We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

A child carries a desk as he walks across destroyed Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City, 15 January. Alamy Stock Photo

Israel and Hamas reach deal for Gaza hostages to receive medicines in exchange for aid to civilians

A wave of Israeli strikes killed at least 78 people in the Gaza Strip overnight.


A DEAL TO allow the delivery of medicines to hostages in Gaza and aid into the territory has been agreed following mediation by Doha and Paris, Qatar and Israel announced today.

In a statement to the official Qatar News Agency, the foreign ministry announced the deal “where medicine along with other humanitarian aid is to be delivered to civilians in Gaza… in exchange for delivering medication needed for Israeli captives in Gaza”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed the deal and said: “The medicines will be forwarded by Qatari representatives in the Gaza Strip to their final destination.”

Qatar, which hosts Hamas’s political office, has led negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, having mediated a week-long break in the war in Gaza in November which included the release of scores of Israeli and foreign hostages.

Israel pummelled southern Gaza today, killing dozens, even as authorities announced the winding down of the intense phase of the conflict that has inflamed tensions across the Middle East.

Netanyahu has come under mounting international pressure to end its offensive in Gaza launched in response to Hamas’s unprecedented 7 October attacks.

But fears are mounting the conflict could be widening, with Iran and its proxies stepping up attacks across the region in solidarity with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian territory.

A wave of Israeli strikes killed at least 78 people in the Gaza Strip overnight, Hamas’s press office said. An AFP correspondent said the southern city of Khan Yunis was hit hard.

A barrage of 50 rockets was fired later toward Netivot in southern Israel, without causing any casualties, the army said. The attack was claimed by Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

AFPTV live footage showed trails of smoke and explosions ring out as Israeli air defences intercepted rockets near Gaza.

Fighting has ravaged Gaza since 7 October, when Hamas militants carried out an unparallelled attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Militants also dragged about 250 hostages back to Gaza, 132 of whom Israel says are still in the Palestinian territory, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.

At least 24,285 Palestinians, about 70% of them women, children and adolescents, have been killed in Gaza in Israeli bombardments and ground operations since 7 October, according to the Hamas government.

‘Tamp down flames’

Khan Yunis has been the focus of Israeli military operations since the army said on 6 January that it had dismantled Hamas’s military structures in the north and was shifting its focus to the south.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had said yesterday that intense operations would soon be winding down in the territory’s south.

“In southern Gaza we will reach this achievement and it will end soon, and in both places, the moment will come when we will move to the next phase,” he said, without giving a time frame.

The army announced today the death of two more soldiers in Gaza, bringing the total number killed since its ground invasion began to 190.

gaza-city-palestinian-territories-15th-jan-2024-a-general-view-of-the-destruction-in-the-sheikh-radwan-neighbourhood-in-gaza-city-after-one-hundred-days-of-the-isarel-hamas-war-credit-omar-isha A general view of the destruction in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday reiterated calls to stop the fighting.

“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to ensure sufficient aid gets to where it is needed, to facilitate the release of the hostages, to tamp down the flames of wider war – because the longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the greater the risk of escalation and miscalculation,” he said.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned the fighting will go on for months.

Yemen ship attack

Violence involving regional allies of Iran-backed Hamas – considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union – has surged since the conflict began.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels, who say they act in solidarity with Gaza, claimed a missile strike on a US-owned cargo ship yesterday, just days after the United States and Britain bombed scores of targets inside the country in response to repeated attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

In another such attack, a missile struck a Greek-owned cargo ship in the Red Sea off Yemen, maritime risk management company Ambrey said today.

The US military said it had seized Iranian-made missile parts that were en route to the Huthis on a boat in the Arabian Sea.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it carried out an overnight missile attack that destroyed “the Zionist regime’s” (Israel) spy headquarters in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The IRGC said it also struck a “gathering of anti-Iranian terrorist groups” in the Iraqi Kurdistan capital Arbil and hit a number of Islamic State group sites in Syria.

Iraq condemned the strikes as an “attack on its sovereignty”.

It dismissed Iran’s claim it had hit an Israeli intelligence base, saying it struck a businessman’s house and he was among four people killed.

Iran defended the strikes, saying they were a “targeted operation” and “just punishment” against those who breach its security.

Today, the Israeli army said it conducted air and artillery strikes on Hezbollah, the powerful Iran-backed Shiite movement across the border in Lebanon.

‘Die from the cold’

The UN says the Israel-Hamas conflict has displaced roughly 85% of Gaza’s 2.4 million people, many of whom have been forced to crowd into shelters and struggle to get food, water, fuel and medical care.

As temperatures plunge, families living in makeshift tents in the southern city of Rafah have resorted to burning plastic to ward off the chill, despite the noxious fumes.

The Israeli public, meanwhile, has kept up pressure on the government to secure the return of the hostages seized by Hamas, with the militant group yesterday announcing the deaths of two more captives.

The Al-Qassam Brigades released a video showing a woman hostage, speaking under duress, revealing that two men she was held with had been killed in captivity. It blamed “the Zionist army’s bombing” for their deaths.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari rejected the cause of death as a “lie”, but added: “We know that we hit targets near the location where they were held”, saying an investigation was under way.

© AFP 2024