Gaza: Israel strikes Rafah, new ceasefire talks in Egypt

Gaza: Israel strikes Rafah, new ceasefire talks in Egypt
Israel's plans for an upcoming assault on the southern city of Rafah has prompted widespread international backlash.
13 min read
13 February, 2024

Israel has continued to strike Gaza's southern city of Rafah as fears mount over Israeli plans to assault the city that holds 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom are displaced persons.

The situation in Rafah, along side the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the enclave, has lead to further pressure on Israel's war on Rafah, with the President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, warning such an action "is not a path to sustainable peace".

It comes as CIA chief William Burns is in Egypt as part of another round of discussions aimed at seeking a ceasefire and an exchange of hostages for prisoners.

Gaza's health ministry announced Israel has killed 133 people and wounded a further 162 in the last 24 hours.

Israel's war on Gaza has so far killed 28,473 Palestinians since 7 October, with a further 68,146 wounded, according Gaza's health authorities.

5:55 PM

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

Houthi leader: No ships linked to Israel passed in past week
5:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 The leader of Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis said on Tuesday that the group had been able to prevent Israeli-linked ships from passing through the Gulf of Aden over the past week.

"This is a real victory", Abdul Malik al-Houthi said in a televised speech.


Israel reported to have video of Sinwar in Gaza tunnel
5:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel reportedly has footage of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in a Gaza tunnel alongside his wife and children according to Israel's Channel 12.

The footage reportedly from tunnels in Khan Younis and is around a minute long, with the military debating whether to release the footage.

Israel says striking Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon
4:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military has announced it is conducting airstrikes and artillery strikes against Hezbollah targets in multiple areas of southern Lebanon.

The strikes come following the launch of several rockets by Hezbollah into northern Israel which wounded two civilians.

Lazzarini: 'no safe place in Rafah anymore'
4:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

UNRWA chief Phillipe Lazzarini has said that there is "no safe place in Rafah anymore" as Israel steps up its bombardment of Gaza's southern most city.

He added that more than 100,000 people in Gaza have been killed, injured or are missing, which he said represents around 5 percent of the population.

'We are witnessing the failure of Israel', says Nasrallah
4:18 PM
William Christou
South Lebanon

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a Tuesday speech that Israel is "unable to meet its goals" and that Lebanon is in a "position of strength" after 130 days of cross-border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel.

Fighting between Hezbollah and Israel started in the wake of Hamas's 7 October attack on the Gaza envelope and has steadily widened, with international powers warning of further escalation if clashes did not stop.

Despite recent assassinations of Hezbollah leaders in south Lebanon last week, Nasrallah said on Tuesday that fighting in southern Lebanon is "within limits and controls."

Fighting has killed at least 231 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP tally. According to Israel, nine soldiers and six civilians have been killed – although Hezbollah counter-claims that the number of Israeli soldiers killed is much higher.

You can read the full report of The New Arab's William Christou here.

ICRC accused of 'inaction' on Palestinian prisoners
3:45 PM
Qassam Muaddi
West Bank

Palestinian organisations supporting prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails have "suspended collaboration" with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in protest of what they consider ICRC's "inaction" regarding Palestinian prisoners since 7 October, the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced on Monday.

Since 7 October, Israel has arrested more than 7,000 Palestinians, many of whom have been released and given testimonies of unprecedented ill-treatment, abuse and torture within Israel's prisons.

Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians detained indefinitely without charges by Israeli forces has seen a dramatic rise, reaching 3,484. 

On Monday, the Prisoners Club announced the death of 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Sneineh, from Jerusalem, in Israeli detention. Abu Sneineh succumbed to wounds caused to him by Israeli forces at his arrest, becoming the 9th identified Palestinian to die in Israeli custody since 7 October.

"We know the names of nine Palestinians who died in the occupation jails, but there are at least four more that the occupation authorities admitted but not identified", Amani Sarahneh, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, told The New Arab.

You can read the full report from The New Arab's Qassam Muaddi here.

Nasrallah says border clashes will stop with end of Gaza war
3:39 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The head of Lebanon's powerful armed group Hezbollah said on Tuesday that his faction's cross-border shelling into Israel would only end when Israel's "aggression" on the Gaza Strip stops.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah threatened to displace more residents from northern Israel, where tens of thousands have already been evacuated from months of Hezbollah rocket fire, and said that if Israel's military widened the war his group would do the same.


Rafah displacement 'causing great suffering': WFP
3:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

The World Food Programme cautions against the dwindling resilience caused by the potential mass exodus from Rafah, threatening the safety of roughly 1.4 million Palestinians in southern Gaza.

"Yet another move for families, fleeing Rafah this time—1.4 million sought refuge here. Each move erodes resilience further," Matthew Hollingworth shared on X.

Highlighting concerns over Israel's proposed military expansion into Rafah, he noted, "This poses a threat to Gaza's critical aid channels and promises significant hardship."

In a first, Rabat takes a bolder stance on Israel's Gaza war
3:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

For the first time since 7 October, Rabat has openly called for an end to the Israeli war on Gaza and unequivocally rejected "attempts" to displace Palestinians forcibly.

However, for local pro-Palestine activists, this statement is nothing new, as it falls short of addressing two key demands: condemning the genocide and cancelling normalisation.

"On this occasion, the Minister reiterated the steadfast position of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Jerusalem Committee, on the necessity of an immediate, comprehensive, and sustainable cessation of the Israeli war on Gaza and enabling the Palestinian population in the strip to access urgent humanitarian aid," said a press release published Tuesday, 13 February, on the Moroccan foreign ministry's website.

Read the full report by The New Arab's Basma El-Atti below. 


Live Story
UN chief warns against 'devastating' Rafah offensive
3:13 PM

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday he hopes talks on a pause in Israel's war on Gaza will be successful so an Israeli offensive in Gaza's Rafah can be avoided, warning that it would have "devastating consequences."

(Reuters & The New Arab)

PRCS establish Al-Quds Field Hospital west of Rafah
3:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has announced they have established the Al-Quds Field Hospital west of the city of Khan Younis in a bid to provide support to the wounded and medical patients.

Egypt to broker Hamas-Israel peace talks amid border tension
2:56 PM
Thaer Mansour
Egypt - Cairo

A high-level Israeli delegation and another from the Palestinian Hamas faction are due to meet in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Wednesday for an undeclared round of talks over a possible ceasefire and prisoner exchange as Israel's ongoing onslaught on the Gaza Strip has entered its fourth month.

The two warring sides are expected to discuss amendments to a ceasefire proposal presented in Paris earlier last month that were suggested by the Palestinian armed faction. 

"Israel's delegation will involve representatives of Israel's intelligence (Mossad), the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) and the Israeli Defence Ministry (IDF), while the Palestinian one will involve leaders from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad," an Egyptian high-level security source told The New Arab.

"Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and several senior intelligence officers will join the negotiations brokered by Egypt," added the source, who asked to remain anonymous for not being authorised to talk to the media.

You can read the rest of the article from The New Arab's Egypt correspondent here. 

Al-Jazeera journalist may lose life after Israeli strike
2:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al-Jazeera journalist Ismail Abu Omar is in danger of losing his life following an Israeli airstrike that severely injured him and photojournalist Ahmad Matar.

Speaking with Al-Jazeera, emergency physician at the European Hospital in Khan Younis Muhammad Al-Astal told the outlet that "upon examination, his right leg had already been severed. In addition he had shrapnel lodged in his chest and head, as well as his left leg. We suspect his femoral artery might have been severed at the bottom of his leg." 

Al-Astal explained that Abu Omar lost so much blood that they were unable to read his blood pressure or pulse.

"This means he's in a very critical condition and may lose his life. We pray for his recovery," he added.

South Africa makes urgent request to ICJ over Rafah assault
1:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

South Africa has urged the ICJ to assess if Israel’s expansion of military actions in Rafah necessitates court intervention to halt further rights violations against Palestinians in Gaza. The statement highlighted the possibility of the Court independently deciding on provisional measures required by the parties involved.

Expressing deep concern, the South African government emphasised the catastrophic impact of the aggressive assault on Rafah, leading to widespread casualties and destruction. It stressed the grave breach of the Genocide Convention and the Court's January 26, 2024, Order, underscoring the urgency given Gaza's escalating death toll.

It said in a statement that “the Court may at any time decide to examine proprio motu whether the circumstances of the case require the indication of provisional measures which ought to be taken or complied with by any or all of the parties”.


France sanctions 28 'extremist' Israeli settlers
1:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France on Tuesday said it was imposing sanctions against 28 Israeli settlers who it accuses of committing human rights abuses against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank.

The 28 individuals are now banned from entering French territory, the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that "unacceptable" violence perpetrated by settlers against the Palestinian population had increased in recent months.

UN vows not to participate in forced Rafah evacuation
1:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

The UN humanitarian office hasn’t received any communication from Israel about a plan to evacuate Gaza’s Rafah area.

“We have not received any official communication from Israeli officials,” Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for OCHA.

“Regardless, the UN does not participate in forced, non-voluntary evacuations. There is no plan at this time to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.”

Italy says Israeli response to Hamas 'disproportionate'
1:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Tuesday that Israel's bombing of Gaza, where civilian deaths are rising, is "disproportionate".

While strongly condemning the Hamas attack of October 7 and defending Israel's right to defend itself, he told RAI Radio 1 that "at this point Israel's reaction against the Palestinian civilian population is disproportionate... there are too many victims who have nothing to do with Hamas".

France to impose travel bans on violent Israeli settlers
1:10 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France will ban 28 Israeli settlers from entering the country, accusing them of attacking Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

"These measures come as violence perpetrated by settlers against the Palestinian population has increased in recent months. France reaffirms its firm condemnation of this unacceptable violence," the ministry said in a statement.

It did not name the individuals.


South Africa approaches ICJ over Israel's Rafah offensive
1:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

South Africa's government said on Tuesday that it had asked the World Court to consider whether Israel's decision to extend its military operations in Rafah required the court to use its power to prevent further breach of Palestinians' rights.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) last month ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, in a case brought by South Africa.

Israel is planning to expand its ground assault into the city of Rafah, where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge from the offensive that has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip.

(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)

Dismantling UNRWA would be a 'disaster' says Lazzarini
12:19 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Dismantling the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) would be a disaster, its chief said Tuesday, as the UNRWA came under pressure after Israel said it had found a Hamas tunnel under its Gaza headquarters.

Instead, "maybe after this cataclysm which has hit the region in Gaza, it might be time now to genuinely find a political solution", Philippe Lazzarini told reporters at the UN in Geneva, calling for an independent probes into both the Hamas tunnels and strikes on UN installations in the Palestinian territory.

CIA, Mossad chiefs, Qatar PM meet Egyptians on Gaza truce
12:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

CIA director William Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met Egyptian officials in Cairo Tuesday "to discuss a truce in Gaza", Egyptian media reported.

Al-Qahera News, which has links to Egyptian intelligence, reported the "quartet meeting" as international pressure grows for a truce between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where health officials say 28,473 people have been killed.

Qatar and Egypt have been mediating between the warring parties with US support.

A proposal thrashed out with Israeli negotiators in Paris late last month has gone back and forth between the two sides.

"Hamas and the (other militant) factions are awaiting the outcome of the Cairo meetings, and Hamas is open to discussing any initiative that achieves an end to aggression and war," a Hamas official told AFP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media.

Israel targets two Al-Jazeera journalists in drone strike
12:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

Two Al-Jazeera journalists have been injured after being targeted by an Israeli drone strike in north of Rafah.

According to Al-Jazeera, journalist Ismail Abu Omar has had his right leg amputated with doctors attempting to save his left leg. Cameraman Ahmad Matar is also reported to be in a serious condition.

Germany says Israel must provide 'safe corridors' in Rafah
11:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

It is Israel's duty to guarantee "safe corridors" for civilians in Rafah before conducting any incursion in the southern Gaza city, Germany's foreign minister said Wednesday.

"If action is to be taken now against the terror organisation in Rafah, then it is... the responsibility of the Israeli army to provide safe corridors for the people who have sought protection there," Annalena Baerbock said, following talks with Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki in Berlin.

As Israel bombs, thousands of Palestinians escape from Rafah
11:01 AM
Sally Ibrahim

Speaking to The New Arab, Palestinian eyewitnesses said that they lived through another horrific night of continual Israeli bombing and the sound of violent armed clashes between Israeli army forces and Palestinian armed resistance groups in the area.

"The situation in Rafah has become catastrophic", local Palestinians said to TNA, with many expressing immense fears that the Israeli army will carry out a large-scale military attack on the city bordering with Egypt soon. 

The Israeli threats prompted Mohammed al-Absi, a displaced Palestinian from Gaza City, to flee once again towards the city of Deir al-Balah in the central of the beseiged coastal enclave, despite his fears that he was heading towards a dangeorous "unknown fate".

"We do not know where we are going or where we will live in the coming days (...) For the fifth month, we are living an unknown fate (...) We do not know whether we will live and tell our stories to the world or whether we will die and remain just a memory," Al-Absi said to TNA

You can read the full article from The New Arab's Gaza correspondent here.

Three Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza operations
10:48 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military announced that three soldiers from the 360th Battalion of the Gaza Division were killed and two others wounded in fighting in southern part of the Gaza strip, bringing the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in Israel's invasion of Gaza to 232.


Hezbollah says it targeted Israeli equipment
9:29 AM
The New Arab Staff

Lebanon's Hezbollah said it targeted Israeli "spy equipment at the site of Hadab Yaron with appropriate weapons and achieved a direct hit."

Regular clashes occur on the Israel Lebanon border, with Hezbollah regularly targeting the "Hadab Yaron outpost". 

Israel spy chief travels to Cairo for Gaza talks
9:27 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

srael's spy chief was headed to Cairo Tuesday for talks with his Egyptian and US counterparts on a Gaza truce proposal, Israeli officials told AFP, as discord mounts over the war.

Mossad director David Barnea will meet CIA chief William Burns, Israeli officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

They will be joined in the Egyptian capital by Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who also serves as the country's top diplomat and has brokered previous Gaza ceasefires.

US Centcom: Houthi's fired missiles towards Red Sea
9:21 AM
The New Arab Staff

US Central Command (CENTCOM) has announced that Yemen's Houthi's fired two missiles towards the Greek-owned MV Star Iris which was travelling through the Bab al-Mandeb straits.

According to CENTCOM the ship suffered minor damage and is still sea worthy.