Hostage deal framework 'agreed to' as Israel continues Gaza strikes

Hostage deal framework 'agreed to' as Israel continues Gaza strikes
The continued combat operations in the Gaza Strip, potential hostage deal, and plans for Israeli resettlement of Gaza, come as the war enters its 115th day.
13 min read
29 January, 2024

Officials from the White House have stated that talks for a hostage deal and ceasefire between Hamas and Israel are "constructive", following negotiations in recent days.

The talks have seen discussions held between US, Egyptian, Qatari and Israeli officials, with Sky News reporting that a framework has been agreed to.

Iran has denied responsibility for an attack on a Jordanian military base that killed three US soldiers, amid continued assaults on civilian areas in Gaza.

Thirty-three people were killed overnight by Israeli shelling in central Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp as 12 Israeli ministers, including ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, attended a "settlement brings security" conference proposing the mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and the re-establishment of illegal Jewish settlements in the enclave. 

The plans come following an ICJ ruling on Friday that ruled that it was plausible that Israel was committing genocidal acts in Gaza and ordered Israel to take measures preventing such acts. 

Israel has killed at least 26,422 Palestinians in its war on Gaza, with a further 65,087 people injured according to figures from Gaza's health authorities. 

5:48 PM

The live blog has now ended. The New Arab's live coverage of Israel's war on Gaza will continue tomorrow at 9am GMT. You can follow our coverage of Gaza here

25 Palestinians killed in Israeli shelling of Gaza City
5:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli shelling of the Tuffah neighbourhood of Gaza City has killed 25 Palestinians according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Shelling hit the house of the Hamada family according to WAFA.

Israel troops to 'go into action' soon at Lebanon border
5:32 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli troops will "very soon go into action" near the country's northern border with Lebanon, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Monday, as tensions surge amid the Israel's war on Gaza.

Gallant told troops near the border with the besieged Gaza Strip that others were being deployed to Israel's north.

"They will very soon go into action... so the forces in the north are reinforced," Gallant said.

He added that reservists would be gradually released "to prepare and come ready" for future operations.

Israel's army chief Herzi Halevi said earlier this month that the likelihood of war on the northern border has become "much higher".

"I don't know when the war in the north is, I can tell you that the likelihood of it happening in the coming months is much higher than it was in the past," Halevi said.

Qatar PM: negotiations 'in much better place' than weeks ago
5:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

Speaking at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that hostage negotiations are "in a much better place than when we were a few weeks ago". 

Speaking about recent negotiations al-Thani said "yesterday was good progress to get things back in shape" and to lay good foundations for the future negotiations.

He added that Qatar will lay the proposal to Hamas and would encourage them to engage with the process. 

White House calls talks on Hamas hostage deal constructive
4:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The White House said on Monday that talks to secure a new release of hostages held by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza were constructive and promising but there was still a lot of work to be done.

A series of negotiations in recent days involving CIA Director William Burns and US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk focused on securing the release of hostages as well as a humanitarian pause in Israel's war on Gaza.

"I think it's fair to describe them as constructive," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on CNN.

"We think there's a framework here for another hostage deal. That could really make a difference in terms of getting more hostages out, getting more aid in and actually getting the violence to come down."

Burns met with the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service and Qatar's prime minister along with the head of Egyptian intelligence on Sunday in talks described as constructive by Israel, but with significant gaps in positions.

Kirby said there have been very good discussions with the Qataris, the Egyptians and the Israelis.

"We're not over the finish line right yet," he said on CNN. "But we feel pretty good about the discussions and where they're going and the promise of something potentially pretty significant."

(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)

Danish frigate departs for the Red Sea to assist in Red Sea
3:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Denmark on Monday sent a frigate to the Red Sea, where it will participate in a US-led coalition to safeguard commercial traffic against attacks by Yemen's Houthi militants.

Denmark, home to shipping company Maersk, is sending the 139-metre Iver Huitfeldt frigate to the area as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian formed last month to protect merchant vessels.

"If you think that the answer to the Houthis is to simply allow them to terrorise free world trade, you are on the wrong track," Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told reporters on board the frigate before it departed the Korsor naval base.

"That is also why we, together with the Americans and the British, are now showing responsibility and sending a signal that we will not tolerate what is happening," the minister said.

The frigate carries US-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles and ESSM surface-to-air interceptor missiles, but will not be able to defend itself or other ships against ballistic missiles, said head of the Danish Navy Command, Henrik Ryberg.

Danish special operation forces, which have previously been used to combat pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, will not participate in this operation, Ryberg said.

The frigate with a crew of around 175 will begin operations in the Red Sea once the Danish Parliament approves a resolution to send the warship into the area, which is expected on 6 February.

It will not participate in US-led offensive operations against the Houthis, the minister said.

Pakistan, Iran to expand security cooperation after strikes
3:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Pakistan and Iran on Monday said they respected each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and would expand security cooperation, bidding to mend ties after tit-for-tat missile strikes at what they said were militant targets. 

Foreign ministers of the two countries held talks in the Pakistani capital days after their military moves earlier in January raised concerns about wider instability in the region since the beginning of Israel's war on Gaza.

Pakistan's caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, speaking at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said the neighbours had several strong channels of communication with each other.

"All these channels were operational and we were able to bring whatever issue or misunderstanding that had been created between our two countries, we were able to resolve it fairly quickly," he said.

The two countries agreed to fight terrorism in their respective areas and establish a system of consultations at the level of the foreign ministers to oversee progress across sectors, Jilani said.

Abdollahian said the two countries had a good understanding, and that there have never been territorial differences or wars between Iran and Pakistan.

"We consider Pakistan's security, a brotherly, friendly and neighbourly country of Iran, as the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the security of the whole region," Abdollahian said.

"Through joint cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad, we will not let terrorists endanger and threaten the security of the two nations," he said, adding that Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi would soon visit Pakistan.

(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)

Rockets fired at Tel Aviv from southern Gaza
3:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sirens blared in Tel Aviv on Monday, an AFP journalist said, the first warning of incoming rocket fire in several weeks as Israel's war on Gaza rages.

Hamas's armed wing said it fired at the Israeli commercial hub in response to "massacres against civilians" in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian militant group has battled Israeli forces since early October.

Five Palestinians fatally shot by Israel in West Bank
3:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

According to the Wafa news agency, Thaer Naeem Hamo, aged 21, was fatally shot in the abdomen by Israeli soldiers in Jenin and later died at al-Hadaf Medical Center despite medical efforts.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that Moataz Mahmoud Atbeish, 30, was killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Dura, near Hebron.

Shortly after, 18-year-old Muhannad Ismail al-Fasfous died from injuries caused by Israeli gunfire in Dura. Rani Yasser Khalaf al-Shaer, 16, was shot and killed during confrontations in the Khirbet al-Deir area, as confirmed by Tayseer Abu Mufarreh, the director of the municipality of Tuqu.

Wafa reported from security sources that Obaida Hassan Abdel Rahman Hamed, 18, was killed by Israeli forces in Silwad, east of Ramallah.

Israel cancels meeting with UNRWA head
3:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced the cancellation of the scheduled Wednesday meetings between Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, and officials from his ministry.

Katz reiterated accusations against UNRWA employees for allegedly participating in the Hamas attacks in southern Israel on 7 October .

"Lazzarini should draw conclusions and resign. We do not welcome supporters of terrorism," he said

Gaza death toll rises to 26,637
2:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian health ministry reported on Monday that the death toll in Gaza has reached 26,637, with 65,387 Palestinians injured due to Israeli strikes since October 7.

In the last 24 hours, there have been 215 fatalities and 300 injuries among Palestinians, according to the ministry's statement.

Three Palestinians shot dead in Khan Younis
2:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces shot three civilians dead near Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis as they were evacuating a body.

According to a report by the Palestinian news agency WAFA, the Israeli military has maintained a siege on Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals for eight consecutive days, amid increased airstrikes and artillery bombardment across the city

Gaza hospital suspends surgeries due to lack of oxygen: PRCS
2:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza's Al-Amal hospital suspended surgeries due to the lack of oxygen after Israeli forces persisted in "targeting and besieging" its vicinity for the eighth day in a row.  

In a post on X, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society mentioned that "Israeli forces are targeting anyone moving in the vicinity of the healthcare facility."

US seeking 'consequential' response to deadly drone strike
1:42 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States is seeking a "very consequential" response to the drone attack on a base in Jordan that killed three American troops, a White House spokesman said Monday, after Washington blamed Iran-backed militants.

President Joe Biden "will respond" to the Sunday attack "in a very consequential way. But we don't seek a war with Iran. We're not looking for a wider conflict in the Middle East," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in an interview with CNN.

Gulf states can save UNRWA, former UNRWA spokesperson says
1:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Chris Gunness, former UNRWA spokesperson, told Al Jazeera:

"My message to the Arab world, particularly to the Gulf, is where are you? Because they're making billions each day on oil revenues. A tiny fraction of those oil revenues would see UNRWA's financial problems disappear overnight."

His comments come following the suspension of aid to the organisation by several governments, including the US, UK and Germany.

Antonio Guterres appeals for countries to resume aid funding
1:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

Antonio Guterres has appealed to governments who have suspended their funding to the UN's UNRWA aid agency. 

In a post on X, United Nations Geneva said that Guterres "strongly appeals to the governments that have suspended their contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA operations."

It added that "two million civilians in Gaza depend on critical aid from UNRWA".

UNRWA: unable to assist Gaza after February due to aid cuts
12:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

UNRWA has stated that it will be unable to provide assistance to Gaza beyond February if funding does not resume. 

"If the funding is not resumed, UNRWA will not be able to continue its services and operations across the region, including Gaza, beyond the end of February" a spokesperson for the agency said. 


Palestinian journalist Muhammad Atallah killed by Israel
11:50 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian Journalist Muhammad Abdelfattah Atallah, who worked for Al-Resalah Press, was killed alongside his family by an Israeli strike according to Al-Quds Network.

His death brings the total number of journalists killed by Israel's war on Gaza to 122 since 7 October. 

Read more about the killing of Palestinian journalists in Gaza here.

Two killed in strikes near Sayeda Zeinab shrine in Syria
11:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two people were killed and several others were injured on Monday in strikes near the Sayeda Zeinab shrine complex on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Iranian state media said.

A source in Iran's regional alliance told Reuters the strike had hit a location used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

There was no immediate comment from Syrian authorities and no statement on state media.

An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment on the explosions.


UK PM Sunak urges Iran to de-escalate tensions
11:41 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was concerned about tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to de-escalate, after an attack that killed three US service members in northeastern Jordan near Syria's border.

Sunak said Britain "absolutely condemned" the drone attacks which US President Joe Biden said had been carried out by Iran-backed militants.

"We are concerned and would urge Iran to continue to de-escalate tensions in the region," Sunak told broadcasters on Monday.

"We stand resolutely with our allies to bring stability and peace to the region and that's what we continue to work towards."


Iraq urges end to 'cycle of violence' after US troop deaths
11:27 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iraqi authorities on Monday condemned the drone attack that killed three US military personnel in Jordan, calling for an "end to the cycle of violence" in the Middle East.

"The Iraqi government condemns the ongoing escalation," government spokesman Bassem al-Awadi said in a statement, adding that it was willing "to collaborate on establishing fundamental rules to prevent further repercussions in the region and curb the escalation of conflict".

Two Israeli soldiers wounded by Hezbollah rocket fire
11:21 AM
The New Arab Staff

Two Israeli soldiers were wounded by rocket fire from Lebanon, according to the Israeli military.

The injuries comes as Hezbollah announced it had fired Burkan rockets at the Israeli army's Biranit army bases bordering Lebanon. 

PRCS: Israeli drones call for evacuation of Al-Amal hospital
10:25 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has announced that Israel is forcing the evacuation of the Al-Amal hospital and Al-Amal neighbourhood in the city of Khan Younis.

"Israeli drones with loudspeakers called residents near Al-Amal Hospital and Al-Amal neighborhood to evacuate, instructing immediate relocation to Mawasi west of Khan Younis" PRCS said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Houthis: rocket launched at US warship in the Gulf
9:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis launched a rocket at US warship Lewis B. Puller as it sailed through the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, the group's military spokesman said in a statement on Monday.


Palestinians trapped in Nasser Hospital face bleak fate
9:42 AM
Sally Ibrahim

Throughout last week, the Israeli army imposed a brutal siege on Nasser Hospital, located in the city of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, opening fire on anyone who tried to escape, according to local eyewitnesses in the hospital.

The Israeli siege on Nasser Hospital comes a month and a half after the Israeli army expanded its ground and air military operations in the city of Khan Younis, which Israel claims houses a stronghold of four military battalions affiliated with the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, the Islamist group ruling Gaza since 2006. 

According to eyewitnesses and Palestinian security sources in Gaza, the Israeli army launched violent air strikes in the vicinity of the hospital, killing dozens of displaced people sheltering inside.

Read the full article from The New Arab's Gaza correspondent here.

Israel military tells residents in Gaza city to flee south
9:04 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military has told residents in the costal parts of Gaza City to flee to Deir el-Balah, indicating fighting will likely resume in the area.

The warning, made by Israeli army Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee, includes the al-Shati refugee camp and neighbourhoods of Sheikh Radwan and Tel al-Hawa.

Austria suspends UNRWA funding over alleged Hamas links
8:58 AM
The New Arab Staff

Austria has announced it will suspend funding for the UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestine refugees, following allegations that staff members of UNRWA participated in Hamas' 7 October attacks. 

The Foreign Ministry stated that "we call on UNRWA and the United Nations to conduct a comprehensive, swift and complete investigation into the allegations".

The Austrian suspension follows from similar decisions by other countries including the US, UK and Germany. 

Journalist Issam al-Lulu killed by Israel in central Gaza
8:53 AM
The New Arab Staff

Journalist Issam al-Lulu, his wife and two sons were killed by Israeli shelling in Al-Zawaida in the central Gaza Strip according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.