Gaza: Israel readies for invasion as air strikes kill over 2,450 Palestinians

Gaza: Israel readies for invasion as air strikes kill over 2,450 Palestinians
Entire Gaza city blocks lie in ruins and hospitals are overflowing with thousands of wounded in the besieged territory, but there are fears of worse to come.
15 min read

Israeli forces were Sunday readying for a looming ground invasion of Gaza, amid a brutal eight-day bombing campaign of the densely populated enclave that has killed over 2,450 people, including hundreds of children.

Entire Gaza city blocks lie in ruins and hospitals are overflowing with thousands of wounded in the besieged territory, but there were fears of worse to come.

Israel has massed forces outside the long-blockaded enclave of 2.4 million people ahead of what the army has said will be a land, air and sea attack involving a "significant ground operation".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a flak jacket, visited front line troops Saturday. "Are you ready for what is coming?" he said. "More is coming."

Special forces have made forays into Gaza and recovered the bodies of some of the up to 150 hostages feared taken by Hamas, the army said. Israel has said it has identified 120 captives, while Hamas has said 22 have died in Israeli air strikes.

A ground invasion threatens to bring the kind of gruelling house-to-house fighting that devastated Iraq's Mosul and Fallujah in years past, further complicated by Hamas' vast tunnel network.

Israel has warned 1.1 million Palestinian civilians to leave northern Gaza and a steady stream of families in overloaded cars, trucks and donkey carts have since headed south. The mass evacuation directive has drawn accusations of ethnic cleansing, with observers drawing parallels with the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, known as the Nakba.

'Catastrophic situation'

Alarm has grown about a wider humanitarian crisis in Gaza where Israel has cut off water, food and power, vowing to maintain the complete siege until all hostages are freed.

Fear and chaos reigned in the 40-kilometre (25-mile) long strip that is one of the world's most densely populated areas, with no place for large numbers of internally displaced people to flee to.

"The situation is catastrophic," said Jumaa Nasser, who travelled from Beit Lahia in northern Gaza with his wife, mother and seven children.

"We've had no food or sleep. We don't know what to do. I've given my fate up to God."

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi charged that Israel's actions in Gaza have gone "beyond the scope of self-defence" and said it must "cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza".

Egypt to the south controls the only other crossing with Gaza but has so far refused to open it for Palestinian or foreign refugees unless aid convoys are allowed to enter, according to unnamed intelligence sources cited in media reports.

Anger has flared in much of the Muslim world and beyond, with pro-Palestinian protesters burning Israeli and American flags.

Militant groups allied with Israel's arch foe Iran have a strong presence in neighbouring Lebanon and Syria, heightening the risk of a multi-front war for Israel.

The past week has seen repeated clashes on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement has tried to send small groups of militants across the border.

The United States has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the region in an effort to "deter hostile actions against Israel", Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.

6:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog is now wrapping up. We will be live again from 7am GMT on Monday. Goodnight. 

5:39 PM
The New Arab Staff

Moroccan protestors rallied in front of the country's parliament in Rabat in solidarity with Palestine

Moroccan protestors rallied in front of the country's parliament in Rabat on Sunday in solidarity with Palestine, calling on their country to cut ties with Israel. 

"From the Rif to the South, hundreds of activists and citizens travelled hundreds of miles to attend today’s protest - a human duty towards our Palestinian brothers,"  Abdelillah, a 56-year-old man who came from Agadir, told The New Arab.

A myriad of political parties attended the march, with leftists and Islamists walking shoulder to shoulder. 

“The Moroccan state has to stop the process of normalisation with Israel, close the liaison office and send the Israeli representative to where he came from,” Nabila Mounib, head of the opposition socialist party said.

“Those who support normalisation with the Israeli entity are a discordant minority within Moroccan society that breathes the Palestinian cause and rejects any aggression against the brothers in Gaza,” Abdul Rahim Al-Sheikhi, former head of the Islamist movement of Unification and Reform said.

Reporting by Basma Elatti

5:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

'The spectre of death is hanging over Gaza', says UN Relief Chief

4:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli ground invasion could 'lead to genocide' in Gaza, say Arab League and African Union

Israel's planned ground invasion of Gaza "could lead to a genocide of unprecedented proportions", the heads of the Arab League and African Union said Sunday in a joint statement.

Both organisations called on "the United Nations and the international community to stop a catastrophe unfolding in front of us, before it is too late", as Israel readies for a ground invasion following Hamas's surprise attack last week.

4:35 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinian Ministry of Health says total death toll in Gaza at least 2.450

At least 2,450 Palestinians have been killed and 9,200 wounded since Israel launched its attack on the Gaza strip on the ninth day of conflict, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister’s office has said more than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas’ offensive on October 7.

4:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel energy minister says deal to turn on water supply to southern Gaza 'agreed with US'

We reported before that US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that Israel had turned the water supply of parts of southern Gaza back on.

Well, Israel's Energy Minister Israel Katz confirmed that the decision was agreed on between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Katz said that the decision to partially renew water supplies was in line with Israeli policy, which is to force Palestinian civilians in Gaza to the south. 

3:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas, Hezbollah claim rocket attacks  from Lebanon, while Israeli defence minister says Israel has 'no interest' in a war with Hezbollah

Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades has said it fired 20 rockets from Lebanon on two Israeli settlements, according to Al Jazeera.

Separately, Lebanon’s Hezbollah also said it had targeted barracks in Israel’s Hanita with guided missiles and said it had inflicted casualties on “enemy ranks”.

However, despite tensions building, Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday said that Israel was not interested  in waging war on its northern front and that his country will keep the situation along the border as it is.

“We have no interest in a war in the north. We don’t want to escalate the situation,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters.

“If Hezbollah chooses the path of war, it will pay a very heavy price. Very heavy. But if it restrains itself, we will respect that and keep the situation as it is,” Gallant said, noting that there had been exchanges of fire across the border.

3:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

White House says Israel announced water back on in southern Gaza

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that Israel told him it has turned the water supply back on in southern Gaza.

"I have been in touch with my Israeli counterparts just within the last hour who reported to me that they have, in fact, turned the water pipe back on in southern Gaza," Sullivan told CNN. Israel had halted the flow of water as part of its siege of the Hamas-ruled territory since the war broke out last weekend.

3:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

'Another war crime': Thousands of lives at risk as Gaza medics warn that hospitals could run out of fuel in two days due to Israeli siege and bombardment

Medics in the Gaza Strip warned on Sunday that thousands may die due to a severe shortage of fuel and essential supplies in hospitals overcrowded with the wounded, as a result of the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Palestinians in the besieged strip are struggling to find food, water, and safe places, before the occupation executes the ground attack it is preparing for.

Supported by American warships deployed in the area, Israeli forces are positioned along the Gaza border and have conducted drills in preparation for what they described as a "broad campaign to dismantle Hamas."

More than a week of intense airstrikes, since the seventh of October, has resulted in the destruction of entire neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting broke out, a number higher than what was recorded in the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, which lasted more than six weeks. 

Speaking to The New Arabs's sister publication Al Araby Al Jadeed, Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, a consultant at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Yunis, says that hundreds of people who were injured due to explosions have arrived at the hospital in the past eight days, indicating that many of them are at risk of dying, as fuel is expected to run out by tomorrow.

Qandeel explains that many of the injuries are severe and complicated, requiring intensive care. He adds that there are 35 people in the ICU who rely on ventilators to stay alive, while another 60 patients are undergoing kidney dialysis.

Qandeel continues, stating that the depletion of fuel "means that the entire health system will stop, and services will halt... We are talking about another disaster... another war crime... a historic tragedy."

2:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sisi tells Blinken that Israel attack on Gaza is "collective punishment" 

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel's reaction to Hamas' attack went beyond self-defence and amounted to collective punishment.

In televised comments during a meeting with Blinken in Cairo on Sunday, Sisi also said he rejects the targeting of any civilians in the ongoing conflict.


2:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al Araby correspondent threatened by Israeli police during live broadcast

Al Araby TV's Gaza correspondent Ahmed Darawsha was threatened live on air by an Israeli policeman. 

Darawsha was live broadcasting from Israel when approached by an Israeli policeman. When Darawsha tries to explain he's live on air, the clearly hostile Israeli cop responds "So what if you''re on air?"

The Israeli policeman, grows angrier despite Darawsha's attempts to de-escalate the situation, then asks the journalist what he's saying. The policeman then erupts without even listening to Darawsha's replies, shouting in a threatening manner: "I really hope you are saying good things, you get me? And all these Hamas guys need to be taken down, you get me?" A visibly shaken Darawsha simply agrees, hoping the situation doesn't escalate to violence. 

Watch the full clip below:

1:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

Around one million people now displaced in Gaza: UNRWA

One of the organisations workers sent a voice note to colleagues saying how Israeli shelling "doesn't stop".

“Being in Gaza in these days is all about surviving, not living,” said Azzam in a voice note sent to his colleagues as he described what life has become in the Palestinian enclave after days of relentless Israeli bombardment.

1:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Netanyahu says he will 'demolish Hamas in Gaza'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened Israel's expanded emergency cabinet for the first time on Sunday, saying the national unity on display sent a message at home and abroad as as the country gears up to "demolish Hamas" in Gaza.

The meeting, held in military headquarters in Tel Aviv, began with ministers standing for a moment's silence in memory of some 1,300 Israelis killed in Hamas' shock Oct 7 onslaught.  

In retaliation, Israel has killed over 2300 people in air strikes on Gaza, including over 700 children, with hundreds of thousands more injured and displaced.

(The New Arab Staff and Reuters)

1:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Blinken arrives in Cairo before Israel return

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head back to Israel Monday for his second visit in less than a week following a tour of six Arab countries on the crisis with Hamas, the State Department said.

"Secretary Blinken will return tomorrow for further consultations with Israeli leaders," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters Sunday as Blinken arrived in Cairo.

Though Blinken's visit of Arab counties is ostensibly about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, many analysts believe he is gauging the response of Arab leaders to the impending Israeli invasion of the strip.

12:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

Lebanon submits UN complaint over Israel killing journalist

The New Arab's correspondent in Lebanon, Will Christou, has reported that Lebanon has submitted a complaint over Israel killing a Lebanese journalist on Friday.

"Lebanon’s mission to the UN will submit a complaint to the UN Security Council over Israel’s "deliberate" killing of a Lebanese journalist and wounding of several other journalists in a missile strike on Friday.

Israel targeted a group of journalists reporting on the fighting between it and Hezbollah on the Lebanese-Israeli border, killing 37-year old Reuters journalist Issam Abdullah and injuring others from Agence France Press and Al Jazeera."

Read the full story here.

11:18 AM
The New Arab Staff

More than 724 Palestinian children have been killed in Gaza 

More than 724 Palestinian children have been killed by the Israeli military’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip since October 7. 

Israeli forces bombarded convoys of Palestinian evacuees yesterday as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip fled south after Israeli authorities warned them to evacuate from the north ahead of a suspected ground invasion. At least 70 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks, reportedly mostly women and children. At least one of the Israeli airstrikes happened on Salah-al-Din street, which is one of two evacuation routes from north Gaza to the south, according to the BBC.

10:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli communication minister seeks shutdown of Al Jazeera

Israel's communications minister said on Sunday he was seeking a possible closure of Al Jazeera's local bureau, and accused the Qatari news station of pro-Hamas incitement and of exposing Israeli soldiers to potential attack from Gaza.

The proposal to shut down Al Jazeera had been vetted by Israeli security officials and was being vetted by legal experts, Shloma Karhi said, adding that he would bring it to the cabinet later in the day.

Al Jazeera and the government in Doha had no immediate comment.

Live Story

"This is a station that incites, this is a station that films troops in assembly areas (outside Gaza) ... that incites against the citizens of Israel - a propaganda mouthpiece," Karhi told Israel's Army Radio.

"It is unconscionable that Hamas spokespeople's message goes through this station," he said, adding: "I hope we will finish with this today." It was not clear if the latter statement referred to a cabinet discussion or implementation of a closure.

Israel has frequently been accused of targeting critical journalists during times of war.

(The New Arab Staff and Reuters)

10:33 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israel arrests over 50 in the West Bank in 'sweeping campaign of arrests'

Israel has launched a massive "arrest campaign" across the occupied West Bank,  with over 50 being arrested, according to Wafa news agency.

Here's a summary of the arrests:

12 were arrested in Bethlehem
3 in Jenin
9 in Hebron 
3 in Jerusalem 
8 in Nablus 
Over 19 in Ramallah 

The reason for their detainment has not yet been made clear, but it is widely rumoured that Israel is attempting to clamp down on Hamas in the West Bank, to avoid a potential second front as it wages war on Gaza. 


10:19 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli army closes area near Lebanon border to civilians, amid clashes

The Israeli army on Sunday ordered an immediate evacuation of civilians near its frontier with Lebanon after cross-border fire killed one person.

"In accordance with the situational assessment and the recent shooting incident in northern Israel, the area up to four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the northern border with Lebanon has been closed," the army said in a statement.

Tensions were ratcheted up on Friday when Israel fired artillery into an area where journalists were gathered, killing one. Israel has gathered Merkava tanks at the Lebanese border, with the potential for a confrontation with Hezbollah.

9:23 AM
The New Arab Staff

Across the Gaza Strip, more than 2 million people are at risk as water runs out: UNRWA

“It has become a matter of life and death. It is a must; fuel needs to be delivered now into Gaza to make water available for 2 million people,” said Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General said on Saturday. 

No humanitarian supplies have been allowed into Gaza for a week now.

Clean water is running out in the Gaza Strip, after its water plant and public water networks stopped working. People are now forced to use dirty water from wells, increasing risks of waterborne diseases. Gaza has also been under an electricity blackout since 11 October, impacting the water supply. Food and medicine are also running out rapidly. 

At the UN base in the southern Gaza Strip - where UNRWA has moved its operations- drinking water is also running out. Thousands of people have sought refuge there after Israel issued a warning to residents demanding them to leave their homes in the northern parts of the Strip.

Only in the past 12 hours, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The exodus continues as people move to the southern parts of the Gaza Strip. Nearly 1 million people have been displaced in one week alone.

“We need to truck fuel into Gaza now. Fuel is the only way for people to have safe drinking water. If not, people will start dying of severe dehydration, among them young children, the elderly and women. Water is now the last remaining lifeline. I appeal for the siege on humanitarian assistance to be lifted now,” added Lazzarini.

8:59 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian death toll in Gaza rises to over 2300: Palestinian Ministry of Health 

Up to 2329 people have been killed in Gaza  during Israel's bombardment of the strip, with 9042 wounded, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 

In the West Bank, 55 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, with over 1200 wounded, the ministry also confirmed. 

8:38 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

One dead, three wounded in an attack on Israeli village near Lebanon border, Israeli medics say.