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Gaza: Death toll surpasses 25,000, Israel strikes Rafah, Khan Younis
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza killed 178 Palestinians through in the past 24 hours according to an announcement by Gaza's health authorities, bringing the total number of dead since the beginning of the war to 25,105 since 7 October.
The announcement also stated that 293 Palestinians had also been wounded, leaving a total of 62,681 wounded since the start of the war.
The announcement comes after overnight strikes by the Israeli military on a number of locations across the strip, including a strike on a civilian car in Yarmouk market in Gaza City killing three.
The strikes come as Israel continues to carry out deadly raids in the occupied West Bank, including in Qalqilya, Hebron and the town of Maythaloun south of Jenin.
As Israel's war in Gaza continues, Israeli Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to negotiate for the release for the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza, even if that means agreeing to a ceasefire in Gaza.
There are only 15 operational bakeries across Gaza as of January 17, the UN’s humanitarian agency (OCHA) said in its latest daily humanitarian report.
Six of these bakeries are in Rafah in southern Gaza and nine in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza. There are no functioning bakeries in northern Gaza, contributing to severe food shortages in the area, which has experienced the most intense Israeli bombing since the war began.
Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian Territories, declared that we’re at a "watershed" moment in the Gaza conflict with a "genocide unfolding".
"It’s time to ask for justice for ALL. Hostages MUST be released immediately. And so the thousand Palestinian prisoners arbitrarily detained by Israel," she said on X, responding to a tweet by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The White House's Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk will be heading to Qatar and Egypt this week for discussions concerning Israel’s war in Gaza, as well as the release of the remaining hostages from the enclave, the Times of Israel reported on Sunday, citing a US official.
Two US Navy SEALs who went missing in the Gulf of Aden earlier this month have not been located and their status has been changed to deceased, military officials said on Sunday.
The SEALs were reported missing after boarding an Iranian vessel in a Jan. 11 operation near the coast of Somali, the US Central Command said on X.
“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example. Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the US Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time,” CENTCOM Commander General Michael Erik Kurilla said in a statement.
The US has carried out a string of strikes against Houthi targets in response to Houthi attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea that have disrupted global trade and raised fears of supply bottlenecks.
The Israeli and Palestinian foreign ministers are to meet their European Union counterparts on Monday as the EU considers potential steps toward a comprehensive peace between the two sides even as the war in Gaza rages on.
Israel's Israel Katz and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki will take part separately in a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels largely devoted to the Middle East but also taking stock of the war in Ukraine.
Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and the secretary-general of the League of Arab States will also attend.
Ahead of the meeting, the EU's diplomatic service sent a discussion paper to its 27 member countries, suggesting a roadmap to peace in the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
At the heart of the plan is a call for a "preparatory peace conference" to be organised by the EU, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the League of Arab States, with the United States and United Nations also invited to be conveners of the gathering.
The conference would go ahead even if Israelis or Palestinians declined to take part. But both parties would be consulted at every step of the talks as delegates sought to draw up a peace plan, the document suggests.
Israeli forces attacked and injured two Palestinian men on Sunday southwest of Jenin, Palestinian media reported.
Confrontations were also said to have occurred in the Faqoua area to the northeast of the city, according to local sources.
Forces physically attacked Ihab and Fares Turkman after storming the Al-Baajwa neighbourhood in Ya'bad, before they were transfered to Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin for treatment.
Other neighbourhoods were also raided, sources confirmed.
Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam says the group is targeting ships linked to Israel to pressure the country to end its "criminal and fascist aggression" against the Gaza Strip, in a post on social media.
"America itself must stop escaping responsibility by creating crises that no one needs and end the aggression against Gaza," he said.
He added that Yemen will defend itself against violations of its sovereignty, referring to US-led attacks against the Houthis.
The Labour MP for east Leeds Richard Burgon has expressed criticism towards Benjamin Netanyahu's comments rejecting a two-state solution for Palestine, and has urged the United Kingdom’s government to push for a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution.
"25,000 dead in Gaza. The Israeli PM making it clear he's against any two-state solution. Yet all we get from our Government is empty words," he said.
"Enough is enough. It needs to act."
25,000 dead in Gaza.— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) January 21, 2024
The Israeli PM making it clear he's against any two-state solution.
Yet all we get from our Government is empty words.
Enough is enough.
It needs to act. Starting by bringing a UN Security Council motion for a ceasefire and by ending arms sales to Israel.
Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has criticised Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's comments rejecting the notion of a future Palestinian state.
"Netanyahu’s dangerous views, denying Palestinian statehood, are not just 'disappointing' but must be condemned in the strongest possible terms," he said on X.
"For those who want to see peace in the region, we must see meaningful progress on a two-state solution."
Netanyahu's dangerous views, denying Palestinian Statehood, are not just "disappointing" but must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) January 21, 2024
For those who want to see peace in the region, we must see meaningful progress on a two state solution. https://t.co/vp8JgwBJav
Israeli aircraft is reportedly present over Mount Lebanon and Dahiyeh, the south Beirut suburb where Hezbollah’s leadership is thought to be based, the Lebanon’s National News Agency said.
A strike on Damascus targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Syria spy chief and blamed on Israel killed 13 people, a war monitor said Sunday in an updated toll.
"The death toll has risen to 13," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights of Saturday's strike, revising earlier death tolls.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confirmed it lost five members in the strike it blamed on Israel, its regional arch-foe.
The British-based monitor, which has a vast network of sources inside Syria, said the deaths include "five Iranians, including three IRGC leaders, four Syrians working with the Iranians, one Syrian civilian, two Lebanese, and one Iraqi national".
Iranian news agency Mehr, quoting an anonymous informed source, said "the Revolutionary Guards' Syria intel chief" and his deputy were among those "martyred in the attack on Syria by Israel".
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said on Sunday that he supports tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators across the country.
"We are also with all of them," Sanchez said during a Socialist Party conference in Galicia, referring to the demonstrations that took place "in many streets and villages in Spain (...) to recognize the Palestinian state and stop the war in the Middle East."
Demonstrations were organised, called for by Shabaka, a platform for solidarity against the occupation of Palestine, under the slogan "Let’s stop the genocide in Palestine" in major Spanish cities, including Madrid, which saw the largest demonstration in which, according to the government, 25,000 people participated.
Hamas said on Sunday its October 7 attack on Israel was a "necessary step" against Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
But the group admitted in a 16-page report on the attacks that "some faults happened due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the border areas with Gaza".
The document was the group's first public report released in English and Arabic explaining the attacks when they broke through Gaza's militarised border, which killed about 1,140 people.
The militant group said the attacks were "a necessary step and a normal response to confront all Israeli conspiracies against the Palestinian people".
Hamas urged "the immediate halt of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, the crimes and ethnic cleansing committed against the entire Gaza population".
And the group rejected any international and Israeli efforts to decide Gaza's post-war future.
"We stress that the Palestinian people have the capacity to decide their future and to arrange their internal affairs," the statement said, adding that "no party in the world" had the right to decide on their behalf.
Around 9,000 demonstrators marched through Brussels on Sunday calling for an end of Israel's fierce bombardment and fighting in Gaza, in a pro-Palestinian protest that ended in the EU district.
The march came a day before EU foreign ministers will meet their Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Saudi and Jordanian counterparts in a string of meetings to discuss the ongoing war in Gaza and the plight of Palestinian civilians.
Participants in the peaceful "Justice for Palestine" demonstration, whose size was estimated by Brussels police, yelled out "stop genocide", "Israel: terrorist" and "free Gaza".
Some also cried out "EU, shame on you" for perceived inaction by Brussels to protect Palestinian civilians while others urged a boycott on Israeli goods and businesses.
"We really need to unite against the genocide happening in Gaza and fight for an end to Israel's occupation," said one demonstrator, Victor Dumont.
"No people deserves that, whatever side they're on -- it's not possible," said another, Bahija Dioure.
Israel's Minster of Defence Yoav Gallant has stated that the Israeli military will expand its ground offensive in Khan Younis in comments made during a flight over the besieged enclave.
"We are carrying out an intensive operation in the Khan Younis area, and it will continue to expand," he said.
"The plumes of smoke from the tanks, the artillery and Air Force planes, will continue to cover the skies of the Gaza Strip, until we achieve our goals, chief among them, the defeat of Hamas and the return of hostages to their homes," he added.
The Israeli army announced Sunday the death of another soldier in the October 7 Hamas attacks and said his body was being held in the Gaza Strip.
"Sergeant Shay Levinson, 19, died on October 7... his body is in the hands of Hamas," the Israeli army said in a statement.
His death brings the number of dead hostages whose bodies remain in the Palestinian territory to 28, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli data.
Israel's army said Levinson was living in the northern village of Givat Avni and served in a combat unit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he had rejected conditions demanded by Hamas for the release of hostages, hours after the group released a report justifying its 7 October attack on Israel.
"In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands an end to the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all murderers.... If we accept this, our soldiers have fallen in vain. If we accept this, we won't be able to guarantee the safety of our citizens," Netanyahu said.
The United States is taking the attack by Iran-backed militants on a base hosting US forces in Iraq over the weekend "extremely seriously," the White House said Sunday.
"Multiple ballistic missiles and rockets" were fired by Iranian-backed militants at Al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq late Saturday, the US military said, leading to one Iraqi and possible American casualties.
"It was a very serious attack, using a capability of ballistic missiles that posed a genuine threat," White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer said Sunday.
"We are going to respond... to establish deterrence in these situations, and to hold these groups accountable that continue to attack us," Finer added during his appearance on ABC's This Week.
"You can be assured that we are taking this extremely seriously."
Most of the projectiles fired at the base were intercepted by air defense systems, Finer and the Pentagon said.
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said there can be no normalization of ties with Israel without resolving the Palestinian issue, he told CNN in an interview that aired on Sunday.
Asked if there could be no normal ties without a path to a credible and irreversible Palestinian state, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told CNN's Fareed Zakaria: "That's the only way we're going to get the benefit. So, yes, because we need stability and only stability will come through the resolving the Palestinian issue."
The foreign minister's remarks were part of an interview originally taped on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum held last week in Davos, Switzerland, and aired Sunday on CNN.
De-escalation of the conflict in Gaza and halting civilian deaths is a key focus of Saudi Arabia, the minister said.
"What we are seeing is the Israelis are crushing Gaza, the civilian population of Gaza," he said. "This is completely unnecessary, completely unacceptable and has to stop."
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed that they carried out attacks on the Israeli occupied Golan Heights with drones on Saturday.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society has stated that 80 trucks entered into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing carrying essential goods for enclave, adding that no trucks entered through the Karm Abu Salem crossing.
📍Yesterday, the Palestine Red Crescent teams received 80 trucks from the @EG_Red_Crescent via the Rafah crossing, carrying essential humanitarian aid, including food, water, relief items, and medical supplies.🚚 Notably, no trucks entered through the Karm Abu Salem crossing.… pic.twitter.com/HRFGXibPgS— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) January 21, 2024
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement that condemned Israel's war on Gaza as part of its 19th summit in Kampala, Uganda.
In statement posted on X, the ministry said that "NAM [Non-Aligned Movement] joins the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation] and the League of Arab States, presenting the majority of States and peoples around the world, unified in upholding their moral, legal, and political responsibilities and obligations towards the Palestinian people and the Palestinian struggle for dignity, freedom, and independence".
The statement added "we urge the remaining States to uphold their duties towards the human community refrain from politicizing the ICJ and the legal proceedings. Either States commit to the law or commit to violating it."
Two Hezbollah fighters were killed on Sunday in a direct hit by an Israeli drone on their vehicle in southern Lebanon, security sources said.
Their ranks were not revealed following the latest Israeli strike in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel that has targeted dozens of Hezbollah fighters in the area, security sources said.
At least two people were killed and several others injured in a suspected Israeli drone strike on Sunday that targeted a car in southern Lebanon, security sources said.
Ambulances rushed to the site near a Lebanese army checkpoint, and it was not clear who was targeted in the strike, residents and security sources said.
Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a plan for frozen Palestinian tax funds to be held by a third-party country, and reserved the right to decide when the money will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Under interim peace accords, Israel's finance ministry collects tax on behalf of the Palestinians and makes monthly transfers to the PA, which has limited self rule in the occupied West Bank, but there have been constant wrangles over the arrangement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cabinet decision was supported by Norway and the United States, which will be a guarantor that the framework holds.
According to Haaretz Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli national security minister, was the only opponent of the agreement.
(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)
Heavy fighting is being reported in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza as the Israeli military continues its push further into the south.
According to Al-Jazeera, the ongoing battles between the Israeli army and Palestinian fighters are currently concentrated around the Nasser hospital.
Hamas's Qatar-based chief Ismail Haniyeh has held a meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, diplomatic sources told AFP on Sunday, in the first official contact between the two for more than three months.
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with Haniyeh on Saturday in Turkey, the sources said.
Sources said that the remaining Israeli captives, along with the establishment of "a ceasefire as quickly as possible", were the main topic of discussions, according to one of the sources.
The source said that during the meeting, the two sides also discussed "increasing humanitarian aid... and a two-state solution for a permanent peace".
Fidan and Haniyeh last had official contact in a phone call on 16 October.
UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps stated that Netanyahu's statement that he doesn't believe in a two-state solution was "disappointing", saying that "in fairness, he's said that all of his political career as far as I can tell".
He added that "I think we don't get to a solution unless we have a two-state solution".
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed is reporting that five Palestinians have been killed in Israeli shelling of Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, with ambulance crews unable to reach the site of the shelling.
US Central Command has confirmed that ballistic missiles and rockets were used to target US forces in Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq on Saturday's attacks, some of which impacted the base.
Central Command added it was conducting a damage assessment, with several US personnel potentially suffering traumatic brain injuries. It also confirmed one member of the Iraqi military was injured.
Iranian-backed Militants Attack Al-Assad Airbase, Iraq— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 20, 2024
At approximately 6:30 p.m. (Baghdad time) time Jan. 20, multiple ballistic missiles and rockets were launched by Iranian-backed militants in Western Iraq targeting al-Assad Airbase. Most of the missiles were intercepted by… pic.twitter.com/rYaNrRdRtu
Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres issued calls for a two-state solution and called a refusal of such solution, and the denial of Palestinians right to state as "unacceptable."
"The right of the Palestinian people to build their own state must be recognized by all" he added.
The refusal to accept the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and the denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people, are unacceptable.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) January 21, 2024
The right of the Palestinian people to build their own state must be recognized by all.