UN urges probe into 'troubling' Gaza mass grave reports as war enters 200th day

UN urges probe into 'troubling' Gaza mass grave reports as war enters 200th day
Israeli strike continued across the Gaza Strip on day 200 of the war, as mediated negotiations between Tel Aviv and Hamas stall.
28 min read

The UN on Monday described the reports of mass graves in Gaza as "extremely troubling" and urged for an investigation into the sites where the grave is located.

"Yet another reason is, if we needed one, for all of these sites to be fully investigated, in a way that is credible and independent," Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a press briefing when asked about the uncovering of at least 283 bodies of people from a mass grave at the Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Gaza's Civil Defence agency said Monday that health workers had uncovered over 200 bodies in the past three days of people killed and buried by Israeli forces at a hospital in Khan Younis.

When asked for comment, the Israeli military said: "We will come back to you on the matter."

Mahmud Bassal, spokesman for Gaza's Civil Defence, told AFP that "civil defence crews are still recovering bodies from inside Nasser Medical Complex, and since Saturday bodies of nearly 200 martyrs have been retrieved".

Bassal said several of the recovered bodies had decomposed.

Hospitals in Gaza have not been spared in the Israeli assault since October 7. Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, says Israel's war has from the start been a "war on the right to health" and has "obliterated" the Palestinian territory's health system.

More than 34,000 people have been killed in the enclave, mostly women and children, with over 77,000 wounded and thousands more missing.

4:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

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Hundreds of Jewish pro-Palestine protesters arrested in NY
3:26 AM
The New Arab Staff

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters were reportedly arrested after holding a demonstration on the "doorstep" of US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s home in New York’s Grand Army Plaza.

Organised by the Jewish Voice for Peace (group, the protest was presented as a "seder on the street" on the second night of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The group shared photos on social media of the arrests and police moving demonstrators taking part in a sit-down protest and chanting: "Palestine will be free from the river to the sea," they chanted.

According to JVP, the protesters were demanding "the US stop arming and funding the Israeli government as it carries out a genocide" in Gaza.

Gallant thanks US Senate for advancing Israel aid package
1:13 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has thanked the US Senate for advancing Israel aid package, as well as its leaders, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to advance legislation that would send $26 billion in aid to Israel after it was stalled in both houses of the US Congress for months.

Gallant also thanked President Joe Biden for standing with Israel.

"This is a clear message to Iran and our enemies," he added.

Over 300 aid trucks entered Gaza yesterday
12:41 AM
The New Arab Staff

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said that "more than 310 trucks of aid" entered Gaza yesterday, adding that this is the highest number of trucks since October 7.

" It needs now to be sustained and further increased. Trucks should include both commercial and humanitarian supplies so that the markets can re-open", he added.

Lazzarini added that "famine in northern Gaza can be averted only through meaningful & uninterrupted supply including through UNRWA".

3,660 Palestinians held in Israeli administrative detention
11:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Over 3,660 Palestinians held in administrative detention by Israel, the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said on Tuesday.

The figure includes Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, as well as the war-torn Gaza Strip. Among them are 22 women and more than 40 children, it said.

Prior to October 7, some 1,320 Palestinians were held in administrative detention. The widely criticised practice involves holding Palestinians on secret evidence, without charge or trial, indefinitely.

Israeli army raids Jenin governorate
11:07 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces have raided several towns and villages in the occupied West Bank, mainly areas in and around the Jenin area, the Palestinian Wafa agency said.

Among the raided locations were the villages of Rummanah, Taybeh and Anin, west of Jenin, as well as the village of al-Fandaqumiya, south of Jenin.

Israeli soldiers launched a "massive search campaign", Wafa said, but did not report any arrests.

Hezbollah launches rockets at Israel after civilian deaths
9:18 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it launched dozens of rockets at northern Israel Tuesday in response to the killing of two civilians in a strike blamed on Israel in Lebanon's south.

Hezbollah fighters fired "dozens of Katyusha rockets" at northern Israel "as part of the response to the Israeli enemy's attacks on... civilian homes, specifically the horrific massacre in Hanin and the killing and injuring of civilians," the group said in a statement.

US to begin Gaza aid pier construction 'very soon'
8:53 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States will begin construction "very soon" on a pier to boost deliveries of desperately needed aid to Gaza, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Gaza - a small coastal territory - has been devastated by more than six months of Israeli bombardment and ground operations against Hamas militants, leaving the civilian population in need of humanitarian assistance to survive.

"All the necessary vessels are within the Mediterranean region and standing by," Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder told journalists, referring to the watercraft carrying equipment for the pier project.

"We are positioned to begin construction very soon," Ryder added.

UNRWA head calls for probe into attacks on staff, premises
8:36 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinians hit back at Israel on Tuesday as he called for a Security Council probe into the "blatant disregard" for UN operations in Gaza after hundreds of staff members were killed and buildings razed.

Philippe Lazzarini's comments came a day after the publication of an independent review that said Israel had not yet provided evidence supporting its claim that hundreds of UNRWA staff were members of terrorist organizations.

But the review did identify "neutrality-related issues" in the way the organization operated, particularly in employees' use of social media.

While accepting the findings of the review, Lazzarini told reporters that attacks on UNRWA's neutrality "are primarily motivated by the objective to strip the Palestinians from the refugee status -- and this is a reason why there are pushes today for UNRWA not to be present" in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

US says reports on mass graves in Gaza are troubling
8:01 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The US State Department said on Tuesday that reports on mass graves in Gaza were troubling.

Palestinian authorities reported finding hundreds of bodies in mass graves at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis this week after it was abandoned by Israeli troops. Bodies were also reported at the Al Shifa medical site following an Israeli special forces operation.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said earlier on Tuesday he was "horrified" by the mass grave reports at Gaza hospitals.

Palestinian prime minister announces new reform package
7:42 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Newly installed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa announced a package of reforms on Tuesday aimed at strengthening the Palestinian Authority (PA) amid increased global pressure for a revival of political dialogue with Israel.

Mustafa, appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this year, said his government would introduce measures to improve transparency and fight corruption, overhaul the justice system and security sectors and improve public sector efficiency.

In addition, he said the health and education system would be improved, public finances strengthened and economic reforms implemented.

The reform pledges largely match promises previously made by his predecessor Mohammed Shtayyeh, who announced his resignation in February as the PA looked to build support for an expanded role amid Israel's war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

The United States and other international partners have pressed the PA to implement sweeping reforms to restore confidence among Palestinians who have become deeply disillusioned with the body set up under the interim Oslo Peace Accords more than 30 years ago.

W. House wants 'real progress' before restoring UNRWA funds
7:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The White House said on Tuesday it would "have to see real progress" before restoring its funding to the UN agency for Palestinians, the main aid agency operating in war-torn Gaza.

The comments from National Security Council spokesman John Kirby came after the US froze aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency following accusations by Israel that its staff may have participated in the October 7 attacks.

A UN probe is looking into those accusations.

A separate independent review into UNRWA found some "neutrality-related issues" in its much-anticipated report released Monday. It noted Israel had yet to provide evidence for incendiary allegations that staff were members of terrorist organizations.

"In terms of our funding of UNRWA, that is still suspended. We're gonna have to see real progress here before that gets changed," Kirby said.

Many donor countries have resumed funding since Israel's accusations, including Sweden, Canada, Japan, the EU and France - while others, including the United States and Britain - have continued to hold out.

"We welcome the results of this report and strongly support the recommendations in the report," Kirby said, noting that the United States also faced legal constraints in restarting its funding.

Congress passed a bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last month that blocks US funding until March 2025.

Risk of famine 'very high' in Gaza, especially in north: US
6:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The risk of famine throughout Gaza, especially in the north, is "very high," Washington's special regional envoy for humanitarian issues said on Tuesday.

David Satterfield told reporters that Israel must do everything possible to facilitate efforts to avert a famine and called for more to be done to get aid to those in need, particularly in the north.

Rafah evacuations not 'possible' under current conditions
6:35 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Humanitarian workers have no knowledge of plans to evacuate Palestinians from Gaza's southernmost city ahead of an expected Israeli assault, but such a transfer would not be "possible" under current conditions, a Red Cross official told AFP on Tuesday.

"The rumour is that the probability of a major operation in Rafah is increasing," Fabrizio Carboni, Middle East regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said on the sidelines of an aid conference in the United Arab Emirates.

"When we see the level of destruction in the middle area (of Gaza) and in the north, it's not clear to us where people will be moved to... where they can have decent shelter and essential services," he added.

"So today, with the information we have and from where we stand, we don't see this (massive evacuation) as possible."

More than 1.5 million of Gaza's population of 2.4 million had sheltered in Rafah, the last major population centre in Gaza that Israeli ground troops have yet to enter, though thousands have been seen heading back north.

Israeli strike kills 2 Lebanese civilians, including child
6:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Local rescuers told AFP that an Israeli strike in south Lebanon killed a woman and a girl from the same family on Tuesday, with state-run media also confirming the deaths.

A civil defence source told AFP that "a woman in her 50s and a 12-year-old girl have been killed", with Lebanon's National News Agency adding that "six others were wounded in an enemy air strike on a house in Hanin" near the Israeli border.

Norway calls on donors to resume funding to UNRWA
5:44 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Norway called on international donors on Tuesday to resume payments to the UN agency for Palestinians refugees (UNRWA) after a report found Israel had yet to provide evidence that some UNRWA staff were linked to "terrorist groups."

"I would now like to call on countries that have still frozen their contributions to UNRWA to resume funding," Norway's foreign minister Espen Barth Eide said in a statement.

"Norway has emphasised that it is unacceptable to punish an entire organisation, with 30,000 employees, and all Palestine refugees for the alleged misdeeds of a small number of the organisation's employees," Barth Eide said.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man during West Bank raid
5:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man and wounded two people including a child during raids in the occupied West Bank city of Jericho and adjacent refugee camps, Palestinian health authorities said on Tuesday.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the incident.

The dead man, identified as 44-year-old Shadi Issa Galaita, had been standing outside his house in Jericho city, watching troops as they carried out a raid but had not been involved in the events his uncle, Shafiq Jalayta, said.

"He was standing at the door, watching. My son asked him to go inside but he told him that he is far from what's happening," he told Reuters. "A sniper shot him from above, in his chest, they shot three bullets but only one hit him, and he died on the spot, he didn't do anything, nothing."

The Palestinian news agency WAFA said the two wounded, including a child, were hit by bullets during a separate incident in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp, just outside Jericho, where local residents said youths threw stones at the soldiers and there was a limited exchange of fire.

Gaza government releases some stats for war, 200 days on
4:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Gaza government's media office released some statistics on Tuesday marking 200 days since the start of Israel's war on the Palestinian enclave.

It said 30 children had so far died of malnutrition, while around 17,000 children had lost either one or both parents.

Around 11,000 patients were in need of treatment outside the enclave, and 10,000 cancer patients were at risk of dying if they do not receive the care they urgently need.

Israeli forces have detained 5,000 people from Gaza, and about 2 million - nearly all of the enclave's population - has been displaced.

The government's media office added that initial estimates for physical damage caused by Israel's bombardment was about $30 billion.

Hamas armed wing calls for escalation across all fronts
4:03 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The spokesperson for Hamas' armed Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Ubaida, called Tuesday for an escalation across all fronts in a televised speech marking 200 days since the start of Israel's war on Gaza on October 7.

In a video aired by Al Jazeera TV, Abu Ubaida praised Iran's attack on Israel on April 13, saying the direct strikes with explosive drones and missiles "set new rules, drew important equations, and confused the enemy and those behind it."

He also called for an escalation in the occupied West Bank and Jordan calling it "one of the most important Arab fronts."

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"We call on the Jordanian people to step up their actions and raise their voices," Abu Ubaida said.

He said Hamas was sticking to its demands at the ongoing ceasefire talks - that Israel ends its military offensive, pulls out forces from Gaza, allows the displaced to return to northern Gaza, and lifts the blockade.

"The government of the occupation is stalling in reaching a hostages-swap deal and is trying to obstruct efforts by the mediators to reach a ceasefire agreement," Abu Ubaida said.

US troops targeted in western Iraq: official
4:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

American forces were targeted at a base in western Iraq, a US defense official said Tuesday, the second such attack on the country's troops after a more than two month pause.

It followed another attack over the weekend in which rockets were fired from northern Iraq at a base in Syria that houses forces from the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group.

"Yesterday there was an attack against Al-Asad Air Base" that did not cause injuries or damage, the defense official said on condition of anonymity, without specifying the nature of the attack.

"This was the second attack against US forces since February 4," the official said.

Israel orders new evacuations in north Gaza: Israeli army
3:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel has ordered new evacuations in the Beit Lahia area of northern Gaza, describing it as a "dangerous combat zone", Israel's army spokesperson said on Tuesday.

41,183 killed, missing in Gaza after 200 days of war: govt.
3:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

The media office in the Gaza Strip government said Tuesday that a total of 41,183 have been killed and are missing in the enclave 200 days after Israel's war began on October 7.

While the territory's health ministry has officially counted 34,183 dead - mostly women and children - another 7,000 are missing, stuck beneath the rubble and presumed dead also.

Al-Haq legal case over UK arms to Israel to be heard in Oct.
3:01 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Palestinian rights group's legal challenge to try to stop British arms exports to Israel over allegations of breaches of international law in the war in Gaza will be heard in October at London's High Court, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Al-Haq – which is involved in similar cases in Canada and Denmark – says there is a clear risk that arms being exported from Britain will be used in violation of international humanitarian law, which makes their continued export unlawful.

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Britain is defending Al-Haq's case and its lawyers said in court filings for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday that the government's processes for evaluating potential violations are "robust and detailed".

Al-Haq's lawyer Victoria Wakefield urged the High Court to hear its case as soon as possible given the "truly desperate situation on the ground in Gaza".

However, the group also accepted that a hearing could not take place before October after Britain said it needed more time to examine potentially sensitive information.

Top far-left French MP summoned over Hamas comments
2:57 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The leader of far-left MPs in the French parliament was on Tuesday summoned for questioning by police in an investigation into suspected justification of "terrorism" over comments on the October 7 attack led by Hamas on Israel.

Mathilde Panot heads the lower house of parliament faction of the France Unbowed (LFI) party, which has been repeatedly accused by opponents of failing to clearly condemn the attack by Hamas.

The LFI - which is now France's strongest political force on the left - has in turn lashed out at what it sees as an erosion of free speech and accused Israel of committing "genocide" against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.


Panot said it was the first time in the history of modern France that a head of a parliamentary faction "was summoned on such serious grounds".

"I am warning about this serious exploitation of justice aimed at suppressing political expression," she said.

On October 7, the LFI group in parliament published a text which sparked controversy because it described the Hamas attack as "an armed offensive by Palestinian forces" that occurred "in a context of intensification of the Israeli occupation policy" in the Palestinian territories.

The LFI's firebrand figurehead and former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon described the summons an "unprecedented event in the history of our democracy", accusing the authorities of "protecting a genocide".

Israeli attack on Iran would change 'circumstances': Rouhani
2:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An Israeli attack on Iranian territory would bring about a complete change of "circumstances", Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the official IRNA news agency.

Raisi, who is visiting Pakistan, was quoted as saying such an attack could possibly result in there be nothing left of the "Zionist regime".

Iran seizes alleged Israeli transit cargo on Turkey border
2:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Iranian police have seized a 22-tonne transit batch of Israeli-produced potassium nitrate fertiliser on a border with Turkey, Mehr News Agency reported.

Brig Gen Reza Bani-Asadifar, commander of the police law enforcement and security units, said the lorry belonging to an Iranian company was carrying the fertiliser from "one of Iran's neighbours to the west" and was headed for another unidentified neighbouring country.

The commander said that the police seized the shipment in Bazargan, which is a checkpoint on the border with Turkey, after it was revealed the goods were branded "Haifa" and produced in Israel.

He added that an Iranian company ran the transportation of the fertiliser.

Egypt urges Israel not to take military action in Rafah
2:18 PM
The New Arab Staff

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has asked Israel not to take any military action in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, warning of the potential risks of civilian casualties, suffering and destruction.

This came during a joint press conference with his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin in Cairo on Tuesday.

Shoukry said they discussed the ramifications of the war in Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and the provision of humanitarian aid.

He warned against the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, calling to work to reach a sustainable solution to the conflict by implementing the two-state solution and establishing a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He urged Egypt’s partners, including Europe and the US, and the international community to support the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Shoukry commended the role UNRWA plays in supporting the Palestinian people in Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, welcoming the independent investigation led by Catherine Colonna, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France and urging countries to increase their funding of the agency.

"The credibility of the UNRWA is unquestionable for Egypt and also for the Arab region," Shoukry said.

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OIC condemns massacres committed by Israel in Gaza
2:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the "horrific massacres" of Palestinians by Israel following the discovery of a mass grave in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

In a statement on Monday, the OIC said the discovery is an indication that "hundreds of displaced, injured and the sick as well as medical convoys were subjected to forms of torture and abuse before they were executed and given mass burial."

It said it considers the mass grave as evidence of a "war crime, a crime against humanity, and organized state terrorism," adding that such mass murder "requires investigation, accountability and sanction under international criminal law."

"The OIC renewed its call on the international community, in particular the (UN) Security Council, on the need to stop the war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and to provide international protection for the Palestinian people,” it added.

The OIC states that it is "the collective voice of the Muslim world" [Getty]
Israeli military denies executions, mass burials at hospital
1:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's military rejected on Tuesday Palestinian allegations of mass burials and possible executions at a Gaza hospital, and claimed it had exhumed corpses to try to find hostages taken by Hamas in October.

"The claim that the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) buried Palestinian bodies is baseless and unfounded," the military said in a statement, adding that its forces returned bodies to where they had been buried, after they were examined.

"The examination was conducted in a careful manner and exclusively in places where intelligence indicated the possible presence of hostages. The examination was carried out respectfully while maintaining the dignity of the deceased."

Hezbollah launches deepest attack into Israel in retaliation
1:21 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's Hezbollah said it launched drone attacks on two Israeli bases Tuesday in retaliation for the killing of a fighter Israel described as "significant".

Hezbollah launched "a combined air attack using decoy and explosive drones that targeted" two Israeli bases north of Acre, the group said in a statement, adding it was "in response" to an Israeli drone strike that killed one of its members in south Lebanon earlier in the day.

Iran says EU sanctions for Israel attack 'regrettable'
12:17 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran described as "regrettable" Tuesday a decision by the European Union to expand the bloc's sanctions against its weapons programmes in response to its unprecedented retaliatory attack on Israel.

"It is regrettable to see the EU deciding quickly to apply more unlawful restrictions against Iran just because Iran exercised its right to self-defence in the face of Israel's reckless aggression," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in a post on X.

"The EU should not follow Washington's advice to satisfy the criminal Israeli regime."

Israel says it killed 2 Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon
12:11 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli airstrikes killed two Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon, the military said on Tuesday, as air raid sirens sounded in northern Israel.

Hezbollah on Tuesday confirmed the death of one of its fighters, Hussein Azkoul, but provided no further details.

Two security sources close to Hezbollah said Azkoul was an engineer in Hezbollah's aerial defence units and that he had been active in Hezbollah's field operations.

The Israeli military said Azkoul's death could significantly impact Hezbollah's aerial unit, though Hezbollah has previously played down such statements.

A separate Israeli strike overnight Monday-Tuesday killed a fighter in Hezbollah's elite unit, Radwan Forces, the military said, though Hezbollah has not confirmed his death.

Air raid sirens sounded in northern Israel on Tuesday, soon after the announcements and the military said it intercepted a "suspicious aerial target."

Hamas to stay in Doha if 'useful' for ceasefire talks: Qatar
12:10 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Qatar said on Tuesday that Hamas's political leadership would stay in Doha as long as their presence remained beneficial to mediation efforts aimed at ending the war in Gaza.

"As long as their presence here in Doha, as we have always said, is useful and positive in this mediation effort, they will remain here," foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari told a press conference, adding that Qatar continued to reassess its role as mediator.

EU urges donors to fund UNRWA after review
11:48 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The EU's humanitarian chief on Tuesday urged international donors to fund the UN agency for Palestinians after a review said Israel had not yet provided evidence that hundreds of staff were members of terrorist groups.

European commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic welcomed the report for "underlining the agency's significant number of compliance systems in place as well as recommendations for their further upgrade."

"I call on the donors to support UNRWA - the Palestinian refugees' lifeline," he wrote on X.

Israel strikes northern Gaza in heaviest shelling in weeks
11:41 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel bombarded northern Gaza overnight in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, causing panic amongst residents and flattening neighbourhoods in an area from which the Israeli army had previously down its troops, residents said on Tuesday.

Army tanks made a new incursion east of Beit Hanoun on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip, though they did not penetrate far into the city, residents and Hamas media said. Gunfire reached some schools where displaced residents were sheltering.

In Israel, where government offices and businesses were shut to celebrate the Jewish Passover holiday, incoming rocket alerts sounded in southern border towns, although no casualties were reported.

Thick black smoke could be seen rising in northern Gaza from across the southern Israeli border. Shelling was intense east of Beit Hanoun and Jabalia and continued on Tuesday morning in areas such as Zeitoun, one of Gaza City's oldest suburbs, with residents reporting at least 10 strikes in a matter of seconds along the main road.

Source close to Hezbollah: Fighter killed in Israeli strike
10:56 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A source close to Hezbollah said an Israeli strike deep into Lebanon killed a fighter of the Iran-backed militant group on Tuesday as he was travelling in a vehicle.

The latest strike hit the Abu al-Aswad area between the coastal cities of Sidon and Tyre, some 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the border, an AFP journalist reported.

The source told AFP that the fighter killed was an engineer attached to Hezbollah's air defence forces.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said an Israeli drone had fired on his vehicle, which an AFP journalist said was completely burnt out.

Aid workers worried over looming Rafah invasion
10:52 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An expected Israeli assault on Rafah has aid groups scrambling for ways to help the 1.5 million civilians sheltering in the south Gaza city but the uncertain timeline poses a logistical nightmare.

"We always are prepared with plans to upscale or downscale but, really, we don't know what to expect," said Bushra Khalidi, head of advocacy at Oxfam.

Oxfam joined 12 other aid groups in a joint call for a ceasefire on April 3, stressing that more than a million civilians, including at least 610,000 children, were "in direct line of fire" in Rafah.

"Rafah is tiny, it's like a village, any operation in such a limited and densely populated area, we can only imagine that it would cause mass carnage and further atrocity crimes," Oxfam's Khalidi said.

The aid group fears it will have to put its activities on hold in Rafah, where half of its offices and buildings housing staff are located.

Erdogan says he does not believe Hamas will leave Qatar
10:51 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he does not believe the Palestinian group Hamas will leave Qatar, where it is based, adding he had seen no such signs that Doha wished the group to leave, either.

Erdogan, who was returning from a visit to Iraq, was asked by reporters on board the flight about media reports suggesting Hamas may leave its base in Qatar or be asked to leave by Doha.

Erdogan said he had received no signs of the Qatari leadership wanting the group to leave.

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"What is important is not where Hamas' leaders are, but the situation in Gaza," Erdogan said, according to a text of the in-flight interview published by his office.

"The sincerity they (Qatar) have toward them (Hamas), their stance toward them, has always been like a member of the family. In the coming period, I absolutely do not think it is possible for them to change this approach," he said.

UN rights chief 'horrified' by Gaza hosp. mass grave reports
10:46 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.N. rights chief Volker Turk said on Tuesday that he was "horrified" by the destruction of the Nasser and Al Shifa medical facilities in Gaza and reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies there, according to a spokesperson.

"We feel the need to raise the alarm because clearly there have been multiple bodies discovered," said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Some of them had their hands tied, which of course indicates serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and these need to be subjected to further investigations."

She added that the U.N. human rights office was working on corroborating Palestinian officials' reports that 283 bodies were found at Nasser and 30 at Al Shifa.

Turk, addressing a U.N. briefing via Shamdasani, also decried Israeli strikes on Gaza in recent days, which he said had killed mostly women and children.

He also repeated a warning against a full-scale incursion on Rafah, saying this could lead to "further atrocity crimes".

India sees no major impact of Iran-Israel crisis on exports
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

India expects no major impact on its exports from the conflict between Israel and Iran, an Indian commerce ministry official said on Tuesday, adding that the government is monitoring the situation in the region and is in touch with exporters.

One killed in Israeli drone strike on southern Lebanon
9:39 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A Tuesday morning Israeli drone strike on south Lebanon killed one person, local media said.

The strike targeted a car on the Sidon-Tyre coastal highway in an area called Abu al-Aswad, south of Adloun, killing who reports identified as Hussein Ali Qassem Azqoul.

Some reports said he was a Hezbollah member.

Videos of the burning car and paramedics attending the scene of the attack were shared on social media.

Hezbollah says 'dozens' of rockets fired at Israeli HQ
8:56 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hezbollah said on Monday it had fired "dozens" of Katyusha rockets at an army headquarters in northern Israel in response to raids targeting villages in southern Lebanon.

A Hezbollah statement said it had bombarded "the headquarters of the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the 91st Division at Ein Zeitim Base with dozens of Katyusha rockets".

This was in response to Israeli attacks on "southern villages and civilian homes", most recently in Srifa, Odaisseh and Rab Tlatin.

Lebanon's official National News Agency reported Israeli strikes on the three villages on Monday.

The Israeli military said "approximately 35 launches were identified crossing from Lebanon into the area of Ein Zeitim in northern Israel" and that no injuries were reported.

It said "troops struck the sources of the launches".

Hamas slams Blinken’s remarks on rejecting Israeli proposal
8:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas has condemned remarks by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and "his attempts" to hold the group responsible for obstructing a ceasefire agreement.

"Blinken’s statements contradict the fact that Hamas offered flexibility more than once to facilitate reaching an agreement to stop the war of genocide and aggression against our people. It clashed with the intransigence and procrastination of Netanyahu and his government, which placed obstacles in the way of the agreement and sought to prolong their rabid war against our people," the group said in a Telegram statement on Monday.

The statement again accused the US of being "a full partner in the genocidal war against our people," stressing that Washington “continues to support the occupation with weapons, ammunition and political cover."

Hamas has 'moved goal post' on hostage talks: US State Dept
8:49 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas has "moved the goal post" and changed its demands in the hostage negotiations with Israel mediated by Egypt and Qatar, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday.

Speaking at a daily press briefing, Miller said the United States would continue to push for an agreement that would see hostages taken on October 7 released and a pause in fighting in Gaza.

Separately, Miller said the United States had received a report by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna into the U.N. aid agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, and is reviewing it.

'Neutrality' issues found at UNRWA, but no terrorism proof
8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

An independent review group on the UN agency for Palestinians found some "neutrality-related issues," its much-anticipated report said Monday, but noted Israel had yet to provide evidence for incendiary allegations that staff were members of terrorist organizations.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) remains "irreplaceable and indispensable to Palestinians' human and economic development" added the 54-page report, which was led by French diplomat Catherine Colonna.

Despite a framework for ensuring it upheld the humanitarian principle of neutrality, the review found that "neutrality-related issues persist," including staff sharing biased political posts on social media and the use of a small number of textbooks with "problematic content" in some UNRWA schools.

But it added "Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence" for its claim that UNRWA employs more than 400 "terrorists."

Pakistan PM Sharif lauds Iran for 'strong stand' on Gaza
8:43 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif lauded Iran on Monday for taking a strong stand on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities there.

Addressing a joint press talk alongside visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Islamabad, Sharif called on Muslim countries to unite and raise their voice for an end to the conflict.

Gaza health system 'completely obliterated': UN expert
8:42 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's war in Gaza has from the start been a "war on the right to health" and has "obliterated" the Palestinian territory's health system, a UN expert said on Monday.

Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, accused Israel of treating human rights as an "a la carte menu".

"This has been a war on the right to health from the beginning," said Mofokeng, who is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

"The health system in Gaza has been completely obliterated and the right to health has been decimated at every level".

Israel has destroyed Gaza's hospitals [Getty]
Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights: US report
8:40 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's war on Gaza that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis has had "a significant negative impact" on the human rights situation in the country, the U.S. State Department said in its annual report on Monday.

Significant human rights issues include credible reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and unjustified arrests of journalists among others, said the State Department's 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

The report claims that the Israeli government has taken "some credible steps" to "identify and punish" the officials who may have been involved in those abuses.

US probing alleged Israeli rights abuses in Gaza: Blinken
8:37 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said that the United States is looking into allegations of human rights abuses by Israel in its operations against Hamas in Gaza.

Unveiling the State Department's annual human rights report, Blinken denied the United States has a double standard when it comes to Israel and human rights.

"Do we have a double standard? The answer is no," Blinken told reporters.

Gaza toll reaches 34,183: health ministry
8:35 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in Gaza said at least 34,183 people have been killed in the territory by Israel's offensive, which marked its 200th day on Tuesday.

The tally includes at least 32 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 77,143 people have been wounded in the enclave since October 7.