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IDF intensifies assault on southern Gaza's main city

Hundreds of patients are trapped inside a hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, the aid agency Doctors Without Borders said.
/ Source: NBC News

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What we know

  • Israel's military said today it was intensifying operations around Khan Younis, Gaza's second-largest city. The assault has forced thousands of civilians to flee the area, although many remain trapped in the encircled city. Around 850 patients were still inside the city's main Nasser Hospital, according to the aid group Doctors Without Borders.
  • Overnight, the U.S. said it struck Houthi missiles, radar sites and weapons depots in Yemen that had been prepared to attack cargo ships and American assets in the Red Sea. The military said it also carried out strikes yesterday against Iranian-backed militia facilities in Iraq.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed yesterday that his forces would not stop fighting until “absolute victory” was achieved. His comments came a day after 24 soldiers were killed as a building was being wired for demolition with explosives. It was the deadliest day for his country's forces since the war began.
  • More than 25,700 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 63,300 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials said at least 221 soldiers have been killed during the ground invasion of Gaza. About 1,200 people were killed and about 240 hostages were taken after Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.
  • NBC News’ Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Matt Bradley, Chantal Da Silva, Anna Schecter and Ali Arouzi are reporting from the region.

IDF says its aerial forces and artillery didn't strike U.N. facility

The Israel Defense Forces has ruled out the possibility that a strike against a United Nations facility in Khan Younis came from its aerial forces or artillery.

Nine people were reported killed and others were injured in the strike at a facility of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which an agency official said came from two tank shells.

“After an examination of our operational systems, the IDF has currently ruled out that this incident is a result of an aerial or artillery strike by the IDF,” the IDF said in a statement. “A thorough review of the operations of the forces in the vicinity is underway.”

“The IDF is also examining the possibility that the strike was a result of Hamas fire,” the statement said.

Sisters’ story of survival as they escape war zone

Two Palestinian sisters and their father were able to leave Gaza for medical treatment in Turkey. NBC News has been tracking their dramatic story for months, after their family’s home was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. NBC News’ Richard Engel reports.

U.S. State Department condemns deadly attack on U.N. facility in Khan Younis

The U.S. State Department “deplores” an attack on a United Nations facility in Khan Younis earlier today that killed at least nine people, a spokesperson for the agency said.

Two tank shells struck the building in Gaza’s second-largest city, Thomas White, director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, said on social media platform X. The facility sheltered 800 people, he said.

“We deplore today’s attack on the U.N.’s Khan Younis Training Center,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a briefing.

“You’ve heard me say it before, you’ve heard the secretary say it before, but civilians must be protected, and the protected nature of U.N. facilities must be respected,” he said.

He added: “We continue to raise with our Israeli partners the need and the responsibility that they have to protect U.N. facilities and to protect humanitarian workers.”

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his organization is assisting in caring for the injured.

“The ongoing heavy bombardment, evacuation orders and killing of civilians in Khan Younis, Gaza is just horrendous,” he said on X.

Israel will carry on fighting until there is no threat from Gaza, Netanyahu says

Israel will carry on fighting in Gaza to defeat Hamas with “determination,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today.

"We will bring about the collapse of the Hamas regime, return all our abductees home, and ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel," he told lawmakers at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

His comments came two days after 24 soldiers were killed as a building was being wired for demolition with explosives. It marked the deadliest day for Israel's forces since the war began.

Israeli National Police will lead investigation into Palestinian American teen's death in West Bank

The Israeli National Police will lead an investigation into the death of a Palestinian American teen who was fatally shot last Friday in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told reporters today.

Vedant Patel, the State Department spokesperson, said the U.S. has been in "close touch" with the Israeli government to "understand the circumstances" of the death of Tawfic Hafeth Abdel Jabbar, who was born and raised in the Louisiana city of Gretna.

"It's been communicated to us that the investigation will be led by the Israeli National Police, and we expect a thorough and expeditious investigation," Patel said. He added that the U.S. has kept in contact with Patel's family.

Tawfic's family has said he was a victim of mounting settler violence in the West Bank, which has been on the rise since the war between Israel and Hamas began.

Biden again interrupted by protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza

WASHINGTON — Biden was interrupted by anti-war protesters for the second time in as many days this afternoon during a United Auto Workers conference in Washington.

At least two protesters stood up during remarks from Biden, whose re-election campaign received the UAW's endorsement today. The protesters were immediately drowned out by UAW workers, who chanted their union's acronym.

The protesters did not budge, however, refusing to move as Biden's speech continued. Eventually, though, they were removed from the room as they tried to shout over the president's remarks.

Biden has faced ferocious criticism from anti-war protesters in the U.S. for standing firmly with the Israeli government amid its aggressive military campaign in Gaza.

White House spokeswoman on cease-fire protesters: They made themselves clear

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the protesters who repeatedly interrupted Biden's rally yesterday with calls for a cease-fire in Gaza and a change in U.S. policy toward Israel, telling reporters that the demonstrators made their voices heard.

Jean-Pierre did not directly answer a question about whether Biden would meet with the protesters who broke into his remarks about abortion rights during a rally in Virginia marking the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that was overturned in 2022.

"I can't speak to any opportunities to engage with the protesters," she said, "but obviously they made their voices very loud and clear, and I'll just leave it there."

A protester interrupts President Joe Biden during an event today on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va.
A protester interrupts President Joe Biden during an event yesterday at George Mason University.Alex Brandon / AP

National Security Council spokesman says Israel moving to 'targeted operations'

John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters at the White House this afternoon that the Israeli military has "taken steps to transition their operations," moving toward "more targeted operations" against Hamas leadership rather than bombing campaigns.

"They have removed a division of troops. That’s a lot of troops. That’s thousands of troops," Kirby told reporters, referring to Israeli forces. "They are pursuing on-the-ground, more targeted operations ... particularly against the leadership [and] they are relying less on airstrikes."

Israel has drawn intense international criticism for airstrikes that have killed thousands of people across Gaza, most of them women and children, according to health authorities in Gaza.

An Israeli tank moves along the border with the Gaza Strip on January 24, 2024 in Southern Israel.
An Israeli tank moves along the border with the Gaza Strip today.Amir Levy / Getty Images

The comments came hours after the United Nations agency focused on Palestinian refugees reported that nine people were killed and another 75 wounded after two tank rounds hit a building sheltering nearly 1,000 civilians. Kirby told reporters that he did not have "any information on this particular event" but promised to look into it after his news briefing.

Iranian, Turkish leaders say they'll continue 'safeguarding our Gazan brothers and sisters'

The leaders of Iran and Turkey today vowed to continue their “efforts aimed at safeguarding our Gazan brothers and sisters’ security, welfare and future,” according to the Turkish president’s office.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reaffirmed their commitments to the Palestinian people during a meeting in Ankara, a statement added. Raisi’s office said the Turkish government has sent humanitarian aid to civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip, but it was otherwise not clear how either country would support the Palestinian people.

Iran has long armed and financed Hamas and does not formally recognize Israel, with past leaders threatening to “wipe Israel from the map.” For decades, Turkey and Israel maintained close ties, but relations have been strained to the breaking point under the rule of Erdoğan.

How Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar stays one step ahead of the Israeli military

TEL AVIV — Where is Yahya Sinwar? As the four-month anniversary of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel approaches, the elusive Hamas leader believed to be the architect of the assault has managed to stay one step ahead of Israel’s military and intelligence services.

Israel Defense Forces recently found cages where they say hostages were kept deep under Khan Younis, Sinwar’s birthplace and a densely populated hub for Hamas’ political activity, current and former Israeli officials told NBC News. They say Sinwar and other Hamas leaders have likely been hiding nearby, carefully protected by layers of Israeli captives and lower-tier Hamas fighters.

“It is a fair assumption that Sinwar and Hamas leadership were close to where those hostages were kept — and then they all moved on,” said Jonathan Conricus, a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli reserves and former IDF spokesman who is now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based policy institute. “I think being close to hostages has saved his life more than once.”

Hamas has also taken great pains to keep Sinwar’s communications with its political leaders in Doha, the capital of Qatar, undetected by Israeli intelligence, current and former IDF officials said, including during the cease-fire in November that led to the release of around 100 hostages.

Read the full story here.

Egypt’s Sisi accuses Israel of impeding aid deliveries to Gaza

DUBAI — Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accused Israel on Wednesday of holding up aid deliveries for the Gaza Strip as a pressure tactic, the latest sign of friction between the two countries that have maintained a blockade on the enclave.

“This is a form of pressure on the Gaza Strip and its people over the conflict and the release of hostages. They are using this as a pressure tool on the people of the Strip,” Sisi said in comments to mark Egypt’s national police day.

Israel, which denies holding up aid, launched an air and ground war in Gaza after Hamas militants stormed across its border on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking hostages, about 130 of whom remain in captivity.

Israel’s response has left more than 25,000 dead and caused a severe humanitarian crisis, with most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people left homeless and acutely short of food, water, medicine and fuel.

More than 1.2 million people are crammed in the south of Gaza in and around the city of Rafah, raising fears in Egypt that Palestinians will be displaced across the border into its Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt, along with Qatar, has been negotiating with Israel and Hamas for a ceasefire and the release of hostages in Gaza, efforts that Sisi said in separate comments later on Wednesday were being intensified.

Limited amounts of aid have been delivered through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, and since December, through the Israeli-controlled crossing of Kerem Shalom.

“We used to send Gaza 600 trucks a day. But for the past two to three days, we are not delivering more than 200 to 220 trucks (of aid) per day. How are these people (in Gaza) living?” Sisi said.

“Egypt’s Rafah crossing is open 24/7 every day of the month. But the procedures taking place on the Israeli side for us to send in the aid without it being blocked by anyone, they are the reason (for holdups).”

Data from U.N. agency UNRWA shows fewer than 200 trucks entering Gaza daily since Jan. 24.

Greenpeace activists call for cease-fire with banner over Madrid museum

Greenpeace activists hung a banner over the glass facade of an art museum in Madrid showing an image of a crying Palestinian child and text that reads: “Can You Hear Us? Ceasefire Now.”

The campaigning network’s Spanish branch uploaded video to X showing four activists unspooling the banner this week outside Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spain’s national museum of 20th-century works.

Nine dead, scores injured after tank attack on U.N. agency center, director says

Nine people are said to have been killed and another 75 wounded after two tank rounds hit a United Nations building sheltering 800 civilians in Gaza, according to the director of affairs for the U.N. agency focused on Palestinian refugees.

The casualties at the UNRWA building come amid escalating fighting in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The area has been encircled by the Israeli military, which has described the city as a "significant stronghold" for Hamas militants.

"Buildings ablaze and mass casualties - safe access to/from the centre has been denied for 2 days - people are trapped," UNRWA official Thomas White said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

White said UNRWA and World Health Organization workers were trying to reach the agency's besieged training center, adding that an "agreed upon route with Israeli Army blocked with earth bank."

Medical teams 'working while debris is falling on their heads,' U.N. humanitarian chief says

Emergency medical teams are working "while debris is falling on their heads" at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator said on X yesterday.

Martin Griffiths said staff were unable to access the facility in Gaza's second-largest city. His comments came after the Israeli military said it had encircled the city.

A warehouse was hit, which killed two people, he said, “cutting off access to humanitarian supplies and to critical water and sanitation equipment.”

The IDF said in a statement today that it was intensifying its operations in Khan Younis.

Smoke billows over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on Jan. 24, 2024.
Smoke billows over Khan Younis today.AFP - Getty Images

Three Palestinians killed amid Israeli attacks near Khan Younis hospitals, Red Crescent says

At least three displaced people have been killed and two others injured amid continued Israeli military activity near the Palestine Red Crescent Society headquarters in Khan Younis, PRCS said today on X.

It separately said there was "intense shelling" in the vicinity of the Al-Amal Hospital. This comes as the IDF ramps up its campaign in southern Gaza, saying it is eliminating Hamas targets.

The Gazan information ministry said dozens of civilians were killed in the city today.

Palestinians pray next to the bodies of those who were killed in the Israeli ground offensive and bombardment of Khan Younis, outside a morgue in Rafah, southern Gaza, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Image:
Palestinians pray today next to the bodies of those who were killed in the Israeli ground offensive and bombardment of Khan Younis, outside a morgue in Rafah.Fatima Shbair / AP

Only 7 hospitals remain partially functional in northern Gaza, WHO says

Only seven of the 24 hospitals in northern Gaza are partially functioning, the World Health Organization said today in a statement. Those hospitals do not have enough staff or supplies, the organization added.

In the south of the enclave, the WHO said that seven of the 12 hospitals were partially open.

An “intensified military presence and hostilities” was putting the lives of patients and workers at risk, the WHO said, adding that the situation for staff in hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis was “catastrophic and indescribable.”

At least 9 reported dead after Israel tank rounds hit facility in Khan Younis, UNRWA chief says

At least nine people were reported killed and 75 injured when two tank rounds hit a building at a training facility in the city of Khan Younis, the director of affairs for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said on X today.

Thomas White said the building sheltered 800 people. He added that a team trying to reach the center agreed upon a route with the Israeli army, only to find it blocked with an earth bank.

In an earlier post he said buildings were “ablaze” at the facility, which he said was home to tens of thousands of people.

‘War is always a defeat,’ Pope Francis says in new anti-war plea

Pope Francis called today for an end to the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, in a speech in the Vatican ahead of the remembrance day for Holocaust victims next week.

“War is always a defeat, always,” he said. “The only winners, so to speak, are weapons manufacturers,” he added.

Palestinians arrive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after fleeing an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.
Palestinians arrive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah today after fleeing an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis.Fatima Shbair / AP

China says it is working to alleviate tensions in the Red Sea

HONG KONG — China is deeply concerned over the escalations in the Red Sea that have threatened global trade through the vital shipping route, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said today at a briefing.

China, the world's biggest exporter, was in “close communication with various parties” and has “worked actively” to alleviate the tensions in the region, he said.

Wang's comments came after the U.S. military struck two anti-ship missiles in Yemen operated by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

He said the tensions were related to the war in Gaza and the priority was to “end the fighting.”

Cellular services return in Gaza, telecom says

Cellular services across the Gaza Strip are being restored, the enclave’s main telecommunications company Paltel said today in a post on X.

“Our crews are working hard to restore all communications services to what they were before the recent outage,” it said.

Mourners collect bodies at a hospital in Rafah

Palestinians wait at a hospital to collect the bodies of their relatives killed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip today.

Gaza civilian deaths at hospital in Gaza
AFP - Getty Images

Attack to the south of Yemen being investigated, U.K. says

An attack to the south of Yemen was being investigated, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said today on X.

The arm of the British navy that oversees Mideast waterways, also warned ships in the waterway to “transit with caution.”

The warning came after Yemen's Houthi rebels vowed to continue attacks on ships in the vital trade route, which they say they are carrying out in support of Gaza.

An explosion has occurred just over 330ft from the ship on its starboard side, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said in an update.

No injuries and damage was reported, it said.

Without hostage release, 'this war is meaningless,' injured Israel soldier says

TEL AVIV — Israel should focus on securing a hostage deal instead of using military pressure to secure the release of those who remain in Hamas captivity, a reserve soldier told NBC News yesterday.

“I think this war is meaningless unless we have all the hostages,” said Stave, 21, who is being treated at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center for leg injuries sustained Oct. 7, when the militant group launched multipronged attacks on Israel.

Stave, who for security reasons spoke on the condition that he only be identified by his first name, said that securing their release was “the most important goal of the whole war.”

He added that he would prefer to see Israeli leadership prioritize securing a deal as a means of seeing the more than 100 hostages who remain in Gaza released “as costly as that may be.”

Another reserve soldier recovering at the facility said that he also wanted to see the hostages released, but he said he felt Israel’s military campaign in Gaza had so far “110%” been a success.

“We’ve killed and we’ve destroyed a lot of terrorists and a lot of terrorism tunnels and we’ve done a lot of amazing work. Are we done? No. We’re not done. There’s still a lot of work to do and there’s still Hamas out there and hostages are still missing, so we’re not done,” said Menachem who was injured Dec. 12 while fighting in Gaza.

The 20-year-old, who also declined to provide his last name for security reasons, said he felt driven to return to the fight. Those feelings had intensified after 24 soldiers were killed Monday as a building was being wired for demolition with explosives. It marked the deadliest day for his country’s forces since the war began.

“It doesn’t make me afraid or want to sit in bed and cry. There’s not where it goes,” he said. “It more just brought me inner fire to go back in there and fight with my brothers.”

More than 200 people killed in in the last 24 hours, Gaza Health Ministry says

At least 210 people were killed in Gaza in the last 24 hours, the strip's Health Ministry said today in a statement on Telegram, raising the death toll since Oct. 7 to 25,700.

It added that another 386 people were injured and that “a number of victims are still under the rubble and on the roads,” with emergency services unable to reach them.

It comes amid intensifying Israeli military campaign in southern Gaza, where health officials have said that some patients remain trapped in hospitals.

Operations in Khan Younis are intensifying, Israel's military says

The Israeli military is intensifying operations around Khan Younis, Gaza's second-largest city, it said in statement on Telegram today.

It added that it had killed multiple members of Hamas as it battles the militant group around Gaza's second-largest city.

NBC News has not been able to independently verify the claims.

Civilians flee Khan Younis

Palestinians in Khan Yunis migrate amidst intense Israeli attacks
Ali Jadallah / Anadolu via Getty Images
Palestinians in Khan Yunis migrate amidst intense Israeli attacks
Ali Jadallah / Anadolu via Getty Images

Carrying what they can of their belongings, Palestinians flee the city of Khan Younis yesterday, as fierce fighting continued around Gaza's second-largest city.One child guided a flock of sheep along a road as he fled the city, which the Israeli military said it had encircled yesterday.

Thousands of Palestinians were compelled to relocate towards Rafah, situated along the Egyptian border, due to escalated Israeli military attacks on Khan Younis. Among the displaced Palestinians, some embarked on their journey with minimal possessions and were forced to migrate using donkey carts as they lacked access to vehicles.
Abed Zagout / Anadolu via Getty Images

U.S. forces strike Houthi missiles that were preparing to attack

U.S. forces early today struck two Houthi missiles that had been prepared to attack cargo ships and U.S. assets in the Southern Red Sea, U.S. Central Command said in a statement overnight.

The early morning strikes targeted two missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and were undertaken in “self-defense” given their posture, Central Command said. The missiles were destroyed, it said.

“They presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region,” Central Command said in its statement. “This action will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels.”

Iran-backed Houthi militants began attacking Red Sea cargo ships in November as they used shipping lanes important to global trade. Houthis have expressed dismay over Israel’s war in Gaza and sympathize with the Palestinians who live in the region.

IDF soldiers inside Gaza

An image supplied by the Israeli army today shows soldiers during ongoing ground operations at an undisclosed location inside the Gaza Strip.

IDF soldiers inside Gaza
Israeli Army / AFP - Getty Images

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