IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Last updated

Israel-Hamas war: Hopes rise for new Gaza deal as Rafah invasion looms

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war Cabinet, said attempts “to promote a new outline” for a deal were being made but repeated the threat to invade Rafah during Ramadan.

What we know

  • Hopes of a truce in Gaza and a new hostage deal with Hamas were raised after Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's war Cabinet, said yesterday there were attempts "to promote a new outline." He also repeated Israel's threat to invade the city of Rafah during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts March 10, if no hostage deal is reached by then.
  • Ultra-nationalist Israeli ministers today called for the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank and new checkpoints for Palestinians following a shooting attack on a busy highway in the territory that killed one Israeli and wounded four.
  • A ship was hit by two missiles in the Red Sea to the southeast of Yemen, the U.K.'s Maritime Trade Organization reported today. It said a fire broke out on the vessel. While the organization did not blame anyone for the attack, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been launching attacks on cargo vessels in the region. The U.S. conducted several self-defense strikes against the Houthis yesterday, destroying missiles and a drone boat that it said were being readied to attack shipping.
  • A group of United Nations aid organizations yesterday listed the 10 steps they say are required to prevent a further catastrophe in Gaza, including an immediate cease-fire and the reinstatement of funding for the United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, yesterday called the enclave a ''death zone'' and warned malnutrition will only worsen after the suspension of food deliveries to northern Gaza.
  • More than 29,400 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 69,400 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials said at least 238 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

A baby evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital reunites with parents — but in Rafah, they face fresh peril


Erin McLaughlin

Charlene Gubash

Erin McLaughlin, Chantal Da Silva and Charlene Gubash

CAIRO, Egypt — Bundled in blankets at a tent encampment in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, Anas Stateh cries out in pain. For weeks, the 5-month-old has suffered from a hernia that requires urgent surgery, but the war has made it impossible for his parents to get him help. 

“The boy is weak,” his father, Jalal Stateh, told NBC News’ crew in Rafah, where more than 1 million people have taken refuge last week amid Israel’s offensive in the enclave. Baby Anas, he said, gets “no sleep, day or night.”

“I am watching him … losing him,” Jalal Stateh added.

Anas has already survived plenty. In November, he was one of 31 babies evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza as part of a high-stakes mission led by the World Health Organization.

Read the full story here.

'Her body was torn in pieces,' man dug for his wife and daughter's bodies after deadly strikes in Rafah

NBC News

Abed Alrahman Jumah told NBC News that he found the bodies of his wife and daughter after they were killed in Israeli strikes that hit the border city of Rafah in Gaza.

He searched under the rubble to discover his wife's body "torn in pieces" in the street, Jumah said.

Rows of body bags are evidence of the recent devastation in the city as Israeli bombardment continues. More than a million Gazans are in Rafah, many having been displaced multiple times and assured that the southern city would be considered a safe zone.

Jumah sat down cradling his daughter's body, wrapped in a white sheath, after another man discovered her.

UNRWA commissioner pleads for U.N. support as agency reaches 'breaking point'

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner of the the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, wrote a letter to the president of the General Assembly saying his agency has "reached breaking point."

At least 16 U.N. member states have suspended funding for UNRWA in the last month, following accusations by Israel that a dozen of its staff members were involved in Hamas Oct. 7 attack. Staff members who were able to be identified were immediately terminated and the U.N. has opened an investigation into the matter, but Lazzarini says that Israel has failed to provide UNRWA with any evidence a month later.

"It is with profound regret that I must now inform you that the Agency has reached breaking point, with Israel’s repeated calls to dismantle UNRWA and the freezing of funding by donors at a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs in Gaza," Lazzarini said.

UNRWA officials have warned that without funding it may be forced to cease operations entirely by the end of the month, putting millions of already starving Gazans at further risk of famine. It would also eliminate the agency's stabilizing force in the region as it helps care for Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, Lazzarini warned.

"For decades, in an untenable arrangement, UNRWA as a humanitarian agency has been left to fill the vacuum resulting from an absence of peace or even a peace process," he wrote. "I believe that the General Assembly now faces a fundamental decision."

He asked the U.N. General Assembly president to offer political support and find a solution that "closes the gap between UNRWA’s mandate and its funding."

China asks World Court to speak out on ‘unlawful’ Israeli occupation


AMSTERDAM — China asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday to give its opinion on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, which it said was illegal.

“Justice has been long delayed, but it must not be denied,” China’s Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser Ma Xinmin told the court in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

“Fifty-seven years have passed since Israel began its occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). The unlawful nature of the occupation and sovereignty over the occupied territories remain unchanged,” he said.

The U.N.’s top court began proceedings this week, hearing arguments from more than 50 states following a request by the U.N. General Assembly in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation.

The hearings are part of a Palestinian push to get international legal institutions to examine Israel’s conduct. Israel, which is not taking part in the hearings, said in written comments that the court’s involvement could be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement.

Former hostage recounts her time in captivity underground in the 'pitch black' with 'no air'

Molly Hunter

Aviva Siegel and her husband, Keith, were kidnapped from a kibbutz in southern Israel on Oct. 7. Fifty-one days later, she was among the 105 hostages released during the November truce.

In an interview with NBC News, Aviva recalled her experience at the hands of Hamas militants and spoke about her efforts to free Keith and other hostages.

She spent her captivity roughly 40 meters underground, she said, with little food and water. "Pitch black, no air, there was a toilet with no water," Siegel said. "We couldn't even wash our hands."

Ministry of Health says IDF soldiers have returned to Nasser Hospital

Israeli soldiers have returned to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis after having withdrawn earlier in the day, Gaza's Ministry of Health said today.

NBC News has reached out to the IDF for more information.

According to a previous statement from the ministry, Israeli forces in the area were preventing movement to and from the medical complex. This comes as patients and staff members inside have been cut off from food, water, electricity and medical supplies such as oxygen over the past week.

Staff inside buried 13 people who died due to a lack of oxygen, the ministry said today.

The World Health Organization embarked on two missions this week to transport more than 30 critical patients out of the facility, but more than 100 remain.

U.K. Parliament in turmoil after Gaza cease-fire debate raises fears for lawmakers’ safety

The Associated Press

The chaotic debate over a cease-fire in Gaza reverberated through Britain’s Parliament as the speaker of the House of Commons faced calls to resign, and lawmakers said they feared for their safety amid pressure from all sides of the issue.

After more than six hours of sometimes heated debate yesterday, both the governing Conservative Party and the Scottish National Party, or SNP, refused to participate in voting on the question. That left Labour, the largest opposition party, with the largely hollow victory of passing its version of a nonbinding motion calling for an “immediate humanitarian” cease-fire unopposed.

Anger over the way the debate unfolded led to more than 50 lawmakers submitting letters of no confidence in Speaker Lindsay Hoyle today. Hoyle was meeting with the leaders of all three main parties to plot a way forward. Hoyle apologized today and acknowledged that he made a mistake, saying that he was trying to make sure that all lawmakers had the chance to make their positions clear in a climate of threat and intimidation.

Conservative Charles Walker said during yesterday's debate that the Gaza issue has been “weaponized," alleging that some lawmakers feel they must vote a specific way to ensure their family's safety.

“This is a far bigger issue than the debate we’re having tonight, because if people are changing their votes in this place, or changing their behaviors in this place, because they are frightened what may happen to them or their families out there, then we have a real problem,” Walker said. “So this point scoring off each other is not going to resolve many issues.”

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza intensifies with no hospitals fully functioning, WHO doctors say

Health emergencies across the Gaza region are increasing at a rapid rate, according to the World Health Organization.

Only 13 out of 36 hospitals in the region are partially functioning, said Richard Brennan, the regional emergency director at WHO’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. None of them are fully functioning.

"We have massive levels of displacement, over 1.5 million people displaced,” Brennan said.

WHO’s Health Emergency team lead, Ayadil Saparbekov, said that, based on the United Nations’ satellite imagery, 70% to 80% of infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed. “So the northern Gaza hospitals practically do not function and they need to have a rebuilding. ... It will take until 2092 to reach the level of gross domestic product that Gaza had in a year prior to this war,” Saparbekov said.

U.S. shot down Houthi drones; U.K. cargo vessel hit in Gulf of Aden

Six Houthi drones were shot down by U.S. forces in the Red Sea today after being identified as "an imminent threat" likely targeting coalition warships, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

A U.K.-owned vessel in the Gulf of Aden was also attacked today after the Yemeni militia fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles, the statement said. The ship is continuing on after one injury and some damage was reported.

Houthi officials released a statement confirming the attack on a U.K. ship as well as claiming to have targeted an American destroyer. The group also claimed to have "launched a number of ballistic missiles and drones" at the city of Eilat in Israel.

McGurk meets with Israel's defense minister and hostage families while in Israel

Yael Factor

Kelly O'Donnell

Yael Factor and Kelly O'Donnell

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he met with Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, in Tel Aviv to discuss the hostages who remain in Gaza as well as the military's operations.

According to a statement from Gallant's office, the minister expressed his appreciation of McGurk's leadership and personal commitment to the hostage situation and security of the region.

A senior administration official confirmed to NBC News that McGurk was meeting with the families of individuals held hostage today while in Israel.

McGurk also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss efforts to secure the release of all hostages. The news comes just a day after Minister Benny Gantz told the public there was potential movement on a new hostage deal, though Gantz did not offer additional details.

War and outbreak could kill 85,750 Gazans in 6 months, study finds

Larissa Gao and Reuters

In a worst-case scenario in which fighting escalates and there are significant disease outbreaks in Gaza, about 85,570 people could die by early August, according to a report by independent researchers in the U.S. and Britain.

Even if the fighting in Gaza stopped now, about 8,000 more people could still die there over the next six months due to the public health crisis, the report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Johns Hopkins Center for Health found.

The figures are part of wider projections of the excess deaths the conflict may cause in Gaza over the next six months. The report, published on Monday, says it does not include Israel because its public health system is intact.

If the conflict maintains the status quo, the death toll could climb to as many as 66,720, and if tensions intensify, additional deaths of 19,000 people in Gaza were expected.

Israel's far-right ministers call for new settlements and restrictions on Palestinians after checkpoint shooting

Israel's far-right ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich called for heavier restrictions on Palestinians and new settlements in response to a fatal shooting at an Israeli checkpoint near Jerusalem today.

One person was killed and five others wounded when three Palestinians opened fire in the occupied West Bank. Smotrich, Israel's finance minister, called for the prime minister to approve a plan that would build thousands of housing units in the West Bank as retribution.

"Let our enemies know that every time we are hurt would lead to more construction and more development and more of our grip all over the country,” Smotrich wrote in a post on X.

Gvir, who is the national security minister, responded in his own post calling for more restrictions and checkpoints, saying that the "freedom of life of the citizens of Israel prevails over the freedom of movement of the residents of the [Palestinian Authority]."

Both ministers have been previously rebuked by U.S. officials for their calls to re-settle Gaza following the war.

The Palestinian foreign minister criticized the ministers, saying in a statement that they do not "waste any opportunity to incite restrictions on freedom of defenseless Palestinian citizens." It warned that such rhetoric escalates violence against Palestinians by settlers and has "disastrous repercussions" on efforts to restore calm.

"While the Ministry condemns their racist incitement calls, it considers them an extension of the official Israeli policy based on demonizing the entire Palestinian people to justify bombing them with missiles and displacing them," the foreign minister said.

Houthis say U.S. and U.K.-flagged vessels are banned from the Red Sea


Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis will escalate their attacks on ships in the Red Sea and other waters and has introduced “submarine weapons" in continued solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war, the group’s leader said.

Iran-aligned Houthi militants in Yemen have launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden since November in support of Palestinians, as the Israel-Hamas war continues and the Gaza death toll reaches almost 30,000, according to Palestinian health officials.

Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, the Houthi leader, gave a televised speech the same day the Houthis sent shippers and insurers formal notice of what they termed a ban on vessels linked to Israel, the U.S. and Britain from sailing in surrounding seas, seeking to reinforce their military campaign in support of Palestinians.

The Houthis’ communication, the first to the shipping industry outlining a ban, came in the form of two notices from the Houthis’ newly dubbed Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center sent to shipping insurers and firms.

Ships that are wholly or partially owned by Israeli individuals or entities and Israel-flagged vessels, or are owned by U.S. or British individuals or entities, or sailing under their flags, are banned from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, the notices said.

Funeral held for an Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

Max Butterworth

Soldiers carry the casket of Staff Sgt. Simon Shlomov during his funeral today in Rishon Lezion, Israel. Shlomov, 20, was killed during Israel's ongoing ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

Shlomov, 20, was killed during Israel's ground operation in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army has been battling Palestinian militants in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel.
Ariel Schalit / AP
Shlomov, 20, was killed during Israel's ground operation in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army has been battling Palestinian militants in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel.
Ariel Schalit / AP

White House adviser Brett McGurk to discuss hostage deal with Netanyahu

Omer Bekin

Omer Bekin and Larissa Gao

White House Middle East envoy Brett McGurk will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi later today, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

They will continue the discussions on the potential hostage talks and “a looming military operation” in Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, the statement said.

More than 1 million Palestinians have sought shelter in the city, which Israel says is a stronghold for Hamas fighters.

Gaza is a 'death zone,' WHO chief says

Lori Rampani

The crisis in Gaza is “inhumane,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday as he again called for a cease-fire in the region.

“We need a cease-fire now. We need hostages to be released. We need the bombs to stop dropping, and we need unfettered humanitarian access. Humanity must prevail,” he told a media briefing.

Calling the enclave a “death zone,” he said, “the health and humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane and continues to deteriorate.”

Children stand amid the rubble of a building destroyed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah, Gaza, on Thursday.
Children stand amid the rubble of a building destroyed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah, Gaza, on Thursday.Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images

1 dead after Palestinian gunmen open fire at West Bank motorists

Three Palestinians opened fire at motorists near an Israeli checkpoint in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem today, killing one person and wounding five, emergency services said.

One woman was seriously wounded, said Israel’s paramedic service, Magen David Adom.

Police said officers and civilians at the site shot dead two gunmen and wounded a third. The assailants were from the area of the West Bank Palestinian city of Bethlehem, police said.

Palestinians have right to ‘armed struggle’ against Israel, China tells World Court

Palestinians have the “legitimate” right to use force against Israel, a legal adviser to China's foreign ministry told the International Court of Justice today.

“In pursuit of the right to self-determination, Palestinian people’s use of force to resist foreign oppression and to complete the establishment of an independent state is an inalienable right,” Ma Xinmin said on fourth day of hearing's at the world top court on the legality of Israeli’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Citing people who used “armed struggle against colonial occupation, aggression, and the domination by foreign forces” as examples, he said armed resistance from Palestinians was different from acts of terrorism.

“Numerous other resolutions recognize the legitimacy of struggling by all available means including armed struggle by people under colonial domination or foreign occupation to realize the right to self-determination,” he added.

Behavior of some soldiers falls into 'criminal territory,' IDF's top lawyer says

The conduct displayed by some soldiers in Gaza falls into “criminal territory,” the Israel Defense Forces' top lawyer said in a letter to military commanders.

“We have come across cases of improper conduct that deviates from IDF values and orders,” Israeli Military Advocate General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi wrote.

“Use of force is generally conducted in a professional and legal manner,” she said.

But she said there were also cases of “unjustified and operational misuse of force, including towards detainees; humiliation, which includes the use or confiscation of private property unnecessarily; and the destruction of civilian property contrary to orders.”

“Some incidents go beyond disciplinary boundaries and cross into criminal territory,” she added.

She did not expand on whether any soldiers are or could face criminal action over their conduct. 

‘Promises of safe areas are empty,’ Doctors Without Borders says

The “promises of safe areas are empty,” and Israeli forces are not ensuring civilian safety in Gaza after two people were killed at its shelter in Khan Younis last night, the general director of Médecins Sans Frontières said.

According to the group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, an Israeli tank shell hit a known and clearly marked shelter where its aid workers and their families were housed in Al-Mawasi. The 64 people inside were not given an evacuation order and Israeli forces were “regularly informed” about the MSF team’s location, the organization said.

“The amount of force being used in a densely populated urban area is staggering, and targeting a building knowing it is full of humanitarian workers and their families is unconscionable,” MSF general director Meinie Nicolai said in a statement.

israeli hamas conflict
A man stands in a damaged Doctors Without Borders building in Khan Younis yesterday.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

A staff member’s wife and daughter-in-law where killed in the attack, and shelling in the area delayed ambulances for the injured for two hours, according to MSF.

“We are outraged and deeply saddened by these killings,” Nicolai said. “On the same day the United States chose to veto an immediate cease-fire, two daughters saw their mother and sister-in-law killed by an Israeli tank shell.”

The IDF declined to comment to NBC News on the matter, and the aid organization said it has contacted Israeli authorities seeking an explanation.

Israeli strikes leave mosque in ruins

Max Butterworth

Strikes intensified overnight as Israel reiterated intent to press on with a ground offensive in Gaza's southern city of Rafah where some 1.4 million internally displaced Palestinians are sheltering, whilst a growing number of countries express alarm over the operation.
Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images
Rafah Air Strikes Gaza
Said Khatib / AFP - Getty Images
Rafah Air Strikes in Gaza
Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

A Palestinian boy looks out over the destruction of Al-Farouq Mosque in Rafah, southern Gaza this morning, as women and children walk through the ruins left behind by Israeli strikes.

U.K. reports ship ablaze in Red Sea, Israel intercepts attack on Eilat

Associated Press

Israel intercepted what appeared to be an attack launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels today near the port city of Eilat, as the group escalates its assaults over Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, authorities said.

Sirens sounded early this morning over Eilat, followed by videos posted online of what appeared to be an interception in the sky overhead.

The Israeli military later said the interception was carried out by its Arrow missile defense system.

Israel did not identify what the fire was, nor where it came from. However, the Arrow system intercepts long-range ballistic missiles with a warhead designed to destroy targets while they are in space.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack. They typically acknowledge assaults they conduct hours afterward.

On Thursday, there was a report of a possible attack in the Gulf of Aden, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said. There was no other immediate information available.