Blinken talks ‘way forward’ in Gaza as he meets with Israeli leaders

Multiple Israeli military operations fuel anger among Palestinians in small West Bank city

TULKAREM, occupied West Bank — On the outskirts of Tulkarem, a small Palestinian city in the northwest of the West Bank, hundreds took to the streets Tuesday.

Local leaders, residents, and members of the area’s militant groups marched in a funeral procession for three young men, shot dead Monday in a night-time raid carried out by the Israeli security forces. Masked militants fired semi-automatic weapons into the air as others carried the bodies of the dead to a nearby cemetery. 

Hundreds gathered in Tulkarem, West Bank, in a funeral procession for three young men who were fatally shot in a night-time raid carried out by the Israeli security services.
Hundreds gathered in Tulkarem, West Bank, in a funeral procession for three young men who were fatally shot in a night-time raid carried out by the Israeli security services.Nicolas Hameon / NBC News

Tulkarem has long been home to large contingent of Palestinian hardliners, and the last several months have seen militant groups there only growing in popularity. Since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, there’s been an uptick of Israeli military activity in and around Tulkarem; the Israeli forces have carried out at least seven major operations in the area, according to local Palestinian officials. 

The Nur Shams Refugee Camp in Tulkarem, a poor neighborhood outside the city center, has been the focus of much of Israel’s recent military activity in the area — where many residents have been detained, killed or have had homes damaged.

Children inside the Nur Shams Refugee Camp in Tulkarem, a neighborhood outside the city center, in the West Bank.
Children inside the Nur Shams Refugee Camp in Tulkarem, a neighborhood outside the city center, in the West Bank.Nicolas Hameon / NBC News

“The people are angry — for losing their children, for losing their homes,” Suleiman al-Zuhairi, a Nur Shams official, told NBC News. “The camp is a very hard place to live in and what we see from the Israeli action is that they are trying to create an enemy in every house. …Nobody knows why all the people have to be punished.”

U.S. Central Command confirms U.S. and ally shot down 21 munitions in Red Sea

U.S. Central Command confirmed tonight that U.S. forces, with the help of a British destroyer, shot down all 21 munitions fired by Iran-backed Houthi militants based in Yemen.

Central Command said the attack, one of the largest since the Houthis began targeting international containerships in response to Israel’s incursions into Gaza in the fall, led to the launching and firing of 18 weaponized drones, two anti-ship cruise missiles and an anti-ship ballistic missile toward shipping lanes where dozens of merchant ships were at sea.

If wasn’t clear whether there was a target more specific than merchant ships using the waterway, which is crucial to global trade. No injuries or damaged vessels were reported.

Central Command credited a “combined effort” that included F/A-18s from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, as well as contributions from the U.S. and Royal Navy destroyers USS Gravely, USS Laboon, USS Mason and HMS Diamond. 

It was the 27th attack by Houthis on the trade route since Nov. 19, according to NBC News’ accounts. Two U.S. defense officials said the U.S. has prepared a plan with options for how it should respond.

The Houthis are one of a number of Iran-backed militant groups in the region that threaten to expand Israel’s war with Hamas militants into a broader Middle East fight that would pit forces backed by Iran against Israel and its U.S. support.

U.S. diplomats have said they don’t want to see the scenario play out.

U.K.’s Cameron says he’s worried Israel may have breached international law in Gaza

LONDON — Britain’s foreign minister, David Cameron, said today he was worried that Israel might have breached international law in Gaza and that the advice he had received so far was that Israel was compliant but that there were questions to answer.

Asked during a question-and-answer session with lawmakers whether Israel could be vulnerable to a challenge at the International Criminal Court in the Hague over whether their actions were proportionate, Cameron said the stance was “close to that.”

Britain has backed Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas attacks but also called on its military to show restraint and act within international law in its offensive in Gaza, which has laid waste to much of the Palestinian enclave.

Cameron did not directly answer lawmakers about whether he had received legal advice that Israel might have broken international law, but he said some incidents had raised questions about whether there had been breaches.

“Am I worried that Israel has taken action that might be in breach of international law because this particular premises has been bombed or whatever? Yes, of course,” he said as he took questions from Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Cameron said there was always a “question mark” over whether a given incident broke international law, which lawyers would examine and then advise him over.

Israeli settler violence threatens ‘imminent explosion’ in West Bank, Palestinian foreign ministry says

Escalating violence by Israelis in the West Bank is pushing the occupied territory “towards an imminent explosion,” the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement today.

Israeli settler violence toward Palestinians and hostilities from Israeli authorities “now threaten to explode the situation in the West Bank and push it into a spiral of violence that is difficult to control,” the ministry said.

Palestinians are routinely subjected to inhumane and humiliating practices as part of the “apartheid systems and gradual colonial annexation” of land that dominate their daily lives, the ministry added.

“The Ministry holds the Israeli government fully and directly responsible for the results of this dangerous escalation, and considers it a translation of the racist and colonial incitement campaigns practiced by the right and the ruling Israeli extreme right, and a disregard for all regional and international efforts and calls made to protect civilians, besiege the conflict, and resolve it by peaceful means in accordance with the principle of the two-state solution, in the forefront of that stop the genocidal war on our people,” the statement said.

Houthis carry out possibly largest attack on commercial shipping in the Red Sea

Iranian-backed Houthi militants conducted what may have been the largest and most complex attack against commercial shipping since the recent spate of attacks began on Nov. 19, two U.S. defense officials said.

Houthis fired multiple missiles and one-way drones toward the busy shipping lane in the southern Red Sea, the officials said, but all the projectiles were shot down by U.S. Navy ships in the area, including the USS Laboon. No injuries or damage to ships were reported, the officials said. 

The ships are part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, the new maritime patrol mission in the area that is intended to defend ships from Houthi attacks.

The latest Houthi attack is the 27th on merchant ships since Nov. 19. U.S. officials have prepared response options to strike back at the Houthis, but nothing has been ordered. 


Israel says ‘no damage or casualties’ after Hezbollah drone attack in northern Israel

The Israel Defense Forces said there was “no damage or casualties” after a drone attack in northern Israel for which Hezbollah claimed responsibility.

The IDF didn’t specify the location of the army base, while the Iran-backed militant group said it targeted the army’s northern command headquarters in the region of Safed.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the operation was in retaliation for an Israeli attack last week that killed Saleh Arouri, a top Hamas official, and another strike yesterday that killed its commander, Wissam al-Tawil.

Israel and Hezbollah have been trading fire over the border with Lebanon as tensions escalate.

In a statement, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for several attacks today, including what it said was a direct rocket weapons hit on the Yiftah site in the north.

Hezbollah denies IDF claim that fighter killed today was aerial commander

Hezbollah denied claims by the Israeli military that a member of its organization who died today was the commander of an aerial unit.

“Hezbollah Media Relations categorically denies this false and baseless claim and confirms that the Mujahid brother in charge of the Drone Unit in Hezbollah was never subjected to any assassination attempt as the enemy alleged,” Hezbollah’s statement said.

Earlier today, Hezbollah confirmed the death of one of its fighters, Ali Hussein Barji, but did not provide additional information. The IDF later claimed responsibility for Barji’s death, alleging that he was commander of the organization’s aerial unit in southern Lebanon.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in his briefing that the targeted killing happened three hours after the military identified launches of explosive unmanned aerial vehicles from Lebanon toward Israel.

Blinken optimistic Hamas ‘can and will’ engage on hostage talks despite targeted killings

The U.S. remains hopeful that Hamas “can and will” resume negotiations on hostage releases even after the targeted killing of one of its leaders and two Hezbollah commanders in Lebanon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News.

Talks with Hamas about the release of more than 130 hostages have reportedly been strained following the death of Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader killed in Beirut last week. But Blinken is not deterred and says the American government is in talks with regional partners to re-engage the group. The return of hostages is a top priority for President Joe Biden.

“As you know, we succeeded before in the midst of this conflict and getting more than 100 hostages out,” Blinken said. “And it’s my belief that they can and will engage on this. And that’s something we’re intensely focused on with Qatar and with Egypt.”

Watch the full interview tomorrow on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12 p.m. E.T.

Gaza’s health system is rapidly collapsing, WHO warns

World Health Organization officials today warned of the possible collapse of the health care system in southern and central Gaza as many medics and patients have fled these areas for safety reasons, calling the situation “really worrying.”

“What we continue to see is the health system suffering, health workers unable to go to their workplace to care for patients because they fear for their lives, they fear for their safety,” Sean Casey, WHO emergency medical teams coordinator in Gaza, said at a press briefing in Geneva.

Casey said in a video statement today that he had witnessed intensifying fighting near several hospitals, including European Gaza Hospital and Nasser Hospital, adding that they are the “last line” of secondary and tertiary health care in the enclave.

“We are seeing this humanitarian catastrophe unfold before our eyes. We’re seeing the health system collapse at a very rapid pace,” he said. “The single strongest request I’ve heard from many hospital directors was: protect our health facility.”

Only a third of hospitals in Gaza are partially functioning, according to a statement from WHO representative Richard Peeperkorn last month, with one in the north and 10 in the south.

Iran denies involvement in attacks on shipping vessels, blames ‘root cause’ of Israel

Iran accused the U.S. and Israel of “diverting international attention away” from the “root causes” of the situation in the Red Sea, the Iranian envoy to the U.N. said in a statement.

Amir Saeid Iravani said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council that the U.S. and Israel had made “baseless” accusations that Iran is behind the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

Iran has always “placed great importance on maritime security and freedom of navigation,” he said yesterday.

He added that the “root cause” of the attacks was what Israel had been doing in Gaza, accusing the U.S. of standing by Israel.

Yemen’s Houthis, financially backed by Iran, have launched attacks targeting vessels linked to Israel in the Red Sea, saying they are in retaliation for Israel’s actions in Gaza. Major oil and shipping giants, including MSC, have suspended operations through the waters for safety reasons.

IDF investigating tank-triggered blast that killed 6 combat engineers

Israel’s military said it was probing a blast in Bureij that killed six of its engineers who were working on the demolition of a Hamas tunnel.

About half an hour before the planned demolition, a nearby tank fired at suspicious movement. The tank was near the detonation cord at the time the shell was launched.

“According to the probe, the detonating cord was somehow activated as a result of the blast from the tank shelling, and led to the premature massive explosion of the tunnel system while the combat engineers were still working on preparing it for demolition,” the IDF said in a statement today.

Israeli emergency responder recalls the devastation of Oct. 7 attacks

Yossi Landau, head of Southern Operations for the Zaka nonprofit emergency response team, was one of the first humanitarian workers to witness the devastation in Israel on Oct. 7. He joined MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today to discuss his experience.

IDF says it killed another Hezbollah leader in Lebanon

Israel’s military took responsibility for the death of another Hezbollah leader today, saying the IDF killed Ali Hussein Barji, commander of the organization’s aerial unit in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah confirmed Barji’s death earlier in the day, noting that he was also known as “Abu Mahdi,” but did not provide additional information. Now, the IDF is saying its air force killed him following Hezbollah’s launch of explosive unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, toward Israel.

“Ali led dozens of terror activities against Israel using explosive UAVs and surveillance UAVs against Israel and IDF soldiers,” the IDF said in a statement. “Ali also led the attack against the headquarters of the IDF Northern Command earlier today.”

This follows the assassination of a Hezbollah commander, Wissam Tawil, which Israel took responsibility for yesterday.

South Africa’s ‘charge of genocide is meritless,’ Blinken says

The U.S. believes that South Africa’s “charge of genocide is meritless,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a news conference in Tel Aviv today.

Following a meeting with Israeli officials and members of the war Cabinet, Blinken told reporters the U.S. believes South Africa’s complaint to the International Court of Justice is a distraction from the important efforts of dismantling Hamas and freeing hostages.

“It’s particularly galling, given that those who are attacking Israel — Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, as well as their supporters in Iran — continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews,” Blinken said.

South Africa’s filing to the court cited a number of statements made by Israeli lawmakers expressing genocidal intent to make its case, including those who have advocated for the permanent relocation of Palestinians outside of Gaza. Blinken condemned the idea of forced displacement, telling reporters that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured him this was not the policy of his government.

Additionally, Blinken announced that an agreement was reached to allow the United Nations to launch on an assessment mission to evaluate what is needed for Palestinians to return to their homes in Gaza.

“Now, this will not happen overnight,” Blinken said. “There are serious security, infrastructure and humanitarian challenges, but the mission will start a process that evaluates these obstacles and how they can be can be overcome.”

‘Israel is starving Gaza,’ Israeli and U.S. rights groups say

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has joined an Israeli human rights organization in condemning what the groups call the “declared policy” of starvation in Gaza.

Around 2.2 million people in Gaza are surviving on “almost nothing,” Israel’s B’Tselem said in a joint statement with the U.S. civil rights group. “Israel is starving Gaza,” the Jerusalem-based nonprofit organization said yesterday. “Everyone in Gaza is going hungry.”

B’Tselem added that Gaza’s quick descent into a “full-blown catastrophe” was because the enclave was already in the “throes of a humanitarian crisis” as a result of Israel’s 17-year blockade.

“Changing this policy is not just a moral obligation,” B’Tselem said. “Allowing food into the Gaza Strip is not an act of kindness but a positive obligation under international humanitarian law: starvation as a method of warfare is prohibited.”

Around 200 trucks of humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. Israeli officials have repeatedly emphasized that there is enough food in the enclave and that its campaign is targeting Hamas, not civilians.

Israel has a long track record of assassinating its enemies. Will it work against Hamas?

Last week, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency issued a blunt warning to the Palestinian militants who attacked Israel on Oct. 7

“Let every Arab mother know that if her son took part in the massacre — he signed his own death warrant,” David Barnea said.

He delivered the vow at the funeral of former Mossad Director Zvi Zamir, drawing a parallel with the manhunt overseen by the late spy chief that targeted the Palestinian terrorists linked to the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The campaign to avenge Munich, dubbed Operation Wrath of God, has come to symbolize Israel’s willingness to track down its adversaries no matter where they are. But this time, Israel faces a more complicated, ambitious task as it tries to target a much larger, better organized and armed organization than the Black September operatives from the 1970s. And the political stakes for Israel and the rest of the world are much higher.

Lebanese civil defense members spray water on the street on Jan. 3, 2024, at the building that was hit the day before by a strike that killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri in Beirut.
Lebanese civil defense members spray water on the street on Jan. 3, 2024, at the building that was hit the day before by a strike that killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri in Beirut.Anwar Amro / AFP – Getty Images

Read the full story here.

Blinken meets with Israel’s war Cabinet as defense minister urges pressure on Iran

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israel’s war Cabinet during his visit to Tel Aviv today. According to a readout from his office, Blinken stressed to leaders the importance of avoiding further civilian harm in Gaza.

Blinken also welcomed the United Nations’ appointment of Sigrid Kaag to oversee humanitarian aid, noting the need for increased assistance to Gazans. According to his office, Blinken also reiterated the need for sustainable peace in the region, “including by the realization of a Palestinian state.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yollav Gallant said he walked Blinken through the country’s military offensive, including operations in Gaza’s Khan Younis, which he said “will intensify and continue until Hamas leadership is detected, and Israeli hostages return home safely.” Wider regional tensions were also discussed, with Gallant issuing a warning about Iran’s use of proxy militias such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen.

“An increase in the pressure placed on Iran is critical, and may prevent regional escalation in additional arenas,” Gallant said, according to a press release.

Nurse transforms supermarket into medical facility

Retired Nurse Treats Displaced Palestinians In Reappropriated Supermarket
Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

A young patient is treated today by retired nurse Zaki Shaheen Khader, who has worked to transform a supermarket into a facility to treat displaced Palestinians, in Rafah, southern Gaza. Shaheen Khader, 73, worked as a nurse for 50 years before retiring 10 years ago from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 

‘Very fearful’ for patients still at central Gaza hospital, medical expert says post-visit

As the Israeli military focuses its ground forces on central and southern areas of Gaza, the fate of patients and local doctors at one of the area’s main hospitals has caused alarm for independent medical experts who were recently there.

Nick Maynard, a senior surgeon at Oxford University Hospital who has just left Gaza, was finishing up working on an abdomen blast injury in the operating theater of Al Aqsa Hospital on Friday, when he said a missile had “blown a hole into the ICU.” Al Aqsa is the only hospital equipped with an intensive care unit in the central area of Deir El Balah.

While Maynard was hopeful his medical team would be able to return the next day, their local staff was in touch with an Israeli military coordinator who said “the area would no longer be deconflicted.”

Wounded Palestinians are treated at Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.
Wounded Palestinians are treated Sunday at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir El Balah.Adel Hana / AP

“The implication being that the idea of ground forces and attack would be much, much closer to the hospital,” Maynard told NBC News.

NBC News has been in touch with Ebraheem Matar a general practitioner at the hospital, who has been sleeping and working there since hostilities first began. In a message to NBC News, he said he left the hospital after heavy fighting and gunfire forced him to flee last night.

The heavy Israeli bombardment and increased forces on the ground led international organizations on aid visits to withdraw from the hospital Saturday. The hospital was already overrun with staff numbers severely declining late last week, according to Maynard. But now reports of intensifying fighting encircling the area have left Maynard worried on how patients will cope.

“I am very fearful for the lives of the patients there, the majority of whom will not have been able to be evacuated,” Maynard said, adding he’s also worried that the remaining health care staff there “may be killed or kidnapped.”

Israel claims responsibility for killing of Hezbollah commander

Mourners hold portraits of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil during his funeral procession in the village of Khirbet Selm, Lebanon
Mourners hold portraits of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil during his funeral procession in Khirbet Selm, Lebanon, on Monday.Hussein Malla / AP

Israel has claimed responsibility for the assassination of a Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon yesterday, amid fears of escalating conflict in the region.

“Regarding the damage to southern Lebanon, we did take responsibility for the elimination of the acting commander of the Radwan forces,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in televised comments last night.

“A war with Hezbollah is a war with Iran,” he said, vowing Israel will remove the “threat militarily and diplomatically.”

Hostages in Gaza facing ‘life-threatening’ medical dangers, families say

Hostages held in Gaza are facing “immediate, life-threatening danger” as many were already suffering from various illnesses and are presumed to be cut off from any medical support, a group representing their families has warned.

“Many hostages were kidnapped from home without vision aids, hearing aids, or mobility devices, thereby exacerbating their physical health problems and contributing to the deterioration of their mental well-being,” the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum said today.

The forum described the medical treatment some hostages need, including mental support in a report released today, and called for their immediate release.

Some of the elderly hostages suffer from respiratory diseases, it said, with some suffering from gunshot wounds during their capture and now at the risk of fatal infections.

Hezbollah commander killed in Israeli strike is mourned at funeral in Lebanon

The elite Hezbollah commander who was killed in an Israeli airstrike Monday in southern Lebanon fought for the group for decades and took part in some of its biggest battles.
Hussein Malla / AP

Mourners carried the coffin of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil during his funeral procession in the village of Khirbet Selm, south Lebanon, today.The elite Hezbollah commander, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike yesterday in southern Lebanon, fought for the group for decades and took part in some of its biggest battles.

Mourners carry the coffin of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil, during his funeral procession in the village of Khirbet Selm, south Lebanon, on Jan. 9, 2024.
Hussein Malla / AP

Israeli president: Genocide accusations ‘atrocious and preposterous’

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called South Africa’s accusation of genocide by Israel “atrocious and preposterous,” ahead of the first hearings in the case at the International Court of Justice this week.

Israel “will present proudly our case of using self-defense, under our most inherent right under international humanitarian law,” he said.

Herzog’s comments came ahead of his meeting with Blinken this morning.

Reporters can’t have independent access to Gaza via Israel, Supreme Court says

Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected a request from international media organizations to allow independent access for journalists to report in the war-battered Gaza Strip.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents dozens of media organizations operating in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including The Associated Press, asked the court last month to order Israeli authorities to allow journalists to enter.

In a ruling yesterday, the court said that while it recognizes the right of freedom of the press, the current wartime circumstances justify the restrictions.

It said that journalists inside Gaza could endanger soldiers by reporting about troop positions. It also said it was too dangerous for Israeli personnel to work at border crossings. Instead, it said that journalists could continue to enter Gaza under Israeli military escort.

The army has offered limited opportunities for some media to “embed” with soldiers in short, highly controlled visits.

While the court acknowledged the shortcomings of this system, it called it a “balanced and reasonable policy” in the current circumstances. It offered to revisit the matter if the circumstances change.

Before the war broke out Oct. 7, foreign journalists entered and exited Gaza through the Erez crossing — a heavily fortified facility that was attacked in the Hamas invasion and remains closed. Egypt’s Rafah crossing with Gaza is closed to journalists as well.

Hostages’ families protest against aid deliveries on Gaza border

Israel Hostage Protest on Gaza Border
Leo Correa / AP
Israel Gaza Hostage Border
Leo Correa / AP

Relatives and friends of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group walk on the road next to Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza in southern Israel today, protesting against humanitarian aid entering Gaza until all the hostages are released.

American aggression will be met with ‘military response,’ Houthi spokesperson tells NBC News

JERUSALEM — American aggression against Yemen’s Houthi rebels will be met with a “military response,” a spokesperson for the Iran-backed militia told NBC News yesterday. 

Defending the group’s attacks on ships in the Red Sea, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti said the Houthis were only targeting “ships linked to Israel, and we do not target any ship belonging to other countries.” 

He added that the goal was not to sink or seize those ships, but instead the group was trying to put pressure on Israel to stop its war in Gaza and allow food and medicine into the enclave. 

The attacks have driven up shipping costs sharply along with insurance premiums for oil and shipping giants, some of whom have suspended operations in the Red Sea and started sending cargo around Africa.

Blinken warned yesterday the Houthis would face “consequences” if the attacks continued. The U.S. recently struck Houthi vessels and has gathered an international coalition of more than 20 countries to participate in efforts to safeguard ships in Red Sea waters near Yemen, much of which is controlled by the Houthis.

But al-Bukhaiti insisted the group would not stop unless the U.S. convinced Israel to stop its “aggression against Gaza.” If that happens, he said “we will stop our military operations automatically.”

IDF troops during ongoing ground operations in Gaza

Images taken under the supervision of the IDF show troops operating in the area of al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip yesterday.

Gaza IDF Front Lines
Menahem Kahana / AFP – Getty Images
IDF Gaza Frontlines
Menahem Kahana / AFP – Getty Images

Palestine Red Crescent says it’s received an average of 73 aid trucks a day

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said today it received 5,625 aid trucks from its Egyptian counterparts through the Rafah crossing in just over two months.

The trucks were received between Oct. 21 and Jan 6., contained food, water, and medical aid, it said in a post on X, adding that a third of those trucks belong to the U.N. agency UNRWA.

This averaged to about 73 trucks a day, a fraction of the usual 400-500 trucks the strip used to received before the war began Oct. 7.

Israeli army announces 4-hour suspension of attacks in central Gaza

The Israeli army has announced a 4-hour pause on military activities in central Gaza.

Avichay Adraee, the military’s spokesman for Arabic media, said in a post on X that there will be a “local and temporary tactical suspension of military activities for humanitarian purposes in the southeast of Deir el-Balah,” adding that it will last till 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET).

The humanitarian corridor on Salah Al Din street, designated by Israel to allow civilians’ movement to the south, was closed and Al-Rashid(Al-Bahr) street near the coastline would be open, Adraee said.

The new corridor would allow movement from the north to the south only between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., he added.

IDF says its expanding ground operations in Khan Younis

Israeli operations in the main southern city of Khan Younis are expanding, the Israel Defense Forces said this morning in a statement. The Israeli military also said it had it killed approximately 40 Hamas fighters and located a number of underground shafts.

“In addition, significant terror tunnel shafts were located, as well as a variety of weapons, including twelve AK-47 rifles, four loaded RPG launchers, dozens of grenades, cartridges, and military vests,” it said in its daily update.

IDF ground operations in Gaza have been accompanied with naval and aerial support, enabling it to hit targets deep within the strip.

It said today that an Israeli aircraft struck a squad from Hamas’ Central Camps Brigade, with its navy striking Hamas’ naval assets.

NBC News get inside look at Hamas ‘weapons factory’ in Gaza

Israeli troops gave NBC News an exclusive look inside an underground “weapons factory” in Gaza, one of the largest Hamas weapon production sites discovered so far.

Blinken says theres lots to talk about, ‘in particular a way forward’ as he starts Israel meetings 

Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv today after meeting with Arab leaders in the region and kick-starting talks on a post-war Gaza.

“I want to be able to share some of what I heard from those leaders with the president, as well as with the prime minister and the cabinet later today,” Blinken said alongside Herzog before their meeting.

“There’s lots to talk about in particular about the way forward,” he added.

Ex-Dutch politician starts new job as U.N. aid chief to Gaza

Former Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Sigrid Kaag met with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and senior officials at the start of her new job yesterday as the U.N. coordinator for humanitarian aid and reconstruction in war-torn Gaza.

Kaag is also scheduled to travel to Washington for meetings this week before heading to the Mideast, where she will initially be based in Amman, Jordan, U.N. associate spokesperson Florencia Soto Niño said.

Guterres appointed Kaag, a Mideast expert fluent in Arabic and five other languages, on Dec. 27 to facilitate, coordinate, monitor and verify humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza.

Under terms of a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted Dec. 22, she is also mandated to establish a U.N. “mechanism” to accelerate humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza through states which are not party to the conflict.

In late December, 23 U.N. and nongovernmental organizations said Gaza’s entire 2.3 million population is in food crisis, with 576,000 people at catastrophic or starvation levels and the risk of famine “increasing each day.” Their report blamed the widespread hunger on insufficient aid entering Gaza.

Kaag started working for the United Nations in 1994 in Sudan and has worked for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, as regional director for the Mideast for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, and as U.N. special envoy for Lebanon.

She then entered politics in the Netherlands and was named minister for trade and development in 2017. Most recently, she served as deputy prime minister and the first female minister of finance, but she announced last July was leaving Dutch politics because of “hate, intimidation and threats” that put “a heavy burden on my family.”

Blinken lands in Tel Aviv

Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures as he arrives in Tel Aviv last night, during his weeklong trip aimed at calming tensions across the Middle East.

Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv
Evelyn Hockstein / AFP – Getty Images

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