US launches new attack on Houthis in Yemen as Israeli war on Gaza reach 99th day - as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 13 Jan 2024

US and British forces have launched fresh raids on Yemen's capital, a day after the allies carried out dozens of strikes on the country. Meanwhile, Israel continues to pound Gaza which suffers under a dire humanitarian situation and is grappled with a telecommunications blackout on the 99th day of war on the Strip.

Black smoke billows amid clashes as Israeli forces raid the al-Faraa camp for Palestinian refugees near Tubas city in the occupied West Bank on January 13, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. AFP

22:00 In a recent development, a Hamas official expressed gratitude to Qatar for sending medicine to the Gaza Strip, citing the risks that Palestinians face. Osama Hamdan, a Lebanon-based Hamas leader, thanked Qatar during a news conference in Beirut. He also mentioned that some of the medicine would be used to treat Israeli prisoners held by Hamas.

Initially, Israel had offered to send medical aid to Gaza for the hostages held by Hamas. However, Hamdan stated that they believed the people of Gaza were more deserving and in greater need of the medicine. Additionally, there were security concerns associated with accepting medical aid from Israel.

Israel has now struck an arrangement with Qatar, allowing the delivery of medicines to the hostages. The Israeli prime minister's office confirmed the agreement, stating that the medications would be provided to the hostages in the coming days.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, representing the families of the hostages, has expressed the need for visual proof that the medications have indeed reached the hostages. The forum emphasized that after spending 98 days in Hamas' care, the hostages faced immediate mortal danger and required life-saving medicines and extensive medical treatment.

The hostage situation, which began when the Al-Qassam Brigades took 250 hostages after crossing the border from Gaza, has been ongoing for nearly 100 days. While a weeklong ceasefire in November led to the release of some hostages, a total of 132 individuals remain in captivity. Efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages are ongoing, posing a significant challenge for both sides involved.

21:05 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Saturday that Israel would not be deterred by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its pursuit of victory in the ongoing Gaza war. This statement follows accusations of genocide against Palestinians made by South Africa in The Hague.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted, "No one will stop us - not The Hague, not the Axis of Evil, no one." His remarks indicate a firm determination to continue the military campaign in Gaza, disregarding any potential legal ramifications or international pressure.

The ICJ, often considered the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, serves as a forum for resolving disputes between nations. South Africa's accusation of genocide against Palestinians has drawn international attention to the conflict and raised concerns about the conduct of Israel's military operations.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wrapped up the two-day hearing into South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide in its war on Gaza, as Israel's legal team rejected accusations and justified the violence as a response to Hamas' operation.

Netanyahu's defiant stance underscores Israel's commitment to its military objectives in Gaza. The prime minister's statement also echoes his position regarding the return of Palestinians to the northern part of the Gaza Strip, asserting that fighting will persist as long as the conflict persists.

20:00 On the eve of the 100th day of the Israeli war on Gaza, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, released a video specifically targeting the Israeli public. The video serves as a reminder of a previous hostage situation where the Israeli government refused to negotiate, resulting in lost contact with the cell responsible for the hostages back in 2014. The video emphasizes that in the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government showed little concern for the safe return of Israeli children and loved ones held hostage.

The video released by the Al-Qassam Brigades seeks to convey a message to the Israeli public that time passes and disappears, urging them not to forget the unresolved hostage situation. Tomorrow, Sunday, marks 100 days since the Al-Qassam Brigades took 250 hostages after storming across the border from Gaza. In response to this action, Israel unleashed a brutal force in what has become a war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

While a weeklong ceasefire in November led to the release of dozens of women, children, and foreigners, and some hostages have been confirmed dead, a total of 132 individuals remain in captivity. The situation continues to pose a significant challenge for both sides, with efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages ongoing.



19:30 Israel's military has announced that it conducted airstrikes targeting Hezbollah positions in Lebanon on Saturday. The strikes reportedly targeted infrastructure in the Meiss El Jabal and Yarine areas, according to a statement released by the Israeli military. Additionally, the military stated that strikes were carried out in other areas of Lebanon, although specific details were not provided.

Last Tuesday, Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement said it targeted an Israeli command base in retaliation for the assassination of one of its commanders and the Hamas deputy leader.

Last Monday, Israel killed a top commander of the Hezbollah group in a strike on south Lebanon, Lebanese security sources said on Monday.

Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israeli war on Gaza broke out on 7 October.

The three months of cross-border violence have killed more than 180 people in Lebanon, including over 135 Hezbollah fighters, but also more than 20 civilians including three journalists, according to an AFP tally.

In a separate development, the Israeli army confirmed that an Israeli soldier was killed in central Gaza on Friday. This brings the total number of Israeli troops killed in the ground offensive into Gaza to 187.

19:00 Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeida faced another strike on Saturday in response to rocket fire by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, according to security sources. A military source, supporting the rebels, informed AFP that the strike targeted the location from which the Houthi rocket was launched on the outskirts of Hodeida. The exact source of the strike, whether it came from the sea or the air, remains uncertain. The new strike has been confirmed by a police source. 

Earlier on Saturday, The United States carried out a fresh strike Saturday on a Huthi rebel target in Yemen, the US military said, after the Iran-backed militants warned of further attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

On Friday, The U.S. and British militaries bombed more than a dozen sites used by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen on Thursday, in a massive retaliatory strike using warship- and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets, U.S. officials said. The military targets included logistical hubs, air defense systems and weapons storage and launching locations, they said.

The strikes marked the first U.S. military response to what has been a persistent campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza. And the coordinated military assault comes just a week after the White House and a host of partner nations issued a final warning to the Houthis to cease the attacks or face potential military action.

The Houthis say their assaults are aimed at stopping the Israeli war on Gaza. But their targets increasingly have little or no connection to Israel and imperil a crucial trade route linking Asia and the Middle East with Europe.

18:30 In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Gaza families are being forced to seek refuge in lorries as winter temperatures plummet, exacerbating their already dire circumstances. The families, displaced by the recent Israeli war on Gaza, have been left with no choice but to make these makeshift vehicles their homes, braving the freezing cold and harsh conditions in their desperate struggle for survival.

Thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought shelter in Al Mawasi, a small coastal strip characterized by its lack of basic infrastructure and amenities. This narrow agricultural and fishing area has become a refuge for those fleeing the ongoing conflict, despite being designated a "safe zone." With little more than a few mattresses, blankets, and scattered household utensils, they cling to the hope of finding some warmth and comfort amidst the frigid sea breeze.

However, the reality is far from safe. Recent reports from the United Nations reveal that Israeli forces have launched missiles at shelters and tents for the displaced in Al Mawasi, causing the loss of innocent lives, including women and children. This brutal assault compounds the already unbearable challenges faced by Palestinians in the area, including severe shortages of food, water, healthcare, and essential supplies.

The situation is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. Aid, including tents, clothes, mattresses, and blankets, is desperately needed but remains insufficient to meet the demands of the hundreds of thousands stranded outside official shelters. The movement of aid into the beseiged Gaza strip is tightly controlled under the Israeli blockade, exacerbating the suffering of the already vulnerable population.

Furthermore, the UN's humanitarian office warns that Gaza is on the brink of famine. Nearly 85 percent of the enclave's population, around 2.3 million people, have been internally displaced, with alarming levels of food insecurity. The lack of access to sufficient food and basic necessities has pushed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to catastrophic levels of hunger and exhaustion.

18:00 The Ministry of Health in Gaza has declared that the Israeli occupation forces have committed 12 massacres within a span of 24 hours, leading to the tragic loss of 135 lives. This devastating toll highlights the ongoing violence and bloodshed inflicted upon the Palestinian people.

The indiscriminate attacks, carried out by the occupying forces, have plunged Gaza into further despair and grief. Families have been torn apart, and communities have been left in mourning as loved ones are mercilessly taken away.

In response to these atrocities, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has claimed responsibility for targeting Israeli soldiers and hitting six tanks. This retaliation underscores the determination of Palestinian resistance groups to defend their people and their land against the continuous aggression and oppression they face.

17:00 Children joined thousands of other demonstrators making their way through central London for a pro-Palestinian march on Saturday, part of a global day of action against the longest and deadliest war between Israel and Palestinians in 75 years.

The plight of children in the Gaza Strip after nearly 100 days of Israel's aggression on Gaza was the focus of the latest London march, symbolized by the appearance of Little Amal, a 3.5-metre (11.5-foot) puppet originally meant to highlight the suffering of Syrian refugees.

The puppet had become a human rights emblem during an 8,000-kilometre (4,970-mile) journey from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester in July 2001.

Nearly two-thirds of the 23,843 people killed during Israel’s campaign in Gaza have been women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.


16:30 In response to the Biden administration's handling of the Gaza war, US federal employees from nearly two dozen agencies are planning a walkout on Tuesday, according to organizers of the dissent effort as reported by Al-Monitor. The group, called Feds United for Peace, consists of dozens of government employees who will observe a "Day of Mourning" to mark 100 days of Israel's military campaign in Gaza. Organizers, who have chosen to remain anonymous, expect the participation of "easily hundreds" of others after securing commitments from individuals at 22 federal agencies.

Among the agencies involved are the Executive Office of the President, the National Security Agency, the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, as well as US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Naval Research Laboratory. Employees from other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Park Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, are also expected to join the protest.

The planned walkout reflects the growing anger among US officials over the Biden administration's refusal to call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. Health officials in Gaza report that over 23,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the past three months, and the United Nations estimates that approximately 85 percent of the population, around 1.9 million Palestinians, have been displaced.

The organizers of the walkout expressed their desire to influence the Biden administration's policy on the issue, emphasizing that their actions are an uncommon manifestation of dissent through a physical act. Internal disagreements over policy have become public, with letters criticizing the administration's stance on Gaza being drafted through the State Department's private "dissent channel." Additionally, anonymous staffers from President Biden's re-election campaign penned an open letter warning about potential voter backlash due to his Gaza policy.

Some officials have resigned in protest, including individuals from the State Department bureau overseeing arms transfers. However, the walkout organizers believe in their moral obligation and patriotic duty to effect change from within. They have expressed frustration with the White House, accusing it of obstructing cease-fire resolutions at the United Nations and bypassing Congress in weapons sales to Israel.

US administration officials had voiced these concerns and warnings last November that President Joe Biden's quick support for Israel in its war on Gaza could backfire, amid the continuous Israeli airstrikes on Palestinian civilians and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

16:00 According to the media office of Hamas, approximately 800,000 people in Gaza City and the Northern governorates are at risk of starving to death due to the prevention of aid lorries from reaching them by Israeli forces. The situation has raised concerns about a potential famine in the besieged strip.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Hamas media office reported that Israeli forces have been firing at aid lorries and have even resulted in the deaths of more than 14 individuals who were attempting to access food supplies. The blockade on aid deliveries has severely impacted the availability of essential provisions for the affected population, sevearely harming those in a more delicate situation especially women and children.

The statement further highlighted the urgent need for assistance, stating that North Gaza requires 600 lorries of aid and food on a daily basis, while Gaza City necessitates 700 deliveries to prevent a famine from occurring in these two governorates.

More than three months of relentless Israeli bombardment have taken a gruelling toll on Gaza's 2.4 million people, most of whom have had to flee their homes. Sanitary conditions are dire and people scramble for food brought in by occasional aid trucks from Egypt. However, the entry of aid and food from the Rafah border crossing is always contingent on Israeli approval. 

Chairman of State Information Service (SIS) in Egypt Diaa Rashwan said that all Israeli officials – including the prime minister and the defence and energy ministers – have confirmed dozens of times in public remarks that “they will not allow the aid to enter Gaza, especially fuel because this is part of the war their state is waging against the strip.” 

Egypt, on more than one occasion, has emphasized that "the Rafah crossing from the Egyptian side is open without interruption" while repeatedly urging Israel "not to prevent the flow of humanitarian aid to the strip … under the pretext of inspecting them,” he added.

14:00 Arish International Airport in North Sinai received two planes as part of the international efforts to assist the people in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of planes sent to aid Gaza to 482 since 7 October.

The airport received two planes from the UAE and France. The Emirati plane carried 65 tons of various aid supplies, and the French plane had on board a group of 67 individuals who will be working on the French floating hospital at Arish port, an official source at Arish airport said.

Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, denied on Wednesday the allegations circulating on social media and certain news outlets that additional fees have been imposed on Palestinians entering Egypt through the Rafah border Crossing.

Addressing the media, Rashwan emphasised that it is inconceivable that Egypt would impose additional burdens on Palestinians during these challenging circumstances.

Since the outbreak of the war in early October, Israel has imposed a complete blockade on the Gaza Strip, cutting off all food, water, fuel, and medical supplies.

Egypt has since been facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid from different destinations through the Rafah border crossing and, recently, through the Karm Abu Salem crossing.

Following international pressure, Israel opened the Karm Abu Salem crossing, located on the border between Israel, Gaza, and Egypt and only about 3 km from Rafah, to accelerate the delivery of aid into the besieged Strip.

13:00 A general strike has been announced in the occupied West Bank town of Idhna following the killings of three Palestinian teenagers, Sky News reported. 

Israel has said the teenagers were planning to carry out a "significant attack" on the Jewish settlement of Adora, and were carrying an M16, knives, a pickaxe and Molotov cocktails. 


They also shot an IDF reservist in the leg, Israeli officials said. 


In response to the incident, the Israeli military closed the entrances to Idhna and its neighbouring town Tarqumiyah, and beefed up security in Adora. 

12:30 Health officials in Gaza said that Israeli strikes overnight killed at least 60 people in the besieged territory.

Witnesses in the Gaza Strip reported Israeli bombardment in the early morning. An AFP correspondent said intense shelling and air strikes hit the Palestinian territory's south overnight.

"I was visiting my sister, and when I returned I found my house was bombed," said 60-year-old Samir Qashta, a resident of Rafah in southern Gaza, where many people have fled. "Is my house hurting Israel in any way?"

The Israeli army said its forces had struck dozens of rocket launchers that were "ready to be used" in central Gaza, and eliminated four "terrorists" in air strikes on Khan Yunis, Gaza's major southern city, near Rafah.

12:00 Israeli occupation forces detained six Palestinians, including a child, in a military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to local and security sources.

The occupying Israeli army detained 17-year-old Ahmed Soman, in addition to four siblings after raiding and inspecting their families' houses.

Forces reportedly seized a motorcycle belonging to a local citizen after breaking into and thoroughly searching his house during the raid.

In a related context, Israeli army forces also raided and searched the homes of four prisoners.

11:45 The Palestine Red Crescent Society announced a complete loss of communication with its crews working in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli occupation cutting off communications and internet services, which increases the challenges facing its crews in providing their ambulance services and reaching the wounded.

11:40 For the second day, communications and internet services were completely cut off as a result of the ongoing Israeli aggression on the enclave.

Technical crews were being directly targeted by Israeli airstrike while carrying out their work, despite prior coordination with international institutions.

This is the seventh time that communications and internet services have been completely cut off since the start of the Israeli war on October 7.

Networks and transmission towers were damaged as a result of the massive destruction caused by the aggression to the infrastructure, and the lack of fuel due to the siege, which led to frequent outages.

11:30  Dozens of innocent civilians, including women and children, have been killed and others wounded over the past few hours as the ongoing Israeli genocide campaign on the Gaza Strip enters its 99 consecutive day, according to local and medical sources in the Palestinian territory. 

In Gaza City, civil defense crews managed to recover the bodies of 20 Palestinians who were killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting a house in the Daraj neighborhood, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Meanwhile, a number of wounded individuals were transferred to Nasser Hospital, following intense and fierce Israeli bombardment in the center and south of Khan Yuins.

Israeli military air force launched a fire belt on Qazan al-Najjar and al-Batn al-Samin in the southeastern areas of the city of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli fighter jets further shelled several homes in the Al-Dawa neighborhood, north of Nuseirat, in the middle of the Gaza Strip, resulting in killing dozens and wounding others, and there are still missing people under the rubble.

The occupation artillery also bombed east Deir al-Balah, Nuseirat, and al-Maghazi refugee camps and near the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the center of the Strip.

11:50 The health ministry in Gaza said at least 23,843 have been killed in the territory in 99 days of Israeli war on the Strip.

The ministry said it had registered 60,317 wounded while thousands remain trapped under rubble.

10:40 Witnesses reported Israeli bombardment of Gaza in the early morning, and an AFP journalist said Friday that strikes and shelling had hit areas between Gaza's southern cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah, crowded with people who have fled from the north.

All internet and telecommunications services in Gaza were cut Friday as a result of Israeli bombardment, the main operator Paltel said.

"Gaza is blacked out again," it said in a post on social media platform X.

The Palestinian Red Crescent posted that the disruption was increasing the challenges in "reaching the wounded and injured promptly".

Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 23,708 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest health ministry figures.

10:30  The United States carried out a fresh strike on a Huthi rebel target in Yemen, US Central Command said, after the Iran-backed militants warned of further attacks on ships in the Red Sea, AFP reported.

The strike on a Huthi radar site comes a day after scores of attacks across the country heightened fears that Israeli war on Gaza could engulf the wider region.

The Iran-backed militants' official media earlier said the Al-Dailami airbase in Yemen's rebel-held capital of Sanaa had been struck.

The Huthis, who have carried out weeks of attacks on Israel-linked shipping in protest of the Israel-Hamas war, warned that US and British interests were "legitimate targets" after the first volley of strikes.

Britain, the United States and eight allies said strikes carried out on Friday had aimed to "de-escalate tensions", but the Huthis vowed to continue their attacks.

"All American-British interests have become legitimate targets" following the strikes, the rebels' Supreme Political Council said.

Hussein al-Ezzi, the rebels' deputy foreign minister, said the United States and Britain would "have to prepare to pay a heavy price".

The rebels have controlled much of Yemen since a civil war erupted in 2014 and are part of an Iran-backed "axis of resistance" against Israel and its allies.

Violence involving Iran-aligned groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria has surged since the war in Gaza began in early October.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called on all sides "not to escalate" in the interest of regional peace and stability, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the strikes Friday, days after adopting a resolution demanding the Huthis immediately stop their attacks on ships.

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