Israel-Gaza war live: Israel will let ships bring aid to Gaza, says foreign minister | Israel-Gaza war

Spread the love


Israel ready to let ships bring aid to Gaza’s shores, says foreign minister

Israel is prepared to let ships deliver aid to the Gaza Strip “immediately” as part of a proposed sea corridor from Cyprus, the Israeli foreign minister has said.

Under the arrangement, cargo would undergo security inspection in the Cypriot port of Larnaca before being ferried to the Gaza coast, 230 miles away, rather than through neighbouring Egypt or Israel, Reuters reports.

If the plan goes ahead, it would mark the first easing of an Israeli naval blockade imposed on Gaza in 2007.

“It can start immediately,” Israel’s outgoing foreign minister, Eli Cohen, told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM when asked about the Mediterranean corridor.

Displaced Palestinians shelter in a tent camp in Rafah.
Displaced Palestinians shelter in a tent camp in Rafah. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

He said Britain, France, Greece and the Netherlands were among countries with vessels able to land directly on the shores of Gaza, which lacks a deep-water port.

“They requested of us that the equipment come via [the Israeli port of] Ashdod. The answer is no. It won’t come via Ashdod. It won’t come via Israel. We want disengagement, with security control. That’s the goal of this process,” Cohen added.

Gaza residents have almost all fled their homes, clustering in tents and overcrowded parts of the south and central strip that Israeli military officials say are safer, though they are still regularly bombed.

There are reports of shortages of food, clean water and medical supplies, after weeks of tight Israeli blockade.

When supplies are allowed in, active fighting and logistics challenges in an area devastated by war mean they often do not reach many desperate inhabitants.

Key events

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel has displayed morality in the Gaza war, AFP reports.

“We will continue our defensive war, the justice and morality of which is without peer,” Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv.

His comment came after South Africa launched a case on Friday at the international court of justice against Israel for what it claimed were “genocidal” acts in Gaza.

“No, South Africa, it is not we who have come to perpetrate genocide, it is Hamas,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

“It would murder all of us if it could. In contrast, the IDF [Israeli army] is acting as morally as possible.”

The Israeli government has also given the green light for postponed municipal elections to take place in February, subject to parliamentary approval.

A statement from the prime minister’s office read:

We usually do not hold elections in wartime but these elections have been determined in advance.

They have already been postponed once.

Israeli government approves appointment of new foreign minister

The Israeli government has approved the appointment of a new foreign minister to replace Eli Cohen, who will become energy minister as part of a pre-arranged ministerial rotation, a government statement said.

Cohen will continue to serve as a member of the security cabinet while Yisrael Katz will serve as foreign affairs minister, the statement said.

The appointments are subject to Israeli parliamentary approval.

Yisrael Katz in Jerusalem in 2016.
Yisrael Katz in Jerusalem in 2016. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/AFP/Getty Images

The UK’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, said on Sunday he had made clear in a call with Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, that Iran shared responsibility for preventing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

“I made clear that Iran shares responsibility for preventing these attacks, given their longstanding support to the Houthis,” he wrote on X, adding that the attacks “threaten innocent lives and the global economy”.

I spoke to @Amirabdolahian today about Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, which threaten innocent lives and the global economy. I made clear that Iran shares responsibility for preventing these attacks given their long-standing support to the Houthis.

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) December 31, 2023

His comments come after the US Navy shot down two anti-ship missiles and sunk three small boats after responding to distress calls from a container ship that was attacked twice by Houthi rebels as it crossed the Red Sea over the weekend.

Death toll in Gaza reaches 21,822, says health ministry

A total of 21,822 Palestinian people have been killed and 56,451 injured in Israeli strikes in Gaza since 7 October, the health ministry in Gaza said on Sunday.

The figures include 150 Palestinians killed and 286 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

The Danish shipping company Maersk has confirmed the crew onboard Maersk Hangzhou had reported a flash on deck on 30 December at about 1830 CET, when the vessel was 55 nautical miles south-west of Al Hodeidah, Reuters reports.

The crew was safe and there was no indication of fire onboard the vessel, which continued its journey north to Port Suez, Maersk said.

US Navy helicopters repel Houthi attack on merchant vessel in Red Sea – US central command

US Navy helicopters sank three of four small boats used by Iranian-backed Houthi militants to attack a merchant vessel in the southern Red Sea on Sunday, US central command wrote on X.

Responding to distress calls from the Maersk Hangzhou, helicopters from the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely were said to have returned fire on the Houthi boats in self-defence and sank three of the vessels with no survivors.

The fourth boat fled the area, US central command said.

Iranian-backed Houthi small boats attack merchant vessel and U.S. Navy helicopters in Southern Red Sea

On Dec. 31 at 6:30am (Sanaa time) the container ship MAERSK HANGZHOU issued a second distress call in less than 24 hours reporting being under attack by four Iranian-backed… pic.twitter.com/pj8NAzjbVF

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 31, 2023

The Houthis have targeted vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

Several shipping lines have suspended operations through the Red Sea in response to the attacks, instead taking the longer journey around Africa.

The Yemeni rebels have said they are targeting Israel and Israeli-linked vessels.

The Guardian’s world affairs editor, Julian Borger, has written an analysis piece on how the war in Gaza has been showing signs of a dangerous escalation of regional conflict.

You can read it in full here:

The Israeli war cabinet is expected to meet later on Sunday to discuss a potential prisoner-captive exchange, Al Jazeera reports.

Qatar and Egypt were mediators between Israel and Hamas in the late November truce during which Hamas released 110 women, children and foreigners it was holding in exchange for 240 Palestinian women and teenagers freed from Israeli jails.

Here are some of the latest images coming out of Israel and Palestine:

Palestinians inspecting the damage after Israeli strikes on the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspecting the damage after Israeli strikes on the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock
Families and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza hold their photos during a rally calling for their release in Tel Aviv, Israel
Families and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza hold their photos during a rally calling for their release in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP
Damage after Israeli strikes on the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip
Damage after Israeli strikes on the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock
An Israeli soldier sits in a field near the Israel-Gaza border
An Israeli soldier sits in a field near the Israel-Gaza border. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

International mediators are continuing their efforts to secure a new pause in the fighting in Gaza, after brokering a one-week truce last month during which more than 100 hostages were released and some aid entered the war-torn region, Agence France Presse reports.

US news outlet Axios and Israeli website Ynet, both citing unnamed Israeli officials, reported that Qatari mediators had told Israel that Hamas was prepared to resume talks on new hostage releases in exchange for a ceasefire.

A Hamas delegation was in Cairo on Friday to discuss an Egyptian plan proposing renewable ceasefires, a staggered release of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, and ultimately an end to the war, sources close to Hamas said.

Islamic Jihad, another armed group fighting alongside Hamas, said on Saturday that Palestinian factions were “in the process” of evaluating the Egyptian proposal.

A response will come “within days”, the group’s chief negotiator, Muhammad al-Hindi, said.

Asked about the negotiations on Saturday, Netanyahu said Hamas had been “giving all kinds of ultimatums that we didn’t accept”.

“We are seeing a certain shift [but] I don’t want to create an expectation.”

As Gaza death toll mounts, Israelis look in vain for any sign of victory

Israeli planes bombed refugee camps in Gaza on Saturday as its troops expanded ground operations and tens of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes, setting the stage for a new year as bloody and destructive as the last three months of 2023.

The threat of wider escalation also looms large over the region, as skirmishes on the northern boundary with Lebanon intensify, and Israeli officials have hinted that the “diplomatic hourglass” is running out to reach a negotiated solution.

For now there seems little hope of even a temporary break in attacks, even after Egypt hosted leaders for talks last week and pushed plans for a staged break in the war.

For more on this story:

Israelis and Palestinians end dark year, with no end in sight to war

Israelis and Palestinians end a dark year on Sunday, with no end in sight to the deadliest military offensive on Gaza, triggered by Hamas’ bloodiest attack on Israel, Agence France Presse reports.

There has been no respite from Israel’s air raids, artillery fire or ground fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, to the despair of Palestinians surviving the onslaught.

“We were hoping that 2024 would arrive under better auspices and that we would be able to celebrate the New Year at home with our families,” said Mahmoud Abou Shahma in a camp for displaced people in Rafah, on the Egyptian border.

Children embrace in Rafah on the southern Gaza Strip.
Children embrace in Rafah on the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

“We hope that the war will end and that we will be able to return to our homes and live in peace”, said the 33-year-old from southern Khan Yunis.

Gaza’s health ministry says the Israeli military campaign has killed at least 21,672 people, mostly women and children.

The fighting began with Hamas’s bloody 7 October attacks, which left about 1,140 people dead in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Militants also took about 250 people hostage, and Israel says 129 of them remain in captivity.

The Israeli army says 170 soldiers have been killed in combat inside Gaza.

An Israeli siege imposed after 7 October, after years of crippling blockade, has led to dire shortages of food, safe water, fuel and medicine in Gaza, with aid convoys able to offer only sporadic relief.

The UN says more than 85% of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have fled their homes.

An American destroyer shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Yemen Saturday as it responded to a call for help from a container ship that was hit separately, the US Central Command (Centcom) said.

Centcom said the US destroyers Gravely and Laboon responded to a request for assistance from the Maersk Hangzhou, a Singapore-flagged, Denmark-owned and operated container ship that reported being struck by a missile while transiting the Red Sea.

While responding, missiles were launched toward the ships from territory controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, Centcom said.

The Houthis have targeted vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is waging war to root out the militant group Hamas.

The Yemeni rebels have said they are targeting Israel and Israeli-linked vessels.

For more on this story:

Benjamin Netanyahu says war with Hamas will last ‘many months’

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to retake control of the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, expanding Israel’s mission to neutralise Hamas in a conflict it says it expects to last for months, Reuters reports.

Netanyahu said “the war is at its height” and the Philadelphi corridor buffer zone that runs along Gaza’s border with Egypt must be in Israeli hands. “It must be shut,” Netanyahu said. “It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarisation that we seek.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photograph: Reuters

Netanyahu’s comments about the buffer zone came as Israeli military forces pressed ahead with an offensive that the prime minister reiterated will last “for many months”.

“The war will continue for many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned,” Netanyahu told a news conference. “We will guarantee that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”

Opening summary

Welcome back to our continuing live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war, I’m Yang Tian bringing you the latest news. It’s just past 9am in Gaza City and Tel Aviv on New Year’s Eve, here’s a rundown of recent developments.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the war against Hamas will last “many months” and pledged to retake control of the border zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

“The war will continue for many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned,” Netanyahu told a news conference. “We will guarantee that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip. Photograph: Israel Defense Forces/Reuters

More details coming shortly. In other news:

  • The Organization for Islamic Cooperation has “welcomed” South Africa’s decision to launch a case at the International Court of Justice in which it accuses Israel of carrying out “genocidal” acts across Gaza. According to Qatari news agency QNA, the 57-member OIC, which Qatar is a part of, stressed that Israel is “committing a genocide by its indiscriminate targeting of civilian population … forcibly displacing them, preventing them from obtaining basic needs and humanitarian aid, and destroying buildings and health, educational and religious facilities”.

  • Tim Kaine, a US Democratic senator representing Virginia, has condemned the Biden administration’s arms transfer to Israel, joining a handful of other Democrats who are criticizing Biden for bypassing congressional review in the foreign transfer of weapons. Kaine’s criticism comes as Israeli strikes have killed more than 21,600 Palestinians across Gaza since 7 October, while internally displacing more than 1.9 million survivors from their homes.

  • In a tweet ahead, the World Food Programme warned that “there is a different kind of countdown in Gaza”, pointing to an impending famine across the strip as a result of Israel’s attacks. “We are racing against time to avert a complete collapse of even the most basic services and starvation for millions,” the WFP said.

  • Israeli forces shot and killed a 22-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank on Saturday, the Palestinian health ministry announced. The man, identified by Palestinian news agency WAFA as Mohammad Hussein Masalma, was killed by Israeli forces who fired live ammunition at the entrance of the al-Fawwar refugee camp in the south of Hebron, WAFA reports.

  • Palestine’s ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, has hailed South Africa’s decision to launch a case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in which it accused Israel of carrying out “genocidal” acts in Gaza. In a tweet on Saturday, Zomlot wrote: “Justice must be served and the #genocide must stop.”

  • The Palestinian Liberation Front’s armed wing announced on Saturday that an Israeli soldier it was holding captive had been killed in an Israeli airstrike, which also injured some of his captors, Reuters reports. According to an audio speech broadcast by Al Araby television, an Abu Ali Mustafa brigades spokesperson said that the Israeli airstrike occurred after a failed attempt by Israeli forces to rescue the soldier.

  • Forty percent of Gaza’s population is at risk of famine, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said on Saturday. “Every day is a struggle for survival, finding food and water,” the UN agency for Palestinian refugees added.





Source link