Israeli military withdraws most ground troops from southern Gaza as war enters seventh month

Israeli military withdraws most ground troops from southern Gaza as war enters seventh month
Israel's war on Gaza, Day 184: It's been six months since October 7, and negotiators are expected to arrive in Cairo amid a looming Israeli assault on Rafah
17 min read

The Israeli military said it has withdrawn all ground troops from the southern Gaza Strip except for one brigade, as the war entered its seventh month on Sunday.

The US and other negotiators were expected to join representatives of Israel and Hamas in Cairo in a renewed push for a ceasefire and hostage release deal.

Egypt's Al-Qahera News said CIA Director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani would join Egyptian mediators for Sunday's indirect talks between the Israeli and Hamas delegations.

Hamas confirmed ahead of the talks that its core demands were a complete ceasefire in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

Israel also said on Sunday that four of its commandos had been killed after Palestinian fighters ambushed them in Khan Younis, while UNICEF said that 600,000 children in Rafah, where most of Gaza's population has fled to, are living in hunger and fear amid a planned Israeli ground invasion of the city.

Thanks for following
4:25 AM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog is now wrapping up. Thanks to all for following along. The New Arab will be back tomorrow ay 9am covering happenings in Gaza live. 

Israeli forces 'beat worshippers' at Al-Aqsa, Wafa reports
2:29 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli troops stormed the Bab al-Rahma prayer hall within the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem under occupation, assaulting devotees and detaining two, according to witness accounts reported by the Wafa news agency.

The atmosphere has been particularly strained at the location, with Israeli officials restricting access to the mosque for the majority of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank throughout Ramadan.

Search for survivors after Israel strikes southern Lebanon
1:44 AM
The New Arab Staff

Local media has shared footage of emergency services sifting through debris in search of survivors following Israeli air strikes in Sultaniya, a town in southern Lebanon.

Since October, hostilities have escalated between Hezbollah and Israel along Lebanon's southern frontier.

The conflict has resulted in approximately 270 Hezbollah combatants and 50 civilians losing their lives due to Israeli artillery fire. Around 90,000 individuals in southern Lebanon have been displaced, with over 96,000 Israelis evacuating the area near the northern border.

Progress in Gaza truce talks in Cairo: Al-Qahera News
1:15 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Progress has been made in discussions in Cairo on a Gaza conflict truce and there is agreement on the basic points between all parties involved, Egypt's Al-Qahera News state-affiliated TV channel said early on Monday, citing a senior Egyptian source.

Palestinian dies after 38 years in Israeli prisons
12:43 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Palestinian who spent 38 years in Israeli prisons for his links to a group that killed an Israeli soldier died Sunday from cancer, according to media reports.

Walid Daqqah, 62, died at the Shamir medical centre near Tel Aviv. He was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow cancer in December 2022 and had previoulsy had leukemia.

Daqqah, an Israeli citizen, was arrested in March 1986 and jailed for belonging to an armed cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine that was blamed for the kidnapping and killing of an Israeli soldier in 1984.

His life sentence was reduced to 37 years, but two additional years were added in 2018 after he tried to smuggle mobile phones into prison. He was due to be released in March 2025.

Requests for medical parole were rejected, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, an association of Palestinians who have been held in Israeli prisons.

Amnesty International on Saturday repeated its call for his release. "Since 7 October 2023, Walid Daqqah has been tortured, humiliated, denied family visits and has faced further medical neglect," the group said.

The most famous Palestinian detainee in Israel remains Marwan Barghouti, a former Fatah leader sentenced for his role in anti-Israeli attacks in the early 2000s, who has spent 20 years behind bars.

His supporters had hoped he would be released as part of a prisoner exchange agreed in November 2023 between Israel and Hamas, when 80 Israeli hostages and 240 Palestinian captives were freed.

No further accords have been reached despite indirect negotiations brokered by the United States, Qatar and Egypt.

Oman calls for de-escalation during Iran FM visit.
12:39 AM
The New Arab Staff

Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi has called for de-escalation during a visit by his Iranian counterpart, who started a regional tour in Muscat.

The visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian came almost a week after a deadly air strike in Damascus on the Iranian embassy.

The attack, believed to be carried out by Israel, killed seven of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members, including two generals. Iranian leaders have called for retaliation.

“Oman supports efforts to reduce escalation in the region, address various issues and conflicts, and for the voice of wisdom to prevail,” al-Busaidi said in a statement carried by the official Oman News Agency.

Oman has long been a mediator between Tehran and the West.

“The Palestinian issue is the main issue that we are working to overcome,” the minister said.

Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo for Gaza ceasefire talks
10:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Hamas delegation has arrived in Cairo to meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, a statement from Hamas said on Sunday.

Hamas reiterated demands the group issued in a 14 March proposal prior to a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that was passed on 25 March

The demands include a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, a return of the displaced, and an exchange of Palestinian captives for Israelis being held in Gaza, the statement said.

The statement also demanded relief for the Palestinian people and to begin reconstruction of the besieged Strip.

Palestinians killed in Israel strikes on Nuseirat, Rafah
10:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian official news agency, Wafa, has reported the deaths and injuries of several civilians due to Israeli artillery fire on the Nuseirat refugee camp and the city of Rafah.

According to medical sources cited by the agency, Israeli air strikes on a commercial building in the Ain Jalut towers, located to the south of the Nuseirat camp, resulted in the deaths of six civilians.

Furthermore, Wafa mentioned that Israeli fighter jets targeted a civilian gathering in Nassr town, situated north of Rafah, leading to the death of at least one civilian and injuries to multiple others.


Israel strikes Hezbollah in southern Lebanon
9:41 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's military announced on X that their fighter jets targeted and struck a Hezbollah rocket launcher and related operational facilities in southern Lebanon.

The military also reported that earlier that day, an air assault launched from Lebanon was neutralised by their air defense systems. Additionally, rocket fire aimed at northern Israel was detected, although there were no injuries reported.

US expected to propose new Gaza captive deal: report
8:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

According to Haaretz, the US plans to propose a new deal for captives tonight, requiring substantial concessions from both Israel and Hamas.

An Israeli source quoted by the newspaper stated, “The significant involvement and pressure applied by the US can influence the standstill that the negotiations are in.”

Haaretz reports that the Israeli team at the Cairo negotiations includes David Barnea, Mossad's chief; Ronen Bar, head of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service; and Nitzan Alon, who leads the Hostages Headquarters.

The discussions also see participation from William Burns, the CIA Director from the US, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s Prime Minister.

Pope to meet families of captives in Vatican on Monday
8:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli foreign ministry has stated that families of captives will accompany Foreign Minister Israel Katz on his trip to Rome and the Vatican.

Katz mentioned in a X post that Israel initiated the meeting.

He emphasised, “the meeting and the Pope’s support have a great moral weight that sends a clear message: The world should mobilise and act for the unconditional release of all abductees”.

Iraq to send 10 million litres of fuel to Gaza
7:41 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iraq agreed on Sunday to send 10 million litres of fuel to the Gaza Strip in support of the Palestinian people, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said.

Iraq also agreed to receive wounded Palestinians from Gaza and provide them treatment in government and private hospitals, the prime minister added in a statement.

The lack of fuel has crippled hospitals, water systems, bakeries and relief operations in the strip.

Israel's military can handle Iran threat, chief says
6:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's military can handle any Iranian threat, its chief said on Sunday.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) can handle Iran," Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi said in a televised statement. "We can act forcefully against Iran in places near and far. We are cooperating with the United States and with strategic partners in the region," said Halevi. 

Israel's war on Gaza 'crossed all boundaries': Lazzarini
6:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

Philippe Lazzarini, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, said in a statement on X that “no words can do justice to the horrors that people in Gaza are living in since the war began six months ago”.

He highlighted the extreme severity of the conflict, noting it set grim records for the highest casualties among children, aid workers, journalists, and medical personnel. Lazzarini criticized the "unprecedented attacks" on medical facilities and United Nations premises, accusing Israel of flagrantly violating international humanitarian standards.

"The war has crossed all boundaries, including those previously considered inviolable," he remarked. The conflict's brutality was amplified by the misuse of technology for destructive purposes, according to Lazzarini.

He further pointed out that the crisis was exacerbated by a famine resulting from a siege enforced by Israel.

In his closing remarks, Lazzarini advocated for the immediate release of all individuals detained in Gaza and called for an urgent ceasefire. He urged Israel to enhance access by opening additional land crossings and removing all constraints on the operations of the UNRWA without delay.

Israel's military can handle Iran threat, chief says
5:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's military can handle any Iranian threat, its chief said on Sunday.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) can handle Iran," Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi said in a televised statement. "We can act forcefully against Iran in places near and far. We are cooperating with the United States and with strategic partners in the region," said Halevi.

Gallant warns of future operation in Rafah
5:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli troops that have pulled out of Gaza on Sunday did so to prepare for future operations, including in the enclave's southern city of Rafah, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said.

"The forces are exiting and preparing for their next missions, we saw examples of such missions in the Shifa operation, and also of their coming mission in the Rafah area," Gallant said at a meeting with military officials, according to a statement from his office.

Iran's FM in Oman praises Yemeni support for Palestinians
4:38 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran's top diplomat, starting a regional tour in Oman on Sunday, hailed Yemeni support for the Palestinian people, his foreign ministry reported.

In his meeting with Houthi spokesman and senior official Mohammed Abdelsalam, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian hailed "the brave support of the Yemeni nation for the oppressed Palestinian nation."

According to Syrian pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan, Amir-Abdollahian travels on to Damascus on Monday for an official visit.

US military destroys Houthi missile in Yemen: CENTCOM
4:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.S. forces destroyed a mobile surface-to air missile system in a Houthi-controlled territory of Yemen on April 6, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Sunday.

U.S. forces also shot down one unmanned aerial vehicle over the Red Sea, its statement said, adding that a coalition vessel also detected, engaged and destroyed one inbound anti-ship missile. No injuries or damage were reported.

Israeli army says still preparing for possible war in north
4:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli military said on Sunday that it has completed another stage in preparing for possible war on its northern front with Lebanon and Syria.

"Over the past few days, another phase of the Northern Command's readiness for war was completed, centring on operational emergency storages for a broad mobilisation of IDF troops when required," the military said in a statement titled: "Readiness for the Transition from Defense to Offense."

WCK founder condemns Israeli 'war against humanity' in Gaza
3:50 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres on Sunday called for an independent probe into the Israeli strike that killed seven of his staff in Gaza, and warned that the conflict had become a "war against humanity itself."

Speaking about his firsthand experience working in war-torn Ukraine, where "entire towns" have been destroyed, the head of the US-based charity also compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"This investigation and many others should be done right, should be done in an independent way," Andres said in an emotional interview with ABC's "This Week."

"This doesn't seem like a war against terror. This doesn't seem anymore like a war about defending Israel," he said. "It really, at this point, seems like a war against humanity itself."

Gaza truce deal could be reached for Eid al-Fitr: sources
3:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

High-level Egyptian sources suggested that a temporary truce deal could be reached in Gaza during Eid al-Fitr early next week.

"The agreement is quickly approaching, and it is possible that the announcement will be made from Cairo," the sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.

Houthis say they launched missiles, drones at Western ships
3:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Houthi forces in Yemen said on Sunday they had launched rockets and drones targeting a British ship and two Israeli vessels that were heading to Israeli ports, and also at a number of U.S. frigates in the Red Sea.

The operations took place during the last 72 hours, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised statement.

Aid agencies decry 'shocking' toll six months into Gaza war
3:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

United Nations agencies and other aid organisations decried Sunday the devastating toll wreaked by six months of war in Gaza, warning that the situation was "beyond catastrophic".

"Six months is an awful milestone," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said, warning that "humanity has been all but abandoned".

The UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths insisted Saturday that there needed to be "a reckoning for this betrayal of humanity".

Israeli pullout from south Gaza likely troop 'refit': US
3:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's partial withdrawal from the southern Gaza Strip is likely so its troops can "rest and refit," rather than a move towards a new operation, the White House said on Sunday.

"They've been on the ground for four months, the word we're getting is they're tired, they need to be refit," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told ABC's "This Week," though he stressed that it was "hard to know exactly what this tells us right now."

Kirby said he would let the Israeli army "speak to their operations."

"As we understand it, and through their public announcements, it is really just about rest and refit for these troops that have been on the ground for four months and not necessarily, that we can tell, indicative of some coming new operation for these troops," he said.

Israel 'one step from victory' in Gaza: Netanyahu
1:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel was "one step away from victory" in its war on Gaza and vowed there would be no truce until Hamas frees all hostages.

"We are one step away from victory," Netanyahu said in a cabinet meeting. "But the price we paid is painful and heartbreaking."

No Gaza truce without release of hostages: Netanyahu
12:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would not agree to a ceasefire after six months of war in Gaza until the hostages being held by Hamas are released.

His comments made at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting came as a new round of truce talks in Egypt are set to begin.

Netanyahu said that despite growing international pressure, Israel would not give in to "extreme" demands from Hamas.

UK support for Israel 'is not unconditional': FM Cameron
12:41 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain's support for Israel depends on it abiding by international humanitarian law, foreign minister David Cameron said in a newspaper column on Sunday, days after an Israeli airstrike killed seven aid workers, including three Britons.

"Our backing is not unconditional," Cameron wrote in The Sunday Times. "We expect such a proud and successful democracy to abide by international humanitarian law, even when challenged."


Israel pulls troops out of southern Gaza: military official
12:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel on Sunday pulled all its troops out of southern Gaza, including from the city of Khan Younis, the military and an army official said, after months of bombardment and fierce fighting with Hamas left the area devastated.

"Today, Sunday April 7th, the IDF's 98th commando division has concluded its mission in Khan Younis. The division left the Gaza Strip in order to recuperate and prepare for future operations," the army said in a statement to AFP.

Asked by AFP whether this meant all troops have left south Gaza, he said: "Yes."

ICJ to hold hearings on 'Germany facilitating Gaza war' case
11:28 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Preliminary hearings open Monday at the United Nations’ top court in a case that seeks an end of German military and other aid to Israel, based on claims that Berlin is "facilitating" acts of genocide and breaches of international law in Israel's war on Gaza.

While the case brought by Nicaragua centers on Germany, it indirectly takes aim at Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Nicaragua has asked the court to hand down preliminary orders known as provisional measures, including that Germany "immediately suspend its aid to Israel, in particular its military assistance including military equipment in so far as this aid may be used in the violation of the Genocide Convention" and international law.

The court will likely take weeks to deliver its preliminary decision and Nicaragua's case will likely drag on for years.

Israeli woman soldier badly wounded in West Bank shooting
11:24 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Israeli woman soldier was badly wounded on Sunday in a gun attack on a highway in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said.

They said a gunman left a car and opened fire on vehicles at the Nabi Elias Junction on Highway 55 before fleeing.

"Troops and an Israeli Air Force aircraft... are encircling the area and are continuing to pursue the terrorist," the military said in a statement.

The soldier - who the Israeli media said was aged 19 - was "severely injured" and a civilian lightly hurt, the military added.

Gaza death toll at 33,175: health ministry
11:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip has killed at least 33,175 Palestinians and wounded 75,886 since October 7, the Palestinian enclave's health ministry said on Sunday.

There have been 38 Palestinians killed and 71 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry statement added.

Israeli embassies 'no longer safe' after Syria strike: Iran
10:48 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An adviser to Iran's supreme leader warned Sunday that Israeli embassies are "no longer safe" after an Israeli strike in Syria killed seven Revolutionary Guards members.

"The embassies of the Zionist regime are no longer safe," Yahya Rahim Safavi, senior adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

UK foreign minister warns of 'real' Gaza famine threat
10:43 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Sunday warned the "prospect of famine is real" in Gaza, as a Royal Navy ship headed to the Mediterranean to help set up a maritime aid corridor.

Cameron said Britain was working with the United States, Cyprus and others to set up a "new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to get aid in as quickly and securely as possible".

"We need to continue to explore all options, including by sea and air, to ease the desperate plight of some of the world's most vulnerable people," he said.

40 rockets launched from south Lebanon into Galilee, Golan
9:48 AM
The New Arab Staff

Media reports said Sunday that around 40 missiles were launched from southern Lebanon into northern Israel's Galilee as well as the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, as cross-border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel have continued since October.

Israel 'prepared' to handle Iran developments: defence chief
9:20 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's defence minister said on Sunday that preparations have been completed to handle any scenario that may develop with its foe Iran.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant's office made the statement after he held an "operational situation assessment" with senior military officers.

"Upon completing the assessment, Minister Gallant emphasised that the defense establishment has completed preparations for responses in the event of any scenario that may develop vis-à-vis Iran," his office said.

Missile hits near ship off Yemen: security firms
8:59 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A missile fell near a ship southwest of the Yemeni port city of Aden, maritime security firms said on Sunday, in the second such incident in less that 24 hours.

The attack was not immediately claimed, but it coincides with a campaign by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis against ships the rebels say are linked to Israel amid the Gaza war.

British security agency United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said a "missile impacted the water in close proximity" to the ship.

"No damage to the vessel reported and crew reported safe," it said.

Security firm Ambrey also reported a "projectile" hitting the water near the ship, advising vessels in the vicinity to "exercise caution".

The attack comes hours after two missiles targeted a ship southwest of the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, according to both UKMTO and Ambrey.

One missile was intercepted by US-led coalition forces and the second missed the ship, according to UKMTO.

Israel claims it hit Hezbollah sites in eastern Lebanon
8:52 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's military said Sunday its warplanes had struck Hezbollah sites in eastern Lebanon, where the Iran-backed group has a strong presence, in retaliation for one of its drones being downed.

A source close to Hezbollah told an AFP correspondent in the Baalbek district that the strikes targeted Janta and Sifri in the northern Bekaa Valley.

The Israeli military said on Telegram that "fighter jets struck a military complex and three other terrorist infrastructure sites belonging to Hezbollah's air defense network" in the region.

It said the strikes were "in retaliation for the attack" in which an army "drone was shot down" by a surface-to-air missile on Saturday.

Sifri is in the Bekaa Valley plain, while nearby Janta is an arid mountainous region closer to the border with Syria.

A source from Lebanon's civil defence said there were no casualties.

Australia to appoint special adviser on WCK attack probe
8:48 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Australia has said it will appoint a special adviser to work with Israel as it demands transparency in an investigation into an airstrike on Gaza that killed seven aid workers, including an Australian.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wants detailed answers as to how aid workers from the US-based World Central Kitchen were killed by Israeli forces last Monday.

The Australian government wants any probe by Israel to be monitored by its own advisor, who Albanese expects will be named "within the next twenty-four hours".

"The events which led to Zomi Frankcom losing her life are unacceptable," Albanese told reporters Sunday.

Australia will continue to seek clear information and transparency about the killings, he added, "which is why we will be appointing an appropriate person to examine the details of what has occurred".

Israel says 4 soldiers killed as war hits half-year mark
8:47 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli military published the names on Sunday of four soldiers killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing to 604 its losses in ground fighting there as the war reached the half-year mark.

The four commandos died on Saturday in southern Gaza, the military said in a statement that followed weeks of relatively low Israeli casualties. Hamas had claimed an ambush against Israeli forces in the southern town of Khan Younis on Saturday.