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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Gaza population in 'grave peril,' says WHO

Published December 28, 2023last updated December 29, 2023

Residents of the Gaza Strip are at severe risk of disease amid an acute lack of functioning hospitals, the WHO has said. Australia said two citizens were killed in an Israeli strike in Lebanon. DW has the latest.

A truck carrying people fleeing from central Gaza with their belongings arrives in Rafah, in the territory's south, after an evacuation order on December 26
The war in Gaza has resulted in the mass displacement of its residentsImage: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The head of the World Health Organization has warned of problems in getting urgently needed aid to Gaza residents
  • Two Australians, including an alleged Hezbollah fighter, killed in Israeli strike in Lebanon
  • Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters arrested for blocking traffic at busy US airports

This live updates article has been closed, thanks for reading. For the latest developments on the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, please read here.

Skip next section Biden announces death of American-Canadian-Israeli hostage
December 29, 2023

Biden announces death of American-Canadian-Israeli hostage

US President Joe Biden announced the death of Judih Weinstein, an American-Canadian-Israeli woman who had been thought to be held hostage in Gaza.

Biden said she had been killed by Hamas militants during the October 7 attacks on Israel. The news came a week after Weinstein’s husband, Gad Haggai, was also pronounced dead.

"This tragic development cuts deep, coming on the heels of last week's news that Judih's beloved husband, Gad Haggai, is believed to have been killed by Hamas," Biden said in a statement.

Biden vowed to continue negotiations to release all remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

Weinstein was 70 years old and her husband was 73. 

Skip next section Humanitarian situation in Rafah 'extremely dire' — ICRC
December 28, 2023

Humanitarian situation in Rafah 'extremely dire' — ICRC

Conditions for civilians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip "are extremely dire," according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The city lies near the border with Egypt and houses tens of thousands of displaced people who have sought shelter between Israeli forces and Hamas.

"The humanitarian organizations that are here are struggling to be able to respond because we do not have enough relief supplies to be able to meet these needs," the ICRC's rapid deployment coordinator, Stephen Ryan, told DW.

He said the area was not big enough to deal with the number of displaced people, saying they were being "squeezed into a very small area."

"There isn't enough water, there isn't enough shelter material, there isn't enough sanitation, and certainly people also don't have enough access to food," he said, adding that people could begin to have "greater medical needs" beyond direct injuries from air strikes and fighting.

Skip next section Israel struck several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Thursday, the military said
December 28, 2023

Israel struck several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Thursday, the military said

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has posted on its Hebrew account on the platform X, formerly Twitter, that warplanes, tanks and artillery fire had targeted Hezbollah positions across its northern border.

It said the attacks were focused on southern Lebanon's Ayta ash-Shab and Ramyeh villages, as well as other areas.

The IDF stated that in response to projectiles fired from Lebanon, it had bombed the areas where these projectiles originated.

In addition, the Israeli forces also targeted a place they believed was used as a hideout by a group planning to fire anti-tank missiles toward Israel.

Hezbollah, a Shiite group with massive backing from Iran, is designated — in part or in full — as a terrorist organization by the EU, US, and Israel, among others.

It has expressed its support for Hamas against Israel.

There have been almost daily exchanges of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border since Hamas militants from Gaza attacked Israel on October 7.

Skip next section Egypt awaits response to Gaza peace proposal
December 28, 2023

Egypt awaits response to Gaza peace proposal

Egypt has confirmed it has submitted a framework proposal to end the conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas in Gaza.

The plan includes three stages ending with a cease-fire, with Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt's State Information Service, confirming in a statement that further details would be provided once responses are received.

The proposal is an attempt "to bring viewpoints between all concerned parties closer, in an effort to stop Palestinian bloodshed and the aggression against the Gaza Strip and restore peace and stability to the region," he said. "Upon receipt of responses from the parties concerned, the proposal will be elaborated in detail, and will be announced in full."

Last week, a Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh, the Qatar-based political leader of Hamas, visited Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials, the group said.

Qatar and Egypt helped broker a temporary truce in November — agreed by Israel and Hamas — that also facilitated hostage-for-prisoner swaps.

Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, has mediated in previous conflicts between Palestinians and Israel.

Skip next section WHO urges immediate cease-fire to aid civilians in Gaza
December 28, 2023

WHO urges immediate cease-fire to aid civilians in Gaza

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called on the international community to take "urgent steps to alleviate the grave peril facing the population of Gaza and jeopardizing the ability of humanitarian workers to help people with terrible injuries, acute hunger and at severe risk of disease."

In a statement, the WHO said its "ability to supply medicines, medical supplies and fuel to hospitals is being increasingly constrained by the hunger and desperation of people en route to, and within, hospitals we reach."

According to the latest WHO assessments, Gaza has 13 partially functioning hospitals, two minimally functioning ones and 21 that are not functioning at all.

"What we urgently need, right now, is a cease-fire to spare civilians from further violence and begin the long road toward reconstruction and peace, " Tedros said.

The current war in Gaza erupted when the ruling Islamist militant group  Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by several countries, attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians. It also took around 240 hostages.

In response, Israel launched extensive aerial attacks and a siege followed by a ground invasion. The campaign has killed at least 21,110 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Skip next section Israel presses Germany on Red Sea trade route
December 28, 2023

Israel presses Germany on Red Sea trade route

The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, spoke to the German news agency DPA about the importance of the free flow of trade through the Red Sea for both Israel and Germany following recent attacks on shipping by Houthis in Yemen.

"What the Houthis are doing in the Red Sea is not only directed against Israel, but against the entire international community," Prosor said. "As an exporting nation, it is in Germany's interest that the sea routes are free."

Although saying he did not wish to tell the German government how to respond — including for example joining the US-led naval mission in the Red Sea — the ambassador did hint at his support for such a move.

"Germany is on the side of the good, democratic and responsible states. I am sure that the right decision will be made."

Skip next section Drone crashes in Israel-annexed Golan Heights
December 28, 2023

Drone crashes in Israel-annexed Golan Heights

A drone has crashed near a village in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel's army said on Thursday.

The Golan Heights, previously part of Syria, were de-facto annexed by Israel in 1981. The United Nations considers the annexation illegal. 

Israeli media reported that a drone launched from Syria was shot down late on Wednesday evening south of the settlement of Eliad. The crash of the drone caused no injuries but some material damage, they said.

A loose coalition of Iran-backed groups in Iraq that calls itself the "Islamic Resistance in Iraq" said in a statement it had hit a "vital target" south of Eliad.

Iraq-based groups with links to Iran have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against the US and international coalition forces in Iraq and Syria since the conflict in Gaza began.

This latest attack is part of an ongoing to-and-fro between Israeli forces and militant groups in the region.

Skip next section Israel deletes video with imagined Hamas attack in Seoul
December 28, 2023

Israel deletes video with imagined Hamas attack in Seoul

The Israeli Embassy in South Korea has removed a video posted online that showed fictive scenes of masked assailants attacking Koreans in Seoul, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

Alongside the video, posted on its Facebook account on Tuesday, the Israeli Embassy had written: "On October 7th, Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists. 1,200 men, women and children were killed, and over 240 people were taken hostage in Gaza."

"Imagine if it happened to you. What would you do?" it added.

South Korean broadcaster YTN reported that Israel's ambassador in Seoul, Akiva Tor, had said the video was to help South Koreans "understand the current war situation."

Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the video was considered "inappropriate" for having drawn "parallels to the security in another country" and that it had asked the embassy to delete it.  

South Korea remains technically at war with North Korea, as a 1950-53 military conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Skip next section French President Macron calls for 'lasting cease-fire' in phone call with Israel's Netanyahu
December 28, 2023

French President Macron calls for 'lasting cease-fire' in phone call with Israel's Netanyahu

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a "lasting cease-fire" in Gaza during a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"France will work in the coming days in cooperation with Jordan to carry out humanitarian operations in Gaza," the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

Macron expressed his "deepest concern" about the high civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip, the statement read.

Macron also stressed the importance of measures to end violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and to prevent new planned settlements.

Israel intensifies operations, Gaza death toll rising

Netanyahu thanked Macron for France's role in defending freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and a "willingness to help restore security along Israel's border with Lebanon," according to the Israeli readout of the call.

After the Hamas militant group stormed southern Israeli communities and killed more than 1,100 people in October, Israel vowed to put an end to the Hamas group and has recently stepped up its military campaign across Gaza.

More than 21,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Skip next section Australia says 2 of its citizens killed in Israeli strike in Lebanon
December 28, 2023

Australia says 2 of its citizens killed in Israeli strike in Lebanon

Two Australian citizens, including an alleged Hezbollah fighter, were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon, Australia's acting foreign minister said on Thursday.

Ibrahim Bazzi and his brother Ali Bazzi were killed in the airstrike on Tuesday in the town of Bint Jbel in southern Lebanon, Acting Foreign Minister Mark Dreyfus said.

Ibrahim Bazzi had arrived in Lebanon recently from Sydney to accompany his Lebanese wife Shorouq Hammoud to Australia, news media reported.

Hammoud, who had recently received an Australian visa, was also killed in the attack.

Their three coffins were draped in the flag of Hezbollah, an ally of the militant Hamas group, which is based in Gaza and recognized as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the EU, among others.

Dreyfus said Australia was investigating Hezbollah’s claim that Ali Bazzi was one of its fighters.

Israel blamed for death of Iranian military adviser to Syria

Skip next section Police arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters in Los Angeles and New York
December 28, 2023

Police arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters in Los Angeles and New York

The Los Angeles Police Department said at least 36 people were taken into custody after a major thoroughfare leading to the Los Angeles airport was shut down by pro-Palestinian protesters.

"Protesters threw a police officer to the ground, used construction debris, road signs, tree branches and blocks of concrete to obstruct" a road leading into the airport "while attacking uninvolved passersby in their vehicles," police said in a statement.

Pro-Palestinian protesters rally in cities across the world

Most of those detained were booked on rioting charges and at least one was arrested for battery on a police officer, the statement added.

In New York, at least 26 people were arrested for disorderly conduct and impeding traffic during a demonstration in support of Palestinians on the Van Wyck Expressway leading up to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Protesters in both LA and New York blocked traffic during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

rm/jsi (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)