We are wrapping up the liveblog for the evening but visit www.newarab.com for more updates tomorrow morning
Death toll in Gaza passes 4,000 as humanitarian aid looks doubtful
The church is next to the Al-Ahli Baptist hospital where an Israeli strike on Tuesday evening killing hundreds of displaced Palestinians sheltering on the hospital grounds.
The strikes come as Israel continues an assault of the Gaza strip which has been described as "beyond catastrophic" by the UN. The indiscriminate Israeli strikes have so far killed 3,785 Palestinians, including 1,524 children according to the Palestinian health ministry.
The continued attacks and the lack of electricity, water, food and fuel has led to urgent calls for humanitarian aid to cross into Gaza, with more than 200 trucks waiting to enter at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
However, Israel's Kan 11 news channel reported that Israeli officials were uncertain whether aid trucks would be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip from Egypt on Friday. Egypt also stated that it needed time to repair damaged roads on the Palestinian side of the crossing to allow the trucks to enter.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army began evacuating the northern town of Kiryat Shmona, in addition to other border communities, as a precaution against a wider confrontation with Hezbollah.
Hezbollah confirmed that 13 of its fighters had been killed since the clashes began, with the group using rockets and guided missiles to strike Israeli army positions. Israel has hit Hezbollah positions with artillery strikes.
Sports stars continue to voice solidarity with Gaza
Some of the biggest names football, including Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema, expressed solidarity with Gazans, who have been under Israeli siege and heavy bombardment for almost two weeks.
Some stars, however, have been faced with hostility from their countries over such support, as Benzema has faced threats of having his French citizenship revoked by French senators.
Read more from The New Arab's MENA Sports Wrap here.
Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee that he expects a "new regional order" to emerge after its war with Hamas in Gaza.
Gallant outlined "three stages" of the hostilities which will see Israel abandon its obligations.
He hinted that the nearly two-week aerial assault on Gaza - killing over 4,100 Palestinians - was phase 1 in the military operations.
Phase 2 would see Israel "neutralising terrorists and destroying Hamas infrastructure", while the subsequent stage will take not "a day, nor a week, nor a month".
After hitting "pockets of resistance", the defence minister foresaw "the end of Israel's responsibilities in the Gaza Strip".
The UN recognises besieged Gaza as being occupied territory although Israeli troops withdrew in 2005.
Fears in Lebanon's agriculture industry as border tensions with Israel increase
The production and transport of Lebanese agricultural products have been disrupted by the intensifying clashes between Israel and pro-Iran group Hezbollah and various Palestinian armed factions in border regions, prompting fears for the country's agricultural sector.
Read more from The New Arab's Levant correspondent William Christou here.
Aid from Egypt likely to cross into Gaza 'in next 24 to 48 hours': Biden
US President Joe Biden said Friday he believed the first trucks carrying aid to Gaza would come through the Rafah crossing from Egypt within the next two days.
"I believe in the next 24 to 48 hours the first 20 trucks will come across the border," Biden said as he met European Union chiefs at the White House.
Biden said that he had a commitment from Israel and from Egypt's president to let the aid through but the "highway had to be repaved, and it was in very bad shape."
Suspended footballer El Ghazi 'refuses' to film apology video following Gaza posts
Dutch-Moroccan footballer Anwar El Ghazi has reportedly refused to film an apology video following social media posts on Gaza, his family told German media on Friday.
El Ghazi was initially suspended from his German club Mainz 05, after he shared a post on Instagram voicing his support for Palestinians subject to Israeli war in Gaza.
HIs father, Mohammed, told sports website Winwin that the Bundesliga team "tried to pressure him" to release a video where he apologises for his stance, which he strongly refused.
El Ghazi has reportedly left Germany and and has returned to his home in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
"Anwar told me he was greatly affected, and he cried a lot," his father said. "He met with the board of Mainz and told them he will not go back on his solidarity with the children of Gaza."
El Ghazi had initially shared a post with the caption "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." His club, in a statement, said that El Ghazi's post was "unacceptable."
Israel strikes historic Greek Orthodox church in Gaza
Israeli forces targeted one of Gaza's historic Greek Orthodox churches, which sheltered many of the enclave's Christian community.
Israeli airstrikes destroyed a historic Greek Orthodox church that was sheltering members of Gaza’s Christian minority on Thursday night, leaving several people dead and injured.— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 20, 2023
The church is next to the Al-Ahli Hospital where an Israeli strike on Tuesday killed almost 500 👇 pic.twitter.com/wSjZkBOLjo
Hamas releases two US hostages
Hamas said on Friday its armed wing has released two American hostages, from around 200 captives abducted in attacks by the militant group in Israel on October 7.
"In response to Qatari efforts, (Ezzedine) al-Qassam Brigades released two American citizens (a mother and her daughter) for humanitarian reasons," Hamas said in a statement posted on Telegram.
The pair were released under a Qatari broker.
Abu Obaida, the spokesperson of al-Qassam Brigades, said in a press statement that "we had released an American mother and her daughter to prove to the US people that Israel and US President Joe Biden are false and they are the fascist people not the Palestinians."
Erdogan calls on Israel to end 'genocidal attacks' on Gaza
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, which he said amounted to genocide, and urged the international community to work for a humanitarian ceasefire in the region.
In a post on social messaging platform X, Erdogan also said Israel was provoking non-regional actors instead of turning back from its mistakes in Gaza, adding that the region needed saving from the "frenzy of madness" supported by Western powers and media.
Gazze’ye yönelik saldırıların genişlemesi daha fazla acı, ölüm ve gözyaşından başka hiçbir şey getirmeyecektir.— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 20, 2023
Çocukları, kadınları, sivilleri katlederek; hastaneleri, okulları, camileri, kiliseleri bombalayarak güvenliğin sağlanamayacağı açıktır. Zulümle âbâd olunmaz.…
"I repeat my call for the Israeli leadership to never expand the scope of its attacks on civilians and to immediately end its operations amounting to genocide," Erdogan said.
He said Ankara was working to end the fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces before they reached "a point of no return".
UK's Sunak meets with PA President Abbas
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo on Friday and underscored the need for aid to be allowed into Gaza and for Hamas and Israel to avoid civilian casualties in their conflict, Sunak's office said.
"The Prime Minister expressed his deep condolences for the loss of civilian lives in Gaza ... The leaders agreed on the need for all parties to take steps to protect civilians," Sunak's office said in a statement following the meeting.
"(The leaders) condemned Hamas' terrorism and stressed that Hamas do not represent the Palestinian people. The Prime Minister underscored his commitment to opening up humanitarian access to Gaza,"
The UK has stated on multiple occasions that it "stands by Israel," amid its war on Gaza.
Lebanon airline to cut flights amid Israel border tensions
Lebanon's national carrier said on Friday it was cutting more than half of its flights as tensions along the border with Israel prompted more Western countries to warn against travel to Lebanon.
On Friday, Mohammad El-Hout, chairman of Middle East Airlines (MEA), said only eight of the company's 22 planes would operate as of next week, with the rest of the fleet relocated to other airports.
"More than half of the company's flights will be cancelled," Hout said during a televised interview from Beirut's airport, which was knocked out during the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah group.
Al Araby TV investigation debunks Israel claims that PIJ behind hospital strike
An OSINT investigation conducted by TNA's colleagues at Al-Araby TV, debunks claims by Israel that the deadly explosion at Gaza’s Baptist Hospital on Tuesday night, which killed almost 500 civilians, was due to a "misfired rocket" from Islamic Jihad.
An @alarabytv OSINT investigation debunks claims by Israel that the deadly explosion at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday night, which killed almost 500 civilians, was due to a “misfired rocket” from Islamic Jihad.— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 20, 2023
The evidence analysed points to Israel’s responsibility👇 pic.twitter.com/0cJZGKqWWm
Arab world 'believes Israel behind Baptist Hospital strike' in Gaza: Jordan FM
Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said everyone in the Arab world "believes" that Israel is behind the devastating strike on Gaza's Baptist Hospital on Tuesday, which killed close to 500 people.
Safadi, in an interview with US news channel CNN, said that it would be hard "to find someone" in the region that believes Israel's claims that it was not responsible for the strikes.
The top diplomat said that many in the Arab world are used to Israel denying - and subsequent admission - of crimes or attacks it committed, and cited the case of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's killing in May last year.
Israel initially blamed Palestinian militants for the incident, but later admitted that an Israeli sniper was the one who shot and killed her.
"Nobody is gonna buy that story. People are outraged," he said.
Safadi then stressed that unless Israeli is "willing to have an independent and international investigation into the crime," then no one in the Arabic-speaking region will believe anyone other than Israel is responsible behind the hospital strike.
Egypt 'not responsible' for blocking Rafah crossing to Gaza
Egypt is not to blame for the closure of the Rafah crossing between it and the Gaza strip "despite Israeli targeted attacks and the refusal of the entry of aid," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid wrote on the X social media platform on Friday.
"Rafah crossing is open and Egypt is not responsible of obstructing third-country nationals exit," he added.
Israel withdraws diplomats from Turkey amid Gaza tensions
Israel has withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Turkey following alleged security concerns as the Tel Aviv wages a brutal assault in Gaza, killing 4,137 Palestinians nearly two weeks since the war began.
Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Irit Lillian, was among those who left.
The staff's withdrawal from Turkey comes as Israel ordered its citizens to leave the country 'as soon as possible', earlier this week.
Turkey has displayed fervent Palestinian solidarity through protests and demonstrations against Israel's relentless assault.
Egypt's Rafah border remains closed amid anxious wait for aid
Egypt's Rafah border crossing remains closed until at least Friday, 20 October, with no clear indication when it will open for relief efforts and aid to be delivered to the distressed Palestinians of the Gaza Strip experiencing heavy Israeli bombardment and a siege for almost two weeks.
Read more from our Egypt correspondent here.
Arab nations hold large-scale strikes for Gaza
Scores of demonstrators held large-scale protests across the Arab word in support of Gaza and Palestinians, currently under heavy Israeli bombardment and siege since October 7.
Massive Jordanian protests continue today against Israel's Gaza war in downtown Amman, (image via @AlghadNews)— Aaron Magid (@AaronMagid) October 20, 2023
As of today, the Jordanian government has declined to publicly recall its ambassador serving in Tel Aviv. pic.twitter.com/4K3iRdcvw2
Protests were held in Egypt, notably in Cairo and Alexandria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
Demonstrations in Egypt are risky as it is required by law to notify authorities regarding protests 36 hours prior.
Demonstrators brandished Palestinian flags and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans, while calling for an end to Israel's ongoing military assault, which has killed 4,134 Gazans, and injured 13,000 more.
Almost half of Gaza's population is displaced, following an Israeli evacuation order amid an imminent ground offensive.
Protests on Friday went beyond the Arab world. Many demonstrations held Gaza support protests in Indonesia and South Korea, according to reports.
Indonesians protested en masse in front of Jakarta's US embassy denouncing Washington's support for Israel throughout its military campaign.
Meanwhile, in Seoul, dozens of protesters chanted slogans, waved Palestinian flags and raised anti-Israel banners.
"Free, Free Palestinians!" the protesters shouted, while holding banners that read "We stand with Gaza" and "Stop the massacre by Israel!"
من مظاهر الاسكندرية للتضامن مع فلسطين pic.twitter.com/ZynyWNJUx1— الاشتراكيون الثوريون (@RevSocMe) October 20, 2023
Saudi Arabia, UAE leaders meet to discuss Israel-Gaza war
The Saudi crown prince and president of the United Arab Emirates met on Friday, state media reported, as the two Gulf states worked to overcome their differences to discuss Israel's war on Gaza.
Saudi state news agency SPA showed footage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, receiving UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Riyadh's airport.
Gaza: 52,000 housing units damaged, destroyed by Israeli airstrikes
Israel is carrying out the largest campaign of destruction of buildings and residential houses in the Gaza Strip in modern history, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stated, as part of the country's relentless and indiscriminate bombardment of the territory.
The monitor stressed that Israel is focusing its attacks on the Gaza and North Gaza governorates through a systematic destruction campaign, aiming to forcibly displace the enclave's residents.
According to the group, over a quarter of the area of Gaza City and northern Gaza has been affected by the destruction with 20 percent of the houses there are no longer suitable for habitation.
Euro-Med Monitor emphasised that Israel's ongoing destruction of residential buildings could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Around 52,000 residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed in Gaza, which was estimated to hold around 260,000 housing unites.
West Bank death toll rises to 81 since beginning of Israel- Gaza war
At least 81 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since the war in Gaza began, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Friday.
The increased death toll comes as Israeli troops raided the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm yesterday, killing at least 13 Palestinian men, including several teenagers.
The Israeli occupation army committed a massacre from Nur Shams camp in Tulkarm during its attack yesterday, with the death toll reaching 13 martyrs, among them five children," the ministry said in a statement.
Other Palestinians were killed near the cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, the ministry said.
Israeli forces have carried out near-daily raids in the West Bank, which have intensified under Benjamin Netanyahu's extreme right-wing government come to power in December 2022.
Egypt 'needs support' amid Gaza crisis: EU President
European Council President Charles Michel will visit Egypt on Saturday where he will call for support for the country, which borders the war-torn Gaza Strip, he said on Thursday.
"Egypt needs support, so let's support Egypt," said Michel, who is in Washington to attend a summit with US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday.
He added that he would meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his weekend visit.
In addition, Michel will attend at Sisi's invitation a "conference on the current developments in the Middle East, Palestine and the Peace Process," said his spokesperson, Ecaterina Casinge.
The European leader went on to stress the "challenge" faced by Egypt, and said he expected an "important exchange of information" on the subject on Friday at a US-EU summit in Washington.
Aid is expected to enter the besieged Gaza Strip in 'the next day or so', according to the United Nations, as Palestinians anxiously await food, water and other necessities in Gaza.
Islamophobic, antisemitic hate crimes increase in London amid Israel-Gaza war
There has been a 140 percent increase in Islamophobic hate crimes between 1-18 October in London, the Metropolitan Police said, amid Israel's relentless war on Gaza.
Offences targeting Muslims increased to 42 to 101 compared with the same period last year, the police said.
Meanwhile, antisemitic hate crimes have witnessed a 1,353 percent, with 218 anti-Jewish hate crimes recorded, in an increase from 15 during the same period in 2022.
"It is not acceptable and I promise we will investigate," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said, as cited by Sky News on Friday.
A man was reportedly held with over 10 incidents of alleged Islamophobic graffiti on bus stops in southwest London, the UK broadcaster said.
Israeli strike targets Hezbollah near Lebanon border
An Israeli air strike on Friday targeted three Hezbollah militants near the Lebanese border, Israel's military said.
"Three Hezbollah terrorists were identified in the area of the border with Lebanon. IDF aircraft struck the terrorists," it said.
"In addition, a short while ago, IDF snipers opened fire toward gunmen that were identified operating in the area of the border with Lebanon."
Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Israeli military have exchanged fire on a number of occasions since Israel's war on Gaza began on October 7. Two journalists have also been killed by Israeli fire by the Israeli-Lebanon border.
Gaza death toll rises to over 4,000
The death toll in Gaza amid Israel's war has increased to 4,137 dead, with over 13,000 injured, the Palestinian Authority health ministry said on Friday.
Gaza aid trucks 'need to move as quickly as possible': UN
Aid trucks need to move to Gaza as quickly as possible, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
He called for a meaningful number of trucks to enter Gaza every day and for verifications of aid to be done in a way that is practical and expedited.
UN secretary general António Guterres speaking on the Rafah border crossing explains that they don't just want one convoy of aid to cross into Gaza, thay want convoys of aid crossing into Gaza every single day pic.twitter.com/BBDLOlKP7s— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) October 20, 2023
"We are actively engaging with all parties to make sure conditions for delivering aid are lifted,"Guterres also stressed the need to guarantee enough fuel on the Gaza side to enable the delivering of aid.
Israeli spox 'deleted evacuation message' to Gaza Baptist Hospital before strike
The OSINT community has noticed that the Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, deleted a Telegram message that revealed Israel had issued an evacuation threat to the Gaza Baptist Hospital before it was bombed in a likely Israeli strike, killing close to 500 Palestinians. Our partners at fact-checking Misbar have published a deep dive into Israeli disinformation around this subject, which you can read here.
Israel 'approves emergency regulations' for potential Al-Jazeera bureau closure
The Israeli government has reportedly approved 'emergency regulations' for the temporary closure of foreign broadcasters during states of emergency, the Times of Israel said on Friday, as it believes the Al-Jazeera outlet is 'harming state security'.
The new regulations will enable to order TV providers to stop broadcasting the news outlet in question, close its offices in Israel, seize its equipment and shut down its website or access to it.
The move was made with the support of the security forces and in coordination with Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, Israeli website Ynet said. The decision will then have to be approved by the security cabinet, after which the Minister of Communications Shlomo Karai will be able to issue an order on the matter.
UN: First aid to Gaza from Egypt in 'next day or so'
The first aid delivery into the besieged Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt should take place "in the next day or so", the United Nations said Friday.
"We are in deep and advanced negotiations with all relevant sides to ensure that an aid operation in Gaza starts as quickly as possible as a first delivery is due to start in the next day or so," the UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said, quoted by his spokesman Jens Laerke in Geneva.
Laerke told reporters: "I do not have an exact time for when these movements will take place, of course, with the hope that they can begin as soon as possible, in a way that is safe, secure and hopefully sustained.
"We need to have the mechanism in place whereby this can be driven into southern Gaza. That does not take away from our call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire."
Desperately needed international aid piled up Friday in Egypt near Gaza, with Palestinians in dire need of food and water after relentless bombing by Israel, still reeling from the bloodiest attack in its history.
The UN says more than one million of Gaza's 2.4 million people have been displaced and that the humanitarian situation is worsening by the day.
Egyptian state-linked broadcaster Al Qahera News had said the Rafah crossing - the only route into Gaza - would open on Friday, but Cairo later said it needed more time to repair roads.
'Very violent' Israeli strikes continue in Gaza
Israeli strikes Israeli airstrikes continued in the Gaza Strip last night in what TNA's correspondent in Gaza, Sally Ibrahim, described as "very violent."
"It's an unbelievable situation. My uncle's neighbors were attacked [by an Israeli airstrike] while they were sleeping in their apartment. Ten people killed, including the parents and their kids," she wrote via Whatsapp.
Israel's continued bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which has now entered its 14th consecutive day, has killed up to 3,785 Palestinians, of which 1,524 are children.