Gaza war: Israeli strikes kill scores overnight in Rafah as mediators push for truce deal

Gaza war: Israeli strikes kill scores overnight in Rafah as mediators push for truce deal
Israel is continuing to strike the Gaza border town of Rafah, despite the city being home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the current war.
9 min read
03 February, 2024

Deadly strikes were reported early Saturday in Rafah - the overcrowded Gaza border town dubbed a "pressure cooker of despair" by the UN - as international mediators readied a new push to seal a tentative truce deal between Israel and Hamas.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have fled south to Rafah since the outbreak of the war.

The city was formerly home to 200,000 inhabitants. Now, more than half of Gaza's two million-plus population are living there, a WHO representative said Friday.

"Most are living in makeshift structures, tents or out in the open," OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said during a briefing in Geneva.

The health ministry in Gaza said more than 100 people in total were killed across the territory overnight, as the war in the coastal enclave fast approaches the four-month mark.

More than 27,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its war on the Palestinian territory on 7 October.

6:17 PM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog has now ended, and will resume tomorrow at 0800 am. Thank you for following.

UN Sec. Council to meet Monday on US strikes in Mideast
6:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN Security Council to meet Monday on US strikes in Mideast: diplomatic sources.

Turkey head of intelligence meets with Hamas' Haniyeh: TRT
6:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT says that Ibrahim Kalin, head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency, met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar.

The pair discussed efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza, the Israeli captives still held in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, TRT said.

Syria culture ministry slams US strikes near historic site
4:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Syria's culture ministry on Saturday condemned overnight US strikes that local media said damaged a historic site in Deir Ezzor province in the country's east.

The United States launched the air strikes against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for a recent drone attack on an American base in Jordan that killed three US soldiers.

Syria's culture ministry condemned "in the strongest terms the barbaric US bombardment of the Al-Rahba fortress" in eastern Syria's Mayadeen area.

In a statement on social media, it said the citadel, located along the Euphrates River, dates to the ninth century, without elaborating on the damage the site sustained.

The "blatant" attack violated "all international norms and charters that call for the protection and respect for cultural property," the ministry added.

Russia calls for UN Security Council meeting over US strikes
4:31 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia has called for UN Security Council meeting over US strikes in Iraq and Syria, which have left scores dead on Friday.

US downed 8 drones off Yemen, hit 4 on ground on Friday
2:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

American forces shot down eight drones near Yemen and destroyed four more on the ground, the US military said on Saturday, announcing a series of incidents that took place the previous day.

The strikes and shootdowns in and around Yemen came as American forces launched a wave of air raids on Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for an attack that killed three US troops last weekend.

A US Navy destroyer shot down one drone Friday morning while F/A-18 warplanes and another ship downed seven later in the day, and American forces destroyed four more before they could be launched, the Central Command (CENTCOM) said on social media.

CENTCOM said the four drones destroyed on the ground belonged to Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels, but did not identify a country or group linked to those that were shot out of the air.

It said no injuries or damage were reported from the drones downed over open water.

"These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US Navy vessels and merchant vessels," CENTCOM said.

Gaza children 'likely to lose' one year of school amid war
2:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

Children in Gaza will likely lose at least a year of education amid Israel's war in the territory, with the school year suspended and classrooms closed or turned into shelters, according to the UN.

Children's education in Gaza is severely impacted by the ongong war [Getty]
Portugal to donate 1 million euros to UNRWA
1:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

Portugal said it will provide additional support to UNRWA, pledging a donation of 1 million euros ($1.08m) to the Palestinian refugee agency, Foreign Minister Joao Cravinho said in a statement on X..

The diplomat said the decision comes after "a dialogue with" UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is desperate, and it is essential that we do not turn our backs on the Palestinian population at this difficult period," Cravinho said.

23 pro-Iran fighters dead in US strikes on Syria
1:40 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US strikes overnight in eastern Syria killed 23 pro-Iran fighters, a war monitor said Saturday, in a new toll for the retaliatory action following a drone attack on an American base in Jordan.

"The toll has risen to 23 dead: 10 pro-Iran fighters in the Deir Ezzor area and 13 in the Mayadeen area," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that nine of the fighters were Syrians while six were Iraqis. There were no reported civilian deaths.

Russia says US 'sowing chaos and destruction' in Middle East
1:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia on Saturday accused the United States of "sowing chaos and destruction" in the Middle East after Washington launched retaliatory air strikes against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.

"Washington, confident in its impunity, is continuing its sowing of chaos and destruction in the Middle East," Moscow's foreign ministry said, adding that it "decisively condemned" the strikes.

Iraq summons US envoy in wake of air strikes: government
12:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iraq said Saturday it will call in the US charge d'affaires in Baghdad to deliver an official protest against overnight US air strikes which targeted Iran-backed groups in Iraq.

"In protest at the US aggression which targeted Iraqi civilian and military sites, the foreign ministry is going to summon US charge d'affaires David Burger," a ministry statement said.

5 countries to resume UNRWA funding: Palestinian PM
11:43 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Saturday that he has received confirmation from representatives of five countries that had suspended funding to Unrwa that they intend to resume their donations within several weeks.

Shtayyeh made the comments after he received several western ambassadors and consuls at his office on Thursday, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

UNRWA is the biggest relief agency in Gaza [Getty]
Hamas condemns US attacks on Iraq, Syria
11:35 AM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas has condemned the US attacks against Iraq and Syria, which left at least 16 people dead "in the strongest terms".

The group said in a statement on Telegram that it considered the attacks a "dangerous escalation and an infringement on the sovereignty" of the two Arab countries.

Number of detained Palestinians in West Bank reaches 6,500
11:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Prisoners Club says 12 people have been detained in overnight raids in the occupied West Bank, bringing the total number of Palestinians arrested since October 7 to 6,500.

The detention of Palestinians in the West Bank has increased dramatically since the war in Gaza began on October 7.

Iran 'strongly' condemns US attacks on Iraq, Syria
10:23 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Tehran on Saturday condemned US air strikes on Iraq and Syria as a "strategic mistake" by its arch-foe, without saying whether or not any they caused any Iranian casualties.

"Last night's attack on Syria and Iraq is an adventurous action and another strategic mistake by the US government, which will have no result other than intensifying tension and instability in the region," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement.

Over 27,200 killed in Gaza, 107 killed overnight: MoH
10:02 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in Gaza said on Saturday at least 27,238 people have been killed in the territory during the war waged by Israel in the coastal enclave.

The latest toll includes 107 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, while another 66,452 people have been wounded in Gaza since the war broke out on October 7.

The death toll in Gaza increases by the hundreds with each passing day [Getty]
Civilians among 16 dead in US strikes in Iraq: government
9:58 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US strikes in the west of Iraq against armed pro-Iran groups killed at least 16 people, including civilians, Iraqi government spokesman Bassem al-Awadi said on Saturday.

"The security of Iraq and the region will find itself on the brink of an abyss" because of the strikes, Awadi said in a statement, and denied "false allegations" that there had been "prior coordination" with Washington over the strikes.

UAE allocates $5 million to support UNRWA's Gaza efforts
9:12 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Arab Emirates has allocated $5 million in support of efforts of chief United Nations Coordinator for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Sigrid Kaag, towards the reconstruction of the Gaza strip, state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.

Major donors to UNRWA earlier suspended funding after Israel accused a number of its staff of its tens of thousands of Palestinian employees were suspected of involvement in the October 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas.

The suspension of funds was criticised by rights groups, saying that lack of relief will likely contribute to the looming famine in the Strip.

UK calls US a 'steadfast' ally after strikes in Iraq, Syria
9:04 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain called the US its "steadfast" ally on Saturday and said it supports Washington's right to respond to attacks, after the US military launched airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran-linked targets.

"The UK and US are steadfast allies. We wouldn’t comment on their operations, but we support their right to respond to attacks," a British government spokesperson said in a statement.

"We have long condemned Iran’s destabilising activity throughout the region, including its political, financial and military support to a number of militant groups."

The strikes on Friday, which hit over 85 targets linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the militias it backs, followed last weekend's drone attack in northeastern Jordan that killed three US soldiers.

PRCS sound concern, fear over missing Little Hind
8:41 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has expressed concern over the disappearance of six-year-old Hind Hamideh, as well as two ambulance staff members.

Little Hind, as she has been nicknamed, was last heard from while she was trapped in a car with her family - who are believed to be dead - which had come under fire from Israeli forces on Monday.

"Where is Hind? Where are Ahmed and Yousef? We need to know. More than 110 hours have passed, and the fate of the PRCS ambulance team, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al Madhoun who went to rescue the 6-year-old girl, Hind, remains unknown," the PRCS asked.

19 Gazans killed early on Saturday in Deir al-Balah, Rafah
8:12 AM
The New Arab Staff

At least 19 civilians today were killed and others wounded in the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, following deadly Israeli strikes.

The airstrikes and artillery bombardment struck three homes in the cities of Deir al-Balah and Rafah, in the centre and south of the Gaza Strip.

A civilian was also killed after being shot by an Israeli sniper in the Al-Nasr neighbourhood in Gaza City, medical sources said, as cited by the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Strikes killed over a dozen Palestinians in central and south Gaza on Saturday [Getty]
Syria says US occupation of territory 'cannot continue'
8:07 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Damascus said Saturday that US occupation of Syrian territory "cannot continue" after Washington carried out deadly strikes in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three US soldiers in Jordan.

The overnight strikes killed "a number of civilians and soldiers, wounded others and caused significant damage to public and private property", the Syrian military said in a statement.

"The occupation of parts of Syrian territory by US forces cannot continue," it added, affirming the army's "determination to liberate all Syrian territory from terrorism and occupation".

The United States blamed Sunday's drone attack in Jordan on Iran-backed groups, but did not strike inside Iranian territory, with both Washington and Tehran seemingly keen to avoid all-out war.