Israel continues Rafah attack as Norway, Ireland, Spain move on Palestine recognition

Israel continues Rafah attack as Norway, Ireland, Spain move on Palestine recognition
North Gaza's last two functioning hospitals were barely operational, doctors and the WHO said, as European countries moved on recognising a Palestinian state.
19 min read

Israel attacked hospitals in Gaza as three European countries announced on Wednesday that they will be recognising a Palestinian state.

North Gaza's last two functioning hospitals, Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan, were barely operational, doctors and the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

Hospital officials said Israeli forces had fired on the facilities and that snipers had been deployed near one of them.

"Today marks the third day of the siege on Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza," the hospital's acting director Dr Mohammad Saleh told AFP.

Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced on Wednesday that they will recognise a Palestinian state, prompting Israel to immediately recall its envoys.

All three countries will recognise Palestine as a state from Tuesday next week.

Featured image: AFP via Getty

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6:21 PM
The New Arab Staff

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Arab, EU ministers to discuss Gaza war, peace efforts
5:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ministers from Arab states will meet with European Union counterparts in Brussels on Monday to try to forge a common path on ending the war in Gaza and build lasting peace, a senior EU official said.

Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will join a regular meeting of foreign ministers from the 27-member EU, said Sven Koopmans, the European Union's special representative for the Middle East peace process.

Koopmans said the gathering was one of a series at which Arab and European countries were seeking common positions on ways to end the Gaza war.

"Our assignment is to see how we can build a coalition where we try collectively to contribute (to peace efforts) without putting people in a corner," Koopmans told Reuters.

EU members Spain and Ireland – along with Norway – said on Wednesday that they would recognise a Palestinian state while France and Germany made clear they did not think the time was right.

Koopmans said EU members agreed on core priorities such as ending the war, avoiding a regional war, and working towards a peace settlement in which Israel and a Palestinian state would live side by side.

"We may have different positions on recognition but we have unanimity on the need for a Palestinian state," he said.

However, international efforts to agree on plans for Gaza after the war on issues such as who would govern the enclave and who would be responsible for security have floundered.

Koopmans declined to provide details about Monday's discussions but said a major effort involving the United States and Arab and European countries is necessary to establish peace.

"Nobody alone is sufficient. But if we work together, and we are working on doing something concretely together, maybe we're just about sufficient, at least to get things started," he said.

The Biden administration has made clear it also supports a two-state solution as the basis for lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace, along with security guarantees for Israel.


Blinken urges Egypt to ensure aid is flowing into Gaza
5:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Egypt to do everything it can to make sure humanitarian aid is flowing into Gaza.

Blinken told a hearing in the House of Representatives that fighting near the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, which Israel seized earlier this month, had made the environment for providing assistance challenging.

"So we need to find a way to make sure that the assistance that would go through Rafah can get through safely, but we do strongly urge our Egyptian partners to do everything that they can on their end of things to make sure that assistance is flowing," Blinken said.


Blinken: US-Saudi pacts may be 'weeks away' from completion
4:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the United States and Saudi Arabia were very close to concluding a set of agreements on nuclear energy, security and defence cooperation, the bilateral component of a wider normalisation deal with Riyadh and Israel.

Speaking at a hearing in the House of Representatives, Blinken said the finalising of the agreements "could be weeks away" but cautioned that for the wider normalisation to be able to proceed, calm in Gaza has to occur and a pathway for Palestinian statehood needs to be formulated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the creation of a Palestinian state, a major reason why Washington's vision of a "grand bargain" for the Middle East remains elusive.

Normalisation with Israel is highly controversial across the Middle East and Palestinians view it as a betrayal of their national cause.

(Reuters, The New Arab)

Antony Blinken is the US secretary of state [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP/Getty-archive]
Protesters against Gaza war interrupt Blinken repeatedly
4:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

In wide-ranging testimony before the Senate on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced the chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes court for seeking the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blinken, speaking to senators about the Biden administration’s foreign affairs budget proposal, was repeatedly interrupted by protesters condemning US policy toward its ally Israel and its war on Gaza.

The chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Appropriations committees halted the hearings at least six times while Blinken was delivering his opening statements as demonstrators stood up to shout their opposition to the administration's position and accused him of being a "war criminal" and being responsible for a "genocide" against the Palestinian people.

Several silent protesters held up their hands, stained with red paint or dye, behind Blinken during his appearances.

In his remarks and his responses to questions from senators, Blinken followed President Joe Biden and other administration officials in condemning the International Criminal Court's prosecutor for seeking arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant over actions taken during their seven-month war in Gaza.

Blinken repeated the position that the tribunal, which Israel and the US do not recognise, does not have jurisdiction and that it was "extremely wrong-headed" for the prosecutor to equate the Israeli officials with the Hamas leaders who he is also seeking to indict.

Boosted by Gaza, South African Muslim party open to ANC deal
4:17 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

South Africa's small Muslim political party Al Jama-ah is gaining support due to the Gaza war and sees itself as a potential coalition partner for the African National Congress (ANC) after next week's vote, its leader said on Wednesday.

Polls suggest that the ANC, which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in the election on Wednesday next week, forcing it into coalition with one or more parties to stay in power.

"The ANC can count on us," Ganief Hendricks, Al Jama-ah's leader and sole member of parliament, told Reuters.

South Africans will elect a 400-member parliament, which will then elect the country's president by majority vote.

If the ANC gets close to 50 percent of votes, which translates into 50 percent of parliamentary seats, analysts say it could likely enlist a few small opposition parties to keep its leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in power.

Hendricks said the ANC had already approached Al Jama-ah for support, although the ANC says publicly it expects to win the election outright and is not planning to form a coalition.

"The ANC came to see me and told me 'look… we are five seats short in terms of our number-crunching, and we're going to approach you for those five seats,'" he said.

The ANC declined to comment beyond referring to its previous public statements.

Recent polling has put the ANC at around 45 percent, meaning it would be 20 seats short of a majority.

Al Jama-ah is too small to be included in national polls, but Hendricks said it was aiming to get 10 seats, or about 2.5 percent of the national vote.

Al Jama-ah is already in a coalition government with the ANC and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters in Johannesburg, where the current mayor Kabelo Gwamanda is a member of Al Jama-ah.


Israel allows return to 3 evacuated West Bank settlements
3:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli military has approved permission for Israelis to return to three former occupied West Bank settlements they had been banned from entering since an evacuation ordered in 2005, the defence ministry says.

The three settlements, Sa-nur, Ganim and Kadim, are located near the Palestinian cities of Jenin and Nablus.

A fourth settlement, Homesh, was cleared for entry last year after parliament passed an amendment to the so-called "disengagement law" of 2005.

Permission from the military, which has overall control of the West Bank, was required for any return to the other three former settlements.

"The Jewish hold on Judea and Samaria guarantees security, the application of the law to cancel disengagement will lead to the development of settlement and provide security to residents of the area," Defence Minister Yoav Gallant says in a statement, using a term that refers to the West Bank.

All Israeli settlements violate international law and are viewed as a key barrier to a two-state solution.

There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority.

(Reuters, The New Arab)

Ben-Gvir storms Al-Aqsa as Europeans recognise Palestine
3:16 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound today.

"We will not even allow a statement about a Palestinian state," he said.

His provocative visit to the third-holiest site in Islam comes on the same day Ireland, Norway, and Spain announced they will recognise Palestine as a state.

Many extremists Israelis wish to either replace the mosque with a Jewish temple, or to split the sacred place between Muslims and Jews in terms of time and space available.

Germany says no two-state solution without dialogue
2:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A German foreign ministry spokesperson stresses Berlin's support for a two-state solution, responding to a reporter's question on the decision by some European countries to recognise the state of Palestine.

"An independent Palestinian state remains a firm goal of German foreign policy," the spokesperson told a regular news conference in Berlin, adding that a dialogue process was needed for that goal.


US: Palestine state should be realised through negotiations
2:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US President Joe Biden believes a Palestinian state should be achieved through negotiations, not unilateral recognition, the White House says after Ireland, Spain, and Norway said they will recognise Palestine as a state.

"The president is a strong supporter of a two-state solution and has been throughout his career," a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council says.

"He believes a Palestinian state should be realised through direct negotiations between the parties, not through unilateral recognition."

Gaza toll rises to 35,709 killed, 79,990 injured: ministry
1:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

The number of Palestinians killed in Gaza since Israel began its war on the strip has risen to 35,709, the territory's health ministry says.

It adds that 79,990 people have been injured.

The ministry says Israel carried out "six massacres" against the families of the Gaza Strip with 62 killed and 138 injured people arriving at hospitals in the last 24 hours.

Qatar welcomes Ireland, Norway, Spain recognising Palestine
1:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

Qatar welcomes Ireland, Norway, and Spain recognising Palestine as a state, calling the move an "important step in supporting the two-state solution and achieving peace and stability in the region".

Doha's foreign ministry says in a statement that "achieving comprehensive and just peace in the region depends on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital".

"The ministry also stresses the need to end the war on the Gaza Strip immediately and return to the political track as the only guarantee to achieve stability in the region," it adds.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs voices the State of Qatar's hope for more countries to recognize the State of Palestine and promote the efforts aiming to implement the two-state solution."

Saudi praises European countries' recognition of Palestine
12:58 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Saudi Arabia praised a decision by Ireland, Norway, and Spain on Wednesday to recognise a Palestinian state and called on other countries to do the same.

The foreign ministry "expresses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's welcome of the positive decision taken by the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of Ireland to recognise the sisterly State of Palestine", according to a statement posted on social media platform X.

"The kingdom appreciates this decision issued by friendly countries, which affirms the international consensus on the inherent right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and calls on the rest of the countries to quickly make the same decision."

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US says Israel took into account its concerns over Rafah
12:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel has taken US concerns into account as it wages military operations in the Gazan city of Rafah, which is packed with refugees, a senior United States official said on Tuesday.

"It's fair to say, I think the Israelis have updated their plans. They've incorporated many of the concerns that we have expressed," the official told reporters.

"This is an ongoing discussion, ongoing conversation. It's been constructive," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The person was referring to talks that US national security adviser Jake Sullivan had with senior Israeli officials last weekend in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"What matters is what actually happens," the official said.

"We don't greenlight Israeli operations. It's not our role."

President Joe Biden has said publicly he does not want Israel to wage a major ground offensive in Rafah, which is in the far south of the Gaza Strip and packed with Palestinians displaced by the Israeli war on Gaza.

Israel summons Ireland, Norway, Spain envoys, FM Katz says
11:40 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel summoned the envoys of Ireland, Norway, and Spain in protest at the three governments' recognition of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, said that the three countries' ambassadors were being summoned for a "conversation that would rebuke" their governments' decision to recognise a Palestinian state by Tuesday next week.

Katz said he would show the ambassadors a video of the kidnapping of female Israeli soldiers during the Hamas attack.

"They decided to award a gold medal to the murderers and rapists of Hamas," he said.

"We will demonstrate to them what a twisted decision their governments took."

UK says 'not right time' to recognise State of Palestine
11:16 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UK says it is not the right time for London to recognise Palestine as a state.

"We have a longstanding position on this that we will be prepared to recognise the State of Palestine at the time that it most helps the peace process, and we will continue to keep that under review," Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt tells British broadcaster Sky News.

He adds that the government's position is that it is "not the right time to do it at the moment".

France says not right moment to recognise Palestinian state
11:10 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France said on Wednesday that it was not a "taboo" to recognise a Palestinian state, but Paris considers that now is not the right moment for it do so.

"Our position is clear: the recognition of a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France," Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné wrote in a statement to AFP.

"France does not consider that the conditions have been present to date for this decision to have a real impact in this process."

Jordan: Palestine recognition 'important step towards 2SS'
10:59 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jordan hailed the coordinated move by Ireland, Norway, and Spain to recognise the State of Palestine as an "important and essential step towards Palestinian statehood".

"We value this decision and consider it an important and essential step towards a two-state solution that embodies an independent, sovereign Palestinian state along the July 1967 borders," Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told a press conference.

Zomlot says 'history being made' after recognition moves
10:48 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian ambassador to the UK says "history is being made" after three European nations announced they will recognise Palestine as a state.

"Thank you Ireland, Norway and Spain for recognising our inalienable right to self-determination and our distinct national identity," Husam Zomlot says on X.

"This will move us closer to justice and a sustainable peace. We urge the few remaining countries in the world, especially the UK with its historic responsibility, to follow suit and provide a long overdue path out from occupation, colonisation, oppression and apartheid, to equality under law and accountability."

Some 140 of 190 represented in the UN countries have already recognised a Palestinian state.

Agencies contributed to this update.

Israel moves deeper into Rafah in night of heavy bombardment
10:41 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli tanks advanced to the edge of a crowded district in the heart of Rafah on Wednesday during one of the most intense nights of bombardment of the southern Gaza city since Israel launched its offensive there this month.

Residents and militants said tanks had taken up new positions on Wednesday further west than before along the southern border fence with Egypt, and were now stationed on the edge of the Yibna neighbourhood at the centre of Rafah. They had not yet entered the district as fighting had been intense.

Hamas's armed wing said it had struck two armoured troop carriers at a gate along the border fence with anti-tank rockets.

Palestinian residents said Israeli drones were firing into the Yibna suburb and had opened fire overnight on fishing boats on the beach of Rafah causing some to catch fire.

"There has been no stopping of Israeli fire all night, from drones, helicopters, warplanes, and tanks," said one resident of Rafah, asking for his name to be withheld to protect his security.

"Tanks made a limited push southeast, still limited but they have advanced under heavy fire all night," he told Reuters via a chat app.

There was no immediate word from the Israeli military on Rafah.


Palestine welcomes Ireland, Norway, Spain recognition
10:19 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestine welcomes the decision by Ireland, Norway, and Spain to recognise its statehood.

"With this significant step, Spain, Norway and Ireland have once again demonstrated their unwavering commitment to the two-state solution and to delivering the long overdue justice to the Palestinian people," the Palestinian foreign ministry says in a statement posted to X.

"Further, the recognitions of Spain, Norway and Ireland are in line with international law and all United Nations relevant resolutions, which will in turn contribute positively to all international efforts towards ending the Israeli illegal occupation and achieving peace and stability in the region."

The foreign ministry adds that it "once again calls on all states that have not yet recognised the State of Palestine to take this principled decision as soon as possible".

Israel furious as 3 European countries recognise Palestine
10:12 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel reacted with fury after three European countries said Wednesday they would recognise a Palestinian state, more than seven months into the Israeli war on Gaza.

Ireland, Norway and Spain said they would formally recognise the State of Palestine on Tuesday next week.

Israel strongly opposes the move, claiming that it amounts to "rewarding terrorism" after Hamas launched its unprecedented 7 October attack on Israel.

Israel said it was recalling its envoys to Ireland and Norway for "urgent consultations" and was expected to do the same with its ambassador to Spain.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz charged that "the twisted step of these countries is an injustice to the memory of the 7/10 victims".

But Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez charged that his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign of "pain and destruction" in the Gaza Strip was now putting the two-state solution in "danger".

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said "recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting the moderate forces which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict".

"In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security."

PLO hails 'historical' recognitions of Palestinian state
9:47 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), seen internationally as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, hails as "historical" the decision Wednesday by three European countries to recognise Palestine as a state.

The moves by Ireland, Norway and Spain were "historical moments in which the free world triumphs for truth and justice", Hussein Al-Sheikh, secretary general of the PLO executive committee, says on X.

Hamas: 3 states' recognition of Palestine 'important step'
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas welcomes the decision by Ireland, Norway, and Spain to recognise a Palestinian state as an "important step" and urged other countries to follow suit.

"We consider this an important step towards affirming our right to our land," Hamas says in a statement, calling "on countries around the world to recognise our legitimate national rights".

Hamas official says 'brave resistance' prompted recognition
9:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A senior Hamas official said Wednesday it was the "brave resistance" of the Palestinian people that spurred three European countries in quick succession – Norway, Ireland, and Spain – to recognise a State of Palestine.

"These successive recognitions are the direct result of this brave resistance and the legendary steadfastness of the Palestinian people… We believe this will be a turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue," Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas political bureau member, told AFP.

Ireland to recognise Palestine as state on Tuesday next week
9:18 AM
The New Arab Staff

Irish Foreign Minister Michéal Martin says Dublin announces it will recognise Palestine as a state on Tuesday next week.

"Today, we state our unambiguous support for the equal right to security, dignity, and self-determination for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples," he posts on X.

Red Crescent transports over seven injured from Bureij camp
8:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society says it transported over seven injured people from central Gaza's Bureij refugee camp after an Israeli warplane attacked a home.

Israel revokes order to cut AP live Gaza video feed
8:47 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel walked back its decision to shut down an Associated Press live video feed of war-torn Gaza on Tuesday, following a protest from the US news agency and concern from the White House.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said he had revoked an earlier order that accused the AP of breaching a new ban on providing rolling footage of Gaza to pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera.

"I have now ordered to cancel the operation and return the equipment to the AP agency," Karhi said in a statement, after Washington called on Israel to reverse the move.

"We've been engaging directly with the government of Israel to express our concerns over this action and to ask them to reverse it," a White House spokesperson said.

Karhi's original order earlier Tuesday said communications ministry inspectors had "confiscated the equipment" of AP on orders approved by the government "in accordance with the law".

AP said Israeli officials had seized its camera and broadcasting equipment at a location in the Israeli town of Sderot that overlooks the northern Gaza Strip.

In a statement issued after the order, the news agency said it "decries in the strongest terms" the move by the Israeli government.

Reacting after Israeli officials ordered the equipment to be returned, it added: "While we are pleased with this development, we remain concerned about the Israeli government's use of the foreign broadcaster law and the ability of independent journalists to operate freely in Israel."

AP said Al Jazeera was among thousands of clients that receive live video feeds from the agency.

Israel FM orders recall of envoys to Ireland, Norway
8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli foreign minister says he has ordered the "immediate recall" of his country's ambassadors to Ireland and Norway.

Israel Katz adds on social media platform X that the move is "in light of these countries decisions to recognise a Palestinian state".

"I'm sending a clear and unequivocal message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not remain silent in the face of those undermining its sovereignty and endangering its security," Katz says.

Norway, Ireland, Spain say will recognise Palestinian state
8:32 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Norway, Ireland and Spain announced on Wednesday that they will recognise a Palestinian state, prompting Israel to immediately recall its envoys.

Ireland's leader said his nation would recognise Palestine as a state but did not specify timing, while leaders of Norway and Spain said their nations would do so as of Tuesday next week.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store made the announcement in Oslo, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid and Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris in Dublin.

Israel immediately announced it was recalling its envoys to Ireland and Norway for "urgent consultations".