Iran blasts, Lebanon assassination heightens tensions amid Gaza war

Iran blasts, Lebanon assassination heightens tensions amid Gaza war
Israel's assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri has put Lebanon on edge, as the brutal Israeli war on Gaza continues
29 min read
03 January, 2024

Fears that Israel's war in Gaza could spiral across the Middle East grew Wednesday after a drone strike killed a Hamas senior leader in Lebanon and twin explosions ripped through an Iranian crowd, claiming 95 lives.

Another 140 people were wounded when two blasts 10 minutes apart struck Iranian mourners commemorating slain Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Soleimani on the fourth anniversary of his killing, Iran's state media reported. 

The blasts- which were not claimed by any actor but labelled a "terrorist attack" on state-run TV- came with regional tensions running high a day after Hamas number two Saleh al-Arouri was killed in a Beirut drone strike that was widely blamed on Israel.

Israel assassinated al-Arouri in a drone strike in Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday, Lebanese and Palestinian security sources said, which also raised the potential risk of the war in Gaza spreading well beyond the Palestinian enclave.

Arouri, 57, was the first senior Hamas political leader to be assassinated since Israel launched a brutal and indiscriminate air and ground offensive on Gaza after the Palestinian group launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7.

Lebanon's Hezbollah group, a Hamas ally, has been exchanging near-daily fire with Israel across Lebanon's southern border since the war in Gaza began in October. 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned Israel against carrying out any assassinations on Lebanese soil, vowing a "severe reaction."

Hezbollah said on Tuesday it had targeted a group of Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of Marj with missiles, following Arouri's killing.

On the ground in Gaza, the Gaza health ministry said 128 people had been killed by Israel in the past 24 hours, bringing the total recorded Palestinian death toll to 22,213 in nearly three months of war in Gaza.

4:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

That is the end of the liveblog for tonight. Our liveblog will restart at 9am GMT. 

Dutch MoF: Rejects calls for displacement of Palestinians
3:41 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has labelled remarks by Israel's Smotrich and Ben-Gvir to displace Gaza's population as "irresponsible".

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the ministry stated that "recent remarks by Israeli ministers Smotrich and Ben-Gvir regarding Palestinian resettlement from Gaza are irresponsible. The Netherlands rejects any calls for Palestinian displacement from Gaza or reduction of Palestinian territory".

"This does not fit a future two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel" it added.

Palestinian killed in Israeli raid in occupied West Bank
2:49 AM
The New Arab Staff

A Palestinian man has been killed by Israeli forces during a raid on the town of Tammoun in the occupied West Bank.

According to Palestinian news agency WAFA, another man was arrested during the raid.

Israeli army on highest alert level on Lebanon border
12:53 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military says that their level of alert on the Lebanon border is raised to the highest possible level according to Al Jazeera, as clashes between the Israel and Hezbollah continue.

Blinken to go to Israel, visit other Middle East capitals
12:43 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will depart on Thursday for the Middle East, including a stop in Israel, as the United States continues diplomatic consultations on the Israel-Gaza conflict, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

The official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said US diplomatic envoy Amos Hochstein will also travel to Israel to work to soothe tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.

Blinken leaves Thursday night "for stops in a number of capitals, including Israel," the official said. The official provided no further details.

US President Joe Biden spoke by phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent days as he works to improve access to Gaza for humanitarian aid and gain the release of hostages held by Hamas.


UNICEF Executive Director: 'Time is running out' for Gaza
11:28 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Executive Director of UNICEF Catherine Russell has stated that "time is running out" for people in Gaza as the threat of famine increases.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Russell stated that "many children already face severe acute malnutrition in Gaza. As the threat of famine intensifies, hundreds of thousands more young children could soon be severely malnourished, with some at risk of death."

"We cannot allow this to happen," she added.

Israeli strikes on Gaza kill dozens of Palestinians
11:16 PM
The New Arab Staff

New Israeli airstrikes on central and southern Gaza has killed dozens of Palestinians.

According to Palestinian news agency WAFA, at least 20 people were killed in strikes on Khan Younis, with four being killed in Rafah. Another four people were killed in Deir el-Balah and two in Nuseirat refugee camp.

Hezbollah confirm death of Hussein Yazbek in Israeli strike
11:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah have confirmed the death of Hussein Yazbek, a local official for the group, in an Israeli strike on a building in Naqoura. Three others were killed in the strike. 

Hezbollah official, three members, killed in Israeli strike
9:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A local Hezbollah official and three other members of the Iran-aligned group were killed late on Wednesday in an Israeli strike on southern Lebanon, two security sources told Reuters.

The strike brought the death toll in Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon on Wednesday to nine Hezbollah members in one of the deadliest days for the group since it began exchanging cross-border fire with Israel in October.


Five members of Hezbollah killed in clashes with Israel
9:31 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah announced that five of its members were killed in clashes with Israel amid heightened tension between the two after the assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut on Tuesday. 

US: Attacks by Yemen's Houthis require 'global response
9:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Attacks by Yemen's Houthis on commercial shipping threaten "navigational rights and freedoms" in the Red Sea and are a "global challenge" that require "a global response," the United States told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

The United States believes the situation in the Red Sea "is at a inflection point," Chris Lu, a US representative to the United Nations, told the council in its first meeting of 2024


Eighteen shipping companies re-routing around Africa
9:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Eighteen shipping companies are re-routing their vessels around Africa to avoid the Red Sea amid an upsurge in attacks on shipping, blamed by Western countries on Yemen's Houthi rebels, the UN's maritime agency said Wednesday.

"A significant number of companies, around 18 shipping companies, have already decided to reroute their vessels around South Africa in order to reduce the attacks on vessels," said International Maritime Organization chief Arsenio Dominguez.

"[This] represents an additional 10 days to the journeys [and] negative impact on trade and on increasing freight rates."

Qatar sends 37 tons of aid to Gaza via Egypt
8:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Qatar announced in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that 37 tons of aid destined for relief efforts in Gaza has arrived in Arish City in Egypt.

The ministry added that a total of 58 planes have sent 1,814 tons of aid to the enclave, which includes shelter kits and food items.

EU's Borrell condemns Gaza statements by Israeli ministers
8:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday criticised "inflammatory" comments by two Israeli ministers who said Palestinians should be encouraged to emigrate from Gaza.

"I strongly condemn the inflammatory and irresponsible statements by Israeli ministers Ben Gvir and Smotrich slandering the Palestinian population of Gaza and calling for a plan for their emigration," Borrell said, referring to Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

"Forced displacements are strictly prohibited as a grave violation of IHL [international humanitarian law] & words matter," he said on social media.

Israel, US not behind Iran blasts: US State Dept
7:40 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States on Wednesday rejected suggestions that ally Israel or Washington was behind deadly blasts in Iran at the grave of Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed four years ago in a US strike.

"The United States was not involved in any way, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

"We have no reason to believe that Israel was involved in this explosion," he said.

ICJ slates hearings in Gaza genocide case for 11-12 January
7:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings in proceedings launched by South Africa against Israel over the Gaza war on 11 and 12 January, it said on Wednesday.

South Africa had asked the ICJ on Friday for an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention in its war on Gaza.

Israel had said it would appear before the court to contest the accusations.

The court usually takes one or two weeks to issue a decision on emergency measures after the hearings. The court's rulings are final but it has no authority to enforce them.


Israeli army confirms death of hostage in rescue operation
7:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's military confirmed Wednesday that a hostage kidnapped in the 7 October Hamas attack was killed during a failed army rescue operation in December in the Gaza Strip.

Sahar Baruch was confirmed dead last month by his kibbutz community.

The army said it had notified Baruch's family that he was killed during "an attempt to rescue him on December 8".

"At this stage, we are unable to determine the circumstances around his death and whether he was killed by [Israeli] fire or he was murdered by Hamas," the army said in a statement.

Hamas announced Baruch's death on 9 December, saying he was killed during an attempt by the army to rescue him and released a video showing his remains.

US, allies warn Houthis of 'consequences' over attacks
6:57 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Twelve nations led by the United States on Wednesday jointly warned Yemen's Houthi rebels of unspecified consequences unless they halt attacks on Red Sea shipping vessels.

"Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews," said the statement released by the White House.

"The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy and free flow of commerce in the region's critical waterways."

The Twelve nations that signed the statement were the US, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK.

UK FM: Israel must allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza
6:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Wednesday he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart Yisrael Katz to discuss how the two countries can work together on getting more aid into Gaza and securing a ceasefire.

"More must be done to get humanitarian aid into Gaza – Israel must allow significantly more supplies in to reduce the risk of hunger and disease," Cameron said in a post on social media site X.

"The UK also wants to see the immediate release of hostages and progress towards a sustainable ceasefire. I spoke with new Israeli Foreign Minister... today about how we can work together on these issues."


UN chief 'strongly condemns' deadly Iran blasts: spokesman
6:40 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "strongly condemns" the twin blasts reported to have torn through a crowd commemorating Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Soleimani four years after his death in a US strike, Guterres' spokesman said Wednesday.

"The Secretary-General strongly condemns the attack today on a memorial ceremony in Kerman city in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which reportedly killed more than 100 people and injured many more," the spokesman said.

Israel's history of assassinating Hamas leaders
6:13 PM
The New Arab Staff

On Tuesday Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau and a founding member of its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated in a drone strike in a suburb in Beirut.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the strike, but the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to assassinate Hamas leaders across the world following the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

But Israel also has a long history of targeted assassination of Palestinian leaders.

For the full story, please click here.

Israel has denied or refused to confirm previously targeted assassinations [Getty]
More from Nasrallah's speech
5:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

Here are focal points that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said during his speech- which also was set to mark the 2020 killing of Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

  • Nasrallah dedicated part of his address to the late Soleimani, he is present in battles through the support of “resistance movements” across the region, who Nasrallah said Soleimani and his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps- Quds Force- stood alongside Palestinian groups to strengthen military action. 
  • Reiterated that such "resistance groups" were independent in their work to oppose Israeli opposition, as he said that each group implement their own agenda.
  • Nasrallah said that his group was not distancing itself from the October 7 attack, but reaffirmed his stance from his November speech that Hezbollah did not know the plans of the attack- calling Hamas' assault on Israel purely Palestinian. 
  • Shared his support for Yemeni Houthi group for their attacks on ships in the Red Sea 
  • Nasrallah says the Hamas attacks in southern Israel popularised the Palestinian cause
  • Argued that public opinion of Israel has shifted, adding that it has completely declined “humanely, morally, legally”
  • Believed that Israel's suspected killing of al-Arouri was said to be depicted as a victory for the Israelis and added that it has not achieve its objectives
  • Nasrallah called the US response to Israel's war on Gaza as "ugly", adding that the States is preventing a call for the end of war 
EU condemns Iran blasts as 'act of terror'
5:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The European Union demanded on Wednesday that the perpetrators of twin blasts that killed at least 103 people in a crowd gathered to mark the killing of general Qassem Soleimani be brought to justice.

"The EU condemns in the strongest terms today's bombing in the city of Kerman in Iran. The EU expresses its solidarity with the Iranian people. This act of terror has exacted a shocking toll of civilian deaths and injuries," an EU foreign affairs spokesperson said in a statement.

"Our thoughts now are with the victims and their families. Perpetrators must be held accountable."

Iran's Khamenei vows 'harsh response' after twin blasts
5:12 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday vowed a "harsh response" after twin blasts that killed at least 103 people in the country's south.

"The evil and criminal enemies of the Iranian nation once again created a disaster and martyred a large number of dear people in Kerman," said Khamenei in a statement.

"This disaster will have a harsh response, God willing."

Germany urges citizens to leave Lebanon swiftly
5:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Germany on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave Lebanon quickly, warning that an expansion of the Israel's war on Gaza could not be ruled out after a drone strike in Beirut killed a senior Hamas leader.

"All German citizens, who are still in Lebanon, are asked to register on the ELEFAND crisis preparedness list and to leave the country as quickly as possible," wrote the German foreign ministry on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The warning came after a meeting Wednesday of the German government's crisis unit.

"A further deterioration of the situation and expansion of the conflict cannot be ruled out, especially given the killing of Saleh al-Aruri", the political number two of Hamas in Beirut on Tuesday, the ministry wrote.

"This applies above all to the southern part of Lebanon, up to and including the southern urban areas of Beirut."

Nasrallah eulogises ‘all martyrs’ and Hamas deputy chief
4:44 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has begun his speech by paying tribute to Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’s deputy leader and other members of the Palestinian group who were killed in a drone attack on south Beirut on Tuesday.

He also extended his condolences to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the Palestinian people and said that the assassination was a “blatant Israeli aggression”.

Nasrallah also paid his respects to people who have been killed by Israeli and US attacks- from occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria to Yemen- who were “all of those martyrs who fell on the road to Jerusalem” and their families.

“We tell them that your blood and sacrifices and patience will only produce good results for Palestine and Lebanon and Syria and Iraq and the entire region," Nasrallah said.

PRCS release statement on attacks in Khan Younis HQ
4:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has released a statement on X noting that several residential buildings around El Amal Hospital and PRCS headquarters in Khan Younis have been shelled by Israeli forces.

PRCS issued a later update on the social media platform that the attacks near Al-Amal have led to a number of Palestinians killed and wounded.

Additionally, PRCS said they also evacuated seven people who were among the casualties in north Khan Younis's western Qarara and said that "ambulances couldn't reach them."

"One casualty was the brother of paramedic Muntaha Wafi, who joined the evacuation and then resumed her humanitarian work," PRCS added.

Israeli forces call for reduction in Gaza humanitarian aid
4:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have called to reduce humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip- which is home to 2.2 million civilians.

In a move to further add pressure to Palestinian group Hamas for the release of Israeli captives, Israeli media outlet Walla! News reported that a deeper crisis in Gaza may cause further chaos and civil division.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini earlier raised concerns on the "unbearable suffering" in Gaza, adding that “mass displacement, mass human losses and injuries, and mass destruction."

Hezbollah announces attacks on Israel
4:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah has announced that it will carry out nine attacks on Israeli sites across the Lebanese border, including with rocket launches.

In the lead-up to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's televised speech, the Lebanese group has increased military conduct following the killing of Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri in south Beirut on Tuesday.

The Hezbollah chief is expected to deliver his address shortly.  

Iran declares day of mourning on Thursday after blasts
4:17 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran declared Thursday a day of mourning following twin blasts that killed at least 103 people near the grave of slain general Qassem Soleimani in the country's south.

"Following the terrorist incident in Kerman, the government declared tomorrow (Thursday) a day for public mourning across the country," state television announced on Wednesday.

Iran's Raisi condemns 'heinous' twin blasts that killed 103
4:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi condemned on Wednesday twin blasts that killed at least 103 people in the country's south where crowds gathered to mark the killing of general Qassem Soleimani.

"Undoubtedly, the perpetrators ... of this cowardly act will soon be identified and punished for their heinous act by the capable security and law enforcement forces," said Raisi in a statement.

"The enemies of the nation should know that such actions can never disrupt the solid determination of the Iranian nation."

Several wounded during Israeli raid on W Bank refugee camps
4:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ahmed Jibril, Palestinian Red Crescent Society's director of ambulance and emergency services has said that several Palestinians have been transferred for medical treatment, following repeated physical assaults and beating by Israeli forces, during their raids on the Nur Shams and Tulkarem refugee camps in occupied West Bank.

“One person was injured by a live bullet in Nur Shams, and three others were beaten by the occupation forces,” he told news publication Al Jazeera English.

Jibril added that a Palestinian man was car-rammed by an Israeli military jeep in Salfit- which is near the village of Deir Ballut.

Four other Palestinians who were assaulted in Tulkarem have also been sent for treatment.

Russia's Putin pays homage to victims of Iran attacks
4:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences following the explosions in Iran's Kerman that killed at least 103 people earlier.

“The killing of peaceful people visiting the cemetery is shocking in its cruelty and cynicism,” Putin said in a letter addressed to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi [Getty]
Names of deceased victims of Iran attack to be released
3:58 PM
The New Arab Staff

State TV has reported that the names of those who were killed during the blasts in Iran's Kerman earlier today will be published in later hours.

Iranian media outlets announced that among those killed was medical worker Melika Hosseini, a member of the Iranian Red Crescent Society.

Houthis hint at Israeli involvement in Iran attack
3:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

The political office of Yemen’s Houthi rebel group have issued a statement condemning what they called the “criminal bombings” on the anniversary of Soleimani’s “martyrdom”.

“This heinous crime represents an extension of all the crimes that attempted to undermine the Islamic Republic, its role in confronting global arrogance, its adoption of the nation’s central cause, and its support for the resistance forces in Palestine and Lebanon,” the statement read.

Blinken to visit Turkey on Saturday
3:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Turkey on Saturday to discuss bilateral and regional issues, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told reporters, state broadcaster TRT reports.

CPJ: 80 Palestinian journalists killed since October 7
3:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 87 journalists, the large majority of them Palestinians, have been killed since October 7.

UNRWA chief tells of ‘Unbearable suffering’ in Gaza
2:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

UNWA chief Philippe Lazzarini has said that three months of war in Gaza have led to “mass displacement, mass human losses and injuries, and mass destruction”.

“Unbearable suffering made worse by constant dehumanisation and promotion of hate speech going unchecked,” he said in a post on X.

MSF denounces ‘surge of violence’ in occupied West Bank
2:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has issued a statement on X that noted how their medical teams in the occupied West Bank have been “seeing a surge of violence and harassment against Palestinians in Hebron.”

An MSF-backed psychologist also reported that their teams are treating more people with post-traumatic stress disorders and other various types of trauma. 

Hezbollah leader expected to deliver speech
2:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is set to deliver his speech, following the killing of the Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri on Tuesday.

Initially, Nasrallah's address was originally arrange to mark the the fourth anniversary of the death of Iranian military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US air strike in Iraq.

However, at least 103 people were also killed earlier today in two blasts near Soleimani's grave, state media reported, in what officials called a "terrorist attack".

At least 103 people have been killed in Iran blasts: media
2:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 103 people were killed in Iran Wednesday as two bombs in quick succession struck a crowd commemorating slain general Qasem Soleimani on the anniversary of his killing, state media reported.

For further details, click here for the full story.

Sisi tells US Congress that a ceasefire in Gaza is priority
1:56 PM
The New Arab Staff

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has told a delegation of US lawmakers that the priority is bringing a resolution that solidifies a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a statement from the Egyptian presidency, el-Sisi stressed the importance of “responsible action” to avoid expanding the conflict in the Middle East.

Iran's emergency services say death toll may rise
1:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

Babak Yekta Parast, a spokesperson for Iran’s National Emergency Services organisation, has issued a statement- stressing that the number of people killed in the blasts is likely to rise to a higher figure.

“Unfortunately, the information we have received indicates that a number of the injured are in very critical condition,” Parast told state television by telephone.

He also said emergency services helicopters are in preparation to transfer patients from Kerman to other hospitals in Iran's capital, Tehran, if needed.

The blasts follow rising tensions across the Middle East a day after Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri was killed in a Beirut drone strike which Lebanese officials blamed on Israel.

Iranian official says at least 73 people killed, 170 wounded
1:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 73 people were killed in Iran Wednesday as two bombs in quick succession struck a crowd commemorating slain general Qasem Soleimani on the anniversary of his killing, state media reported.

The blasts, which state television called a "terrorist attack", came with tensions running high in the Middle East a day after Hamas number two Saleh al-Arouri was killed in a Beirut drone strike which Lebanese officials blamed on Israel.

The blasts stuck near the Saheb al-Zaman Mosque in Kerman, Soleimani's southern hometown where he is buried, as supporters gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of his death in a US drone strike just outside Baghdad airport.

Kerman's deputy governor said the explosions were a "terrorist attack".

At least 170 people were also wounded in the bombings, state media said.

Click here for more updates on the attack.

53 killed by bombs near slain Iran general's grave: media
1:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 53 people were killed Wednesday in two blasts near the grave of slain Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Soleimani, state media reported, in what officials called a "terrorist attack."

Authorities have "confirmed 53 deaths and 71 injured who have been transferred to medical centres," Iran's official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the spokesperson of Iran's emergency services.

France condemns Israeli minister's call for Gaza migration
1:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France on Wednesday described as "provocative" comments made by Israeli ministers calling for Palestinians to emigrate from Gaza and Jewish settlers to return to the besieged territory.

"France condemns the comments of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir," the French foreign ministry said in a statement, after Ben-Gvir's statements on Monday and Smotrich's on Sunday.

"We call on Israel to refrain from such provocative declarations, which are irresponsible and fuel tensions."

Palestinian PM thanks South Africa for Israel lawsuit
12:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has thanked South Africa for filing a case against Israel on genocide charges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

During a government meeting in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Shtayyah also discussed Israel's war on Gaza, stating that Gaza is enduring “a state of hunger and starvation in scenes that are shocking to us and to the world”.

“People have lost their strength, are no longer able to support their emaciated bodies and have become exposed to epidemics and diseases,” the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Shtayyah also said that he firmly opposes the proposal of a waterway between Cyprus and Israel- as he raised concerns that it would be implemented for the deportation of Palestinians.

Iran says Hamas killing did not achieve goals for Israel
12:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says the assassination of Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri has shown Israel's failure amid its war on Gaza. Israel’s war on Gaza is a total failure.

“The evil acts by Israel in other countries pose a real threat to peace and security and a serious alarm for security of the countries in the region,” Amirabdollahian said in a statement on social media platform X.

The Iranian foreign minister added that al-Arouri's assassination demonstrates Israel “didn’t achieve any of its goals after weeks of war crimes, genocide, and destruction in Gaza”.

Nasser Kanaani, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said al-Arouri’s killing is set to “undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance and the motivation to fight against the Zionist occupiers, not only in Palestine but also in the region and among all freedom-seekers worldwide”.

Israeli lawmaker praises killing of Hamas deputy leader
12:27 PM
The New Arab Staff

A prominent Israeli lawmaker has congratulated Israel's assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon.

“I congratulate the IDF [Israeli forces], Shin Bet, the Mossad and the security forces for killing senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut,” Danny Danon wrote on X.

“Anyone who was involved in the 7/10 massacre should know that we will reach out to them and close the account with them.”

The Israeli government has not publicly claimed responsibility for the killing in Lebanon of the Hamas official.

Yemen's Houthis say they 'targeted' CMA CGM container ship
12:26 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Yemen's Houthis have "targeted" the CMA CGM Tage container ship bound for Israel, the group's military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Wednesday.

He added that "any U.S attack will not pass without a response or punishment". 

EU's Borrell says world must impose solution to Gaza war
12:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The international community must impose a solution to the Israel-Hamas conflict as the warring sides are unable to come to terms, the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday.

"I believe that we have learned in these 30 years that the solution has to be imposed from outside because the two parties will never be able to reach an agreement," he told an event in Lisbon, warning also that "if this tragedy doesn't end soon, the entire Middle East might end up in flames". 

Two blasts heard near grave of slain Iran Guards general
12:12 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two explosions wounded several people on Wednesday near the cemetery in Iran where a ceremony was being held to mark the 2020 killing of Iran's top commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack, Iranian state media reported.

Iranian state television reported a first and then a second explosion during the ceremony in the southeastern city of Kerman, saying several people had been wounded.

The semi-official Nournews said "several gas canisters exploded on the road leading to the cemetery and relevant authorities are monitoring the situation".

The SNN news agency reported ambulances heading towards the cemetery, where hundreds of Iranians had gathered to mark the anniversary of Soleimani's death.

At least 20 people were reportedly killed following the explosions, according to the Iranian news outlets.

Video footage has also since surfaced on social media, which showed heavy clouds of smoke appearing near the surrounding of several people at the scene.

However, there have yet been verified updates and any further reports since the alleged attack.

French delegate to UN calls for ceasefire in Gaza
12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

A French delegate to the UN has called for an immediate ceasefire in order to bring humanitarian relief in Gaza.

In an interview with The New Arab's Arabic language sister site, Al Araby Jadeed, Nicolas de Rivière, stressed during a press conference in New York that France is concerned  "about the situation in Gaza as the fighting continues." 

De Rivière said that France also hopes to see "a sustainable cessation of hostilities, to ensure that civilians can continue to be protected."

"I believe that protecting civilians is essential in this situation so that we can provide humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza," De Rivière told Al Araby Jadeed.

The French ambassador argued that the humanitarian aid entering Gaza was also “completely insufficient", from food to medicine.

He added that "the UN Security Council adopted two resolutions, but they only focus on humanitarian relief, and there is of course a need for it, but the role of the Security Council is not only to address the symptoms of the crisis, but to try to fix it.”

Israeli forces attacking central Gaza's refugee camps
11:54 AM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab's Arabic language sister news site Al Araby Jadeed has reported a series of attacks taking place in Al-Maghazi and Al-Nuseirat refugee camps.

According to the outlet, "violent" clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces are ongoing in Al-Maghazi- while Israeli troops are also conducting a military offensive via artillery shelling in Al-Nuseirat.
UN official says ‘no child should be killed’
11:25 AM
The New Arab Staff

A UN official in Gaza has denounced Israel's recent attack on the Palestinian Red Crescent’s headquarters in southern Gaza's Khan Younis that killed five people, including a newborn.

“No child in the world should be killed, let alone one sheltering under the emblem of a humanitarian organisation,” said Gemma Connell, a team leader for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Gaza. 

“This war has to end.”

Hezbollah: Al Arouri assassination 'will not go unanswered'
11:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group warned that Israel's killing Tuesday of deputy Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri in a Beirut suburb they control "will not go unanswered or unpunished".

Hezbollah called it "a serious assault on Lebanon".

"We, Hezbollah, affirm that this crime will not go unanswered or unpunished," the movement said in a statement that called it "a serious assault on Lebanon... and a dangerous development in the course of the war," the statement added.

Last month, Iranian state media said an Israeli missile strike killed Razi Moussavi, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, near the Syrian capital Damascus.

Moussavi was the most senior Quds Force commander to be killed outside Iran in four years.

Hezbollah said the strike that killed al-Arouri was "in continuation with... the assassination of commander Razi Moussavi."

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is set to give a televised speech on Wednesday.

Latest death toll update in Gaza
10:13 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said Wednesday at least 22,313 people have been killed in nearly three months of war on the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The toll includes 128 people killed over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, while the fighting since October 7 has also wounded 57,296.

ICJ hearings scheduled for Jan 11 and 12: South Africa
9:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

Lawyers who are representing South Africa in International Court of Justice (ICJ) proceedings against Israel are set to prepare for their hearing which is confirmed for January 11 and 12.

Clayson Monyela, a spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, has announced the latest update in a post on X.

South Africa’s lawyers reportedly also include John Dugard, a South African professor of international law, who was the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories from 2001 until 2008.

Israeli forces storm West Bank cities of Tulkarm, Qalqilya
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have raided the occupied West Bank cities of Tulkarm and Qalqilya, according to local Palestinian media.

More updates to come.

Several Israeli settlers break into Al-Aqsa Mosque
9:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

A number of settlers under the protection of Israeli police forces, have forcibly entered into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and performed Talmudic rituals nearby, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Far-right Israeli settlers have often storm the compound which is situated in occupied East Jerusalem, and long campaigned for its replacement with a third Jewish temple.

More than 48,000 Israeli settlers forced their way into Al-Aqsa in 2023, according to the religious authority overseeing the mosque.

UN alarmed by ‘devastating' Israel-Lebanon conflict
9:35 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UN’s force in Lebanon have raised concern over the escalation of clashes between Lebanon and Israeli, following the killing of Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Arouri on Lebanese soil.

UNIFIL spokesperson Kandice Ardiel warned that further hostilities may have “devastating consequences” for Lebanese and Israelis.

"We continue to implore all parties to cease their fire, and any interlocutors with influence to urge restraint," she added.

Names of other six killed alongside Hamas deputy confirmed
9:26 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian group Hamas has released the names of the other six men who were assassinated along with the deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri, in Beirut on Tuesday.

 Samir Effendi, known as Abu Amer, and Azzam al-Aqra, were leaders of the armed wing of Hamas- the al-Qassam Brigades.

Effendi was reported to be responsible for Hamas' military conduct in southern Lebanon- while Al-Aqra led the movement’s military file abroad.

Mahmoud Zaki Shaheen, Muhammad Bashasha, Muhammad al-Rayes and Ahmed Hammoud- also all members of Hamas- were killed.

US says no damage reported after latest attack in Red Sea
8:41 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the Southern Red Sea, though no damage was reported, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said late on Tuesday.

The Houthis, who control much of Yemen including the capital, have since October attacked commercial vessels in the Red Sea they say have Israeli links or are sailing to Israel, in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Multiple commercial ships in the area reported the impact of the missiles in surrounding waters, CENTCOM added.

Houthis fire on commercial ships in Red Sea: military
8:29 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels fired two missiles late Tuesday toward merchant ships travelling in the Red Sea near the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the US military said following a report by the British maritime security agency UKMTO.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations had initially reported explosions near a cargo ship sailing between the coasts of Eritrea and Yemen.

"Master reports no damage to the vessel and crew are reported safe at present," the agency, run by Britain's Royal Navy, said in a brief message.

The US Central Command later said Huthi rebels had fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the southern Red Sea, where there were multiple commercial ships but "none have reported any damage".

"These illegal actions endangered the lives of dozens of innocent mariners and continue to disrupt the free flow of international commerce," CENTCOM said on X, formerly Twitter, adding it was the 24th attack against merchant shipping in the area since November 19.

Israel says ready 'for any scenario' after al-Aruri killing
8:25 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli forces has said it is "prepared for any scenario" after a strike in Beirut that killed Hamas's deputy chief, stoking fears the war in the Gaza Strip could boil over into wider regional conflict.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari did not directly comment on the killing, but said afterwards that the military was in "very high state of readiness in all arenas, in defence and offence. We are highly prepared for any scenario."

Saleh al-Aruri was killed along with his bodyguards in a strike by Israel on Tuesday.

Hamas TV also reported Israel had killed Aruri in Lebanon.

Israel minister slams US for condemning call for mass exodus
8:24 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has hit back at ally the United States over its criticism of his push for the transfer of Gazans out of the besieged Palestinian territory.

"The United States is our best friend, but first of all we will do what is best for the State of Israel: the migration of hundreds of thousands from Gaza will allow the (Israeli) residents of the envelope to return home and live in security and will protect the IDF (Israeli) soldiers," the far-right minister posted on X late Tuesday.