Gaza: Israel kills dozens in overnight attacks as hungry children protest scarcity of food in Gaza City

Gaza: Israel kills dozens in overnight attacks as hungry children protest scarcity of food in Gaza City
Israel's war on Gaza enters 138th day on Wednesday, with 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine.
17 min read
21 February, 2024

Israel kept up its deadly bombardment of Gaza as Washington vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that called for a ceasefire in the Palestinian territory.

Global powers trying to navigate a way out of the spiralling crisis have so far come up short, and mediation efforts have so far failed to secure a truce to halt the fighting.

But in New York, Washington vetoed a UN Security Council resolution drafted by Algeria, which demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the “unconditional” release of all hostages.

The veto provoked criticism from countries including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and even close US allies France and Slovenia.

Hamas said the US veto equalled "a green light for the occupation to commit more massacres”.

As world powers voted, Israeli strikes pounded Gaza early on Wednesday as fighting on the ground raged on, leaving 103 people dead.

Witnesses reported heavy fire in areas all across Gaza, including the south of the territory's main city Khan Younis and Rafah near the Egyptian border, where around 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have sought shelter.

Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian children in Gaza City in the northern part of the Gaza Strip rallied on Tuesday to protest the scarcity of food and water.

The children marched in the streets of Gaza City holding banners with some written on them "bread becomes my dream" and "we want food," among others.

Holding empty pots during the rally as an expression of lack of food, they chanted to demand an end to the war.

Goodnight, thanks for following!
5:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab's Gaza live blog is now wrapping up for the night. It will be back again tomorrow at 9am. Thanks to all for following.

Switzerland to ban Hamas
5:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Switzerland's government said on Wednesday it wants to ban Hamas.

The Swiss government said under the new legislation Hamas and "cover or successor organisations" as well as organisations or groups that act on its behalf or in its name will be banned.

The ban aims to punish Hamas for the surprise October attacks as well as prevent the group using Switzerland as a safe haven or carrying out attacks in the country for example by making entry bans or expulsions easier to arrange.

It will also help combat terrorist financing by allowing the Swiss anti-money laundering authorities to better exchange information with counterparts abroad, the government said.

The government said that acts of support for Hamas could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The ban is limited to five years, but can be extended.

Al-Amal Hospital under Israeli siege for 30 days straight
4:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is sounding the alarm about al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, with conditions becoming critical "due to the ongoing siege and targeting by the Israeli occupation for the 30th consecutive day."

In response to the escalating situation, the PRCS is urgently appealing to the global community for immediate intervention to safeguard the hospital and "to lift the imposed siege before it is too late and the hospital is forced out of service."

Blinken to Lula: US 'disagrees' with 'Holocaust' comment
4:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that the United States disagrees with controversial remarks by the Brazilian leader comparing Israel's war on Gaza to the Holocaust, a US official said Wednesday.

Blinken "made clear we disagree with those comments" in a more than 90-minute meeting with Lula, a senior State Department official told journalists, saying the pair had a "frank exchange" during the sit-down at the presidential palace in Brasilia.

WHO chief: Gaza has become a 'death zone'
4:10 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is inhumane, the head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday, calling the Palestinian territory a "death zone".

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for an immediate ceasefire and demanded unhindered access for international aid.

"The health and humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane and continues to deteriorate," Tedros told a media briefing.

"Gaza has become a death zone. Much of the territory has been destroyed," he added.

"What type of world do we live in when people cannot get food and water, or where people who cannot even walk are not able to receive care?

"What type of world do we live in when health workers are at risk of being bombed as they carry out their life-saving work?

"What type of world do we live in when hospitals must close because there is no more power or medicines to help save patients, and they are being targeted by military forces?"

North Gaza residents 'eating animal feed for three weeks'
3:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

The leader of Gaza's government media office, Ismail al-Thawabteh, has reported that for three weeks in a row, residents of the northern Gaza Strip have resorted to consuming animal feed.

He warned of a looming humanitarian disaster that could impact hundreds of thousands of Palestinians unless international pressure is applied to compel Israel to permit the entry of humanitarian aid into the blockaded coastal region.

Israel kills child in occupied West Bank
3:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

According to the official WAFA news agency, Israeli forces have shot dead a 15-year-old boy in the town of Azzun in the occupied West Bank.  

Fadi Suleiman succumbed to his wounds at hospital after he was shot in the chest, medical sources told WAFA.

Israel president Herzog slams Smotrich over hostage comments
2:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has expressed disapproval of far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich's remarks that the safe return of Israeli captives from Gaza "is not the most important thing," as reported by the Israeli Army Radio.

"I call on elected officials to consider the feelings of the families of the abductees, one must know how to act with maximum sensitivity – there are things that should not be said in public," Herzog said.

Knesset rejects recognition of Palestinian state
2:22 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, has cast its votes to overwhelmingly reject any unilateral acknowledgment of a Palestinian state, with 99 members supporting the decision against nine dissenters, as reported by Israel's i24 News.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a resolution concerning "international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state"

UN: Nasser hospital has become 'a place of death'
2:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

A representative from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has labeled the situation within Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis as "appalling," noting that what was once "a place of healing" has now become "a place of death."

During a visit to the encircled hospital alongside the WHO and the Palestine Red Crescent, aimed at evacuating those critically ill and trapped for weeks due to Israeli shelling, Jonathan Whittall, a senior officer for humanitarian affairs at OCHA, shared these observations.

“There are 150 patients in one of these buildings. They have no food and water, no electricity. There’s very few doctors and nurses that are remaining inside this hospital. The conditions are appalling,” Whittall said in a video posted on social media.

“There are dead bodies in the corridors. Patients are in a desperate situation. This has become a place of death, not a place of healing.

“This is a preventable tragedy that should not have happened”.

A large blast was heard in Syria's capital Damascus
1:11 PM
The New Arab Staff

A large blast was heard in Syria’s capital Damascus, Reuters reports citing a witness and local media, hours after an Israeli strike that killed two people.

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PCHR condemn killing of lawyer and her family by Israel
12:54 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has condemned the killing their colleague Nour Naser Abu Al-Nour and seven of her family members, including her two-year-old daughter, by an Israeli airstrike on her family home in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip.

"The killing of Nour along with seven of her family members, comes as the latest example of the genocide that Israel is committing against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and a reminder that all Palestinians, including human rights defenders, are a legitimate target for the Israeli government and army," the PCHR said in a statement.

"This heinous crime also constitutes further evidence of the lack of safe space for Palestinians in the Strip and an example of what the Palestinians in the Strip have been subjected to for the last 137 days of ongoing Israeli aggression. Nour and her family are among of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are women and children, unjustly, illegally and cruelly killed as result of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023."

Woman, child killed in Israeli strike on south Lebanon
12:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

A woman and a young girl were killed, and at least four others —  including three children — were injured in an Israeli airstrike on a home in the town of Majd al-Zoun in south Lebanon on Wednesday.

The woman, Khadija Salman, was killed immediately, while the young girl, Amal al-Dar, was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died from her injuries. Amal al-Dar was the child of a local paramedic.

The four injured were taken to a hospital where they are being treated for light injuries caused by falling debris, a medical source told The New Arab's Lebanon correspondent Will Christou.

The Israeli strikes come exactly a week after Israel killed ten civilians in a single day in a series of airstrikes across southern Lebanon.

Read the full report below. 

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PRCS, WHO evacuate 21 patients from Nasser Hospital in Gaza
12:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that five of its ambulance teams were involved in the evacuation effort, working in conjunction with the World Health Organization.

On Tuesday evening, 21 injured individuals were transported to the International Field Medical Corps and Indonesian Field Hospitals located in the adjacent area of Rafah.

Pro-Palestine groups in Wales call for Israel boycott
12:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) branches across Wales have declared in a statement that now is the moment for "people of conscience across the world to act," amid allegations of Israel's “genocide of the Palestinian people.”

In their statement, they called for a widespread boycott against Israel, advocating for the avoidance of its goods, services, and academic, cultural, and sporting engagements. They further pressed for local authorities and educational institutions to cease all financial dealings with firms implicated in the mistreatment of Palestinians, alongside urging consumers to oppose businesses involved in the subjugation of the Palestinian people.

Additionally, the group has urged the Greater Gwent Council Pension Fund to withdraw its investments from entities that provide arms and military equipment to Israel.

Furthermore, the statement highlighted three critical demands: the cessation of Palestinian land colonization and occupation, the removal of the apartheid barrier; the acknowledgment of equal rights for Palestinian citizens within Israel; and the affirmation and encouragement of Palestinian refugees' rights to return to their homes and properties

Cuba: int'l community bears 'moral responsibility' for Gaza
11:55 AM
The New Arab Staff

At the ICJ hearing today, Cuban diplomat Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo tells the court “we and you bear the moral responsibility to pronounce ourselves in a clear and transparent way on the ignominious situation of the Palestinian people”, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is an “international wrongful act”, she said, “the aggravation of which reiterates the responsibility of the occupying power and the international community”.

“It was agreed by Resolution 242 that Israel’s armed force would withdraw from the territories of 1967, but this was not so. The Palestinian people have the inalienable right to determine their own political, economic and social destiny,” said Rodríguez Camejo.

Colombia, Bolivia back Brazil's Lula in Israel genocide row
11:34 AM
The New Arab Staff

Colombia and Bolivia are supporting Brazil amidst its growing diplomatic conflict with Israel, following President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's allegations of genocide in Gaza by Israel, likening the situation to the Holocaust.

Both Gustavo Petro of Colombia and Luis Arce of Bolivia have voiced their "solidarity" with Lula on Tuesday. This comes in the wake of Israel's strong criticism of Lula for labeling its military operations in Gaza as a “genocide” of Palestinians and drawing parallels to Adolf Hitler's efforts to annihilate the Jewish population during the Holocaust.

Arce also took to social media to link arms with Lula. “History will not forgive those who are indifferent to this barbarity,” he wrote. The Brazilian president, he said, had told the truth about the genocide being committed against the “brave Palestinian people”.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has backed Lula's comments on Israel [Getty]
Arab states ‘disappointed’ by US veto on UN ceasefire
10:59 AM
The New Arab Staff

Several Arab countries have expressed disappointment after the US vetoed, for the third time, a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Egypt emphasised that the obstruction of a resolution calling for a ceasefire in an armed conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 29,000 civilians, most of them children and women, is “a shameful precedent in the history” of the UN Security Council.

Qatar expressed deep regret over the obstruction of the draft resolution saying the move "repeatedly exposes the double standards and varying international community stances towards the systematic war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against the brotherly Palestinian people, especially children and women".

Saudi Arabia stressed the need to reform the Security Council, “warning against the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and its surroundings and the escalation of military operations that threaten international peace and security”.

The UAE said it was “deeply disappointed with the vote outcome”, stressing that “this war must end”.

Jordan also expressed“regret and disappointment at the UNSC's failure, once again, to adopt a ceasefire resolution as a result of the US veto”.

'No Iranian casualties' in Israel strike on Syria: Iran news
10:56 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Israeli attack on a residential building in Damascus on Wednesday did not kill any Iranian nationals or advisers, Iran's semi-official Student News Network said.

Several Israeli missiles hit the Kafr Soussa district in the Syrian capital, Syrian state media reported.

The neighbourhood hosts residential buildings, schools and Iranian cultural centres, and lies near a large, heavily-guarded complex used by security agencies. The district was targeted in an Israeli attack in February 2023 that killed Iranian military experts.

Gaza famine inevitable if 'things don't change': WFP
10:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) chief, Cindy McCain, expressed concerns that Gaza may face famine if circumstances do not improve.

“A famine doesn’t have to happen. But if things don’t change, it will,” Cindy McCain stated in a post on X.

WFP had to suspend aid distribution in northern Gaza because of unsafe conditions, leaving the hundreds of thousands of people residing there more vulnerable to starvation.

Iran says Israel behind gas pipeline sabotage
9:52 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran said Wednesday that Israel was behind twin sabotage attacks against gas pipelines that disrupted supplies in at least three provinces last week.

The February 14 explosions hit pipelines in the cities of Safashahr in the southern province of Fars and Borujen in the southwestern province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari.

Officials said at the time it was an act of "sabotage and terrorism."

There were no reported casualties but state media said supplies were disrupted in the provinces of North Khorasan in the northeast, Lorestan in the west and Zanjan in the northwest.

"The explosion of the country's gas lines was the work of Israel," Oil Minister Javad Owji told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"The plot was foiled," he added.

No evidence was provided of Israeli involvement. 

WHO says 32 patients transferred out of Nasser hospital
9:48 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The World Health Organization said it had transferred 32 patients out of the besieged Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza but said it feared for the patients and medics still inside.

WHO staff said the scenes around the hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis were "indescribable".

"The area was surrounded by burnt and destroyed buildings, heavy layers of debris, with no stretch of intact road," WHO said.

"Nasser Hospital has no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage are creating a breeding ground for disease," the UN health agency said.

Israeli troops entered the Nasser hospital on Thursday, following days of fighting around the complex. It is the main hospital in the southern Gaza Strip.

WHO said its degradation was "a massive blow to Gaza's health system".

Over a dozen Israeli strikes on Syria during 2024: SOHR
9:13 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports that this morning's explosions in Damascus were "a result of new Israeli targeting of Syrian territory".

From the beginning of the year, SOHR has recorded 13 instances of Israeli aggression towards Syria, comprising eight aerial bombardments and five assaults via ground-launched rockets.

The organisation noted that these incursions have demolished approximately 31 sites, resulting in the death of 31 combatants, most of whom are Iranian or non-Syrian fighters allied to Iran, and injuries to 13 others.

Furthermore, SOHR mentions that Israeli operations this year have also resulted in the deaths of eight civilians, among them a woman.

Iraqi militias halt US strikes amid claims of defending Gaza
8:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

As factions within the Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria claim continuous targeting of Israeli and US targets in defence of the people of Gaza, Iraqi sources say the militias have halted all assaults on US targets since early this month, The New Arab's Dana Taib Menmy reports from Iraq.

Since the start of Israel's war on Gaza, Iran-backed militias in Iraq have conducted hundreds of attacks on US forces in both Iraq and Syria over Washington's unwavering support for Tel Aviv in its brutal onslaught on the besieged enclave.

Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, met with representatives of several of the armed groups in Baghdad airport on 29 January and asked them to seize attacks on US forces, Reuters reported on 18 February, citing Iraqi and Iranian sources.

The visit of Qaani to Baghdad has resulted in a cessation of attacks on US troops in both Syria and Iraq by Iran-aligned groups in Iraq. The visit came less than 48 hours after Washington blamed the Iraqi militias for the killing of three US soldiers at the Tower 22 outpost in Jordan.

More than 200 US coalitions for Gaza ceasefire
8:42 AM
The New Arab Staff

More than 200 labour unions in the US, including seven national and more than 200 local unions, have launched a coalition to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, The New Arab's correspondent in Washington Brooke Anderson reports.

The announcement was made on Friday, using the website of the new coalition, the National Labor Network for Ceasefire, saying that with their organising, they were aiming to "end the death and devastation" in the Middle East and to expand support for a ceasefire in Gaza among US unions.

Their main demands are an immediate ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, a restoration of basic human rights, the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas, unimpeded full access to humanitarian aid, and a call for a ceasefire by US President Joe Biden.

Leading the coalition are the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the Association of Flight Attendants, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National Education Association, National Nurses United (NNU), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the United Electrical Workers (UE), and 200 local unions and labour organisations launched the National Labor Network for Cease-fire (NLNC).

Officials warn of social collapse in Lebanon amid UNRWA cuts
8:38 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian officials have warned of a "social explosion" and a security breakdown in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon if funding to the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) is not restored, The New Arab's Lebanon correspondent Will Christou reports.

More than a dozen donor countries, including the US and UK, suspended their funding to UNRWA after Israel alleged, without evidence, that a dozen of its employees participated in the 7 October surprise attack by Hamas on the Gaza envelope.

The UN agency suspended the employees and launched an independent investigation into the allegations – for which it said Israel has yet to provide it with the evidence.

UNRWA, which provides essential medical, educational and financial services to Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world, announced that its services could halt by the end of February if the funding suspension continues.

Read the full report below.

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Two killed in Israeli strike on Syria: war monitor
8:34 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least two people were killed Wednesday in an Israeli attack on the Syrian capital, a war monitor said and state media said.

"At least two dead in a provisional toll from the Israeli air attack on a residential apartment in the Kafr Sousa district" of Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with state television also reporting "at least two" killed.

China: US ceasefire veto makes Gaza 'even more dangerous'
8:25 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

China warned Wednesday that a US decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza pushed the conflict into an "even more dangerous" situation.

"China voted in favour of the draft resolution," foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular briefing on Wednesday.

"The United States has once again single-handedly vetoed it, pushing the situation in Gaza into an even more dangerous situation, in which all parties concerned... have expressed their strong disappointment and dissatisfaction," she added.

"The humanitarian situation in Gaza is becoming extremely serious, and regional peace and stability have been severely impacted," Mao said.

"The Security Council must take action as quickly as possible to bring a halt to hostilities. This is a moral obligation that cannot be put off," she said.

"We will continue to work with all parties in the international community to push the Security Council to take further responsible and meaningful actions, and make unremitting efforts to quell the war in Gaza at an early date," Mao added.