Gaza war: Death toll in war-hit territory reaches 20,000, health ministry says

Gaza war: Death toll in war-hit territory reaches 20,000, health ministry says
The death toll in Gaza, which has been subject to a relentless Israeli to a relentless military campaign for over two months, has now reached 20,000.
16 min read
20 December, 2023

At least 20,000 people have been killed in the besieged and war-hit Gaza Strip since the beginning of Israel's military campaign on October 7, the health ministry said.

Some 8,000 children and 6,200 women were among the dead, it said, as the conflict continued to rage more than two months after it broke out.

Meanwhile, intensive Qatari- and Egyptian-mediated talks have taken place for a possible second Gaza truce under which a number of Israeli hostages could be returned for Palestinians prisoners, Reuters said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo for ceasefire negotiations with Egyptian officials, as well as talks on the latest developments amid Israel's brutal military campaign in the Gaza Strip, an official statement confirmed.

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Israel continues West Bank raids
12:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces continue to attack West Bank cities, according to the Wafa news agency, searching homes, detaining individuals, and engaging in confrontations with local youths in various locations.

Operations were reported in the village of Ya`bad west of Jenin city, Qalqilya City and the town of Azzun to the east, and the cities of Al Bireh and Jericho, where the Ain Sultan refugee camp is located.

During these raids, forces used live ammunition and stun grenades. The news agency has not reported any immediate casualties.


Israel attacks on Gaza hospitals 'sadistic'
11:46 AM
The New Arab Staff


UN special rapporteur Francesca Albanese says that Israel's attacks on the health system in Gaza have taken “the most sadistic forms”.

“Hospitals and medical personnel are sacred”, Albanese wrote on X, “especially at a time of great destruction, suffering and despair as this senseless war against the people in Gaza”.

UN confirms Israel killed 11 in front of their families
11:31 AM
The New Arab Staff

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it received "disturbing" allegations that at least 11 Palestinian men were executed by the Israeli army in Gaza, in the presence of their families.

According to the OHCHR's report, this incident occurred on 19 December in the Al Remal neighborhood of Gaza City. Israeli soldiers are said to have encircled and entered a building where multiple families had taken refuge that night.

Witnesses allege that the Israeli troops separated the men from women and children, subsequently executing at least 11 men, primarily in their late 20s and early 30s, in view of their families.

The report adds that the Israeli forces then confined the women and children to a room and either fired shots into it or threw a grenade, resulting in severe injuries to some, including an infant and a child.

The OHCHR has confirmed the occurrence of these killings in the building, although the specifics and context are still under investigation.

The OHCHR said that these actions could constitute a war crime and urged Israeli authorities to promptly investigate the incident.

Disturbing information on summary killings of at least 11 unarmed Palestinian men in front of their family members in Al Remal neighbourhood.#Gaza #opt #IHL #humanrights

— UN Human Rights OPT (@OHCHR_Palestine) December 20, 2023
Security Council to vote on ceasefire resolution Thursday
11:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN Security Council on Thursday will try once again to pass a resolution calling for a halt in fighting between Israel and Hamas after previous efforts to win Washington's backing fell short.

Diplomatic wrangling at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan headquarters -- which caused the vote to be postponed again Wednesday -- has come against a backdrop of deteriorating conditions in Gaza and a mounting death toll.

At least 12 killed and dozens injured in Rafah explosion
10:17 AM
The New Arab Staff


Gaza’s health ministry reports a series of explosions near the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah killed at least 12 and injured dozens.

Rafah, located in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border, has become the most densely populated area in Gaza after 90% of the population was forcibly displaced.

In a statement, the ministry said:

Twelve martyrs and dozens of wounded, including women and children, were recovered from under the rubble when a house and a mosque were targeted hundreds of metres from Kuwaiti hospital.


Medicine and food used as weapons of war in Gaza: UNRWA
10:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says people in Gaza are "desperate, hungry & terrified" and facing "alarming levels of hunger never before witnessed" in the enclave.

UNRWA, in a post on X, added that "water, food & medicine are being used as weapons of war".

The agency noted that the "constant bombardment prevents aid reaching those in need."

Israel continues to limit humanitarian aid access into Gaza, while it carries out mass killings and bombardments of civilians across the territory.

Macron says Israel should not be enabled to 'flatten Gaza'
9:43 PM
The New Arab Staff


French President Emmanuel Macron, in an interview with France 5 broadcaster, emphasised that fighting  "terrorism" should not enable Israel to "flatten Gaza."

He stated, "We cannot let the idea take root that an efficient fight against terrorism implies to flatten Gaza or attack civilian populations indiscriminately."

Macron was involved in mediating between Israel and Hamas, with Qatar being the main facilitator.

WHO warns against disease and hunger spread in Gaza
9:16 PM
The New Arab Staff

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns of a "toxic mix of disease, hunger and lack of hygiene and sanitation" in Gaza.

“Hunger weakens the body’s defenses and opens the door to disease. Gaza is already experiencing soaring rates of infectious disease outbreaks,” he said.

“Such illnesses can be lethal for malnourished children, more so in the absence of functioning health services.”.

Diarrhoea cases among children in Gaza are reportedly 25 times the number before the conflict.

Israel says attacks on Gaza will continue
8:51 PM
The New Arab Staff


Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that Israel's ground and air attacks on Gaza will continue until there is a government order to cease military operations.

"We will continue our strikes on Rafah to target Hamas leaders," Hagari said. “Our goal is to dismantle Hamas and to have no military body threaten us.”

The army spokesperson added that it will also keep targeting Hezbollah.

"Returning the kidnapped people is one of the goals of the war, and we will make every effort to return them," Hagari said.

Israel continues to besiege Gaza ambulance center: PCRS
8:24 PM
The New Arab Staff


The Palestinian Red Crescent posted on X that “artillery shelling continues in the vicinity of the center, with the sounds of explosions heard”.

“Israeli snipers are positioned on the roofs of surrounding buildings, posing a threat to the safety of 127 individuals, including paramedics, volunteers, and their families,” the post added.

“Among them are 22 wounded individuals receiving treatment inside the centre.”

The NGO said neither its emergency nor rescue teams are able to reach the victims.

Hamas leader condemns US support to Israel
7:53 PM
The New Arab Staff


Hamas leader Osama Hamdan condemned the support of the United States to Israel in its attack on Gaza in a press conference. 

“Our people are paying with the lives of their children. They are experiencing the Zionist war machine funded by the Americans. After all their sacrifices, they realize there is no retreat, no turning back. There is only victory in this battle and securing liberation and a dignified life while establishing a fully sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.

“Our message to the families of the captives is loud and clear: your crisis is with Netanyahu and his war cabinet. The continued aggression impedes the release of captives. If you want them back, then you must make Netanyahu understand the resistance will not break,” Hamdan added.

“We would like to emphasise the Biden administration is a partner in the war against Gaza as they impede the delivery of aid. This administration has crippled the UN Security Council with its veto. Unless they stop the Israelis, they will be held morally and legally responsible for all crimes committed in Gaza.”

Israel's defense minister warns against threats to Eliat
7:36 PM
The New Arab Staff


Israel's defense minister Yoav Gallant has stated that his naval and air forces are ready to counter any potential threats targeting the Red Sea city of Eilat.

“The threat to freedom of navigation in the Straits of Bab al-Mandeb, 2,000km from Israel, is not only a threat to traffic to Israel but also to international navigation in waters belonging to all countries,” he said.

Israeli army says it located Hamas tunnel network in Gaza
7:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military says it was able to locate an underground tunnel system in Gaza City, near Palestine Square, reportedly used by top Hamas leaders such as Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar, and Mohammed Deif.

The army said that these tunnels, found 50 metres underground, interconnect various apartments, offices, and secret locations.

UN Security Council delays Gaza war resolution again
6:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

The United Nations Security Council delayed, once again, its critical vote on a ceasefire resolution in Gaza and increasing aid, this Wednesday. 

Diplomatic sources cited by The New York Times sais that the delay was initiated by the US, who sought more time for negotiations. 

he US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said in a press briefing on Wednesday that the administration's objective was to reach a resolution  “actually advances” aid delivery  “and doesn’t do anything that could actually hurt the delivery of humanitarian assistance, or make it more complicated”.

Israel Strikes Syrian sites after rocket launch
6:18 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli artillery bombs sites near the Syrian border, Al Araby TV has reported.

Al Araby TV reporter added that the bombing came after rockets fell in northern Golan.

Amnesty to launch probe into disappearance of Palestinians
5:38 PM
The New Arab Staff

Amnesty International said it will be launching a probe into the disappearance of Palestinians, including that of journalists Nidal al-Waheidi and Haithem Abdelwahed.

Photos and video footage verified by Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab show Israeli forces’ inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees in Beit Lahia, a city in northern Gaza. 

"We are currently investigating the reports of mass enforced disappearances of Palestinian detainees by Israeli forces. The Israeli military must urgently disclose the fate and whereabouts of everyone that it has detained since 7 October including Nidal al-Waheidi and Haitham Abdelwahed, two journalists from Gaza who have been forcibly disappeared for more than two months," said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Israeli forces must specify the grounds of arrest for those detained, and make every effort to provide families of those in its custody with information, particularly in light of the telecommunications blackouts that have cut off Gazans from each other and the rest of the world". 


Man killed in car by Israeli sniper in southern Lebanon
4:36 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

One Lebanese person was killed in his car by Israeli sniper bullets on the outskirts of Lebanese southern village of Kfar Kila, Lebanese state news agency reported on Wednesday.

The incident happened in the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila in the country's south [Getty]
Israeli FM backs plan to 'fast track' Gaza aid via Cyprus
4:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen expressed support during his visit to Cyprus on Wednesday for plans to send humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip from the Mediterranean island.

Cyprus has proposed establishing a corridor to collect, inspect, and store aid on the island before shipping it to Gaza.

Cohen, after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos, emphasised the need for an "organised and well-inspected" transfer of aid.

"We aim to create a fast track for humanitarian aid to Gaza through this corridor," he told reporters.

UN Security Council due to vote on delayed Gaza resolution
4:12 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations Security Council was due to vote Wednesday on a much-delayed resolution calling for a pause to the Israel war in Gaza after members wrangled over wording while aid efforts in the war-battered territory neared collapse.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza was rapidly deteriorating, with a senior UN official saying Israel's steps to allow in aid were "far short" of mounting need.

Members of the council had grappled for days to find common ground on the resolution, a vote on which was pushed back several times throughout Tuesday, after being postponed Monday.

An official scheduling document said the 15-member body would finally vote on Wednesday.

Germany: Students protest repression of free speech on Gaza
3:58 PM
The New Arab Staff
Germany: University students in Berlin protest against an ongoing repression in the country over the ongoing war in Gaza [Getty]


University students in Germany protesting against ongoing prohibition of free speech and discourse over the current Gaza war opposite the Berlin University of the Arts [Getty]
German students demonstrate against the ongoing repression of free speech concerning the war in Gaza [Getty]


PCRS loses contact with teams across Gaza amid blackout
3:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it has lost contact and communication with the operations rooms and teams across the Gaza Strip amid a communications blackout, the seventh of its kind in the territory since October 7.

"The interference on the VHF waves hinders the work of our teams in providing timely emergency medical services and reaching the wounded and injured," they said in a statement.

Netanyahu rules out Gaza truce until 'elimination' of Hamas
3:23 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday there will be no ceasefire in Gaza until the "elimination" of Hamas, which is at war with Israeli forces in the Palestinian territory.

"We won't stop fighting until we've achieved all the objectives we've set ourselves: the elimination of Hamas, the release of our hostages and the end of the threat from Gaza," Netanyahu said in a statement.

Houthis warn they'll hit back at US if attacked in Red Sea
3:04 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have launched missiles and drones at cargo ships in the Red Sea, warned Wednesday that they would strike back if attacked by US forces.

"If the Americans intend to escalate further, get more involved and commit foolishness by targeting our country... we will target them," said rebel leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi.

"We will make American battleships, American interests and American navigation a target for our missiles and drones," he said in a speech broadcast on the rebel's Al-Masirah television.

His comments came after the United States said it was building up a multinational naval task force to protect vessels transitting the Red Sea from Huthi attacks carried out in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Russia, Arab League condemn Israel's aggressive war on Gaza
2:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russian and Arab ministers have strongly condemned Israel's "aggressive war" on Palestinians in Gaza, and have rejected Israel's "self-defence" justification, a new statement said following a summit in Morocco.

Greece advises vessels to avoid Yemen waters amid attacks
1:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Greece has advised commercial vessels sailing in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to avoid Yemeni waters, keep only the necessary crew on the bridge and follow alerts issued by maritime authorities to avoid attacks in the area.

A shipping ministry advisory was issued on Saturday, as recent attacks by the Houthis on vessels have forced leading shipping companies to reroute via the cape of Good Hope to avoid the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

Greek ship-owners control about 20% of the world's commercial vessels in terms of carrying capacity.

The Houthis have attacked ships in the Red Sea since the onset of the Gaza war [Getty]
Iran, Qatar FMs meet in Doha to discuss Gaza war
1:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani net with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Doha, to discuss Israel’s continued war on Gaza.

“The State of Qatar works within the framework of mediation to reach an end to the war in the Gaza Strip,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

WFP delivers first Jordan aid through Kerem Shalom crossing
1:28 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday it had delivered food into Gaza through the Israeli Kerem Shalom border crossing in the first direct aid convoy from Jordan.

The arrival of the 46-truck convoy came after "weeks of coordination with all parties", the WFP said, adding that it was a "crucial first step (that) could pave the way for a more sustainable aid corridor through Jordan and allow for the delivery of more aid at scale".

Scores injured in Rafah following strike: report
12:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

An air strike has hit a building in Rafah, in southern Gaza, reported Al Jazeera English.

The strike sent residents panicking and running for cover near the vicinity of the Kuwaiti hospital, Al Jazeera said.

Multiple injuries have been reported.

Dozens killed in Gaza's Jabalia following strikes: MoH
12:07 PM
The New Arab Staff

46 bodies and a 110 wounded Palestinians have been brought to the Jabalia Medical Centre Wednesday morning following intense Israeli bombing in the area, the Secretary General of Gaza's Health Ministry said.

Dozens more remain trapped under rubble, Munir Al-Bursh said in a statement on X.

Israel has intensified its strikes in Jabalia, leading to a number of casualties [Getty]
West look to UNSCR 1701 to resolve Lebanon-Israel conflict
11:53 AM
William Christou

Western diplomats redoubled their efforts this week to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701 in an effort to end fighting along Lebanon and Israel's shared border.

Read more from The New Arab's Levant correspondent William Christou here.

66% of jobs lost in Gaza since October 7 amid Israel war
11:23 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 66 percent of jobs have been lost in Gaza since Israel's brutal military campaign erupted in October, the International Labour (ILO) said on Wednesday, warning that employment losses could continue to increase in the enclave.

The losses amount to a total of 192,000 jobs in the small Palestinian territory, the ILO said in its second assessment of the impact of Israeli ground and air strikes on Gaza which began on October 7.

In a first assessment released in early November, ILO estimated that 182,000 jobs had been lost in Gaza, a figure representing more than 60 percent of employment.

"Today hardly anybody in Gaza is able to earn income from work," said Peter Rademaker, ILO deputy regional director for the Arab states.

"It's clearly a still growing curve," he said of employment loss. "It might even get worse."

Israel targets Hezbollah sites in Lebanon: army spox
10:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, the army's spokesperson said in a statement on X.

He said that the Israeli army had attacked several infrastructure related to the Lebanese group, as well as military sites.

Gaza experiencing 7th telecoms blackout since start of war
10:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

Internet and telecommunications access in Gaza has been completely shut down, according to the Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel.

This is the seventh blackout of this kind since Israel's military campaign in the territory began on October 7.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man in Hebron
9:58 AM
The New Arab Staff

A young Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday, who opened fire at his vehicle in Hebron.

The victim was identified as 28-year-old Basil Wajiya Abd al-Afo al-Muhtaseb, who died as a result of his injuries.

US congress letter urges Biden to press Netanyahu on Gaza
9:47 AM
Brooke Anderson

A group of US Congress members, including former military and intelligence agents, have sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing concern about Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's military strategy in Gaza, amid the mounting death toll in the territory.

Read more from The New Arab's US correspondent here.

Malaysia bans Israeli-flagged ships in response to Gaza war
8:57 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Malaysia banned on Wednesday Israeli-flagged cargo ships from docking at its ports in response to Israel's actions in Gaza, which it said ignores "basic humanitarian principles".

Ships on their way to Israel will also be barred from loading cargo at any port in the largely Muslim Southeast Asian nation with immediate effect, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in a statement.

Anwar singled out Israel's biggest shipping firm ZIM.

Malaysia's cabinet authorised ZIM to dock its vessels at Malaysian ports in 2002 but Wednesday's statement said that authorisation had been rescinded.

"The Malaysian government decided to block and disallow the Israeli-based shipping company ZIM from docking at any Malaysian port," Anwar said.

"These sanctions are a response to Israel's actions that ignore basic humanitarian principles and violate international law through the ongoing massacre and brutality against Palestinians."

Humanitarian situation in Gaza 'desperate': Red Cross chief
8:43 AM
The New Arab Staff

Aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip are becoming difficult as the humanitarian situation in the war-hit territory is now 'desperate' Red Cross chief Jagan Chapagain said in a statement.

The difficulty in sending adequate aid deliveries to those in Gaza is due to ongoing Israeli shelling and lack of fuel, he stressed.

"I reiterate my call for a safe & unhindered humanitarian space to allow the continuous flow of critical aid."

Aid deliveries to desperate Gazans is becoming 'increasingly difficult' [Getty]
Hamas' Haniyeh arrives in Egypt for talks on Gaza
8:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to hold talks with Egyptian officials, mainly on developments in the war with Israel in the besieged and battered Gaza Strip, the Palestinian group said. 

Two Palestinians shot, wounded by Israeli forces near Jenin
8:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Two Palestinian men were shot and injured by Israeli forces near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday, following a raid of the town of Al-Yamoun, the Palestinian official news agency Wafa said.

The incident occurred during a raid of the homes of Jibril Baqli and Ahmed Najeh Abu Al-Hassan, security forces said, though the two were not present at the time.

Israeli forces then told the families of Baqli and Abu Al-Hassan, before confrontations broke out. Two young men were then shot in the feet and back, Wafa said.