US questions Israel about Gaza offensive, enclave witnesses telecoms blackout

US questions Israel about Gaza offensive, enclave witnesses telecoms blackout
Gaza War Day 69: It seems the US is upping pressure on Israel over its indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip, where nearly 18,800 people have been killed
30 min read
14 December, 2023

This live blog on Day 69 of Israel's war on Gaza has concluded. Make sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for the latest news.

Diaa al-Kahlout's health 'seriously deteriorating': Euro-Med
11:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

The health of journalist Diaa al-Kahlout is seriously deteriorating, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has warned.

Kahlout, the Gaza bureau chief of The New Arab's Arabic Language Service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, was one of dozens of men rounded up last week by the Israeli military in the northern Gaza Strip. Accused of belonging to Hamas, they were stripped down to their underwear, handcuffed and blindfolded.

Euro-Med has demanded his release and all those arbitrarily detained.

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The rights group said it received news about Kahlout’s health from his family and released prisoners, who said he had been suffering from a chest infection and high blood pressure before his arrest.

According to former detainees, Kahlout was taken to the Zikim military base and interrogated over his journalistic work. He and other detainees were reportedly subject to torture and beatings, leading to life-threatening health complications.

Jordanian military airdrops medical supplies for Gaza: army
10:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Jordanian Armed Forces airdropped for the fifth time urgent medical equipment and supplies to the Jordanian Field Hospital in Gaza Thursday evening, the military’s official website said.

Top Biden adviser to meet Palestinian president on Friday
10:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.S. President Joe Biden's national security adviser will visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Friday, according to a U.S. official.

The official said on Thursday that the adviser, Jake Sullivan, would discuss "ongoing efforts to revamp and revitalise" the Palestinian Authority and holding "extremist" settlers accountable for violence against Palestinians. The official declined to be named.

About half of bombs dropped by Israel on Gaza are 'unguided'
10:38 PM
The New Arab Staff

"Almost half of the munitions Israel has used in Gaza since the war began have been unguided bombs, a U.S. intelligence assessment has found, a ratio that some arms experts say helps explain the conflict’s enormous civilian death toll," said a Washington Post report on Thursday.

Gaza, West Bank governance must be connected under PA: US
8:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said future governance in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank must "ultimately" be connected under a "revamped and revitalised" Palestinian Authority.

Israel has said it was completely against any Palestinian authority in Gaza after the war.

Houthis say attacked Israel-bound Maersk cargo ship
8:20 PM

Yemen's Houthis carried out a military operation with a drone against a Maersk cargo ship which was heading to Israel and hit it directly, the group's military spokesperson Yehia Sareea said in a statement on Thursday.

The ship was targeted after its crew refused to respond to warnings from the group, the statement added.

A Maersk cargo ship was targeted by a missile as it passed the coast of Yemen on Thursday, the Danish company said.

Palestinian presidency slams mosque 'desecration' by Israel
8:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestinian presidency on Thursday condemned what it called the "shameful desecration" of a mosque in the occupied West Bank by Israeli troops who were seen reciting a Jewish prayer.

Video footage shared on social media showed soldiers inside a mosque in Jenin refugee camp using loudspeakers to recite the Shema Yisrael, a central prayer in Judaism.

Towards the end of the clip, laughter can be heard as troops walk outside the mosque and a Hanukkah song rings out from the loudspeaker.

It was not clear when the footage was filmed but Israeli forces were engaged in a deadly raid in Jenin this week that saw 11 Palestinians killed, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

"Israeli occupation forces' desecration of a mosque in the Jenin camp is shameful and condemnable behaviour," Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.

He warned against "dragging the region into a religious war" and of "the repercussions of these attacks".

"The flames of religious war that Israel seeks to ignite will not be limited to Palestinian region only, but will extend to the entire world if it remains silent about Israel's crimes and violations of the rights of Palestinian people."

Israel parliament passes new wartime budget
7:15 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Israeli parliament passed an amended 2023 budget on Thursday with new funds for the Gaza war, following a bitter debate over money for illegal settlements and ultra-Orthodox communities.

The additional fiscal measures total around 30 billion shekels ($8 billion). Of the additional funds, 17 billion shekels are earmarked for supporting Israel's war effort.

Switzerland blocks bid to end UNRWA funding after outrage
7:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The upper house of the Swiss parliament on Thursday blocked an initiative to end the funding of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) after aid groups voiced outrage.

Switzerland's National Council, the lower house of the Federal Assembly, approved scrapping an annual contribution of 20 million Swiss francs ($23 million) to the agency by 116 to 78 votes on Monday.

On Thursday the upper house of parliament opted not to axe the agency's funding by 23 to 21 votes, a decision that was warmly welcomed by UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini. Both houses would have needed to approve the initiative for it to go ahead.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a positive development," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

"It's important that Switzerland continue to tell to the Palestinians and to the region that it remains committed to its humanitarian tradition... These 20 million are absolutely essential for URWA to continue to deliver its lifesaving and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza strip."

US wants war to end 'as soon as possible': White House
7:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States wants the war between Israel and Hamas to "end as soon as possible," the White House said Thursday, after Israel's defense minister told a top US official the conflict would last several months more.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had also discussed Israel moving to "low-intensity operations" against Gaza "in the near future" during his visit to Tel Aviv, White House spokesman John Kirby said.

Spain FM urges Israel to distinguish 'terrorists', civilians
6:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Thursday that Israel should distinguish between "terrorist targets" and civilians in Gaza, adding that places of worship, hospitals and UN buildings should be spared.

"Spain's voice will always be raised to protect the rights of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza," Albares said on a visit to Morocco.

"We must make a distinction between terrorist targets and the civilian population. We cannot have places of worship, hospitals, United Nations offices as targets," he said at a joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita.

Albares said Spain had condemned the attacks launched by Hamas on Israel on October 7 and that Israel had the right to defend itself, but "this defence against this terrorist attack must be done within the limits of international humanitarian law".

He said the population of Gaza "must be guaranteed the most essential supplies: water, food, medicine, fuel".

Erdogan tells Biden US has responsibility to secure truce
6:42 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Joe Biden in a phone call that the United States has a historic responsibility to achieve a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza conflict as soon as possible, Erdogan's office said on Thursday.

It reported him as saying that a deepening and prolongation of Israel's attacks in Gaza may have negative regional and global consequences.

"It is the historic responsibility of the USA to ensure a permanent ceasefire in the region as soon as possible," Erdogan was reported as saying.

He also said the withdrawal of U.S. unconditional support for Israel could ensure a ceasefire quickly and that demands for such a move had been made more loudly in recent days globally and in the United States.

Red Crescent says lost contact with operations room in Gaza
6:36 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said they have "completely lost contact" with their operations room in the Gaza Strip and all their teams operating there because of the telecommunication blackout in the war-torn enclave.

UN warns of 'breakdown of civil order' in Gaza
5:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hunger and desperation are driving people to seize humanitarian aid being delivered to the Gaza Strip, the United Nations said Thursday, warning of a "breakdown of civil order".

Israel has reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing as an inspection checkpoint to increase the amount of aid reaching the Palestinian territory, but the UN warned this was not enough.

"Everywhere you go people are desperate, hungry and are terrified," said Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), at a press conference in Geneva.

"We are teetering on the edge of a possible implosion. We might reach our limit. Why? Because there is more and more a breakdown of civil order."

Lazzarini, who has just returned from Gaza, said he saw people stopping aid trucks to take food and immediately eat it- something he described as "completely new" in the Palestinian territory.

But he said he hadn't heard of any UN or UNRWA trucks being hijacked by Hamas.

"This has nothing to do with aid diversion. This has to do with a total despair," he said, adding that many people UNRWA had met hadn't eaten for one, two or three days.

Israeli soldiers to face discipline for Jenin masjid offence
5:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli military's X account has announced that a group of its soldiers have faced discipline for violating the its code of conduct during an “operational activity” near a masjid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Israeli forces said that multiple soldiers have since been removed from the operational activity after a video was provided of the soldiers’ conduct- however the statement did not specify what the soldiers did or what “operational activity” was being conducted in Jenin.

The statement coincided with a video that surfaced online of a group of Israeli soldiers that raided a masjid in Jenin during its days-long raid, who were accused of entering the holy space with shoes on while singing Hanukkah songs over the mosque’s loud speakers.

Many have denounced the actions displayed in the video including US rights group IfNotNow co-founder Yonah Lieberman.

"This is in the West Bank, not Gaza. In Jenin, which is Area A — supposedly under full Palestinian civil and security authority. Still, soldiers take over mosques, acting with impunity," Lieberman tweeted on X.

Eleven killed in days-long Israeli raid in West Bank
4:36 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 11 Palestinians have been killed during a days-long raid by Israeli soldiers in Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health authorities said on Thursday, amid reports of gunfire, hundreds of arrests and restricted hospital access.

A young man died from his wounds on Thursday morning as a result of the Israeli operation in the northern West Bank city that began earlier in the week, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Two other Palestinians were killed overnight, it added.

Ambulances leaving the hospital with discharged patients were also stopped by soldiers, MSF said in a post on X.

"They ordered the paramedics and ambulance drivers to get out, stripped them of their clothes, and forced them to kneel in the street, while the patients were left inside the ambulances.

"Today we witness how they shoot a person inside the hospital complex and take his life," MSF said.

Red Cross president arrives in Israel
4:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Mirjana Spoljaric, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has arrived in Israel to discuss humanitarian access to people affected by the ongoing war on Gaza.

Spoljaric will meet with families of Hamas-held hostages as well as top Israeli officials during her visit.

The ICRC president will also visit the Israel-occupied West Bank, as Israeli forces continue its raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Since the start of the raid in the morning of December 12, Israeli forces have arrested hundreds of citizens, with the majority of them since released, the Palestinian Prisoner's Club, an advocacy group said in a statement.

Israel was not allowing ambulances to enter the camp to transport patients, Mahmoud Al-Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, told Reuters.

Gaza's communications and internet services are shut down
4:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

All telecommunications and internet services in the Gaza Strip have gone down as a result of "the ongoing aggression", Gaza's main telecommunications companies Paltel and Jawwal said on Thursday. 

More updates to come.

UN says food trucks being intercepted in Gaza
3:58 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency has said that crowds of hungry people were stopping its aid trucks in Gaza and helping themselves to the food, making it almost impossible to continue delivering aid.

The UN World Food Programme has said half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million is starving as Israel's military assault on the southern part of the enclave expands and people are cut off from supplies.

"People are stopping aid in trucks, taking the food and eating it right away. And this is how desperate and hungry they are," Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general, told reporters at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

Huge crowds on the street also mean that it is harder to reach hundreds of thousands of people in U.N. shelters in southern Gaza, Lazzarini said, speaking after a trip to Gaza.

"Hunger has now emerged over the last few weeks and we meet more and more people who haven't eaten for one two or three days," he added.

"...Our operating environment becomes more and more difficult. And the only way at this stage, in the absence of a ceasefire, to address it and to reverse this tension is to bring assistance at scale," Lazzarini said.

Seven people linked to Hamas arrested in Denmark: Israeli PM
3:56 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel said on Thursday that seven people arrested by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Denmark for planning an attack on civilians had operated "on behalf of" Hamas.

Israel's Mossad spy agency said that the Danish agencies had exposed "Hamas infrastructure on European soil," according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

France says working to get AFP journalists out of Gaza
3:53 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France said on Thursday it was concerned about the heavy toll among journalists covering the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and it was pushing to get Agence France-Presse reporters out of the Gaza Strip.

"We are keeping up our efforts regarding AFP employees," said Christophe Lemoine, deputy spokesman for Paris' foreign ministry.

It is "a complex operation", he added.

"Since October, we have been working to allow French citizens on the ground to leave Gaza, as well as their dependants," Lemoine added.

Paris also hailed the work of journalists killed while covering the conflict.

"Civilians must be protected, and that is especially the case for journalists. They have to be able to freely and completely safely do their work," Lemoine said.

At least 63 journalists and media workers -- 56 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese -- have died since October 7, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Around 40 journalists working with AFP and their dependents are still waiting to get out of Gaza.

Israel's Gallant says war to 'last more than several months'
3:50 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's defence minister on Thursday told a top US official that the brutal war in Gaza would "last more than several months", according to his office.

 Defence Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, following their meeting in Israel, the minister's office said.

Four Hamas affilates detained on suspected attack plans
3:46 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Four members who were linked to the Palestinian group Hamas have been detained on suspicion of planning attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe, German prosecutors said in a statement on Thursday.

Three of the suspects were detained in Berlin and another was detained in the Netherlands, according to the prosecutors.

Israel's Netanyahu meets with US national security advisor
3:32 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Top White House official Jake Sullivan arrived in Israel on Thursday amid a public rift over civilian casualties in Gaza more than two months into the Israel's war on Gaza.

President Joe Biden's national security adviser was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of talks expected to focus on Israel's military offensive in the Palestinian territory.

A photo shared by the Israeli prime minister's office showed Sullivan and Netanyahu shaking hands in Tel Aviv.

It said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that "an expanded meeting with the members of the war cabinet will be held later".

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also met Sullivan and told him the war would "last more than several months," according to his office.

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with US security advisor Jake Sullivan (L) [Getty]
Spanish PM emphasises demands for ceasefire at EU summit
1:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez has said he hopes the EU member states can agree on a solution regarding the war in Gaza- as he reiterated that Spain supports a permanent ceasefire.

“The ceasefire should open the door to diplomacy and to the realisation of a two-state solution,” he says at Brussels' EU summit.

The Spanish prime minister has repeatedly backed an immediate ceasefire amid increasing death toll figures in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon arrives at the European Council summit [Getty]
Palestinian PM says political horizon needed for peace
1:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

International pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to overhaul its leadership and step up reforms are a distraction from the need for a political horizon to lay the basis for peace after the Gaza war, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said.

In an interview with news agency Reuters, Shtayyeh called for international intervention to end the decades-long conflict, saying that the United States, the country with the most regional clout, had so far failed to use its influence effectively.

"What we need is a day-after for all the Palestinian Territories. What we need is to see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the materialization and implementation of a two-state (solution)," he said.

Shtayyeh, who was part of the Palestinian negotiating team at the 1991 Madrid peace conference, said the PA had already put forward its own reform proposals and the focus on internal changes was a diversion.

"For us the issue is: 'Give us a political horizon," he said, adding that the US had so far failed to apply the necessary pressure on Israel to fulfil its peace commitments.

"The Americans when they come here, they don't have anything to offer. When they don't have anything to offer they start talking about revitalization of the Palestinian Authority."

Palestinian Bedouin calls for relatives to be released
1:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A relative of two Palestinian Bedouins held hostage by Hamas has pleaded for their release, saying they had "nothing to do" with Israel's ongoing war in Gaza.

"I urge all who can to help free my brother Youssef and my nephew Hamza because they are sick and have nothing to do with this," Noaf al-Zayadna said on a visit to Paris facilitated by the Israeli embassy.

Youssef al-Zayadna, a 53-year-old father of 19, and his 22-year-old son Hamza, who has two children, remain captive.

His younger son Bilal, 18, and daughter Aisha, 17, were released on November 30, on the last day of a one-week truce between Israel and Hamas that saw 105 hostages return from the Gaza Strip in exchange for 240 Palestinians jailed by Israel.

Gaza's death toll has reached 18,787: ministry
1:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian health ministry has announced that the death toll in Gaza since October has reached 18,787, as 50,897 have also been wounded.

The ministry says that 179 killed and 303 wounded in recent hours, as there are additional numbers that have yet to be confirmed, as others are still stuck are under the rubble.

The UN says that it is unable to send aid to northern Gaza
12:58 PM
The New Arab Staff

The UN's agency for Palestine, the UNRWA, said that the spaces around its buildings are “congested with shelters and hungry people”- which has to get aid to those who were unable to flee south.

In a post on X, the agency adds that there is no more food to buy, even for those with the ability to pay.

Sunak reaffirms two state solution to Israeli ambassador
12:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

The UK prime minister Rishi Sunak has reasserted his backing for a two-state solution, after after the  Israeli ambassador to UK,  Tzipi Hotovely, has said 'absolutely no' to the plan on Wednesday.

“Our longstanding position remains that the two-state solution is the right outcome here. More immediately, what’s going on is incredibly concerning. I’ve said consistently far too many innocent people have lost their lives. Nobody wants this conflict to go on for a moment longer than is necessary," Sunak told Sky News.

The Prime Minister's response follows Hotovely’s controversial interview with the broadcaster when questioned about the two-state solution.

“Absolutely no. Israel knows today, and the world should know now that the Palestinians never wanted to have a state next to Israel.”

Israel releases footage of arrested men in Gaza hospital
12:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces has released footage of what it claims to be an arrest of more than 70 “Hamas operatives” at northern Gaza's Kamal Adwan Hospital.

Videos and pictures have been posted on the army’s social media account show young men stripped down without their shirts on, that have been seen to surrender to Israeli forces.

Israeli forces argued that it had found weapons inside a building in the area and have transferred the “operatives” to another location for additional questioning.

Another group of people were previously rounded up and arrested in northern Gaza, who were also stripped to their underwear, and were also similarly accused of being affliated to Hamas.

One of the people who have been recognised to be detained was TNA Arabic correspondent Diaa al-Kahlout.

Teenage boy killed by Israeli raid in Jenin: health ministry
12:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Musa Ahmed Musa Khatib, a 17-year-old boy, has been pronounced dead after being killed by Israeli gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Musa was said to have been shot in the chest, the ministry reported, which has increased the death toll of people killed in Jenin to 12.

Israeli opposition leader condemns vote on Gaza war budget
12:17 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has condemned Israeli parliament's vote earlier to add funds into the devastating war in Gaza- stating that those voting in favour “will not be forgiven", according to Israeli news publication The Times of Israel.

Your children “will be ashamed of you today,” Lapid said, the newspaper reported. 

3,714 students killed in Gaza and West Bank since October 7
12:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian Ministry of Education has said that at least 3,714 students have been killed and 5,700 wounded in Gaza and the occupied West Bank since the war on Gaza began from October 7. 

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the number of students who were killed in Gaza specifically is 3,679 while 5,429 were injured.

In the West Bank, 35 students have been killed, while 271 others were wounded and 82 arrested, according to the ministry.

Additionally, at least 209 teachers and school administrators have been killed in Gaza and 619 critically injured.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, two teachers were wounded and 65 have since been arrested following October 7.

US security adviser arrives in Israel
12:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, has landed in Israel to meet with top officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Army Radio.

Sullivan will also meet with with Netanyahu’s war cabinet and President Isaac Herzog, as the US continues to pressure Israel on its “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza.

Sullivan began his tour of the Middle East when he was scheduled for a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday.

Israel approves supplementary wartime budget for 2023
11:57 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel's parliament approved on Thursday adding an additional 25.9 billion shekels ($7 billion) to the national budget to help cover costs of the Gaza war, such as compensation for military reservists and emergency housing for the internally displaced.

The amendment, ratified by a vote of 59 lawmakers in favour and 45 opposed, increased the 2023 budget to 510 billion shekels ($139 billion), a Knesset spokesperson said. Israel passed the original 2023 budget along with a 2024 budget in May. 

Israeli forces continue raid on northern Gaza hospital
11:44 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ashraf Al-Qudra, a ministry spokesman, said that remaining medical staff members and patients at northern Gaza's Kamal Adwan Hospital have been evacuated from inside the hospital.

Al-Qudra said that medical personnel and patients have been forcibly rounded up in the hospital's courtyard.

This follows the Israeli forces continuing its raid on Kamal Adwan Hospital after besieging and shelling it for several days, according to sources and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

“We call on the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to act immediately to save the lives of those in the hospital," Al-Qudra previously said. 

Al-Qudra earlier described how medical staff were blocked by Israeli troops to provide care for 10 injured people in the hospital’s emergency unit. Two of the hospital's patients had consequently died.

He added that the forces have cut off food, water and electricity- as well as preventing medical staff members from heading between hospital departments.

British FM Cameron announces travel ban on Israeli settlers
11:41 AM
The New Arab Staff

Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said that the UK will ban violent Israeli settlers from entering the UK “to make sure our country cannot be a home for people who commit these intimidating acts”.

“Israel must take stronger action to stop settler violence and hold the perpetrators accountable,” he wrote on X.

PRCS continues transporting dead, wounded civilians in Jenin
11:27 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has said that its teams are continuing to transport the dead and wounded in Jenin- despite efforts being halted by Israeli forces.

According to citations from the Palestinian health ministry, WAFA news agency reported that at least 11 people have been killed and 10 wounded amid Israeli raids in Jenin and Jenin refugee camp for the third day.

CNN reporter is the first Western journalist to enter Gaza
11:10 AM
The New Arab Staff

CNN reporter Clarissa Ward has become the first Western journalist to enter Gaza since October 7, as she enters southern Gaza.

Ward said that she had entered the war-torn besieged territory alongside Emarati medical volunteers, as she described her 'harrowing' experience in Gaza.

Upon visiting a UAE field hospital, she said it was filled with the 'war's youngest victims'.

"This hospital was full of young people. Two-thirds of the victims were women and children. It was a sad and very sobering experience to see how difficult life on earth is," she told CNN.

"You get an absolute sense of the horrors that have been taking place in Gaza. This hospital was filled with the youngest victims of this war. Children who had been disfigured, who are in full body casts, and who are covered in burns."

Putin says Gaza 'catastrophe' incomparable with Ukraine
11:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Vladimir Putin has described the situation in the Gaza Strip as a "catastrophe" unfolding on a scale that could not be compared to the Ukraine conflict.

Putin, whose government has maintained ties with Hamas and Israel, gave the comments during a news conference in Moscow, as his full-scale military intervention against Kyiv approaches the two-year mark.

"Everybody here and around the world can see and look at the special military operation and at what is happening in Gaza and feel the difference," he said, using the Kremlin's name for its conflict in Ukraine.

"But there is nothing like this in Ukraine," he added.

Russia has since February 2022 systemically targeted Ukrainian cities with missiles and drones, and occupied large swathes of the south and east of the country following fierce hostilities.

The UN has said that more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, warning that the real toll is likely to be much higher.

Ireland's PM urges EU leaders to demand ceasefire in Gaza
10:59 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday that the European Union is losing its credibility because of a lack of a strong position in Israel's war on Gaza, urging his counterparts to call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Speaking at the start of a EU summit in Brussels focusing more on Ukraine , Varadkar said the EU should condemn “terrorism perpetrated by Hamas,” but also call for justice for the Palestinian people.

The 27 EU countries have long been divided in their approach to Israel and the Palestinians. At their previous meeting in October , EU leaders called “for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures, including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs.”

Varadkar said he hopes they will achieve “stronger wording” this time.

“I think the European Union has lost credibility because of our inability to take a stronger and more united position on Israel and Palestine,” Varadkar said.

“We’ve lost credibility at the global South, which actually is most of the world, because what is perceived to be double standards. And there’s some truth in that, quite frankly.”

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar talks to the media as he arrives in Brussels [Getty]
Save the Children condemns killing of staff member
10:35 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Children's charity Save the Children has condemned the killing of staff member Sameh Ewaida and his family in an Israeli airstrike.

The charity said that Sameh Ewaida, 39, had been with Save the Children since 2019.

Ewaida, alongside his wife Fatima and four children- Mohammad (12), Heba (11), Zeina (3), and Zein (2)- have all believed to be killed either on December 10 or 11.

Gaza faces 'perfect storm' of deadly diseases
10:26 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

For the besieged residents of Gaza who have so far survived Israel's bombs and bullets, a silent, invisible killer is now stalking them: disease.

A lack of food, clean water and shelter have worn down hundreds of thousands of traumatised people and, with a health system on its knees, it's inevitable epidemics will rip through the enclave, 10 doctors and aid workers told Reuters.

"The perfect storm for disease has begun. Now it's about, 'How bad will it get?'" James Elder, chief spokesperson for the U.N. children's fund (UNICEF), said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 10, cases of diarrhoea in children under five jumped 66% to 59,895 cases, and climbed 55% for the rest of the population in the same period, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN agency said the numbers were inevitably incomplete due to the meltdown of all systems and services in Gaza because of the war.

At the same time, 21 of the Gaza Strip's 36 hospitals are closed, 11 are partially functional and four are minimally functional, according to WHO figures from December 10.

Marie-Aure Perreaut, emergency medical coordinator for MSF's operations in Gaza, said the medical charity had left a health centre in Khan Younis 10 days ago - because the area was within Israel's evacuation orders - where it had been treating respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea and skin infections,

She said two things were now inevitable.

"The first is an epidemic of something like dysentery will spread across Gaza, if we continue at this pace of cases, and the other certainty is that neither the ministry of health nor the humanitarian organisations will be able to support the response to those epidemics," she said.

Gaza health ministry says out of children's vaccines
10:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Gaza's Palestinian health ministry has said it had exhausted its supply of children's vaccines and warned of "catastrophic health repercussions".

The announcement came more than two months into Israel's war in Gaza as international aid organisations have warned about the dire conditions in the crowded Palestinian territory.

The ministry did not specify which vaccinations had run out, and its claim could not be independently verified.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, said that UNICEF was looking into the issue.

"Vaccinations are one of the priority items that we are trying to bring in to ensure that we are able to continue with the vaccine campaign," Hastings told journalists at an online briefing without elaborating.

Israel cancels Mossad chief’s Qatar trip to restart talks
10:03 AM
The New Arab Staff

 Israel has cancelled a scheduled trip to Qatar by the head of Mossad to restart talks on a possible second hostage release deal, according to a source that has confirmed to CNN.

Mossad director David Barnea will not travel to Doha, where previous talks on the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza have taken place, the source said.

Israeli news channel Channel 13 first reported Wednesday that the Israeli war cabinet had called off the trip and that senior Israeli officials would not go to Qatar to restart negotiations.

Qatar was a key mediator in prior negotiations that resulted in a seven-day truce, which saw scores of Israeli hostages exchanged for Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian aid, until it ended at the start of the month.

Tanzania confirms death of student 'captured by Hamas'
9:59 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Tanzania's foreign ministry on Thursday confirmed the death of one of its nationals who was "killed immediately after being captured by Hamas" during the October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

The Israeli government had named two students from Tanzania, 22-year-old Clemence Felix Mtenga and 21-year-old Joshua Loitu Mollel, among those missing since the attack.

Tanzania's foreign ministry announced Mtenga's death last month, without elaborating on how he was killed.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister January Makamba said authorities had been "informed by the Israeli government that Joshua Mollel, a young Tanzanian who was studying in Israel and with whom we have lost contact since October 7, 2023... was killed immediately after being captured by Hamas".

He said on X that the Tanzanian authorities were making arrangements for Mollel's relatives, including his father, to travel to Israel with a government official to "meet with our ambassador and Israeli officials and obtain more details" on the circumstances of his death.

The two students were among some 260 Tanzanian youths who went to Israel for an internship in modern farming under a partnership programme between the two countries.

56 parliamentarians call to ban Israeli settlers from UK
9:43 AM
The New Arab Staff

56 UK based parliamentarians across all political parties have issued an open letter to both Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly, to call for the Government to ban violent Israeli settlers who have committed hate crimes against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

"We express our grave concern not only that the Israeli army and police are ordered to protect the settlers only, and not the Palestinian people living under occupation, but that they have also been assisting Israeli settlers in attacks on Palestinian communities. All of this is directly contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949," the statement read.

"We welcome the Government’s contributions to the essential work of the West Bank Protection Consortium – but the Consortium needs additional resources from Britain to address the massive increase in settler violence and intimidation."

This follows the US implementing travel bans on extremist Jewish settlers- announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.


US shoots down aerial vehicle launched from Houthi-run areas
9:42 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States shot down an aerial vehicle launched from a Houthi-controlled area in response to a call from a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in the southern Red Sea on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said early on Thursday.

The U.S. Navy destroyer Mason shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle launched from Houthi-controlled areas after the group attacked the commercial vessel Ardmore Encounter in skiffs, CENTCOM said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A pair of missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen that missed the ship, and the Ardmore Encounter was able to proceed without further incident, CENTCOM added.

There were no reported injuries or damage to the vessel and personnel, CENTCOM said.

This is the latest in a series of incidents where the Houthi group, based in the north of Yemen has targeted vessels it says are Israeli-owned or ships it says are heading to Israel.

The Sanaa based group has obstructed their passage through the Bab al-Mandab Strait. 

MSF releases statement on Israeli raid on Jenin
9:01 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has issued a statement regarding the medical situation in Jenin and accused Israeli forces of targeting health facilities.

Highlighting that the raid on Jenin has been ongoing for two days, MSF said that Israeli forces have "fired tear gas bombs" at hospitals such as Khalil Suleiman Hospital- as ambulance vehicles have also been targeted and shot.

"A man carried his 13-year-old son on foot to Khalil Suleiman Hospital because Israeli armored vehicles were blocking ambulances and the boy died upon arrival," the statement wrote.

"Medical teams decided to discharge a patient from the hospital, and an ambulance tried to take her home. However, the ambulance was shot up, and the patient herself was readmitted with a gunshot wound and is now undergoing surgery.

Haniyeh says any plans for Gaza must include Hamas
8:51 AM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has dismissed any future plans for Gaza that do not factor in Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups as “an illusion”.

In a televised speech, Haniyeh said the group was open to discussing any ideas or initiatives that could lead to "stopping the Israeli aggression" and opening the door to a political path that secures the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state.

The Hamas leader also praised the non-binding UN General Assembly resolution adopted on 12 December on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Egypt, Israel agree to increase fuel shipments to Gaza
8:50 AM
The New Arab Staff

Egypt has announced that it has agreed with Israel to increase the amount of fuel and gas delivered to Gaza via Rafah border crossing.

Head of the State Information Service Diaa Rashwan said on Wednesday it was agreed that the amount of fuel entering the strip daily will increase from 129,000 to 189,000 litres, in addition to two domestic gas trucks, which had already entered Gaza earlier in the day.

Rashwan said that Egypt was continuing its "intense efforts" to ensure the constant entry of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, noting that since 12 December, "humanitarian aid trucks heading from Egypt began passing through the Rafah crossing then the Karem Abu Salem crossing, according to the agreement with the Israeli side, in addition to the Al-Auja crossing".

On 6 December, Israel’s war cabinet approved a "minimal" increase in fuel allowed into the Gaza Strip, following a request from the US.

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in raid on Jenin
8:37 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Three Palestinians were killed on Thursday in an ongoing Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp, the Palestinian health ministry said.

A young man died from his wounds on Thursday morning as a result of the ongoing Israeli "aggression", which raises the death toll to 11 since the operation began on Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.

Two other Palestinians were killed overnight, it added.

The Israeli forces has said its troops were operating "to expose explosive devices planted under roads to attack the security forces".

Before the latest operation, the Palestinian health ministry reported that 275 Palestinians had been killed in the occupied West Bank since Hamas' October 7 attack on southern Israel.