Gaza: Dozens killed in Rafah 'massacre' as Israel's ground assault looms

Gaza: Dozens killed in Rafah 'massacre' as Israel's ground assault looms
The New Arab brings the latest developments on Israel's war on Gaza as it enters its 129th day. A strike on Rafah kills dozens as Israel retrieves 2 captives.
9 min read
12 February, 2024

More than 100 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli "massacre" on Gaza's southern Rafah city, Wafa reported early on Monday.

"Israel is officially continuing to target civilians and transfer the war to Rafah to push the population to get displaced under bombardment," it said in a statement released on X.

"The recent massacres of the occupation are evidence of the validity of international warnings and fears of catastrophic results of the expansion of the war to Rafah," the ministry added.

Rafah, which sits on Gaza's border with Egypt, is currently hosting over one million displaced Palestinians who were forced to evacuate by Israel from northern and central Gaza. 

The Israeli army on Sunday approved a plan for a ground offensive in Rafah.

Since 7 October, Israel's war on the besieged enclave has killed over 28,000 people - mostly women and children.

5:58 PM

Our live blog has concluded for today. Join us again tomorrow at 08:00 GMT for the latest updates on Israel's war on the besieged Gaza, its raids in the occupied West Bank, and the implications of its ongoing violence on the region.

Egypt reaffirms commitment to peace treaty with Israel
5:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

Concerns rise over the potential fallout from Israel's ground offensive in Rafah, but the Egypt's foreign minister reaffirms commitment to the peace treaty with Israel.

Despite conflicting reports on Egypt's stance, war with Israel seems unlikely. Economic crisis and fear of Palestinian displacement into Egypt's North Sinai play key roles in Egyptian attitudes.

Read TNA's full report here.

Belgium receives no clarification from Israel on Gaza buildi
5:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

A building hosting the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation in Gaza was destroyed in suspected Israeli strikes in Gaza City two weeks ago.

“Attacks on civilian infrastructure breach the principles of international humanitarian law. All parties must adhere to it,” Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said on X after the attack.

The ministry has spoken to the Israeli ambassador who had promised an investigation at the time.

Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez said today that they had still not received a response from Israel.

Lebanon's Hezbollah says two fighters killed
4:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Lebanese group has identified the fighters as Ali Mhanna and Mohammad Bassam.

Hezbollah also claimed several attacks against Israel, including targeting a building where it said Israeli soldiers were sheltering in the town of Yir’on on the eastern sector of the Lebanon-Israel border.

Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging cross-border fire almost daily since the outbreak of the war on Gaza.

The latest killings bring the number of Hezbollah fighters killed in Israeli attacks to 190, according to Lebanese media.

Ceasefire must be reached as soon as possible: WHO surgeon
4:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

Dr Athanasios Gargavanis, a trauma surgeon and emergency officer for the UN agency, says that a ceasefire is needed “now” so “health workers are able to deliver at the best of their capacities”.

“We are here to support the health system that’s suffering, not only because of the chronic blockade and this actual war, but also from the movement of population that impedes health workers to do their work at the best possible way,” Gargavanis said in a video posted on social media.

EU's Borrell suggests US rethink military aid to Israel
3:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made a thinly veiled call on Monday for the United States to rethink its military aid to Israel due to the high number of civilian casualties in the war in Gaza.

Borrell recalled that US President Joe Biden said last week that Israel's response to the 7 October Hamas attack had been "over the top" and US officials had repeatedly said that too many civilians were being killed in Gaza.

"Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed," Borrell told reporters after a meeting of EU development aid ministers in Brussels.

"If the international community believes that this is a slaughter, that too many people are being killed, maybe we have to think about the provision of arms," he added.


UAE defends Israel ties as Gaza war concerns grow
3:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

A top Emirati diplomat has defended her country's decision to maintain ties with Israel despite its mounting concern over the war in Gaza.

Speaking at the World Governments Summit, an annual gathering of business and political leaders in Dubai, Lana Nusseibeh applauded cooperation between the UAE and Israel.

"Because of that cooperation... we have a field hospital in Gaza and we have a maritime hospital docking in the Al-Arish port," in Egypt, said Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN.

For the "residents of Gaza, it's not enough. What we need... is a humanitarian ceasefire and a two-state solution," she added.

"Will we get that by talking to the people who agree with us? No. We will get that by talking to the people who disagree with us and the UAE will always be proud of doing that."

The United Arab Emirates and Israel established diplomatic ties in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords, making it one of the few Arab countries to recognise Israel.

Israel bans entry to UN rapporteur Francesca Albanese
2:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel has banned entry to the United Nation's special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, according to an announcement by its foreign ministry.

The move reportedly came after Albanese's wrote a comment in response to French President Emmanuel Macron honoring the victims of the October 7 attack.

“The victims of the October 7 massacre were not killed for their Jewishness, but in response to Israeli oppression,” the UN special rapporteur wrote.

'Hell falling': Grief in Rafah after deadly Israeli strikes
2:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Majed al-Afifi was just 40 days old when he was killed, his uncle told AFP in Rafah where Israeli forces bombed multiple homes.

"We heard the bombing without warning," said Said al-Hams, 26, in Rafah refugee camp.

His nephew, a twin, "was born exactly 40 days ago and was killed", while their mother was wounded.

The newborn is among around 100 people killed by Israeli forces overnight in Rafah, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Read the full report here.

UK sanctions four Israeli settlers over West Bank violence
1:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UK has imposed sanctions on four “extremist Israeli settlers” accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, following a similar move by the US earlier this month.

The UK government on Monday stated the individuals “threatened and perpetrated acts of aggression and violence” against Palestinians.

The measures were taken under the UK’s Global Human Rights sanctions regime, a government notice showed.

Settler attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have increased sharply since Israel launched its war on Gaza.

UK's Cameron: Israel should think before further action in R
11:42 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israel should stop and think seriously before taking any further action in Rafah, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Monday.

Asked about the situation in Rafah and whether Israel had gone beyond international law, Cameron told reporters: "We think it is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people. There's nowhere for them to go."

"We are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think very seriously before it takes any further action. But above all, what we want is an immediate pause in the fighting and we want that pause to lead to a ceasefire."

David Cameron [Getty]
Court orders Netherlands to stop sending Israel F-35 parts
11:19 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Netherlands must stop delivering parts of F-35 fighter jets used by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a Dutch court rules on Monday, ruling in favour of human rights organisations.

"The court orders the State to cease all actual export and transit of F-35 parts to the final destination Israel within 7 days of the notification of this judgment," declared the Court of Appeal in The Hague.

Hezbollah official injured in Israeli strike on Lebanon
10:17 AM
The New Arab Staff

A Hezbollah official was seriously injured in the Israeli strike which targeted his vehicle in Bint Jbeil, in South Lebanon, a Lebanese security source told AFP and the majoyr of the village of Maroun el-Ras (Bint Jbeil) told the local L'Orient-Le Jour.

Security sources had indicated to L'Orient-Le Jour earlier that the individual was killed by the strike.

An AFP photographer on site was able to see the targeted car, which was badly damaged and had a hole in its roof.

164 Palestinians killed by Israel in past 24 hours
9:54 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian medical sources have reported that Israeli forces had committed "19 massacres" against civilians in the Gaza Strip, killing 164 people and wounding 200 in the past 24 hours.

The same sources indicated that the number of those killed since 7 October rose to 28,340 and 67,984 wounded.

Thousands of victims remain under the rubble and in the streets, as Israel prevents ambulance and civil defence crews from reaching them.

Jordan’s king set to meet President Biden
9:20 AM
The New Arab Staff

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is set to meet US President Joe Biden today at the White House, as part of his global tour of major Western capitals to lobby for an end to the war in Gaza. 

A White House statement relayed by Jordan’s state-affiliated Al-Mamlaka TV website said that the two leaders will "discuss the current situation in Gaza and the efforts made to reach a permanent solution to the crisis".

Hamas denounces Israeli strikes on Rafah
9:17 AM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas issued a statement denouncing the Israeli army’s strikes on Rafah and urged the Arab League and the UN Security Council to "act urgently to stop the Zionist aggression".

The group said in a Telegram statement that "tonight’s attack" on Rafah was "a continuation of the war of mass extermination and attempts of forced displacement against our Palestinian people... and a territorial expansion of the massacres".

It said that around 100 people had been killed in the strikes so far. 

It also said it held "the US administration, President Biden personally, along with the [Israeli] occupation government, fully responsible for this massacre".

Netanyahu: Israel must press Gaza offensive to free captives
9:13 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not pass up any opportunity to "free" more captives from Gaza.

He said his country would sustain military pressure until  "total victory" over Hamas as essential for Israeli security.

His statement was issued after Israeli special forces freed two captives in a rescue operation in Rafah, southern Gaza.

The prospect of wider operations in the city, which is packed with some one million displaced people, has alarmed the international community.

UNRWA must continue to work amid probes: EU’s Borrell
9:07 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UN agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, needs to be able to continue its work while allegations that some of its 13,000 staff in Gaza were involved in the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel are investigated, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell says.

"Nobody else can do what UNRWA is doing, allegations need to be verified… let’s wait for the investigations to take place," Borrell said ahead of a meeting of EU development ministers in Brussels.

"In the meantime, people have to continue to eat, have to continue going to the doctors."

Yemen's Houthis attack US ship in Red Sea
8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Houthi rebels have said they attacked a US vessel in the Red Sea, after maritime security firms reported that missiles were fired on a bulk carrier.

"The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces targeted the American ship Star Iris in the Red Sea with a number of suitable naval missiles, and the strikes were accurate and direct," the group's spokesman Yahya Saree said earlier today.

Knesset committee approves draft bill to stop UNRWA's work
8:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Constitution and Judicial Committee in the Israeli Knesset approved late on Sunday a new draft law aimed at suspending the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the occupied Jerusalem.

The draft law was passed to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, in preparation for a first reading vote in the Knesset.

Israel strikes Rafah, says two captives freed
8:11 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have killed dozens in air strikes on Rafah, according to Ministry of Health officials in the besieged enclave, as Palestinians brace for a major offensive on the densely crowded city in southern Gaza.

Israel's military has also said that it has rescued two captives taken by Hamas in an overnight operation in Rafah.

Military officials said the captives were in good condition.

Israeli jets hit house in southern Lebanon, causing injuries
8:09 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli warplanes have bombed a house in the southern Lebanese town of Shihin near the border with Israel, according to Lebanon’s official National News Agency.

The agency said that the attack had caused injuries but did not give a number of casualties.