Israel pummels Lebanon as Gaza death toll rises

Israel pummels Lebanon as Gaza death toll rises
Israeli air strikes have targeted towns and bases in southern Lebanon over the past day, as Gaza's death toll grows amid famine fears
13 min read
28 February, 2024

This live blog on Day 145 of Israel's war on Gaza has concluded. Make sure to follow us for the latest news on FacebookX, and Instagram.

Two babies have died of malnutrition and dehydration at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, as humanitarian agencies warn of increasing fears of famine in the war-ravaged strip.

"Dehydration and malnutrition threaten the lives of thousands of children and pregnant women in the Gaza Strip," Palestinian health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement on Tuesday.

Qudra urged international organisations to act "to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza, adding that UN agencies have "ethical responsibilities" to protect children and women and "to provide all means to survive the famine hitting the Gaza Strip".

Senior UN humanitarian officials told UN Security Council on Tuesday that over half a million Palestinians in Gaza were "just a step away from famine".

This week, the UN accused Israel of blocking aid deliveries from reaching the besieged northern areas since mid-January. Humanitarian convoys that have attempted the route have been hit by gunfire from Israeli forces, the UN also said.

At least 29,954 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel's war began on 7 October, and over 70,325 people have been wounded. Most casualities have been women and children.

6:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog on day 144 of Israel's war on Gaza has now concluded. Thanks for following!

Israeli minister: no normalisation with Saudi
5:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's energy minister Eli Cohen said that there would be no normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia if it meant accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state, in an interview with Israeli network Channel 7 on Wednesday.

"If the price for the expansion of the regional peace agreements is the establishment of a Palestinian state, I give up the expansion and the normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia," the former foreign minister said.

"As someone who knows foreign relations, I say that it is possible to bring a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia without the establishment of a state and it is first and foremost in the Saudi interest".

There have been reports that the US is using a normalisation deal with Saudi as leverage for a future Palestinian state, as talks for a post-war Gaza have been going on behind closed doors.

Hezbollah strikes Israeli targets, including Shebaa Farms
4:50 PM
The New Arab

Hezbollah said it struck three Israeli sites on Wednesday afternoon, including in Ramtha and Sammaqa in the disputed Shebaa Farms area.

The group said it hit Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of Birkat Risha, close to the Lebanese border with missiles at around 5pm local time.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hamas's Lebanon faction claimed strikes on Israeli territory for the first time since November.

Read about the disputed Shebaa Farms in The New Arab's article here.

UN urged to probe deadly Israel strikes against journalists
4:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP), an American independent non-governmental organization which promotes press freedom globally, has joined two letters requesting the United Nations to assist in providing accountability in the killing of Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah in south Lebanon.

An appeal addressed to UN rights chief Volker Turk expressed concern over the Israeli forces targeting of journalists and media workers in Lebanon.

Abdallah, 37, was killed and AFP photographer Christina Assi, 28, was severely injured near the Lebanese village of Alma al-Chaab in October. A Reuters investigation found that two Israeli tank rounds fired from the same position across the border were used in the attack.

A combined 120 people and entities, including victims and their families, media outlets, press freedom groups, and human rights groups have signed the letters.

Lebanese PM calls for pressure on Israel to stop aggressions
3:30 PM
The New Arab

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Wednesday that there must be greater international pressure on Israel to halt its attacks on Lebanese territory.

Speaking prior to a scheduled cabinet meeting, Mikati said: "We greatly appreciate the French and American efforts to protect Lebanon, and we are counting on their action to deter the enemy. We call once again for the application of all the prerogatives of [UN Security Council resolution] 1701 and for Israel to oblige by it."

Israel has been fighting with Lebanon's Hezbollah group since October and has been targeting towns deep into Lebanese territory over the past week. A woman and her daughter were injured by an air strike next to their home near the southern city of Tyre on Wednesday.

Read about what is driving Israel's escalation in The New Arab's analysis here.

Palestinian President Abbas meets UNRWA chief
3:05 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini in Ramallah to discuss the latest humanitarian developments in Gaza.

News agency Wafa reported that Abbas stressed the need to stop Israel's assault on Gaza and affirmed UNRWA's role in providing services to Palestinians in Gaza, as the agency struggles amid a suspension of donor funding and the overwhelming needs of Palestinians in the war-ravaged strip.

Lazzarini has previously said that Israel is attempting to destroy the agency, which has supported Palestinian refugees since 1950.

Palestinian foreign minister calls for technocratic govt
2:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki is in Geneva for the United Nations Human Rights Council and said during a press briefing on Wednesday that he believes Hamas understands why it should not be part of a new government in the Palestinian territories.

Maliki said that a "technocratic" government was needed, without the Islamist group which is fighting a bitter war against Israel.

Read more about it here.

German navy repels Houthi drone attack in Red Sea
2:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A German frigate sent to help secure merchant shipping in the Red Sea has repelled an attack by Houthi rebels, the army said overnight to Wednesday.

The "Hesse" navy frigate intercepted a drone on Tuesday evening, the army said on X, formerly Twitter.

"A short time later, a second drone approached (the ship). The crew again initiated defence measures and also successfully engaged the target," the army said.

The Houthis have been attacking Israeli and Western assets in the vital shipping lane since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Read about the US-led task force in The New Arab's analysis here.

Last hospital in north Gaza suspends services
1:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalia in north Gaza said on Wednesday that it was forced to suspend all services due to a severe shortage of medical and fuel supplies.

Yesterday, the last functioning hospital in the north warned that it was struggling to support patients amid an 18-day military siege by Israeli forces on the surrounding area.

The director of the monitoring and evaluation department at Al-Awda, Doctor Muhammad Salha, said in a statement: “The complete cessation of services at Al-Awda Hospital will lead to a complete deprivation of basic health services for citizens, especially in light of the cessation of service by all hospitals in the north.”

He added: "The hospital's cessation of operation will exacerbate the complex health crisis due to the ongoing Israeli aggression and siege since October 7".

UK Tory party members think Islam threat to British culture
1:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

More than half of the members of the UK's Conservative party believe that Islam is a threat to the British way of life, according to a new poll commissioned by Hope Not Hate, an advocacy group which campaigns against racism.

The poll of 521 Conservative members by Opinium found that 58 percent say Islam poses a threat to the UK. It found that 52 percent believe the increasingly prominent conspiracy theory that parts of European cities are under sharia law and are “no-go” areas for non-Muslims.

The findings, which were first published in the Guardian newspaper, come as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refused to label comments made by one of his MPs as 'Islamophobic', despite widespread condemnation of Lee Anderson's remarks about London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Gaza: Fierce fighting near Khan Younis
12:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

The military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Al Quds Brigades said its fighters were engaged with Israeli forces in the Abasan al-Kabira area, east of the southern city of Khan Younis.

The faction also announced the targeting of an Israeli tank and a bulldozer with shells. The Israeli army said in a statement on its Telegram channel that its jets struck a number of Palestinian fighters in Khan Younis and hitting 'military compounds'.

Meanwhile, Hamas's military arm, Al Qassam Brigades, said it was engaged in attacks with the Israeli military west of Khan Younis.

The PIJ are a smaller armed faction and have been supporting Hamas since the start of the war.

Israeli army has hit 5 Israeli towns during war: report
12:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli military tanks have fired mistakenly inside Israeli territory on at least five occasions since the start of the war in Gaza, according to a report from Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The report from the left-leaning newspaper said that on two of the occasions the firing damaged buildings, while during one a tank fired shells into the kibbutz of Hanita near the Lebanese border.

Residents from Hanita told the paper that they had incurred broken windows and damage to the outside walls of their homes from the accidental shelling.

In response to the investigations, Israel said "lessons were learned" and that some of the mistakes arose from a failure to distinguish "between the level of operational urgency and the operational reality".

UNRWA: 50 percent drop in aid entering Gaza in February
12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in its daily situational report has said that aid convoys are coming under fire and there has been a 50 percent drop in aid supplies entering the territory since January.

  • An average of 99 trucks are entering per day in February, whereas approximately 150 trucks of supplies were entering Gaza per day in January 2024. 
  • Significant difficulties remain in bringing aid through Rafah and Karem Shalom crossing.
  • Reports of shooting by Israeli forces at Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid in Gaza City, according to OCHA.



International journalists call for access to Gaza
11:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

A group of over 50 broadcast journalists has demanded Israel and Egypt allow media access to the besieged Gaza Strip.

An open letter, signed by journalists from international news organisations including Sky News, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS, emphasised the need for protection for Gaza-based journalists and the ability for foreign media to report from the enclave.

Since the start of the war in October, Israel and Egypt have denied international media outlets access to report from inside Gaza. The only exception has been to some networks which have chosen to 'embed' with Israeli forces for inside reporting.

Read more about it in The New Arab's story here.

Hamas official: 'Long way to go' until ceasefire agreed
11:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

A senior Hamas official has told Al Jazeera that agreements with Israel for a ceasefire deal remain far off and that the American optimism expressed in recent days is not the "reality on the ground".

Basem Naim, Hamas’s head of political and international relations, said: "The gap is still wide. We have to discuss a lot of points with the mediators".

He accused US President Biden of making comments which were only expressed with concern of the domestic political scene in the US, with presidential elections later this year.

“If the Americans want to be really optimistic, they have to end their game of double standards,” Naim said to Al Jazeera.

“They talk about wanting a ceasefire and avoiding broadening the conflict in the region, but at the same time they are using their veto in the UN Security Council, they are providing billions of dollars to Israel, and they are securing more ammunition for Israel.”

Saudi Arabia calls for an end to Gaza war
10:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Saudi Arabia called for an end to the war in Gaza and the consequent humanitarian disaster in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the state news agency said.

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan also received a phone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss latest developments on Israel's war on Gaza and regarding a deal to secure further aid into the besieged territory.

Blinken reportedly thanked Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian assistance to Palestinians  "emphasized the United States’ commitment to achieving sustained peace".

Hamas leader calls on Palestinians to march to Al-Aqsa
10:20 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday called on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem to march to Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first day of Ramadan next week.

Speaking from Beirut, he said the holy site will be defended through "all forms of resistance". He said: "The siege of Al-Aqsa and the siege of Gaza are one and the same".

Haniyeh also called on the "axis of resistance", known to be the Iranian aligned coalition across Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Iran, to step up its support for Gaza through money, weapons, and political leverage.

He also said that Hamas was showing flexibility in negotiations with Israel but was ready to continue the fight.

Israeli jets strike south Lebanon
10:10 AM
The New Arab Staff

Military activity between Hezbollah and Israel continued on Wednesday with Lebanese media reporting that the area of Bint Jibel in south Lebanon was hit by Israeli air strikes this morning. 

Lebanese newspaper L'Orient Today carried comments from a local mayor in Marjayoun district who said that an Israeli drone fired a missile towards farmers who were working in fields. No casualties have been reported so far.

The newspaper also reported that Israeli jets were sighted as far north as Tripoli.

Israeli forces conduct overnight raids in West Bank
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have raided towns and cities across the occupied West Bank early on Wednesday morning, detaining multiple Palestinians and tearing up infrastructure.

Jenin camp in northern West Bank was targeted by Israeli forces who stormed the town with military vehicles and bulldozers, deploying soldiers across the streets.

Three Palestinians were detained, and shops, homes and businesses were vandalised according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Nearly 30,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

The latest statement from Gaza's health ministry on Wednesday said that at least 29,954 people have been killed in the war with Israel. At least 76 people were killed in the past 24 hours following attacks on Rafah and Deir el-Balah.

Over 70,325 people have been wounded since the start of the conflict on October 7. The huge number of injured is placing extreme pressures on Gaza's hospitals, many of which have been targeted by Israeli forces and rendered non-functional.

Hamas launches two missile salvos from south Lebanon
9:35 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas said on Wednesday that its Lebanon faction launched two missile salvos of 40 Grad missiles, a type of self-propelled missile, from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.

Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement on its Telegram channel that it bombed the headquarters of Israel's 769th Eastern Brigade and its military airport barracks in Beit Hilal.

While clashes between Lebanon's Hezbollah group and Israeli forces have intensified in recent weeks, it is the first time Hamas has launched an attack from Lebanese terriotory since November.

Fatah and Hamas to meet in Moscow on Thursday
9:20 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Representatives of Hamas and Fatah will meet in Moscow on Feb. 29 to discuss the formation of a unified Palestinian government and the rebuilding of Gaza, the RIA state news agency reported on Wednesday, citing the Palestinian ambassador to Russia.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also confirmed to RIA Novosti that such a meeting was planned.

Read about why Russia is hosting Palestinian unity talks in The New Arab's article here.

US says five Houthi drones downed in Red Sea
9:15 AM
The New Arab

The US said its forces shot down five Houthi drones in the Red Sea.

US Central Command (Centcom) said in a post on its X account that "a US aircraft and a coalition warship shot down five Iranian-backed Houthi one-way attack (OWA) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)" late on Tuesday.

Centcom added that "they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy and coalition ships in the region".

Israel, Hezbollah step up cross-border fire
9:00 AM
The New Arab

Israel launched 15 overnight air strikes over the course of half an hour in Khirbet Selm and al-Taybeh in southern Lebanon, as well as in al-Adisa and Beit Leev in the country’s east.

The strikes caused “massive material damage”, and that ambulances had “rushed to the targeted places”, according to local MTV channel.

The strikes came after Hezbollah said it had targeted the Meron air base in northern Israel with a “large missile salvo from several launchers” in response to Israeli attacks on Baalbek.