Gaza war: More than 200 killed in 24 hours as Israeli strikes intensify

Gaza war: More than 200 killed in 24 hours as Israeli strikes intensify
Israeli strikes continued to hit multiple areas across the Gaza Strip on Saturday, where the death toll has now reached 20,258.
22 min read
23 December, 2023
Israel continued its military onslaught of Gaza as Christmas in the Palestinian territories approaches [Getty/file photo]

Gaza officials said Saturday that more than 200 people had been killed in Israeli strikes in 24 hours, as violence rages on after a UN resolution demanded more aid into the besieged territory.

Israel pressed on with its offensive focusing on the southern Gaza Strip, with clouds of grey and black smoke rising over Khan Younis city.

201 people were reported in the past 24 hours across the territory, updating the death toll since the start of the war to 20,258, most of them women and children.

Saturday's strikes came after the Security Council approved a resolution demanding "immediate, safe and unhindered" deliveries of life-saving aid to Gaza "at scale".

It also called for the creation of "conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities", but did not seek an immediate end to combat.

Members had wrangled for days over the wording, and it is still unclear what if any impact the vote will have on the ground.

Featured images: Getty

4:03 AM
The New Arab Staff

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Christmas cancelled in Syria in solidarity with Gaza
2:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Christmas cheer has deserted the streets of Syria's cities, where the main churches have limited celebrations to prayers in solidarity with Palestinians suffering war in Gaza.

"In Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, people are suffering," the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Mor Dionysius Antoine Shahda, told AFP.

The northern Syrian city's central district of Azizia is usually home to a bustling festive market and a huge Christmas tree, while its streets are adorned with lights and trinkets.

But this year, the main square is almost empty and there are no Christmas decorations in sight.

Bethlehem pastor urges end to Gaza 'genocide'
1:01 AM
The New Arab Staff

The pastor of the Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church has called for peace in the war-battered Gaza in a Liturgy of Lament delivered before Christmas.

"If Jesus were to be born today, he would be born under the rubble in Gaza," Munther Isaac told his congregation from his church in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, two days before Christmas.

"When we rely on power might and weapon when we rationalise the bombing of children, Jesus is under the rubble," he added.

"Stop this genocide now," Isaac said.

136 UN workers killed since October 7: Guterres
11:52 PM
The New Arab Staff

136 UN workers have been killed since October 7 in the ongoing Israeli military on Gaza, while several employees of the world body have been forced out of their homes, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterrres has said.

Guterres said that no one has ever seen such number of casualties of the UN staff in the history of the world organisation.

"I pay tribute to them and the thousands of aid workers risking their lives as they support civilians in Gaza," he added.

Israel's military campaign in Gaza has not spared UN workers [Getty]
Israeli forces storm Tulkarm, West Bank
11:46 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces stormed the city of Tulkarm in the northern occupied West Bank overnight on Saturday, according to local sources, as cited by the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Reports indicate a significant incursion by the Israeli military, accompanied by two military bulldozers, into the city from its western axis. 

The sources added that reconnaissance aircraft are hovering over the city and the adjacent Tulkarm and Nour Shams camps. The purpose and extent of this military attack remain unclear.

Biden presses Netanyahu on protecting civilians in Gaza
10:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Joe Biden on Saturday pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to protect civilian lives as the country's forces mounted fresh military strikes in Gaza, the White House said.

"The President emphasized the critical need to protect the civilian population including those supporting the humanitarian aid operation, and the importance of allowing civilians to move safely away from areas of ongoing fighting," it said in a statement.

Drone seen flying above vessel before blast near Hodeidah
10:17 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Multiple reports were received of an Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) flying low above a vessel off the coast of Yemen before exploding 1.5 nautical miles away from the ship, The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said on Saturday.

Authorities are investigating the incident, which occurred approximately 50 nautical miles west of Hodeidah, Yemen, the statement said, adding that vessels are advised to transit with caution.

Biden says he did not ask Netanyahu for a ceasefire in call
10:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US President Joe Biden said he did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a ceasefire in a long call the two leaders had on Saturday.

"I had a long talk with Netanyahu today and it's a private conversation," Biden told reporters in Washington.

"I did not ask for a ceasefire," he said, in response to a shouted question.

CAIR urges Americans to pressure Biden for Gaza ceasefire
9:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) organisation is urging all Americans to pressure Joe Biden to call for the end of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, in a new statement.

It said it is calling on Americans of all backgrounds to "demand that the Biden administration act to end the slaughter, starvation and ethnic cleansing" after reports tat the far-right Israeli government had massacred 70 members of an extended family in Gaza.

Israel's indiscriminate bombing of Gaza has gone on for over two months [Getty]
Hamas calls for probe into 'executions' blamed on Israel
9:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas on Saturday called for an international investigation into "summary executions" that it accused the Israeli army of committing in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.

Hamas claimed in a statement to have gathered testimonies showing "the Israeli army carried out the summary execution of 137 Palestinian civilians" in the northern Gaza Strip, including Gaza City, since the start of Israel's ground offensive on October 7.

The group accused the Israeli army of "digging a large pit east of Gaza City and placing dozens of detained citizens in it before executing them and filling up the pit".

UNRWA calls for ‘unimpeded flow of aid’ into Gaza
7:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

The United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has urged the need for an end to Israel's bombardment in Gaza in order to deliver "meaningful aid" to those in the territory.

"Evacuation orders issued by Israeli authorities move people to areas where UNRWA shelters are beyond capacity & there are ongoing airstrikes."

Aid has been flowing at a low rate into the Gaza Strip [Getty]
Netanyahu thanks Biden for UN stand, Israel will press war
7:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin voiced appreciation in a call with US Joe Biden on Saturday for Washington's stand at the UN Security Council, Netanyahu's office said in a statement, apparently referring to the forum's discussions of the Gaza war.

The statement said Netanyahu also "made clear that Israel will pursue the war until all of its objectives are fully met". 

Gallant, Gantz visit Israeli army in northern Gaza
6:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's current and former defence ministers, Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz, visited northern Gaza.

The ministers, who are part of the war cabinet alongside PM Benjamin Netanyahu, were "assessing the situation" in the northern part of the Strip.

Gallant, in a social media post on X, said that more strikes will be conducted on Khan Younis, saying that the city will resemble Shujaeyah and Beit Hanoun.

Gallant also vowed to "destroy every house where there is terrorism".

In a separate post on X, Gantz stressed that what the Israeli army is doing against Hamas "serves the interests of the south's residents and all citizens of Israel".

Shipping incident reported in vicinity of Bab al-Mandab
6:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said on Saturday that it had received a report of an incident in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, 45 nautical miles southwest of Saleef, Yemen.

Authorities are investigating and vessels are being advised to transit with caution, the statement said.

Sombre Bethlehem marks Christmas with vigil
5:58 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinian Christians held a sombre Christmas vigil in Bethlehem on Saturday, with candle-lit hymns and prayers for peace in Gaza instead of the usual festive celebrations at the spot where they believe Jesus Christ was born.

Most years Bethlehem basks in the central place it holds in the Christian story of Jesus's life, born there in a stable because there was no room for his parents at the inn, and placed in an animal's manger, the humblest of all possible beds.

Some 2,000 years later, pilgrims usually flock to the reputed location of that stable in Bethlehem's Byzantine-era Church of the Nativity, where most Christmases there are joyful displays of lights and trees in Manger Square.

But with Israel's campaign in Gaza having killed more than 20,000 people according to health authorities in the enclave, the mostly Palestinian population of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank are in mourning too.

This year they decided to have no large tree, the usual centrepiece of Bethlehem's Christmas celebrations because of the carnage taking place only 50 kilometres (30 miles) away.

And in place of the usual nativity scene, as Christians call the traditional display of figurines representing the holy family, Bethlehem churches this year placed the models amid rubble and barbed wire in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

"Bethlehem is a message. It is not a city, it is a message of peace to the whole world. From this sacred place we convey a message of peace… stop the war, stop the blood, the killing and the revenge," said Father Ibrahim Faltas, a friar at the vigil.


Barbed wire and rubble replaced usual Christmas displays in Bethlehem [Getty]
Israel army says five soldiers killed in Gaza since Friday
5:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli says that five soldiers have been killed in Gaza since Friday.

Red Crescent 'heroes' continue work in Jabalia in north Gaza
5:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestine Red Crescent Society says its staff continue to work at a location in northern Gaza.

"The heroes of the Palestine Red Crescent continue their work at the PRCS medical point in" Jabalia, the humanitarian group posts on social media platform X.

It attaches a video showing medics wearing blue scrubs and patients.

Iran dismisses US claims Tehran involved in ship attacks
5:38 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran's deputy foreign minister on Saturday dismissed US accusations that Tehran was involved in attacks by Yemeni rebels on commercial ships, saying the group was acting on its own.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels in the Red Sea, according to the Pentagon, over Israel's war on Gaza.

On Friday, the White House publicly released US intelligence that Iran provided drones, missiles, and tactical intelligence to the Houthis, who control vast parts of Yemen including the capital, Sanaa.

"The resistance [Houthis] has its own tools… and acts in accordance with its own decisions and capabilities," Iran's deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri told the Mehr news agency.

"The fact that certain powers, such as the Americans and the Israelis, suffer strikes from the resistance movement… should in no way call into question the reality of the strength of the resistance in the region."

Live Story
The Houthis have attacked ships [Satellite image (c) 2023 Maxar Technologies (via Getty)]
Gaza journalist death toll reaches 100: media office
4:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

The death toll for journalists in Gaza has reached 100, the media office of the strip's government says on Telegram.

It adds that the journalist Mohammed Abu Hwaidi was killed in "occupation [Israeli] bombing in the Shujaiya neighbourhood" of Gaza City, the official Turkish news agency Anadolu reports.

Jerusalem church leaders defend meeting Israel's Herzog
4:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jerusalem's church leaders on Saturday defended a meeting with Israel's President Isaac Herzog that sparked criticism from Palestinians, saying they used it to demand an end to bloodshed in Gaza.

A statement from the president's office announced the meeting on Thursday, quoting Herzog as saying that he expected the "Christian world to express clear condemnation" of the deadly 7 October Hamas attack in southern Israel.

The meeting, attended by patriarchs and heads of churches in the city including the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, triggered condemnation not just from the militant group Hamas but also the Palestinian community critical of the Israeli war on Gaza.

In a joint statement defending the meeting, the church leaders said the meeting was "not a mere exchange of holiday season pleasantries".

It was aimed, they said, at "demanding, on behalf of Christians worldwide, an immediate cessation of the bloodshed in Gaza".

Hamas had earlier denounced the meeting, saying in a statement that it was "shocked" by the image of Christian leaders in occupied Palestinian territories meeting with Herzog and accused them of not speaking out "about the difficult times our people are facing".

Isaac Herzog is the president of Israel [SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP/Getty-file photo]
Dozens 'executed in streets' this week: Gaza health ministry
3:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Gaza health ministry on Saturday said dozens of Palestinians were killed this week and publicly "executed" during an Israeli military operation in the north of the strip.

The Israeli "massacre resulted in the death of dozens" of people in the Jabalia camp and Jabalia town, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement.

"They also executed dozens of citizens in the streets," he added.

When contacted by AFP, the Israeli army did not directly comment on the allegations but said it ensures that its "strikes against military targets comply with the provisions of international law".

According to videos broadcast by local media, which AFP was unable to independently verify, decomposing bodies were seen strewn on the streets of Jabalia.

In Beit Lahia, a city in the north of the Gaza Strip, the civil defence authority said it had found on Saturday "dozens of decomposing bodies".

"Most of the bodies recovered in Beit Lahia were executed in the streets and mauled by dogs," it said.

On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights office said it received "disturbing" reports that Israeli troops "summarily killed" at least 11 unarmed Palestinians in a possible war crime in Gaza.

The killings were alleged to have been carried out in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City this week, it added.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, rejected the allegations as "yet another example of the partisan and prejudiced approach against Israel" by the UN body.

The official added that the claims were "nothing but blood libel".

AFPTV footage shows one body buried under rubble in Jabalia and massive destruction in various parts of the city.

Hamas: Lost contact with group responsible for 5 hostages
3:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas issued a statement on Saturday saying it has lost contact with the group responsible for five Israeli hostages being held captive in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli bombardment.

The group believes the hostages were killed during an Israeli raid, Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of Hamas' armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, was quoted as saying.


Gaza death toll reaches 20,258, health ministry says
3:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Gaza health ministry issued a statement on Saturday saying at least 201 Palestinians have been killed in the enclave over the past 24 hours.

Since 7 October, the total death toll of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks in impoverished Gaza has reached 20,258 people, with 53,688 more injured, the statement added.


ActionAid expresses disappointment over UN Gaza resolution
3:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

The NGO ActionAid expresses disappointment over the UN Security Council's resolution yesterday on the Gaza war.

"After weeks of wrangling between global powers while Gaza moves closer to the brink of starvation, it's a relief to see the US abstain rather than veto this resolution," says ActionAid Palestine's advocacy and communications coordinator Riham Jafari.

"But with the lives of 2.3 million people at stake, it's disappointing to see a watered-down concession that neither offers an end to hostilities nor an urgent scale-up of aid.

"The promise of lifesaving aid is welcome but without a ceasefire, it cannot be delivered safely and at scale.

"People in Gaza need the bombs to stop and for the war to end now but instead the resolution kicks attempts to reach a ceasefire into the long grass."

The Security Council resolution demands the parties to the Gaza war "enable the immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale" to Palestinian civilians in the strip.

It also calls for "urgent steps" to bring about the conditions for a "sustainable cessation of hostilities".

"As we have repeatedly said: there is little sense in providing aid to people one day, only to start bombing them again the next," Jafari says.

"We urge the UN Security Council to take seriously its mandate to maintain peace and promote human rights, by demanding a permanent ceasefire – the only way to prevent further senseless loss of life and enable enough life-saving humanitarian aid to reach those who need it."

Iran's Raisi slams UN 'inefficacy' to stop Gaza war
2:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday slammed the "inefficacy" of international bodies to halt deadly fighting which has ravaged the Gaza Strip.

Raisi's remarks during a conference in Tehran in support of the Palestinians came a day after the United Nations Security Council approved a much-delayed resolution demanding aid be allowed into besieged Gaza "at scale".

The resolution also urged the creation of "conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities", without calling for an immediate end to the fighting. Iran has called the vote "positive but insufficient".

"The inability and inefficacy of international organisations has become clear to everyone in the world," Raisi told the Tehran conference.

"The Security Council... officially announced its desperation, and said that there is nothing we can do.

"International organisations have also announced that there is nothing we can do."

Aid groups and international organisations have repeatedly warned of "catastrophic" conditions in Gaza, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in the 11-week war.

Also on Saturday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the conflict in Gaza has "exposed" the "false human rights claims" by the United States and other Western allies of Israel.

He reiterated calls on Muslim countries "to cut ties" with Israel.

Ebrahim Raisi is the Iranian president [SERGEI BOBYLYOV/POOL/AFP/Getty-file photo]
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor publishes figures on Gaza war
2:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor posts an infographic laying out the devastation in Gaza in numbers.

The NGO titles the image: "The Israeli genocide in the Gaza Strip". The numbers cover the period from 7 October to today.

Euro-Med Monitor said more than 28,000 people have been killed, a figure that includes those believed dead beneath the rubble.

The number is higher than the Gaza health ministry's current toll of 20,057 people killed.

But the ministry's figure does not include those under the rubble or whose bodies have not been identified or claimed by relatives.

Reuters contributed to this update.

PRCS transports three dead after house targeted in al-Bureij
1:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society says on X that it transported three dead and six injured today after a house was targeted in al-Bureij in central Gaza.

It describes those killed as "martyrs", a term frequently used to refer people killed by Israel.

Gaza health system 'might not exist' in month's time: MAP
1:26 AM
The New Arab Staff

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) says Gaza's health system "might not exist" this time next month.

"That's why we will keep calling our our world leaders to protect the Palestinian people over the holidays," the UK-based humanitarian group posts on social media platform X.

"Thank you for standing with Gaza during the festive season."

It adds two photos side by side, the one on the left with a Christmas tree, and the other showing people, including a man in medical scrubs, standing amid burnt out cars.

"When world leaders return from their Christmas holidays," the text on top of the first photo reads.

The writing on the second image completes the sentence by saying: "Gaza's health system may no longer exist."

MAP's post links to a page on its website that asks people to email their MPs to call on British Foreign Secretary David Cameron to "take swift and urgent action to establish a permanent ceasefire in Gaza".

Egyptian, Iranian presidents discuss Gaza developments
12:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The television said Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had called his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The two men met in November for the first time on the sidelines of the Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit in Riyadh.

"Raisi said Iran was ready to provide all its capacities to stop the genocide by the Zionist regime [Israel] and send aid to the Palestinians," Iranian state TV reported, adding that it was the first time the two presidents had spoken by phone.

Relations between Egypt and Iran have generally been fraught in recent decades although the two countries have maintained some diplomatic contacts. Their call follows other moves by countries in the region to east tension in recent months.

Egypt's Sunni Muslim Arab ally Saudi Arabia and Shia Muslim Iran restored diplomatic relations earlier this year while Cairo has mended a rift with Qatar and re-established ties with Turkey.


Drone strike hits ship off India's coast: maritime agencies
12:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A drone strike damaged a ship off the coast of India on Saturday but caused no casualties, two maritime agencies said, with one reporting the merchant vessel was linked to Israel.

The attack caused a fire on board, according to the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, or UKMTO.

Ambrey, a maritime security firm, said the "Liberia-flagged chemical/products tanker… was Israel-affiliated" and had been on its way from Saudi Arabia to India.

Both agencies said the attack occurred 200 nautical miles southwest of Veraval, India.

The Indian navy said it had responded to a request for assistance.

"An aircraft was dispatched and it reached overhead the vessel and established safety of the involved ship and its crew," a navy official told AFP.

"An Indian navy warship has also been dispatched so as to provide assistance as required."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike which came amid a flurry of drone and missile attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels on a vital shipping lane in the Red Sea.

Iran has also been accused of carrying out attacks near its waters.

Last month, an Israeli-owned cargo ship was hit in a suspected drone attack by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Indian Ocean, according to a US official.

The Malta-flagged vessel managed by an Israeli-affiliated company was reportedly damaged when the unmanned aerial vehicle exploded close to it, according to Ambrey.

The Red Sea attacks on shipping since the start of the Gaza war on 7 October have prompted major firms to reroute their cargo vessels around the southern tip of Africa, despite the higher fuel costs of much longer voyages.

The Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels involving more than 35 different countries, according to the Pentagon.

BDS praises Malaysia for banning Israel-flagged ships
11:31 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement praises Malaysia for its "inspiring decision" to ban ships from Israeli firm ZIM from docking at its ports.

The ban also applies to any other Israeli-flagged cargo ships.

Vessels on their way to Israel will also be barred from loading cargo at any port in the Southeast Asian nation, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said.

"The BDS movement calls on all states to end business-as-usual with Israel, impose lawful sanctions, including a comprehensive military embargo on it, and treat it as apartheid South Africa once was: a rogue state threatening world peace," the campaign says.

"This is the most effective form of solidarity with our liberation struggle."

Nowhere safe in Gaza, UN says after Israeli evacuation order
11:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's latest evacuation order for civilians in the central Gaza Strip would force them to relocate to areas "where there are ongoing airstrikes", the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Saturday.

In the evacuation order issued on Friday, the Israeli army instructed residents in the Bureij refugee camp and surrounding areas to "leave immediately for their own security" and head towards Deir al-Balah city further south.

"People in Gaza are people. They are not pieces on a checkerboard – many have already been displaced several times," Thomas White, Gaza director for the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, wrote on social media.

"The Israeli army just orders people to move into areas where there are ongoing airstrikes. No place is safe, nowhere to go."

After the evacuation order, thousands of Palestinians fled the central Gaza Strip to the south on Friday.

UNRWA tweeted that the latest order would affect more than 150,000 people.

An estimated 1.9 million have been displaced by the war, according to the UN.

Hamas and Palestinian Authority split on UN Gaza resolution
10:53 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry and Hamas issued opposing statements on Friday in response to the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution intended to help bring more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

The foreign ministry called the resolution "a step in the right direction", and said it would help "end the aggression, ensure the arrival of aid and protect the Palestinian people".

"We consider it a step that may contribute to alleviating the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip," the foreign ministry statement said.

But Hamas called the resolution an "insufficient step" for meeting the impoverished enclave's needs.

"During the past five days, the US administration has worked hard to empty this resolution of its essence, and to issue it in this weak formula… It defies the will of the international community and the United Nations General Assembly in stopping Israel's aggression against our defenceless Palestinian people," the statement said.

Earlier on Friday, the US abstained to allow the 15-member UN Security Council to adopt a resolution drafted by the United Arab Emirates.

UN resolution on Gaza 'falls painfully short', says MSF
10:16 AM
The New Arab Staff

The resolution adopted by the UN Security Council yesterday demanding the parties to the Gaza war "facilitate and enable the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale" is not enough, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says in a statement.

MSF-USA's executive director Avril Benoît says the resolution "falls painfully short of what is required to address the crisis in Gaza: an immediate and sustained ceasefire".

She adds: "This resolution has been watered down to the point that its impact on the lives of civilians in Gaza will be nearly meaningless.

"The way Israel is prosecuting this war, with US support, is causing massive death and suffering among Palestinian civilians and is inconsistent with international norms and laws. Even war has rules.

"It's unfathomable that in the midst of an unmitigated humanitarian disaster, where every minute counts, the UN Security Council spent days mired in disagreement over something that should have been established from the start of this crisis: ensuring the rapid flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and safe, unhindered delivery of assistance within Gaza."

Israel strike kills 76 members of one Gaza family
10:12 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Israeli airstrike killed 76 members of an extended family, rescue officials said on Saturday, a day after the UN chief warned again that nowhere is safe in Gaza and that Israel's ongoing offensive is creating "massive obstacles" to the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Friday's strike on a building in Gaza City was among the deadliest of the war, now in its 12th week, said Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for Gaza's Civil Defence department.

He provided a partial list of the names of those killed â€“ 16 heads of households from the al-Mughrabi family â€“ and said the dead included women and children.

Among the dead were Issam al-Mughrabi, a veteran employee of UN Development Programme, his wife, and their five children.

"The loss of Issam and his family has deeply affected us all. The UN and civilians in Gaza are not a target," said Achim Steiner, the head of the agency. "This war must end."

Iran threatens Mediterranean closure over Gaza
10:07 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said the Mediterranean Sea could be closed if the United States and its allies continued to commit "crimes" in Gaza, Iranian media reported on Saturday, without explaining how that would happen.

Iran backs Hamas against Israel and it accuses the United States of backing what it calls Israeli crimes in Gaza, where weeks of bombardment have killed thousands of people and driven most of the population from their homes.

"They shall soon await the closure of the Mediterranean Sea, [the Strait of] Gibraltar and other waterways," Tasnim quoted Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, coordinating commander of the Guards, as saying.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group has over the past month attacked merchant vessels sailing through the Red Sea in retaliation for Israel's assault on Gaza, leading some shipping companies to switch routes.

The White House on Friday said Iran was "deeply involved" in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Iran has no direct access to the Mediterranean itself and it was not clear how the Guards could attempt to close it off, although Naqdi talked of "the birth of new powers of resistance and the closure of other waterways".

"Yesterday, the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz became a nightmare for them, and today they are trapped… in the Red Sea," Naqdi was quoted as saying.

The only groups backed by Iran on the Mediterranean are Lebanon's Hezbollah and allied militia in Syria, at the far end of the sea from Gibraltar.