Hezbollah and Israel trade fire as tensions soar and Gaza's residents face attacks

Hezbollah and Israel trade fire as tensions soar and Gaza's residents face attacks
Israeli army continues to pummel the territory for the 194th day of the war while Lebanon's Hezbollah group and Israeli forces exchange attacks
18 min read
17 April, 2024

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

Israeli forces and Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah traded fire throughout Wednesday as tensions soared after six Israeli troops were injured in an attack on northern Israel after three members of the Shia armed group were killed in a drone strike the day before.

Gaza's residents faced increasing attacks from Israeli forces across the strip. Israel said its forces were conducting a "focused operation" in Beit Hanoun in northeast Gaza while residents of Nuseirat refugee camp said they were facing intense bombardment.

Dozens of civilians, including children were killed and wounded over the past day, including in Rafah in south Gaza, local authorities said.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council said a vote would take place on Friday on request tabled by Algeria for full Palestinian membership of the UN.

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12:33 AM
The New Arab Staff

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

UNRWA head warns man-made famine tightening grip across Gaza
12:24 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A man-made famine is "tightening its grip" across the Gaza Strip, the head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA warned on Wednesday as he accused Israel of blocking aid deliveries and seeking to end UNRWA's activities in the enclave.

"Today, an insidious campaign to end UNRWA's operations is underway, with serious implications for international peace and security," UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the UN Security Council.

"Across Gaza, a man-made famine is tightening its grip," Lazzarini said. "In the north, infants and young children have begun to die of malnutrition and dehydration. Across the border, food and clean water wait. But UNRWA is denied permission to deliver this aid and save lives."


UN agency for Palestinians warns against its dismantling
12:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Dismantling the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, as sought by Israel, would accelerate Gaza's slide into famine and doom generations of children to despair, the organisation's head warned Wednesday.

Referring to Israel, director Philippe Lazzarini told the UN Security Council said there is an "insidious campaign" under way to dismantle UNRWA and that this would have lasting consequences.

"In the short-term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine," Lazzarini said.

"In the longer-term, it will jeopardise the transition from ceasefire to 'day after' by depriving a traumatised population of essential services," said Lazzarini.

Israeli retaliation for Iran strikes risks wider war: Jordan
10:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Wednesday an Israeli retaliation against Iranian strikes could bring a real risk of dragging the whole region into a devastating war.

In an interview released by state media, Safadi said his country was lobbying major powers against an escalation that would have far-reaching consequences for regional stability and security.

"The risks are enormous. That could drag the whole region into war, which would be devastating to us in the region and we’ll have very, very serious implications for the rest of the world including the U.S," Safadi said.

"The situation is too dangerous. The chances of regional explosion are real, and that has got to stop. We’ve got to make sure there’s no further escalation," he added.

West Bank protests over Palestinians held in Israeli prisons
8:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank rallied Wednesday calling for the release of prisoners held by Israel without charge and for families to again be able to visit their

The marches are held every April 17, but this year took on added significance because thousands more people have been arrested in recent months against the backdrop of the brutal war in Gaza, separated from the West Bank by Israeli territory.

Israel reserves 'right to protect itself': Netanyahu
8:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday Israel would decide for itself how to respond to Iran's unprecedented attack, with world leaders urging restraint.

Netanyahu told visiting British and German ministers that Israel "will reserve the right to protect itself," his office said.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock offered "all kinds of suggestions and advice" during a meeting, Netanyahu said. "However, I would also like to clarify: we will make our decisions ourselves."

Israel bombs town in east Lebanon's Baalbek district
7:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's Air Force claimed on Wednesday its fighter jets struck Hezbollah infrastructure in eastern Lebanon 's Baalbek district amid concerns that increased exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah could fuel further escalation.

"Earlier this evening, IAF fighter jets struck significant Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure used by the terrorist organisation's aerial defense system in northern Baalbek," the statement said. 

Local media said the airstrike hit Iaat, a town located just northwest of the city of Baalbek.

Turkey accuses Netanyahu of using war 'to stay in power'
7:01 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Wednesday accused Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of taking advantage of regional tensions "to stay in power".

"It is clear that Netanyahu is trying to drag the region into war to stay in power," Fidan told a news conference in Doha, more than six months into Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.

Speaking alongside Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Fidan said there was a "persistent" threat that the Gaza war would spread in the region.

"We will redouble our efforts to end this war," Fidan said.

He also said that he spoke for "three hours" in Doha on Wednesday with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and other political leaders of the Palestinian group, including about ceasefire talks.

Qatar PM says re-evaluating Israel-Hamas mediation role
6:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Qatar is reassessing its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas after suffering criticism, its prime minister said on Wednesday.

"Qatar is in the process of a complete re-evaluation of its role because there has been damage to Qatar," Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told a press conference, without elaborating.

EU leaders to discuss Iran sanctions following attack
6:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

European Union leaders gathered on Wednesday for talks set to include stepping up sanctions against Iran after Tehran's retaliatory missile and drone attack on Israel left world powers scrambling to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.

The head of the EU's executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said Iran's attack showed a "new league of authoritarians" working to tear up international order and to stretch democracies to breaking point.

On Tuesday, the bloc's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said the EU would prepare to tighten its sanctions against Iran. EU foreign ministers are due to continue the work next Monday.

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Several EU states have proposed expanding a sanctions regime that seeks to curb the supply of Iranian drones to Russia for Moscow's war in Ukraine to include the provision of missiles and cover deliveries to Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

Some EU states have also proposed sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, but Borrell said the bloc's rules meant that could only happen if a national authority in the EU found that the group had been involved in terrorist activity.

The United States and other Western governments hope new economic sanctions against Iran will help persuade Israel to limit the scope of its retaliation.

But analysts have said Iran is unlikely to face dramatic U.S. sanctions because of worries about boosting oil prices and angering top buyer China.

Turkish FM met Hamas leader in Qatar to discuss Gaza: source
6:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, during a visit to Qatar on Tuesday to discuss humanitarian aid to Gaza, ceasefire efforts and hostages, a Turkish diplomatic source said.

Haniyeh will visit Turkey at the weekend to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Israel army says WFP food aid from Ashdod port enters Gaza
6:44 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli army said World Food Programme aid that arrived via the Ashdod port entered the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday through an Israeli land crossing.

"Eight World Food Programme trucks of flour entered the Gaza Strip from the Ashdod port today," the army said in a statement.

UNSC to vote Friday on Palestinian UN membership
5:31 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote Friday on a Palestinian request for full UN membership, said diplomats, a move that Israel ally the United States is expected to block because it would effectively recognize a Palestinian state.

The 15-member council is due to vote at 3 pm (1900 GMT) Friday on a draft resolution that recommends to the 193-member UN General Assembly that "the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations," diplomats said.

The United States has said that establishing an independent Palestinian state should happen through direct negotiations between the parties and not at the United Nations.

Hamas: Iran attack on Israel 'legitimate and deserved'
5:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas said Wednesday that Iran's weekend attack on Israel was a "legitimate and deserved" response to a strike on the Islamic republic's consulate in Syria.

In its first reaction to the Iranian aerial attack, Hamas said it was a "legitimate and deserved response to the Zionist entity's... targeting of the Iranian consulate building in Damascus" on April 1.

"The response from the Islamic Republic of Iran confirms that the time when the Zionist entity (Israeli) could act as it wanted without accountability or punishment has ended," Hamas added in a statement.

US President Biden calls for military aid to Israel in op-ed
5:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

President Joe Biden called for further military aid to Israel in an op-ed for US daily The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, in which he says "now is not the time" to abandon Israel.

Biden wrote that Israel depends on American weaponry assistance and that the US could be drawn in, if tensions between Iran and Israel escalate further.

"We can make that outcome less likely by replenishing Israel's air defenses and providing military aid now, so its defenses can remain fully stocked and ready" the president wrote.

The plea comes just as US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said the text of four bills providing assistance to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific would be filed today. The bill, which would see Israel receive bill $14bn in additional military aid, has been stalled in the house for months.

Israel has said it will retaliate to Iran's drone and missile attack on Saturday, but it has not revealed the format of its response.

New UNRWA report details harrowing torture of Palestinians
5:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

A new report by UNRWA has detailed torture and sexual violence inflicted upon Palestinians detained in Gaza by Israeli forces.

The report documented the release of 1,506 Palestinian detainees via the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing on 4 April, many of whom had suffered torture, ill-treatment, and sexual violence.

"I saw people [in detention] 70 years old, very old. There were people with Alzheimer’s, old people who were blind, people with disabilities who couldn’t walk, people who had shrapnel in their backs and couldn’t stand up, people with epilepsy… and torture was for everyone," the UNRWA report quoted a 46-year-old detainee as saying.

Read more here.

Erdogan: Hamas leader Haniyeh 'will be my guest'
4:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he would host a leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Turkey this weekend.

"The leader of the Palestinian cause will be my guest this weekend," Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel's conflict in Gaza, told lawmakers.

"Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, remain, I will continue as long as God gives me my life, to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people," the president said, calling Hamas a "resistance group".

Israeli army: 14 soldiers wounded in Hezbollah strike
4:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's army said 14 soldiers were wounded in the drone strike on Arab al-Aramshe in northern Israel earlier on Wednesday.

"As a result of the attack, six soldiers were severely injured, two moderately injured and six others were lightly injured," the army said in a statement.

Hezbollah claimed the drone attack which hit an Israeli military facility in the village. Israeli authorities previously reported that a total of 18 people were wounded in the attack.


WHO director calls for protection for Gaza hospitals
3:36 PM
The New Arab Staff

World Health Organisation director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his team alongside partners have been visiting the decimated Al-Shifa Hospital and Indonesian Hospital in north Gaza.

Writing on X on Wednesday, the director said the mission was again "severely delayed" which left less time for the assessment of the facilities. Israeli authorities have been been repeatedly accused of holding up aid convoys travelling into north Gaza.

"The level of destruction of Gaza's hospitals is heartbreaking. We again call for hospitals to be protected, not attacked or militarized," he said.

Gaza: 'war on women' with 10,000 killed
3:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

A new report from UN Women has detailed the impact of six-months of war on women and girls in Gaza:

  • 10,000 women have been killed, among them an estimated 6,000 mothers who have left 19,000 orphaned children
  • More than one million women and girls have little access to latrines, washrooms or sanitary pads
  • People have been forced to resort to wells for water access, which is often salty and increases health risks for pregnant women and infants
  • Women and girls have resorted to desperate coping mechanisms amid a shortage of menstrual items, including using improvised cloth or sponges

Read about the dangers facing pregnant women in Gaza in The New Arab here.

Injury toll from Hezbollah attack in north Israel now 18
2:39 PM
The New Arab Staff

Eighteen people have been wounded in a drone strike fired from Lebanon onto the Israeli town of Arab al-Aramshe on Wednesday, Israeli emergency services said.

Hezbollah said it hit a military outpost in the village, but Israel has said the drone attack slammed into a community centre in the village just south of the Lebanese border.

Israeli authorities said one of the wounded was in a critical condition.

The Lebanese group said the strike was in response to multiple Israeli drone strikes which killed three commanders.

Netanyahu says Israel will do everything needed to defend it
2:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the visiting foreign ministers of Germany and Britain for their support on Wednesday but said Israel would reach its own decisions on its security.

"I want to make it clear - we will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself," he said, according to a statement released by his office.


UN appeals for $2.8 billion for Gaza, West Bank aid
1:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations appealed on Wednesday for $2.8 billion in funding to assist more than three million people in Gaza and the West Bank until the end of the year to help ease food shortages and prevent looming famine in Gaza.

A flash appeal published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that sum was needed to help 3.1 million people and "reduce human suffering and prevent further loss of life."

The appeal said a major chunk of funding - $782.1 million - will be used for food aid for 2.2 million people in Gaza and 400,000 people in the West Bank.


Netanyahu rejects 'claims about famine' in Gaza
1:36 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected that war-torn Gaza is facing the threat of famine in his talks with the visiting British and German foreign ministers.

Netanyahu "rejected the claims by international organisations about famine in Gaza and said that Israel is doing above and beyond" what is needed "on the humanitarian issue," his office said, as UN and aid agencies have repeatedly warned Gaza is on the brink of famine.

Hezbollah says it hit military facility in Israeli town
12:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

Lebanon's Hezbollah group said on Wednesday it hit a military facility in the northern Israeli town of Arab al-Aramsheh just south of the border in a retaliatory attack for the killing of three Hezbollah members on Tuesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli media reported that six people were injured in a strike on the town with some reports saying that a community centre in the town was damaged.

Hamas leader Haniyeh to visit Turkey for talks with Erdogan
12:17 PM

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, will visit Turkey at the weekend to hold talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, broadcaster NTV said on Wednesday.

"I will host the leader of the Palestinian cause at the weekend. We will discuss a number of issues," Erdogan earlier told lawmakers from his AK Party in parliament, once again calling Hamas a "liberation movement". 


Kremlin urges de-escalation between Iran and Israel
12:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia is in dialogue with both Iran and Israel and urged the need for de-escalation in the Middle East, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

Peskov said that Russia continues to have close contacts with Iran and also has constructive contacts with Israel.

When asked if Tehran had warned Russia ahead of time about the strikes on Israel, Peskov said he had nothing to say on the matter.

Six injured by strike on northern Israel town: reports
11:58 AM
The New Arab

A rocket has struck the northern Israeli town of Arab al-Aramshe, just south of the Lebanese border. Israeli media reported that a projectile struck a community centre and injured six people with first responders attending the scene.

Israeli forces said air raid sirens were ringing in the town.

The strike comes hours after Lebanon's Hezbollah claimed a barrage of attacks on Israeli military targets in response to the killing of three Hezbollah members on Tuesday.

Israel-Hamas talks on Gaza truce 'stalling': mediator Qatar
11:26 AM
The New Arab Staff

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to secure a truce in Gaza and a hostage exchange have stalled, Qatar's prime minister said on Wednesday.

"We are going through a sensitive stage with some stalling, and we are trying as much as possible to address this stalling," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a news conference with Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu.

Qatar, with the United States and Egypt, has been engaged in weeks of behind-the-scenes talks to secure a truce in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Negotiators are trying to "move forward and put an end to the suffering that the people in Gaza are experiencing and returning the hostages", Sheikh Mohammed said.

Jordan won't become 'theatre of war' between Israel and Iran
10:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

When Iran attacked Israel at the weekend, Jordan intercepted multiple missiles and drones, but King Abdullah II has stressed his country must not become "the theatre of a regional war".

Amid the half-year-old Gaza war, Jordan's king has repeatedly voiced strong criticism of Israel and directed his military to fly daily food airdrops to help besieged Palestinians.

Jordan stressed its shooting down the barrage of Iranian rockets  was to safeguard its own sovereignty rather than defend Israel.

The government said its military "will confront anything that would expose the security and safety of the nation... to any danger or transgression by any party".

In anticipation of a possible Israeli response, Jordan's army said on Tuesday it was increasing air sorties "to prevent any airspace infringement and defend the kingdom's skies".

Crew of Israeli-linked ship seized by Iran are safe
10:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The 25 crew members of the MSC Aries, which was seized by Iran on April 13, are safe, shipping firm MSC said on Wednesday, adding that discussions with Iranian authorities are in progress to secure their earliest release.

"We are also working with the Iranian authorities to have the cargo discharged," the company said in a news release.

Portugal's foreign ministry summoned Iran's ambassador on Tuesday to condemn Saturday's attack on Israel by Tehran and to demand the immediate release of the Portuguese-flagged container ship.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

British FM: 'clear' Israel has decided to respond to Iran
10:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said it was clear Israel had made a decision to respond to the Iranian drone and ballistic missile attack and he hoped this would be carried out in a way that minimised escalation.

"It's clear the Israelis are making a decision to act," Cameron, who was speaking to reporters in Israel, said on Wednesday. "We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible."

Britain wanted to see coordinated sanctions against Iran, he added. He urged the G7 to adopt new "coordinated sanctions" against Iran, ahead of meeting counterparts from the Western-led grouping in Italy on Thursday.

Iran hails 'success' of attack on Israel
9:50 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran celebrated the "success" of its weekend drone and missile attack on Israel as it staged an annual military parade on Wednesday.

The Islamic republic launched its first-ever direct attack on Israel on Saturday in response to the 1 April air strike on its consulate in Damascus which has been widely blamed on Israel.

The operation dubbed Honest Promise "brought down the glory of the Zionist regime (Israel)", President Ebrahim Raisi said at a military base on the outskirts of Tehran.

"This operation showed that our armed forces are ready," he said in a speech addressed to the regular army and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

(Image credit: Getty)

At least 56 killed in Gaza over past 24 hours
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza's health ministry in its daily update said at least 56 people had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in more than six months of war to 33,899 people.

The statement added that 76,664 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began 7 October.

Health authorities call to help Gaza's cancer patients
9:35 AM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza's health ministry has asked for help to support Gaza's cancer patients and others suffering from serious illnesses who are trapped in the war-torn enclave.

In a statement on Telegram on Wednesday, the ministry requested that all patients between the ages of 16-65 can be safely evacuated to receive urgent medical treatment abroad. "We lose some of them every day," the ministry said.

Israel's siege on Gaza has blighted the health system, with 26 hospitals out of service and only 11 semi-functioning, according to UN humanitarian agency OCHA's daily report. The WHO said in March that 9,000 patients in Gaza need urgent treatment.

Hezbollah attacks Israel in response to deadly strikes
9:16 AM
The New Arab

Lebanese Hezbollah has claimed a series of attacks that it says is in response to deadly Israeli strikes that killed three of the group's fighters on Tuesday in southern Lebanon.

Last night, the group claimed attacks on the headquarters of the 769th Eastern Brigade in Kiryat Shmona, Mount Meron airbase and other sites in northern Israel, according to the group's media outlet Al-Manar.

The group said this was specifically in response to Israel's attacks on Shahabiya and Ain Baal in southern Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah released footage purportedly showing the group targeting an Iron Dome platform on 13 April, the same day Iran launched its missile and drone attack on Israel.

Three Hezbollah members killed in Israeli drone strikes
8:55 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli drone strikes in southern Lebanon killed three Hezbollah members and one member of ally Amal Movement over the past 24 hours.

One strike hit a car and killed a field commander of Hezbollah's elite Radwan Force Muhammed Hussein Mustafa Shechory, who "planned and promoted rocket and missile launches", Israel said.

A second strike targeted a vehicle near the village of Shehabieh, near Tyre which killed Mohammad Hussein Moustapha Shehouri and Mahmoud Ibrahim Fadlallah, both Hezbollah members, the group said.

Israel says its army says hit several Hezbollah military positions in southern Lebanon on Tuesday night including the towns of Khiam, Mansouri, Aalma El Chaeb, and Yater.

Italy calls on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza
8:40 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Wednesday called on Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza, reiterating that it was time for a ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave.

In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Tajani stressed that the war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas's "barbaric" assault.

He then added: "However, now a ceasefire is necessary. Israel must stop the military operations that have massively affected the Palestinian population."

Read about Italy's arms sales to Israel in The New Arab investigation here.

Israel president in Jerusalem talks with British, German FMs
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli President Isaac Herzog held talks with the British and German foreign ministers in Jerusalem on Wednesday calling on the international community to work "defiantly" against Iran.

"The whole world must work decisively and defiantly against the threat by the Iranian regime which is seeking to undermine the stability of the whole region," Herzog said in a statement issued by his office.

British Foreign Minister David Cameron and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock are the first Western diplomats to visit Israel since Iran's unprecedented missile and drone attack last weekend.