Escalating tensions in the Middle East as Israeli war on Gaza continues - as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 13 Apr 2024

Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East and a brutal Israeli war on Gaza that has entered its 190th day, the Pentagon has announced an increase in its presence, citing concerns over potential retaliatory actions from Iran following a strike near its embassy in Syria. President Biden, addressing reporters, issued a warning to Iran, anticipating an imminent attack.

Palestinians carry belongings as people fleeing conflict leave their homes, in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. AFP


Meanwhile, Israel continues its attacks on central Gaza as Hamas rockets continue to target Israeli cities.  

Internationally, the situation compounds as a British Palestinian doctor, Ghassan Abu Sitta, faces travel restrictions — he was barred from entering Germany — and witnesses the shutdown of a Palestinian solidarity conference.

Abu Sitta, renowned for his medical efforts in Gaza, recounts how he was detained and interrogated for hours at Berlin’s airport and barred from recording any videos for events in Germany this month.

As tensions persist and retaliations loom, the region remains on edge, awaiting further developments in the ongoing conflict.


16:00 The Gaza health ministry said Saturday that at least 33,686 Palestinians have been killed and 76,309 others wounded during more than six months of Israel's war on Gaza that began in early October.

The toll includes at least 52 killed and 95 others wounded over the past 24 hours, the ministry added in a statement.

The latest tally comes after Israel's military said it had struck more than 30 targets across Gaza over the previous day.

In the main central city of Deir Al-Balah, a fire burned in the rubble of a destroyed mosque.

Israel's military "demanded that the whole area be evacuated" before it was "wiped out in minutes," said Abdullah Baraka, a witness.

In nearby Nuseirat refugee camp, Abd Thabet said residents had been warned to evacuate on Friday evening ahead of a large explosion that caused "massive destruction."

"All of the houses were demolished, including my home," the 35-year-old told AFP.

"There are children, women, and the elderly, and we left without anything with us from our homes."

Israel's siege of Gaza has also sparked a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territory, particularly in the north where Gazans live under "famine-like conditions."

15:00 Israel’s army said Saturday the dead body of a missing Israeli teen was found in the West Bank after his disappearance sparked a large attack by Israeli settlers on a Palestinian village on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, one Palestinian man was killed, and 25 others were wounded in the attack on the village of Mughayyir, Palestinian health officials said. Israeli troops on Saturday delayed the ambulance carrying the 26-year-old’s body for several hours, witnesses said.

Dozens of settlers returned to the village’s outskirts on Saturday, burning two homes and several cars. The Palestinian health ministry said three people from the village were injured, one critically.

In the nearby village of Douma, Israeli settlers set fire to several homes, according to WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency. The Palestinian Red Crescent said six people were injured by gunfire but did not say who fired.

14:50 Italian-Swiss Shipping group MSC confirmed Saturday earlier reports of the seizure of an Israel-linked container ship by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf, noting that 25 crew members were on board the vessel.

"We regret to confirm that MSC Aries ... has been boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter as she passed the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 0243 UTC this morning," the group said in a statement. "She has 25 crew onboard, and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing and safe return of the vessel."

14:30 The police dispersed a support conference for the Palestinians in Gaza. The mayor thanked the police and clarified, "Whoever does not accept that there is no place for hatred of Israel - will bear the consequences."

13:45 Commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled down onto the Israel-linked container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel Saturday, authorities said.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency confirmed the attack on the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, which is reportedly connected to the London-based company "Zodiac Maritime," owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

12:30 Troop reinforcements from Israel's ally the United States headed to the region on Saturday, with fears of wider war growing more than six months into Israel's war on Gaza.

As talks for a Gaza truce and captive release dragged on, the region braced for the retaliation that Iran has vowed after the consular strike whose victims included two generals.

12:00 Australian airline Qantas said on Saturday it would redirect its long-haul flights between Perth and London to avoid Iran's airspace following similar decisions made by other airlines on Friday amid soaring Middle East tensions.

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