It’s 8:13am in Gaza and Tel Aviv on New Year’s Day, welcome to our latest blog on the Israel-Gaza war. My name is Reged Ahmad and I’ll be with you for the next while.
In a press briefing on New Year’s Eve, Israel Defence Forces Rear Adm Daniel Hagari has indicated that the conflict could go on through 2024, saying that “The objectives of the war require prolonged fighting,” and that management of the defence forces “are designed to ensure planning and preparation for the continuation of 2024… understanding that we will be required for additional tasks and warfare throughout this year.”
More on that in a moment but first, here’s a summary of the latest:
Just after midnight on New Year’s Day, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets, setting off air raid sirens in southern and central Israel. No injuries were reported.
At least 100 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours, as the three-month-old conflict between Israel and Hamas rolls into the new year.
Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has called for the return of Jewish settlers to the Gaza Strip after the war and said Gaza’s Palestinian population should be encouraged to emigrate, according to AFP. “To have security, we must control the territory,” Smotrich told Israel’s Army Radio in response to a question about the prospect of re-establishing settlements in Gaza. “In order to control the territory militarily for a long time, we need a civilian presence.” The Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu has not officially suggested plans to evict Gazans or to send Jewish settlers back to the territory since the war broke out on 7 October.
US Navy helicopters sank three of four small boats used by Iranian-backed Houthi militants to attack a merchant vessel in the southern Red Sea on Sunday, US central command said. The Houthis have targeted vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza.
A former member of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet has offered a rare public apology, Associated Press reports. The news agency says Galit Distel Atbaryan, a lawmaker from Netanyahu’s Likud Party, appeared to accept responsibility for the polarised atmosphere ahead of the 7 October attack. “I’m here sitting and telling you, the democratic, secular public: I sinned against you, I caused pain for you, I caused you to fear for your lives here, and I am sorry for this,” she told Channel 13 TV.
World Health Organization representatives visited Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis on Sunday to assess the needs of the overwhelmed health facility, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said. In a tweet on Sunday, Tedros added that the Nasser Medical Complex is one of only two key functioning hospitals in southern Gaza that is able to provide medical care for wounded and other patients.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the war would continue for “many more months” and that Israel would assume control of the Gaza side of the border with Egypt. He made the comments at a news conference Saturday.
Cori Bush, a US Democratic senator representing Missouri, has joined a handful of Democrats in criticizing the Joe Biden’s administration for bypassing congressional review in its transfer of weapons to Israel. Over the weekend, Bush tweeted: “The White House cannot have it both ways: calling on the Israeli government to uphold international law while bypassing Congress to send weapons that are leading to violations of international law. How many innocent people must die before @POTUS will demand a ceasefire?”
Palestine’s ambassador to the UK said that the world wants to discuss the “day after Israel’s aggression on Gaza but it’s the day before we need to understand”. In an interview with Democracy Now, Husam Zomlot said: “Everybody now is wanting us to discuss the day after. No. The day before. The day before 7 October. The occupation, the colonisation, the racism, the supremacy, the murders all over the West Bank, the provocations in Jerusalem, the rounding and arresting of our children without trial, without charge, without access to their parents or lawyers, this is what needs to be discussed.”
The Palestinian foreign minister has released a statement before the new year in which he condemned what he called the “Israeli war machine’s persistence in the war of genocide”. In a statement on X, Riad Malki wrote: “We welcome the new year and the 59th anniversary of the start of the Palestinian revolution, yet the wounds of our people are bleeding due to Israeli war machine’s persistence in the war of genocide, destruction, and displacement.”
Approximately 1.4 million Palestinians who have been displaced by Israeli strikes are living in UNRWA facilities across the Gaza Strip, the UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma said. She told the BBC: “The facilities in the north are becoming crowded by the hour, people continue to come in. They are absolutely full and so people have started taking refuge in areas outside these facilities including in parks, in the open. Many are sleeping in their cars.”
More than 21,800 Palestinians have been killed and more than 56,000 wounded, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The ministry does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths.