Hamas warns Israel invasion of Rafah will threaten hostage talks, lead to mass casualties

Hamas warns Israel invasion of Rafah will threaten hostage talks, lead to mass casualties
All eyes are on Rafah as Israel prepares to storm the Gaza Strip's southernmost city, where over a million displaced persons are holed up.
11 min read
11 February, 2024

This live blog on Day 128 of Israel's war on Gaza has concluded. Make sure to follow us for the latest news on FacebookX, and Instagram.

Hamas warned Israel on Sunday that an offensive into Gaza's far-southern city of Rafah, crowded with displaced Palestinians, would threaten talks about the release of hostages seized in the October 7 attacks.

"Any attack by the occupation army on the city of Rafah would undermine the exchange negotiations," a leader in the Palestinian group told AFP, as Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to extend operations.

The Israeli prime minister this week said he had told troops to prepare to go into the city, as part of its aim to destroy Hamas.

But he has faced growing calls not to attack Rafah, on the border with Egypt, the last refuge for Gazans fleeing Israel's relentless bombardment elsewhere in the coastal territory.

Foreign governments, including Israel's main ally the United States, and humanitarian aid groups have voiced deep concern about the impact on displaced civilians.

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5:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog on day 128 of Israel's war on Gaza has now concluded. Thanks for following.

Israeli war has shut down 30 hospitals in Gaza since Oct. 7
5:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel has targeted 53 medical centres and has put 30 hospitals out of service since it began bombing Gaza on October 7, Gaza’s health ministry said.

Jordan's King Abdullah participates in Gaza aid airdrop
5:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jordan's King Abdullah participated in an air drop of humanitarian aid to Gaza, state-owned Al Mamlaka broadcaster said on Sunday.

A video showed the monarch in military gear on board a military plane in the latest missions by the Jordanian air force to drop urgent medical supplies to field hospitals it runs in the war-torn enclave.

It did not give a date when the airdrop took place.

Egypt warns of 'dire consequences' of Rafah assault
5:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egypt warned on Sunday of "dire consequences" of a potential Israeli military assault on the south Gaza city of Rafah near its border.

"Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah," its foreign ministry added in a statement.

UN agency says aid shipment blocked in Israeli port
5:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The main United Nations agency providing aid to Palestinians in Gaza is facing growing administrative hurdles from Israel, with a shipment amounting to a month's supply of food blocked in port, the agency's chief said.

"We have an environment here which is for the time being quite hostile to the agency but there have been some decisions now which are starting to impact the ability of the agency to properly operate," UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini said on Friday.

He said UNRWA had been informed by a contractor that provided handling services in the port of Ashdod that it could no longer continue working with UNRWA, following instructions from the Israeli authorities.

Palestinian president in Qatar to discuss ceasefire efforts
5:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Doha on Sunday for talks on securing a ceasefire in the Gaza war with the Qatari emir, whose country has been at the heart of mediation efforts and hosts political leaders of Hamas.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abbas would meet emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Monday, but did not say if he would also meet leaders of Hamas.

The Palestinian ambassador to Qatar, Munir Ghannam, told Voice of Palestine Radio on Sunday that Abbas and the emir would discuss efforts to secure a Gaza ceasefire with Israel and ways to increase aid for the territory's 2.3 million people.

Germany's foreign minister to travel to Israel next week
4:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will travel to Israel in the middle of next week, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Sunday, a trip in which she said she plans to urge for a ceasefire as Israel prepares to advance on Rafah.

"The distress in Rafah is already beyond belief. 1.3 million people are seeking protection from the fighting in the most limited of space. An offensive by the Israeli army on Rafah would be a humanitarian catastrophe," Baerbock wrote in a post on X on Saturday.

"Israel must defend itself against Hamas terror but at the same time alleviate the suffering of civilians as much as possible. That is why another pause in fighting is needed - also in order for hostages can finally be released. I will discuss ways towards that in Israel again next week," she added in a second post.

Baerbock's visit next week will be her fifth since the outbreak of the war.

UNICEF chief calls for protection of 1.3m displaced in Rafah
3:41 PM
The New Arab Staff

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell has called for the protection of around 1.3 million displaced people in the city of Rafah, noting that it has become one of the most densely populated places on Earth as a result of the war on Gaza.

Biden will speak with Netanyahu on Sunday: White House
3:31 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.S. President Joe Biden will speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, two White House officials said, in what will be the two leaders' first conversation since Biden said Israel's military response in Gaza has been "over the top."

Biden, who is spending the weekend at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, is slated to speak with Netanyahu on Sunday morning, one of the officials said.

Netanyahu told the "Fox News Sunday" program earlier on Sunday that he has not spoken with Biden since the "over the top" comment on Thursday and did not know what the U.S. leader meant by it.

2 Amal Movement members killed in Israeli strike on Lebanon
2:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

Two members of the Lebanese Shia Amal Movement party were killed Sunday in an Israeli airstrike on the village of Shiheen in southern Lebanon.

The airstrike destroyed an entire building in the village where the two were reportedly.

Several members of Amal - a political party and militia led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri - have died since October in cross-border clashes with Israel, spearheaded by Hezbollah.

Netanyahu says 'enough' hostages alive to warrant Gaza war
2:48 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview aired on Sunday on ABC's "This Week" program that "enough" of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza are alive to justify Israel's ongoing war in the region.

Netanyahu says he has not spoken to Biden since criticism
2:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he has not spoken to U.S. President Joe Biden since the president made remarks about Israel's military response to Hamas being "over the top."

Netanyahu was speaking in an interview on the "Fox News Sunday" program.

"I appreciate President Biden's support for Israel since the beginning of the war. I don't know exactly what he meant by that," Netanyahu said in reference to the U.S. leader's comments in an interview aired on Sunday on ABC's "This Week" program.

Smotrich blasts Moody's downgrade of Israel's credit rating
2:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's finance minister on Sunday slammed the decision by financial ratings agency Moody’s to downgrade Israel’s credit rating, saying the announcement is a "political manifesto" that "did not include serious economic claims."

Moody’s dropped the rating on Israel’s debt on Friday, warning that the ongoing war in Gaza and a possible war in the north with Hezbollah could adversely affect Israel’s economy.

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It is the first time Moody’s has lowered Israel’s credit rating, which is used by investors to measure the riskiness of investing in a global entity or government. Moody’s downgraded Israel from A1 to A2 and said the outlook for the country’s economy was "negative." The A2 rating nonetheless continues to carry relatively low risk, according to Moody's.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich angrily dismissed the decision. The announcement "reflects a lack of confidence in Israel’s security and national strength, and also a lack of confidence in the righteousness of Israel’s path against its enemies," he said in a statement from his office.

Thousands in Morocco protest ties with 'genocidal' Israel
1:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Thousands of Moroccans on Sunday again took to the streets of their capital to call for an end to their country's ties with Israel, which they denounced for genocide in Gaza.

"Normalisation is treason," and "Stop the massacre," read banners protesters carried in front of Morocco's parliament in the centre of Rabat.

AFP journalists estimated more than 10,000 people joined the rally, some of them carrying an immense Palestinian flag.

US forces strike USVs, anti-ship cruise missiles near Yemen
1:48 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said  Sunday its forces on February 10 had carried out strikes on two unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and three anti-ship cruise missiles north of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah that were threatening ships in the area.

"CENTCOM identified these USVs and missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region," it added.

Palestinian journalist killed by Israeli snipers in Gaza
1:46 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian journalist Yasser Mamdouh was reportedly shot dead by Israeli army snipers in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Sunday.

Hamas says 2 hostages killed, 8 wounded in Israeli strikes
11:51 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli strikes on the Gaza strip during the past 96 hours have killed two Israeli hostages and seriously injured eight others, Hamas' armed-wing Al Qassam Brigades announced on Sunday over the group's Telegram channel.

"Their conditions are becoming more dangerous in light of the inability to provide them with appropriate treatment. (Israel) bears full responsibility for the lives of those injured in light of their continued bombing," the statement said.

IMF chief says Gaza war 'devastating' Palestinian economy
11:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israel-Hamas war has devastated the economies of both the embattled Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, the International Monetary Fund's chief said Sunday, adding that only "durable peace" would improve the outlook.

"The Palestinian economy's dire outlook is worsening as the conflict persists," managing director Kristalina Georgieva told the World Governments Summit in Dubai.

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"Only a durable peace and political solution will fundamentally change it".

"Economically, the impact of the conflict has been devastating," Georgieva said.

In the war-ravaged coastal territory, economic activity dropped 80 percent from October through December compared with a year earlier, the IMF chief said.

In the West Bank, the drop was 22 percent, she added.

Egypt warns of suspending peace deal if Israel storms Rafah
11:18 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egypt is threatening to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if Israeli troops are sent into the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah, and says fighting there could force the closure of the territory's main aid supply route, two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said Sunday.

Red Sea attacks' impact on Egypt can be partly absorbed: MoF
11:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egypt's Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said part of the impact on Suez Canal revenue of the Red Sea attacks on vessels could be absorbed, thanks to previous growth which had been doing well before the incidents started.

Iran revolution anniversary marchers chant 'death to Israel'
11:00 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hundreds of thousands of people chanted "Death to Israel" in rallies across Iran to mark the Islamic Revolution's 45th anniversary on Sunday, with some burning U.S. and Israeli flags amid the ongoing Gaza war.

President Ebrahim Raisi, in a televised speech, accused Tehran's arch-foe the United States and some Western countries of backing "the Zionist regime's (Israel) crimes against humanity in Gaza".

State TV said millions had turned out at rallies and it showed large crowds chanting "Death to Israel, Death to America!" State media published a picture of some marchers hanging an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a noose.


Israeli army puts last ambulance out of service at Amal Hosp
10:21 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Red Crescent said the Israeli army targeted the main gate of Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, causing damage to the building and putting the hospital's only remaining ambulance out of service.

Hamas warns Rafah ops will 'blow up' hostage exchange talks
10:17 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah on the Gaza border will "blow up" the hostage exchange negotiations," the Hamas-run Aqsa Television channel quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying on Sunday.

US-led coalition blocked attack at Conoco oil field in Syria
10:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Air defence systems operated by U.S.-led coalition troops based in eastern Syria halted six drone attacks targeting their base at the Conoco oil field on Saturday evening, a security source said.

The source did not tell Reuters if there were casualties.

Gaza death toll reaches 28,176: health ministry
9:26 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in the Gaza Strip on Sunday said that at least 28,176 people have been killed in the besieged territory in Israel's air and ground offensive.

The latest toll includes 112 deaths over the past 24 hours.

The ministry added a total of 67,784 have been wounded since the start of the war on October 7.

UNRWA head responds to Israeli claims of Hamas tunnel
9:12 AM
The New Arab Staff

Commissioner-General of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarani responded to claims by the Israeli military that it found a Hamas tunnel underneath the agency's Gaza City headquarters.

Israel claims Hamas tunnel found under UN agency Gaza HQ
9:01 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli military claimed on Saturday that they had discovered a Hamas tunnel under the Gaza City headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

UNRWA said in response that it had not operated from the base since October 12, and called for an independent investigation.

Hamas has previously denied Israeli claims that it has dug an extensive network of tunnels under schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure as cover for its activities.

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