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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel Hamas war: Khan Younis 'encircled' as Israel mourns

Published January 24, 2024last updated January 25, 2024

Israeli troops are conducting further ground operations around the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Meanwhile, Israel has mourned the heaviest daily troop loss of the campaign so far. DW has the latest.

Israeli soldiers take up positions during a ground operation in Khan Younis
The Israeli military announced that ground forces have encircled the southern Gaza city of Khan YounisImage: Ohad Zwigenberg/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israel presses on with campaign around Gaza's Khan Younis
  • The Israeli military claims dozens of Palestinian fighters killed in the past day
  • The Palestinian president's office condemns evacuation demand, calling it "dangerous"
Skip next section Qatar 'appalled' by Netanyahu critical comments
January 25, 2024

Qatar 'appalled' by Netanyahu critical comments

Qatar said it was "appalled" by comments attributed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he allegedly criticized Doha's mediation efforts with Hamas.

In a leaked recording from a meeting with hostage families that aired on Israel's Channel 12 news on Tuesday, Netanyahu purportedly called Qatar "problematic."

"You haven't seen me thank Qatar, have you noticed? I haven't thanked Qatar. Why? Because Qatar, to me, is no different in essence from the UN, from the Red Cross and in a way it's even more problematic. However, I'm willing to use any mediator now who can help me bring them [the hostages] home," the Israeli PM reportedly said in the recording.

In response, Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Majed al-Ansari, said: "We are appalled by the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli Prime Minister in various media reports about Qatar's mediation role."

"If the reported remarks are found to be true, the Israeli PM would only be obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritizing saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Qatar, where several Hamas political leaders are based, has been a key mediator between Israel and Hamas since the war began following deadly raids by Hamas militants on October 7 in the south of Israel in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed, mostly civilians, and some 240 people kidnapped. 

Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the EU, Germany and several other governments, still holds over 100 Israeli hostages. Qatar is spearheading the negotiations meant to halt the hostilities in exchange for a hostage release.

Why is Qatar the go-to mediator for Israel and Hamas?

Skip next section UK's Cameron visits Israel 'to discuss 3 key goals'
January 24, 2024

UK's Cameron visits Israel 'to discuss 3 key goals'

British Foreign Minister David Cameron held talks with his counterpart Israel Katz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. 

"I'm in Israel to discuss three key goals," Cameron said. "Securing the immediate release of hostages. Increasing aid into Gaza through more crossing points. An immediate humanitarian pause then progress towards a sustainable cease-fire." 

Katz, meanwhile thanked Cameron for Britain's "unwavering support of Israel's self-defense." 

"In our meeting, I emphasized our resolve to dismantle Hamas and ensure the safe return of abductees," Katz said. "I also highlighted the threats from Iran and its proxies. It's clear: Lebanon will face consequences if Hezbollah doesn't disengage." 

Katz asked Cameron, who will travel on to Qatar, to assist however he could "in securing the release of our abductees and ensuring the agreed-upon medical supplies reach them." 

Skip next section Ruling on Israel Gaza genocide emergency measures hearing on Friday — ICJ
January 24, 2024

Ruling on Israel Gaza genocide emergency measures hearing on Friday — ICJ

Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will rule on Friday whether they will grant "emergency measures" against Israel in the genocide case South Africa brought.

South Africa has asked the court to issue an emergency call for Israel to suspend "military operations in and against Gaza." If the court rules in South Africa's favor, a full genocide case at the ICJ could then follow, but that would likely take years.

Israel vehemently rejects the accusation and has asked the court to dismiss the case.

In the ruling on Friday, scheduled to be handed down at 12:00 GMT/UTC, the ICJ will not deal with the main question of whether Israel is committing genocide, which could take years. 

Both South Africa and Israel­ are members of the 1948 Genocide Convention. This international treaty obliges its signatories to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Orders from the ICJ, which rules in disputes between countries, are legally binding and cannot be appealed.

However, the court has little power to enforce its edicts. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already strongly suggested he would not feel bound by any ICJ order.

Skip next section Yemen's Houthis order US, UK nationals to leave: report
January 24, 2024

Yemen's Houthis order US, UK nationals to leave: report

Yemen's Houthi authorities have told US and British staff working for the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to leave the country within a month, a Houthi official said on Wednesday, according to Reuters news agency.

A letter to that effect was sent by the Houthi Foreign Ministry to the UN's acting humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Peter Hawkins, with Houthi top negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam confirming the letter's authenticity to Reuters.

The decision follows strikes carried out by the US and UK against military targets in Yemen after attacks by the Iran-backed group on commercial ships in the Red Sea.

The Houthis say the attacks have been in solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Receipt of the letter has not been clearly confirmed by either US or UK representatives.

However, the British mission in Yemen said in a statement that UN personnel "provide vital assistance to the Yemeni people ... via the very sea routes that the Houthis are jeopardizing," adding that "nothing should be done that hinders their ability to deliver." 

Skip next section Egypt's el-Sissi accuses Israel of blocking aid
January 24, 2024

Egypt's el-Sissi accuses Israel of blocking aid

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has accused Israel of hindering aid delivery to Gaza as part of a negotiation tactic. 

Sissi said the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was open 24 hours daily but that procedures by Israel to allow the entry of aid were obstructing the process.

"This is part of how they exert pressure on the issue of releasing the hostages," he said.

COGAT, an Israeli military body in charge of civilian Palestinian affairs, has said deliveries would be more streamlined if the UN provided more workers to receive and pack supplies. It also said more trucks were needed to transfer aid to Israel for security checks and that the working hours at Rafah needed to be extended.

Israel has said it will need to expand operations and take over the Gaza side of the border with Egypt eventually, drawing a protest from the Egyptian government.

Cairo has rejected Israeli allegations that Hamas can smuggle weapons across the frontier.

The head of Egypt's State Information Service, Diaa Rashwan, on Monday said any Israeli move to occupy the border area would "lead to a serious threat" to bilateral relations between the two countries. 

Gaza nears famine as bread, water dwindle

Skip next section Israeli troops demolish family home of man accused of role in attack on soldiers
January 24, 2024

Israeli troops demolish family home of man accused of role in attack on soldiers

Israeli troops have blown up the home of a Palestinian man accused of assisting in the killing of four Israelis in the West Bank last June, witnesses said. 

Troops entered the village of Orif overnight, surrounded the house of the man who was already being held in Israeli custody and destroyed his family's home.

A village official in Orif said the man's family was evacuated from the apartment on the second floor of the building. The Israeli military confirmed it had demolished the apartment overnight.

The man was accused of having provided assistance to two assailants who carried out the deadly shooting at a petrol station near the northern West Bank settlement of Eli in June. The assailants were killed and another suspected accomplice was arrested soon afterward.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinians who are accused of carrying out attacks. It argues that such measures are a deterrent, while critics call it a form of collective punishment.

Skip next section Gaza ministry puts death toll at 25,700
January 24, 2024

Gaza ministry puts death toll at 25,700

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip said at least 25,700 Palestinians, mainly women and children, have been killed, with another 63,740 injured in Israeli retaliatory strikes on the territory since October 7. 

The toll includes 210 people killed in the last 24 hours, the ministry added.

Figures from the ministry are deemed largely accurate by the UN, but they 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 1,200 Israelis were killed, mostly civilians, and some 240 people kidnapped.

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

Skip next section Iran's Raisi visits Turkey for delayed Gaza talks
January 24, 2024

Iran's Raisi visits Turkey for delayed Gaza talks

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is heading to Turkey for twice-delayed talks to smooth over past differences between Tehran and Ankara and try to halt the spread of the Israel-Hamas war.

Raisi's visit to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes as Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza heightens tensions across the Middle East.

The two leaders are due to appear at a press conference after holdings talks and chairing a meeting of their top ministers on the one-day visit.   

While the two countries have their differences, including Ankara's support for Azerbaijan in its operation against Armenian separatists, analysts believe the Gaza conflict has helped Turkey and Iran put regional disputes on the back burner as they both call for increased international support for Palestinians. 

Skip next section Israel mourns dead soldiers after heavy losses
January 24, 2024

Israel mourns dead soldiers after heavy losses

The Israeli public has been mourning the soldiers who died as the country recorded its highest troop losses in a single day. 

Twenty-four Israeli soldiers were killed — 21 of them reservists who died in the Israel Defense Forces' deadliest single incident of the current operation in Gaza. 

Palestinians fired a rocket at a tank that the soldiers were using as they rigged a building with explosives. 

Rockets were also said to have hit the building before it and another building next to it collapsed on Monday afternoon, although confusion surrounds the precise events.

Families and friends of the dead soldiers mourned them at funerals across Israel, with coffins draped in the national flag. 

Other members of the public who did not know the dead also attended, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said an investigation had been launched into what he called a "disaster."

Israeli Palestinians fear crackdown, 'deliberate repression'

Skip next section Israel pushes forward in 'encircled' Khan Younis
January 24, 2024

Israel pushes forward in 'encircled' Khan Younis

Israel has pressed ahead with its military offensive on Gaza's second-largest city, Khan Younis, which it says is now fully encircled. 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said "dozens of terrorists" had been killed in the past 24 hours in Khan Younis, adding that "ground troops engaged in close-quarters combat" with militants.

In a bulletin, the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA said Israel issued evacuation orders for a 4-square-kilometer (1.5-square-mile) part of Khan Younis, currently home to around 513,000 people and the Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office called an order for residents to head further south a "dangerous demand." He said Israel intended to "displace the Palestinian people from their homeland," according to the state-run Palestinian news agency Wafa. This, he said, would lead to "unforeseeable consequences." 

Witnesses also said Israeli tanks and troops had moved into Muwasi, a coastal area of Gaza that the Israeli military had previously declared a safe zone for Palestinians.

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