Israeli strikes on Rafah kill at least 22; Gaza truce hopes rise

Israeli strikes on Rafah kill at least 22; Gaza truce hopes rise
One Israeli strike on Rafah has killed eight people, including a 33-year-old father and his five-day-old boy, according to hospital records.
18 min read

Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah have killed at least 22 people, including six women and five children, Palestinian health officials say, with one of those killed just five days old.

The overnight strikes hit three family homes. The first killed 11 people, including four siblings aged nine to 27, according to records at the Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital, where the bodies were taken.

The second strike killed eight people, including a 33-year-old father and his five-day-old boy, according to hospital records, while a third strike killed three siblings, aged 23, 19, and 12.

Featured image: AFP via Getty

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6:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

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

Hopes rise for possible Gaza truce deal
6:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hopes rose on Monday for a long-sought truce and hostage release deal after almost seven months of Israel's war on Gaza.

Washington's top diplomat said he was "hopeful" Hamas would accept the offer, which his British counterpart said could see the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

Live Story
Explosion near merchant vessel off Yemen: UK agency
5:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A commercial ship sailing off the Yemeni coast reported hearing an explosion on Monday, but both crew and vessel were unharmed, a UK maritime agency said.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, run by the Royal Navy, said the ship's security officer had reported "an explosion in close proximity" to the merchant northwest of the port of Mokha.

"Vessel and crew are reported safe," the agency added.

Earlier, the maritime security firm Ambrey said it was likely a Malta-flagged container ship was targeted en route from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"The vessel was reportedly targeted with three missiles. Ambrey assessed that the vessel was targeted due to its listed operator's ongoing trade with Israel," the security company said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast but Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched a flurry of attacks against ships since November

The group, which controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa and much of the country's Red Sea coast, say their campaign is in solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel's war on Gaza.

On Sunday the US military said it had shot down five airborne unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over the Red Sea.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said on X that "the UAVs presented an imminent threat to US, coalition, and merchant vessels in the region".

Palestinian Islamic Jihad says downs Israeli drone
5:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian Islamic Jihad's armed wing says it downed an Israeli quadcopter carrying out intelligence missions in central Gaza.

Iran slams crackdown on US student protesters
4:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran on Monday criticised a police crackdown in the United States against university students protesting against the rising death toll from Israel's war on Gaza.

"The American government has practically ignored its human rights obligations and respect for the principles of democracy that they profess," foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

Tehran "does not at all accept the violent police and military behaviour aimed at the academic atmosphere and student demands", he said.

French police break up pro-Palestinian protest at Sorbonne
4:14 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

French police on Monday broke up a student protest demanding an end to Israel's bombardment of Gaza at one of the country's best-known universities, an AFP journalist said.

Law enforcement evacuated dozens of demonstrators from the premises of the Sorbonne in Paris after they had set up tents inside.

"We were around 50 people when law enforcement forces came running into the courtyard," said Remi, a 20-year-old history and geography student who had taken part in the sit-in.

"The evacuation was quite brutal with around 10 people dragged on the ground but no arrests," said Remi, who did not give his surname for fear of reprisals.

Education authorities earlier said the students had set up 12 tents in the courtyard and hallway of the university, causing exams to be cancelled. One student said they had set up more than 20.

The university said it was closing as no one had been able to enter the university since noon.

Outside the campus, around 150 people had been protesting.

"Gaza, Sorbonne is with you," some chanted holding a huge Palestinian flag.

"Israel murderer," cried others.

Hamas says targets Israel forces in Netzarim corridor
4:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas's armed wing says it is firing mortars on Israeli forces present in the Netzarim corridor, which divides the Gaza Strip in two.

The Al-Qassam Brigades claim of an attack comes after it was reported that the Mujahideen Brigades similarly said they had shot a barrage of mortars at Israeli forces stationed in the corridor.

The Mujahideen Brigades are the military branch of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement.

Owen Jones praises Yousaf over Gaza after Scot FM resigns
3:51 PM
The New Arab Staff

Left-wing columnist Owen Jones praises Humza Yousaf over his stance on Gaza after the Scottish first minister announced his resignation.

"I'm not a SNP [Scottish National Party] supporter, and I'm frankly baffled by Humza Yousaf's decision to blow up his majority," Jones says on social media platform X.

"But he took the right position on one of the greatest crimes of our age – Israel's genocide – when it was politically hard to do so, and for that he should always be remembered."

Current proposal before Hamas includes 40-day ceasefire: UK
3:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The current proposal put to Hamas over the Gaza war includes a sustained 40-day ceasefire and the release of potentially thousands of Palestinians in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Monday.

"I hope Hamas do take this deal and frankly, all the pressure in the world and all the eyes in the world should be on them today saying 'Take that deal,'" Cameron added in a World Economic Forum special meeting held in Riyadh, calling the proposal "very generous".


US senator questions whether DOS properly assessing Israel
3:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Democratic senator on Sunday questioned whether the Biden administration was properly assessing whether Israel was complying with international law, following a Reuters report that some senior US officials did not find that country's assurances credible.

"This reporting casts serious doubt on the integrity of the process in the Biden administration for reviewing whether the Netanyahu government is complying with international law in Gaza," Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a statement.

The Reuters report found that some senior State Department officials have advised Secretary of State Antony Blinken that they do not find "credible or reliable" Israel's assurances that it is using US-supplied weapons in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Blinken must tell Congress by 8 May whether he finds Israel's assurances credible. According to an internal State Department memo, several bureaus within the agency did not find Israel's statements credible, citing military actions that raised questions about potential violations of international humanitarian law.

Van Hollen said the Reuters report had found that the recommendations of those bureaus "were swept aside for political convenience".

"The determination regarding compliance with international law is one of fact and law. The facts and law should not be ignored to achieve a pre-determined policy outcome. Our credibility is on the line," he said.

Van Hollen and some other Democratic lawmakers have pressed US President Joe Biden to impose conditions on military assistance to pressure Israel to limit civilian deaths in the Gaza war. So far, the administration has not done so.


US military's Gaza aid pier to cost $320 million
2:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The US military's cost estimate to build a pier off Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid has risen to $320 million, a US defence official and a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The figure, which has not been previously reported, illustrates the massive scale of a construction effort that the Pentagon has said involves about 1,000 US service members, mostly from the Army and Navy.

Still, the cost has roughly doubled from initial estimates earlier this year, according to a person familiar with the matter.

"The cost has not just risen. It has exploded," Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Democratic-led Senate Armed Services Committee, told Reuters, when asked about the costs.

"This dangerous effort with marginal benefit will now cost the American taxpayers at least $320 million to operate the pier for only 90 days."

Democratic President Joe Biden announced the pier in March as aid officials implored Israel to ease access for relief supplies into Gaza over land routes.

By opening a second route for aid, this one by sea, Biden administration officials hope to avert famine in northern Gaza.


No deal made on ending Columbia encampment, uni head says
2:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

The president of Columbia University says talks with students aiming to find a path leading to the end of the pro-Palestinian encampment on its grounds in New York City have failed.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik said the university calls on those in the encampment to "voluntarily disperse".

"Since Wednesday, a small group of academic leaders has been in constructive dialogue with student organisers to find a path that would result in the dismantling of the encampment and adherence to University policies going forward," she says in a statement.

"Regretfully, we were not able to come to an agreement.

"Both sides in these discussions put forward robust and thoughtful offers and worked in good faith to reach common ground. We thank them all for their diligent work, long hours, and careful effort and wish they had reached a different outcome."

Shafik adds that the university's aim for the discussions was a "collaborative resolution" with the demonstrators that would lead to the "orderly removal of the encampment from the lawn".

Students were also asked to pledge going forwards to adhere to the university's rules, including on the holding of protests, she says.

"While the University will not divest from Israel, the University offered to develop an expedited timeline for review of new proposals from the students by the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing, the body that considers divestment matters," Shafik says.

"The University also offered to publish a process for students to access a list of Columbia's direct investment holdings, and to increase the frequency of updates to that list of holdings."

Shafik says Columbia University offered to convene a faculty committee to address academic freedom and to start a discussion on access and financial obstacles to academic programmes and global centres.

"The University also offered to make investments in health and education in Gaza, including supporting early childhood development and support for displaced scholars," she adds.

"There are important ideas that emerged from this dialogue, and we plan to explore pursuing them in the future."

Shafik says Columbia University urges those in the pro-Palestinian encampment to "voluntarily disperse", adding: "We are consulting with a broader group in our community to explore alternative internal options to end this crisis as soon as possible."

Blinken says will press Israel on more humanitarian aid
2:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The US has seen measurable progress in the humanitarian situation in Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, but he cautioned that it still wasn't sufficient and vowed to press Israeli officials later this week to do more.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting with the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, Blinken cited the opening of new border crossings and higher amount of humanitarian aid as evidence of progress.

"But, it is not enough. We still need to get more aid in and around Gaza. We need to improve de-confliction with the humanitarian assistance workers," Blinken said, referring to a mechanism that will ensure Israel does not strike aid groups.

"We finally have to make sure that we're not just focusing on inputs but on impact. All of this is going to be focus of the next few days for me, as I travel onto Jordan and Israel."

Following Riyadh, Blinken will head to Jordan and then Israel, where the focus of his trip will shift largely to how to sustain increased humanitarian aid into Gaza and identifying what the remaining obstacles are to doing so.

"I'll have a chance to meet with humanitarian groups, with the Israeli government, to hear from them where more work is needed, and to continue to press for tangible, immediate, and sustained progress."

The amount of humanitarian aid going into the Gaza Strip will be ramped up in coming days, Israel's military said on Sunday, citing new corridors that use an Israeli seaport and border crossings into the Palestinian enclave.

Mujahideen Brigades say shell Israel forces in Netzarim axis
1:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Mujahideen Brigades say they have attacked Israeli forces stationed in the Netzarim corridor, which divides the Gaza Strip in two.

The group, the military branch of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement, says it fired a barrage of mortars.

Gaza protesters disrupt Paris's Sorbonne university
1:12 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Protesters angry over the Gaza war took to Paris's Sorbonne University on Monday, chanting "Free Palestine" at the university's gates while some students set up tents in the courtyard.

Days after similar protests at Paris's Sciences Po elite school, the gathering at the Sorbonne was the latest sign that demonstrations on US campuses were spilling over to Europe as the devastating Israeli war on Gaza is in its seventh month.

The protests, which led the university to close the building for the day, were peaceful as students urged the institution – one of the world's oldest universities – to condemn Israel's actions.

Police were securing the street with the main entrance, facing a group of around 50 students, a Reuters reporter saw.

Several French politicians, including Mathilde Panot who heads the left-wing LFI group of lawmakers in the National Assembly had called supporters to join the Sorbonne protests on social media.


Gazans struggle with heat, garbage, insect swarms
12:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

As rubbish piles up and the heat rises in devastated Gaza, flies and mosquitoes proliferate in crowded Rafah city and life becomes even more grim for displaced people living in tents.

Last week, temperatures already topped 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), turning the makeshift shelters made from plastic tarps and sheets into sweltering ovens.

On a sliver of land on the outskirts of the far-southern city on the Egyptian border, about 20 of these tents have been erected, all shaded by a large sheet stretched above them.

But the thin, dark cloth is no match for the blazing sun that has sent temperatures rising fast in late April, making it harder to preserve scarce potable water and food.

"The water we drink is warm," Ranine Aouni Al-Arian, a Palestinian woman displaced from the devastated nearby city of Khan Yunis, told AFP.

"The children can't bear the heat and the mosquito and fly bites anymore."

She was holding a baby whose face was covered in insect bites and said that she struggles to find "a treatment or a solution".

Around her, swarms of flies and other insects were buzzing incessantly.

"It's the first time we see so many, because of the pollution and the waste discarded everywhere", said Aala Saleh, from Jabalia in the north of Gaza.

He said sleeping has become nearly impossible inside his tent "because we wake up from the mosquito bites, and our main concern is to kill these insects".

Amid the heat and unsanitary conditions, he said he worried about "the spread of disease".

Three sisters killed after Israel bombs home in Gaza
12:33 PM
The New Arab Staff

Three sisters were killed after Israeli forces bombed a home west of Rafah at noon, The New Arab's Arabic-language edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reports.

Egypt optimistic on Gaza talks, waiting for response: FM
12:19 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Monday that Egypt was hopeful about a proposal for a truce and hostage release in the Gaza Strip but that it was waiting for a response on the proposal from Israel and Hamas.

Shoukry was speaking on a panel in Riyadh with Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who said the war in Gaza had turned "Israel into a pariah state".


Blinken 'hopeful' Hamas will accept 'generous' Gaza deal
11:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he was hopeful Hamas would accept an "extraordinarily generous" offer to halt Israel's Gaza offensive in return for the release of hostages.

"Hamas has before it a proposal that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel," Blinken said in Riyadh at the World Economic Forum.

"They have to decide – and they have to decide quickly," Blinken said.

"I'm hopeful that they will make the right decision."

Red Cross has no mandate to replace UNRWA in Gaza: chief
11:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) does not have a mandate to replace the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, its director general said in comments published on Monday.

UNRWA is the key organisation in aid efforts in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is waging a brutal war that has devastated infrastructure.

"We have completely different mandates," ICRC director general Pierre Krahenbuhl told Swiss daily Le Temps in an interview.

UNWRA's mandate "comes from the UN General Assembly, the ICRC's from the Geneva Convention. The ICRC cannot take over UNRWA's mandate," he said.

"We already have enough to do without replacing other organisations," said Krahenbuhl, who himself had headed UNRWA between 2014 and 2019.

Last week, a report by an independent group led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna concluded that Israel had failed to furnish proof that some UNRWA employees had links to "terrorist organisations" such as Hamas.

Gaza toll reaches 34,488 killed, 77,643 injured: ministry
10:46 AM
The New Arab Staff

The number of people killed so far in Israel's war on Gaza has reached 34,488, the Palestinian enclave's health ministry says, adding that 77,643 have been injured.

The ministry says Israel carried out three massacres "against the families in the Gaza Strip" with 34 killed people and 68 injured arriving in hospitals in the past 24 hours.

Blinken says 'measurable progress' on Gaza humanitarian situ
10:15 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States has seen "measurable progress" in the humanitarian situation in Gaza over the past few weeks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, but urged Israel to do more.

Speaking in Riyadh at the opening of a US-Gulf Cooperation Council meeting, Blinken said the most effective way to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was to achieve a ceasefire.

He also said Washington continued efforts to prevent the Gaza war from expanding.


Blinken to Gulf: Iran 'threat' requires integrated defence
10:12 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Gulf Arabs on Monday that Iran's confrontation with Israel showed the need for greater defence integration.

"This attack highlights the acute and growing threat from Iran but also the imperative that we work together on integrated defence," Blinken told Gulf Cooperation Council ministers meeting in Riyadh.

Talks 'taking place in Cairo today', Egypt media reports
9:35 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Hamas delegation was due Monday in Egypt, where it will respond to Israel's latest proposal for a long-sought truce in Gaza and hostage release after almost seven months of war.

Talks "are taking place in Cairo today", said Al-Qahera News, which is linked to Egyptian intelligence services, though it was not immediately clear whether the Hamas delegation had already arrived.

A source with knowledge of the talks told AFP that Qatari mediators were also taking part in the negotiations in Cairo.

Hamas says targeted Israeli position from south Lebanon
9:18 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades said on Monday they had targeted an Israeli military position with a salvo of missiles from south Lebanon, according to a post on their Telegram channel.

The Al-Qassam Brigades are Hamas's armed wing.


Blinken in Saudi Arabia to talk normalisation, post-war Gaza
8:34 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, the first stop in a broader trip to the Middle East to discuss issues including the governance of Gaza once Israel's war on the strip ends.

The top US diplomat heads to Israel later this week, where he is expected to press Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take the concrete and tangible steps US President Joe Biden demanded this month to improve the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

In Riyadh, Blinken is expected to meet with senior Saudi leaders and hold a wider meeting with counterparts from five Arab states – Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan – to further the discussions on what governance of the Gaza Strip would look like after the war, according to a senior State Department official.

Blinken is also expected to bring together Arab countries with the European states and discuss how Europe can help the rebuilding effort of the tiny enclave, which has been reduced to a wasteland in the six-month long Israeli bombardment.

A group of European nations, including Norway, plan to recognise Palestinian statehood in conjunction with the presentation of an Arab state-backed peace plan to the United Nations.

"We can see by joining forces we can make this more meaningful. We really want to recognise the Palestinian state, but we know that is something you do once," Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told Reuters on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh.

Blinken will also discuss with Saudi authorities the efforts for a normalisation deal between the kingdom and Israel, a mega agreement that includes Washington giving Riyadh agreements on bilateral defence and security commitments as well as nuclear cooperation.

In return for normalisation, Arab states and Washington push for Israel to agree to a pathway for Palestinian statehood, something Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected.

Normalisation with Israel is highly controversial across the Arab world and is viewed by Palestinians as a betrayal of their national cause.

From Riyadh, Blinken will head to Jordan and Israel and the focus of the trip will shift to the efforts to improve the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

In Amman, Blinken will meet with senior Jordanian officials and humanitarian groups to hear about the improvements and what more needs to be done and then take that feedback to the Israelis later this week.

"[Blinken] will discuss the recent increase in humanitarian assistance being delivered to Gaza and underscore the importance of ensuring that increase is sustained," the US State Department said in a statement on Sunday announcing the expansion of the trip.

(Reuters, The New Arab)

Antony Blinken is the US secretary of state [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP/Getty-archive]
Francesca Albanese: In Gaza, victims the only witnesses
8:24 AM
The New Arab Staff

UN special rapporteur Francesca Albanese says that in Gaza, the only witnesses are the victims themselves.

"Gaza. No journalists allowed. No human rights monitors allowed. No investigators allowed. Humanitarians severely restricted," she says on social media platform X.

"No witnesses, other than the victims themselves."

Albanese makes her comments as she quotes a post from an Arabic-language United Nations news account.

"Scenes of widespread destruction during an UNRWA humanitarian mission in Gaza City," the UN post says, attaching a video from the UN Palestinian refugee agency, which is the key player in aid efforts in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas delegation to arrive in Egypt for Gaza truce talks
8:19 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Hamas delegation is due Monday in Egypt, where it will respond to Israel's latest proposal for a long-sought truce in Gaza and hostage release after almost seven months of war.

Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been trying to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas for months, but a flurry of diplomacy in recent days appeared to suggest a new push towards halting the fighting.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his seventh visit to the region since the war broke out, arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia and will also travel to Israel and neighbouring Jordan later this week, a State Department official said.

A senior Hamas official said on Sunday that the Palestinian group had no "major issues" with the most recent truce plan.

"The atmosphere is positive unless there are new Israeli obstacles," the official told AFP, requesting anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

While Israel has pledged to attack Rafah despite mounting global concern for Palestinian civilians sheltering in the southern Gaza Strip city, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the government may "suspend" the invasion if an agreement is reached.

Gaza talks progressing but we remain prudent, French FM says
8:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Talks on a ceasefire in Gaza are progressing, French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said on Monday in Riyadh, where he was due to meet other ministers of Arab and Western countries as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Things are moving forward but you always have to be careful in these discussions and negotiations. The situation in Gaza is catastrophic and we need a ceasefire," he told Reuters.