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Israel-Hamas war: Heavy fighting at Khan Younis hospitals

Published January 23, 2024last updated January 23, 2024

The UN says staff, patients, and displaced people are trapped inside the few remaining hospitals in Khan Younis. Meanwhile, the WFP warns Gazans are facing an increasing risk of famine. Follow DW for more.

Hospital staff treat people wounded during the Israeli offensive in Khan Younis
Only 14 of 36 hospitals in Gaza are still functioning, according to the WHOImage: Belal Khaled/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • US envoy pushing pause in Gaza and hostage deal
  • The Israeli military reports at least 24 troops were killed during an operation in central Gaza
  • The IDF says it has surrounded the Gaza city of Khan Younis
  • The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says at least 25,490 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since the conflict started

This live updates article has been closed. For the latest development concerning the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, please read here

Skip next section UN chief says situation in Gaza 'appalling'
January 23, 2024

UN chief says situation in Gaza 'appalling'

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed once more for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, describing the situation in the besieged enclave as "appalling." 

"The entire population of Gaza is enduring destruction at a scale and speed without parallel in recent history," Guterres said. "Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."

Guterres addressed a UN Security Council session on Tuesday, calling for more aid to access the strip. He also called for the release of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

He stressed that "the people of Gaza not only risk being killed or injured by relentless bombardments, they also run a growing chance of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis A, dysentery, cholera."

He also said the "clear and repeated rejection of the two-State solution at the highest levels of the Israeli government is unacceptable" 

Skip next section US Middle East advisor in Cairo for truce talks
January 23, 2024

US Middle East advisor in Cairo for truce talks

US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Tuesday, to try negotiate the release of Israeli hostages still held by the Palestinian militant group Hamasin Gaza.

The White House said President Joe Biden's Middle East advisor was trying to secure a longer humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza.

"The conversations are very sober and serious about trying to get another hostage deal in place," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

He added McGurk also planned to visit other countries in the region. 

Kirby said McGurk was also discussing other issues during his trip, including getting an assessment of Israel's military operations and its efforts to protect civilians in Gaza as well as exploring the potential for normalizing Saudi ties with Israel

Skip next section Heavy fighting around Khan Younis hospitals
January 23, 2024

Heavy fighting around Khan Younis hospitals

In Khan Younis, three of the few hospitals that remain open reported heavy fighting on Tuesday.

Raed al-Nems, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent, said a shell had hit the fourth floor of al-Amal Hospital, killing one civilian and wounding 10 others.

He said that the hospital was not able to dispatch ambulances or medical teams because of the fighting, while Reuters reported that Israeli forces were using drones to fire on anyone who moved nearby.

At Nasser Hospital, the main hospital in the city, footage filmed by Palestinian journalist Hamdan El-Dahdouh showed gunfire hitting the top of the main building.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said that "Israeli tanks are firing heavily on the upper floors of the specialized surgery building and the emergency building of Nasser Hospital, dozens expected wounded."

Reuters reported that staff were cremating bodies inside the hospital grounds because it was unsafe to go out to the cemetery.

Weeks without rest at the Nasser Hospital in Gaza

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry, Ashraf Al-Qudra, also said that Israeli troops had stormed Al-Khair Hospital and detained the medical staff.

According to the Associated Press, Al-Khair Hospital is located inside the safe zone at Muwasi, where the Israel Defense Forces said it would not conduct military operations.

Israel did not immediately comment on the reports. Hospitals are protected under international law, but Israel has accused Hamas, sometimes without evidence, of conducting military operations from or beneath them . The US, the EU, Germany and others consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations' agency for Palestinians, called on all parties to protect "civilians, medical facilities and personnel."

"Terrified staff, patients and displaced people are now trapped inside the few remaining hospitals in Khan Younis as heavy fighting continues," the UNRWA chief said on social media.

Skip next section UK seeks no confrontation with Houthis, Sunak says
January 23, 2024

UK seeks no confrontation with Houthis, Sunak says

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stressed the UK was "not seeking a confrontation" with the Yemen's Houthi rebel group.

"But if necessary, the United Kingdom will not hesitate to respond in self-defense," Sunak told parliament on Tuesday. "We cannot stand by and allow these attacks to go unchallenged."

He was speaking after the United States and Britain conducted a new round of strikes on Houthi targets to degrade the Iran-backed group's ability to attack ships in the Red Sea. 

Sunak also announced plans to introduce sanctions against Houthi rebels in the coming days. 

"We're going to use the most effective means at our disposal to cut off the Houthis' financial resources, where they are used to fund these attacks," Sunak told parliament.

He added that the UK was "working closely" with the US. 

The British prime minister also announced that British Foreign Secretary David Cameron would visit the Middle East region this week.

US, UK launch fresh strikes on Houthis in Yemen

Skip next section Israel's defense minister says latest troop losses 'heavy blow'
January 23, 2024

Israel's defense minister says latest troop losses 'heavy blow'

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said the loss of 24 soldiers on Monday,  the deadliest day of the ground war in Gaza for Israeli forces, was painful.

"The difficult news that we received yesterday, about the deaths of 24 of our fighters, our best sons, who came from the whole country, from the north and from the south, from all places, is a heavy blow," Gallant said in a filmed statement on Tuesday.

Skip next section UN agency says very little food aid in northern Gaza
January 23, 2024

UN agency says very little food aid in northern Gaza

The World Food Program (WFP) has said only a very limited amount of food aid has made it beyond southern Gaza since the start of the conflict. 

The UN body said there is a real risk that some parts of the Palestinian enclave will see famine.

"It's difficult to get into the places where we need to get to in Gaza, especially in northern Gaza," said Abeer Etefa, a WFP spokesperson for the Middle East.

"Very little assistance has made it beyond the southern part of the Gaza Strip... I think the risk of having pockets of famine in Gaza is very much still there."

Etefa said there was a "systematic limitation on getting into the north of Gaza, not just for the WFP."

"This is why we're seeing people becoming more desperate and being impatient to wait for food distributions, because it's very sporadic," she said.

"They don't get it frequently, and they have no trust or confidence that these convoys will come again."

Gaza nears famine as bread, water dwindle

Skip next section Hezbollah claims attack on Israeli command center
January 23, 2024

Hezbollah claims attack on Israeli command center

The Iran-backed Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah says it has targeted the Israeli army's northern command center in retaliation for "recent assassinations and repeated attacks on civilians" in both Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah said it had launched a "large number" of missiles at the Mount Meron base. It is the group's second such action since Palestinian militant group Hamas's October 7 attacks on Israel.

The first set of launches came on January 6 in response to the killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh Arouri in a strike in Beirut, which the group blamed on Israel.

Skip next section UK to keep up attacks on Houthis amid shipping threat
January 23, 2024

UK to keep up attacks on Houthis amid shipping threat

An RAF Typhoon aircraft in a hangar
A UK fighter jet seen after striking Houthi targets in Yemen on January 12Image: Sgt Lee Goddard/UK MOD/Handout via REUTERS

Britain has said it will keep up efforts to hamper the ability of the Iran-backed Houthi group in Yemen to attack shipping in the Red Sea.

The promise came after the UK joined the US in striking Houthi targets on Monday, Britain's second round of military action against the militant group that is now effectively in control of most of Yemen

The Houthis have continued strikes on maritime traffic, which it claims are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and are aimed at ships heading for or connected to Israel.

UK Foreign Minister David Cameron described the attacks as "illegal" and "unacceptable." 

"Since we last took action 10 days ago, there have been over 12 attacks on shipping by the Houthis in the Red Sea," he told broadcasters.

"What we have done again is send the clearest possible message that we will continue to degrade their ability to carry out these attacks... [and] that we back our words and our warnings with action," he added.

The latest US-UK strikes were against "eight Houthi targets in Yemen," Washington and London said in a joint statement with other countries that supported the military action.

"These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners," the statement said.

EU Red Sea response will be more cautious than that of US: DW's Rosie Birchard

Skip next section Gaza ministry puts death toll at 25,490
January 23, 2024

Gaza ministry puts death toll at 25,490

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has said a total of 25,490 Palestinians have been killed, with another 63,354 injured in Israeli strikes on the territory since October 7. 

The toll includes 195 people killed in the last 24 hours, the ministry added.

Figures from the ministry are deemed as largely accurate by the UN, but do not differentiate between militants and civilians.

Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip came in response to deadly raids by Hamas in the south of Israel in which some 1,100 Israelis were killed, mostly civilians.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the EU, Germany and several other governments.

Inside Gaza: War and its consequences

Skip next section Israel's military says Gaza's Khan Younis surrounded
January 23, 2024

Israel's military says Gaza's Khan Younis surrounded

Black smoke rises from a horizon in Gaza
Smoke rose over the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis after strikes on January 21Image: Yasser Qudih/Xinhua/picture alliance

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says it has surrounded the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis and that it has killed "dozens of terrorists" amid heavy fighting in the past 24 hours.

Israel said the city, the second-largest in the territory, is a stronghold of the Khan Younis Brigade of Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist group in the United States, Europe and other countries.

"Over the past day, IDF troops carried out an extensive operation during which they encircled Khan Younis and deepened the operation in the area. The area is a significant stronghold of Hamas' Khan Younis Brigade," the military said.

"Ground troops engaged in close-quarters combat, directed [air force] strikes, and used intelligence to coordinate fire, resulting in the elimination of dozens of terrorists," it said.

A pile of rubble seen in Khan Younis
Israel's military has said it is expanding operations in Khan YounisImage: Abed Zagout/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section Netanyahu calls for probe of solider deaths, vows 'absolute victory' in Gaza
January 23, 2024

Netanyahu calls for probe of solider deaths, vows 'absolute victory' in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will press on with fighting in Gaza until "absolute victory," despite his country's military suffering its heaviest day of losses so far in the territory.

"Yesterday we experienced one of the most difficult days since the war erupted," said Netanyahu. "In the name of our heroes, and for the sake of our own lives, we will not stop fighting until absolute victory."

Netanyahu said the military was "investigating the tragedy" of a single incident in which 21 soldiers were killed when buildings exploded in central Gaza on Monday.

Skip next section Israeli military records highest daily troop loss
January 23, 2024

Israeli military records highest daily troop loss

Israel has recorded its heaviest losses in Gaza since the start of the war, with 24 soldiers killed within 24 hours.

The death toll for one day is the highest that Israel has recorded since launching its offensive following the October 7 Hamas terror attacks.

One incident in which 21 soldiers died heightened the losses. Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said militants had fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a tank near the soldiers who were preparing explosives to demolish two buildings.

An explosion occurred at the same time in a two-story building, triggering the collapse of the edifice onto the Israeli soldiers.

"We are still studying and investigating the details of the event and the reasons for the explosion," Hagari told an early morning press briefing on Tuesday.

The incident is the single deadliest event for Israeli troops since the start of Israel's current war against Hamas.

Israel: Pressure mounts on Netanyahu as Gaza war intensifies

Skip next section US, UK launch fresh strikes against Yemen's Houthis
January 23, 2024

US, UK launch fresh strikes against Yemen's Houthis

The United States and Britain have carried out fresh joint strikes against targets in Yemen, which both countries say was aimed at depleting the capacity of Houthi militants to attack shipping using the Red Sea. 

Tomahawk missiles were fired from warships and submarines, along with fighter jets, to target Houthi missile storage sites and launchers.

It's the second time the UK has joined the US in launching strikes against Yemen in recent weeks.

Houthi-controlled media said the strikes had targeted the capital, Sanaa, and several other provinces. 

Since the start of Israel's military operation in Gaza, the Iran-backed rebel Houthi group has repeatedly attacked commercial vessels that it claims have a link with Israel as they enter the Red Sea. 

"These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners," the Pentagon said in a joint statement.

It was the eighth round of strikes carried out by the US against the Iran-backed rebel group, and the second joint operation with the UK.

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the action dealt the Houthis "another blow to their limited stockpiles and ability to threaten global trade."

The US said Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands supported the latest military action.

Multiple rounds of strikes over the past month have, so far, failed to stop Houthi attacks against shipping in the Red Sea.

rc/wmr (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)