Gaza: Israel signals wider attacks in south, besieges al-Ahli Baptist Hospital

Gaza: Israel signals wider attacks in south, besieges al-Ahli Baptist Hospital
Israel has warned Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza, signalling a potential expansion of attacks there, as Israeli forces continued their raid of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city.
24 min read
16 November, 2023

This live blog on Day 41 of the Gaza war has now ended. Make sure to follow us for the latest news on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Israeli forces dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza, residents said on Thursday, signalling a possible expansion of attacks in areas where hundreds of thousands of people who heeded earlier evacuation orders are crowded into UN-run shelters and family homes.

Meanwhile, soldiers continued searching Al-Shifa Hospital in the north, in a raid that began early on Wednesday but has failed to uncover any evidence of the central Hamas command centre that Israel has alleged is concealed beneath the complex.

Hamas and staff at the hospital, Gaza's largest, have strongly denied the allegations amid a deadly Israeli siege and attacks on the hospital which have killed dozens of patients, including premature babies, and caused global outrage.

Broadening the offensive in the south – where Israel already carries out daily air raids as part of its indiscriminate war on Gaza – threatens to worsen an already severe humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave.

Over 1.5 million people have been internally displaced in the Gaza Strip, with most having fled to the south, where food, water and electricity are increasingly scarce.

Israel's war has killed 11,470 people in the strip, two-thirds of them women and children, according to Palestinian health authorities. Over 3,640 civilians have been reported missing.

Israeli troops on Wednesday stormed into Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, where newborns and hundreds of other patients have suffered for days without electricity and other basic necessities.

Troops were searching the underground levels of the hospital on Thursday and detained technicians responsible for running its equipment, the health ministry in Gaza said in a statement.

After encircling Al-Shifa for days, Israel faced pressure to prove its claim that Hamas was using the patients, staff and civilians sheltering there to provide cover for its fighters.

The Israeli military released video from inside Al-Shifa which showed three duffel bags it claimed was found hidden around an MRI lab, each containing an assault rifle, grenades and Hamas uniforms, as well as a closet that contained a number of assault rifles without ammunition clips. It was not possible to independently verify the Israeli claims that the weapons were found inside the hospital.

There was no evidence provided to back up Israel's claim of a Hamas headquarters beneath the hospital.

Featured images: Getty

Blinken asks Israel for 'urgent' action on settler violence
11:19 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called on Israel to take "urgent" action to stop settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

In a telephone call with Benny Gantz, an opposition leader who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wartime cabinet, Blinken "stressed the urgent need for affirmative steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, including by confronting rising levels of settler extremist violence," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces who raided Jenin
10:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces raided Jenin in the occupied West Bank late Thursday.

Palestinians clashed with the soldiers, and there were reports of explosives being used against Israeli military vehicles.

Other reports said the Israeli soldiers surrounded the Jenin hospital.

Videos showing explosives, gunfire, as well as Israeli bulldozers ravaging streets in the town were shared online.

Blinken spoke with Egyptian counterpart about Gaza aid
10:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry about efforts to increase humanitarian aid to Palestinians in urgent need, the State Department said on Thursday.

Blinken reaffirmed the importance of concrete steps to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians in all of Gaza and reaffirmed Washington's rejection of the forced displacement of Palestinians, the department said in a statement.

US concerned over hospital strikes as Jordan facility hit
10:17 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Washington said Thursday it was "deeply concerned" about a strike on a Jordanian military hospital in Gaza that wounded seven people, underscoring its opposition to air strikes on health facilities.

"We are deeply concerned that they were injured," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, praising the Jordanian government's "incredible work establishing this field hospital" and saying its work most continue.

Miller did not condemn the strike nor did he say who was responsible.

It took place Wednesday in Gaza City, with Jordanian news agency Petra saying seven health workers were hurt. The Arab League condemned the strike.

"As we said before, we don't want to see hospitals struck from the air," Miller said.

"We reiterate the obligations under international humanitarian law for all parties to take key precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and all possible steps to mitigate civilian harm."

Artillery deliveries 'decreased' after Gaza war: Zelensky
9:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that deliveries of key artillery shells to his country had dropped off after fighting erupted between Israel and Hamas last month.

"Our deliveries have decreased," Zelensky told reporters, referring specifically to 155-millimetre shells that are widely used on the eastern and southern frontlines in Ukraine, saying "they really slowed down".

"It's not like the US said: we don't give Ukraine any. No! It's just that everyone is fighting for (stockpiles) themselves," he told reporters.

"Now the warehouses are empty or there is a legal minimum that a particular state cannot give you, and this is not enough" Zelensky told reporters in Kyiv.

He however praised efforts in the United States to ramp up production.

Medical relief should be focused inside Gaza: Egypt minister
7:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Work on providing medical relief for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip should be concentrated within the besieged enclave, Egypt's foreign minister said on Thursday.

"We have to concentrate on getting medical facilities established inside of Gaza so it can be more accessible to Palestinians who are in need for medical assistance," Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at a briefing for foreign media in Cairo.

"If we have the ability to care for these people at Al Shifa hospital, we will not hesitate," Shoukry said.

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Shoukry also said there was no truth to reports that Israel and the United States had pressured Cairo to take in refugees from Gaza in return for debt cancellation, reiterating that Palestinians could not be displaced from their homeland.

"There's absolutely no truth and no possibility of any form of displacement of Palestinians outside their homeland, their current location," he said.

There was no link between long-standing European Union funding and cooperation in Egypt and Egypt's role in the Gaza conflict, he added.

Resistance front stays united with Hamas: Iran's Qaani
7:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The top commander of Iran's Quds force said the resistance front supported the Tehran-backed Hamas group in its war with Israel in Gaza.

"Your brothers in the Axis of Resistance stand united with you … the resistance will not allow the enemy to achieve its dirty goals in Gaza and Palestine," Esmail Qaani said in a message to the commanders of Hamas on Thursday, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran, which refers to its aligned armed groups around the Middle East as being part of the "Resistance Axis", has warned Israel of escalation if it failed to end agressions in the Gaza Strip.

Norway says be ready for Palestinian state 'recognition'
7:26 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Norway's parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on the government to be ready to recognise an "independent" Palestinian state, in a new sign of Europe's anxiety over the Gaza war.

The proposition was made by Norway's ruling coalition to counter a resolution by smaller parties calling for an immediate recognition of a Palestinian state.

Passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament, it said the assembly "asks the government to be ready to recognise Palestine as an independent state when recognition could have a positive impact on the peace process, without making a final peace accord a condition."

The wording means that no recognition is likely in the immediate future but is a sign of the concern over the Gaza war in national assemblies across Europe.

Israel army claims body of hostage found near Gaza hospital
7:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli army said Thursday it had found the body of a woman hostage seized by Hamas on 7 October near the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.

The body of Yehudit Weiss "was extracted by IDF troops from a structure adjacent to Shifa hospital" in Gaza City, an army statement said.

Gazans face 'immediate possibility of starvation': UN
7:05 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN's World Food Programme said Thursday that civilians in Gaza faced starvation as food and water have become "practically non-existent".

"With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation," the executive director of the Rome-based WFP, Cindy McCain, said in a statement.


Shelling intensifies at Lebanon-Israel border
6:57 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Shelling intensified across Lebanon's frontier with Israel on Thursday, with Hezbollah saying it had fired missiles at eight positions across the border and Israel saying it had retaliated with artillery.

In statements throughout the day, the Iran-backed Hezbollah said it had hit eight sites in Israel, including a group of Israeli soldiers, a barracks and other military posts.

A Lebanese security source said Israeli bombardment, including drone strikes, hit at least a dozen villages all along Lebanon's southern border.

The Israeli military said in a statement it had struck a "cell" in Lebanon that had tried launching anti-tank missiles towards Israel and was firing artillery onto other targets.

It said no injuries were reported in shelling on Israel.

Hezbollah announced more of its fighters were killed.

Lebanon and Palestine draw 0-0 in World Cup qualifier
5:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestine drew 0-0 with Lebanon on Thursday in a football World Cup qualifier played without fans in the UAE due to the Gaza war.

The whole Palestinian team wore traditional keffiyeh, chequered black and white scarves, before the national anthems and there was a minute's silence for those killed in the conflict before kickoff.

Despite starting official training only four days ago, the Palestinians started the game well.

Yet Lebanon captain Hassan Maatouk had the first chance after 12 minutes, with his long-range shot going wide, before Atta Gaber responded for Palestine with a header on the half-hour mark that went over.

Karim Darwish missed a good chance for Lebanon three minutes into the second half and Palestine, ranked 94th by FIFA, had a Tamer Seyam shot saved by Lebanon goalkeeper Moustafa Matar.

Lebanon's Ali Al Haj shot into the side netting after 87 minutes before Matar saved Dabbagh's close-range shot with his out-stretched leg in the final minute.

This week's matches marked the start of the second phase of qualifiers for the expanded 48-team 2026 World Cup, when Asia will have eight guaranteed berths plus a possible ninth available through an intercontinental playoff.

The top two finishers in each of the nine groups advance to the third phase.

Palestine usually hosts games at al-Ram's Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in the occupied West Bank but they will meet Australia next in Kuwait on Tuesday.


Palestine and Lebanon played in the UAE [GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty]
Jordan says will not sign energy, water deal with Israel
5:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jordan will not sign an energy and water exchange deal with Israel, which was planned to be signed last month, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tells Al Jazeera TV.

"We had a regional dialogue about regional projects. I think that all of this... the war proved will not proceeded," he adds.


Israel soldier dies after shooting near Jerusalem
5:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Israeli soldier died on Thursday after being shot in an attack near Jerusalem that was claimed by the armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas.

In a statement, the Israeli army identified the soldier as Avraham Fetena, 20, saying he was wounded when three gunmen attacked a checkpoint at the entrance to a tunnel linking the occupied West Bank with Jerusalem.

Another five Israeli security personnel were also wounded, with Israeli police shooting dead all three assailants.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai told reporters the trio were found to be carrying pistols, axes and ammunition to carry out what he said would have been "a major attack or a massacre" in Israel.

The attack was claimed on Telegram by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

It said the shooting was "in revenge for the blood of the martyrs in Gaza".

France warns Iran against escalating Gaza war across region
5:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France's foreign minister said she had told her Iranian counterpart on Thursday that Tehran would bear a heavy responsibility if the conflict in Gaza spreads across the region.

"Call today with my Iranian counterpart in the form of a warning: the extension of the current conflict in Gaza would not benefit anyone, and Iran would have a heavy responsibility," Catherine Colonna said after a telephone conversation with Hossein Amirabdollahian.


Indonesia Hospital closes, 45 patients left needing surgery
5:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza has shut down and about 45 patients who urgently need surgery have been left in the reception area, hospital chief Atef al-Kahlout tells Al Jazeera.

"The Indonesian hospital has completely stopped serving and operating," Kahlout says.

"Due to our clinical inability to accommodate patients from Gaza and the north, we announce that the hospital has completely stopped operating."


US will not share intelligence connecting Hamas to al-Shifa
4:39 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States will not share any Israeli intelligence or elaborate on its own intelligence assessment that Hamas used Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital as a command centre and possibly as a storage facility, White House spokesman John Kirby says.

Israel has claimed there is a Hamas headquarters beneath al-Shifa. Despite raiding the hospital, Israeli forces have yet to show the public evidence that would substantiate the allegation, which Hamas denies.

The United States is confident in an assessment from its own intelligence agencies on Hamas activities in the Gaza facility, Kirby said. He has refused to elaborate or provide details over the past several days.

Asked whether Israelis have shared any new intelligence since the raid on the hospital began, Kirby said: "I'm not going to talk about specific intelligence that may pass between the two of us."

"That's really for them to speak to, but as I said the other day, we're confident in our own intelligence assessment about how Hamas was using that hospital," Kirby said in a briefing.

He said Hamas militants were sheltering themselves in the hospital and using the facility as a shield against military action, placing patients and medical staff at risk.

"We have our own intelligence that convinces us that Hamas was using al-Shifa as a command and control node, and most likely as well as a storage facility."

"We are still convinced of the soundness of that intelligence."


Gaza again in 'total communication blackout', UNRWA says
4:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said he feared for civil order in the Gaza Strip after it was hit with a new communications blackout on Thursday.

"Gaza is again in a total communication blackout, and... it is because there is no fuel," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told a press conference in Geneva.

The Palestinian telecom company Paltel confirmed the blackout, saying on X, formerly Twitter: "We regret to announce that all telecom services in Gaza Strip have gone out of service as all energy sources sustaining the network have been depleted, and fuel was not allowed in."

Lazzarini said he was worried that a communications blackout could heighten panic in the Gaza Strip and erode the last traces of public order.

The day after a previous communication blackout, "there were groups of hundreds of people who basically went into our warehouse and took whatever was available," he said.

"These are signs of a situation when you have a blackout and you cannot communicate with anyone anymore... that triggers and fuels even more the anxiety and the panic.

"This can provoke or accelerate the last remaining civil order that we have in the Gaza Strip. And if this completely breaks down, we will have difficulties to operate in an environment where you do not have a minimum of order."

Philippe Lazzarini is the head of UNRWA [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu/Getty-archive]
France calls WB Israeli settler violence 'policy of terror'
4:23 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France on Thursday condemned violence by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, calling it a "policy of terror" aimed at displacing Palestinians and urging Israeli authorities to protect Palestinians from the violence.

UN figures show that daily settler attacks have more than doubled, since Hamas's 7 October surprise attack and the launch of Israel's war on Gaza.

"Concerning the West Bank, I'd like to express the strongest condemnation by France of the violence carried out by the settlers against the Palestinians," foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre told a press conference.

"Violence which has the clear objective of forced displacement of the Palestinians and a policy of terror."

She said the Israeli authorities needed to take the necessary measures to protect the Palestinian population and warned that the settlement policy harmed the two-state solution.

United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk echoed her words. Speaking in Geneva on Thursday, Turk said he was deeply concerned about the intensification of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. He said it was clear the Israeli occupation must end.

Legendre also said that about half the 100 tonnes of aid France had sent to Gaza had entered the enclave. She added it was not up to Israel to decide the future governance of Gaza, which she said should be part of a future Palestinian state.


UNRWA says Gaza operations being deliberately strangled
3:57 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency said on Thursday he believed there was a deliberate attempt to "strangle" its humanitarian work in Gaza, warning that the agency may have to entirely suspend its operations due to a lack of fuel.

"I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyse the operation," UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told journalists in Geneva, calling it "outrageous" to force humanitarian aid agencies to beg for fuel.

He added that the agency, which supports more than 800,000 displaced people in Gaza, was at risk of suspending its operations entirely.

Lazzarini said the organisation had pleaded for weeks for access to fuel, which on Wednesday was carried into Gaza for the first time since the start of Israel's war on the strip.

That fuel - 24,000 litres (6,340 gallons) of diesel fuel for UN aid distribution trucks - is nowhere near what Gazans need to survive, Lazzarini said.

"Because of the lack of fuel, we will not be able to send our trucks across the south of the Gaza Strip where we have people waiting for humanitarian deliveries," he said.

Gaza's main telecommunications companies, Paltel and Jawwal, said on Thursday that all telecom services in the densely populated enclave had gone out of service as all energy sources have been depleted.

"It can provoke or accelerate [the breakdown of] last remaining civil order we have in the Gaza Strip," Lazzarini said of the blackout, who said the scale of loss and destruction in Gaza was "just staggering".

"If this completely breaks down we will have difficulties to operate in an environment without a minimum of order."

Surgeries no longer possible at Ahli Hospital, doctor says
3:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

British Palestinian doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta says it is no longer possible to offer surgeries at al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City.

"The hospital is now effectively a first aid station," he adds on social media platform X.

"Hundreds of wounded now at hospital with no access to surgery. They will die from their wounds."

It comes shortly after the Palestine Red Crescent Society said Israeli tanks are besieging al-Ahli, adding that a "violent attack" is taking place.

Israeli tanks besiege al-Ahli Hospital, Red Crescent says
3:33 PM
The New Arab Staff

There is a "violent attack" happening at a hospital in Gaza City, the Palestine Red Crescent Society says.

"Israeli tanks besiege al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza," the Red Crescent posts on social media platform X, saying its teams are unable to reach the injured.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry had previously said al-Ahli was the only hospital in north Gaza currently operational and admitting patients.

On 17 October, the hospital suffered a deadly explosion, which was blamed on an Israeli strike. Israel disputes the charge.

Internet watchdog confirms major internet outage
3:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

An internet watchdog posts on social media platform X that live metric show a "major internet outage" is taking place in Gaza.

NetBlocks says it comes as generator fuel supplies and backups finally run out.

"Telecom services including landline, cellular and WiFi are likely to be unavailable to most residents at the president time," the monitor adds.

Al Jazeera separately reports Palestinian telecommunications provider Jawwal has confirmed fixed, cellular, and internet service has been interrupted.

'Do not feel helpless': NGO worker in message to world
2:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

A member of staff at Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) sends a message to the world in case communications are lost.

MAP advocacy and campaigns director Rohan Talbot says in a post on social media platform X that texts were received from "our dear colleague" Tarneem today, attaching two screenshots.

"If we lose the last sliver of our communication, here is my one and only message to the world: Do not feel helpless, continue posting, speaking, writing, protesting, drawing, praying, documenting, exposing the occupier and demanding for a ceasefire," Tarneem says.

"What's happening has been happening for years, not just now. It's your voice that will make a difference."

Egypt FM: No displacement of Palestinians outside homeland
1:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, asked whether Israel and the United States were pressuring Egypt to accept the displacement of Palestinians in exchange for cancelling debts, said there is no truth to that.

Speaking at a news conference, he added that Palestinians could not be displaced outside their homeland.


Jess Phillips launches MAP fundraiser after ceasefire vote
1:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

Labour MP Jess Phillips, who resigned from her party's frontbench to vote yesterday in support of a ceasefire in Gaza, has launched a fundraiser for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

"Yesterday I voted to support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza," she says on social media platform X.

"However, I also believe in taking practical action, and that is why I have launched the following campaign to raise as much money as possible for Medical Aid for Palestinians."

The MP for Birmingham Yardley adds that MAP's lifesaving work is "urgently needed now more than ever".

US 'deeply concerned' that attack wounded Jordanian medics
1:23 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States is "deeply concerned that Jordanian medical personnel in Gaza were wounded in an attack near their field hospital", White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan says.

"Their essential role in conflict must be protected," Sullivan writes in a post on X, calling Jordan "a critical ally".

Jordan said seven staffers were wounded in shelling on Wednesday, according to reports.


Police disperse protest at restaurant where Trudeau dined
1:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Nearly 100 police were summoned to deal with 250 pro-Palestinian protesters who surrounded a Vancouver restaurant where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was dining on Tuesday night, police said on Wednesday.

Trudeau is under pressure from Palestinian supporters to push for a ceasefire in the Gaza war.

"Vancouver police deployed nearly 100 officers Tuesday night to disperse a protest outside a Chinatown restaurant where the Prime Minister was dining," the force said in a statement.

"Police assisted in controlling and dispersing the crowd, while the prime minister was escorted out of the restaurant."

A 27-year-old man was arrested for punching a female officer in the face, police said.

"Yesterday evening the prime minister was approached by demonstrators in Vancouver," spokesman Mohammad Hussain said by email but declined to comment further.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trudeau said the "killing of women, of children, of babies" in Gaza must end, in his sharpest criticism of Israel since the war broke out over a month ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing Trudeau in a social media post, said "the forces of civilization must back Israel in defeating Hamas barbarism".


Sewage 'flowing in streets of Rafah', says UNRWA Gaza chief
1:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sewage is "flowing in the streets of Rafah", says Thomas White, Gaza director of UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, adding that all sewage pumps have run out of fuel.

Gaza death toll 11,470, including 4,707 children
12:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

The reported Gaza death toll stands at 11,470 people, including 4,707 children as of yesterday, the Palestinian Authority health ministry says.

There are also 3,155 women and 686 elderly people among those killed, the ministry adds.

Over 29,000 people are injured.

German police raid centre over suspected Hezbollah support
12:38 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

German police conducted raids early on Thursday in seven states over the Islamic Centre of Hamburg's suspected support for the militant group Hezbollah, the interior ministry said.

"I want to make clear that we are acting against Islamists, not against a religion or another state," said German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

"But we have the Islamist scene in our sights."

Authorities searched more than 50 properties connected to the centre, which has strong ties to Iran and whose activities are suspected of violating Germany's constitutional order.

The raids, which also targeted five other associations believed to be subgroups of the centre, were aimed at securing evidence as part of the ministry's investigation, it said.

The centre was not immediately available for comment.

In Hamburg alone, 300 officers conducted 31 searches in connection with the centre, the city's interior senator said.

Hezbollah's activities were banned in Germany in 2020, with any symbols of the group banned and their assets confiscated.


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Gaza conflict takes toll on Palestinian football players
11:21 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Gaza war has disrupted preparations by the Palestinian team for their 2026 World Cup qualifier against Lebanon on Thursday, but the players are determined to put on a good showing, a team official and player said.

The match is being played in neutral venue of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, because of the war.

It had originally been scheduled to be played in Beirut, with the Palestinians set to host Australia the following week, but the war, which has also seen more limited fighting between militants in Lebanon and Israeli forces, has led officials to look for new venues.

Palestine usually hosts games at al-Ram's Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in the occupied West Bank.

"Everything changed after 7 October with the start of the conflict in Gaza," Palestine Football Association (PFA) media manager Ahmed Rajoub told the National media outlet.

"All sporting activities stopped completely in Palestine, and the football team was forced to move to Jordan. The first real training for the national team… took place on Monday in Sharjah four days ago.

"We had some training sessions in Jordan, and in the absence of Gazan players, this was not enough to prepare for an ideal match in the qualifiers."

Lebanon and Palestine meet at the Khalid bin Mohammed Stadium in the UAE before the latter take on Australia in Kuwait on 21 November.

Rajoub said the situation in Gaza was weighing heavily on the players.

"We just can't get the players focused on the game when people are killed and injured every day since the conflict started," he said.

"The players don't talk about football, but about the war, and when they are in the room or the bus, they rush to follow the current events via their mobile phones to check on their families, relatives and friends.

"But we want to say, despite all these issues and this difficult period, the players definitely want to win, no matter how hard it may be."

Palestinian midfielder Mohammed Rashid said the team would give their best.

"It's really hard to stay focused," Rashid said. "I think there's no choice for us to, for example, postpone the game; we have to play, so this is exactly why we're here now.

"We want to show our best, and we want to show the whole world that we're people, just like any other country, that we can exercise our rights to be free and play the beautiful game of football."


Gaza cancer patients arrive in Turkey for treatment
10:41 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

More than two dozen Palestinian cancer patients, who had crossed from Gaza into Egypt, arrived in Turkey for treatment in the early hours of Thursday, Turkey's Anadolu agency reported.

Two planes carrying the patients, many of them children, landed at Ankara airport shortly after 00:30 local time (21:30 GMT).

Turkey has sent a ship loaded with material for field hospitals, ambulances and generators to Egypt to treat civilians who have been able to flee Israel's war on the enclave.

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Israel's Lapid calls on Netanyahu to resign 'immediately'
9:17 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down "immediately", without waiting until the end of the war.

"Netanyahu should leave immediately… We need change, Netanyahu cannot remain prime minister," Lapid said on Wednesday in an interview with Israeli news channel N12.

"We cannot allow ourselves to carry out a long campaign under a prime minister who has lost the people's trust."

Four days after Hamas's surprise 7 October attack on Israel, Netanyahu and another opposition leader, Benny Gantz, announced an agreement to form an "emergency government" for the duration of the war.

Lapid said at the time he would not be joining, accusing Israeli leaders of an "unpardonable failure" for not preventing the attack.

Still, Lapid, who led Israel's coalition government before Netanyahu was returned to power in elections last year, has not previously called for the prime minister to resign since the fighting broke out, according to Israeli media.

In his interview with N12, Lapid did not call for early elections, but rather a no-confidence vote in parliament that would allow for the formation of a new government led by another member of Netanyahu's Likud party.

"This is not the time to hold elections," he said. "We should opt for a national reconstruction with another prime minister from Likud."

In a statement posted to the messaging app Telegram, Likud immediately rebuffed the call, saying such a proposal in a "time of war" was "shameful".

Gunmen wound several in attack near Jerusalem: Israel police
9:10 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Three gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Jerusalem on Thursday, Israeli police say, wounding several people before the attackers were "neutralised".

Four people suffered gunshot wounds, including one who was critically injured, says the emergency medical service Magen David Adom in a statement, with another two people lightly wounded.

All those injured were members of security services, according to police.

The attack was on a checkpoint guarding access to road tunnels linking the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Israel army says 50 soldiers killed in Gaza overall
9:07 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli army announces the deaths of two more soldiers in Gaza, raising the number of troops killed in the Palestinian enclave to 50 since the war began.

An army spokesman confirmed the new overall toll to AFP, after announcing two soldiers were killed in combat in northern Gaza on Wednesday.