Gaza: Khan Younis encirclement sparks healthcare fears

Gaza: Khan Younis encirclement sparks healthcare fears
The Israeli army said it has encircled Khan Younis in southern Gaza with the risk of famine rising by the day
17 min read
23 January, 2024

The Israeli army said Tuesday it had suffered its biggest single-day losses since the start of its ground war in Gaza amid growing pressure on the government to end its brutal onslaught.

The heavy clashes came as a White House official was due in the region for talks aimed at securing more hostage releases, and as US media reported a new Israeli proposal for a deal that would involve a two-month pause in fighting.

Twenty-four soldiers were killed on Monday, with military spokesman Daniel Hagari saying 21 reservists were killed when rocket-propelled grenade fire hit a tank and two buildings they were trying to blow up with mines.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said "ground operations, fighting and attacks intensified" around Gaza's main southern city of Khan Younis.

UN agencies and aid groups have also sounded the alarm about the growing threat of disease and famine in Gaza, where 1.7 million people are estimated to have been uprooted.

Israel has carried out a relentless offensive that has killed at least 25,490 people in Gaza, around 70 percent of them women, children and adolescents, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

UN relief head shares ‘grim update’ on Khan Younis
10:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

Martin Griffiths cites reports from the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) about deadly attacks and heavy bombardment in southern Gaza city.

“A warehouse was hit, killing two people and cutting off access to humanitarian supplies and to critical water and sanitation equipment,” Griffiths said in a statement. “Six people were killed in Khan Younis Training Centre.”

He added that medics are working at Nasser Hospital “while debris is falling on their heads”.

Protesters calling for ceasefire disrupt Biden’s speech
9:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

The demonstrator interrupted the US president’s speech at least a dozen times during a campaign event in Virginia, according to US media reports.

With each disruption, the crowd tried to drown out the protests by chanting “four more years” and “let’s go Joe”.

One of the protesters screamed, “Stop funding genocide. Ceasefire now” before being escorted out of the room.

Earlier, we reported that demonstrators who support ending the war in Gaza also gathered outside the event in Manassas, Virginia.

US official in Middle East for talks on new Gaza 'pause'
9:17 PM
The New Arab Staff

A senior US official is holding talks in the Middle East on a new, possibly longer deal for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a pause in fighting in Gaza, the White House has said.

President Joe Biden's Middle East advisor Brett McGurk was in Egypt and would visit other countries, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when asked about reports that Israel had proposed a two-month halt.

"Certainly one of the things he's in the region talking about is the potential for another hostage deal, which would require a humanitarian pause of some length to get that done," Kirby told a briefing at the White House.

"The conversations are very sober and serious."

Kirby would not confirm the length of the pause under discussion but said the White House would welcome one that was longer than the previous halt in November.

"If... that would give us the opportunity to get hostages out and get more aid in, we would absolutely support a humanitarian pause of a longer length than the week that we were able to accomplish," he added.

Six Palestinians killed in UN-run shelter: UNRWA chief
8:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

Six displaced Palestinians were killed when one of the UN-run shelters was hit in Khan Younis a day ago, the head of the UN aid agency for Palestinians has said.

"Terrified staff, patients, and displaced people are now trapped inside the few remaining hospitals in Khan Younis as heavy fighting continues," Philippe Lazzarine, UNRWA's general commissioner said in a post on X on Tuesday.

Lazzarine said at least six of the displaced were killed and more others were wounded in the incident.

"I call on all parties to take every precaution to minimize harm and protect civilians, medical facilities and personnel and @UN premises in accordance with international law," he added.

UN chief addresses Security Council
8:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is currently speaking to the council during a meeting on the situation in Gaza.

Here are a few highlights from his speech:

  • I will continue in my limited capacity to pursue all efforts to contrite to their [Israeli captives] release.
  • The past 100 days have been heartbreaking and catastrophic for Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
  • In recent days the military offensive has intensified in Khan Younis with many additional casualties.
  • The entire population of Gaza is experiencing destruction at a scale and speed unprecedented in recent history.
  • Tragically, 153 of our colleagues have been killed, a source of bottomless grief for us all.
Antonio Guterres [Getty]
Norwegian diplomat stresses need for ceasefire in Gaza
7:56 PM
The New Arab Staff

After meeting with Jordanian officials, Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik reiterates his country’s support for the two-state solution.

"Discussed Gaza and agreed that ceasefire and humanitarian access urgently needed, must avoid regional escalation, PA must remain functional and a two-state solution is the only viable solution," Kravik wrote in a post on X.

Quds Brigades claim attacks on Israeli forces in Khan Younis
7:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has announced four attacks in statements over the last two hours, Al Jazeera reported.

The group said it hit several Israeli soldiers with mortar shells in several sites, including near the al-Walid Mosque, the Albanian Mosque, the "Turkish Cemetary" and the al-Ittihad Stadium in the western part of the city of Khan Younis.


Israeli atrocities shock human conscience: Palestinian FM
6:58 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian FM Riyad al-Maliki has decried the mounting death toll and mass destruction in Gaza, as he appeared to dismiss Israeli accusations of anti-Semitism against critics of the war.

"The faith of the perpetrators is irrelevant. The faith of the victims is irrelevant," he told the UN Security Council.

"What matters only are the countless innocent lives destroyed and the violent shattering of the laws enacted post-World War II to preserve humanity."

Al-Maliki added while most of the world is demanding a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is driven by "his own political survival at the expense of the survival of millions of Palestinians under Israel’s illegal occupation and peace and security for all".

MSF: Israeli forces order evacuation of Nasser Hospital area
6:28 PM
The New Arab Staff

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) says that several blocks in Khan Younis, including those where Nasser Hospital is located, have received orders to evacuate.

"MSF staff members can hear bombs and heavy gunfire close to Nasser," the group said in a social media post on Tuesday.

"They are currently unable to evacuate along with the thousands of people in the hospital, including 850 patients, due to roads to and from the building being either inaccessible or too dangerous."

US envoy in Cairo to focus on humanitarian pause, hostages
5:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk is in Cairo on Tuesday for "active" discussions on ensuring the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza and securing a humanitarian pause, the White House said on Tuesday.

White House spokesperson John Kirby said the Biden administration would absolutely support a longer humanitarian pause.

He said McGurk was also discussing other issues, including getting an assessment of Israel's military operations and its efforts to protect civilians, as well as continuing to explore the idea of a normalization of Israel-Saudi ties.

Hamas appears to claim responsibility for attack on troops
4:31 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, said it has carried out an attack that is similar to the description provided by Israeli officials of the incident that led to 24 soldiers killed.

The group issued a statement that outlined its targeting of a building that contained Israeli soldiers, as well as military and engineering equipment.

“Simultaneously, our fighters destroyed a Merkava tank with a Yasin-105 shell as they blew up a minefield against an Israeli force that was present at the same place, leading to killing and injuring all of them,” the Qassam Brigades said in a statement.

“And our fighters were able to withdraw to their bases safely.”


Palestinian killed near occupied West Bank checkpoint
4:16 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli media outlets have reported that reservists killed a Palestinian man near a checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz cited the Israeli military that said the man approached a group of soldiers at a guard post and began opening fire, when soldiers fired back and killed him.

According to Israeli broadcaster Channel 12, it reported that the man was carrying an M16 rifle but no casualties were reported among Israeli troops.

Six Palestinians were killed at a UN-run shelter in Gaza
3:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Six displaced Palestinian were killed when one of the U.N.-run shelters was hit in Khan Younis, the focus of Israel's ground offensive, in the southern Gaza Strip, a day ago, the head of the UN aid agency for Palestinians said.

"Terrified staff, patients, and displaced people are now trapped inside the few remaining hospitals in Khan Younis as heavy fighting continues," Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA's general commissioner said in a post on X on Tuesday.

Lazzarini said at least six of the displaced were killed and more others were wounded in the incident.

"I call on all parties to take every precaution to minimize harm and protect civilians, medical facilities and personnel and @UN premises in accordance with international law," he added.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond, following Lazzarini's report.

Health ministry says Nasser Hospital under isolation
3:16 PM
The New Arab Staff

Health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said that Israeli forces have isolated Khan Younis' Nasser Medical Complex- endangering the lives of staff members, patients and displaced people who sought refuge.

“Medical teams are unable to transfer serious cases from the Nasser Medical Complex to the Jordanian field hospital next to it as a result of the continuous bombing,” al-Qudra said in a post on Telegram.

Israeli army says launches from Lebanon damage military base
2:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have said in a post on X that a number of launches sent by Hezbollah have been intercepted by its air defence system.

However, the military said there were damage on the infrastructure of an air force base but added there were no casualties.

Israel will not accept deal that leaves Hamas in power: Levy
2:38 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Israel will not agree to a ceasefire deal with Hamas that leaves its hostages in Gaza or the group in power in the enclave, Israeli government spokeperson Eylon Levy said on Tuesday.

He added that efforts were ongoing to bring about the release of the hostages but declined to elaborate saying lives were hanging in the balance.

Asked about reports of a ceasefire deal in Gaza, Levy said the goals of the war were unchanged:

"The destruction of Hamas' governing and military capabilities in the Gaza Strip and the return of all the hostages. There will be no ceasefire that leaves the hostages in Gaza and Hamas in power," he said.

"Beyond that, we have nothing to elaborate."

Hezbollah says targeted command centre in northern Israel
1:32 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it targeted the Israeli army's northern command centre Tuesday in response to "recent assassinations and repeated attacks on civilians" in Lebanon and Syria.

It said it had launched a "large number" of missiles at the Mount Meron base in its second such attack since Palestinian group Hamas's October 7 assault on Israel.

Its first on January 6 came in response to killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a strike in Beirut widely blamed on Israel.

Famine looming in Gaza, says WFP
1:26 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The food situation in the Gaza Strip is slipping deeper into catastrophe, with the risk of famine rising by the day, the UN's World Food Programme warned Tuesday.

A study conducted between November 24 and December 7 found that all 2.2 million people living in the Palestinian territory were in a crisis level of acute food insecurity, or worse.

The situation has only deteriorated since then, said Abeer Etefa, the WFP's senior Middle East spokeswoman.

"The situation in Gaza is of course slipping every day into a much more catastrophic situation," with "a looming threat of famine", she told a press briefing in Geneva, via video-link from Cairo.

"The risks of having pockets of famine in Gaza is very much still there.

"More than half a million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic food insecurity levels and the risk of famine increases each day, as the conflict is limiting delivery of life-saving food assistance to people in need."

UKMTO receives reports of uncrewed aerial system activity
1:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said on Tuesday that it received a reports of uncrewed aerial system activity in the vicinity of 46 nautical miles south of Yemen's Mokha.

Authorities are investigating, UKMTO added.

Amnesty calls on EU to declare 'immediate ceasefire'
1:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Amnesty International has issued a letter to EU top diplomat Josep Borrell and the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, to call for an immediate ceasefire and add pressure onto Israel to swiftly lift its illegal blockade of Gaza.

“We are horrified by the magnitude of the man-made human rights and humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” the letter said.

“We share the view of 153 states and majority of UN bodies that a ceasefire is the only way to save lives, address the humanitarian crisis and facilitate the return of civilian hostages currently held in the Gaza Strip.”

Britain to announce new sanctions against Houthis
12:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain plans to announce new sanctions targeting Houthi financing in the coming days, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday.

Sunak also said the UK would act again if Houthis in Yemen persist in attacking shipping in the Red Sea.

"We are not seeking a confrontation," he told parliament after a second round of US-UK strikes on Tuesday. "We urge the Houthis and those who enable them to stop these illegal and unacceptable attacks.

"But if necessary, the United Kingdom will not hesitate to respond in self-defence. We cannot stand by and allow these attacks to go unchallenged."

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak steps out from 10 Downing Street [Getty]
Syria: No justification for Jordan air strikes on territory
12:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Syrian foreign ministry said on Tuesday that there was "no justification" for Jordanian air strikes, which caused civilian casualties of women and children, on its territory.

Jordan has stepped up a campaign against drug dealers in recent weeks, after clashes last month with dozens of people suspected of links to pro-Iranian militias carrying large hauls of narcotics over its border with Syria, along with weapons and explosives.

Suspected Jordanian air strikes on southern Syria killed 10 people including children early on Thursday, according to local Syrian media and monitors tracking the conflict.

There was no immediate comment from Jordanian authorities.

"The escalation that we have witnessed in the past few months is not at all consistent with what was agreed upon from both sides regarding sincere cooperation to combat all violations, including criminal gangs for drug smuggling and trafficking," the foreign ministry added.

Guards shot down drone near Jordan-Syria border
12:40 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Syrian border guards shot down a drone near the Jordanian-Syrian border, a statement by the Syrian defence ministry said on Tuesday. 


Over half a million Gazans undergo ‘catastrophic hunger'
12:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

The United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA) has issued a statement which said that more than half a million Palestinians in Gaza endure "catastrophic hunger".

"Intense fighting, access denials & restrictions + communications blackouts are hampering @UNRWA's ability to safely & effectively deliver aid," UNRWA wrote in a post on X.

"As risk of famine grows, @UN calls for a critical increase in humanitarian access."

Al-Amal Hospital attacks led 1 killed, 12 wounded
12:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has issued an update on their X account, stating that one Palestinian was killed, while 12 others were injured during Israeli gunfire and targeting of displaced people.

The PRCS headquarters in Khan Younis has also been reported to continue facing attacks.

India's sunoil imports to falter as Red Sea attacks ensue
12:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

India's sunflower oil imports are set to decline in coming months as a rally in prices, driven by a surge in freight rates, is prompting buyers to shift to rival vegetable oils available at a discount, traders told news agency Reuters.

The world's biggest sunflower oil buyer typically sources most of its imports from the Black Sea region via the Red Sea. However, recent Houthi attacks have compelled shipping companies to reroute trade between Europe and Asia around Africa, increasing time and costs.

The elevated freight rates have lifted the landed cost of sunflower oil above that of soyoil in India for the first time in nearly a year, said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage.

"Sunoil imports were robust in the last few months due to the price advantage it had over soyoil. However, it lost this advantage because of rising freight," he said.

Qatar: Mediation efforts on Gaza ongoing
12:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Mediation efforts on ending the war in the Gaza Strip are ongoing, Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday in a press briefing.

Separately, he added that escalation in the Red Sea represented a "big danger", speaking a day after US and British forces carried out fresh strikes against Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi fighters who have disrupted global shipping in protest over Israel's bombardment of Gaza.

Houthis confirm US, UK attacks
9:43 AM
The New Arab Staff

Yemen's Houthi group has confirmed US and UK led strikes- stating that the two countries have launched 18 air attacks on locations such as the Sanaa governate and the Sanaa capital city, 

Other locations include the Hodaidah governorate, Taiz governorate and Baida governorate.

The spokesperson added that the attacks would go unpunished.

Gaza death toll rises to 25,490
9:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in Gaza said Tuesday at least 25,490 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory in the war between militants and Israel.

The latest toll included 195 fatalities in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, while at least 63,354 people had been wounded since the war erupted on October 7.

Israeli forces say they have encircled Khan Younis
9:25 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli military have said ground forces have encircled the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

Forces have added that "dozens" of Palestinian fighters have also been killed during heavy clashes in the past 24 hours.


Palestinian photojournalist announces departure from Gaza
9:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

Celebrated Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza, whose work gained global attention during his documentation of Israel's ongoing aggression in Gaza, has announced his evacuation from Gaza.

In an emotional video clip shared on his X and Instagram account, Azaiza said it would be the last time he would be seen wearing his press jacket, as he said his goodbyes to friends and colleagues.

In a series of videos posted on his Instagram Story, Motaz stated that he is en route to the Qatari capital of Doha following his evacuation.

New Zealand set to deploy 6-member team to defend Red Sea
8:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

New Zealand will send a six-member defence team to support the Red Sea coalition in the Middle East to maintain maritime security. 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says New Zealand personnel will not enter Yemen or get involved in any military combat- however they will contribute in the international efforts to protect ships from attacks.

“Houthi attacks against commercial and naval shipping are illegal, unacceptable and profoundly destabilising,” Luxon said. “This deployment … is a continuation of New Zealand’s long history of defending freedom of navigation both in the Middle East and closer to home.”

New Zealand's Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaks at a press conference [Getty]
Netanyahu says Israel to push on in Gaza after 24 killed
8:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel would push on with fighting in Gaza until "absolute victory" despite suffering one of its highest death tolls during its military offensive.

He said the military was "investigating the tragedy" in which 21 soldiers were killed when buildings exploded in central Gaza, bringing the single-day Israeli death toll to 24.

Official says Israel proposed two-month ceasefire
8:31 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A senior Egyptian official says Israel has proposed a two-month ceasefire in which Hamas would release Israeli hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Under the proposal, Yehya Sinwar and other top Hamas leaders in Gaza would be allowed to relocate to other countries.

The official, who was not authorized to brief media and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Hamas has rejected the proposal. The group is insisting on a permanent ceasefire before any further release of hostages.

Israel’s leaders have thus far ruled that out.

The official said Hamas leaders have also refused to leave Gaza and are demanding that Israel fully withdraw from the territory and allow Palestinians to return to their homes.

The official said Egypt and Qatar, which have brokered past agreements between Israel and Hamas, are developing a multi-stage proposal to try to bridge the gaps.

The proposal would include ending the war, releasing the hostages and putting forth a vision for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel forces say 21 soldiers killed in Gaza on Monday
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's army said Tuesday that 21 soldiers had been killed in the Gaza Strip the day before, the biggest daily death toll for the military since the start of its ground operation on October 27.

Most of the soldiers were killed when hit by a rocket-propelled-grenade (RPG) fired at a tank and a building they were trying to blow up, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement.

UK's Cameron: Campaign to degrade Houthis will continue
8:17 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

British foreign minister David Cameron said action to degrade Houthi military capabilities in Yemen would continue after the United States and Britain carried out another round of strikes on Monday.

"What we've done again is send the clearest possible message that we will continue to degrade their ability to carry out these attacks," Cameron told broadcasters on Tuesday.