UN accuses Israel of using starvation as 'weapon of war' as dozens killed at Al-Shifa Hospital

UN accuses Israel of using starvation as 'weapon of war' as dozens killed at Al-Shifa Hospital
The UN has accused Israel of using starvation as a 'weapon of war' in Gaza as Israel continued its deadly attack on the Al-Shifa Medical Complex
16 min read

The UN on Tuesday accused Israel of using starvation as a "weapon of war", saying this could be a "war crime".

"The situation of hunger, starvation and famine is a result of Israel's extensive restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial goods," United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Volker Turk said.

Earlier on Tuesday, explosions and shootings shook the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital and surrounding neighbourhoods as Israeli forces stormed through the facility.

At least 50 people were killed there on Monday by Israeli forces.

The raid was a new attack on the Shifa medical complex, which had only partially resumed operations after a destructive Israeli raid in November.

Thousands of Palestinian patients, medical staff and displaced people were trapped inside the sprawling complex Tuesday as heavy fighting between troops and Hamas fighters raged in nearby districts.

Details were scarce, with communications from inside the hospital nearly impossible.

3:29 AM

The New Arab's live coverage of events in Gaza has ended for the night. Follow The New Arab for continuing updates of the situation in Gaza as the UN warns of impending famine in the devastated territory.

US Defence Secretary to host Israeli counterpart next week
12:06 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will host Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant next week for a bilateral meeting at the US Defence Department, an American official has said.

The meeting comes after Austin recently invited Gallant for a visit and is separate from Monday's announcement that followed a call between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who agreed to send a team of senior officials to Washington to discuss developments regarding the war in Gaza, the official added.

Canada stops arms sales to Israel after parliamentary vote
9:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

Canada has decided to halt arms sales to Israel following a non-binding vote in parliament. Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Tuesday told the Toronto Star that the government would stop future weapons shipments. “It is a real thing,” she added.

The decision follows a parliamentary motion, proposed by the New Democratic Party (NDP), that called on the ruling Liberal Party to stop arms exports to Israel. The New Democrats, who provide support to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government, have expressed annoyance at his failure to help protect civilians in Gaza.

The motion – which passed 204-117  in parliament – also called for Canada to take steps “towards the establishment of the state of Palestine”.

Hamas chief Haniyeh accuses Israel of sabotaging talks
9:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas's Qatar-based chief Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel on Tuesday of sabotaging truce talks after its attack on Gaza's largest hospital, which Israel said targeted senior militants.

Dozens of people were killed on Monday and hundreds detained during a raid on Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital, a complex crowded with patients and displaced people. Israel claimed they were Hamas militants.

"The actions of the Zionist occupation forces at Al-Shifa Medical Complex confirm their intent to obstruct the recovery of life in Gaza and dismantle essential aspects of human existence," Haniyeh said.

"The deliberate targeting of police officers and government officials in Gaza illustrates their efforts to sow chaos and perpetuate violence among our resilient people. This also reveals the occupation leaders' endeavour to sabotage ongoing negotiations in Doha," he added.

Negotiations for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release were underway in Doha and a counter-proposal could soon be presented to Hamas, Qatar said on Tuesday.

Mossad head David Barnea had flown in for talks with the Qatari prime minister and Egyptian officials on Monday, the first since mediators failed to secure a truce before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.

At least 15 killed by Israeli strike targeting central Gaza
8:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 15 people were killed by an Israeli airstrike targeting a house in the al Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Palestinian health officials said on Tuesday evening.

Medics said rescue operations were still underway as some victims were believed to be trapped under the rubble of the three-floor building.


Israel kills 23 Gazans trying to organise aid distribution.
7:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

At least 23 people were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on members of tribal committees trying to organise the distribution of aid at the Kuwait Roundabout in Gaza City, Al-Jazeera TV has reported, adding that the number of casualties was likely to increase.

An Al-Jazeera correspondent said that the committee members were waiting at an UNRWA facility in an area classed by Israel as "safe" in order to distribute aid to local residents. He added that the committees had prevented Israeli massacres before by organising the orderly distribution of aid in Central Gaza.

Israel may be using starvation as 'weapon of war': UN
6:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The UN said Tuesday that Israel's severe restrictions on aid into the devastated Gaza Strip coupled with its military offensive could amount to using starvation as a "weapon of war", which would be a "war crime".

United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk denounced the rampant hunger and looming famine in Gaza.

"The situation of hunger, starvation and famine is a result of Israel's extensive restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial goods," Turk said.

It was also linked to the "displacement of most of the population, as well as the destruction of crucial civilian infrastructure", he added.

"The extent of Israel's continued restrictions on the entry of aid into Gaza, together with the manner in which it continues to conduct hostilities, may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime."

His spokesman, Jeremy Laurence, told reporters in Geneva that the final determination of whether "starvation is being used as a weapon of war" would be determined by a court.

Axios: Netanyahu is sending confidants to Washington
5:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Axios' political reporter Barak Ravid has said on X that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sending his confidants minister Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi to Washington for talks about an operation in Rafah.

An IDF official in charge of humanitarian issues will travel with them.

WHO: newborn babies "simply dying" in Gaza
5:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday that newborn babies in Gaza are "simply dying" because they are underweight.

"What doctors and medical staff are telling us is more and more they are seeing the effects of starvation; they're seeing newborn babies simply dying because they (are) too low birth weight," said Dr Margaret Harris from WHO.

US: Israel should allow UN Palestinian agency chief in Gaza
5:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States said Tuesday that Israel should let the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, into Gaza after he was denied entry.

"Our belief is that they should be able to visit UNRWA's field of operation, including in Gaza, and we're going to continue to work with the government of Israel to rapidly approve all requested visas for UN and NGO workers," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

40 Palestinian journalists in Israeli custody in West Bank
4:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Commission of Detainees’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society have put out a joint statement stating that at least 40 Palestinian journalists have been in Israeli custody in the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

“Israeli forces detained 61 journalists since Oct. 7, 2023, of which 21 were released,” the joint statement said.

The statement also reads that three women journalists are among the prisoners, while 23 are being held without being trialled or charged.

US-Israel meeting on Rafah likely early next week
3:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US and Israeli officials will likely meet early next week in Washington to discuss Israel's military operation in Rafah, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday, citing deep concerns about reports of imminent famine in Gaza.

Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to send a senior team of military, intelligence and humanitarian officials to Washington for meetings in the coming days for comprehensive discussions.

Details were still being worked out, but the meeting would probably occur early next week, she said, adding the White House urged Israel to do more to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, which a United Nations report on Monday warned faced likely famine in May.


Gaza: 14,000 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel
3:42 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Gaza media office said on Tuesday that 14,000 Palestinian children have been killed in Israeli attacks since 7 October, Anadolu reports.

Victims also include at least 9,220 women, while 7,000 remained under the rubble or were missing.

BDS activists protest outside IOC in Switzerland
3:26 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

BDS activists are protesting outside the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, calling for Israel to be excluded from the upcoming Paris Olympic Games in 2024 over the war on Gaza.

In January, over 300 Palestinian sports clubs and several civil society organisations initiated a campaign urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to exclude Israel as well.

Palestinian clans and factions step in to protect Gaza aid
3:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Armed and masked men from an array of clans and factions have started providing security for aid convoys in Gaza as Hamas tries to keep its clout in the enclave, Palestinian officials and sources in the militant group say.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed a convoy of trucks entering Gaza City with foreign aid overnight, watched by several men armed with AK-47 assault rifles and others wielding sticks.


Italy opposed to Israeli ground operation in Rafah
3:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Italy is opposed to a ground incursion by Israeli forces into the Gaza Strip's southern city of Rafah, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Tuesday.

"We will reiterate our opposition to military action on the ground by Israel in Rafah that could have even more catastrophic consequences for the civilians crowded in that area," Meloni told lawmakers in the Senate.

She added that the opening of new land routes and a maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza was a priority to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave. 


Italy PM Giorgia Meloni says they are opposed to an Israeli invasion in Rafah [Getty]
Hundreds of tents in Gaza drown from rain and strong wind
2:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Wafa news agency reported that hundreds of tents of displaced Palestinians were blown away because of rain and strong winds across the Gaza Strip.

Affected areas include the northern regions of the Gaza Strip, the western areas of Deir al-Balah in the centre of the Gaza Strip, and Rafah and the Al-Mawasi area in Khan Yunis in the south.

Netanyahu 'determined' to eliminate Hamas in Rafah
2:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that destroying Hamas in Rafah would require a ground incursion by Israeli forces, following a call by the White House to rethink strategy around the Gaza border city packed with displaced Palestinians.

Briefing lawmakers, Netanyahu said he had made "supremely clear" to US President Joe Biden "that we are determined to complete the elimination of these (Hamas) battalions in Rafah, and there's no way to do that except by going in on the ground".

Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip claiming to find Hamas soldiers on Monday.


Second aid barge expected to leave soon for Gaza
2:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Cypriot authorities said on Tuesday that a second shipment of food aid is due to depart Cyprus for Gaza in the coming days, as the first delivery was being distributed in the war-ravaged territory.

Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis told reporters in Cyprus that "within the next few days, the second ship is expected to depart for Gaza."

Its departure had been delayed due to stormy weather.

The spokesman added, "The cargo has already been loaded onto the second ship, and necessary checks have been carried out."

Food aid from Cyprus reaches Gaza
1:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A US-based charity said a consignment of almost 200 tons of food aid had reached starving people in northern Gaza on Tuesday, a week after being despatched via a maritime route from the Cypriot port of Larnaca.

World Central Kitchen (WCK), working with the United Arab Emirates and Spanish charity Open Arms, sent the food via the 200-mile (322-km) sea route from Larnaca to a makeshift jetty off Gaza. The consignment arrived in Gaza on Friday.

On Tuesday, a convoy of eight trucks belonging to the World Food Programme (WFP) ferried the aid—the equivalent of half a million meals—to its final destination.


Volunteers of World Central Kitchen hand out food to Palestinian children in Rafah [GETTY]
Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque
12:35 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Wafa news agency has reported that dozens of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem under protection from Israeli forces

Witnesses told the agency that settlers entered the grounds in separate groups, conducting provocative tours throughout the courtyards, receiving explanations about the alleged "Jewish Temple," and performing Talmudic rituals near the Dome of the Rock.

Israeli settlers also stormed the mosque on the second day of the holy month of Ramadan amid restrictions on Palestinian Muslim worshippers trying to access the Jerusalem holy site during the Islamic fasting month.

Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque under protection from Israeli forces [GETTY]
UN: Israel's restrictions to Gaza aid may be war crime
12:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's restrictions on humanitarian aid for Gaza may amount to a starvation tactic that could be a war crime, the United Nations human rights chief said on Tuesday.

The stark appraisal followed a UN-backed report on Monday saying famine is likely by May without an end to fighting in the more than five-month war on Gaza in the Palestinian enclave of 2.3 million people.

"The extent of Israel's continued restrictions on the entry of aid into Gaza, together with the manner in which it continues to conduct hostilities, may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime," said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.

While aid agencies blame Israel for blockading Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government says it is facilitating aid, and the United Nations and relief groups are at fault for any issues over the quantity and pace of delivery.

In response to Turk's statement, the Israeli diplomatic mission in Geneva said: "Israel is doing everything it can to flood Gaza with aid, including by land, air and sea. The UN must also step up."

UN: 'Human-made' famine in Gaza still preventable
12:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN's human rights chief Volker Türk said a "human-made catastrophe" could still be prevented, about Gaza verging on a "catastrophic" famine.

Speaking on behalf of Türk, human rights spokesperson Jeremy Laurence said: "The projected imminent famine in Gaza can and must be prevented.

"This catastrophe is human-made and was entirely preventable."

Qatar 'cautiously optimistic' as Gaza truce talks progress
11:59 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Negotiations for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release are progressing in Doha, and a counter-proposal could soon be presented to Hamas, Qatar said on Tuesday.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said Israel's spy chief had left the Qatari capital, but technical teams are now discussing details of a potential deal.

Mossad head David Barnea had flown in for talks with the Qatari premier and Egyptian officials on Monday, the first since mediators failed to secure a truce before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.

Al Jazeera journalist freed after arrest by Israeli forces
11:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Al Jazeera's Arabic correspondent, Ismail al-Ghoul, has been released after his 12-hour arrest by Israeli forces. 

He was reported to have been severely beaten by the forces in Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital.

The journalist and his crew were there on Monday, reporting the Israeli army's fourth raid into the hospital, where 30,000 people, including displaced civilians, wounded patients and medical staff, are trapped inside.

Oxfam: Israel ‘deliberately’ blocking aid in Gaza
11:04 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Oxfam has accused Israel of continuing to block aid in Gaza despite the ICJ's genocide court ruling in its latest report.

The NGO mentions that rejected aid, including Oxfam's water and sanitation gear, is now stockpiling in a warehouse at Al Alrish

"We believe that Israel is failing to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide," Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam's Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement on X.

US confirms death of Hamas commander Marwan Issa
10:53 AM
The New Arab & agencies

White House official Jake Sullivan has said Hamas leader Marwan Issa has died in an Israeli air strike. 

Israeli media sources reported that Issa was killed in a strike on a tunnel complex under the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza last week.

Issa would be Hamas' most senior leader to die since 7 October.

US destroys Houthi missiles, drones in new Yemen strike
10:47 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The US military said it destroyed seven missiles and three drones on Monday in areas of Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels that presented threats to merchant ships and US Navy vessels.

Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea region since November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians during the war on Gaza.

Qatar: Israel spy chief leaves Doha but Gaza talks continue
10:39 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's spy chief has left Doha, but talks over a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release are continuing in the Qatari capital, a senior Qatari official said on Tuesday.

Mossad chief David Barnea "has left Doha," foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari told a regular briefing, adding that "technical teams are meeting as we speak".

UNRWA: "Famine is imminent"
10:24 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has said famine is "imminent", with over 2.1 million people across the Gaza Strip facing "crisis levels of food insecurity or worse".

UNRWA also adds that half the population is struggling with "catastrophic hunger", while children are also dying of dehydration and malnutrition.

Israeli airstrike kills director of Police in Gaza
10:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Major Raed Al-Banna, the director of Police Investigations in the North Gaza province, was killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting their home this morning. His wife and children were also killed. 

The Major was responsible for securing the facilitating humanitarian aid trucks entering Gaza.

Israeli minister says "there's no other way" to defeat Hamas
10:01 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel’s Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter told Israeli media the ground invasion of Rafah must go ahead if Israel wants to defeat Hamas entirely.

“There is no other way to do it,” Dichter told Israel’s Reshet Bet radio.

Israel hits Hezbollah arms depots in Syria: war monitor
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli raids hit warehouses storing weapons for the Lebanese Hezbollah group in Syria Tuesday, a war monitor said, as a Syrian military source said air defences had intercepted several missiles.

Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes in Syria since civil war broke out in 2011, targeting Iran-backed forces, including Hezbollah, as well as Syrian army positions.

The strikes have increased since the war on Gaza on October 7.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest strikes near the capital, Damascus, Tuesday had destroyed weapons and ammunition, causing secondary explosions and fires.

A military source quoted by Syrian state media said Israeli "air aggression" had targeted several military positions near Damascus.

Palestine Foreign Ministry condemns attack on Rafah
9:39 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that Israel began its assault on Rafah with no announcement to avoid international reactions and without waiting for permission from anyone.

In a statement on X, the ministry says Israel "purposely ignored international warnings" about the dangers of invading the city.

Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt to discuss ceasefire
8:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week to discuss efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza and increase humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.

Blinken will hold talks with Saudi leaders in Jeddah on Wednesday before travelling to Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian authorities, spokesman Matthew Miller said from the Philippines, where Blinken is touring.

This will be Blinken's sixth trip to the Middle East since the start of 7 October.

Britain's deputy PM defends Israel but calls for ceasefire
8:50 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain's deputy prime minister defended on Tuesday Israel's right to protect itself amid growing tension between the Middle Eastern country and its biggest backers but called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza on humanitarian grounds.

Oliver Dowden said the British government was "continuously" urging Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and had also raised concerns about getting aid into Gaza, where a humanitarian crisis is raging after six months of fighting.

"That's why we are calling for an immediate ceasefire to allow that aid in, and crucially, the hostages to come out," he told Reuters in an interview in Seoul, where he attended a US-backed Summit for Democracy.

31,819 Palestinians killed and 73,934 injured in Gaza
8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 31,819 Palestinians have been killed and 73,934 injured since 7 October in Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip, the enclave's health ministry said on Tuesday.

Some 93 Palestinians were killed and 142 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.