Hamas will accept Gaza truce only if Israel ends war and fully withdraws

Hamas will accept Gaza truce only if Israel ends war and fully withdraws
Hamas has said it will accept a ceasefire in Gaza on the condition that Israel ends the war and fully withdraws from the Palestinian enclave.
17 min read
01 February, 2024

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

Hamas on Thursday said it is willing to immediately accept a ceasefire only if Israel agrees to end the war and fully withdraw its forces from Gaza.

The Palestinian group's leader Ismail Haniyeh is in Cairo today for negotiations over a potential deal. However, Israeli the Israeli media have reported fears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be trying to sabotage any new truce agreement amid far-right resistance to any deal with Hamas.

This comes as Israeli forces have launched an assault around al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, with Nasser medical facility also under a military siege, with the death toll rising to over 27,000.

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6:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog is now wrapping up. We will be back again at 9am GMT with full coverage of the situation in Gaza. Goodnight! 

Gazans 'tortured relentlessly' by Israel
5:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Gazans released from Israeli detention on Thursday displayed injuries at a hospital in Rafah and told AFP they had been abused by their jailers.

Israeli soldiers have rounded up scores of Gazans during their months-long invasion of the Palestinian territory, holding them without charge before releasing some in groups.

Khaled al-Nabrisse, a resident of the southern Khan Younis area, was among those freed Thursday.

Wearing a neck brace, he claimed in comments to AFP that Palestinians had been "tortured relentlessly".

"During the first 72 hours, drinking, eating or going to the toilets was banned, and we were handcuffed and blindfolded for those seven days" in detention, the 48-year-old said.

Palestinian journalist documents destruction of Gaza City
5:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

Journalist Momin Abuowda has posted video on his Instagram account that shows the wreckage of Gaza City after the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

“After more than 90 days, the Israeli occupation forces withdrew from the twin junction in the north of Gaza Strip,” Abuowda wrote.

Lazzarini says UNRWA could shut down by 'end of February'
4:51 PM
The New Arab Staff

Philippe Lazzarini has said that at the time of the International Court of Justice ruling more aid needs to enter Gaza, it's the time to "reinforce and not weaken UNRWA".

The head of the Palestinian refugee agency is appealing to a host of top donor countries, including the US and UK, who suspended funding after a handful of agency staff were alleged by Israel to have been complicit in the October 7 attack. 

This suspension of funding could lead to the shutdown of UNRWA, which provides vital aid to 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, by the end of the month, as Lazzarini says.

Israel has said in no uncertain terms that it wants UNRWA to be destroyed.

Austin: US will respond to attack on military base in Jordan
4:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

Speaking at a press conference, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has reiterated that Washington will have a multitiered response to the deadly attack in Jordan last week.

Three American soldiers were killed in a drone attack in Jordan at a US military base known as Tower 22 near the Syrian and Iraqi borders.

Austin added that it was a dangerous moment in the Middle East but Washington would work to avoid a wider conflict.

UN chief Guterres: 'Everyone in Gaza is hungry'
4:14 PM
The New Arab Staff

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again renewed his call for unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza in an X post.

He made a similar appeal yesterday during a speech at the UN, before the organisation’s head of humanitarian relief, Martin Griffiths, said that the entry of aid into Gazza was still being blocked.


Iran withdraws IRGC officers from Syria amid Israel strikes
4:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Reuters news service says that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has pulled top officers from Syria after recent Israeli strikes there have killed a number of its members, including one of its top generals.

Citing five unnamed sources “familiar with the matter”, Reuters says Iran will rely more on its local partners in Syria, its allied Shia militias, to “preserve its sway” there.

Three of the sources cited say that this decision was made by Iran in order to avoid being dragged into a regional conflict with Israel and its allies, as hardliners within the country demand retaliation for a number of Israeli strikes that since December have killed more than a dozen members of the IRGC

US approves strikes against Iranian targets in Iraq, Syria
3:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States has approved plans for multi-day strikes in Iraq and Syria against multiple targets, including Iranian personnel and facilities, CBS News reported on Thursday, citing U.S. officials.

President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he had made up his mind on how to respond to a drone attack in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border this week that killed three U.S. service members and wounded more than 40. The U.S. blamed the drone attack on Iran-backed militants.

Biden's top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said on Monday the U.S. response "could be multi-leveled, come in stages, and be sustained over time."

In its report, CBS did not provide details on what a U.S. approval meant in terms of a timeline for the strikes.

The drone attack was the first deadly strike against U.S. forces since Israel began its war on Gaz ain October, and marked an escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.

U.S. officials have weight how to punish Iran-backed militias without triggering a wider war.

MSF: women in Gaza giving birth in 'dire circumstances'
3:36 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, has expressed alarm over the “deteriorating lack of healthcare” for pregnant women in Gaza.

“Women stuck in dire conditions are giving birth in tents and public buildings. Those who manage to deliver in a hospital often return to makeshift shelters hours after undergoing a caesarean.” the group said in a social media post.

MSF described the experience of one Palestinian woman, Maha, whose name it changed to protect her privacy: She “went into labor as she arrived to hospital, only to be turned away because all delivery rooms were full. She returned to her makeshift tent in the cold. Unable to return to hospital, she gave birth to her deceased son in a public bathroom.

Biden to issue order on West Bank Jewish settler violence
3:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US. President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order on Thursday targeting Jewish settlers who attack Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, a source familiar with the matter said.

The order was to be released on Thursday, the person told the Reuters news agency.

The move comes after Biden and other senior U.S. officials have warned repeatedly that Israel must act to stop violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. Attacks there have surged in recent months as Jewish settlements have expanded, and then spiked again since October 7.

In December, the United States began imposing visa bans on people involved in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Since the 1967 Middle East war, Israel has occupied the West Bank of the Jordan River, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state. It has built Jewish settlements there that are illegal under international law. Israel disputes this and cites historical and biblical ties to the land.

Politico first reported the action, citing documents, a U.S. official and a congressional aide. The order was expected to include sanctions against the settlers, the news outlet reported

Israeli defence minister says UNRWA is ‘Hamas with facelift’
2:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

Yoav Gallant has told a visiting delegation of ambassadors to the United Nations that the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, is “Hamas with a facelift” and has “lost its legitimacy to exist in its current form.”

“Funds from countries all over the world have been funnelled through UNRWA and used to strengthen terror infrastructure, and to pay terrorists,” the defence minister was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying.

A statement from the defence ministry did not say where the meeting with the delegation led by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan took place and who the international members of the delegation were.

More than 150 UNRWA staff have been killed in Gaza since Israel began bombing the territory, the largest number of UN personnel killed in an operation since World War II.

Palestinian officials steps taken by some Western countries to suspend funding to the agency constitute “collective punishment” against millions of Palestinians refugees.

Hamas unlikely to reject truce, but demand Israel withdrawal
2:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas is unlikely to reject a Gaza ceasefire proposal it received from mediators this week, but will not sign it without assurances that Israel has committed to ending the war, a Palestinian official close to the talks said on Thursday.

Qatari and Egyptian mediators presented Hamas this week with the first concrete proposal for an extended halt to fighting in Gaza, agreed with Israel and the United States at talks in Paris last week. Hamas has said it is studying the text and preparing a response.

The Palestinian official said the Paris text envisions a first phase lasting 40 days, during which fighting would cease while Hamas freed remaining civilians from among more than 100 hostages it is still holding. Further phases would see the release of Israeli soldiers and the handover of bodies of dead hostages.

"I expect that Hamas will not reject the paper, but it might not give a decisive agreement either," said the Palestinian official speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Instead, I expect them to send a positive response, and reaffirm their demands: for the agreement to be signed, it must ensure Israel will commit to ending the war in Gaza and pull out from the enclave completely."

The head of the Hamas political unit in exile, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters in a message that the group had nothing to add since it announced two days ago that it was studying the truce offer.

Russia 'monitoring' Red Sea impact on energy markets
2:13 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia is closely following the spillover of tensions in the Red Sea onto the global energy market, a top Moscow official said Thursday.

Alexander Novak, Russia's deputy prime minister who oversees the country's energy policy, said the situation in the Red Sea had "significantly" affected "trading relations and logistics chains."

"It is important that there is constant monitoring of the situation, so that at any moment joint decisions can be made to adjust our joint actions designed to correct and balance the market," he said on state TV.

Novak was referring to Russia's participation in the OPEC+ oil alliance -- an agreement between some of the world's top producers, led by Saudi Arabia, to manage oil output and exports to support prices on the global market.

Global oil prices have risen about 10 percent since early December.

Norway 'reasonably optimistic' for UNRWA funding to return
2:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told news agency Reuters on Thursday he was "reasonably optimistic" some countries that had paused funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) would resume payments.

UNRWA on Thursday said its entire operations in the Middle East, not only in Gaza, will most likely be forced to shut down by the end of February if its funding remains suspended.

"I am reasonably optimistic that we will get funding back on track," Barth Eide said in an interview.

He said "many countries" were realising that the current situation could not last very long. He declined to name specific countries.

"They're looking for a way out. And maybe if now UNRWA comes up quickly with a good response, which is accepted as serious, they will then happily restart," said the minister.

"Because I think we hear from several governments, and also governments, who have been vocal publicly about the need to suspend, that they understand the very, very serious consequences."

Over 30,000 displaced in Khan Younis without water or food
1:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 30,000 displaced people in schools near Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis have no water, food or baby formula.

The ministry called on the UN and its institutions to intervene urgently to respond to the needs of the displaced.

UNRWA could 'shutdown by February' amid funding suspensions
1:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA)'s operations in the Middle East, not only in Gaza, will most likely be forced to shut down by the end of February if its funding remains suspended, Director of communications at UNRWA Juliette Touma confirmed to the Reuters news agency on Thursday.

Dozens of Palestinians detained by Israel in West Bank raid
1:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces reportedly detained over 40 Palestinians, including a woman, in a series of raids on Wednesday, as reported by Palestinian news outlet WAFA.

The incidents included:

  • In Bethlehem, a significant operation led to the detention of at least 28 Palestinians.
  • A military checkpoint near Salem saw two individuals being detained.
  • In Tubas, forces detained one Palestinian.
  • During a raid in Arraba town, four Palestinians were apprehended.
  • The village of Beit Iba was the site where one Palestinian was rounded up.
  • Two young men and a 17-year-old boy were detained from Ain al-Sultan camp.
  • A military operation in Yatta resulted in two Palestinians being detained.
Disease rises in Gaza due to displacement
12:56 PM
The New Arab Staff

The WHO says it has provided UNRWA with EWARS – an application designed to improve disease outbreak detection in emergency settings – in response to the disease spread and struggling healthcare system.

In a post on X, the WHO said health centres and clinics in the Middle Area, Khan Younis, and Rafah now have the tools for timely monitoring and management of diseases like diarrhoea, respiratory infections and acute jaundice. 

100 prominent personalities call on EU to act on Gaza
12:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

A group of 100 political leaders, humanitarians, artists and scholars has called on the EU to do more to uphold international law in Gaza and make efforts to bring peace to Palestine and Israel.

Ahead of a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels this weekend, the Call4Peace initiative sent the EU an open letter in which it denounced its inaction.

“We deeply regret the lack of leadership from Europe and are appalled by the weak reactions from the international community to the extreme violence in Gaza and Israel,” the group said in the letter.

“We denounce the horrors perpetrated by Hamas on Israel on October 7th, which ensued with hostages still captive to this day, as well as the disproportionate military action by Israeli forces, which has resulted in mass destruction in Gaza and an unprecedented rate of civilian killing among Palestinians. The European Union cannot wait to act.’’

Signatories include former Irish President Mary Robinson, Swedish politician Margot Wallstrom, American political activist Jody Williams, writer Jonathan Littell and Nepalese-French spiritual leader Matthieu Ricard.

Iraqi, Saudi FMs discuss continuing contact to avoid war
12:36 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, in a phone call with his Saudi counterpart on Thursday, condemned an attack on a US military outpost on neighboring Jordanian territory near the border with Syria, state media reported.

The two ministers agreed on continuing contact between the two countries in order to assure avoidance of danger of war spreading in the region. 

Explosion reported near ship off Yemen coast: UK agency
12:32 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An explosion was reported near a ship off the Red Sea coast of Yemen, British maritime security agency UKMTO said Thursday, adding that both the vessel and crew are safe.

"Master reports an explosion a distance off the vessel's starboard side" west of the port city of Hodeida, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said, adding that "vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to the next port of call".

There was no immediate claim for the blast, which followed a flurry of Red Sea missile strikes by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

UN Palestinian aid agency warns cuts may force shutdown
12:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN aid agency for Palestinians said Thursday that international funding cuts may force the shutdown of operations across the region "by the end of February".

Several major donor countries to UNRWA said they would suspend funding after Israel alleged 12 agency employees took part in Hamas's October 7 attack.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said that "if the funding remains suspended, we will most likely be forced to shut down our operations by end of February not only in Gaza but also across the region".

PRCS rescue crew sent to save young girl still missing
12:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Cross Society (PRCS) say it still has not heard from the ambulance crew 66 hours after it was sent to rescue a six-year-old girl called Hind in northern Gaza.

Hind was trapped in a car with the bodies of her family members, one of whom was killed while on the phone pleading for help from the PRCS.

Gaza death toll surpasses 27,000
11:04 AM
The New Arab Staff

At least 27,019 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli attacks since October 7 while another 66,139 have been wounded, the health ministry in the besieged enclave has just said.

Indictment petition filed in Supreme Court against Netanyahu
10:50 AM
The New Arab Staff

Nine people, including former army chiefs Moshe Ya’alon and Dan Halutz, have filed a petition in the Israeli Supreme Court to pursue an indictment of PM Netanyahu, Haaretz reported.

The petition argues that Netanyahu holding the position of prime minister, while having criminal charges, is a conflict of interest. The petitioners say Netanyahu is motivated more by his personal interests rather than those of the country, the public or the captives held in Gaza and their families.


82-year-old Gaza woman with Alzheimer’s imprisoned by Israel
9:53 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli news outlet Haaretz reports that the Israeli military detained an 82-year-old Gaza resident suffering from Alzheimer’s, labeling her an “unlawful combatant.”

Fahamiya Khalidi was apprehended and detained while sheltering from Israeli artillery fire in a Gaza school in early December of last year.

Physicians for Human Rights uncovered that the senior citizen was confined at Israel’s Damon Prison. During her imprisonment, she was denied the opportunity to consult with an attorney and was only released following a successful appeal.

Khalidi, who relies on a wheelchair for mobility, was reportedly not the sole elderly and infirm detainee at Damon, as revealed though the accounts of a wide range of fellow prisoners.

Upon her release, Khalidi was admitted to a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip,, with many aspects of her being unable to piece together the events of her capture due to her condition.

Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque
9:34 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that dozens of Israeli settlers, protected by the Israeli police, have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Witnesses said they entered in separate groups and conducted mock tours through the mosque’s courtyards.

Israeli settlers blocking Gaza aid in Ashdod port
9:22 AM
The New Arab Staff

Footage shared on social media shows Israeli settlers inspecting trucks at Israel’s Ashdod port and only allowing those not carrying aid for Gaza to pass through.

Hamas leader expected in Egypt for truce talks
8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected in Cairo today as the Palestinian group reviews a proposal for a six-week truce.

Qatari and Egyptian-led mediation efforts forged the proposal in Paris last week alongside CIA chief William Burns. The proposal is a three-stage plan that would begin with an initial six-week halt to the fighting and more aid deliveries into Gaza.

Only “women, children and sick men over 60” held by Hamas would be freed during that stage in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the AFP news agency quoted a source as saying who added that there would also be “negotiations around the withdrawal of Israeli forces” with more phases of captive-prisoner exchanges.

Over 12 bodies found in Khan Younis after Israeli retreat
8:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ambulance crews and civilians have recovered about 14 bodies of Palestinians after a partial retreat of Israeli vehicles from a Khan Younis refugee camp towards other areas inside the city.

Footage obtained by Al Jazeera shows the bodies arriving at Nasser Hospital to be prepared for burial.

They show funeral prayers being performed in the presence of distraught relatives in the hospital’s courtyard.

Netanyahu may be sabotaging Gaza deal, Israeli media say
8:38 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli media have reported fears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be trying to sabotage continuing talks to reach a new agreement with Hamas on a temporary truce in the Gaza war and an exchange of Israeli hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails.

The Haaretz daily cited an unnamed official involved in talks with the US, Qatar and Egypt to reach a deal as expressing concern that Netanyahu’s public comments on the deal may be meant to discourage Hamas from accepting it.

Netanyahu, who has been under intense pressure from his far-right coalition partners, said on 30 January that Israel would not withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip or agree to a large-scale release of Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal.

The unnamed source told Haaretz that a halt in negotiations would allow for Israel to continue fighting in Gaza while blaming Hamas for failed talks.

Qatar ties Israel normalisation to Palestinian future
8:35 AM
The New Arab Staff

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani has said his country is ready to normalise relations with Israel "if there is a clear prospect and a political horizon for Palestinians", presenting this as part of a continued policy over the last few decades.

In an interview with Fox News channel yesterday, Al Tahni said Qatar was "the first country to normalise relations" with Israel after the Oslo Accords in the 1990s "when there was a hope for peace", referring to the signing of trade agreements and saying the first "public" visit by an Israel prime minister to a Gulf state was to Qatar.

Al Thani said the two countries "continue having this working relationship" despite a breakdown in relations in 2008 over Israeli operations in Gaza.

On Israel’s war on Gaza, Al Thani said discussions continued on a deal to release hostages held in Gaza, describing the talks as "a starting point".

He acknowledged his country has strong relations with Iran and shares a gas field, and refused to blame Tehran for attacks on US forces in the region in the wake of the Israel-Gaza war. 

Doha has been working alongside Egypt and others through various rounds of negotiations seeking to reach a ceasefire deal in the war.