Gaza: Israel storms Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, intensifies Rafah strikes

Gaza: Israel storms Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, intensifies Rafah strikes
Israel's pending assault on Rafah has led to a joint statement from Australia, Canada and New Zealand calling for a ceasefire.
13 min read
15 February, 2024

Israeli forces have stormed the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, saying that the raid was conducted because the military had information Hamas fighters were hiding Israeli hostages in the facility, although it did not provide evidence for the claim.

The storming comes following a siege of the hospital through this week, with The New Arab's Arabic service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reporting that a Palestinian was killed and 14 others were injured during Israeli shelling of the orthopaedic department at the hospital this morning.

Israel continues striking Gaza's southern city of Rafah as it prepares for a ground offensive, amid growing international condemnation urging Tel Aviv not to conduct such an operation.

In a joint statement signed on Thursday the Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand called for the implementation of a ceasefire in Gaza. They also urged Israel to hold back on any ground offensive against the city, which is crammed full of almost half of the Palestinian territory's population.

Elsewhere, border clashes between the Israeli army and Hezbollah have intensified on the Israel-Lebanon border, with Israeli strikes late on Wednesday killing 10 people, including eight Lebanese civilians and two Hezbollah members according to AFP. The strike follows a Hezbollah rocket barrage that killed an Israeli soldier. 

Since 7 October, Israel's war on Gaza has killed 28,663 Palestinians, with a further 68,395 injured, according to Gaza's health authorities.

5:57 PM

The live blog has now ended and will be back tomorrow and 9am GMT. You can read more of The New Arab's coverage of Israel's war on Gaza here.

Hezbollah says it fired dozens of rockets into north Israel
5:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, a Hamas ally, said Thursday it had fired dozens of rockets into northern Israel, a day after Israeli raids killed a Hezbollah commander and 14 others, mostly civilians.

"In a first response to the massacres in Nabatiyeh and Sawaneh, Islamic resistance fighters fired dozens of Katyusha-type rockets at Kiryat Shmona," an Israeli town near the Lebanese border, Hezbollah said in a statement.

UNRWA: 70 percent of infrastructure in Gaza City damaged
4:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

UNRWA has said that 70 percent of civilian infrastructure in Gaza City has been damaged or destroyed by Israel.

Posting footage taken from Gaza City on X, the aid agency also said that 84 percent of health facilities had been affected by attacks.

"Nowhere is safe," it added.

MSF urges Israel to stop attacking Nasser hospital
4:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has urged Israel to stop attacking the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, reporting that it's medical staff had to flee the hospital even though Israel gave it's staff permission to stay in the hospital. 

MSF also added that one of it's colleagues is unaccounted for following the attack.

Houthis vow to continue attacks on Red Sea shipping
3:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis will press on with attacks on Red Sea shipping in solidarity with the Palestinians as long as Israel continues to commit "crimes" against them, their leader said on Thursday.

"Our operations have a big impact on the enemy which constitute a great success and a real triumph", Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech.

He said the group would continue to support the Palestinians despite US and British strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in retaliation for the Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea.

The Red Sea attacks have disrupted global shipping and forced firms to re-route to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa, and stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread and destabilise the wider Middle East.


Explosion reported near ship off Yemen coast: UK agency
3:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An explosion was reported near a ship off the Red Sea coast of Yemen, British maritime security agency UKMTO said Thursday, adding that both the vessel and crew were safe.

The ship reported "an explosion in close proximity to the vessel" east of Yemen's Aden, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said, adding the vessel was sailing to its next port of call.

Gaza's remaining young voice: Who is Bisan Owda?
3:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

Two rising female Palestinian voices, Bisan Owda and Plestia Alaqad, have emerged from Gaza, wielding storytelling to illuminate realities often unseen and unheard in the course of Israel's genocidal war on their homeland, in which Israel has deliberately targeted journalists.

While their journeys began separately, remarkable similarities bind their paths, painting a portrait of resilience, courage, and unwavering commitment to telling the story of the atrocities Gaza, drowned out by Western media pro-Israel bias.

Both Owda and Alaqad gained international recognition for their firsthand accounts of life during the conflicts in Gaza.

Bisan, Plestia and Motaz Azaiza, a young man also from Gaza, are among a new generation of journalists speaking to the world in Arabic and English through social media.

Plestia evacuated from Gaza in November and Motaz Azaiza left in January, but Owda remains in Gaza at the time of writing.

Read the rest of the article about Gaza's Bisan Owda and Plestia Alaqad here.

Ireland to give UNRWA 20 mln euros after donors suspend aid
3:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ireland announced 20 million euros ($21.46 million) in support for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) on Thursday and urged countries that have suspended funding to resume and expand support to the agency.

Ireland has long been a champion of Palestinian rights and its announcement follows a commitment by Spain last week to send UNRWA an additional 3.5 million euros in aid, and an announcement of an extra one million euros from Portugal.

"I urge other donors to resume and expand support to UNRWA so that it can deliver for the millions of Palestinian refugees in need," Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said in a statement after meeting UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini in Dublin.


Israel tones down criticism of Vatican's Gaza remarks
2:01 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel on Thursday toned down its criticism of the Vatican, saying that remarks by Pope Francis' deputy on the killings in Gaza were "regrettable" rather than "deplorable".

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin had said on Tuesday that Israel's military response to the Hamas militant group was disproportionate and caused "carnage".

A day later, Israel's embassy to the Holy See lashed out at Parolin's "deplorable statement" and said the Palestinian militant group Hamas bore all the blame for the death and destruction in the enclave.

But on Thursday, the embassy said it should have used the word "regrettable", and that the mix-up was the result of an imprecise translation.

The Israeli embassy said on Thursday the original English text of its statement had used the word "regrettable" and its staff had translated that into "deplorevole" in the Italian version they released.

"A more precise" Italian translation would have been "sfortunata", the embassy said, a word which means something more like unfortunate.

Pope Francis has regularly condemned violence across the Middle East and beyond. But any comments involving Israel have particular historical and cultural sensitivities, built up over centuries.

Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on February 15 [Getty]
Gaza post-war reconstruction estimated at $20 billion: UN
1:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza will need a new "Marshall Plan" to recover from the conflict between Israel and Hamas, a UN trade body official said on Thursday, adding that the damage from the conflict so far amounted to around $20 billion.

Speaking on the sidelines of a UN meeting in Geneva, Richard Kozul-Wright, a director at trade body UNCTAD, said the damage was already four times that endured in Gaza during the seven-week war in 2014.

"We are talking about around $20 billion if it stops now," he said.

Kozul-Wright said the estimate was based on satellite images and other information and that a more precise estimate would require researchers to enter Gaza.

The reconstruction will require a new "Marshall Plan", he said, referring to the US plan for Europe's economic recovery after World War Two.

UNCTAD already said in a report last month that it could take until the closing years of the century for Gaza's economy to regain its pre-conflict size if hostilities in the Palestinian enclave were to cease immediately. 

Neighbours mourn Berjawi family, killed in Israeli strike
1:13 PM
William Christou

Ali Abu Khadood, a shop owner in front of the apartment that was struck by Israeli jets on Wednesday that killed the Berjawi family spoke to The New Arab about Hussein Berjawi, the father of the family.

"He was the best guy, would help the poor, [and] didn't work with Hezbollah. He sold spare parts of the car, we would always eat breakfast together. 25 years I knew him, he was my neighbour. Hezbollah kills fighters, Israel kills civilians."

"I saw him yesterday in the afternoon. Greeted him, he complained about the state of business. Hezbollah is going to strike civilians. They have an eye [for an eye] understanding [with Israel]. Every day [Israel] kill someone. We have trust in the resistance, we won't leave. Israel will say, 'we hit Hezbollah sites'. Where is Hezbollah? They hit a residential building, it's all family."

Lebanese civil defence rescuing two bodies in Nabatiyeh
1:09 PM
William Christou

A medical source speaking with The New Arab said Lebanon's civil defence is trying to rescue two bodies from underneath the rubble following Israel airstrikes on an apartment building in the city of Nabatiyeh on Wednesday.

The medical source added that the bodies were of adults, and that they did not expect them to still be alive. 

In Egypt, Brazil's Lula slams Israel on Gaza war
12:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday that multilateral institutions are failing to resolve international conflicts and criticized Israeli actions in Gaza.

"Israel's behavior has no explanation: with the pretext of fighting Hamas, it is killing women and children," he said after a meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Lula said there would not be peace without the establishment of a Palestinian state and called for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. 


US sanctions on Israeli settlers are 'not enough'
12:16 PM
Qassam Muaddi
West Bank

An Israeli construction firm and an Israeli settlement local government body are facing potential US sanctions after it signed a contract with one of four Israeli settlers sanctioned by the US for violence against Palestinians.

In early February, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order sanctioning four Israeli settlers for their role in violent attacks against Palestinian rural communities in the West Bank.

The executive order states that sanctions are not limited to the four individuals but include "the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of" them.

One of the four settlers is Yinon Levi, who established a farm on Palestinian public land in the Mount Hebron area in the southern occupied West Bank. Levi is accused of leading settler attacks against Palestinian communities in the area.

"Levi came to the area in 2020 and established his farm about 300 metres away from our village, Zenouta, and began to harass us away from pasturing fields, where he began to herd his goats with the excuse that they are public land", Fayez Tal, the head of the village council of the now-nonexistent Palestinian village of Zenouta in Mount Hebron, told The New Arab.

"Later, the harassment increased, and they became direct threats, until last October when a group of armed settlers led by Levi came to the village and began to destroy property and beat inhabitants while threatening to kill us if we didn't leave", said Tal.

Read the full article from The New Arab's Qassam Muaddi here.

Hamas chief says any deal should secure truce
12:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Any agreement between Israel and Hamas should secure a ceasefire and an Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza in addition to achieving a serious prisoner swap deal, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday.


US says its seized Iranian arms shipment bound for Houthis
11:55 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US forces seized advanced conventional weapons and other lethal aid from Iran that were bound for Houthi-held areas of Yemen on a vessel in the Arabian Sea on 28 January, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement on Thursday.

Over 200 packages containing medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle (UUV/USV) components, military-grade communication and network equipment, anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies, and other military components were discovered on board, it said.

"Iran's continued supply of advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis continues to undermine the safety of international shipping and the free flow of commerce," US CENTCOM commander Michael Erik Kurilla said.

Houthi militants in Yemen have repeatedly launched drones and missiles against international commercial shipping since mid-November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel's military actions in Gaza.


US carries out four strikes on Houthi-held areas of Yemen
11:53 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Central Command said on Thursday its forces carried out four strikes on Wednesday in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen where the Iran-backed militia had been preparing to target ships in the Red Sea. 


France's Macron to discuss Gaza ceasefire with Jordan's King
11:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

French President Emmanuel Macron will host Jordan's King Abdullah in Paris on Friday to talk about helping resolve the Gaza conflict, the Elysee palace said.

"Following up on their meeting in Jordan in December, the two heads of state will discuss the urgent need for a ceasefire in Gaza, which would finally ensure the protection of civilians and the massive entry of humanitarian aid," it said in a statement.

They will also discuss ways to achieve durable peace in the Middle East.


87 killed by Israel in 24 hours in Gaza: health ministry
11:20 AM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza's ministry of health said that 87 people were killed by Israel in 24 hours, with a further 104 injured.

Since 7 October Israel has killed 28,663 Palestinians, with a further 68,395 injured, according to figures from the ministry.


Israel strikes dozens of Hezbollah targets in Lebanon
11:05 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli fighter jets struck dozens of Hezbollah targets in the area of Wadi Saluki in south Lebanon on Thursday, Israel's military said.

It said it also hit Hezbollah infrastructure in the area of Labbouneh earlier in the day as well as a Hezbollah military structure in Taybeh overnight.


Hezbollah says Israel 'will pay' following strikes
11:00 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Senior Hezbollah official and member of parliament Hassan Fadlallah said on Thursday that Israel would face reprisal after two sets of strikes on southern Lebanon the previous day killed 10 civilians, half of them children.

"The enemy [Israel] will pay the price for these crimes," Fadlallah told Reuters when asked about the powerful Iran-backed armed group's reaction to the deadliest day for civilians in Lebanon since hostilities began along its southern border.

Hezbollah has been trading fire for more than four months with the Israeli military.

Hezbollah says its rockets are also deterring Israel from a broader offensive on Lebanon.

The Israeli strikes on Wednesday came after shelling onto a military base in northern Israel killed one soldier. Hezbollah did not claim responsibility for that attack.

Fadlallah said Hezbollah had a "legitimate right to defend its people and will not flinch in doing what is needed to protect it" and insisted that Israel halt its war on Gaza.

Lebanon's caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati also instructed foreign minister Abdallah Bou Habib to register a new complaint at the United Nations Security Council over the strikes that caused Wednesday's casualties. 

(Reuters & The New Arab)

Israeli says special forces operating in Nasser Hospital
10:08 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli special forces are operating inside Nasser Medical Complex in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, the military said on Thursday, saying it had credible information that the bodies of hostages taken on 7 October may be in the facility.

"We conduct precise rescue operations — as we have in the past — where our intelligence indicates that the bodies of hostages may be held," the military said in a statement.


Iran will reciprocate if its ships are seized, official says
9:51 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran will reciprocate if its ships are seized, the legal adviser to Iran's President told state media on Thursday, in response to a statement by the United States Department of Justice.

This month, the Department of Justice issued a statement announcing the seizure of more than 500,000 barrels of Iranian fuel to clamp down on the "Revolutionary Guards' financing network".

"If an Iranian ship is seized, we will reciprocate and the legal way is not closed in this regard," legal adviser Mohammad Dehghan said, adding that he was not able to confirm whether U.S. authorities had seized an Iranian vessel.

Court orders by Iran's judicial system have often been grounds for the seizure of foreign tankers by the Revolutionary Guards.


Israel storms Nasser Medical Complex
9:09 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces are inside the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza's Khan Younis and are telling civilians in the hospital to come out in groups of five, enforcing an evacuation order given earlier this week, according to reports from Al-Jazeera.

Italy says Israel killing too many civilians in Gaza
9:07 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel is killing too many civilians with its military operation in the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Thursday.

Israel is conducting a military operation against Hamas "which is causing too many civilian victims", Tajani told Italian TV channel Canale 5.

He said the Israeli response to the 7 October attacks by Hamas has "in some cases gone beyond proportionality", but does not in anyway amount to "genocide."


Lazzarini: UNRWA will enter negative cashflow in March
9:04 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UNRWA chief Phillipe Lazzarini has said that the aid agency will enter negative cashflow in March unless funding for the organisation is resumed.

"We will hit a negative cashflow as from March, and then it will be accelerated in April unless this frozen contribution is unlocked" he told Ireland's RTE.