

Medical Aid for Palestinians have posted on X that "as of 1 April, 28 children have died of malnutrition and dehydration" as a result of Israel's war on the enclave.

 The organisation added that it is expected that 18.5 billion dollars are needed to repair Gaza's critical infrastructure.

Hezbollah fighters killed in Israeli raid on Lebanon
6:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

Two Hezbollah fighters were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Lebanese town of Aita Shaab, according to Lebanon's National News Agency

Hezbollah also announced the deaths of two fighters, Ali Nasser Abd Ali and Bilal Haidar Hallal through its telegram channel, although it is not known if they were killed in the strike on Aita Shaab.

Biden says Israel doing what he asked on Gaza aid
6:10 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US President Joe Biden said Friday that Israel was doing what he had asked to let aid into Gaza, a day after he warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a sharp shift in policy

Asked whether he had threatened to stop military aid to Israel in the call with Netanyahu, Biden replied as he left the White House: "I asked them to do what they're doing."

Hezbollah 'fully prepared' for war with Israel: Nasrallah
5:38 PM
William Christou

Head of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said that the Lebanese group was "fully prepared" for a war with Israel in a speech on Friday commemorating "Jerusalem Day".

"Everyone must prepare themselves and arrange their affairs and be careful when the Iranian side responds to the targeting of the Iranian consulate," Nasrallah said.

He added that if Israel retaliates against a potential Iran attack, a regional war could be triggered.

Read more about the speech in The New Arab here.

UK govt calls for Israeli aid probe to be published in full
5:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

The British government said on Friday it was reviewing the findings of Israel's investigation into the killing of seven aid workers and urged that it must be "published in full".

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the suspension of two officers was a welcome "first step" but said that "lessons must be learnt from today's initial findings".

"These findings must be published in full and followed up with a wholly independent review to ensure the utmost transparency and accountability," Cameron wrote on social media site X.

The UK has come under pressure to halt its arms deal with Israel following the attack which killed three British citizens working for World Central Kitchen charity in Gaza.

There are concerns that UK could be breaching its obligations under international law if Israel is found to be committing war crimes in Gaza.

UN chief 'deeply troubled' that Israel is using AI in Gaza
5:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday expressed serious concern over reports that Israel was using artificial intelligence to identify targets in Gaza.

According to a report in the magazine +972, Israel has used artificial intelligence to identify targets in Gaza -- in some cases with as little as 20 seconds of human oversight.

Guterres said that he was "deeply troubled by reports that the Israeli military's bombing campaign includes Artificial Intelligence as a tool in the identification of targets, particularly in densely populated residential areas, resulting in a high level of civilian casualties."

"No part of life and death decisions which impact entire families should be delegated to the cold calculation of algorithms," he said.

Read more about the findings in The New Arab's article.

No plans for US to conduct investigation into aid deaths
4:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday there are no plans by the United States to conduct an independent investigation into the killings of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers.

Kirby told reporters that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had briefed President Joe Biden in their phone call on Thursday on the general findings of Israel's inquiry into the incident.

The White House also said it is hoping to have a meeting with Israeli officials over the country's plans to invade Rafah "in the next week or two" but "the timing could slide".

Earlier on Friday, the Israeli military said its internal inquiry found the aid workers were killed because soldiers mistakenly thought a Hamas fighter was with them.


Iran says White House warned it not to target US facilities
4:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Washington has warned Tehran not to attack any US facilities after Iran told the US not to fall into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "trap", an Iranian official said on Friday.

"In a written message, the Islamic Republic of Iran warns US leadership not to get dragged in Netanyahu's trap for US: Stay away so you won't get hurt. In response US asked Iran not to target American facilities," Iranian presidential aide Mohammad Jamshidi said on X.

The comments follow fears of a harsh retaliation from Iranian after an Israeli strike on its consulate building in Damascus which killed seven high-ranking commanders and officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) earlier this week.

Hezbollah: Iran response 'inevitable' over officer killings
4:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group warned Friday that Iran would inevitably retaliate after a strike widely blamed on Israel destroyed its consulate in Damascus this week, killing two generals.

"Be certain that Iran's response to the targeting of its Damascus consulate is inevitable," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech marking Quds (Jerusalem) Day -- an annual day of pro-Palestinian rallies held by Iran and its allies.

UN chief says 'scattered measures' for Gaza aid not enough
3:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that "scattered measures" for Gaza aid are not enough after Israel told the UN it will allow a "meaningful increase" in aid.

"It's not enough to have scattered measures -- we need a paradigm shift," Guterres told reporters at the UN's New York headquarters.

Guterres' comments follow Israel's announcement earlier on Friday that it would open a further aid crossing in north Gaza and allow supplies to arrive at Ashdod port, after the White House insisted conditions in Gaza must improve.

Palestinian boy volunteers at hospital as Gaza war rages
2:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Twelve-year-old Palestinian Zakaria Sarsak walks determinedly through a sea of people at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza. But he's not there for treatment; he's volunteering, helping the medics by filling syringes and moving stretchers.

He decided he wanted to help those wounded in the Israeli bombardment that displaced him and his family from their home, and now spends much of his time at the hospital.

"I help bring injured people to Al-Aqsa Hospital. We also bring martyrs to the morgue, I go with the ambulance to bring casualties," Sarsak said.


World Central Kitchen: Israel cannot probe own 'failure'
2:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Aid charity World Central Kitchen on Friday demanded an independent commission to investigate the killings of its staff in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, saying the Israeli military could not credibly investigate its own "failure".

"Without systemic change, there will be more military failures, more apologies and more grieving families," according to a statement published by WCK.

WCK said the action taken by Israel represented 'important steps ahead' but said it is also clear from the preliminary investigation that the Israeli military has deployed deadly force without regard to its own protocols, chain of command and rules of engagement.

Ben-Gvir: firing officers over aid killings is a 'weakness'
1:37 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said the dismissal of two officers involved in killings of seven aid workers in Gaza showed an "abandonment" of the military in its war.

"The Chief of Staff's decision to remove senior officers is the abandonment of the soldiers in the middle of a war and a grave mistake that conveys weakness," the far-right minister said on X.

"Even if there are mistakes in identification, in war soldiers are backed up and certainly not tried in a field court".

Earlier on Friday, the Israeli army chief of staff said it had fired an officer and colonel after completing an internal review into the incident which it described as a "grave mistake".

Jerusalem: Israeli forces assault worshippers at Al-Aqsa
12:52 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces assaulted and blocked worshippers on their way to the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that "thousands of worshippers" coming from the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem were prevented entry.

There were reports of altercations with Israeli police in the Old City area of Jerusalem with the police arresting three Palestinian men.

According to the Islamic waqf some 65,000 worshippers have prayed at Al-Aqsa on Friday.

Poland demands 'criminal inquiry' for 'murder' of aid staff
12:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Poland said Friday that it had demanded a "criminal inquiry" by Israel after what it called the "murder" of seven food charity workers, including a Polish citizen, in a Gaza airstrike this week.

"We want [Polish] prosecutors to be added and implicated in the explanations and in the entire criminal and disciplinary procedure for the soldiers responsible for this... murder," deputy foreign minister Andrzej Szejna added after Israel's Warsaw envoy was summoned and issued a formal protest over the strike on the World Central Kitchen workers.

Polish national Damian Sobol from Przemysl was one of the aid workers killed in the attack, which was strongly condemned by Poland's government.

Israel sacks two army officers after aid worker killings
12:13 PM
The New Arab Staff

An Israeli military inquiry into the killing of seven aid workers hit by an Israeli air strike found that there were serious failures from the "mistaken identification" of the aid convoy and believing that a Hamas fighter was in one of the vehicles.

Seven aid workers, six of whom were foreign nationals, from the charity World Central Kitchen were killed on Monday when Israeli drone strike hit the three vehicle convoy three times as it returned from delivering aid in central Gaza having shared coordinates with the Israeli army.

The military said in a statement on Friday that it was "a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making, and an attack contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures".

A colonel and a major from the army had been dismissed, Israel said.


Lawyer Salah Hamouri lodges torture complaint against Israel
11:47 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian-French human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri has filed a complaint in Paris detailing abuse and torture at the hands of Israeli authorities during his years of incarceration, in what is said to be the first case of torture against Israeli officials filed in France.

Hamouri, from Jerusalem, was deported to France by Israel in December 2022, following years of arrests and detentions and a year-long legal battle that started with the revocation of his residency rights in Jerusalem in October 2021, after which he was arrested and placed under administrative detention in March 2022.

In December, Hamouri was transferred to France on an Israeli plane, with his hands and feet cuffed.

French news agency AFP reported on Thursday that Hamouri's lawyers were filing an official complaint with French judicial authorities, detailing that he was "subject to repeated arbitrary detentions and suffered acts of torture and deprivations of liberty" between 2001 and 2018.

Read The New Arab's interview with Hamouri in May last year here.
Majority of British think UK should end arms sales to Israel
11:21 AM
The New Arab Staff

A majority of Britons say the UK should halt arms sales to Israel for the war in Gaza, according to a new poll by YouGov.

The poll, released on Friday, asked some 3,600 adults whether they would support or oppose the UK ending the sale of arms to Israel for the duration of the conflict in Gaza.

Forty percent said they would strongly support the end of sales, with 18 percent opposing. The support was concentrated among Labour votes, the poll. 

Germany tells Israel 'no more excuses' on Gaza aid
10:49 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel had "no more excuses" to delay aid getting into Gaza, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday, after the Israeli government said it would open more aid routes into the Palestinian territory.

"The people in Gaza need every aid package now... We expect the Israeli government to implement its announcements quickly," Baerbock said on X. "No more excuses."


Israeli strikes destroying agriculture in south Lebanon: PM
10:35 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, has said Israeli air strikes have turned southern Lebanon into a "devastated agricultural area".

The Israeli strikes have burned tens of thousands of olive trees and torched farmland across southern Lebanon, hurting herders and farmers already suffering from a deep economic crisis that has made it even more important for Lebanon to produce its own food.

"Eight hundred hectares have been completely damaged, 340,000 heads of livestock have died, and about 75 percent of farmers have lost their final source of income," Lebanon's National News Agency quoted Mikati as saying.

"This problem will extend to the coming years."

UN rights council demands halt of arms sales to Israel
9:53 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday demanded a halt to all arms sales to Israel, highlighting warnings of "genocide" in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 33,000 people.

The resolution, which passed with 28 of the council's 47 member states voting in favour, six opposed and 13 abstaining, marked the first time the United Nations top rights body has taken a position on the bloodiest-ever war to beset the besieged Palestinian territory.

Gaza health ministry: 54 killed in past 24 hours
9:50 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in  Gaza said Friday that at least 33,091 people have been killed in the territory during nearly six months of war.

The toll includes at least 54 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 75,750 people have been wounded.

US's Blinken welcomes Israel opening more aid for Gaza
9:35 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States welcomes Israel's latest efforts to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday, but said success would be measured in results in improving the situation on the ground.

"Really the proof is in the results, and we will see those unfold in the coming days, in the coming weeks," Blinken said, speaking along EU leaders in Belgium.

President Joe Biden threatened on Thursday to condition support for Israel's offensive in Gaza on it taking concrete steps to protect aid workers and civilians, seeking for the first time to leverage US aid to influence Israeli military behaviour.


Occupied West Bank: Sniper kills Palestinian man
9:10 AM
The New Arab Staff

A Palestinian man was shot dead on the roof of his home by Israeli forces during a raid of Nur Shams refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

The man was hit as he stood on his home in the Jabal an-Nasr neighbourhood, Wafa news agency reported.

At least 457 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since the start of the Gaza war as Israeli forces have conducted near daily raids in towns and cities across the territory.

Over 60 percent of homes damaged in Gaza
8:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UN Palestinian agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said on Friday that around 62 percent of homes have been damaged or destroyed in Gaza.

Israel’s six-month war on the tiny enclave has displaced 75 percent of the population with many families moved repeatedly.

Over half the population are now sheltering in Rafah, the final city which has not been invaded by Israeli forces.

CIA chief to head to Cairo for ceasefire talks
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

The head of the CIA Bill Burns will travel to Cairo this weekend for talks with Egyptian and Israeli officials in a bid to secure a ceasefire deal which would free the remaining captives and see the return of roughly 700 Palestinian prisoners, followings weeks of stalled negotiations.

US outlet Axios reported that Burns is expected to meet with Mossad head David Barnea, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

On Thursday a senior Hamas leader said that Egyptian and US mediators were pushing to keep negotiations open despite wide gaps between the two warring parties, Reuters reported.

It is hoped talks could finish before Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan next week.