Israeli forces kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza strikes, battle Hamas in Rafah

Israeli forces kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza strikes, battle Hamas in Rafah
Israel has continued its assault on Jabalia refugee camp and Rafah, both of which have seen heavy fighting between Hamas and the Israeli army.
17 min read
23 May, 2024

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Israeli forces killed at least 50 Palestinians in aerial and ground bombardments across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and battled in close combat with Hamas fighters in areas of the southern city of Rafah, health officials and Hamas media said.

Israeli tanks advanced in Rafah's southeast, edged towards the city's western district of Yibna and continued to operate in three eastern suburbs, residents said.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant reaffirmed that the military would assault Rafah and commit more ground and air units into the operation. 

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the northern and southern edges of Gaza this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes, and have cut off the main access routes for aid, raising the risk of famine.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed more than 35,800 Palestinians and wounded over 80,000 others, with much of the enclave left in rubble.

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12:26 AM
The New Arab Staff

This live blog on Israel's war on Gaza has now ended. Thanks for following.

German police clear pro-Palestine protesters from Berlin uni
10:53 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

German police cleared about 150 pro-Palestinian demonstrators from a Berlin university faculty on Thursday, ending one of a wave of student-led protests across Europe over Israel’s war on Gaza.

Activists had occupied several rooms of the Humboldt University’s Institute for Social Sciences in downtown Berlin on Wednesday.

University administrators agreed after talks with protest leaders to let them stay until Thursday evening. But they called in the police when some of them refused to leave, German news agency dpa reported.

Police spokeswoman Beate Ostertag said that, while some of the demonstrators left voluntarily, police officers had to lead others from the building. Police said about 130 people were briefly detained during the operation, in which officers broke through several barricaded doors.

UN expert urges probe of torture of Palestinian prisoners
9:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A UN rights expert on Thursday called on Israeli authorities to investigate allegations of torture and abuse of detained Palestinians since the start of the Gaza war.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Alice Jill Edwards, said she had received allegations of abuse against Palestinians held in prisons run by the Israeli Prison Service and in Israeli military camps.

She pointed to estimates that thousands of Palestinians, including children, had been detained since the war erupted.

Edwards told AFP she had been carrying out a "thorough review for the past two months" based on multiple sources, but that her investigation was continuing.

Comedian Dave Chappelle calls Gaza war a 'genocide'
9:23 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

American comedian Dave Chappelle called the Israeli war on Hamas in Gaza a "genocide" Thursday to cheers during his performance in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, while urging Americans to fight antisemitism so Jews don’t feel like they need to be protected by Israel.

About halfway through in a wide-ranging comedy set in Abu Dhabi, Chappelle initially said he had been told by his friends either to discuss the war or not. From the audience, a woman screamed: "Free Palestine!" The crowd cheered.

Chappelle then referred to the war as a "genocide" and said that making Jews safer in America amid rising cases of antisemitism would make them realise they don’t need Israel as an ultimate protector.

3 US troops suffer non-combat injuries during Gaza pier op.
9:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Three U.S. troops have suffered noncombat injuries during the operation to establish and operate a pier off the coast of Gaza to bring humanitarian aid to Palestinians, U.S. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, said on Thursday.

Cooper told reporters that two of the injuries included a sprained ankle and a minor back injury. One of the injured service members was medically evacuated to a local hospital, he said.

Biden says US does not recognise ICC jurisdiction
7:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States does not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

CIA director to meet Mossad head to revive Gaza talks: Axios
7:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Central Intelligence Agency Director Williams Burns will shortly travel to Europe for a meeting with Mossad director David Barnea to try to revive talks on the hostages in Gaza, Axios said on Thursday, citing U.S and Israeli officials.

Private sector prioritised at Gaza goods crossing: UNRWA
6:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) chief Philippe Lazzarini said Thursday that Israeli authorities are prioritising the private commercial sector at the main crossing point for goods entering Gaza.

"When it comes to the crossing in Kerem Shalom, the private sector for the time being is being prioritised," Lazzarini told AFP, adding that the development had occurred over the past two weeks.

He said the prioritisation took place at the inspections level, with private sector trucks inspected "before any other trucks".

While private goods are "welcome in the Gaza Strip", he said most Gazans are desperate after seven months of war and cannot afford goods at the current market prices.

"We need a combination of both humanitarian aid and market" in Gaza, Lazzarini said.

Oxford University students arrested at pro-Palestine sit-in
6:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

British police arrested about a dozen Oxford University students and scuffled with some during a pro-Palestinian sit-in at the university premises on Thursday, the protesters said.

The Oxford Action for Palestine group (OA4P) said university authorities called in police after students began their protest at administration offices, as has been happening on campuses in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere during the conflict in Gaza.

Hamas says holding Israeli colonel reported killed on Oct. 7
6:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas said on Thursday it was holding an Israeli colonel captured on October 7, who Israel had previously reported was killed in the attacks that day.

The Hamas armed wing Al Qassam Brigades said Colonel Asaf Hamami had been wounded during his capture. It supplied no proof, and did not specify whether he was still alive now.

The Israeli military reported months ago that Hamami, 41, a brigade commander, had been killed in the Oct. 7 attacks and his body was being held in Gaza.

UN resumes transporting aid from US-built pier in Gaza
6:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations has resumed transporting humanitarian aid arriving at a U.S.-built pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip after deliveries were halted for two days because some truckloads of aid were intercepted by needy Palestinians.

Netanyahu says has 'plans' for front with Lebanon
5:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his government has "detailed, important, and even surprising plans" regarding Israel's front with Lebanon, as quoted by Haaretz.

His comments come during a visit to the Israeli army's Northern Command where Netanyahu met its commander and divisional commanders.

"[The plans] are meant to bring security back to the north and return the residents safely to their homes." 

MSF: Al-Awda Hospital forced to close after Israeli siege
5:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have said that the Al-Awda Hospital in Gaza following a 4-day-siege by Israeli forces.

"Staff and patients were forced to leave one of the only hospitals still functioning in the north of Gaza," MSF said in a statement on X.

Israel says 'serious consequences' for Palestine recognition
4:16 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's foreign ministry said Thursday that Israel's ties with Ireland, Norway and Spain will face "serious consequences" after their governments decided to recognise a Palestinian state from next week.

"There will be additional serious consequences for relations with their countries following the decision they made," the ministry statement quoted top official Jacob Blitstein as saying.

Blitstein was speaking during a meeting with the envoys of the three countries to "reprimand" them for their governments' move announced on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Israeli officials showed the three envoys a video of the kidnapping of five women soldiers during the October 7 attack by Hamas.

At Thursday's meeting, Blitstein "reprimanded the ambassadors for the perverse decision of their governments to recognise a Palestinian state," the ministry statement said.

He said the recognition move makes it "more difficult to promote a deal for the release of hostages" still held in Gaza by Palestinian militants.

Houthis say they targeted the Mediterranean this week
3:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

The leader of Yemen's Houthis, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, said on Thursday that one of their operations this week targeted the Mediterranean Sea.

No incident from the area was reported, and Reuters could not independently verify the contents of the statement.


Egypt still committed to Gaza truce talks
3:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Egypt remains committed to helping negotiate a ceasefire and hostage release deal in Gaza despite doubts about its mediation role, and it is in touch with Israel about setting dates for new talks, two Egyptian security sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been attempting over months of stop-start talks to strike a phased agreement between Israel and Hamas that would lead to truce in Gaza and the gradual release of Israeli hostages held in the territory.

On Wednesday, Egypt indicated it might withdraw from its role as a mediator amid tensions related to the stalling of previous talks and Israel's military advance in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Egyptian mediators received calls from Israeli security officials on Wednesday and Thursday in which the Israelis thanked Egypt for its role, the Egyptian sources said.

During the calls, the Egyptians stated their desire to conclude the Gaza negotiations and agreed to set a date for talks.


Gaza health ministry says 91 killed, 21 injured in 24 hours
2:50 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

More than 35,800 Palestinians have been killed and 80,011 have been injured in Israeli military offensive on Gaza since 7 October, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Some 91 Palestinians were killed and 21 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added. 

Harvard to hold commencement after weekslong Gaza protests
2:13 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Harvard University planned to hold its commencement Thursday following a weekslong pro-Palestinian encampment that shut down Harvard Yard to all but those with university ties and roiled tensions on the campus.

Those tensions were ticked up a notch on Wednesday when school officials announced that 13 Harvard students who participated in the encampment won’t be able to receive degrees alongside their classmates.

Those in the encampment had called for a ceasefire in Gaza and for Harvard to divest from companies that support the war.

The decision by the school’s top governing board follows a recommendation Monday by faculty members to allow the 13 to receive their degrees despite their participation in the encampment.

Harvard’s governing board, the Harvard Corporation, however said that each of 13 have been found to have violated the university’s policies by their conduct during the encampment protest.

"In coming to this determination, we note that the express provisions of the Harvard College Student Handbook state that students who are not in good standing are not eligible for degrees," the corporation said in a written statement.

The statement left open the possibility of an appeals process saying the corporation understands "that the inability to graduate is consequential for students and their families" and supports the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ intention to provide an expedited review of requests for appeal.

"We care deeply about every member of our community — students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni — and we have chosen a path forward that accords with our responsibilities and reaffirms a process for our students to receive prompt and fair review," the statement added.

Protester hung a Palestine flag in the pro-Palestinian encampment in Harvard Yard [Getty]
UN: Israel must investigate report of Palestinian detainees
2:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A United Nations expert called on Israel on Thursday to investigate multiple allegations of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian detainees.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Jill Edwards, said in a statement that she had received allegations of people being beaten, kept in cells blindfolded and handcuffed for long periods.

There was no immediate reaction from the Israeli government or military. The military has said it acts according to Israeli and international law and those it arrests get access to food, water, medication and proper clothing.

The UN Special Rapporteur said she had received reports of some detainees being deprived of sleep, threatened with physical and sexual violence, insulted and exposed to humiliating acts, including "being photographed and filmed in degrading poses".

"I am particularly concerned that this emerging pattern of violations, coupled with an absence of accountability and transparency, is creating a permissive environment for further abusive and humiliating treatment of Palestinians," Edwards said.

"The Israeli authorities must investigate all complaints and reports of torture or ill-treatment promptly, impartially, effectively and transparently. Those responsible at all levels, including commanders, must be held accountable, while victims have a right to reparation and compensation."

EU's Borrell: commends resumption of EU UNRWA funding
1:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has commended European donors to the UN's Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA) for reinstating funding to the agency. 

"All EU donors have now resumed their support to the Agency, still in critical financial situation," he said, adding "We have to step up our support; the needs are only growing."

Amid ICJ ruling, Israel says won't be deterred from Gaza war
1:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel will not be deterred from pursuing its war on Hamas, an Israeli government spokesperson said on Thursday ahead of an International Court of Justice decision on South Africa's request for an order to halt military actions in the Gaza Strip.

"No power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza," the spokesperson, Avi Hyman, told reporters when asked whether Israel would comply with a possible ICJ ruling against it on Friday.


Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan Hospital amid strikes
12:40 PM
Sally Ibrahim

On a long and narrow, winding road surrounded by destruction on all sides, dozens of Palestinians, the majority of whom are women, patients and the elderly, rush to escape repeated Israeli attacks on Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip.

The scale of destruction and death is a painful and daily reality facing the residents of the northern region of the besieged Gaza Strip since the launch of Israel's genocidal war on 7 October.

Every day, hundreds of Palestinian families who decided to persevere and remain in their places of residence were forced to move from one pulverised site to another in a desperate struggle to survive.

Hadia Al-Attar's family is among the countless others forced to be displaced more than ten times inside the Jabalia camp. In the process, more than 15 of their relatives and family members have been killed by Israeli strikes, while around 25 others are still missing, some under the rubble and others whose final fates are entirely unknown.

"With every displacement, I lose a brother, relative or a friend (...) I am no longer willing to bear another loss (...) I have not struggled with my family throughout this period for us to die so easily," in a voice mixed with sorrow and anger, Hadia said to The New Arab as she helped her brother move her elderly mother onto a medical bed to escape from inside Kamal Adwan Hospital.

"What does Israel want from us? What does the world want from us? Do they want to exterminate us and get rid of our existence? Why all this hatred against the Palestinians in Gaza? And why all this shameful silence of the Arabs and the world?" the 25-year-old young woman asked.

Suddenly, the sound of a huge explosion interrupted Hadia, and she began to run as grey dust obscured the view after an Israeli airstrike. 

Read more from Sally Ibrahim's report on north Gaza's Kamal Adwan Hospital here.

Yellen fears 'crisis' if Israel cuts off Palestinian banks
12:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Thursday of the risk of a "humanitarian crisis" if Israel cuts off a crucial financing channel to Palestinian banks.

"I'm particularly concerned by Israel's threats to take action that would lead to Palestinian banks being cut off from their Israeli correspondent banks," she told reporters in Stresa in northern Italy, where a meeting of G7 finance ministers opens later.

"These banking channels are critical for processing transactions that enable almost $8 billion a year in imports from Israel, including electricity, water, fuel, and food, as well as facilitating almost $2 billion a year in exports on which Palestinian livelihoods depend."

Asked what the United States and G7 might do in response, Yellen said she had written to Israeli President Benyamin Netanyahu months ago about the economic situation in the occupied West Bank.

"And as I said, I believe it would create a humanitarian crisis in due course if Palestinian banks are cut off from Israeli correspondence," she said.

"Certainly, this is a view that we will voice."

Israeli army says 30 rockets launched from south Lebanon
12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli army said that 30 rockets had been launched from south Lebanon towards the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Ayelet Hashachar. 

According to the army, some of the rockets were intercepted whilst others fell in open areas, with the air force announcing it had struck the site of the launch.

Gaza civil defence says 26 killed in Israeli air strikes
11:40 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Gaza's civil defence agency said two pre-dawn Israeli air strikes on Thursday killed 26 people in Gaza City, amid fierce battles between troops and militants across the Palestinian territory.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military, while AFP was unable to independently verify the details of the two reported strikes.

Civil Defence Agency spokesman Mahmud Bassal told AFP that one strike hit a family's house, killing 16 people, while 10 others died when a mosque was struck in the second strike.

Bassal said the dead included at least 15 children, including 10 who were killed when their family's house was hit in the Al-Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza City.

Five children died when their school inside a mosque complex was hit, he said, adding that rescue teams had pulled out several wounded from the strikes.

Hungary: ICC warrant against Netanyahu 'unacceptable'
11:20 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The International Criminal Court prosecutor's request for an arrest warrant against Israel's prime minister is "unacceptable" and could not be enforced in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.

Gergely Gulyas told a news briefing that, although Hungary ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it "was never made part of Hungarian law," meaning that no measure of the court can be carried out within Hungary.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes. Representatives of both sides slammed Khan's decision.

"This decision... is not a legal but a political decision, it is unacceptable and it discredits the International Criminal Court," Gulyas said.

"It is wrong to use a court as a political tool, and it should not be forgotten what led to what is happening in Gaza, and that is a ruthless, dishonest and vile terrorist attack on Israel," he said.

Israeli casualties surge amid renewed Gaza offensives
11:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers have been wounded in renewed offensives across Gaza and have been airlifted to hospital according to Israeli publication Yedioth Ahronoth.

According to doctors treating the soldiers, most of the wounds are from anti-tank missiles or explosives. 

Additionally, hospitals are preparing to move operations underground due to possible escalation in fighting between the Israeli army and Lebanon's Hezbollah. 

On Thursday the Israeli army announced that an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded in fighting in northern Gaza which has seen renewed fighting in recent weeks.

Israel to reprimand Irish, Norwegian, Spanish envoys
10:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel will reprimand the ambassadors of Ireland, Norway and Spain on Thursday over their governments' plan to recognise a Palestinian state next week, an Israeli official said.

The envoys have been summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, where they will be shown a previously unpublished video of Hamas taking female captives during its 7 October attack on Israel that triggered the Gaza war, the official said.

Israel has also recalled its own ambassadors in Dublin, Oslo and Madrid for consultations.

The conflict has stoked violence in the occupied West Bank and hardened Israeli opposition to ceding occupied territories where the Palestinians seek statehood. US-sponsored diplomacy on a negotiated two-state accord stalled a decade ago.

Announcing on Wednesday that they would recognise a Palestinian state on May 28, the three European countries said they wanted to help secure a Gaza truce and revive peace talks.

Some other Western powers say recognition of a Palestinian state should follow negotiations.

(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)

ICJ to issue verdict on requested preliminary measures
10:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

The ICJ has announced it will deliver its verdict on the preliminary measures requested by South Africa against Israel in its genocide case.

The verdict will take place at 3pm, according to a statement issued by the ICJ, and will be read out by Judge Nawaf Salam who is President of the Court.

South Africa had asked for the ICJ to order Israel to "cease its military operations in the Gaza Strip" following the beginning of Israel's offensive in Gaza's southern city of Rafah.

Israeli forces withdraw from Jenin after multi-day raid
9:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have withdrawn from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin following a multi-day raid that started on Tuesday. The raid killed 12 Palestinians, including four children, a doctor and a teacher. 

Israeli drone strike kills one, injures three
9:02 AM
The New Arab Staff

An Israeli drone strike in south Lebanon has killed one and injured three school children in Nabatieh, according to Lebanon's National News Agency.

The strike hit a car travelling on the Kfardajal road killing the driver. Three school children were injured riding in a school bus. 

Following the strike Hezbollah announced that one of it's members were killed "on the road to al-Quds". It is unknown if the announcement is connected to Israeli strike. 

Ship off Yemen reports missile strike nearby
8:56 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A merchant ship off the coast of Yemen reported a missile hitting the water nearby, Britain's sea trade monitoring agency reported on Thursday, adding that vessel and all crew are safe and are proceeding to the next port of call.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said it had received a report of the incident 98 nautical miles south of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah. The master of the merchant vessel had reported the missile impacting the water near the ship's port side.

British security firm Ambrey said it received a report that a merchant vessel was suspiciously approached 68 nautical miles southwest of Hodeidah and had undergone what it described as "missile attack."

"No injuries or damages were reported," Ambrey said.