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U.S. shoots down Houthi missile fired at American warship in the Red Sea

The death toll in Gaza passed 24,000, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, as the war passed the 100-day mark.

What we know

  • A U.S. fighter jet shot down an anti-ship cruise missile fired toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea from Houthi militant-controlled areas of Yemen, the U.S. military has said. The first attack by the Iran-backed rebels after American-led strikes will add to fears of regional escalation after deadly new clashes on Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
  • As the war in Gaza passed the 100-day mark, the White House signaled that it is now "the right time" for its ally to scale back its war against Hamas. Protests calling for a cease-fire erupted around the world over the weekend, while in Israel families and supporters of the remaining hostages gathered to mark the milestone.
  • In Gaza, famine looms as the devastation mounts. More than 24,000 people have been killed in the enclave since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 60,000 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials say at least 186 soldiers have been killed during the country’s ground invasion of Gaza, which came after 1,200 people were killed and about 240 hostages were seized after Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.
  • NBC News’ Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Ali Arouzi, Chantal Da Silva and Josh Lederman are reporting from the region.

Veterinarian cares for displaced Gaza cats

Image: Veterinarian Offers Care To Cats Of Displaced Gaza Strip Citizens
Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Veterinarian Aed Abu Najm, 25, treats a cat in Rafah, Egypt, where he set up a clinic to provide care and shelter for cats of displaced Palestinians.

Image: Veterinarian Offers Care To Cats Of Displaced Gaza Strip Citizens
Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

U.S. ignored warnings about Houthi threat, senior Yemeni leader says

DAVOS, Switzerland — U.S. officials were warned about the dangers Houthi rebels posed to the Middle East before Israel’s war with Hamas, but “they didn’t do anything,” the vice president of Yemen’s U.N.-recognized government told NBC News. 

Maj. Gen. Aidarus al-Zubaidi said he met with American and British officials on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September and told them that the Iran-backed militant group was regrouping and rearming during a pause in fighting in its long-running war with a coalition led by Saudi Arabia

“They wrote everything down,” al-Zubaidi said yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan are expected to speak about returning stability to the Middle East. 

“They didn’t do anything,” al-Zubaidi said. 

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.
Houthi fighters and tribesmen Sunday near Sanaa, Yemen.AP

Read the full story here.

IDF denies claims made in Hamas hostage video

TEL AVIV — The Israel Defense Forces has rebutted claims made in a video posted online overnight by Hamas, accusing it of being responsible for the alleged deaths of two Israeli hostages.

The video released on the Telegram channel of the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, appeared to show Noa Argamani, who was taken hostage at the Nova music festival, saying that she had been injured and that two other hostages, Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky, had been killed. The video blamed the IDF for their deaths. NBC News was not immediately able to independently verify the video or its claims.

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said at a news conference that IDF representatives had met with the families of Sharabi and Svirsky in recent days and had “expressed grave concern for their fate, due to information we have.” He did not expand on what information the IDF had at the time or exactly when representatives met with the two men’s families.

Hagari denied that the IDF shot one of the two men. He also said the building where the three hostages were held was “not a target and was not attacked by our forces.” He said the IDF does not attack “where we know there may be abductees,” but he said Israeli forces were unaware of the three hostages’ location “in real time.” Hagari said the IDF had attacked targets close to where they were held, however, and he said it was investigating the event and the circumstances surrounding it.

NBC News was not able to independently verify Hagari’s statements about the alleged incident.

100 days is an 'eternity,' family of baby who'll turn 1 on Thursday says

HERZLIYA, Israel — He will turn 1 on Thursday as a hostage of Hamas and his relatives told NBC News they were worried about his health.

Kfir Bibas was 10 months old when he was taken hostage with his mom, Shiri, 32, his father, Yarden, 34, and his 4-year-old brother, Ariel, from their home in kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel. 

“I thought they would be returned to us in a week, and then we’re sitting here three months after with no information,” Shiri’s cousin Yifat Zailer said. “It’s really hard.”

Yosi Shnaider, another of Shiri’s cousins, added that 100 days in a baby’s life was “an eternity.” 

“It’s supposed to do so many things in those 100 days for its development,” he said, referring to Sunday marking 100 days since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 240 hostage.

After dozens were freed in an exchange for Palestinian prisoners in late November, Israeli officials estimate around 100 people remain in captivity. 

“There is the law of war, and you cannot hold children as prisoners of war, it’s not allowed,” Shnaider said. “Everybody makes promises but in the end when we’re leaving the room, everybody is going back to their business and they’re not doing anything.” 

Zailer added that she did not feel like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has our interests at heart.”

“He has his own problems and he thinks through endless war he will make people forget,” she said. Hamas “should be stopped, there is no doubt about it” she said. But, she said, Netanyahu “could sign a deal now” for a cease-fire that would allow the remaining hostages to return home. 

“He’s leaving my family there to die,” she said.   

Hamas releases third video about hostages, including Noa Argamani

TEL AVIV — A video released by Hamas today appears to show Israeli hostage Noa Argamani, who has become the face of the crisis, stating that she has been injured and that two other hostages, Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky, have been killed.

NBC News was not immediately able to independently verify the claims in the video, which Argamani is clearly making under duress and was released on the Telegram channel of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. It is also not known when the video was made.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant accused Hamas of “psychological terror” following the video’s release. “The IDF is in contact with the families of the abductees,” he said.

Sharabi’s brother-in-law, Raz Matalon, told NBC News he had nothing to say about the video. Previously, he said his other brother-in-law, Eli Sharabi, was also taken hostage by Hamas. Svirsky’s family could not be reached. The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents the families of people taken hostage into Gaza, did not respond to requests for comment from NBC News.

The video comes after Hamas shared separate undated footage on social media yesterday appearing to show Argamani, Sharabi and Svirsky.

IDF withdraws one of four divisions in Gaza for rest and training

The Israel Defense Forces says it has withdrawn one of four divisions in the Gaza Strip for "a period of refreshment and training."

The IDF said the 36th Division's withdrawal would allow for "strengthening readiness." The Israeli military did not say how long the division would be out of Gaza.

"At the end of the period, and according to the assessment of the situation, it will be decided on the continuation of the operational activity of the division’s forces according to the operational need," the IDF said.

Three combat divisions remain in Gaza, along with special forces, according to the IDF.

Israeli soldiers return from Gaza on January 15, 2024.
Israeli soldiers return from Gaza today.Menahem Kahana / AFP - Getty Images

Coons reacts to Houthi hit on U.S. containership

DAVOS, Switzerland — It is clear that the U.S. needs to take “further steps” against Yemen’s Houthi rebels “to deter them from interrupting the flow of commerce through the Red Sea,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told NBC News today. 

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Joe Biden’s campaign co-chair said the Iran-backed militant group continued “to challenge freedom of navigation.”

His comments came as details filtered through about the attack on the U.S.-owned and operated containership M/V Gibraltar Eagle, which U.S. Central Command said was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile.

There were no reports of injuries or significant damage and the ship’s U.S.-based owner, Eagle Bulk Shipping, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UNRWA: 'People live through the unliveable'

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East posted a comment on 100 days of war.

Australian foreign minister calls for a "sustainable cease-fire"

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong called for a “sustainable cease-fire” as she left for a Middle East tour today.

“Our position is that we want to see a sustainable cease-fire and that we see an international humanitarian, immediate humanitarian cease-fire as a step towards that,” Wong said at a news conference before her departure.

“No cease-fire can be one-sided and no cease-fire can be unconditional,” she added, while reiterating Israel's right to defend itself.

Gaza suffers telecommunications blackout for more than 72 hours, monitoring company says

A telecommunications blackout has been affecting the Gaza Strip for more than 72 hours, according to NetBlocks, a company that monitors global internet outages.

This disruption is the "longest sustained telecoms blackout on record" since the war began Oct. 7, the company said on X. This was “likely to significantly limit visibility into events on the ground,” it added.

Missile hits ship off the coast of Yemen, British maritime agency says

A ship was hit by a missile just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden today, the U.K. Marine Trade Operations said in a post on X.

The UKMTO cautioned vessels in the area to move with caution. U.K. maritime security firm Ambrey said that a U.S.-owned carrier ship was hit en route to the Suez Canal.

"The impact reportedly caused a fire in a hold. The bulker reportedly remained seaworthy, and no injuries were reported. The vessel increased speed" and then continued, Ambrey said. It added that the ship, which it said was Marshal Islands-flagged, "was assessed to not be Israel-affiliated."

The attack comes after Yemen's Houthi rebels vowed attacks on ships would continue despite the U.S. and Britain launching strikes on its targets in Yemen.

Houthis vow continued attacks on ships in the Red Sea

Despite U.S-led strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, the Iran-backed rebels vowed today their attacks on ships moving through the Red Sea will continue.

"We will continue to prevent Israeli ships or those heading to the occupied Palestinian ports until the aggression and siege on Gaza stops," the Houthis' official spokesman, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said today in a statement.

"Navigation is safe in the Arab and Red Bahrain and Bab al-Mandab, except for Israeli ships or those heading to occupied Palestinian ports," he added.

Raisi condemns U.S.-led strikes in Yemen

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi condemned the U.S.-led strikes in Yemen, the state news agency IRNA reported, saying they were indicative of Washington's "aggressive" nature.

The strikes were "rejected and condemned by the freedom-seeking nations of the world," he was quoted as saying yesterday.

Last week, the U.S and Britain jointly struck Houthi targets in Yemen, which came after weeks of attacks by the Iranian-backed rebels on ships in the Red Sea.

Israel-Hamas war hits 100 days, Netanyahu vows to keep fighting

TEL AVIV — As the Israel-Hamas war reaches 100 days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to increase its military pressure and keep fighting. Meanwhile, Hamas is marking the grim milestone by releasing a disturbing new video showing three of the hostages who are still held in Gaza. 

Houthis ‘dealt a blow’ by strikes, U.K. says

Last week's U.S. and British strikes in Yemen "dealt a blow" to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, British Defense Minister Grant Shapps said in a speech today.

"Houthis have persistently violated the law by menacing commercial vessels in the region," he said in a speech in London, referring to the attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

"We could not have been clearer with our warnings, which they chose to ignore," he said. "And enough was enough."

At least 14 people injured in ramming attack in central Israel, authorities say

At least 14 people have been injured in the city of Raanana in central Israel today after a vehicle struck pedestrians, according to the country's emergency services.

A suspected attack in Raanana
Nir Keidar / Reuters

Medics were treating a 70-year-old woman in critical condition, two men in serious condition with head and limb injuries, eight in moderate condition and three in mild condition, according to the Magen David Adom emergency services.

A spokesperson for the Israeli police said it had arrested a Hebron resident, who had stolen the vehicle in a "suspected hit-and-run attack."

Navy SEALs missing after going overboard during search for weapons near Somalia

Two Navy SEALs are missing after falling into rough, nighttime seas while raiding a small ship off the coast of Somalia, two U.S. defense officials told NBC News.

The SEALs were trying to climb into a type of small boat known as a dhow Thursday night when one of them fell in amid the rough seas, the defense officials said, speaking anonymously to give details of the incident. A second sailor jumped in to rescue the first, as protocol dictates, and both disappeared into the darkness, the officials said.

The sailors were not part of the international mission to protect shipping from attacks by Yemen’s Houthis in the Red Sea, which the Gulf of Aden leads into. However, in recent years, the U.S. and allies have conducted regular missions to intercept weapons on ships suspected of supplying the Iran-backed Houthis.

Read the full story here.

U.N. agencies call for increased aid access to prevent famine

Warning of a growing risk of famine in the Gaza Strip, three major U.N. agencies today called for an urgent "fundamental step change" in the flow of humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave.

"Without the ability to produce or import food, the entire population of Gaza relies on aid to survive," read the joint statement from the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization.

Delivery of aid is severely limited by the closure of border crossings, as well as the "multi-layered vetting process" for trucks through the ones that remain open, the agencies said, with the aid trucks also facing the potential danger of Israeli bombardments once they reach Gaza. They called for the opening of new routes for aid, most notably the port of Ashdod, north of Gaza.

"Famine will make an already terrible situation catastrophic because sick people are more likely to succumb to starvation and starving people are more vulnerable to disease,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Israel hits out at Turkey over arrest of soccer player for Gaza war message during match

TEL AVIV — Israel has accused Turkey of "serving as the executive arm of Hamas" following the detention of an Israeli soccer player, who was reportedly charged with inciting hatred after displaying a message referring to the war during a match yesterday.

Sagiv Jehezkel was detained after displaying a message on his bandaged wrist that said: "100 days, 7.10" alongside a Jewish Star of David emblem.

Turkish authorities charged the player today with inciting hatred before releasing him from custody pending trial, The Associated Press reported. The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed his release, saying he was expected to return home to Israel today.

Jehezkel, 28, has played for the Israeli national team. He has been suspended by his club, Antalyaspor, amid anger over the incident in Turkey, where opposition to the war is high.

Jehezkel, 28, displayed a bandage on his wrist reading "100 days. 07/10" next to the Star of David after scoring a goal for Antalyaspor against Trabzonspor on January 14, 2024.
Demiroren News Agency / AFP - Getty Images

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant condemned Jehezkel's detention earlier this morning in a post on X as "scandalous," and "an expression of hypocrisy" after Israel came to Turkey's aid following a deadly earthquake that left thousands dead.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that "Turkey has become a dark dictatorship, working against humane values and sports values." He added: "Today it's Sagiv Yehezkel, tomorrow it's another athlete."

Gaza death toll passes 24,000

At least 132 people were killed across the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours, the enclave's health ministry said in a post on Facebook today, with another 252 injured.

"A number of victims are still under rubble and on the roads, and ambulance and civil defense crews cannot reach them," it said.

This puts the death toll in Gaza at 24,100 since the war began on Oct. 7, the ministry said.

Only a quarter of planned aid being delivered to Gaza because of Israeli restrictions, U.N. says

Out of the 29 planned aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip, only seven have successfully reached their destinations this year because of "several access constraints" imposed by Israel, the U.N. Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs said yesterday in a report.

The deliveries form only 24% of the planned deliveries, down from 70% in December last year.

"These denials paralyze the ability of humanitarian partners to respond meaningfully, consistently and at-scale, to the hundreds of thousands of people who remain in northern Gaza," the OCHA said, as access to central Gaza and southern Gaza also diminishes.

Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested over alleged plot to disrupt London Stock Exchange

Six pro-Palestinian protesters have been arrested by British authorities, London's Metropolitan Police said yesterday in a statement, over an alleged attempt to disrupt the London Stock Exchange today.

The plan attempted to cause "damage and ‘locking on’ in an effort to prevent the building opening for trading," the police said, adding the six remained in custody.

"We believe this group was ready to carry out a disruptive and damaging stunt which could have had serious implications had it been carried out successfully," Detective Superintendent Sian Thomas said.

China calls for Gaza peace conference

HONG KONG — China has urged a “larger-scale, more authoritative and more effective” international peace conference to achieve the “peaceful coexistence” of Israel and Palestine.

International society should “listen carefully” to the “legitimate concerns” of countries in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters yesterday in a joint news conference with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo.

“The top priority for now is to stop the war as soon as possible,” Wang said. “Ensuring humanitarian relief is a moral imperative.”

He also emphasized the need to implement a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The future arrangements for Gaza must fully respect the will of the Palestinian people,” he said. “A cease-fire and an end to the fighting are fundamental prerequisites for the governance of Gaza, and ‘Palestinians ruling Palestinians’ is the basic principle for exploring the future of Gaza.”

U.S. shoots down missile fired toward American destroyer in Red Sea from Houthi-controlled Yemen

The U.S. said it shot down an anti-ship cruise missile fired toward a Navy destroyer yesterday afternoon in the Red Sea.

U.S. military officials said that the missile was fired toward the USS Laboon from Iranian-backed Houthi militant areas of Yemen.

No injuries or damage were reported.

The news comes days after the U.S. and Britain launched military strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who for weeks have been targeting shipping vessels.

The Houthis have said their strikes are in support of Hamas and last week vowed retaliation for attacks.

Keeping warm in a Rafah camp

Displaced Palestinians warm by the fire last night at a makeshift camp west of Rafah, in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border.

Displaced Palestinians warm by the fire at a makeshift camp west of Rafah near the Egyptian border on Jan. 14, 2024.
AFP via Getty Images

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