Israeli war on Gaza enters 70th day with new massacres

Israeli war on Gaza enters 70th day with new massacres
Israel's strike on a UNRWA school is the latest attack on civilian infrastructure which has lead to the deaths of thousands of civilians in the campaign.
16 min read
15 December, 2023

Live updates from day 70 of the Gaza War

Live blog concludes for today
11:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab concludes its live coverage of the war on Gaza for today. Here are the key takeaways from 15 December:

  • Israeli attack on Gaza’s Khan Younis kills Al Jazeera’s Samer Abudaqa after medical teams were prevented by Israeli forces from immediately reaching him
  • Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Dahdouh was injured in the attack that killed Abudaqa
  • Palestinian journalist Ramy Budair, from the Palestinian New Press agency, was also killed in Khan Younis
  • Maersk, one of the world's largest shipping companies, has suspended its vessels' passage through a key Red Sea strait following attacks by Yemeni rebels on merchant ships
  • Israel says it "mistakenly" killed three captives held in Gaza
  • At least 18,700 Palestinians - mostly women and children - have been killed by Israel since 7 October, and more than 50,897 have been injured

Join us on Saturday at 08:00 GMT for the latest on Gaza.

CAIR urges Biden to condemn killing of journalists in Gaza
11:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) highlighted the vital role that Palestinian journalists play in conveying what’s happening in Gaza.

“We condemn these latest war crimes, including the targeting of independent journalists in Gaza, and we call on the Biden administration to do the same,” CAIR executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

“Because the Israeli government refuses to allow Western journalists safe and regular access to Gaza, local journalists like Wael al-Dahdouh are the only sources of independent reporting on the impact of the Israeli government’s war crimes.”

Israel wants destruction of Gaza: Palestinian UN envoy
11:01 PM
The New Arab Staff


Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour says Israel is targeting the “present and future” of Palestine by killing Palestinian academics, engineers and journalists, including Al Jazeera’s Abudaqa.

“Enough is enough,” Mansour said in a session of the UN General Assembly.

“This is how Israel conducts its assaults, through atrocities,” he continued.

“Because its goal is not security – not the security of those held captive in Gaza, not the security of the Israeli people – but the destruction and displacement of the Palestinian people, even if that means prolonging the conflict indefinitely.”

Mossad chief to meet Qatari PM on captive negotiations
10:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

Axios’s Barak Ravid has said that the director of Israel’s spy agency David Barnea was expected to meet Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Europe this weekend to discuss the resumption of talks on a deal to secure the release of captives held in the Gaza Strip.

Ravid reports that this will be the first meeting between senior Qatari and Israeli officials since a seven-day truce between Israel and Hamas broke down earlier this month.

The report came as families of the captives in Gaza protested the accidental killing of three of their loved ones by the Israeli military.

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Israel releases name of third captive killed by its forces
10:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military identified the slain captive as Alon Shamriz.

Earlier, we reported that the Israeli army confirmed it had killed three captives held in Gaza after “mistakenly” identifying them as a threat in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shujaiya.

In a statement on X, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sent condolences to the families and said the entire country was "in mourning".

Al Jazeera network condemns killing of its journalist
9:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al Jazeera network issued a statement on the killing of its cameraman Samer Abudaqa, who died after being hit by an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

Here is the network’s full statement:

“Al Jazeera Media Network condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli drone attack on a Gaza school that resulted in the killing of cameraman Samer Abudaqa.

“The Network holds Israel accountable for systematically targeting and killing Al Jazeera journalists and their families. In today’s bombing in Khan Younis, Israeli drones fired missiles at a school where civilians sought refuge, resulting in indiscriminate casualties. Following Samer’s injury, he was left to bleed to death for over 5 hours, as Israeli forces prevented ambulances and rescue workers from reaching him, denying the much-needed emergency treatment.

“Al Jazeera Media Network extends its sincere condolences to the family in Gaza and in Belgium of the late colleague Samer Abudaqa.

“With the killing of Samer Abudaqa number of journalists and media workers killed in Gaza reached over 90.

“Al Jazeera urges the international community, media freedom organisations, and the International Criminal Court to take immediate action to hold the Israeli government and military accountable for these acts of carnage and crimes against humanity.”

CPJ ‘deeply saddened’ by killing of Al Jazeera journalist
9:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for an independent investigation into the attack that also injured Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief.

Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s programme director, said he is alarmed by “the pattern of attacks on Al Jazeera journalists and their families”.

“CPJ calls on international authorities to independently investigate the attack and hold those responsible to account,” he said.

Wael Dahdouh recounts Israeli attack that killed colleague
8:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Dahdouh, who was injured along with Abudaqa in the Israeli attack, says the network’s crew was accompanying civil defence rescuers on a mission to evacuate a family after its home was bombed.

“We captured the devastating destruction and reached places that had not been reached by any camera lens since the Israeli ground operation started,” Dahdouh said from his hospital bed, according to Al Jazeera.

As the journalists were heading back on foot because the areas were not accessible by car, Dahdouh said a big explosion knocked him to the ground.

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After the blast, Dahdouh said he pressed on his wounds and walked out of the area to get help, but by the time he reached an ambulance, medics said they could not return to the site of the attack because it was too dangerous.

Subsequent efforts to coordinate a safe passage to send rescuers for Abudaqa were delayed, Dahdouh said, adding that one ambulance that tried to reach the cameraman was attacked by Israeli fire.

“I am trying to gather my strength to continue with you what we started on the first day of this war. Despite everything, I expect that I will be able to be with you live on television,” said Dahdouh, who lost several members of his family in an Israeli air raid in October.

Live Story
Palestinian journalist Ramy Budair also killed Khan Younis
8:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian New Press agency says one of its journalists, Ramy Budair, was “reporting from the field” when he was “directly targeted” along with civil defence members and Abudaqa.

In a press release, the Committee to Protect Journalists said it was “deeply saddened” by the news and called “on international authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the attack to hold the perpetrators to account”.

Killing of journalists in Gaza a ‘press freedom issue’: IJF
7:37 PM
The New Arab Staff

Tim Dawson, deputy general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, has sounded the alarm on the “scores of journalists” who have been killed since October 7.

“I think this is now a press freedom issue. I think we have to ask ourselves, ‘What is the [Israeli military] trying to achieve? Why won’t they let foreign journalists in?'”

“We know that a great many Palestinian journalists have been targeted, many of them have told me that personally, which is a terrifying and unforgivable prospect,” he told Al Jazeera.

Dawson said that while he’s hopeful that justice will be achieved for the journalists who were killed during Israel's war on Gaza, it will “clearly be very complicated”.

He said his organisation made a complaint to the International Criminal Court over the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank last year, but little has been done by the court since.

“Having said that,” he continued, “Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, was in the West Bank about a week ago and met with journalists’s representatives and assured them that investigations were taking place.”

“Let’s hope justice will finally be achieved,” he said.

Three civil defence workers also killed in strike on school
7:16 PM
The New Arab Staff

Three civil defence team members were killed while attempting to rescue civilians at the Farhana school, the Palestinian Interior Ministry said.

They were “carrying out their humanitarian duties” in the centre of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, the ministry said.

Al Jazeera’s Samer Abudaqa killed in Israeli attack
6:52 PM
The New Arab Staff

A cameraman for Al Jazeera was killed in the southern Gaza Strip, a spokesperson for the Arabic broadcaster said.

Cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa was injured along with a colleague while covering the bombing of a school, Al Jazeera said in an earlier statement.

Rescuers were unable to reach Abu Daqqa to take him for treatment.

"The rescuers just managed to retrieve the cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa’s body," the spokesperson said.

Journalists were hit by a missile fired from a drone in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

US agrees with Israel that Gaza war 'could go on for months'
6:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States agrees with Israel that its ongoing war on the besieged Gaza Strip "could go on for months," but Washington was discussing more surgical operations in scope and scale, the White House said.

"We agree with the Israelis that this conflict could go on for months," White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday.

UK's Cameron 'pleased' with Kerem Shalom opening
5:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he was "pleased" with the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing today, which will allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the war-hit Gaza Strip.

"This is something the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and I, along with our partners, have been strongly advocating for.," he said.

"It’s a vital step towards ensuring significantly more lifesaving aid can reach people in Gaza."

Lufthansa to resume Israel flights for first time since Oct
5:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

German airline group Lufthansa said Friday it planned to resume flights to Tel Aviv from January 8, after the service was suspended in early October following the attack carried out by Hamas on Israel, which has been followed by a months-long war on the Gaza Strip.

The group's airlines will initially "offer a total of 20 weekly connections to and from Tel Aviv," Lufthansa said in a statement. "This corresponds to around 30 percent of the regular flight schedule."

Lufthansa Airlines will offer connections from Frankfurt and Munich, while Austrian Airlines and SWISS will also restart the service.

Sanders introduces resolution to investigate Gaza bombing
5:20 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a resolution on Friday seeking a report from President Joe Biden's administration and debate on Israel's indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, citing the heavy death toll which stands over 18,700 people.

Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, sought to force debate under a provision in US foreign assistance law prohibiting security assistance to any government that "engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" and lets Congress vote to demand a report on a country's human rights practices.

If a resolution requesting the information passes, the Department of State must submit a report within 30 days, or all security assistance to the country in question is cut off.

However, it was not clear how much support any such resolution might receive, as U.S. lawmakers - both Democrats and Republicans - have for years approved huge amounts of military assistance for Israel with very few restrictions.

Palestinian prisoners experiencing 'cruel' conditions
5:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

The head of the Palestinian Authority’s Commission for Detainees’ Affairs, Qadura Fares, said Palestinians detained in Israeli jails are experiencing "cruel and unprecedented" treatment.

The prisoners "are living the worst conditions in the history of" their plight, Fares told ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric.

In a meeting with Spoljaric, Fares called her on to take action and end what he described as a "new phase" of attacks against detainees since October 7.

Prisoners have been subject to torture and abuse, with many sustaining injuries and broken bones and often are deprived of medical attention, while Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails are prohibited from going outside and have had their belongings confiscated.

Saudi FM hopes escalation can be avoided after Houthi attack
4:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said in an answer to a question about attacks by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea that the region does not need any further escalation and he hopes it can be avoided.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan also told a press conference in Oslo he hoped a new resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in the UN Security council would get more support, "especially by the US who had previously vetoed the resolution".

"We don't think there's a justification not to call for a ceasefire in Gaza," Prince Faisal said after a meeting of Arab and Nordic foreign ministers.


Maersk says suspending vessels' passage through Red Sea
4:53 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Maersk, one of the world's largest shipping companies, said Friday it was suspending its vessels' passage through a key Red Sea strait following attacks by Yemeni rebels on merchant ships.

"Following the near-miss incident involving Maersk Gibraltar yesterday and yet another attack on a container vessel today, we have instructed all Maersk vessels in the area bound to pass through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to pause their journey until further notice," said a statement to AFP from the Danish firm.

Hezbollah says it attacked Israel 509 times since 8 October
4:44 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah has said that it has attacked Israel 509 times since 8 October. Included in the attacks are drone strikes, sniper attacks, rocket and artillery fire, and the use of anti-tank guided missiles. 

Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah previously described the current front against Israel on the Lebanon Israel border as a "front of pressure" aimed at tying down the Israeli military which has been conducting ground operations in Gaza against Hamas. 

Gaza war 'aimed wiping out' Palestinians: FM al-Maliki
3:41 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said that Israel’s weeks-long war on Gaza is aimed at "eliminating the presence of Palestinians" and "wiping out the Palestinian people", reported Al Jazeera.

Speaking to reporters  from a foreign ministers’ meeting in Norway, al-Maliki stressed that the military onslaught - ongoing since October 7  - aims to "make Gaza uninhabitable".

He then urged for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

US 'welcomes' opening of Kerem Shalom crossing for aid
3:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States welcomes Israel's decision to open the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza for humanitarian aid, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Friday after a visit to Israel.

"We welcome this significant step," Sullivan said, adding that he was informed of the decision before departing Israel.

Rockets intercepted in Jerusalem: reports
3:16 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Multiple rockets have been intercepted in central Jerusalem, AFP reported, with air raid sirens heard ove the city.

Israel drops flyers in southern Lebanon
2:57 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli army dropped leaflets on parts of south Lebanon on Friday for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began, warning residents not to help Hezbollah, inhabitants said.

"Early Friday morning, a drone dropped leaflets over the village that landed between the houses," a resident of Kfarshuba told AFP, requesting anonymity due to security concerns.

Another resident said leaflets were dropped twice after the wind blew many from the initial batch away.

"To the residents of south Lebanon, we inform you that the terrorist Hezbollah is infiltrating into your homes and your lands," read a copy of a leaflet seen by AFP.

"You must stop this terrorism for your own security," the text added, warning the population that assisting Hezbollah would expose them "to danger".

Residents along the Lebanese border have said the Israeli army has stepped up its bombardment of frontier villages in recent days.

Mahmoud Abbas: Gaza 'integral part' of Palestinian state
2:04 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Gaza was an "integral part" of the Palestinian state during a meeting in Ramallah with a top US official on Friday, according to his office.

Abbas told visiting US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that "Gaza is an integral part of the State of Palestine", his office said, adding that "the president underscored that separation or any attempt to isolate any part of it is unacceptable".

Houthis claim attacks on two ships in Red Sea
2:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis claimed they fired missiles at two ships in the Red Sea on Friday, as part of their campaign to pressure Israel over its war with Hamas.

"Container ships MSC PALATIUM and MSC ALANYA were targeted by two naval missiles as they were heading toward the Israeli entity," Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a broadcast on the rebels' television channel.

Anadolu journalist beaten by Israeli border police
1:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Anadolu photojournalist Mustafa Haruf was beaten by Israeli border police in occupied East Jerusalem. 

According to Anadolu, Haruf was taken to Makassed Hospital with severe injuries. 

Haaretz reported that the two Israeli police have since since been suspended.

Some viewers may find the video below distressing.

Two Al Jazeera Arabic journalists wounded in Israeli strike
12:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al Jazeera Arabic reporter Wael al-Dahdouh and his colleague cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa have been wounded by and Israeli drone strike near the Haifa school in Khan Younis.

According to Al Jazeera English, Al-Dahdouh has been hit by shrapnel in his hand and waist, with Abu Daqqa still trapped at the site.

Videos on social media show Al-Dahdouh in hospital.

Some viewers may find the video below distressing.


US: Second vessel struck in Red Sea by Houthi missile
12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A second Liberian-flagged vessel has been struck crossing the Bab al-Mandab Strait, with a US official stating that the vessel was struck by a ballistic missile fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen. 

According to the official, a the crew of the vessel are attempting to put out the fire, with the US destroyer USS Mason on it's way to assist the vessel. 

Death toll from Israeli strike in Khan Younis rises to 33
11:18 AM
The New Arab Staff

The death toll from an Israeli strike on a UNRWA school in Khan Younis has risen to 33 people, according to officials from the Nasser Medical Complex speaking with Al Jazeera

The toll comes as reports emerge of heavy fighting between the Qassam Brigades and the Israeli army in Khan Younis city, with the army reportedly bulldozing houses in the town of Bani Suheila according to TNA's Arabic language service Al Araby Al Jadeed

Jake Sullivan: 'not right for Israel to occupy Gaza'
11:16 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Friday it is not appropriate for Israel to occupy Gaza in the long-term, as speculation mounts over the post-war future of the territory.

"We do not believe that it makes sense for Israel, or is right for Israel, to occupy Gaza, reoccupy Gaza over the long term," Sullivan told journalists in Tel Aviv.

"Ultimately the control of Gaza, the administration of Gaza and the security of Gaza has to transition to the Palestinians," he said following meetings with senior Israeli officials.

Britain, partners call on Israel to tackle settler violence
11:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain and more than a dozen partner countries including Australia, Canada and France, called on Israel to take immediate and concrete steps to tackle settler violence in the occupied West Bank.

"This rise in extremist settler violence committed against Palestinians is unacceptable," the countries said in a joint statement published by the British government on Friday.

"Proactive steps must now be taken to ensure the effective and immediate protection of Palestinian communities."

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Israeli military intelligence chief: war to last for months
9:19 AM
The New Arab Staff

The head of the Israeli military intelligence, Aharon Haliva, has said that Israeli operations in Gaza would "continue for months to come," after calling the battle "a multi-arena campaign". 

His comments come following weeks of comments by Israeli military and political officials suggesting that high-intensity operations in Gaza are likely to continue for months.

Israel recovers the bodies of three hostages
9:11 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel says it has recovered the bodies of three hostages as a result of its ongoing military operation in Gaza.

This includes the body of French-Israeli hostage Elia Toledano, with the army saying "during an operation in Gaza, the body of the hostage Elya Toledano (28) was recovered by IDF (Israel army) Special Forces and brought back to Israel".

Two other bodies, that of soldiers Nick Beizer and Ron Sherman, both 19, were also recovered by the Israeli military in Gaza. 

Cargo ship struck by Houthi projectile in red sea
9:05 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Liberian-flagged cargo ship travelling in the red sea was struck by a projectile fired by Yemen's Houthis.

The ship, was allegedly enroute to Israel, with a US official telling AFP that "we are aware that something launched from a Houthi-controlled region of Yemen struck this vessel which was damaged, and there was a report of a fire." 

Private intelligence firm Ambrey stated that "a projectile reportedly hit the port side of the vessel and one container fell overboard due to the impact. The projectile caused a fire on deck".