Gaza war death toll rises amid truce talks in Cairo

Gaza war death toll rises amid truce talks in Cairo
Efforts for further ceasefire talks continue between Israel and Hamas in the four-month-old war that has ravaged the besieged Gaza Strip
31 min read
08 February, 2024

 Mediators from the US, Qatar and Egypt have scrambled to forge a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the four-month-old war in the Gaza Strip after America's top diplomat on a Middle East mission said there was still hope for a deal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he saw room for negotiation, and a Palestinian Hamas delegation led by senior official Khalil Al-Hayya was due to travel on Thursday to Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egypt and Qatar.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Hamas' latest offer, calling it "delusional," prompting Hamas to urge Palestinian armed factions to go on fighting.

Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, proposed a ceasefire of 4-1/2 months, during which all hostages held in Gaza would go free, Israel would withdraw its troops from Gaza and an agreement would be reached on an end to the war.

The Hamas offer was a response to a proposal drawn up by US and Israeli spy chiefs and delivered to Hamas last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

Israel would be willing to let Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar go into exile in exchange for the release of all hostages and an end to the Hamas government in Gaza, a half-dozen Israeli officials and senior advisers have told NBC News.

5:29 PM

TNA’s live coverage of the latest from the war on Gaza concludes for today. Join us again tomorrow at 0800 GMT for updates from the besieged Palestinian enclave.

UEFA supports Israel's status in soccer ahead of Euro 2024
5:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel’s status in European soccer is not in question, UEFA said Thursday, ahead of playoff games involving the men’s national team next month amid its ongoing aggression in Gaza. 

Israel will face Iceland on March 21 in a European Championship qualifying playoff being played in neutral Budapest, Hungary . The winner will be away to Ukraine or Bosnia-Herzegovina in a decisive playoff five days later.

Since October 7 and the resulting war, Israeli club and national teams have not hosted games in UEFA competitions because of security concerns.

Russian teams are currently banned from international soccer — enforced since March 2022 when many European national federations refused to play games against them — and Yugoslavia was famously excluded from the 1992 European Championship while under United Nations sanctions during war in the Balkans.

Those examples were cited at a news conference Thursday after the annual congress of 55 UEFA member federations including Israel.

“There was no such discussion or such intention from the UEFA administration,” its general secretary Theodore Theodoridis said.

"There are two completely different situations between the two countries," he said. "Don’t forget the start of the war in Russia and Ukraine and the start of what is happening now — which is regrettable, of course — in the Middle East."

Argentinian far-right leader compares Oct 7 to the Holocaust
5:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

Argentinian far-right President Javier Milei made a comparison between Hamas' October 7 attack and the Holocaust, after touring the kibbutz Nir Oz.

"The free world can't remain indifferent in this case, as we see clear examples of terrorism and anti-Semitism and what I would describe as 21st century Nazism," he said.

"When we hear about the methods that were used this time, it reminds us of the atrocities of the Holocaust," he added, according to remarks translated from Spanish by Herzog's office.

Milei follows other right-wing leaders to visit Israeli communities, as they also face backlash for their links to anti-Semitic rhetoric and figures.

He received scrutiny for appointing a man who was forced to resign due to a former role in 1996 due to his neo-Nazi affiliations. 

Hezbollah says it has conducted attack on northern Israel
5:07 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Lebanese group announced on its Telegram channel that it had targeted the Birkat Risha site in Israel with two rockets, adding that they achieved direct hits.

This comes after an Israeli air strike on a car in south Lebanon's Nebatieh reportedly wounded a military official of Iran-backed Hezbollah on Thursday.

Arab professor slams 'racism' claims for pro-Palestine views
4:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

Australian-Lebanese professor Ghassan Hage has been sacked by German research institute Max Planck Society, following his pro-Palestinian views that led to accusations of racism.

In a statement on Wednesday, the research body said they had severed ties with the academic, after he issued a series of posts on X that they claimed were "incompatible" with the society's ethos.

They added that "racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, discrimination, hatred, and agitation have no place in the Max Planck Society."

Hage has since responded and said that he will "soon issue" his own statement and denied allegations of spewing racist rhetoric.


"I would have lived with the first part re incompatibility. But finishing with ‘there is no place for racism’ implying that i am a racist, I cannot accept," Hage wrote in a post on X.

Palestinian culture minister: 'Gaza is no longer Gaza'
4:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian culture minister Atef Abu Seif has said that Palestinians will require "a new Gaza", as Israel conducts its relentless military campaign that has devastated the besieged territory.

In an interview with news agency AFP, Abu Seif said that "Gaza is no longer Gaza."

For 90 days, Abu Seif was trapped in Gaza and explained that he saw extreme hardship and had lost more than 100 relatives. 

He also recalled having had to pull bodies out of the rubble, following an Israeli attack on a relative's home.

“We were shocked to find that a body which a friend retrieved belonged to his 16-year-old son,” Abu Seif told the news outlet.

“The war in Gaza is ugly.”

Syrian US-backed force: more air defence needed after attack
4:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A force that has been the backbone of the US-led campaign against Islamic State said additional air defences should be deployed in northeast Syria after six of its fighters were killed in a drone attack it blamed on pro-Iran factions.

Mazloum Abdi, commander of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, said his force considered it "a dangerous development when our camps are targeted in drone attacks by factions backed by Iran."

Abdi's remarks to news agency Reuters from northeast Syria suggest the force's fighters- deployed alongside US troops to fight remnants of Islamic State- are increasingly vulnerable to widening regional instability in the aftermath of the October 7 attack.

Abdi said his Kurdish-led force would "require technical capabilities and an increase in the aerial defensive systems" deployed in northeast Syria.

"From their (the US) side, they confirmed they would try and expend efforts to prevent these attacks," he told Reuters.

Spearheaded by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and including Arab fighters, the SDF has been a major partner for the US-led coalition against Islamic State over the last decade. It holds a quarter of Syria, including oil fields and areas where some 900 US troops are deployed.

UN demands mental health support for Gaza war child victims
4:05 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A United Nations committee appealed on Thursday for "massive psychosocial support" for children traumatised by violence in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and Israel and said it would review Israel's treatment of children later this year.

Children and women make up the bulk of the nearly 28,000 people killed during the offensive, according to the authorities in Gaza.

"The rights of children living under the state of Israel's effective control are being gravely violated at a level that has rarely been seen in recent history," said Ann Skelton, chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

"We call for massive psychosocial support for children and families to relieve the traumatic and long-lasting impact of war, including Israeli children who were victims of, or witnesses to, the (Oct. 7) attacks and those whose family members have been taken hostage," she told a news conference.

The Israeli diplomatic mission in Geneva said it would issue a statement on the UN committee's comments shortly.

UNICEF said last week that nearly all children in Gaza were thought to require mental health support.

Skelton said Israel had postponed its participation in a planned dialogue on child issues and that it was now scheduled to take place in September.

"The committee deeply regrets that it did not have the opportunity to review Israel when time is of the essence," she said.

Skelton also voiced concern for children living in the occupied West Bank, which she said faced "facing arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings and violence committed by occupying forces and settlers".

Children gather outside a tent sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah [Getty]
Israel strike wounds Hezbollah official in Lebanon: security
4:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Israeli air strike on a car in south Lebanon seriously wounded a military official of Iran-backed group Hezbollah on Thursday, a Lebanese security source told AFP.

The official was "seriously wounded and a companion was also injured" in the strike in the city of Nabatiyeh, some way from the border region that has seen almost daily exchanges of fire since the Gaza war broke out last October.

Iran condemns US strike on Baghdad as 'threat' to security
3:26 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Tehran on Thursday strongly condemned a US air strike on Baghdad that killed a pro-Iranian commander, saying it was a violation of neighbouring Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

A statement from Iran's foreign ministry said its spokesman Nasser Kanani "considered the continuation of such adventurism by America as a threat to regional and international peace and security".

At least 300,000 at risk from lack of food in Gaza: UN
3:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hundreds of thousands of people's lives are at risk in north and central Gaza because of a lack of food, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned on Thursday.

UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini said the last time the agency was allowed to deliver supplies to the area was more than two weeks ago on January 23.

Other agencies providing humanitarian aid also reported blocks on getting relief into the Palestinian territory, which has been bombarded by Israel since Hamas's deadly attack on October 7.

"Since the beginning of the year, half of our aid missions requests to the north were denied," Lazzarini wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"The @UN has identified deep pockets of starvation and hunger in northern #Gaza where people are believed to be on the verge of famine.

"At least 300,000 people living in the area depend on our assistance for their survival."

Georgios Petropoulos, head of the UN humanitarian agency OCHA in Gaza, said the territory was being turned "into a wasteland of hunger and despair".

Aid agencies were being blocked, while the few trucks that make it through are mobbed by locals, who in north Gaza were "on the edge of starvation", he told AFP on Wednesday.

"They congregate by trucks and other vehicles carrying goods sometimes in their thousands, and unload them in minutes," he added.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon despair at UN agency funding
3:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Fakhria al-Ali depends on the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees for her breast cancer treatment in Lebanon, but after key countries suspended their financing, she fears she has been handed a death sentence.

"My life is a nightmare," the unemployed 50-year-old told French news agency AFP, who lives in the impoverished Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon.

"Without UNRWA I would die," she added, referring to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The agency is under fire over Israeli accusations that 12 staff members were involved in Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel.

More than a dozen countries including the United States and Britain have suspended funding to the agency, which sacked the accused individuals.

Some 5.9 million Palestinians are registered with UNRWA in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and can access assistance such as health care and social services.

"An entire people will face death- those with cancer like me first of all," Ali told AFP.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon demonstrate in front of UNRWA office [Getty]
Family says two American brothers detained in Israeli raid
3:13 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli forces detained two young adult American brothers in Gaza and their Canadian father in an overnight raid on their home in the besieged Palestinian territory, relatives of the men said.

A US Embassy official in Jerusalem reached by telephone from Washington said Americans officials were aware of the situation and were following up with Israeli authorities.

The embassy official gave no details and ended the call without giving her name. The Israeli foreign ministry and military had no immediate comment.

Borak Alagha, 18, and Hashem Alagha, 20, two brothers born in the Chicago area, are among fewer than 50 US citizens known to still be trying to leave sealed-off Gaza, nearly four months into the Israel's war on Gaza.

Numerous other US green-card holders and close relatives of the citizens and permanent residents also are still struggling and unable to leave, despite US requests, according to their American families and advocates.

Cousin Yasmeen Elagha, a law student at Northwestern University, said Israeli forces entered the family home in the town of al-Masawi, near Khan Younis, around 5 a.m. Gaza time Thursday.

The soldiers tied up and blindfolded the women and children in the family, and placed them outside the home, the cousin said.

The two American brothers, their Canadian citizen father, a mentally disabled uncle and two other adult male relatives were taken away by the Israelis, and remain missing, Elagha said.

PRCS says shrapnel from artillery shellings hits hospital
3:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) says that the lives of medical staff members and patients are endangered at southern Gaza's Al-Amal Hospital.

As Israel continues its attacks in Khan Younis, the main city in Gaza's south, the organisation that runs the hospital said that “very close artillery shelling” had shrapnel hit the hospital building “amidst continued heavy gunfire”.

Israeli destruction to make Gaza 'buffer zone' a 'war crime'
2:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's reported ongoing destruction of all buildings along the border inside Gaza with the aim of creating a "buffer zone" is a war crime, the UN rights chief warned on Thursday.

Israel's "extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, amounts to a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime", Volker Turk said in a statement.

Putin says Russia is working to free hostages in Gaza war
2:48 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Vladimir Putin told leaders of Russia's Jewish community that Moscow had achieved "specific results" in diplomatic efforts to free hostages caught up in Israel's conflict in Gaza, according to Russian news agencies.

The agencies said Putin made the comments at a meeting with Russia's chief rabbi, Berl Lazar, and the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Alexander Boroda. Putin said Russia had made use of its contacts with the political wing of Hamas.

"You know, since the situation became more tense in the Middle East, Russia has been doing everything to help people who became hostages," Putin was quoted as saying.

"As is known, our Foreign Ministry worked through the political wing of Hamas and, on the whole, there have been specific results."

Putin did not elaborate, according to the reported comments.

Moscow's efforts, though directed at helping Russian nationals, also sought to help others, the president said.

"They include elderly people and their family members who survived the Holocaust," he was quoted as saying.

"But I know, I understand, that it is vital to carry on with these efforts. And that is what we are doing."

Displaced Gazans find resort to living in chicken sheds
2:28 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

With one million Gazans displaced from their homes by Israeli bombardments seeking refuge in the border town of Rafah, five families have moved into a chicken farm, living in its long concrete sheds, the battery coops transformed into bunk beds.

For the Hanoon family, one of five in an extended clan that have moved in there, the chicken farm feels close to rock bottom.

"We're living in a place meant for animals," Umm Mahdi Hanoon told news agency Reuters, standing among the cages. "Imagine a child sleeping in a chicken crate."

"The place is very bad. Water leaks down on us. The cold is really harsh for the children, for the old people, for those who are ill... sometimes we wish the morning won't come," she said.

Her son Mahdi said they had lived in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood of Gaza City, an area that came under the path of Israel's military offensive early in the war.

"We moved to al-Zawayda. Due to the shelling we looked for another place but couldn't find one because there are a lot of us. Then an acquaintance, a friend of my cousin's, told me there's a chicken farm in Rafah with cages," he told Reuters.

"We struggled at first. There were insects. We have children," he said, initially thinking they would only be there for a couple of days.

But as the time went by they had to accept that the chicken sheds would be their home for much longer. They used the metal frames of the cages as beds and cook bread, when they manage to find flour, on a metal stove on the floor.

"It is hard to live in a place like this, a place which was designed for chicken and birds. You find yourself in a cage," Mahdi said.

Barcelona street art installation calls for peace in Gaza
2:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 An art installation calling for an end to fighting in Gaza and peace between Israelis and Palestinians by French street artist James Colomina popped up on Thursday on downtown Barcelona's Ramblas boulevard.

Titled "The Children of Peace", it features statues - painted entirely in Colomina's hallmark bright red - of two children, one wearing a Jewish kippah and the other a Palestinian keffiyeh as headdress, holding hands.

They stand in front of a white canvas displaying a heart shape containing the peace symbol, all made with red handprints.

"This is asking for peace between the two peoples," pensioner Renee Sanchez told Reuters, 67, as she walked by. "That's what we all want. Let everyone live their lives and forget about so much hatred."

Colomina, who was not present at the site, told the news agency that he chose Barcelona because it was a "city where street art shines out to the world".

The display was removed by construction workers after about four hours.

Colomina's red statues of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a toy tank have appeared in playgrounds in various parks around the world, such as New York City's Central Park, London's Regent's Park or Rome's Villa Borghese gardens.

Biden to host King Abdullah at White House on February 12
2:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US President Joe Biden will host Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington on February 12, the White House said on Thursday, adding the two leaders will discuss the ongoing situation in Gaza and efforts to "produce an enduring end to the crisis."

Former French leader: Gazans killed are 'collateral victims'
1:11 PM
The New Arab Staff

France's former president Francois Hollande said French citizens killed in Gaza were "collateral victims" after paying tribute to those killed in Israel on October 7.

Hollande's comments came after a journalist questioned him during a ceremony in Paris about whether there was any double standards in the reactions to the killings in Israel and in Gaza- as well as whether tributes for people in Gaza also deserved a tribute.

 “It cannot be the same tribute. A life is a life and one life is equivalent to another but there are victims of terrorism and victims of war," he said.

"Being a victim of terrorism means being attacked as a French person or as a defender of a way of life. A collateral victim, you are in war… it’s not of the same nature."

French author and activist Fatima Ouassak slammed the former leader's remarks and referred to him as a "racist".

"François Hollande is racist. Disgusting," Ouassak wrote in post on X.

"Support for the Palestinian people, victims of the colonial and supremacist ferocity of the West. To weigh in: demonstrations, boycott, elections."

6,920 Palestinians arrested in West Bank since October 7
1:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society reported that more than 6,920 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since October 7.

"This includes those who were arrested from their homes, military checkpoints, and those who were forced to surrender themselves under pressure,” the group said.

The arrests were also said to be part of the “comprehensive aggression against the Palestinian people and the ongoing genocide in Gaza”, it added.

PRCS says Israeli killing of paramedic was 'deliberate'
1:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) says that the killing of paramedic Mohammed al-Omari and two other injuries following a mission to evacuate a number of wounded people on Wednesday was intentional.

“This brings the number of colleagues killed while carrying out their humanitarian work since the beginning of the war on Gaza to 12,” the organisation said.

Biden aides to meet with Arab, Muslim leaders in Michigan
12:57 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Senior US officials will visit the 2024 election battleground state of Michigan on Thursday to meet with Arab-American and Muslim leaders critical of President Joe Biden for not calling for a permanent ceasefire in Israel's attacks on Gaza.

The officials include US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, Steve Benjamin, White House public engagement director; and his deputy, Jamie Citron, a White House official said.

Other officials include Tom Perez, who heads the White House office of intergovernmental affairs; his deputy, Dan Koh; Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser; and Mazen Basrawi, director for partnerships and global engagement at the National Security Council, the official said.

The meetings come weeks after community leaders in southeastern Michigan refused to meet with Biden campaign officials, saying they would only engage with policymakers on ending Israel's attacks on Gaza and getting aid to Palestinians.


On Tuesday, over 30 elected officials across Michigan said they would vote "uncommitted" in Michigan's Democratic primary on February 27 to protest Biden's response to the war in Gaza, and others have said they will not vote for Biden in November.

Administration officials say the meetings are part of their ongoing engagement with community leaders and elected officials since the October 7 Hamas attacks on southern Israel.

Ahmad Chebbani, founder and chairman of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, said community leaders remained skeptical. "They should have engaged with us months ago. I think this thing is irreversible. You can't really cover up 30,000 people dead," he told Reuters.

Israeli war cabinet member Gantz thanks Blinken for support
12:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli war cabinet member and retired army general Benny Gantz has praised US secretary of state Antony Blinken- as well as the Biden administration- for their attempts in planning efforts to release the captives in Gaza. 

Gantz said that they discussed promoting normalising ties with Saudi Arabia, finding a solution to intensifying hostilities along the border with Lebanon, and Iranian threats.

He said that he told Blinken that the transfer of aid into Gaza through Hamas would mean fighting would continue and would hurt Gazans.

Canada has yet found any links between UNRWA and Hamas
12:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Canadian government officials have told Canadian news outlet CBC News that Israel has yet disclosed any proof of its claims that 12 UNRWA employees took part in the October 7 attack on Israel.

The sources said that Canada's decision to pull funding from the UN agency was due to UNRWA's decision to fire staff members- which was said to be seen as credible evidence to Israel's accusation.

Israeli forces set fire to 3,000 housing units in Gaza
12:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces has reportedly set fire to 3,000 housing units that led to financial losses that that go up to tens of millions of dollars, according to the Gaza media office.

The office also emphasised that Israel's actions as "continued violations of international law”.

“The Israeli occupation forces deliberately burn homes in order to inflict damage and losses on citizens, especially those forced to leave their homes and were displaced,” it said in a statement.

“Many occupation soldiers posted videos and photographs of themselves on social media while they participated in the unjustified burning of houses in Gaza, and showing their joy in the burning operations.”

Iraq slams US after strike kills pro-Iran commander
12:39 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iraq on Thursday condemned a US air strike that killed a senior commander from a pro-Iran armed group accused of having been involved in attacks on American troops in the region.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the commander killed Wednesday was targeted "in response to the attacks on US service members".

The strike killed "a Kataeb Hezbollah commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on US forces in the region," according to CENTCOM.

"The United States will continue to take necessary action to protect our people. We will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces' safety," it added.

Iraqi authorities slammed the strike as a "blatant assassination" in a residential neighbourhood of Baghdad.

"The international coalition is completely overstepping the reasons and objectives for which it is present on our territory," said Yehia Rasool, the military spokesman for Iraq's prime minister.

"This path pushes the Iraqi government more than ever before to end the coalition's mission which has become a factor of instability for Iraq," he added.

He was referring to the US-led international military alliance formed in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group- the year it overran nearly a third of Iraq's territory.

Jordan's Abdullah to meet Biden to lobby end of Gaza war
12:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Jordan's King Abdullah began on Thursday a tour of major western capitals that will take him to the United States to meet President Joe Biden to lobby for an end to the war in Gaza, the royal palace said.

The monarch, who first visits France and Germany, would also hold talks in the United States with top Congressional leaders, politicians and administration officials. The statement did not give a date for the meeting with Biden.

Iranian FM expected in Lebanon on Friday: state media
12:28 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will travel to Lebanon on Friday to discuss various regional issues, Iranian media reported on Thursday. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian [Getty]
German air defence frigate leaves port for Red Sea mission
12:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Germany sent a powerful air defence frigate on Thursday to join an European Union naval mission in the Red Sea that will be launched in mid-February to protect merchant ships from attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis.

Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels following attacks by the Houthis, who control much of Yemen and say they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel  wages war in Gaza.

"Free sea trade routes are the basis of our industry and of our capability to defend ourselves," the chief of the German navy, Vice Admiral Jan Christian Kaack, told reporters in Berlin.

"The current situation in the Red Sea has already caused bottlenecks in supply and forced some companies to stop their production," he said, adding that more than 90% of all goods reached Europe and Germany by sea.

The United States and other countries in December launched a mission to allay fears that disruption in one of the world's top trading arteries could hit the global economy.

But some US allies, notably European countries, have raised reservations about the plan, which has seen the US and Britain launch air strikes on Houthi positions, and baulked at the idea of being under Washington's command.

France, Greece and Italy are among the countries that will participate in the EU mission named Aspides, meaning protector, that initially will see three vessels under EU command.

They will be mandated to protect commercial ships and intercept attacks, but not take part in strikes against the Houthis on land.

The German frigate Hesse left its North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven for the Red Sea, but its participation in the mission still hinges on an EU mandate and national parliamentary approval expected at the end of February.

The vessel is built for air defence, equipped with radars that can detect targets at a range of up to 400 kms (248 miles) and missiles to shoot down targets such as ballistic missiles and drones at a range of more than 160 kms.

"We expect the entire spectrum of direct and indirect attacks, reaching from wide-ranging ballistic missiles ... to drones and remote-controlled boats in kamikaze mode," Kaack said. 

US conducted strikes against mobile anti-ship cruise missile
12:19 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Central Command forces conducted self-defence strikes on Wednesday against two Houthi mobile anti-ship cruise missiles prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea, a statement said on Thursday.

"Later that day, at 11:30 p.m. (Sanaa time), CENTCOM forces conducted a second strike against a Houthi mobile land attack cruise missile prepared to launch," the statement added.

Hamas 'open' to more ceasefire talks: Palestinian official
12:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas still wants to discuss a ceasefire in its war with Israel, a Palestinian official close to the militant group told French news agenxy AFP Thursday, despite a rejection of its initial offer.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday dismissed the organisation's ceasefire proposal, calling it "bizarre" and vowing to press on with military action until "total victory".

The Palestinian official said a Hamas delegation would meet Egyptian officials in Cairo from Thursday, who would then work with Qatari representatives to find more common ground.

"We expect the negotiations to be very complex and difficult but Hamas is open to discussions and the movement is keen to reach a ceasefire," added the official, who is familiar with the negotiations.

"The two parties will hold several rounds of negotiations indirectly," he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on this sensitive issue.

"Hamas' response, which reached Egypt and Qatar and was seen by the United States and other parties, included an offer to release detained Israeli children, women, the elderly, and the sick," the official added.

"In return, Israel would release a number of Palestinian prisoners, which will be discussed starting today (Thursday)."

The first phase would include allowing 400 to 500 aid trucks carrying food, medicine and fuel to enter Gaza daily, with widespread concerns about a humanitarian crisis in the territory.

Talks during the first pause in fighting would look for a deal on the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza and a return of the displaced, the official said.

"Hamas will insist that Turkey and Russia stand alongside Egypt, Qatar, the United States, and France to ensure the implementation of the agreement in all its stages, including a permanent ceasefire and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip," the official added.

Unilever takes sales hit in Indonesia over BDS
11:51 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain's Unilever said on Thursday that fourth-quarter sales growth in Southeast Asia had been hurt by shoppers in Indonesia boycotting brands of multinational companies "in response to the geopolitical situation in the Middle East."

The maker of Dove soap, Knorr stock cubes and Ben & Jerry's ice cream is among several Western brands that have seen protests and boycott campaigns against them - particularly in countries with large Muslim populations - over their perceived pro-Israeli stance in the Gaza war.

McDonald's this week posted its first quarterly sales miss in nearly four years, partly due to the conflict in the Middle East. The company said the war had "meaningfully impacted" performance in some overseas markets.

In Indonesia, home to more than 200 million Muslims, Unilever's fourth-quarter sales declined by double-digits, the company said, adding that it has "since seen some improvement to customer and consumer uptake in January".

Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher said the company was otherwise "not seeing material impacts to our supply chain" as a result of the conflict and related attacks on vessels in the Red Sea.

"There are some small interruptions obviously for some key ingredients and on shipping and so forth. So there's some delay but I wouldn't call it material," Schumacher said on a call with journalists.

"We are working with big forwarders and carriers and I'm aware of them taking longer routes," he added, saying that much of Unilever's products and materials are sourced locally and regionally to where they're sold.

Unilever's Ben & Jerry’s board last month called for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The brand announced in July 2021 that it would stop sales in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem, saying selling ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories was "inconsistent with our values".

In 2022, Unilever sold its interest in Ben & Jerry's operations in Israel. 

Children stand in front of a Unilever stand on October 15, 2012 [Getty]
Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo for truce talks
10:25 AM
The New Arab Staff

Led by deputy head Khalil al-Hayya, the Hamas delegation has arrived in Cairo to conduct further talks on a potential ceasefire on the war on Gaza. 

Egyptian officials state that the renewed negotiations will approximately take 10 days before another truce starts as part of the first phase of the deal.

A Qatari delegation is also set to arrive in Egypt to begin “lengthy and in-depth” discussions in order to reach an agreement between Hamas' request in his response, following the original proposal mediated between Doha and Cairo with added comment from the US and Israel.

Osama Hamdan (L), Hamas arab relations chief Khalil al-Hayya (C) in 2022 [Getty]
Health ministry in Gaza says death toll is 27,840
10:15 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in Gaza says war death toll at 27,840.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also called the killing of Palestinian journalists as “horrifying”.

“In four months of conflict, Palestinian journalism has been decimated by Israeli armed forces with complete impunity, with a staggering death toll of more than 84 journalists killed, at least 20 in the line of duty,” RSF said in a statement.

According to Palestinian sources, the number of journalists killed is at least 123.

Minister says families of Canadians still stuck in Gaza
9:39 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller said he was "pissed off" that extended family members of Canadians were being blocked from leaving war-torn Gaza.

Ottawa last month provided a list of about 1,000 people approved to come to Canada to Israeli and Egyptian authorities, who jointly control the only border crossing out of the Palestinian territory, at Rafah.

The measure aimed to reunite Canadian nationals with spouses or common-law partners, children and grandchildren regardless of age, siblings and their immediate families, as well as parents and grandparents.

They would be permitted to stay in Canada temporarily while fighting continues to rage in Gaza. But none have been allowed yet to leave the coastal strip.

"I'm pretty pissed off about it," Miller told reporters.

"Perhaps there is some trepidation by people on the ground as to whether to let these folks out, but it's a humanitarian gesture, and it's immensely frustrating for me," he said.

The Canadian government had previously focused on getting more than 600 Canadians, their spouses and children out of Gaza.

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship [Getty]
Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in occupied West Bank
9:24 AM
The New Arab Staff

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Palestinian man who was reported as having been shot by Israeli forces in west of Nablus has died. 

Palestinian news agency Wafa has also updated its initial report, adding that another Palestinian man was wounded after being shot in the hand.

The outlets reported that clashes ensued between soldiers and Palestinians, after troops closed the checkpoint which prevented those from crossing.

The Israeli military claimed that one of the men attacked soldiers by opening fire as his car was stopped.

Blinken pushes for deal with Israeli cabinet centrists
9:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday discussed ways to secure the release of Gaza hostages with "moderates" in the Israeli war cabinet a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas demands.

Blinken met in Tel Aviv with Benny Gantz and Gabi Eisenkot, two former military chiefs who joined Netanyahu's war cabinet after the October 7 attack in Israel.

The talks aim to focus on “the hostages and the strong desire that we both have to see them returned to their families, the work that’s being done to that end”, Blinken said as they opened the meeting.

“The most urgent issue is of course to find ways to bring back the hostages,” Gantz told Blinken.

“That being done, many things can be achieved.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday with Israeli war cabinet [Getty]
Iraq says US strikes pushing government to end coalition
8:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Repeated US strikes against Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq are pushing the government to end the mission of the US-led coalition in the country, the prime minister's military spokesman Yahya Rasool said on Thursday.

The US military said a strike on Wednesday killed a commander from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed armed group in Iraq that the Pentagon has blamed for attacking its troops.

Rasool said in a statement that the US -led coalition "has become a factor for instability and threatens to entangle Iraq in the cycle of conflict."

The US-led international military coalition in Iraq was set up to fight Islamic State. The United States has 2,500 troops in Iraq, advising and assisting local forces to prevent a resurgence of the group.

Since the Israel's war in Gaza began in October, Iraq and Syria have witnessed almost daily tit-for-tat attacks between hardline Iran-backed armed groups and US forces stationed in the region. 

US: 33 people arrested after Gaza protest in Chicago
8:25 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Police in the the US state of Illinois city of Chicago arrested 33 people Wednesday after they blocked streets for more than six hours outside a company protesters say has a role in the deaths of thousands of civilians in Gaza .

Seven men and 26 women were charged with misdemeanor unlawful assembly following the protest outside Woodward MPC, the Niles Police Department said in a news release.

The company’s website says it makes products for the aerospace and industrial markets.

The 33 protesters were released after being booked, police said, and there were no injuries.

About 100 people participated in the protest, WBBM-TV reported.

US carried out strike against Iran-backed group commander
8:21 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 The United States on Wednesday carried out a strike in Iraq against a commander from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed armed group, three US officials told news agency Reuters.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the commander was responsible for attacks on US forces. 

Fresh Norwegian cash for UN agency for Palestinian refugees
8:19 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Norway on Wednesday announced a fresh donation to the financially stricken UN agency for Palestinian refugees as a humanitarian crisis grips the war-torn Gaza Strip.

UNRWA plays a critical role in distributing aid and providing life-saving assistance to Gaza, where an Israeli siege during the four-month-old war has sparked dire shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel.

Norway's Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said the transfer of 275 million Norwegian kroner ($26 million) would support Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, including occupied east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Gazans are starving and dying of infectious diseases due to a collapsed health system, making the support "more important than ever", added International Development Minister Anne Beathe Tvinnereim.

Palestinian American stabbing is hate crime: US police
8:10 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The stabbing of a Palestinian-American man in Austin, Texas, over the weekend meets the definition of a hate crime and local prosecutors will determine charges, Austin police said on Wednesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) advocacy group said a group of Muslim Americans were driving home from a pro-Palestinian protest on Sunday when the suspect attacked their vehicle at a stop sign.

The suspect, identified by police as Bert James Baker, shouted obscenities and stabbed a 23-year-old Palestinian-American in the chest, CAIR said.

A police statement on Wednesday said the police Hate Crimes Review Committee had determined the incident met the definition of a hate crime. It said local prosecutors will determine any further charges.

The victim's father, Nizar Doar, identified the victim as Zacharia Doar. The father told a CAIR-hosted press conference on Tuesday his son was trying to subdue Baker and suffered a broken rib. The son had since undergone surgery.

Israeli forces: Troops killed over 20 in Khan Younis
8:05 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli military said on Thursday that its troops killed more than 20 Palestinian fighters in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis and apprehended dozens of suspected members over the past day.

Two of those apprehended were suspected of participating in Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, it said.

The military has made similar claims throughout the fighting in Khan Younis, which could not be independently verified. 

Maersk: Red Sea crisis poses uncertainty to 2024 earnings
8:03 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Maersk has reported fourth-quarter profits below expectations and said it expects 2024 earnings well below last year's level amid oversupply of container vessels although uncertainty remains around the impact from Red Sea disruptions.

The company said it expects underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of between $1 billion and $6 billion this year, compared with $9.6 billion achieved last year.

"High uncertainty remains around the duration and degree of the Red Sea disruption with the duration from one quarter to full year reflected in the guidance range," the company said in a statement.

EBITDA dropped to $839 million in the fourth quarter from $6.54 billion a year earlier, lagging analysts' expectations of $1.13 billion.